What does it take to be successful?
Tammy Hawes, our CEO and founder, was honored a little over a year ago by her alma mater as a inductee into their business school’s Hall of Fame. She was invited to share her thoughts on what it takes beyond the basic skills for the job.
Being in a fast growth company is exhilarating. Virsys12 continues to strategically expand and is consistently on the look out for potential “right fit” team members. We look for candidates that see themselves in the traits she outlined.
My alma mater, East Tennessee State University, recently invited me to share my advice for students about what it takes to be successful in business. What a great opportunity to connect with so many hungry young minds filled with excitement about what’s to come!
Since it’s a university, it was only natural the presentation kicked off with a discussion about intelligence—and that it goes beyond book learning or the ability to ace a test. As Shawn Achor explained in The Happy Secret to Better Work:
We found that only 25% of job successes are predicted by I.Q. 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.
I shared this quote because it really resonated with my experience throughout my career. Your smarts and skills will only take you so far.
So what else does it take? Here are the 12 key points I shared:
1. Start with yourself. My parents brought me up to be fiercely independent, and I put that into action early in life, including taking classes through summers to complete my B.S. degree in Computer Science in three years, and working for a software development firm to pay my own way. I believed then, and still do, that if I set my mind to it, I will do it.
2. Everything is a learning experience. Don’t treat failures as the end but as a learning bridge on the road to success. In my experience, the most successful people don’t avoid failure; they fail, learn from those failures, and pick themselves up and keep going forward.
3. Know where you are going. From early in my career I had a dream to run my own company, and I kept that alive through job changes, personal challenges and rapid changes in technology. It was my guiding star.
4. Don’t go alone. Cultivate your support system. Sometimes the load can feel heavy, but I know I’m not alone on this journey — I have family, friends, business partners and a dynamic team with me every step of the way. I also have wonderful mentors that have been there to talk through issues and provide insights many times over the years.
5. Where focus flows, energy goes. It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed, especially in today’s environment. But your energy will go where your focus is — so make sure you’re spending it wisely!
6. Be happy, but never be satisfied with past performance. In just the first few years of Virsys12’s existence, we’ve been recognized with a number ofawards, had the opportunity to work with someincredible clients, and experts, and developed technology that’s making a difference. I’m thrilled with our successes, but I know the world moves fast, and we have to keep striving or we could just as quickly fall behind.
7. Be an accurate thinker. Don’t skim the surface in your thinking and make decisions based on something you read on the internet. Look for the “why.” Understand what’s really going on. It’s the only way you can make the really smart decisions.
8 Go the extra mile. The Wayne Dyer quote, “It’s never crowded along the extra mile” is true. If you’re looking to make an impact, that’s where it happens.
9. Put long-term gain in front of short-term desire. I know…this is a tough one! It’s hard to look at the big picture when the here and now is staring you in the face, but you have to do it if you want to get to the bigger rewards.
10. Develop an attractive personality. Nothing truly great is accomplished alone. By being open to the advice, support and feedback of others, and reciprocating and “paying it forward,” your path to success will be that much smoother — and a lot more fun!
11. Be enthusiastic. We celebrate the wins at Virsys12, both big and small. That enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s a mindset that keeps us going when things inevitably get tough.
12. Take initiative. Virsys12 started as a dream in my head. It became a reality in my kitchen. Today, we have an office full of smart, dedicated people supporting each other and our clients by bridging technology and need. That doesn’t just happen. It takes initiative and commitment.
I want to thank ETSU for inviting me to present, and the students whose energy and curiosity give me great hope for the future!