The Execution Factor by Kim Perell Book Summary

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Having freedom, becoming own boss, and controlling own destiny. These were the author’s goals to success when she felt broke and became unemployed at the age of 23, in 2011. After seven years, in 2018, she became a multimillionaire who sold her first company for $30 million.

When she achieved her goals, she wanted to help other entrepreneurs working to achieve their goals. So, she became an angel investor by providing investment capital to newly established companies. While investing in more than 70 companies, she realized that: to turn entrepreneurial dreams into a successful reality, you need execution ability for conducting an action plan.

This execution factor is based on five characteristics that can be developed by anyone who wants to put it into the work required by such development, respectively. In these chapters, the five characteristics of execution are explored – taking each of them, in turn, explaining some general principles to deepen your understanding and later discussing some specific, practical methods for mastering them.

Having a vision is a guide for you on the road to success.

At the height of the Cold War in 1961, the Soviet Union was ahead of the United States in the space race. Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut, was the first man to give the US this defeat and reach outer space.  Then, President John F. Kennedy, to mobilize his country, made a bold proclamation: An American astronaut would be reached to the Moon by the United States by the end of the decade.

Kennedy created an ambitious, visualizable, and inspiring vision for the future by making this proclamation. This is an example of the fact that the first trait of effective execution is having a vision. For Kennedy, this vision was for an entire nation. However, you can have your own visions for career or the company you’re working for or want to start.

To bring our analogies back into the world, while still keeping an eye on the heavens above, your vision can be considered as the North Star which once helped sailors to navigate the seas. Like this celestial body, a vision can turn into a reference point that can help you guide choppy waters and unexpected waves of life.

These waves all include the events, regressions, and rivals that can prevent you from continuing your dreams. However, you can continue to focus on the work of your life, and even in difficult times, keep your direction right where you want by keeping your mind’s eyes fixed in your vision.

This destination can be anything that you will come to dream for yourself. It can be a goal for your life, like having a positive impact on the environment. It could be a profession like cooking or personal goal like buying a home, building a business or completing a marathon.

If you have a more general goal which needs different ways to achieve such as financial freedom, you will probably find yourself in unexpected ways as you continue your vision, whatever your destination is. As an example, the first business of the author was a digital-marketing company that sold a wide range of products, from teeth whiteners to remote-control toys.

Of course, this precise future was not imagined when she was younger. But, it was part of the path that led her to success financial freedom.

You will never know exactly where your vision will take you until you get there!

You should make sure that your vision is clear, compelling, meaningful, and pertinent to you for effective vision.

If you don’t already have a vision, how do you shape it for yourself? People often have ideas about what they want to do or success one day. Here, these ideas provide the raw materials for a great vision to them – but those little sparks of imagination need to improve for transforming into a guiding North Star. For beginners, all visions have four qualities.

The first quality of the vision is clearance which means that you should be able to express your vision clearly in one sentence, and in the eyes of your mind. You should be able to see clearly it coming to fruition. If you are unable to do any of these, return to the beginning and correct your vision.

If you have a vision such as financial freedom or running a food truck which represents a specific goal or vocation, providing clarity looks easy. In spite of this, can’t anyone imagine herself flush with cash or cooking curbside?

Here’s something to you: You really need to be certain of your imagination to get clarity. For example, to run a food truck, not only a vague, you can’t think the only general image of wearing a chef’s hat and frying food, but also you should consider working at noon, ordering workers, working with discontented customers, and so forth in detail. To sum up, ask yourself and honestly answer the question:  Could I really see myself doing this?

As a result of this, we come to the other three characteristics of a viable vision: Related and has to do with each other and whether it is an authentic expression of yourself. A vision should be compelling, meaningful and pertinent to you to be such an expression. I mean, your values, preferences, desires, and personality should be consistent with your vision.

If your vision is below these criteria, your vision is probably the reflection of other people’s vision to you. Consider Darren, a maintenance manager of a hospital, was known by his friends and colleagues thanks to the chili he made. Although he wasn’t interested in a food truck to profit off his chili, this idea stuck in his head because of friends.

