Speak Softly, But …


Former President Teddy Roosevelt used to say “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” He meant that you should be nice, but that you also shouldn’t be afraid to duke it out when necessary. His comments were in reference to having a great military, but they also apply directly to you and me. As entrepreneurs, we’re not fighting with nuclear weapons, but we still have to concentrate on putting the best possible gear into our arsenals.

Entrepreneurs need to have the best tools. We need to have great business plans. We need to have great strategies. We need to have great contracts, and we need to have great documentation that supports our endeavors at every step. But we also have to have great people skills. We have to have great demeanor. We have to be patient. We have to be willing to train people in the skills that they need to have to be successful in our organizations.

To the extent that the entrepreneur is willing to train and mentor the people who are on their team, that entrepreneur will be paid back 100-fold in the loyalty and productivity that their team members bring to bear. We have to carefully think of our tools as the weapons of our trade.

We have to constantly hone our craft, sharpen our skills, and pay very careful attention to the way that we go about doing our business. And we also have to be very well-aware of the responsibility that we have to bring those skills to the members of our team. When we tackle all of these responsibilities, the benefit accrues to us at least as much as it accrues to the people who we are mentoring.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you’re building your career, speak softly, be nice, and carry a big stick while you’re trying to bring success to your organization. Have great plans, use great strategies, and develop great tools and teams because that is the only way that you’re going to be able to create the kind of success that will motivate you every day.