Did you know that one of the world’s greatest business minds now aims to hire lunatics? It certainly surprised me upon hearing it among an audience of 5,000 executives, 8 global media companies, and 50 business bloggers. Quite the venue to share a declaration that could launch a global frenzy of shareholders screaming “Sell sell sell!” to their brokers.
This speaker, however, has a track record in business that speaks even louder than his words. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric.
Last month I was privileged to attend a business expo where Jack Welch was the keynote speaker.
“Lemme tell you,” said Jack. “Most of you in this audience have it all wrong. You think that to get ahead you need to come off as a level headed, steady, mature diplomat. Mistake! You’re totally blowing it! If you really want to advance and develop a winning team, the best place you can live is on the fringe of lunacy.”
Jack went on to tell the audience if there’s one area where business professionals can improve, it’s to get out of our comfort zones and take risks. Share your opinions, act instead of analyze, laugh like a child, challenge authority.
One audience member asked Jack, “What was a defining moment in your career, a time when you took a risk and it backfired on you?”
Jack’s response: “When I was a young man working as a chemist and I literally blew the roof off our lab building. Total destruction.”
As you can imagine, lots of laughter in the audience but Jack went on to explain how making such a big mistake became an unforgettable learning experience. Before the dust even settled, Jack’s boss chose to console Jack him instead of fire him. At that moment, Jack confided, he became a loyal GE employee for the rest of his career. I don’t know how much GE had to pay for the roof repair but looking back on how this young man eventually grew their company to be the world’s largest and most valuable, I’d say the roof repair was one helluva deal.
The question I have for you is, when’s the last time you blew the roof? The last time you dared yourself to skirt the edge of lunacy? …Tell my boss I totally disagree with our new strategy? Oh, no. She might think I’m a trouble maker. …Approach a high level prospect and ask for an appointment? Yikes! What if she yells at me? … Party like a rock star? But I’ll mess up my hair.
And on and on it goes.
Another keynote speaker at this expo gave a wildly entertaining presentation that inspired 5,000 people to stand tall and sing a song in German. I wish you could have been there but his message was similar to Jack Welch’s: Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Speaking of comfort zones and taking ourselves too seriously, last Monday was Halloween here in USA. Our neighborhood was swarming with kids dressed in wild costumes but as for the parents, costumes were sparse. I counted only three parents who dressed up along with their kids.
Yes, parents, we have every excuse not to dress up but c’mon, live a little! A perfect opportunity to expand our comfort zones and prove we’re right where the greatest business minds challenge us to go.
A little advice for all you recruiters and business leaders: Skip the career fairs and next time you’re searching for your next superstar, cruise the streets on Halloween night. The most outrageously dressed could very well be Jack Welch or his second coming.
So…. Who dressed up for Halloween this year? Fresh off Jack Welch’s inspiring presentation, I succeeded in completely embarrassing my kids. Amazing what sort of costume springs from a cowboy hat, mullet wig, wrestler’s belt, and Speedo. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that