How often do you stop and listen? Do you take the time to hear the stories of the people you are working with? In general, it’s not something people do enough, especially in business.
While leaders in the C suite must be singularly driven and goal-oriented, they also need to understand that collaboration among their entire team is derivative of success. Throughout my career, from working with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets, and in additional C-suite sports-marketing positions—and now in private equity as the founding Partner of Brand Velocity Partners (BVP)—I’ve realized that the core principles of business haven’t changed. The ties between sports and business are a lot more interconnected and they can shape the professional you are today. Here are highlights on how best to identify and conquer that white space.
Take the Risk on Those Big Plays
Working on behalf of two Major League Baseball teams that both won the World Series was exciting because it presented a handful of new opportunities and experiences. I learned that while it is important to win, it is not exactly everything when it comes to professional development. Commitment, growth, and ensuring that you are working to fulfill your goal should always be the primary focus.
Always push the limits to see the white space and the potential for greatness. To achieve, it is about putting ideas into actionable steps and executing them on behalf of a greater vision. You can think of ideas, but do you know how to get them executed, to find that short circuit from idea to execution?
Hear Others’ Stories and Balance Perspectives
Part of what goes into being a trusted advisor and partner to people is the ability to listen. In the spirit of being a C-Suite Advisor, you are playing at the highest level in business. Having been seated on both sides of the table, I can assure you that possessing confidence and presenting ideas in a clear, articulate manner can mean winning over your superiors. Keeping this in mind, there is also a balance of sorts between communicating your ideas and listening to others.
Everyone loves to hear themselves talk, but in the C suite—and any leadership role—there needs to be an understanding when it comes to listening to others. This is where the influence of the team comes together and the connectedness between all parties involved. Part of that is paying attention to learn about your competition, and part of it is really understanding your partners. Given my experience in the sports/entertainment business, I have learned how to deal with a diverse group of personalities from executives to famous athletes and entertainers, while remaining focused on our common goal.
Be willing to always be learning and surround yourself with those who will help you accomplish these goals.
Stay Curious and Keep Learning
No matter how innovative or disruptive you feel your business is in the market, the business world is always changing, and you need to stay ahead. Much like in sports, you can’t stick to the same old thing. For me, the key to staying innovative is incessant curiosity. It tends to be better for your career the more curious you are about unearthing things others thought would be impossible, and if you’re clever enough, you can uncover life-changing opportunities. Be willing to always be learning and surround yourself with those who will help you accomplish these goals. It’s exactly what led my partners and me to creating BVP to acquire companies to create, finance, and innovate to make a difference in people’s lives beyond the capital. Feel emboldened to take risks and be curious because this often leads to better results—have courage of your convictions.
Look for the White Space
For me and my partners, when we look at a potential acquisition, it is really about the growth potential related to the company. While the financial foundation must be established, the real upside falls heavily on its growth potential and how you can contribute to its success. In private equity, you are investing in a company with positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA)—these are existing, operating companies that are by nature successful. That is where capital comes into play.
I have been quoted as saying “capital is a commodity,” but what does that really mean? It means everything that you can bring to that investment beyond just writing a check. It is brand marketing, which most companies are not experts in, and business partner connectivity to find creative ways to grow. BVP is also a private-equity company that operates with a venture mentality, so you are buying companies with positive EBITDA, but you are bringing that mentality of innovation and vision to them. That is how to swing for the fences—and win.
What Does It All Come Down To?
The pandemic has been crushing for all industries and people will want to know what you did during this time for both your career and your business. Some people did nothing or idled. Other people founded new businesses. For me, part of what helped was having a good support system and having the right partners to always ask the right questions. It has been a very welcome distraction to focus on business and productivity.
You know that being an entrepreneur is never easy, especially when building your own company like we did at BVP, but it is extremely rewarding. I have talked about this with fellow entrepreneurs and the best advice I can share is that you are built for this. You are built to figure things out in crisis. Be prepared to pivot and be resourceful. You are well-trained for dealing with massive, life-changing situations, and while some people in traditional corporate settings find it harder to evolve, I welcome the unknown and I am willing to put in the work to figure out the right solution.