One of the most interesting people I’ve met in the past few years is Wes Edens, CEO of Fortress Investments, a billionaire and world traveler originally from a small town in Montana.
Say what you will about Wes today, but you can’t argue with the fact he started with nothing and built himself a very prosperous company. That makes him, to a large degree, a man worth listening to.
When we met, he talked a lot about business — the importance of hiring the right people, not being afraid of change, not being afraid, period, and making your own observations.
Edens talked about the classic experiment of watching two teams of people pass a basketball and telling the audience to count how many times one team passes the ball. Invariably, many people miss the guy in the gorilla suit who walks through the players, stops, beats his chest, and then keeps walking.
The lesson Edens said he took away from this was, "make your own observations."
The smart business leader doesn’t do something because others are doing it or because some might criticize it.
His advice: observe the business environment and figure out what you think you should do and then do it. Trust your observations.
That little conversation played a big role in how I went about planning The Batavian and continues to drive what I do.
It isn’t my goal to live up to the expectations of the so-called — self-appointed or not — experts.
My goal is to make my own observations and then do what I think is right. If that means I fail, then at least I’m going to fail doing what I believe in rather than what somebody else thinks I should do.
And if I piss some people off along the way because I’m sticking to my own observations, well, I guess I just have to learn to live with it.
I have a plan. I’m going to keep after that plan, unless something happens to make it impossible, whether others understand it, agree with it, or not.