Are You “Successful”?

“What is success?”

Well…what is it? This is the question I was asked when reading Om Malik’s self titled blog Om Malik.

Om Malik has made several podcast appearances on Gruber’s TalkShow & GigaOM Commutist. His blog is a very simple blog with him sharing his ideas and views about certain aspects of life and business. I was skeptical at first but after reading several of his posts, I was blown away by the simplicity yet impact of these blogs, one of which is simply called “Success“, of which I highly encourage all of you to read. It’s short and to the point, but eloquently written.

He talked about the idea of success. What is it? He specifically used an example of smart phone apps. Is it more successful to have 1,000,000 million downloads but only be used once a week or to have 1,000 downloads and be used several times a day?

I commented on this post of his explaining that this idea of “success” fits right in line with our discussions on business ethics. For example, could Nike in the 80’s/90’s be considered a successful company? They were the superstars of shoe industry and on top of the world. Everyone loved Nike, everyone owned Nike, Nike was a way of life for some. Many would say that that is success. But are they really successful when they are ethically dropping the ball?

I thanked Om for his blog post and let him know that it really spurred an interest for me. I believe that his ideas and opinions should be shared with not only startup companies (his main target in the blog post) but all companies. Companies like Apple and Nike could have used this to really remind themselves of what success is. To get back down to the basics of it all.

Could one argue that success is relative? Or are there rules and standards you must follow and meet to be successful? Could there be a “Successful Checklist” of sorts?

So…are you successful?



6 responses to “Are You “Successful”?

  1. I completely agree with your idea of success and how it is relative. Major corporations like Nike and Apple have always been successful because of their financial gains, but people don’t often take ethical behaviors into consideration when determining success. I think that, given our discussion of shareholder vs. stakeholder ethics, that success is too determined by financials. Stakeholder theory involves much more than that, as should determinants of a business’ success.

  2. Upon your recommendation, I read “Success” and it’s very good! As I was reading it, I felt like it could be used in a poetry slam. I think the point he’s trying to make, where short-term decisions are, at their core, flawed, is important. The financial crises was (partly) caused by people who wanted to maximize short-term profits with no regard for the future. People need to start looking at long-term effects, because that is where sustainable growth lies. I’m glad you recommended this post.

  3. The topic of my first paper basically covers the rise and fall of Nike, with the decisions that were made, how the public perception changed, and what they have done to fix it. As you said, in the 80’s and 90’s, everyone loved Nike and wanted to be part of the brand experience. So was Nike’s success defined by their exploitations and frankly unethical behavior? I think that after the public backlash, Nike had the opportunity to redefine their brand and really improve what they considered to be “successful” for its company. In terms of the questions that you listed at the end of your post, I think that success could be considered to be relative. Different companies have different perceptions of what success is. Some see success as gaining the most revenue, whereas others define success by how much they are able to give back to the community, its fans, and its shareholders. So in that sense I feel that it would be difficult to put together some sort of tangible “successful checklist.”

  4. Om Malik touches on some important elements of success and does a great job of getting his message across that success needs to be assessed on an “internal barometer” to avoid wasting time on pursuits that do not lead to the true success you are looking for. I think you are absolutely correct that the idea of success is relative; one person’s idea of a successful Olympic downhill ski run is far different than success defined as not falling down on the bunny hill… At the end of the day both scenarios can equate to successful skiing for different people. Therefore, I am not sure if there could ever be genuine “successful checklist” but sometimes the real skill lies in separating success from the outcomes of success.

  5. I think this is an awesome post. In todays world alot is changing, and with that our conceptions of alot of very simple ideas such as responsiblity, and as was mentioned, success need to change too. Taking this one step further, we should be considering dilemmas such as minimizing damanges to the environment, and making positive impacts on social issues in how successful we consider ventures to be. I was working at an impact investment firm the summer before last and part of my job was researching the Global Impact Investing Network which is currently developing a new system by which they rate companies for investment potential. This system takes into account social, and environmental impacts which are being made. I think this really shows the business community as a whole redefining preconceptions of success, particularly those that were solely financially motivated.

  6. Nick, I think this is a relavent post to our own lives as the Career Fair looms in front of us this week. Before any of us attend, we should ask ourselves, “What is success to me, and how can I achieve it?” Going up to a booth that says Nike, Apple or Enron (in their respective heydays) might be exciting and the jobs may seem sexy, but will they bring what we truly want?

    This post was a great reminder to take a step back and think about how our jobs and/or companies do not mean success, but are instead a potential path to whatever we define as success.

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