I’ve never taken a business class. I have no intentions of going to get an MBA in the foreseeable future. Yet, I run a business.
To make up for lack of a formal business education, I work hard to learn through other resources: experienced professionals I meet, books, and seminars. Today I had the opportunity to listen to a question-and-answer session at Emory with Herb Allen and Barry Diller. Both are among the top businessmen in the country as well as most respected. Sitting from the audience I imagined being in a position such as they were when I am their age, mentoring an audience of primarily MBA students, eager and ready to make their mark on the business world.
Amidst an hour of painful, poorly selected questions from the moderator, what I gleaned was between-the-lines. That during the lifetime of these men, the business landscape as well as the country changed. When they began, women weren’t working and their certainly wasn’t racial or religious equality in the workplace. Throughout their years, they were able to adapt to these changes as well as the more recent technological advances which rocked many industries, particularly that of Barry Diller in the entertainment and media world. Even at his older age, he’s still taking on start-ups under his umbrella, many of which are tech heavy. He’s not rested on his laurels and was able to grow with (and often faster) than the changes which could have devastated his career.
The other important thing I took away, particularly from Herb Allen, was his modesty. Regardless of his accolades, he shrugged off compliments or allusions to his grandeur. He made little of himself and acted almost as if his advice was next to meaningless. It was refreshing to see how little he wanted the ‘fame’ of the moment and how much more he seemed interested in the experience of those in the room. Perhaps a positive side-affect of age and wisdom, or perhaps part of why he made it as big as he did.
I’ll keep these pearls along with those I gather from other people, reading, and experiences to continue to get my makeshift MBA.