Signs of Success

Warren Buffet, the Oracle from Omaha and easily the greatest investor of all time, is famous for dishing out some of the best investment advice anywhere. Once when he was asked about his top rules for investing, Buffet shared this rather obvious insight: “Rule No. 1: never lose money; rule No. 2: don’t forget rule No. 1.”  That tidbit is about as exciting as a Nebraska cornfield, but when your strategy earns you billions, people listen.

Perhaps no other quote captures Buffet’s investment philosophy better than this one: “When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.” Got it? Buffet buys quality, well-managed companies, and then he holds them forever. His Berkshire Hathaway fund has made millionaires off countless investors who have stuck by his brand of homespun wisdom and rational investing.

Is Warren Buffet the only person who knows how to spot a great company? I think not. Truth is, great companies have certain telltale signs that keep them successful over long periods of time. Scratch below the surface and you’re likely to find a set of non-negotiable core values built around a big vision. The leadership team is usually cohesive, goals and objectives are clear, and they are future-focused. Few companies today marry all these competencies as seamlessly as the Volkswagen Group of auto-companies. To achieve their stated vision of becoming the #1 Automaker on the planet, VW spent a record $12.5 billion dollars on R&D. Money ain’t everything, but it’s a pretty good barometer of how serious a company is about achieving their goals. By the way, VW is well on their way to achieving their goal.

Successful companies also have one more thing in common: They communicate well. They develop great products and services, and then they build a message plan that gets the word out—and in (to the rank and file employees.) Communication is no afterthought for the Apples, Whole Foods, Macys, and Samsungs of the world. But how does a company start? Where do they begin? Here is how one health-care organization went about developing a great communication plan. They identified 8 steps, and these steps will work for any organization.

  1. Goals: Over time, what are the main things you wish to accomplish?
  2. Objectives: What do you want to accomplish with your communications?
  3. Strategy: In what ways can the objectives be accomplished?
  4. Audience: To whom your communications will be addressed, and how you will inform them.
  5. Tactics: What tools will you use to accomplish your objectives?
  6. Messaging: Specifically, what do you need to say?
  7. Timing: What is the timeframe for your communications?
  8. Evaluation: How you will measure the results of your plan?

So, will your company break through the clutter of your industry to emerge on top? Will you achieve lasting success? The answers to those questions may lie as much in how well you communicate your messages as in how well your company is run.

What are your messages saying about you?

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