Tuesday, September 24, 2013

3 Lessons from Great Game Changers by Arionne Nettles

When you examine the line between smart and genius, the difference becomes quite clear – becoming an innovator in whatever your respective industry requires a great amount of vision.  So many people in our industries have innate talent, many people are smart, but not everyone has foresight, can trust their gut, go for the goal, and then entirely change an industry or society.  That’s pretty rare, but guess what else?  It’s also extremely possible.

We can learn a lot from these rule breakers about being creative and innovative enough to push for change.  Here are some lessons we can pick up from some of the nation’s greatest game changers:

Lesson #1: Do whatever you want…and then show them why you were right.
 “If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”
Henry Ford – Ford Motor Co

To be revolutionary, you have to trust your own instinct and really be fearless in making changes that no one else has before.  It’s not always about creating something totally new, but reinventing the norm.  As Amy Gunderson explains in Inc, Henry Ford may not have been the first major player in the American auto industry, but he successfully became the best by staying true to his vision. 

When he decided to actually increase workers’ wages, decrease the number of hours in the work day, and lower the price of cars to appeal to a greater number of consumers, people thought that he was crazy.  Ford didn’t listen and when his investors protested, he just bought them out.  By listening to his gut, he successfully changed the transportation, manufacturing, labor relations, and advertising industries.

Ford with his infamous Model T – Photo from the Collections of The Henry Ford via “Automobile in American Life and Society,” University of Michigan

Being alone in your vision is no reason to go against it.  When you have a clear idea of how you want to change your industry, let no one lead you away from it.  They’ll all catch on once they see how great it is.  Intuition is a powerful thing.

Lesson #2: Never settle and don’t be afraid to make people mad in the process.
“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.”
Steve Jobs – Apple

Now seen as one of the greatest business minds of our time, Steve Jobs was stubborn, often difficult to work with, and simply stated, probably the pickiest innovators ever.  After reading Walter Isaacson's biography of the Apple founder, that all appears to be true – including the fact that without Jobs’ being so picky when it came to how he wanted each and every product to be, Apple may not have grown to be the technology powerhouse that it’s grown to be.  People may have critiqued him for those qualities, but Jobs made sure that every single aspect of his products were perfect, even those internal design pieces that the consumer couldn’t see.  It’s all of those simple details that Jobs so vehemently fought for, from simplistic design aesthetic to getting rid of floppy disc drives, that are now industry norms and of course, Apple’s competitors all followed suit.

A young Steve Jobs at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II computer was debuted, in Brooks Hall, San Francisco, California, 1977 – Photo from Biography.com

Quality is important so no matter how long it takes you (or your employees) to get it right, never compromise.  It’s in those details that can make you exponentially better than your competition, making them bring their A game if they want to be as great as you.  As Jobs also said, “"A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it."  It shows a level of integrity and that is something that every talented person just doesn’t have.

Lesson #3: View the world as a huge classroom – learn and teach in it.
 “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”
Maya Angelou – Writer, poet, filmmaker, Renaissance woman

A renowned writer and poet, Maya Angelou first spent the early part of her adulthood doing a crazy amount of different things – singing, dancing, political activism, directing, you name it.  Whether walking on the other side of MLK or working as San Fran’s first black streetcar conductor, the Renaissance woman has used the entire world as a platform for learning and uses those to contribute to her great books and poetry.  Moreover, Dr. Angelou has diligently worked to spread knowledge, both as a prominent professor, teaching in countries all over the world, and becoming a mentor and a voice for many.

Check out the video below of Maya Angelou on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, explaining how she became a mentor, sister, mother figure, and friend to Oprah, and also a clip of her performing in the movie, “Calypso Heat”:

Once you change the game, you’re going to have to help someone else.  As business sisters, regardless of industry, it’s our duty to reach back to younger BOSSes and teach them what we know.  “I am my sister’s keeper.”

Connect with Arionne on Twitter @AriAlyssa and @urbanshakemag visit her online at www.arionnealyssa.comwww.urbanshakemagazine.com and like her on Facebook at USM Facebook Page

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