3 Helpful Lessons From the CEO of a $115 Billion Empire
Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.
— Rick Warren
Thomas J. Watson was one of the richest men of his time and was called the world’s greatest salesman when he died in 1956. He served as the chairman and CEO of International Business Machines (IBM) and oversaw the company’s growth into an international force from 1914 to 1956.
Watson single-handedly turned the company into a highly-effective selling organization. This is a brilliant strategy that you can use to grow your business or startup into an empire.
His strategy is akin to a good Chess game strategy, your next 5 moves are the most important but they contribute to the grand game, you must maintain an overview of the whole game, and you always work to strengthen your position. Most important, envision yourself winning the game.
International Business Machines, IBM, was founded over a century ago, and yet it remains relevant today. According to a report by the Consumer News and Business Channel, CNBC, if you invested in IBM 10 years ago, you would have made a 100% profit as of March 2019. IBM has proven to be an enduringly successful company.
Originally founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company way back in 1911, it adopted its current name in 1924, and in 2018 it still ranked in the top 20 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable brands, with a value of $32.1 billion.
Today, its valuation is a whopping $115 billion. Most of the success of IBM can be attributed to Thomas J. Watson, and his values and beliefs. He said IBM is what it is today for three special reasons which I want to ponder today.
The first reason (for IBM’s continued success) is that at the very beginning I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say that I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream. My vision was in place.
— Thomas J. Watson
Every business owner or startup founder should know it is important to have a vision. Having a vision provides a sense of purpose and direction for the business.
Your vision will help you define your short and long-term goals, and guide the decisions you make along the way. A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. They inspire the power and energy to get it done.
The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company that looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done so again.
— Thomas J. Watson
Here is why this is so powerful. Having a picture of where you want to go and who you want to be when you get there inspires action. It pulls in ideas, people, and other resources.
It creates energy and the will to make the required change happen. It inspires individuals and organizations to commit, to persist, and to give their best.
When you have this picture of what your company or organization will look like, you have a practical guide for creating plans, setting goals and objectives, making decisions, and coordinating and evaluating the work on any project, large or small.
The third reason was once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act? I then realized that unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there. In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company, it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.
— Thomas J. Watson
Long before you get the company to where you want it to be, you have to start acting like that from day one.
Thomas J. Watson said they found out their identity and who IBM wanted to be and who they didn’t want to be. There are so many lost people today because they have no clue who they want to be.
Think about your company or organization and ask yourself the 3 pertinent questions.
- Why are you doing what you do?
- What is your vision?
- Who do you want to be?
The floor is yours…
What questions are you asking yourself to help you grow your business?