Taking Stock

by Sandy Nelson on August 27, 2012

After reading and listening to the latest political news over the weekend, I was reminded of Eric Schmidt’s comments at the Washington Economic Club a few months ago. Paraphrasing and simplifying, Mr. Schmidt said that we currently have two predominant conversations operating in parallel universes—a political conversation and a technology driven conversation. The political is “factless”, while the tech conversation is data driven.

How sad it is that our political discourse has come to this point at a time when our country desperately calls out for responsible leadership, pragmatic problem solving and judicious investment coupled with essential efficiencies to assure a competitive future. As a resident of Washington, DC, I am particularly aware of and discouraged by the current unwillingness of our political sector to conduct itself with any semblance of accountability and stewardship. Ideology is one thing, the future of our country and children is another, far more important consideration.

Nevertheless, we in the data-driven world of business must confront the daily realities of competing in a age of continuous disruption. Business leaders today simply do not have the luxury of the head-in-the-sand myopia and ideological grandstanding of the political elite. To thrive, we must actively sustain currency, anticipate and act on insights into the future, and be willing to risk failure at every turn in order to innovate our way to enduring competitive advantage.

At a time when political posturing and brinksmanship is undoubtedly, adversely and, I believe it reasonable to argue, intentionally influencing economic growth, business leaders and ambitious individuals logically and earnestly ask the question, “What must I/we do to grow in the current economy? Shall we wait out the election hoping that Washington will suddenly, once the election is over, rediscover integrity and  responsibility? Or, is there a viable alternative path?”

Frankly, I hear variations of these questions week-in and week-out. “What do you see happening in the economy today? Do you have any insights into what those who are thriving are doing vs. those that remain challenged?”

The simple answer is, yes, I do. Those who proactively set about to envision, design and achieve futures of choice, thrive. Those who wait, worry, hesitate, attempt to hold on to or incrementally change legacy cultures and business models are challenged.

Here’s the formula. Have the audacity to declare a big vision. Enroll top talent and advocates. Know and focus on what matters. Say no to any and every opportunity that is not fully aligned with what matters. Focus talent and resources. Unleash creativity. Let go of knowing. Make the hard calls today, not tomorrow. Learn, adapt and innovate ahead of the competition. It’s just that simple.

Today is a good day to take stock. Am I waiting? Am I hesitating? Am I holding on, making excuses, looking for things to change before going all in?

Please tell me, no! I am not! Say this—I wake up in the morning, step into life and put it all on the line. This is my time, my life and my opportunity. I will not stand by and waste a day or an hour.


Sandy Nelson

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