If You Want to be Successful …

By | March 1, 2019

[March 1, 2019] You’ve got to admire a guy who made fried chicken the core business of a fast-food restaurant. Colonel Harland Sanders rose from humble beginnings to a multi-millionaire in the tough-as-nails restaurant enterprise. There is a lesson for everyone; if you want to be successful … pay close attention to why and how successful people get things done.

If you want to be successful, there are many things you must do well. A person I would like to highlight for today, other than Colonel Sanders, is Jeff Bezos who is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon. There are many articles and videos written about him and, as such, I will depart from the standard list of quotes and tactics he uses.

Jeff Bezos has spoken at length on why his company is so successful. There are many reasons, of course. But one reason deserves special attention to those of us who study leadership and work hard to put that intellectual understanding to the test in the real world.

“We know our success will be largely affected by our ability to attract and retain a motivated employee base, each of whom must think like, and therefore must actually be, an owner.” – Jeff Bezos, in a 1997 letter

Make employees think like owners. In the opinion of many Fortune 500 company CEOs, that is at the heart of success. Psychologists, who study those who can complete difficult tasks, found that those who acted like they “owned” the issue did best. People must have skin in the game to do their best. I’ve written on this idea before when I wrote that leaders take ownership seriously.

In the U.S. Air Force and Navy, the pilot and chief mechanic’s name are often stenciled on the side of the cockpit. Our fighting military men and women will tell you that this helps generate esprit de corps and a team spirit. It’s a form of ownership. We all take better care of the things we have worked for and own. If it’s our possession, our internal motivation is ramped up.

Jeff Bezos had it right. Make the employee (or anyone for that matter) be like an owner and that employee will go the extra mile to ensure things go properly. Whether this is simply part of human “nature” is not relevant for us. What matters is that it works and it works in all societies. Ownership drives motivation, and internal motivation is what makes the world of people function.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “If You Want to be Successful …

  1. Georgie M.

    I’ve eaten Kentucky Fried Chicken most of my life. Simple, I like it. Colonel Sanders we miss you.

    1. Doug Smith

      Alas, so true. The passing of Colonel Sanders was a sad day. I still eat there but less so. Now that my kids are older, they want more ‘refined’ meals as Red Lobster gives us.

      1. Drew Dill

        You don’t know what you’re missing.

  2. Lynn Pitts

    The U.S. military teaches us about how to be successful. I believe everyone who can should join the miltiary for a few years and then do other things. By doing this, they give service to their country AND learn how to succeed. Those disciplinary rules carry over into the rest of their lives. Personally – for humor – I would like to see some of the college snowflakes go thru US Marine bootcamp. Hahahahaha

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      You are just too funny this morning. Thanks Lynn. You made my day. Yes, it would be great to be a fly on the wall when those snowflakes started getting yelled at by the USMC Drill Instructors.

  3. Mr. T.J. Asper

    The lesson is simple. If you want to be successful, then find someone who has accomplished the task. Then find out what they’ve done. The most common method is then to copy that person; as long as what they’ve done is moral, lawful, and ethical. This is what I tell my High School students. Fortunately, they listen to me.

    1. lydia truman

      I’m glad you are teaching young folks how to be good people. Most teachers are no longer worried about that but are following their own ideology of hate and envy.

    2. Scotty Bush

      Simple but many think they are exempt from this commonsense idea. Too bad. If you want to be a good person, hand out with good people. If you want to be rich, hang out with rich people. Simple enough. Yes, and I agree that you should not fall into the trap of doing something illegally or immorally just because you are copying someone else.

    3. Dennis Mathes

      Yes, too many people today no longer believe this. They call your suggestion “privilege” when it’s really just common sensical social effort. Keep up teaching our young people truly how to be better adults. Many adults I know are actually childish in their understanding of the world.

  4. Bryan Lee

    Thanks for the info on Jeff Bezos. From reading about him, many don’t like him personally (blunt and aggressive) but there is no denying his tremendous success in earning money.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      I heard the same thing. The man has been a money maker but that doesn’t mean people have to like him. Leadership is not popularity.

    2. Dale Paul Fox

      Maybe he is a little aggressive and blunt but that is what it takes to do extremely well. Success is not about coddling people.

  5. Army Captain

    I think that Colonel Sanders was one of the first truly successful men in fast food. His fried chicken resonated with everyone. Plus he was seen as a great spokesman for the company. It pays to treat your employees well.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      I agree. He fit the times perfectly. I’m not so sure his image would be as accepted today, nor the culture of fried chicken. Plus too many competitors.

    2. Martin Shiell

      Yes, interesting comment. COLONEL SANDERS was indeed a good man. How he would fare today is not relevant. He has been reinvented. Just look on the Internet and google his name.

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        Today, it’s all PC. Too bad that our young people are not taught how to be good citizens but how to be “victims.”

      2. Fred Weber

        Indeed he might have a hard time in today’s world. However, maybe not. Success is success. The formula doesn’t change that much. I still like Kentucy Fried Chicken.

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