Every time I open the big blue journal I carry everywhere, I think of Bruce. He has been my informal mentor since I first conceived of the Nour Group, some 13 years ago. At the end of almost every conversation, he closes with the same four words, which I’ve inscribed inside the cover of my journal: “Go Do Great Work!”
Bruce is retired from a partnership in a marquee consultancy himself. If you’ve read the book Lords of Strategy, you’ve met Bruce, in a sense. His demeanor is such that when you meet him, you know you’re talking to one of the last aristocrats, the forefathers of management consulting or senior leadership and board advisory work —what I do for a living.
I ran into him in the Atlanta airport the other day and he looked every bit the Lord of Strategy—sporting an elegant overcoat topped with a classy gentleman’s fedora, his accessories stylishly matched from his belt to his briefcase to his polished shoes. The quintessential statesman, that’s Bruce. One of the first times I met Bruce was at a private event, where one of his client proclaimed, “We wouldn’t be the company we are today without Bruce.” I felt it like a thunderclap: that’s how I want my clients to describe our relationship. This is “Dad” in your profession, the guy you aspire to become. I aspire to become Bruce one day.
Bruce is in some ways that “father figure” we all need in our daily business grind. My dad doesn’t really understand what I do. I love him and he’s instilled in me principles I try to live by every day, but he cannot professionally mentor me the way Bruce can. That’s why I call Bruce my “Business Dad.” He gets my professional world – its ups and downs, enablers and inhibitors. He gets how I add value to great clients. He has done what I do, and for Fortune 100 CEOs and their boards.
Inevitably I find myself, after a conversation with Bruce ends, thinking about that simple statement: go do great work! If you break it down, you’ll find remarkable wisdom there.
- “Go do” is about execution. Focus. Performance. He’s not telling me to go analyze anything to death. He’s not telling me to go to the Nth degree of detail to prepare research reports that no one will ever read. The “go do” phrase, like Nike’s “Just do it”, is telling me that execution is fundamentally, what really matters.
- “Great” is about excellence. He’s not telling me to go do mediocre work. He’s not telling me to deliver half-baked results. Greatness makes one proud, makes clients proud of the end result. Great is memorable. Great is worthy of remark.
- “Work” is about outcomes. Work is about how your client is better off because of you. How did their condition improve due to your work together? Outcomes, not inputs, matter. Outcomes are the result of execution.
- And let’s not forget the exclamation point at the end! Your exclamation point is your distinction, your differentiation. It’s what sets you apart from all competitors when you “go do great work!” This isn’t a marketing slogan, nor clever ad copy. There’s no logo, no graphics. It’s fundamentally a statement about tough, smart, forward-thinking action that compensates you for your education, expertise, and insights.
“Go do great work!” represents clients who want and need you, who couldn’t be happier that they found you. “Go do great work!” is about the results you achieve when you find your “professional soul mates”—the equivalent of the spouse who is your personal soul mate, but at work. Someone you can trust, you can talk to, who you don’t have to try to impress, because who you authentically are has already done that.
I’ve often said that the distance between who we are and who we want people to think we are is way too wide with way too many people. The more we focus on “go do great work!” the more that gap closes.
The fact that Bruce closes every one of our conversations with “Go do great work!” underlines the value of consistency. You can’t go do great work for one client and half-baked for the next. Every time I open my journal, I think again about Bruce, my “Business Dad,” and the value of consistent commitment to core values.
We all need an aspirational mentor; you’re never too old or too young to go find one. Thirteen years ago I went to Bruce, among others I trust and respect, and I asked him, “Tell me what you perceive I do well?” He’s one of the people who said, “You build and nurture relationships better than anyone else I know. If you can teach others how to do that, you’ll succeed.”
As I prepare to celebrate 13 successful years since founding the Nour Group, I want to say to Bruce: thank you! For your wisdom, your friendship, and your counsel. Here is to continuing to go do great work!
- Bruce, my informal “Business Dad” and mentor, has instilled in me the mission to “Go do great work!”—a call to action with which he ends almost every one of our conversations.
- “Go do great work!” reminds us of the need for consistent execution, a focus on outcomes, and differentiation that distinguishes on everything we do.
- You are never too old or too young to benefit from an aspirational mentor like Bruce.
David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. In a global economy that is becoming increasingly disconnected, The Nour Group, Inc. has attracted consulting engagements from over 100 marquee organizations in driving unprecedented growth through unique return on their strategic relationships. Nour has pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off balance sheet asset any organizations possesses, large and small, public and private. He is the author of several books including the best selling Relationship Economics— Revised (Wiley), ConnectAbility (McGraw-Hill), The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital (Praeger) and Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com.