So, over the past few weeks, I've spoken at--and sat through--a few industry conferences, and spent the majority of travel time getting to-and-from 'em reading my usual assortment of biz books, marketing magazines and other things I can't think of an alliteration for.
And during a panel session of some very high-powered execs, I had a Pow! epiphany. Put ever-so-simply, it is the answer to the eternal battle of business:
Smart people, while incredibly valuable, won't change the world. They will rule it and run it, but essentially, they will do so for the guy or girl with enough guts to do something they never would in a cajillion years.
It seems to be standard operating procedure in business that eventually, a successful company grows out of the control of the entrepreneur who started it, and the call goes out for "Professional Management!" to save the day. Not that this is bad, but without the (now) out-of-their-league visionary who started it, there would be no business to professionally manage.
Note that there are no "Professional Entrepreneurs." Unlike management, it is not a "skill" that can be "learned"; it is a "calling" that must be heeded. Again and again and again.
All this to say that as I sat in a room, listening to three incredibly smart captains of industry, I was impressed with their knowledge but depressed with their lack of vision, ideas or leadership. They were great at making excuses for what wasn't working, but offered no solutions for the future.
Contrast that to a couple of relatively unkempt, wide-eyed individuals who laid out blueprints for tomorrow a little earlier in the day. Once they were done, you had to beg people to come back into the ballroom for the next panel because the line-up to sign up for the future had begun spontaneously and instantaneously.
Think about this the next time someone inspires you. Is it the smartest person in the room? Or the most courageous?
Einstein said that "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
And as smart as he was, he had even bigger balls.