I was inspired by what Daniel Gold, founder of Future Energy Solutions USA, had to say during one of his interventions at Hispanic Unity’s Entrepreneur Summit on Friday. Daniel was one of the eight recipients of this year’s American Dreamer Awards. The awardees represent the rich culture of South Florida, and have all succeeded as entrepreneurs, building their American dream. Daniel’s company, founded in 2009 and led by him as CEO since 2012, services over 1,500 client sites in 38 states. It is one of Florida’s fastest growing companies, and undertakes projects in America, Europe and Australia. In August of this year, it placed #1,252 in Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest privately owned companies in the US.
The moderator asked the panel of award recipients a question about the importance of culture in their company’s success, and they took turns responding. In his very distinct British accent, amidst the colorful palette of various Latin and North American accents of the rest of the panel participants, Daniel mentioned how important for success is creating the right company culture and understanding the cultures in which you are conducting business. He pointed out how the US is a collection of 50 countries, each with a different culture, and how establishing the required rapport to seal a deal in New York and in Indiana need two very different approaches. The way he keeps on top of this, and what he recommended to the audience, says a lot about his approach to business, and is something that never in the history of the world has been more possible – although it is still an outrageously far reaching goal. Paraphrasing him, Daniel said: “Make it your mission to be able to talk to anyone in the world for at least five minutes, by consuming as much knowledge as you possibly can.”
I have written in the past about how accessible knowledge is in the modern, interconnected world that we live in. I have also pointed out how the exponential pace of technological change has overtaken the linear rate of human learning in the recent past. Only those driving this enabler engine of human prosperity have been either paying attention or awake enough, or focused enough, consuming the knowledge necessary to just keep up towards the front of the pack. Well, this “front of the pack” entrepreneur attributes his success to learning as much as possible about the cultures and the people he does business with, and he stresses his employees do the same.
There is a vast ocean of knowledge out there in front of you, and it has never been made available as directly, as inexpensively, as structured and organized as it is today. The amount of information and wisdom out there on how to pursue a commercial entrepreneurial endeavor, with the goal to make your life and the life of those you care for better, is out there in thousands of free podcasts, inexpensive Kindle books, YouTube videos, online training sites that you can mine extensively for a limited cost, freely available research databases at your local library, and freely available as well in books and magazines that you can borrow locally or purchase new or used online. Community building events featuring local entrepreneurs such as the ones we host here at the Innovation Hub (Startup Grind, Fort Lauderdale) on a monthly basis are another example. The bang per buck on some of this “learning” is amazing, when you compare it to the same statistic 30, 50, 100 years ago when the world wasn’t as connected, and barriers to knowledge were higher.
This piece of advice by Daniel, although inspiring, was not the most inspiring thing I heard him say that morning. In his distinct British accent, contrasting the cultures of the US and Europe, and alluding to their difference as a big reason why he’s been able to achieve the American dream, he said that in America, the harder you work, the more people want you to succeed.
This speaks profoundly to a quality we have as a people, which is not as self-evident or prevalent in the rest of the world, by most accounts I have heard about, read about, or experienced. Now, I ask you to answer this question: what better culture would you want to be submerged in, when you take the plunge into the vast ocean of knowledge and opportunity in front of you, than one in which most everyone around you, watching you struggle, wants, hopes and prays that you reach the solid ground out there in the horizon?