After taking the summer off I’m back on CFAX 1070 talking about entrepreneurship.

This month we talk about the importance of focus in order to be successful in entrepreneurship. We use examples of how when various entrepreneurs were distracted by buying sports franchises their businesses suffered and in some cases failed.

As always fast forward to about 34 minutes and enjoy!

On this month’s segment we discuss two great entrepreneurial success stories and investments.

Click the following link and fast forward to about 33 minutes:

WestJet was founded in 1996 and has gone on to become one of North America’s greatest airline success stories. It has survived a voluntary shut down, 9/11, SARS and the 2008/9 economic meltdown. When other airlines around the world were shedding staff, filing for bankruptcy, forcing staff to take unpaid leave and postponing important capital investments WestJet showed its 26th consecutive quarterly profit!

Apple has a market capitalization of just under US $700 billion and survived a near death experience. Steve Jobs, it’s founder and CEO, (from 1977 to 1983 and again from 1996 to his passing), not only created products but, more importantly, created categories. We talk with a caller about the future prospects for this business and as an investment.

I am not nor have I ever been an investor in either WestJet (WJA on TSX) or Apple (AAPL on NASDAQ).

I recommend the following reading on both companies: Flight Path by Peter Grescoe on the WestJet story and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson on the Apple story.

Here is a summary of a recent HBR article that I think does a great job of outlining Steve Jobs’ leadership secrets.

He was not perfect (are any of us?) and was clearly a very difficult boss. But in reading Isaacson’s biography of Jobs it’s clear that many of those who worked for Jobs would likely do so again if given the opportunity. That to me is a clear sign of someone’s leadership.

Here is a list of the high level characteristics. A link to the article is at the bottom of this post:

(1) Focus – one that is difficult for me but so very important.

(2) Simplify – he says you have to go very deep to effectively simplify. I believe this to be very true with the most successful and effective (eight word or less) vision statements. You have to go deep into strategic planning before concluding with an effective vision.

(3) Take responsibility end to end. Very few people do this.

(4) When behind leapfrog. I think laser focus is required to successfully leapfrog.

(5) Put products before profits.

(6) Don’t be a slave to focus groups. I really enjoy the Henry Ford quote, “If I had asked customers what they wanted they would have said, ‘A faster horse.'”

(7) Bend reality – this was one of his key tools to getting the most out of people.

(8) Impute.

(9) Push for perfection. I find this interesting. Particularly in technology where businesses focus on shipping their minimum viable product in order to get real life customer feedback and then improve, ship, improve, ship.

(10) Tolerate only ‘A’ players. I think this comes directly from passion. If you’re passionate about what you do then you’re already a long way toward setting yourself up to be an ‘A’ player. Conversely, I don’t believe you can be the best at something without being totally passionate about it.

(11) Engage face-to-face. I couldn’t agree more!

(12) Combine humanities with the Sciences.

(13) Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Enjoy the article: http://hbr.org/2012/04/the-real-leadership-lessons-of-steve-jobs/ar/1

Fifteen years ago my dad sent me to a long time client of his for some career and life advice.  I had just graduated from university and was trying to figure out what to do with my life.

I remember that day and that advice vividly.  I owned a white Volkswagen Jetta, was wearing a green golf shirt, khaki pants, boat shoes and met in his office in Washington state.  His green Mercedes S500 was in his parking lot and he referred to it as being “ugly as sin, but drives like a dream.”

We spent two hours together and I remember one piece of advice as though it was delivered to me only a few minutes ago.  It was, “do what you love and all else will follow.”

I haven’t always followed this advice, but when I have I’ve been happier, more successful and have just felt normal.

I came across this video of Steve Jobs delivering the commencement address to a Stanford graduating class.  One of his messages, “follow your heart, it knows what you want to become”, reminded me of my mentor’s 1994 lesson.

See the video below.  It’s well worth fifteen minutes.