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What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School

“If you aren’t afraid to fail, then you probably don’t care enough about success.”

-Mark McCormack

What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School teaches why succeeding in business has less to do with accumulated theoretical knowledge through schooling and books, and more about people and communication.

Lesson 1: Glean insights from your business colleagues by listening and paying close attention

When first starting up a business it’s very easy to be quickly consumed at the onset by numbers and growth. It can become obsessive. But it’s really more about people, isn’t it?

To get ahead in any business venture, whether that business is selling a product or hiring a working staff, the key is to identify who it is that you’re doing business with. It’s a good idea to take some time and figure out what it is that makes them tick. What is it that drives the people that you’re dealing with? What are their motivations, aspirations, and fears?

Know their personalities and you can better predict their behaviour. For example, the slick businessman type, won’t display that persona to everyone. He’ll have several façades in his toolbox. He will talk to his boss, clients, employees, and family, all in different ways.

If you can be aware of these multiple fronts, you will know that there is much more to this slick veneer than meets the eye. There’s always a lot more going on beneath the surface. But to discover the depths of someone’s personality, you really need to listen closely.

Lesson 2: An unpleasant tone in someone’s voice or a feeling of discomfort can be useful tools

Imagine that you’re on the verge of closing a deal. Everything seems to be coming together nicely and you’re just about to sign off. All of the persuasion and negotiating have finally paid off. It’s not uncommon at this point as you’re about to clinch the deal, that you get the feeling that something is a bit off. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but something just isn’t sitting well with you.

So what is your response to these feelings? Do you ignore them and continue, or do you hold the horses and rethink it?

Some discomfort is a perfectly understandable response and learning to trust these feelings is something that can be beneficial in business practices. It’s okay to feel uneasy and apply the brakes, particularly when there is a large amount of money or something valuable at stake.

It could be as slight as the tone in someone’s voice or maybe their posture or eye contact. Its okay to take another day or two to think about it. And remember that when it comes to rejection in business  its rarely personal. Very often it’s about the product or service itself.

Lesson 3 : Be sure to allocate time for activities and playtime in your schedule – read, exercise or just decompress.

Too many executives seem to always be on the move, closing deals and running around after new business. Many of them leave little room for hobbies, playtime or just taking some time to relax and power down.

It all really comes down to managing your time. The trick that some busy people have learned is working the playtime into your schedule. That can be meeting up with friends at a favourite restaurant or hang-out spot or getting in a round of golf or a game of tennis at the club.

The author, Mark McCormack knows something about R&R during the time he was heading up IMG. Mark always made time to read, exercise, socialise with friends or just decompress. If he had a commitment at 7:00 a.m., he’d wake up at 5:00 a.m. and take time for some uninterrupted reading. While some would’ve taken the extra time to sleep in.

It’s important that once you’ve established a schedule, that you keep that schedule and only deviate if absolutely necessary. This will eventually become part of your routine. In the end, this management advice  will better equip you to run and maintain a successful business.