There is no replacement for hard work…
Today I was directed to a blog post entitled “Ummmm…. You’re Not Even Doing the Bare Minimum [An edgy conversation]” by Dan Waldschmidt (via @shanegibson) and I was reminded of a conversation I had with Murray Martin – Chairman, President and CEO of Pitney Bowes Inc. – where I asked him two questions…
1. What is your favourite thing about business?
2. When you hire someone, what is the single most important thing you look for?
His answers were simple and ones that have stuck with me throughout my career.
1. I like to win.
Who doesn’t like to win? This statement reminds me that business is supposed to be fun, competitive, involve team, requires training and exercise, should be taken seriously (professional sport serious, not life-and-death serious), and the goal should be to win some. In Canada we are all very cordial in our competition – especially in British Columbia – but the truth is, it IS a competition and to stay sharp, to push forward, and to be the best, it’s okay if somebody wins.
2. Hard work vs. smart work.
Everybody and their brother has a university degree and an MBA, smart is the “Bare Minimum” as Dan Waldschmidt suggests, but most people I have met who talk about “working smart” are usually just lazy. As Murray explained to me early on, there will be many times throughout your career where what it takes to get ahead, to win, is just hard work…. you don’t necessarily have to be the smartest, the most innovative, the most cutting edge, but the one who wins is usually the one that worked the hardest for it.
On a personal note, I have the pleasure of working for a company that models this everyday. Our culture is such that often we get ridiculed by our competitors for not being the most creative and for being “cookie cutter”… but there is no other company I have seen in our industry that works as hard as we do… that has a culture where just plain “hard work” is valued… we don’t take random days-off midweek, we arrive early and stay late to get things done and we build and sell more homes than anyone else in our trading area. As another friend once said to me, “Have you ever met a CEO who didn’t work 60 hour weeks at least at some point in their career?”.
Food for thought. I’m not advocating becoming a work-a-holic, but a 60 hour week now and again probably wouldn’t hurt either.