Then, he resigned from the job and started a food truck but he found himself miserable because he only loved cooking for friends and colleagues, not for strangers.

Your vision needs to be tested, visualized, reminded to you and prioritized for confirmation and maintenance.

How do you avoid a vision that conflicts with who you really are? How do you make sure that your vision is really yours, not other people’s vision?

There is one way before you sure about your vision and that way is to test. For instance, if you think about starting a food truck because you enjoy cooking for your friends, you can participate in a cook-off contest to see whether you enjoy while cooking for strangers. By doing this, you can avoid the risky experience.

There are two possibilities: You can love it, or you can hate it. This may be disappointing if the latter is right. However, it is better to experience in the one-time contest rather than quitting the job and investing in a food truck!

Now, after seeing that your vision really matches who you are, the next step is to focus on that. The more vivid your image about the future is, focusing will be easier for you. So, what you do is visualize it with concrete and evocative details.

Of course, you have a trick for doing it. Imagine yourself achieving your vision. Look at what you see. Ask yourself specific questions to get answers. For example, if you start a business in your vision, what does your workplace look like? What kinds of people are your workers? What do you see yourself doing daily?

There are some steps for doing every day. For instance, you can write your vision in a place where you’ll see it such as bathroom mirror to remind yourself. Then, while you planning your day, keep it in mind. To reach your vision, you must have stepping stones and you need to pursue and prioritize them. All in all, check every item in your to-do list, but they’ll need to relate to each other to bring you one step closer to success.

While you prioritizing task to achieve your vision may cause de-prioritizing or outright avoiding other activities which you enjoy, especially that are totally optional, such as watching TV. After all, time is a limited resource, so you need to be selective about the methods you’re wasting to ensure that you have enough space to work towards your vision.

Passion: The key to emotional energy which you need for sacrifices that success required.

You answered the question of “What do you want to do?’’ by defining your vision. Now the question of “How do you conduct?’’ brings us to the second characteristic of effective execution: Passion.

When you hear the word passion, the first thing that it evokes is a strong and enthusiastic feeling, as in the phrase of ‘’John has a passion for marketing.’’ However, this is only one meaning of the term; there is also another meaning here. It comes from the etymology of passion which is based on the Latin word pati, to suffer or endure.

In this sense, passion does not mean only doing things enthusiastically. You love doing them; it is about loving them in so much that you’re willing to undergo hardship and make sacrifices for them without hesitation.

You can have the true test of passion with such willingness. For example, when the author was a girl, she accepted cleaning out a horse owner’s stables in exchange for lessons as a result of her passion for riding a horse. In other words, her passion was so strong that she was willing to clean up horse excrement to continue it!

What makes passion so important in this sense? There is no easy way to accomplish it if you don’t define success just as earning money and if you don’t have a chance to win the lottery. Inevitably a difficult job will be waiting for you with stressful events and inconveniences such as taking conference calls when you are sick, missing social engagements for business trips or putting personal finances on the line.

If you want to be successful, you cannot avoid making sacrifices. Acceptance of enduring them is the only thing you can do and passion provides that acceptance. You will have long workdays and sleepless nights and need the power to continue, at these times, passion will provide the emotional energy as you need.

Another important factor is to find the right people to help you on this journey. By demonstrating your willingness to make sacrifices for your purpose, you can become a leader that inspires colleagues or employees. Knowing whether you share your passion with potential or existing colleagues or employees can help you choose the people you work with.

To take full advantage of this, you must identify, feed and prioritize your passion.

You must first discover what you are passionate about to reach the power of passion. If you don’t have a clear understanding of this, ask yourself: What do you like so much that you will be willing to make important sacrifices for?

It can be topics such as fashion or animals. Maybe, it’s a skill or activity like writing or painting. Perhaps, it can be a role like being a teacher or caretaker.

Whatever it is, your next question is here: What do you do to feed your passion on a regular basis? If the answer is nothing, the next step is to change it!

