30 Second MBA: What used to scare you that you’re not afraid of anymore?

Check out our Skool Principal, Darrell Kopke’s response to Fast Company‘s ’30 Second MBA’ question: what used to scare you that you’re not afraid of anymore?

Back in 2002, when lululemon athletica was one store, we set in motion a plan to grow to 200 stores by 2008. It was a hugely audacious goal and was met with shock and disbelief by anybody outside of the organization. We were told by finance industry types, analysts, and even suppliers that we could not do it. We did not have the experience, expertise, or capital.

Growing a high growth company by 100% every year was intimidating and scary. Prior to becoming General Manager of lululemon, I had never managed people before and my retail experience amounted to 10 months at an electronics retailer. There was a lot I did not know and every day brought new challenges, insights, and experiences. I was in a position of not knowing what I did not know – this was out of my league, or so I thought.

What happened is we focused our corporate culture on personal development and improvement and committed all employees to accepting and even relishing continuous change. We all had to get better and develop ourselves through reading, networking, and working on the retail floor. By setting in motion a people-focused culture, we overcame our fear of failure and instead began to relish making mistakes. We were always learning, sharing and improving.

No need to dwell on the results – the company is currently worth over $9 Billion. The takeaway is that by focusing on your people and their individual personal development, which includes budgeting for courses, reading materials, seminar attendance, and education allowance, you create an environment of continuous improvement. Even if it is about the team first, your company wins by default.

My life right now is entrepreneurial heaven; I am involved with almost a dozen start-ups. Many of the CEOs I work with have days when they fear managing the unknown. My advice always is: 1) get used to it; and 2) relish the mistakes you make. This is a fun ride.

Click HERE, to see how other business leaders answered this question.

Written by: Darrell Kopke, Skool Principal

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