The Secret to Success – It’s Not What You Think!


We crave success – to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, to get ahead in life and to make a difference. There is a plethora of writers, literature, speakers, gurus, life coaches, business men and women, and even some religions who claim to have discovered a path to success. For some people, these methods work – but only temporarily. There is no holy grail of success, no matter how determined marketers are for you to believe their product offers it.

Take Chances and Give Your Best

51508_w240eiw4Key Lesson: Believe in yourself and believe in others. You won’t know what you’re capable of unless you go for the gold.

Westpac Group’s CEO, Gail Kelly, is a trailblazer. Beginning her banking career as a teller, she couldn’t have imagined that her trajectory would include multiple CEO roles and a spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women. What got her there? Certainly, her love of people, her generosity of spirit and her healthy self-awareness played a role. But Kelly also has a penchant for putting herself out there and creating lofty goals for herself, as well as for the organizations she leads.

Making Work the Time of Your Life

MichaelWittKey Lesson:  Don’t be in business to make money. Make money to be in business.

This week’s Ground Leader has some serious bragging rights. Since 1998, Michael Witt, publisher and principal of E&E Publishing, has steadily grown his business into an enviable award-winning online news outlet. And, ironically, he has done it far away from the spotlight of the business media.

Being Serious & Having Fun – Both Are Good!

Screen_shot_2012-02-29_at_10.05.51_AMKey Lesson: Take a stand for what you believe in. You can enjoy life and still take on the difficult problems the world faces.

Cosmopolitan is “Fun. Fearless. Female.” So when Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief, executive producer to an unnamed show based on Cosmo, and newly promoted editorial director at Seventeen, tells NPR’s Rachel Martin that women’s lives are multi-faceted in response to a sexist question, it sends shockwaves through the web and gives spotlight to insinuations that run rampant in our culture.

Split In Two

whitman-1-300Key Lesson: Changing direction from what was once the proven route is often necessary, but never easy. Being adaptable and able to navigate the currents of change will enable you to lead others to success.

Our Grounded Leader of the week, Meg Whitman – Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard – surprised the world with the news that she would be splitting HP into two separate companies. The idea is not new; it has been thrown around often through the years, but met with mixed reviews – even from Ms. Whitman herself.

Small Gesture, Big Impact

o-DQ-ONTARIO-YVONNE-570Key Lesson: Sometimes the smallest gestures have the biggest impact. 

This week’s Grounded Leader is Yvonne Lavasidis, a Dairy Queen owner in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Lavasidis unexpectedly received a letter in the mail thanking her for her kindness and support during one of her employee’s studies. The letter has since gone viral and has been reported in various online news outlets, such as the Huffington PostABC, and Fox News.

There’s Nothing Fake about Caterina Fake

330px-Caterina_FakeKey Lesson:  It’s an incredible time in the history of business to start a business. Get started with what you’ve got, from wherever you are.

Caterina Fake is a new media rock star. Her passion for art, story telling and inspiring others has driven her career. Along the way she has built some really successful companies.

Fake is a serial entrepreneur.  She co-founded two start-ups, Flickr and Hunch, both selling to the big boys — Flickr to Yahoo and Hunch to eBay. Today, Fake is on her third venture, Findery. The company’s  mission is to help people “tease out local knowledge, hidden secrets, stories and information about the world.” The Findery team also believes that “people are gaining a new appreciation for the here and now…for the people in our neighborhood…for groundedness.” We couldn’t agree more.

Be Ready To Pivot, Especially In China

255px-Frank_Lavin_050129-N-3372S-022_cropKey Lesson: When you’re out to conquer the world of business, be ready to pivot hard and fast.

This week, Alibaba, China’s huge internet-based, e-commerce business, went public with their IPO. They are expected to raise more than $21 billion. Alibaba plays a big part in daily Chinese life.

What does Alibaba have to do with this week’s Grounded Leader? Well, in 2009, Frank Lavin saw the future and that future was Chinese e-commerce. He then made an about-face career move (from diplomacy to business) and jumped into the high-risk-high-reward start-up world.

The Judge Renders Her Verdict: Get On With It

MasipaKey Lesson:  When others’ emotions are running high, separate yourself from the surrounding frenzy and focus only on what matters. 

The Pistorius Murder trial has been a marathon, and with cameras focused on her from the outset, she has been catapulted from relative obscurity to a global symbol of South African justice. Thokozile Matilda Masipa is the woman who ruled Oscar Pistorius not guilty of premeditated murder, but guilty of culpable homicide. Since there are no jury trials in South Africa, Judge Masipa must render verdicts on her own, and comments on Twitter (#Masipa, #OscarTrial) show the Pistorius ruling getting plenty of criticism.  But our Grounded Leader this week is certainly unafraid of controversy.

A King’s Vision: Turning Waste Into Fuel & Trade

330px-Willem-Alexander_(Royal_Wedding_in_Stockholm,_2010)_croppedKey Lesson: Even infrastructure can be sexy and exciting.

This week’s Grounded Leader certainly has eclectic interests. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands loves sports, international water management issues and infrastructure. He has long been involved in global water issues working with the UN and the Global Water Partnership. In 1998, he became a member of the International Olympic Committee, resigning only upon becoming King in 2013. And since his coronation, the palace has reflected his dynamism, becoming “infused with an openness and easy-going attitude unthinkable under the 33-year reign of his mother.”  Though Willem-Alexander understands the need to provide stability in his new role, he acknowledges that he’s “not a protocol fetishist” and wants people to call him “whatever they want and are comfortable with.”