January 30, 2012
I consider myself a student of business. I love to learn and to push myself to understand every nuance that distinguishes success from failure. That’s why I was so drawn to Bo Burlingham almost 30 years ago. Bo, who was then a young writer for Inc. magazine (www.inc.com), and I struck up what has become a 30-year friendship based on a simple idea: we wanted to dig as deeply as we could into every idea, decision or best practice involved in running a successful business. That’s how Bo and I came to write two books together as well as, for a while at least, a column for Inc. I’ll admit that it wasn’t always easy. In fact, it was downright frustrating at times. Bo is relentless in asking questions and it can drive you crazy. But he was asking those questions because he, too, has this desire to learn and understand. And I deeply respect that.
I can look back now and see how much I also got out of the countless hours we spent in bars, on planes and on my fishing boat dissecting the topic of business. It was almost like Bo was my therapist; a sounding board for me to reflect on the personal and professional situations that were evolving around me. Talking to Bo drove me to seek better answers because he challenged me about what it meant to do, as the Golden Rule says, the right thing. The idea that those conversations might have contributed something to a wider audience than just us is hugely rewarding.
After a while, though, Bo and I took a break. But I didn’t get to hide for long. That’s because Steve Baker of the Great Game of Business and Loren Feldman of the New York Times hatched this idea for me to write a blog for the Times. They then put me in touch with Darren Dahl, another writer from Inc. who, for some reason, wanted to help me write the darn thing on a regular basis (he also has a happens to love learning about business, for what it’s worth). That experience, too, was both exhilarating and exhausting. Not that talking about business tires me out. It was the process of writing for an audience that I wasn’t sure really understood what we were trying to get at. Don’t get me wrong: I love to hear dissenting opinions and to have people challenge me. But I just couldn’t seem to connect with the audience. The comments we received on our pieces seemed to attack the fundamentals of capitalism more than they stoked an actual debate about how to run a business. That’s why, after about a year, we took a break from that as well.
Well, maybe you can guess what happened next since you’re reading this now. I’ll admit it: I missed it. The Monday-morning therapy sessions where you get to step out of your day-to-day thoughts to focus on maybe what you don’t know or what you want to know more about. That’s what this new blog, which I pulled Darren back in to help me with, is going to be all about. I’m never going to pretend to be a guy like Michael Porter or Steven Covey who can neatly package ideas for mass consumption. Really, I’m doing this just as much for myself as I am for the members of what I hope can grow into a community of ideas. That means I want to hear from all of you. Send us feedback, ideas and the challenges you’re working through. We can then look for opportunities where we can learn from each other. I’ll share some of my thoughts and observations both inside and outside of SRC in return. Maybe we’ll even pull Bo back into the mix from time to time. Perhaps, by all of us doing this together, we really can find a way to save the world through business.Tweet