You don’t have to start with big steps. Just get your feet wet and do something, it can be anything, to become more connected to your passion. As an example, if your passion is fashion, just start with a fashion blog rather than going out and becoming a designer.

However, if you don’t make time for it, you can’t even write a single blog post or take any other small steps to feed your passion. As in your vision, you must prioritize your passion and place it in your schedule.

And that needs an exchange. To success tasks that related to your passion, you need to sacrifice unrelated tasks. Also, that may need decreasing social activities such as parties and dinners, which may be scheduled at times that conflict with the pursuit of your passion.

You must tell your friends, colleagues, or family members why you are absence to reduce the frustration of them. You can also arrange one-on-one meetings or small group get-togethers in keeping with your schedule around the pursuit of your passion to compensate them for your absences.

While you pursue it, your passion can be encouraged by celebrating your successes, both big and small. For instance, one of the author’s companies made it when she achieved its first month of earning $1 million in revenue by taking her team to Las Vegas!

This was an example of celebrating a great success, but small victories, such as closing a business deal, can be rewarded with small celebrations. You can feed your passion by literally taking yourself or your team to a dinner!

Taking a first small step: The key to pursuing your vision

When you explore your vision and your passion, you become a driver with a destination in your mind and a full tank of gas in your car. You are ready to go but you won’t until you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal.

That means the third trait of effective execution: Action. You need to do something to be closely following your passion and achievement. And we know that no one achieved anything without action.

‘’Where do I begin?’’ is the first question you will face when you are ready for expressing your vision and taking action. After all, there are many possible ways of action you can take. Which one do you choose?

All right, don’t think. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck in analysis paralysis; this is what happens when you are trapped in your options and all of their possible ramifications may cause becoming overwhelmed which is leading to inaction.

Just do something. Go forward.  At this point, you don’t need to enter any special path; choose one of them and take the first step. You can still re-evaluate, change or even back out before continuing further, so you don’t have to make more generalizations.

However, that’s not mean you can act without thought. Don’t forget, it is not a leap, just a step you’re taking. You should continue your current job instead of quitting and putting your livelihood on the line while turning your vision and passion into a side hustle.

Consider Stacey. She developed a vision which is establishing a juice company thanks to her passion for health and wellness while she was working in corporate finance.

But she didn’t resign from her job and tap into her savings and jumps into the high-risk enterprise of establishing a new business. Instead, she had a safer and smaller first step: Selling juice at a farmer’s market on the weekends.

In this way, she could have a better understanding of whether she was enjoying the juice business and whether there was a market for her product.

Progress towards achieving your vision requires a day-to-day review process.

The question of what comes after you take your first step of action to follow your passion and achieve your vision looks like glib, but it has a simple answer: After your first step comes to your second step, and then your third step, your fourth step and so forth!

Clearly, this brings up a less obvious thought that is important to keep in mind: Your first step can be a great success but to keep moving toward your vision, you have to, well, keep moving because your same step over and over will not make you successful.

The same logic applies to the second step and to every step thereafter. At each step along the way, you must continue to move forward to progress.

For example, Apple shows the importance of continuing to move forward. Although Apple is one of the top brands in the world, its success does not come from developing technologies like MP3 players and smartphones. Other companies beat them to those innovations.

On the contrary, Apple has used these pre-existing technologies and relentlessly renewed them. The company never based on its laurels; it did not allow itself to be very comfortable in any step along its journey. After developing the first iPhone and iPod, it continued to improve their follow-ups – and then the follow-ups to the follow-ups, and so forth.

Although moving forward is very important for success, it is also a double-edged sword. If you’re going in the right direction, you’re closer to getting your vision done – but if you’re in the wrong direction; it will take you further away.

To avoid the second one, it is important to create and implement a daily review process. First of all, write down the list of all the actions you are taking today which are related to your vision. And ask these questions: Did they really fit in with your vision? Did they really get you closer to accomplishing? Are they feeding your passion? In which way are they taking you – and is this still the direction you want to go?

