Award-winning entrepreneur and angel investor Kim Perell wasn’t the best student. She wasn’t the brightest in her family. The first company she worked for ran out of money before it could become profitable and all her stock options became worthless. Broke and jobless, she had to borrow $10,000 from her grandmother and take an offer of a rent-free place to start her own business. Her business didn’t change the industry. Yet, she was able to cash out for $30 million.
So how did Perell become so financially successful without being the smartest, the best, or changing her industry? One word: execution. Execution was the one skill that separated her from her family, her colleagues, and the rest of us. Where others may have had more funding, more education, and better connections, Perell had the ability to execute.
In her national bestselling book The Execution Factor, Perell explains execution is all about five traits: vision, action, passion, resilience, and relationships.
Vision is about knowing where you are going and being clear about what you want to achieve. To be effective, you should decide the steps you want to follow and have a goal that is meaningful to you.
For example, Perell had a vision of starting a company and being her own boss. Her first steps were getting funding and a place to work. However, vision alone won’t get a person to their goal. Vision without taking steps is just idle daydreaming or small talk over a brew. You also need to take action.
Action is about taking steps toward meeting your goal. Action is different than activity. You can have a long to-do list and get lots of things done every day but unless these tasks are taking you closer to your goal, they aren’t actions.
For Perell, action was about taking the first step to start her business, even when she was afraid or uncertain. She took the first step to create her business by getting on a plane with only her grandmother’s loan and free housing. Action alone, however, won’t get a person to their goal, you also need passion.
If you really want to achieve an audacious goal, you need passion. Passion is not just about liking something a whole lot; it’s about being willing to suffer or sacrifice for what you want. Passion is connected to your self-belief, satisfaction, and motivation.
Perell had a passion to start her own business and be a leader. This passion sustained her through working long hours and the uncertainty of her success. However, passion for something is not enough to achieve your goals. You need to have resilience to overcome those setbacks you will inevitably encounter.
Resilience, grit, determination, or whatever you want to call it is all about accepting uncertainty and overcoming obstacles. Resilience is not just about learning from failure or failing fast. It’s about continuing to work when things go sideways. It’s about dealing with problems in constructive and creative ways.
When the market for Perell’s digital advertising business dried up, she didn’t fly home to her parents. She looked for consumer products she could source from manufacturers to sell online. She maxed out her credit cards. In short, she did what was necessary to keep taking steps toward her goal of a successful business. Those who don’t have resilience, or who use setbacks as a reason to give up, never reach audacious goals. Of course, to be resilient you really need to have great relationships.
Relationships are the cornerstone to successful execution. You can’t execute a vision alone. You need healthy, inspiring, and supportive relationships if you are going to follow your passion and deal with setbacks. You need coaches, mentors, and friends.
Perell not only had a loving husband, good friends, and a supportive family but she also had a great business team to support her vision and actions. Her friends understood why she couldn’t go out every night for drinks, her father would inspire her by saying eight hour days were half days, and her husband provided emotional support. If you want to have a big success, you don’t do it alone, you do it together.
In short, you need to practice all five traits—vision, action, passion, resilience, and relationships—to execute.