How the C-Suite Defines Success

As human beings, we are always looking for inspiration. We are constantly looking for that singular piece of knowledge that sparks the idea that will catapult us into the stratosphere of success. Sometimes, that inspiration comes from something we see while driving down the road, a casual setting and most often, inspiration is derived from our fellow colleagues.

Recently, I attended the C-Suite Conference where I was able to network with some of the best and brightest business minds and gained some knowledge as to how my fellow c-suite peers think and how they define success. Here are some of my takeaways from the conference that I think will serve as a learning tool for people from all walks of life:

"Nowhere in the definition of 'success' do the words happiness, happy or joy appear" - Steve Rizzo, Motivational Speaker

I was really impressed by this quote and here's why: he's RIGHT! The exact definition of success reads, "the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. The attainment of popularity or profit." Nowhere in there does it suggest that happiness is also an integral part of someone's success. While it's true that some measure success in terms of dollars and profits, it can also be measured by the level of happiness in one's life.

What's the point of having all the money in the world when we're miserable? We succeed by fueling our own energy. If we are happy, we tend to be more successful, including at the c-suite level. Happiness can be the key to success. If your outlook is positive, the profits will come - not because it's meant to be, but because your outlook will open more doors for success. One of my conditions of satisfaction for every business transaction I make is, "have fun." If I'm not having fun, there's no point in me trying to make that deal. Have fun and make sure your definition of 'success' includes enjoying what you do.

"Lack of trust at the top creates lack of performance at the bottom" - Joseph Hart, CEO of Dale Carnegie

Truer words have never been spoken! When employees don't trust their leadership, there's a massive chasm in the middle that could threaten your entire operation. Trust is one of the most fragile relationships in anyone's life and building that trust takes time - just like destroying that trust can happen in the blink of an eye. The fragility of that trust is something every c-suite dweller needs to keep in mind. Employees are looking up to you lead them to victory - whatever metric your company uses to measure success.

When that trust is broken, it can have a costly effect. For example, lack of trust can lead to low morale, less productivity and it may also cause employees to lose interest in going the extra mile as they feel the c-suite doesn't value their hard work. That needs to change. There has to be a symbiotic relationship between the c-suite and every employee. Expectations need to be explicit because you're all in the same boat, rowing towards the same goal. If one person is not rowing in the same direction, you might go adrift. Can't stress enough the importance of trust. Build it and strengthen it. Break it at your peril.

"Get over your fear of failure. Failing is the only way to gain success. Hire the best people and ask what they need to succeed" - Jay Samit, Speaker and best-selling author

We're all afraid of failing, it's human nature. Fear is a powerful motivator, but we must fight the instinct to fear failure. In my book, Think Big, Act Bigger, I mention failing fast and succeeding fast. Sometimes when you lose, you win. How so? Every failure is a chance to learn something new - whether it's a new way of doing things, or even scratching the original idea and doing something completely different. You're never too old to learn, so that old adage about not being able to teach an old dog a new trick is nothing but an excuse - and a BS excuse at that. You CAN learn and you will learn it.

Failure opens the doors to situations we haven't faced before, and therefore, a whole slew of learning experiences. Is it uncomfortable? Sure! Terrifying? Absolutely, but can't close yourself off to the opportunities that will come as a result. It is only when we stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones that we learn and grow. I've bought and sold 250 businesses throughout my career, I have won some and I have lost some. And from those experiences, it was the failures that taught me the biggest and most valuable lessons.

"Cultivating an employee-first culture can lead to significant revenue increases" - Matt Preschern, CMO HCL Technologies

Long gone are the days where businesses had borders. In this day and age, we're all part of a global society and we need to adapt our business approach and open ourselves up to the global economy. We can achieve that by fostering a culture that is diverse and thinks outside the box. Companies must also rely on their employees feeling empowered enough to make front line decisions. That same level of empowerment will be the catalyst to form (and become) a more cohesive unit. It is possible to bring a different group of people, with different skill sets and skill levels and turn them into one big, happy family. Think of your company as the Avengers - individually they're superheroes, together unstoppable.

If your big, happy family is moving cohesively towards the same goal, you will have a very profitable enterprise. When employees feel empowered to make decisions, it foster an entrepreneurial spirit that's unmatched and employees feel like they contribute to the culture and success of the company. That's a winning formula right there! Who's your Avenger team?

"Use social media to make people feel like they matter" - Rob Harles, Managing Director and Global Lead Social Collaboration, Accenture

Those of us who are active on social media love to get mentions, RT's and engage with followers. That's a given, otherwise why bother? We love interacting with our audience, but are we doing it right? Are we making our customers feel like their opinions matter?

The purpose of social media is to engage. It's up to us to do everything in our power to connect with others, truly connect. Achieving that high level of interaction might include sharing your customers' stories through your social media channels. If a customer's story made you take pause and notice the impact your product or service has on them, why not feature them? This isn't something only the social media person at your company can do. It's even more meaningful when the CEO of the company takes the time to thank or respond to a customer. This small, yet meaningful, gesture has the power to change how people perceive your company. Don't let the opportunity fall by the wayside and assume your customers know you care. They probably don't. Go ahead, make their day!

How do you define success? What is your favorite business quote?