Sunday, November 21, 2010

What is Business Success?

That's a great question! What does Business Success mean to you?  Is there a connection to personal success, and if so, how would you describe that connection?  (Also, take a look at the other areas of our BLOG.)

I recently came across an interesting anecdote related to business success and success in life. It was found in the book, “Business ethics: ethical decision making and cases”, by O. C. Ferrell, John Fraedrich, Linda Ferrell. (Cengage Learning, 2006)

From one of the many case studies mentioned in this resource, the relationship between financial wealth and success is questioned. On page 150 there is an interesting analysis that challenges the validity of this commonly held assumption.

In 1923, nine of the wealthiest men of the day met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. The attendees included:
  1. Charles Schwab, president of the largest steel company in America.
  2. Samuel Insull, president of the largest utility company.
  3. Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company.
  4. Arthur Cutten, the great wheat speculator.
  5. Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange.
  6. Albert Fall, Secretary of Interior in President Harding’s cabinet.
  7. Jessie Livermore, the great “bear” on Wall Street.
  8. Ivan Kreuger, head of the world’s greatest monopoly.
  9. Leon Fraser, president of the Bank of International Settlements.

Twenty-five Years Later:
􏰁􏰁 Charles Schwab, died following five years of living off of borrowed money.
􏰁􏰁 Samuel Insull, died as a penniless fugitive from justice.
􏰁􏰁 Howard Hopson had gone insane.
􏰁􏰁 Arthur Cutten, had died bankrupt.
􏰁􏰁 Richard Whitney had been recently released from prison.
􏰁􏰁 Albert Fall had just been pardoned from prison to allow him to die at home.
􏰁􏰁 Leon Fraser, Jessie Livermore, and Ivan Kreuger had each committed suicide.

If success were to be measured by the level of wealth and power that one may exercise, these individuals had reached the apex of success. Unfortunately, the outcome of their lives falls significantly short of that which would be viewed as being successful. Clearly, money, in and of itself does not buy happiness.

So ... "What is Business Success and is there a connection to Personal Success?"

What are your thoughts? Thanks for your comments!

1 comment:

  1. As a relatively new business owner and someone who has had her own business 4 times before, success to me is on more than financial. I view success holistically. Using your skills and knowledge in something you are passionate about which brings you both a decent income and joy, is success. Of course, in business you need to earn a profit or you can't be sustainable.

    In essence, success in business is when you add value to others, your field, the wider community and ideally the world with your products or services. More and more businesses are realizing that adopting the "triple bottom line" focus (people, planet, profit) is critical, because it's not just about the money. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are great examples of wealthy business people who have made the connection between success and using their wealth for the good of others as a way of providing a meaningful legacy.