Nine Principles for Success

News | Tim Collins| May 15, 2015

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On Tuesday, May 12th, EBSCO Industries President and CEO Tim Collins delivered the Keynote Address at the 2015 Honor Scholars Recognition Dinner sponsored by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. This annual event honors the Top North Shore Graduating Seniors of 2015. Tim provided the scholars, parents and community leaders in the audience with his Nine Principles for Success.

I want to share information gleaned from my 33 years in business that has served me well in the hopes that these principles resonate with you and that you recognize those times when they can help you as well. Since founding the company that would become EBSCO Information Services and then taking over the parent company, EBSCO Industries, I have read a lot of books and worked with thousands of people. I have made my share of mistakes and I have learned from them.

Some of these may seem obvious but one running theme that may help bookend this discussion is the more you put into something, the more you get out so don’t just think this is obvious, think, do I do these things, do I follow these guidelines? Can I accomplish more and would I be happier if I did?

1) Operate with Vision and a Bias for Action
This requires both thinking AND doing. Setting a vision and developing goals and plans are essential if you have something you want to accomplish but you need to act to make the vision a reality and one important part of the process is to learn from your actions, find to what does and doesn’t work and revise your vision. Where do you start?

Write down what you have done, what you like and why. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and see if you like it or what you learn about yourself. Talk to people. Informational interviews can help give you a better sense about a career path.

Nothing is worse than working hard to achieve a goal and then realizing it isn’t what you want. You can avoid this by putting in the time to really consider what you want. Don’t be afraid to make a change. For me, I thought I had to have an MBA to be successful. I took some classes and then realized I really wanted a business, not an MBA — and I already had a business.

2) Make Your Own Luck
You need to be open to what is happening around you. Recognize the right place and time when it is happening and be ready to take advantage of it. Once you know the type of career you want or the type of person you want to be, you need to determine the skills and behaviors required and go out and find a way to get some experience. Put yourself in a position to succeed.

3) Be Driven
Building a business means hiring the right people and promoting those who are best-suited to lead. The most successful people at EBSCO are the ones with drive. I believe it is a larger factor than intelligence, education or experience.

How do I define drive? It is the combination of a commitment to accomplish goals and the determination, persistence, and will to succeed. Think about innovation and accomplishments through history. You might say that drive is a driving factor — ordinary people with tremendous will.

4) Be Passionate
This goes to something I said earlier, the more you put in, the more you get out. Actions become more meaningful if you are doing more than going through the motions and they will bring better results too. The joy is in the chase. If you are only passionate about the end result, you are missing a lot of the action. While the easiest way to be passionate about something is to do what you love, there are ways to get passionate about something and that may be necessary such as a required class that you need to take to graduate. How can your attitude impact the outcome? You can take the class and be miserable or find something to enjoy. It is your choice, you control your attitude.

5) Maintain a Positive Attitude
There are lots of clichés here but whether you talk about your outlook in terms of being a glass half full type person or whether you look on the bright side, it is no surprise that positive people are more productive and happier. What is your view on life? Do you see problems as opportunities to overcome or do you wallow in what cannot change? How you react to the bad things that happen to you will define you. I say, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Focus on what you can control, don’t worry about the things you cannot and always look for the opportunities that may present themselves out of any situation.

6) Don’t be a Fool
It seems simple but heading to college, you might find yourselves confronting this one more than you think. One aspect of this is related to your behavior. Don’t do anything that you know is wrong or stupid — nothing that you’ll see on the news! Pick your friends and partners carefully. Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. How many stories have we heard about a great athlete whose career was derailed because of his or her actions or who will always be tied to that bar fight at two am. My question is why are you in a bar at two am?

Another aspect of this principle relates to how you approach challenges. What is the definition of a fool? Someone who does the same thing over and over again and expects different results. If something doesn’t work, move on to something else but don’t forget to try.

7) Help Yourself by Helping Others
Most people like to help people so let them help you. Invest in relationships. Be there for your friends and co-workers. Show others how helping you can help them. Create a win/win relationship. Share your goals and ask for their goals. Listen and be creative. Get people to help you by helping them first. More often than not people will return the favor. If they don’t, that also tells you something. Give others credit when you accomplish something together. If you focus on results and not who gets the credit everybody wins and you have created a relationship in which others will want to help you in the future.

8) Build a Strong Reputation by Doing What You Say You Will Do
There are many opportunities that will come your way in life as a direct result of the reputation you build. Cultivate it. Your actions determine your reputation, how people see you, what they expect from you. If you don’t do what you commit to, you will get bad reputation. People will not trust you. If people feel you are honest and they can trust you to do what you say you will do, opportunities will come your way. Remember that people pay more attention to your actions than your words so do what you say you will do.

9) Minimize Regrets — “Do Your Best”— Carpe Diem
Do your best. Again, the more you put into something, the more you get out of it so why not put more in? If you are doing a job, whether it is big or small, do it right or don’t do it at all. Doing your best leads to a feeling of great accomplishment. Knowing you put in your best effort means, no matter what the outcome, you can be content that you did your best. If you fail because of a lack of effort, it can be a life-long regret and lead to the chorus of if onlys that can be destructive. Wasted potential is one of the worst things in life while being called an over achiever is one of the best compliments one can ever receive.

“Carpe diem,” seize the day. If you are on fence about something — lean toward doing it — the good memories you will hold throughout life are of things you did and the chances you took, not of the risks averted or the times you played it safe. Experience life and all it has to offer. Learn from what it has to teach.

Learn more about what it is like to work for a company that is dedicated to these principals and wants to hire good people and let them thrive,

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Tim Collins
President & CEO – EBSCO Industries, Inc.

In July 2014, Tim Collins became the President and Chief Executive Officer of EBSCO Industries, Inc., one of the largest private companies in the United States, with more than 5,000 employees and over $2.7B in annual revenue. He served as President of EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO), EBSCO Industries’ largest division, before moving into his new role. Read the Full Bio.

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