Lionel Richie is best known for writing some of the most iconic love songs in history. Since 1974 he has travelled the world anchoring some of people’s most cherished memories with each song performance. But Richie is much more than a famous rock star. He is an entrepreneur in the truest and purest sense. Lionel Richie is unquenchable in his pursuit of what is next.
At Shoptalk 2017 this week in Las Vegas (which is the largest global gathering of retail brands, startups, and executives) he returned for an encore and answered questions on his view of risk taking in a 10-minute keynote by dropping five thought-provoking beliefs and ideas that drive him as he operates his businesses and investments while continuing to tour around the world.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Our comfort zone is the arbitrary boundary that represents everything we currently know and the stuff that we know that we don’t know. New opportunity lies outside of our present level of awareness (i.e. comfort zone). In order to achieve new heights we must stretch the comfort zone outward. There is no other way to bring new opportunities into our experience.
“The moment you think that you have finally made it, you are already a step behind.”
The paradox of being an entrepreneur is that we set goals beyond most people’s wildest dreams and work tirelessly to achieve them. The actual achievement of these goals is usually met with less satisfaction than one might think. It is because the reality of a growth oriented individual is that the pursuit of the new thing is often more enjoyable and more life-giving than the acquisition of it. You should celebrate your achievements and allow yourself to feel the temporary sense of pride that comes from conquering obstacles and fear, but the minute that you let yourself believe you have reached the top, someone else will sprint by you and show you what new heights look like. Lionel noted that the minute you have a hit record someone is going to ask you what your next record is going to be out, and you better have one in your mind at that moment or you will be left behind and forgotten quickly.
“Go for panic. Make fear your companion.”
I love this statement. It changes the perspective on fear in an instant.
“A hero and a coward both were scared to death. One stepped forward and one stepped back.”
There is no such thing as a fearless entrepreneur. The difference in successful entrepreneurs and wanna-preneurs comes down to which direction they step when they feel fearful. Fear is only present when we step into the unknown outside of our current comfort zone and shift the paradigms in our mind that have operated us to present. In every pursuit of what is next, we will inherently face a sense of fear. Step on through to new!
“Everyone sells their product with music these days. We just can’t sell records anymore.”
An entrepreneur doesn’t grasp on to the past. An entrepreneur sees and acts on the future in the present and leverage every available resource to find new ways to win. When you have a cash cow you must be developing the next set of stars and take multiple micro-bets on question marks. Lionel Richie epitomizes this belief by not being romantic about how his businesses make money. He looked at his business with fresh eyes and realized that his persona was present in the memories of fans as the song that they got married to, fell in love to, or made love to, but in order to transcend his business he had to focus on where he could be a part of their future memories in new ways. The genesis of the Lionel Richie Home line of products came out of realizing that he could re-purpose his personal brand assets to help provide quality products that were part of people’s major life moments in new ways. The take home point is that it is okay to be romantic about music, but don’t be romantic about how your business makes money. Move with the consumer and move with the times. Don’t let fear or scarcity drive you. Instead pursue fear as a portal to your next big opportunity.