Tristan Walker, CEO, and Founder of Walker & Company Brands talked about the role his upbringing added to the culture of his company. "Courage is our first value. The reason I have courage as a first value is because without courage, you can't practice any other value consistently."
Tristan goes on to share his version of courage. He said, "I grew up in the Jamaica and Flushing, Queens, projects. I saw people get murdered, seeing people get shot. All that stuff. My worst case scenario is going back to that, and I survived it. So people are like, 'Sh** -- Tristan's willing to go to the depths of hell to make this thing survive.' That's an inspiring thing. I knew what it took to actually get out of that sh**, and just having that context made people think about how I make my decisions differently."
When I think about what experiences have matured me the most, they are less about business and more about the personal challenges I have faced in life.
Today, I learned that one of my clients Dr. Walid Attisha had died in his sleep from a cardiac event. It literally took my breath away. He was only 42. I didn't know Dr. Attisha well. I never met him in person. I just briefly spoke to him three or four times via conference calls. I can only say he was very kind and courteous. I don't even know his entire life's story, but reading his obituary, it said that he was preceded in death by a son. His obituary also stated that Dr. Attisha had a "soft place in his heart for those who were overlooked or unaccepted."
I can only guess, that in addition to Dr. Attisha's numerous accomplishments academically and professionally, most of us will remember much longer his legacy in how he lived his life, treated others, and responded to life's challenges.
Without personal challenges, I know I would not have those traits of courage that Tristan Walker illustrated so well and Dr. Attisha modeled.
In business, when I look at the team we are building, traits such as courage, self-reliance, kindness, and an urge to prove oneself are way more important drivers of performance to me than a job title, age, or accolades. What matters to me is maturity, gratitude, a desire to excel and make a difference, and perspective.
Whether it's life or building your team, seek people who have endured adversity. Failure doesn't scare them. They look forward to challenges. They often seek to go the extra mile. They are difference makers.
I would start by learning about the people around you. You might be surprised what you will learn.
When building your team start by asking prospective team members about their most defining challenges. If you find adversity in their journey, you likely have found a gem.