When I talk to business owners and I’m trying determine whether they are going to make it through the disruption thats before them, I look for certain traits in their business.

  • Is the business dedicated to the customer?
  • Do they currently make most of their money with a product or service someone can do better and cheaper than they can?
  • Is the business agile, can it respond quickly to customer demand?
  • Is the business got the skills internally or is it full of soon to be redundant workers?

While I could dedicate this post to how i determine the viability of enterprises in a post-industrial economy, I thought I would instead talk about the traits of the leaders in these companies.


What about People?

As I look through my own client list and look at the real A players, there are a number of key things that shine through.

  • Understands playing it safe is riskier than moving to the edges.
  • They offer something unique to the marketplace
  • Is almost religiously customer centric, obsessed with the customer experience, not just customer service
  • They face challenges head on and embrace solutions.
  • They continually add value and innovate

But there is one trait that stands out above everything else I’ve said here.

Its the drive and lifelong decision to self educate.

Not convinced? Warren Buffett reportedly spends about 80% of his day reading, Bill Gates’s mother had to institute a rule: no books at the dinner table and Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every two weeks.

Author and self-made millionaire Steve Siebold has interviewed more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people over the past three decades and has noted that  reading for self-education is a common thread among them.

Now don’t get this mixed up with intelligence or how ever you decide to define it. Self education is a conscious and concerted effort to be better today than you yesterday and the day before.

So the next time you are whinging to someone about how conditions are tough and how you can’t make any money in this economy, ask yourself when was the last time you read a book on the subject.


Examples of Reading Materials

Here are some common situations and some books you can read

  • Innovation is too expensive and doesn’t work in larger organisations – The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  • My product isn’t selling well but I spend a lot of money on advertising- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • My competitors are too strong and I’m too small- Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
  • I find it difficult to build relationships – How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
  • I don’t have time to read books – 80/20 rule? 7 Habits of highly effective people?


I do not subscribe to the theory that I can’t do X because I am X. You can’t do X because you have never made the effort to learn and practice X.

And just in case you’re wondering, the photo in the header is from reddit. It shows an artist’s first work 13 years ago and one they have recently completed.

Now go learn something!

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