If you answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and change your way of action!

Here is the trait of resilience: The power of resistance and benefiting from challenges and setbacks.

Resilience, the fourth trait of effective execution, has two meanings.

Firstly, if someone or something is resilient, it means that he, she or it can withstand the turbulence winds of fate. For example, if a building can withstand the winds of a hurricane, it can be called as resilient.

However, another meaning of the term indicates that a resilient person not only resists the winds of fate but also helps them to make the best use of their abilities, as a sailor does with her sails. Although s/he cannot control the direction of the wind, but s/he knows that s/he can control the direction in which s/he points the sails.

The non-cooperative “wind” in this narrative means the difficulties, crises, and failures that the world may throw your way as you pursue your vision. If you’re resilient in both senses of the word, you’ll respond to these challenges in ways that make them grow, rather than just stepping through them.

And while you are hopeful and hungry for new opportunities, you should stay positive. This is one of the main ways that you can do that. Also, that was a key for billionaire Elon Musk’s bumpy road to success.

Today, he is known as the successful CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and a co-founder of PayPal. However, he came across many setbacks before his success. He never gave up although the first business idea of him for PayPal hesitated and some of his SpaceX rockets literally went up in smoke. He moved on for success. And finally, PayPal and his SpaceX rockets took off, literally and figuratively.

That is an example of in the sense of withstanding setbacks. However, another sense of the term is represented by an example of Elon Musk. He is not just withstanding setback, also grow with them.

For example, the reports showed that there was a high rate of injury at his Tesla factory in Fremont. Then, Musk made some unusual public promises to his employees. One of them is about learning problems on the factory’s production line; therefore, he would meet with injured workers one-on-one. Not only that, later, he would perform the tasks himself to experience these problems. Thus, he turned problems into a learning opportunity.

To develop your resiliency, you should take care of yourself emotionally and create opportunities to exercise it.

So how do you become more resilient? Try to think your resiliency as a mental muscle just like a physical muscle, can be developed with exercise.

But first, it helps to stretch and relax the muscle which means that your stress, anxiety, and fear can be reduced by taking care of yourself emotionally. Also, this decrease makes you calmer in the face of adversity and helps you for better decisions.

There are simple ways to do this such as physical exercise, meditation, journaling, creating an action plan, and talking with a friend or mentor. These activities can help you to restabilize your mind which lost its balance because of negative emotions.

In a similar vein, the author finds a sense of calm when playing with her children even in the midst of professional turmoil and it shows that you can reconnect to aspects of your life that have a stabilizing effect on you.

Shortly, those are some ways to stretch and relax your resiliency muscle. Now, it is time to look at the exercise part.

A useful technique is to turn the daily barriers into opportunities for exercise. For example, the author once bought tickets for a Guns N’ Roses stadium concert for herself and 20 colleagues. She thought it as a great bonding experience. But there was one problem: It turned out that all of the seats were in different parts of the stadium!

However, he decided to turn his teeth into an opportunity for teamwork instead of gnashing her teeth at the setback. She told each member of the group try to trade their seats with a stranger and then exchange this new seat with a second stranger, and so forth and so on until they were all sitting together.

This game did not work for just by preserving the concert experience; at the same time, it enriched the experience even more than otherwise. They shared a memorable team-building exercise and bonding experience instead of just rocking out to songs like ‘’Paradise City’’.

So next time a little annoyance breaks down your building blocks, let’s see if you can make a game by turning them into your own ‘’Paradise City’’!

You can extend your abilities to execute by expanding, deepening, and maintaining your relationships.

The fifth and final trait of effective execution is also the most decisive one of all. Your vision might be the dearest, most compelling in the world and you might have the power for pursuing it with passion, action, and resilience. However, if you try doing everything alone, your way will not be too long. Here is the final trait which represents the help of other people: Relationships.

According to the old sayings, no man or woman is an island. People have limited time, energy, skills, and knowledge. However, they can expand the range of what they can accomplish by pooling these precious resources together.

