Bill Taylor, Best-Selling Author and Founder of Fast Company Magazine
Gary Tubridy: Hello, I am Gary Tubridy, senior vice president with the Alexander Group. I am here with Bill Taylor, best-selling author and founder of Fast Company Magazine. Bill, good to have you back at the forum.
Bill Taylor: Great to see you, Gary. I always like to come to your events.
GT: It is great to have you. Simply Brilliant, your latest book, read it, loved it. Tell me, what inspired you to write it?
BT: The industry has been doing things the same way for 100 years. I am in this not exactly glamorous, or romantic field, how do I be a passion brand? I gave myself the challenge and decided to write Simply Brilliant, to say could I take that same spirit of innovation and transformation, but set it in fields that are much more established, much more mainstream, much more in a way, main street, U.S.A. I love story-telling and case studies, and in this book, the story-telling and case studies is set in community banks, small hospitals, really fun fast food joint, a parking garage in Miami Beach. Ultimately, the message I am trying to send is, there is no such thing as an ordinary or old-fashioned business. There are simply ordinary and old-fashioned ways to do business. That every field, no matter how long it has been around for, is ripe for reinvention and reimagination, if you can give yourself the challenge of looking at your industry and your organization with fresh eyes.
GT: These stories are tremendous. Tell me from your perspective, what should a revenue leader in a company, somebody who is running a sales organization, what should they take away from that?
BT: Number one, they have to ask themselves in a fundamental and creative way, what is our definition of success for our organization? To me, the goal is no longer, let us aspire to be the best at what lots of other people already do. The goal has to be, let us become the only one in our field, who does what we do. What do we promise to our customers, that nobody else can promise? What are we prepared to deliver, that nobody else can deliver? What are we willing to do, the products we sell, the services we offer, the collaborations we devise, what are we prepared to do that other companies in our field, simply cannot or will not do? The core message is we are now in a world, finally, where ordinary is not an option. That is number one. Immediately thereafter, comes the question of customers, clients, and the impact of people in culture. Do you and your colleagues work as distinctively as you compete? To me, culture matters when you say to yourself, if this is who we want to be in the marketplace, therefore, this is how we have to behave in the workplace. Those two things are just absolutely two sides of the same coin.
GT: Culture evolves to action.
BT: It does. If you are trying to be special and distinctive with your customers, then you as a sales leader or revenue generator, have to figure out how to behave in ways that are special and distinctive with your colleagues. All the stuff that seems really important, inevitably crowds out the stuff that is truly urgent, which is giving yourself the time, the space, to learn, evolve and grow. We rob the future, because we are so, understandably committed to the present. That is why leadership is so difficult.
GT: You have got to do both.
BT: You have got to do both. People have to understand that, we are now in a world where playing it safe really has probably become the most dangerous strategic choice of all. People really have to understand that change begins to happen, innovation and learning begin to happen, when people conclude, and organizations conclude, that deep down in their bones that the risk of trying something new is actually much lower, than the cost of desperately clinging to what has worked in the past. Again, that is not life in most organizations that I encounter. You have got to have a lot of zest, and you have got to want to try a bunch of stuff. That is the optimism part. The tough-minded part, is you also have to be honest with yourself, that most of the things you try simply are not going to work. You have got to have a thick skin and a sense of resilience and as a leader, making sure that your colleagues understand that really, the only sin around here, is not having the guts, if you have an idea, to raise your hand. New York with security, if you see something, say something. The new motto is if you think something, say something. Go out on a limb, raise your hand, take a shot. We will help you do it quick, cheap, learn fast and so on. If it does not work out, we are not going to hold it against you. We are going to celebrate you. Your pitchfork kind of got dulled, but you have helped get the path ready for the next person who comes along.
GT: Bill, thanks for joining us at the 2017 forum.
BT: Thrilled to be here. Thanks, Gary.
GT: Thank you.
See more information on the Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum.