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What Business Advice Would You Give Your 23-Year-Old Self?

What Business Advice Would You Give Your 23-Year-Old Self?

Everything is about the user experience of your customer. Make your customers’ experience as positive as possible. Meet them on their terms, in their place. Address their stated concerns, not what you think their concerns are. Communicate clearly and honestly. Never make excuses. (Anything that comes after “I’m sorry” will sound like an excuse, even if it is completely true.) If something didn’t go right, and you could control or prevent it, say you’re sorry; say you will try to do better in the future; fix the problem; and then ask the customer what you can do in the future to help you avoid making the mistake again.

Matt Johnston, founder, Law Offices of Matthew S. Johnston, LLC
Frederick, MD
Vistage member since 2018

Create your own definition of success up front. Recognize that every decision comes with a cost; know what success looks like for you and your company at any given stage; and get comfortable behind the cost-benefit trade-offs you will face. Then make your decisions based on how well they support your definition of success. And remember that the only constant is change — so allow your “success” definition to evolve!

Allison Wood, CEO, LCMS Plus Inc.
Durham, NC
Vistage member since 2016

Have a vision. Repeat it often. For prospects, clients, your team — you need to tell people things at least seven times. Doing so creates an ongoing process of alignment. It’s easy to feel redundant, but people simply don’t hear things the first couple of times.

Victoria Cabot, Velocity 6
San Diego, CA
Vistage speaker since 2014

Foster appreciation. We can learn from everyone, even when we don’t get what we want. We didn’t get the order, the assignment, the loan or the investment. The employee didn’t do what we wanted. I didn’t appreciate what I could learn from these experiences and didn’t thank the other person for the opportunity to get better because of the experience.

Jeannette Hobson
Elizabeth, NJ
Vistage Chair since 1995

Leadership is only as good as what we accomplish — specifically, in terms of meaningful and measurable results. Leadership is necessary — maybe even essential — to building and growing a sustainable business organization. Unless we effectively manage what the people we lead actually accomplish and produce, advancing any organization forward is like navigating a ship in absolute darkness without the guidance of instruments.

Philip Liebman
Monroe, NY
Vistage Chair since 2006

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