Focus on Mindset

633 Days Inside by Greg Lindberg


Focus on Mindset

“It’s not that I’m so smart: It’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

—Albert Einstein

Always Keep Learning

Global Growth has gone through numerous transformations over the past 30 years:

  • From print newsletters to online software
  • From coding to entire revenue cycle
  • From a single company to a federation of independent businesses
  • From a U.S. company to a global company
  • From revenue cycle to health care technology
  • From a health care company to a company diversified across many industries
  • From third-party debt to a mix of third-party debt and insurance asset funding

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

—Helen Keller

  • From a federation of independent businesses to a federation of independent portfolios of businesses.
  • From insurance asset funding back to third-party debt funding

Adversity will only make you stronger if you put the hard-learned lessons into action every day for the rest of your life.

One of the greatest advantages that has come from our legal battles has been the recruiting and hiring of new leaders at Global Growth. Our new chairman, new chief financial officer, and new legal team all are direct results of the lessons from our legal battles. These are all “first who, then what” hires, and the transformational effect on the business is immediately apparent when you bring on talented, new leaders.

Over the next 40 years, we will go through many more transformational changes. Sustainable greatness requires the never-ending personal growth of everyone in the organization. All our leaders must stretch and grow to survive.

To be sustainably the best requires the continual growth of the competencies of all the people in the organization. This means putting yourself in situations for which you have to stretch and grow to survive. If you aren’t afraid, you aren’t nervous and you aren’t stretched. Therefore, you aren’t learning. As we have discussed, comfort and relaxation together equal your eventual weakness and downfall.

Leadership is about taking your team places they didn’t think they could go—because they were too afraid, nervous, or uncomfortable to go there. Some people are prisoners of their comfort zones. Criticism leads to growth and success. Fear of criticism prevents timid souls from achieving greatness. Leaders must learn by doing and experimenting. Real credit goes to those who are willing to bear the risk of failure by venturing into the unknown and unproven.

Develop a Growth Mindset

A strong desire to learn and grow leads you to:

  • Embrace challenges and welcome hardship as a learning experience. Never avoid challenges.
  • Persist in the face of setbacks. Fail early, fail often, but don’t give up, and never surrender.
  • Understand that daily workmanlike effort is the key to mastery. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out. Don’t be cynical about the benefits of extra effort.

Master the warrior spirit; peace and comfort do not produce success.

  • Welcome criticism from others. Get the bad news first; it’s the only way you can do better.
  • Always welcome useful negative feedback.
  • Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. Celebrate and learn from the success of others or the success of people you hire.

Good leaders are demanding because they refuse to allow people to default on their commitments to themselves. Those who develop themselves and keep their word get support. Those who can’t or won’t develop themselves will be gone. The leader must create a necessity of learning. This means forcing people into situations during which they must learn to survive in the organization. There is no steady state.

Complacency kills life. Growth enlivens. You must be the change you want to see in your organization. As Nietzsche notes: “If only we could foresee the most favorable conditions under which creatures of the highest value arise, we can increase courage, insight, hardness, independence, and the feeling of responsibility; we can make the scales more delicate and hope for the assistance of favorable accidents.” The more responsibility you give to people in your life, the more courage and accountability they will have. The less responsibility you give to people in your life, the less accountable they will be.

Think Long Term

One of the biggest mistakes American companies make is favoring quarterly earnings over long-term, strategic results. Yes, quarterly earnings are important, but not when they come at the expense of long-term results. A focus on public share price is largely what drives the quarterly earningsfocused mindset of the typical American CEO.

Time and time again, public companies cut corners to drive quarterly earnings and ultimately face a write-down or write-off or other business adversity because of persistent short-term thinking. Our most important daily action is to prepare for the next 40 years. I constantly ask myself, “What will Global Growth look like 44 years from now?” For example, in 1970, Berkshire Hathaway had $32 million in insurance assets and similar amounts of sales and net worth. Today, it has $78 billion in insurance assets and hundreds of billions in sales/net worth.

Our long-term thinking shows up in our behaviors:

  • Global Growth comprises a buy-and-hold group of companies.
  • We have only sold a handful of companies.
  • We have a 40-year plan for each business we operate.
  • We build long-term relationships with our employees and customers.
  • We invest in people for the long term.
  • We focus on those who are coachable, who can grow beyond their comfort zone and who don’t rest on past accomplishments.
  • We focus on the “A” players and move the “C” players off the bus.
  • We have no outside common equity investors, which allows us to focus on long-term growth.
  • The founder and the employees own 100 percent of the common equity of the company.
  • We are driven by a passion for excellence, not big offices or big titles.
  • We are quietly confident. We stay below the radar, and we don’t shout about our success.
  • We have strong cash reserves, strong cash flow, and we invest for the future.
  • We are building a diversified group of businesses worldwide.
  • We aren’t afraid of turnarounds and getting our hands dirty with hard work.