The speakers at the Fuel Leadership event in Cleveland this year challenged everyone to do just that, to shift your perspective and start thinking more like a leader.


You really missed out if you didn’t attend this year, but I am sure the next ones will be even better and urge anyone who wants to gain leadership skills to attend.

After this event, I left with five questions that are important for leaders to share with others at their company. These questions came from:

  • Guy Kawasaki who talked about working with Steve Jobs
  • Jodi Berg's speech on vision working at Vitamix
  • Dave Zilko from Garden Fresh Gourmet who talked about grit and tenacity
  • Seth Godin’s advice for companies to be artists (unique), not industrialist
  • Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, who spoke about the importance of keeping promises

In many cases, business leaders have heard these questions before, but they haven't implemented them in their own companies. Even more dangerous are the ones that both believe they know the answers to these questions, and that they have implemented it in their businesses, but they haven't.

So, as you are reading through these takeaways, ask yourself if you’ve implemented these principles in your company. Because, at the end of the day, the world doesn't pay you for what you know, but for what you do with that knowledge.

5 questions every leader should be able to answer & clearly communicate

1. Does your company have a clearly communicated vision?

Does your company have a higher purpose than making money? Do you, as an organization, aspire to make a greater impact on the world, country, city, or neighborhood? While the goal of every business is to be profitable, working all of your life just to make money doesn't sound appealing.

Instead, give something more to your employees and customers. Give them a dream. Offer them a cause they can follow. If you do that, you are more likely to build a great company, reach higher goals and be more profitable.

Jodi Berg's speech on vision was one of the best I've heard in a long time. She mentioned that Vitamix always looks to grow financially but how that isn't the biggest driver for them. For that reason, their vision is to "improve the vitality of people’s lives and liberating the world from conventional food and beverage preparation boundaries.”

2. Are you staying true to your core values?

Assuming that your company has core values that are effectively communicated to everyone, do you make all decisions based on those core values? As with the vision, core values must come before profitability. If you believe in something strongly enough to make it one of your core values, you won't find this too difficult to grasp.

If you believe in producing high quality product, you won't lower the quality just because there’s a good deal on the table. The best thing about this is that if you stay true to your core values, you end up winning even bigger deals.

Dave Zilko and Garden Fresh Gourmet did just that. They refused to sell the company for $70 million (twice) because the offer didn't align with their core values only to sell the company for $231 million not long after that.

3. How big are your goals?

Are you looking for 10% or 10X growth? If you are looking for 10% growth, then you need to tweak a few things, make small adjustments and you should be able to reach your goals.

However, if you'd like to have 10X the growth, you’ll have to make breakthrough changes. You’ll have to think big, face big challenges, and do things differently (not just better) than your competitors. In order to achieve 10X growth, you have to innovate. And that’s a lot more difficult than just improving. But when you do that, you'll compete based on value, not price, because you'll have something that others don't. You'll be unique.

This was one of the ten lessons Guy Kawasaki learned from working with Steve Jobs.

4. Are you an artist or an industrialist?

Seth Godin's speech was both educational and inspirational. He thinks that in order to be successful today, companies need to stop being industrialists (mass producing and marketing products for everyone) and become artists (offer unique value to a particular set of the population).

Being an artist means you have the vision. You follow it. You believe in it. You’re unique. And you do things differently. Artists appeal to a specific target market that will recognize the special value you are providing. Once your audience recognizes the value you offer, they will follow you. And they will tell everyone about you.

Be an artist, not an industrialist.

5. Are you keeping your promises?

Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, believes that we all could do a better job at keeping our promises. Keep the promise you've given to one of your co-workers. Keep the promise you've given to your employees. Keep the promise you've given to your clients.

If you create a culture where promises are kept, you'll achieve extraordinary results.

Which of these questions are you asking at your company? If you attended Fuel Leadership, what resonated with you the most?

Categories: Events