Have you ever found yourself going through the motions, wishing someone would just define how to win at life, business or relationships? So many times in our lives, we’re told to be winners, be successful, be better, be something awesome. But no one ever says, “Here’s the recipe for winning, here’s how you do it.” This is possibly why so many of us fail to actually make our move to greatness.
One of the cool things I get to do every week, besides work with Chris LoCurto, is produce the EntreLeadership Podcast. I get to sit in the room and listen as some of the most successful, smartest and innovative business leaders in America explain how to win at life, business and relationships. They share their playbooks. As they speak, not only do I listen but I also write down their answers. I thought some of you might appreciate hearing a few of the highlights from these interviews.
Yesterday, we talked with Cordia Harrington, CEO of the Tennessee Bun Company. Her business made more than $60 million last year. She is easily one of my favorite leaders who we’ve interviewed.
Cordia’s story about the McDonald’s franchise she bought and how she took it from one of the worst to one of the top 50 is worth a listen. It’s both entertaining and amazing. President George W. Bush said of her, “Risk-takers like Cordia create jobs and opportunities for their fellow citizens and show the world the power of the American dream.”
Here are just a few of the highlights on being a leader from Cordia:
- We asked her about her mantra of “no is not an option!” She was clear that “you must have the courage to be persistent and resourceful.” I love this attitude. Often, as leaders, we can be persistent but not resourceful. Thinking outside the box is as necessary as never giving up. To Cordia, they go hand in hand.
- We also discussed some of the challenges that come with being a woman leader. Specifically, how do you handle dealing with male counterparts who have trouble giving a level of equality or respect in the conference room? Cordia said she learned to “be prepared, be the best and be prepared to be the best.” It can take time, but soon everyone will respect you and what you bring to the table.
- When we asked her what types of things do you do to continually develop your leadership skills, she said exactly what many other leaders we’ve talked to say. “Surround yourself with sharp people and those willing to keep you straight and speak up and into your life. Read a book once a month with your leadership team.”
- Cordia said the No. 1 key to being a successful leader is “coaching your team on how to solve problems, not simply doing it for them.” She encourages her team to develop goals that are bigger than they think they can achieve.
- Finally, when asked what advice she would give to a young leader getting started today—guidance she wished someone would have given to her—she had three points:
- Understand that problems are a training ground. You learn more from the trials you live through than any book you could read or class you take.
- Get involved with your peers. Working with your equals can help you grow faster.
- It truly is better to give than to receive.
And I think that’s a good way to start the new year. It truly is better to give than to receive.
Questions: How does Cordia’s story inspire you? What do you feel you can go out and accomplish?