7 Things That Even The Most Successful CEOs Aren’t Doing
7 unconventional things that every good leader needs to do to become great
(As featured in Inc.- October 6, 2016)
Written by: Chris Dessi
All are interesting, but some are special and leave a lasting impression. Last week I spoke with Demetri Agryopoulos, CEO of Avant Global. Demetri’s profound words have been rattling inside my head all week, and I can’t wait to share his wisdom with you.
When we spoke he shared 7 things that he’s identified that most CEOs don’t do.
1. Invest in yourself.
Demetri is thirsty for knowledge. He shared that “the theme of my life is learning.” He believes that it’s the job of every leader to get better and better.
Continuing that “by investing in myself I become a better leader and then I can pass on that knowledge.”
So invest in yourself. Continue your education, and share that wisdom with as many people as possible.
2. Know yourself.
Demetri made a passing comment that I latched onto. He shared that while still in school he had twelve jobs/internships!
By taking on all these different jobs, he feels that he was able to determine what he was bad at. In the process defining the things that he loves.
He likened it to “dating my work.” Continuing, “while you’re in the middle of the metamorphosis of who you’re becoming, you need to have something to measure yourself against.”
Acquiring such a deep well of work experience at a young age allowed Demetri to focus on his strengths. But it also allowed him to define his weaknesses. Something many CEOs forget to do.
So know your strengths, but push to identify your weaknesses too.
3. Seek mentorship.
I pushed him a bit. Arguing that many of us don’t have those types of opportunities or connections.
Demetri persisted. Sharing that “we are the company we keep and we are a product of those relationships, so it’s your job to seek out mentors.”
Continuing that to “define what you want to achieve, film the last scene of your movie, and figure out how to get there.”
I love that he pushed back on this point.
I immediately felt a connection with Demetri. He’s grounded by his Greek family origins and has deep reverence for his elders.
Coming from an Italian family, I knew that Demetri and I shared many of the same beliefs. What I also realized is that Demetri is functioning at an elite level, and I should pay close attention to what he was saying.
That’s when he offered advice to young entrepreneurs that stopped me in my tracks …
4. Postpone gratification.
While talking to Demetri about his storied education. He graduated from Westmont College, studied at the American University, Georgetown University, and Harvard Business School.
I asked him what advice could he give to young entrepreneurs who are in college. His advice is compelling — “put off your summer vacation and wait until you’re 35.”
I chuckled and asked why? He shared “because you’ll enjoy it more. You’ll know yourself better and you’ll be able to share it with people you love and admire.”
Man, I like the way this guy’s brain works.
5. Research & replicate patterns of success.
Demetri confided that there are patterns to success. Sharing that “If you seek out those who have succeeded before you, you can replicate those patterns.”
We discussed how our culture puts older executives “out to pasture” after their tenure at the helm. We agreed that it’s a shame. Demetri acknowledged that “many CEOs don’t share their gifts because society doesn’t demand it.”
So find those who have succeeded before you, and learn from them.
6. Build trust & always follow up.
I combined these two tips from Demetri into one because I believe they stem from the same idea. Demetri believes that we should do what we say we will do.
Part of that is to follow up. He shared that “many executives don’t ever follow up, and this deteriorates trust.” I learned firsthand that this wisdom wasn’t just a platitude that Demetri shared.
Moments after we hung up, he made two introductions via email that he had offered to me while we were talking.
A person that lives and dies by his/her word is person that people want to do business with.
7. Know that we’re all dying.
While talking the conversation got a bit deeper. Demetri shared that “if you live a good long life, you may live until 90, right?” Continuing that “if you assume we’re sleeping for 30 of those years, that leaves 60 years to get things done.”
This serves as a profound reminder to leaders, entrepreneurs and CEOs. Our time here is finite.
Get to it people.
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