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The Essence of Excellence

The Essence of Excellence

By John Spence


Several years ago, one of my clients asked me to deliver a speech to 1,600 people on “the essence of excellence.” Putting together that talk was a daunting task and after weeks of research and talking to top CEOs around the country, I finally settled in on what I felt were the three key watchwords of excellence: FDA


You must be intensely focused on your own personal “philosophy of excellence,” a vision of what you are trying to achieve in your business and how you plan to make that a reality. It is also essential that your vision be extremely well communicated across the entire organization in a way that is easy to understand and truly compelling to your team.


You must have the discipline to actually live that philosophy of excellence and work toward your vision of success each and every day. It is not enough to write it down, create a plan and talk about it – everyone in your organization must be highly disciplined in staying focused on the plan. The sad truth is that most businesses only implement about 10 to 15 percent of their philosophy of excellence, so if you can create enough discipline in your organization to implement 40, 50 or even 70 percent of your plan, you will dominate the marketplace.


The amount of success you achieve in your business will be directly proportional to the amount of action you apply to your vision and plan. Apply a modicum of action and your outcome will be mediocrity; apply significant action and your outcome will be success. So you must create a culture where people have a sense of urgency and are proactive in solving problems, looking for opportunities and finding new ways to add value to your customers.

The key to achieving excellence in your business is to apply massive action with great discipline to your focused philosophy of excellence. Then, you will be doing what is necessary to create a truly great organization.


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But what if you’re having a hard time defining your philosophy of excellence and what you should focus on to make your business great? Let me help you with that. Based on my 22 years of helping companies – from the top of the Fortune 100 to mom-and-pop shops to brand new entrepreneurial startups – I believe that if you focus on the following four areas, you’ll be building an incredibly strong foundation for success.

  1. Create a strong value proposition where your business adds real value to your ideal target customer in a unique and differentiated way.
  2. Create the systems and processes necessary for flawless operational execution that consistently delivers on the value proposition.
  3. Create a performance-oriented culture of extreme customer focus that refuses to tolerate mediocrity.
  4. Hire top talent that embraces excellence and a high level of personal accountability, then remove all barriers and bureaucracy and empower them to solve problems and serve the customer.


There are other items I could add to this list, such as being superb at managing cash flow, making sure all of your products and services are of the highest quality, and staying informed of the competition and the threats and opportunities in your industry— but at the end of the day, if you are fanatical in implementing the four items I’ve listed above, it is my strong belief that you are focusing on the key things necessary to build a sustainably successful business.


John Spence is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action,” and has been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders in America and one of the country’s leading small business influencers.

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