On Nov. 9, Brock’s Business Career Development Office (BCDO) hosted Make the Connection for 55 Faculty of Business students, in which Brock University Alumni Association co-president, Christopher Capredoni (BBA ’91), was the keynote speaker. In his address, Capredoni shared 17 survival rules for corporate and entrepreneurial success: one for each year of his experience.
1. Have a stomach of steel: Being an entrepreneur or senior executive means you need to be able to handle bad stress, criticism, ridicule or even threats. The method I have to proactively deal with these situations is to ask one question: Will this problem/threat affect my life negatively in one month, one quarter or even one year’s time? You will find that in most cases it will not. You commit time and resources in an attempt to correct the ones that do. Then you ask the question again.
2. Shut your mouth: Listen more and talk afterwards. No one likes a blabber mouth and you may actually waste valuable meeting time where important information and/or ideas could have been communicated to you and your group.
3. Think twice and speak once: My late father enjoyed carpentry. He always told me that a good carpenter measures twice and cuts once. My advice is this: a good business person thinks twice and speaks/writes once. Be very careful what you say, write, email, tweet or post on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
4. Pause….and stop talking so fast: When I lived in the U.K., I had the fortune of getting to know Sir Eric Dancer. He was a JP and a representative of the British royal family. He would always respond to questions five seconds after they were asked. He would create anticipation in his audience and command respect for himself and his response. Fast talkers degrade what they say and present information in an unflattering manner.
5. Legalities: Be careful as emails can be entered into a court of law and used against you. Emails are not enforceable as binding contracts.
6. Business plan: Know how to write an excellent executive summary and business plan. You will require this skill for entrepreneurial exercises and also for careers inside organizations. You need to know how to present detailed, but concise business plans to banks, investors or committees. You can find a good business plan template online or in a book store.
7. Use black ink: All legal documents, employment contracts and all reports requiring your signature need to be endorsed in black ink. Blue ink is acceptable in most cases but people will look at you as if you are an amateur and that is not a good first impression to make.
8: Be mobile: I lived in the U.K. for two years and the U.S. for six months. Do not limit your opportunities by not relocating or travelling extensively. This is also an excellent way to build up your international professional network of contacts.
9. Everyone is an entrepreneur: Do not let anyone tell you that you were not born with this gene. We all have this ability; just some of us are stronger at it. There is a positive correlation between entrepreneurial talent and business success.
10. Make friends: Network and make friends with lawyers, tax accountants, trustees, bank managers, investment advisors, etc. They are all sources of business advice and encouragement. Speaking of encouragement, you will also need what I call a business soulmate. This person is someone you can discuss anything with and have no concerns about verbalizing your deepest thoughts to. This person can also be a sounding board for your half-baked thoughts on financial plans, problems with office politics, legal issues and company or career planning.
11. Understand your potential partners: With international negotiations you need to understand, ahead of time, your potential business partners. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, many business negotiation styles are correlated to culture. Remember, a successful business partnership is one where both parties profit in some way.
12. Five per cent rule: This formula works as follows: Buy for $1 and sell for $5. Obviously this is not a five per cent markup. This is a silly but effective reminder to know your total costings, which includes landed cost calculations. Do your homework before you establish wholesale and/or retail price points for your product or service.
13. It`s not a crime not to pay your bills: I am not encouraging you to not pay your financial commitments, but to flip the coin and realize you may be exposing your company to clients who may not pay. This can be disastrous, especially if those cash flow projections you worked so hard on are not worth the paper they are printed on. What I do with new clients is have them pay with a draft, certified cheque or credit card. Eventually I reward them with credit terms that are usually net 30 days.
14. Greed may be bad: A great modern-day philosopher once stated: “You can have anything you want, but you better not take it from me.” In large organizations, being aggressive and advancing yourself is a good and obvious goal. But be careful of stepping on the toes of co-workers or supervisors. Allies can quickly turn into back-stabbing enemies. The name of that modern-day philosopher is Alex Rose from Guns & Roses.
15. Brag: Find that one skill and/or talent you have and perfect it. During job interviews, make sure the interviewer knows you are superior at this skill. You need to be able to stand out from the crowd.
16. Donate time: Show moral responsibility and also fulfil a higher-order need on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by donating time to worthwhile causes and charities. Interviewers do pay attention to this and it could end up being the deciding factor.
17. Stay connected to Brock: There are resources here that are not easy to come by in the business world. With more than 70,000 alumni, there is access to a lot of talent.