10 February 2019
Henry Ford once said: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
The motor company founder is undeniably one of the most famous businesspeople of all time. He is certainly someone that we should all look to learn from. His business lessons still apply to this day – more than a century after he put them into practice.
His key teachings include continuous learning, learning from others and being passionate about whatever it is in which you seek success. He was also a huge advocate of collaboration.
Taking some time away from the office this week, I’ve had the opportunity to pause for a moment to take stock. To read a little and to look at what we’ve learned as a business over the past 12 months. It was then that I was reminded of that Ford quote and of his fascination with collaborating and learning from others.
I’ve always been fixated with learning from those at the absolute top of their game. That fascination has taken me all over the world. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people including Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island, and Theresa May in Downing Street. And I’ve reached out to seek lessons from those right on the doorstep. In the past year, for example, I have met some absolutely extraordinary characters. They have all followed the same mindset pattern as that expressed by Henry Ford all those years ago: share what you have learned, so that others can learn from that too.
From the highly emotional chats, like that with Manchester Arena survivor and extraordinary young lady Freya Lewis, to motivating characters like Bonita Norris – mountain climber and big dreamer – these conversations have each taught me something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
One of the most fascinating characters I interviewed was none other than the ‘Billionaire Bookmaker’ Fred Done. Fred is 75 years old, is involved with 16 businesses alongside Betfred and is showing no signs of slowing down. Having grown Betfred to more than 1,600 shops and a team exceeding 10,000 people, what does he attribute his success to? Backing the right people.
The more I learn in business, the more the importance of people is reinforced. It is easy to use the line ‘people are your best asset’ but it is undeniably true. Without great people it is impossible to have a great business.
Fred shares the story of his 50-year business journey in the podcast over on iTunes.
Another person who understands the importance of having great people on your team is Gary Neville. Spending years with the famous Class of ’92, he lived through the epic highs and intense pressure of performing at a consistently high standard. Gary and I chatted for the podcast back in October. The Manchester United legend has made some incredible moves into the business arena since retiring from playing at Old Trafford just a few years ago.
I have always known the parallels between business and sport, Gary brings them to life. That winning mentality and team spirit you grow in sport is absolutely essential in any area of your life.
By building extraordinary partnerships with those in both the business and sport arenas, Gary is carving his own path in the corporate space.
The world around us
Whilst learning from others is absolutely essential, working together can reap even bigger rewards, especially when tackling an issue on a global scale. Last December, Iceland MD Richard Walker hit the headlines for the supermarket’s Christmas advert. The ad was banned from being shown on television. However, a massive social media campaign saw the short clip reach more than 7 millions views and counting.
Iceland teamed up with Greenpeace, using their animation as their festive marketing focus. The ad highlighted the plight of orang-utans and the impact that the palm oil industry is having on our planet. It was a bold move to say the least, yet it has raised the profiles of both the cause and the supermarket markedly in recent months.
Chatting with Richard it was clear that his focus is very much on the world around him, not just on his own business. That’s something that really resonates with me. For many years now I have seen first-hand the impact that even the smallest gestures can have on those around you. When you switch your focus from internal to external, to helping those who need it, to solving problems, I often find that success naturally follows. As Ford says, when you’re all moving forward, success really does look after itself.