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Are you a Contender or a Pretender?

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One of the great joys of my work is the unique opportunity it affords to meet and to learn from talented, committed, and effective executives - working hard and long on their entrepreneurial journeys

Men and women like Mike Kovaleski and Carrie Kessel of Mahar Tool Supply, a Michigan-based, mid-sized automotive technology distributor that is reinventing how vendor partnerships are structured and maintained in the global, high-tech, and oh-so competitive modern car business.

And as they do, they are creating both good jobs and an inspiring culture that's reflected in both the great longevity of their company (66 years young and counting!) and in the average tenure of their executive team (10+ years and increasing daily!).

Leaders like Dr. Ezat Parnia - President of Pacific Oaks - a small and fast growing Pasadena-based college that under his leadership is merging traditional offline educational values with the promise and power of online learning.

And as he does so, everyday demonstrating his fierce commitment to his students, mostly adults going back to school mid-life to earn training and degrees in early childhood education…

…who armed with their Pacific Oaks’ educations go out into the world and effect the school’s mission of seeing every child - no matter race, gender, or economic circumstance - be treated as a unique, special, and able learner.

And men like Good Samaritan Hospital’s CEO Andy Leeka, with his so articulate commitment to seeing his 1,400 employee strong, inner city Los Angeles Hospital become both a leader in care giving and…

…be a beacon of hope that says YES even budget and regulatory-strained hospitals can be places of high staff camaraderie, great patient care, and dare we say, even a little fun, too.

What do these brave and inspiring executives all have in common?

Well, first of all, in spite of them all leading very different organizations, with different reasons for being, competing in very different marketplaces, with very different sets of challenges and opportunities, they all think and act fundamentally the same.

Entrepreneurially.

Recognizing that even though they lead organizations that are on average more than 80 years old on average…

…that their fundamental business reality today is constant, unrelenting, everlasting, and fundamental change.

And that their job as leaders is to respond, pivot, profit, and win in the midst of all of it.

Second, they all "get" strategy.

Not as some academic or consultant’s exercise, but strategy as at the core of why they're organizations exist and what their mandates are to lead them.

Strategies that are big, as in where do they want their organizations to be 5, 10, 20 years hence?

And strategies that are “small,” as in what CRM, what eCommerce platform, what project management software to use?

And yes, they are all definitely contenders.

They just don't talk about reaching for the brass ring, they sacrifice every day to actually do so.

They plan their work.

And then they work their plans.

They (and everyone around them) know that it is not about them. Their glory, their rewards.

They’re in it for the mission. 

Because they are blessed to be given the opportunity, and now by golly they are going to strive and strain with every fiber of their being to make the most of it.

For contenders like them, I have only one thing to say.

Thank You.

For making all of our lives healthier, smarter, richer, and all in all just better.

Oh, and maybe a quick word of advice.

Every now and again do come up for air and give yourself a pat on the back. 

Because you've earned it and more.

P.S. Think you’re a contender?  That you have the right stuff?

Are you committed to taking your career and business to the next level?

Then join Growthink President Dave Lavinsky and me in-person next weekend at our Business Blueprint Live event.

Click here to learn more and to apply to attend.


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Jay Turo

Dave Lavinsky