According to Norm Brodsky, “[y]ou need to feel in your gut that whatever you do is the most interesting, exciting, worthwhile thing you could be doing at that moment. Otherwise, how do convince anyone else?”
To be sure, these are inspiring words. Of course, this begs the question: Who is Norm Brodsky, other than a pretty passionate guy. What does he do, exactly?
You might think that he’s an artist of some sort. You’d be wrong. He must be a crusader. Nope, try again. Getting annoyed at guessing? Fine. I’ll tell you. He works for a document management and storage company, CitiStorage.
And there are plenty of people like Norm in the pages of the excellent book, Small Giants. In it, Bo Burlingham tells amazing stories about particularly passionate entrepreneurs who intentionally keep their companies small. It’s a great read about how many people have found that it’s much better to run a small company–as opposed to a large one.
Burlingham starts and ends the book with a detailed description of something very difficult to define: mojo. The small giants have it and face constant challenges to keep it. Many companies start with it and, at some point, lose it. Once that happens, its practically impossible to get back.
Particularly noteworthy was the story of Gary Erickson of Clif Bar. I don’t want to give away too much here, but let’s just say that the musician and rock climber faced challenges unlike any that he could have possibly imagined. His commitment to preserve the company and culture he had created almost by accident simply blew my mind.
Small Giants resonated with me on a number of levels. As a small business person, I enjoy what I do and working for myself. Some of my clients are large organizations, many of which are rife with internal politics and dissatisfied employees–never mind customers. Over the course of my career, I have enjoyed working with small companies because you could actually solve more problems and make more of a difference. Evidently, I’m not the only person who feels this way.
On a completely different level, it was very refreshing to read about companies that are doing the right things. They are cultivating interesting places and creating meaningful jobs. They’re not beholden to quarterly earnings. Customers are loyal beyond belief. Reading about so many problems and issues gets tedious. Sometimes it’s simply a nice change of pace to read about people that get it.