Leveraging Learning to jump start your business

“If you are not learning, you are dying”.

As a business owner continuously refining your business by constantly learning is an integral part of sustaining long term viability. Within business nothing stays the same for long, so relying on past wins as a game plan builds in boobie traps to your foundation that can quickly take you under.  Markets change, audiences change and competition changes and that is a guarantee.  Preparation to avoid the pitfalls of this ever changing market should also be a guarantee as you plot your own path to success.  Investing in learning and growth can ensure your company is responsive to these changing environments, instead of reacting to problems and obstacles the unknown future almost certainly holds in its cards.

A focus on continual learning in your professional life doesn’t have to be as defined as a commitment to go back for a degree or a formal certificate program. If you can assess, research, and pull together others adding to your professional education can be as simple as 1, 2, 3:

Access: This requires an honest assessment of where you are in skills and knowledge. If you are able to do this or poll respected colleagues or co-workers for their opinion you will be able to start first with where you are to determine where you want to go.   This understanding is key as it gives you the focus not to just reach out for general information but to sort through the learning environment for what specifically can apply to advance your business.

Research: I think general seminars and books are a great start to keep you motivated as well as give you a general sense of up to date information. These sources have already been cultivated to deliver a specific message and the research and sources are on point with current issues.  For me seeing the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit I quickly reviewed the agenda and signed on.  It is not just a quick opportunity to cover lapses in knowledge that I am aware of, but also to learn something from issues that may not have been on my radar in my normal practice of expecting the best but preparing for the worst I my business.

Pulling together others: An additional resource you can pull from educational seminars is knowledge from your peers that can ultimately be invaluable. Making connections with a range of people, some who may have a similar mission and others whose goals are diverse give you a broad awareness of issues that can impact your business and a heads up on key areas of improvement.  An educational seminar pulls together people who at least have a base of pushing for common information and this base can be a spring board to shared interest and later collaborations.  Next time you are at a seminar or luncheon really put on your listening hat for the knowledge just immediately around you.  When your mind is open you will always be surprised what new you can learn.

Inspire Leadership Series with Jamey Rootes of the Houston Texans

Jamey Rootes Headshot_2012After eleven straight seasons with a sold out stadium, Jamey Rootes has not just faced the challenge of launching a football team but also the challenges of building a powerhouse brand in the Houston Texans.  Jamey’s commitment to building the team that supports the franchise has lead not only to success in the brand but as in the team as the Texans were voted as one of the best places to work in Houston.  In this Inspire Leadership series, Jamey Rootes shares his insight on how following his passion lead to his success.

In the beginning…

At the start for Jamey Rootes it was the love for another type of football igniting Jamey’s passion for sports management.  Jamey began as an avid soccer player throughout college.  The seed planted through this passion took root and continued to grow as he began his professional career and positioned him to spot the opportunity when presented of coaching a college soccer team while pursuing his MBA at Indiana University.  The work put into learning how to organize and inspire a team to collectively reach their goals laid a strong foundation for his eventual career path.

How to get to your purpose

Jamey posed hard questions that only he could answer to open the doors to where his passion laid and eventually to his purpose.  The process began by looking at questions like:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What makes me special?
  • Who out their thinks I am special?

The answers to these questions not only drove Jamey but inspired others to the point it became contagious and creating fans of those who believed in him.  They, in turn, stood behind his efforts.  By creating “raving fans” he was able to their energy to propel him through different rungs throughout his success path.

Pursing your passion with clarity

The desire to be involved in sports was clear to James Rootes after both playing and coaching soccer and his climb began in his commitment to this clear sense of purpose.  Jamey attributes this constant commitment to navigating his path through the fogginess of an indirect career path.  James jumped at opportunities to not only coach soccer for college teams but to take on the challenge at the major league soccer team, the Columbus Crew.  The risk paid off as not only were the Columbus Crew a success, but the experience in launching and managing a team from scratch caught the eye of Bob McNair in his exploration of bringing professional football back to Houston after the departure of the Oilers.  Each opportunity presented, whether later deemed a success or failure, was a chance to learn what could be done differently in the future.  Jamey attributes the positive attitude to being “punched in the mouth every now and then” as part of surviving and ultimately benefiting from the necessity of some failures on the road to success.

Appreciating the detours along the way

With the right attitude any detours to reaching a pinnacle of success becomes pieces of armor collected along the journey that protect and prepare for you for future challenges.  In his journey, Jamey was able to accumulate the firsthand experience in coach imperative to keeping a team motivated along with the business savvy necessary to build and maintain a brand all while along lives little detours.

A great example of how Jamey benefitted from the detour of going back to school to get his MBA.  The time taken to pursue his degree allowed Jamey the chance to unplug from one career path and reopen another path, the opportunity to get hands on experience in coaching and sports marketing and promotions, and to develop a critical skillset honed in graduate school.  Through this detour Jamey walked away with not only a degree, but also the unique advantage of a having a reputation as delivering in a role as a leader, team player and collaborator for a sports team.

Sources of Inspiration

The pinnacle of the leadership structure can be a very solitary place.  Although Jamey acknowledges the truth in “The captain dines alone” structure, he is able to use this position to develop an internal sense of awareness in reflecting on his performance.  The ability to honestly give himself both critiques and accolades puts in him in the constant position to not only manage the team but also work as his own manager.  The result is the development of a strong sense of self, both the goods and bad qualities, and ultimately in his own self-worth.  As a self-manager Jamey continues his personal development through reading.   Some of the power players on his reading list include:

  • 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni
  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do DifferentlybyMarcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  • 7 Seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey

Although reading the books are an important first step Jamey sets a goal to really ingest the messages and make it apart of personal growth by taking the steps to read the book, summarize the lessons learned, and finally boil down the summary into four points to remember to take away from the book.  This process makes the reading practical and applicable in his daily challenges.

Externally Jamey also works to partner with peers outside his organization for inspiration.  By working with the Young Presidents Organization he has developed a forum to not only discuss and explore ideas and challenges but also as a measure of accountability in the actions he takes.

Facing the challenges of leadership and success

Motivation for both his team and himself is Jamey’s first line offensive in facing the pitfalls of leadership and success.  In managing his team Jamey’s commitment to personal development shine through in his philosophy of hiring talented people and finding ways to get them to do the things they are really good at.  By focusing on the end game with his staff he moves away from micromanagement and towards making firm commitments for the staff and himself and instilling the accountability to keep those commitments.  The result is providing true support towards the goal instead of on the tasks throughout the progression.  This clarity also droves Jamey’s personal success as strengthening and supporting his team continues to bolster him as he reaches additional levels of personal and team success

Pursuing a life in order

Even the most successful professional life can feel empty without the balance of love from friends and family that remind you that the cup always runs over in blessings.  To balance both his professional and personal passions Jamey first lists and then makes firm commitments to his priorities.  By listing his priorities his creates a clear sense of what is most important and what he wants to get accomplished.  This prioritization is supported by taking the time to put those things, from professional appointments, to family time, to personal development on the calendar.  By scheduling these priorities he fights the temptation to overschedule by providing disciple in mapping and defending all the time commitments that result in balanced living.

 

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