Putting Priorities In Order: Make, Master and THEN Matter

This is number Five of our series where we share Heartwood’s founding principles. The first, Building the Business vs. Making the Quarter, and more can be found here.

Daymond John is the fashion industry pioneer behind FUBU a.k.a. “For Us By Us” and an advisor on the highly popular entrepreneurial business show, Shark Tank. And if you’re a fan of the show, you know is advice is pretty consistently spot on – like the bit of his advice that follows.

jedi master - photo credit FrogMiller on Flickr

First Make, then Master, then Matter

A Shark Tank lesson John shared that was particularly striking cautioned an overeager entrepreneur: “First you make, then you master – then you matter.”

What does this mean?

The entrepreneur John was speaking to was intent on helping out his local community and wanted to keep all manufacturing of his product in this one town where he grew up. Problem was, it was not a financially sound decision for a brand new business, as it would hinder long-term growth – and potentially make any growth at all impossible. John was attempting to impress upon the entrepreneur that business, like life, happens in stages:

Consider your personal life for a moment – friendships specifically. You can’t suddenly become important to new friends. You need to make a friendship, master that friendship with patience and mutual respect – and only then will you start to matter to each other. There’s no way to skip a step and matter to each other from day one. Life – like business – just doesn’t work that way.

John gave similar advice to the entrepreneur: First the entrepreneur needed to get his product made, then he needed to master it and really build his business – and only THEN would he be ready to go back and truly make a difference, bringing new, long-term jobs to his community (i.e., matter).

We’re not sure if that entrepreneur took John’s advice, but we did! At Heartwood, our path is clear:

1) Make the first step – start where it’s best
2) Master that area
3) Then we know we’re ready to matter/be substantial enough to make a difference

We do not get frustrated if things are moving slowly because we know life (and business) has to work in stages. We have to learn certain things by doing them and know that in the long-run our work and our clients’ end product WILL matter – very much.

Here’s an example that illustrates this concept, from Elon Musk in 2013:
Speaking of the Model S, Musk said we’re now just three years away from a “mass market” Tesla electric car
Step one was making the Tesla Roadster, highest price, low volume. – MAKE
Then step two Model S, high price, medium volume. – MASTER
Then step three Model 3, low price, high volume. – MATTER  (make a serious dent in our carbon footprint)

Bill Gates has charted a similar path – Making Microsoft, Mastering the art of scaling a fortune 50 business and finally making himself Matter to millions through the Gates Foundation.

Do YOU have any examples of following the make-master-matter method?


Photo Credit: FrogMiller on Flickr