People Are What Matter

By Robb
Tuesday, Mar 15th, 2022

I was at a networking event recently where I met some corporate relations folks from the college of business at Auburn. As we talked, one of them mentioned that since I am a business owner who graduated from Auburn, they would like to have me speak to student groups.

Now to be clear, that’s fine with me. I enjoy public speaking, and it does not intimidate me to think of speaking to a group of intelligent (obviously since they are at Auburn) young students. But he did mention that the group he was thinking of is a club for entrepreneurs. My only hesitation is that I’m not sure you could call me an entrepreneur.

The definition of entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” So I suppose that’s accurate of me. Except that when I think of the word “entrepreneur” I usually think of someone who starts a business, or businesses, not someone who came into a family business and owns it with 5 other people.

It got me to thinking: if not starting a business, then what is Robb’s thing? What would I teach young people about entrepreneurship? The answer is pretty clear, pretty quick. But I have to wonder in this day where students look to “Shark Tank” and news on Reddit – the 7th most visited website in America – and with general uncertainty about the world, what do young people aspire to? Not that any of those things are bad, but could they instill an unhealthy desire to gain a name for oneself? Financial security? Political power?

So here is what I would teach: It’s people. People are what matter. Not people are number 1 and profit is number 2. People are number 1, everything else pales in comparison. You want to make a difference in your career? Make a difference in the lives of people.

Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called “The Motive.” It’s a great review of why one should go into leadership. I think it might be his best book. He was once being interviewed by Andy Stanley about the book, and he said this about leadership: “The world isn’t better when people want to be leaders and they don’t know why or they’re doing it for themselves.” Don’t lead if it’s for yourself.

I’d borrow that and say the same thing for entrepreneurs. Doing it for self inherently makes it a situation where someone will win and someone will lose. Doing it because you have something to offer the world – to help people – means that everyone wins. Leaders serve. They are servants of those they lead. Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

You see the point there is not getting what you want. It’s that along the way you are investing in the lives of those around you. If that is your focus, what you want either began in the right place or will get there somewhere along the way.

People are what matter. Everything else pales in comparison. That’s Robb’s thing.