You will have more time and energy to expand or pursuing your vision if someone directs you some of her time and energy. On the other hand, if someone directs you her skills and knowledge, you can benefit from it by filling gaps in your skills and knowledge. Of course, the potential for win-win relationships should be valid for both ways.

If these relationships are established and maintained and the depth of these relations increases, you will be able to benefit more from the power of having other people in your life. Therefore, it is important to develop a human network where you can enjoy the win-win relationship.

You can contact people outside of your immediate social vicinity to expand your network. For instance, if you work in a corporate environment, you should look for people outside your company, not just your team, but even people outside your industry.

You need to spend time with a genuine interest to get to know these people better and to deepen your relationships. Just ask open-ended questions like ‘’Where do you envision yourself in five years’’ or ‘’What’s your passion?’’ instead of asking questions with yes-or-no answers like ‘’Did you have a good weekend?’’

It may be a good way for you to maintain your relationships by showing people appreciation with a beautiful, thoughtful gesture. Emails include ‘’thank you’’ and ‘’congratulations’’ are a good way to do this, but handwritten notes are even better because they feel more personal. When you have free time like while you’re driving to work or riding a taxi, you can reconnect with people by phone by using that time.

While making reasonable exceptions to this rule, be careful about negative relationships.

The ideal relationship is the win-win relationship, where both sides benefit from each other. Unfortunately, however, many relationships win-lose or even lose-lose. Moreover, some relations that were once win-win go down to the negative zone.

In the light of these facts, there is a recommendation which comes from the author. She suggests that you should evaluate your relationships in a periodic life audit. As she does, you sit down and review all of your relationships one-by-one, splitting them into two categories once a year.

The first category includes positive people who provide inspiration, support, energy, and challenges her to grow. The other category includes negative people who provide the opposite effects.

It may sound cold, but then she makes a conscious decision to move away from the people she has placed in the second category. As she moves forward, she spends less time with them or, if necessary, finishes her relationship with them.

Of course, some issues can be solved, so she doesn’t act fast to get people out of life. For at least the foreseeable future, where the issues seem incomprehensible, she only places them in the second category. In the long term, the person may change; in this case s/he is already taken back to the first category.

She also knows that some difficult experiences such as illness, the death of a loved one or a job loss can make people negative temporarily. She avoids putting them into the negative category because they can need her own positivity to get better and return to a more positive state of being.

Finally, she also agrees that you will not be able to stop talking at a workplace ‘’coworker who has a negative effect on you’’. When you’re tired of working with them, you need to find a way to interact with them. You can overcome this situation by using the best of your ability and minimizing the negativity as much as possible.

However, in other relationships, you have more options and the author recommends that you take advantage of this freedom. The impossible point in here is that you cannot be eliminated all negativity from your life. Just maximize the positivity and minimize the negativity to put yourself in a position actively, resiliently, and collaboratively pursue your passion and execute your vision to make it real.

The Execution Factor: The One Skill That Drives Success by Kim Perell Book Review

There are five traits for the execution factor which means your ability to conduct plans of action that enable you to achieve your goals. These traits are vision, passion, action, resilience, and relationships and they can be cultivated. So, the skill of execution can be developed and as a result, you can put yourself in a position to succeed.

Practice applying the ideas by conducting thought experiments.

When you start to advance the five features described in this summary, the author recommends that you start with a simple exercise: Imagine someone who has a problem with one of these traits and you focus on what kind of advice you give her. Suppose you have a friend who wants to quit her job and set up her own company. But she doesn’t have a specific idea of ​​what she wants to do, and she’s not really ready to pursue it. There is no business plan; there is a limited amount of spending and a family to support. What would you recommend her to do?

This example can be applied to the other four traits. The exercises can help you round the ball by applying ideas to real-life scenarios because it’s often easier to give advice to someone else rather than yourself.  After all, in order to make recommendations, you should step back from a problem, get away from a critical distance and then evaluate it from an outside perspective. It becomes psychologically complex with a personal problem.

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