I recently attended the Kipapa i ke Ala Lecture, hosted by the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, which featured AOL founder and local-boy Steve Case, who played an integral role in building the world’s largest Internet company and helped transform how people communicate, learn and conduct business.
Case told the audience, which consisted of mostly University of Hawaii business students and local business leaders, the 3 Ps to his success:
People: A leader must have the ability to identify and attract people with the appropriate skills for the job and then align them around the values of the organization. The people will be the ones to reinforce the culture and execute the creativity and knowledge to move the company forward.
Passion: “You can’t fake it,” Case said. A leader needs to believe in the cause and work tirelessly to achieve the organization’s goals. “With AOL, we were on a mission and nothing could stop us.” You need that passion for others to buy into the idea.
Perseverance: “Stick with it,” Case told students. Don’t get discouraged and don’t let anything stop you. “Big ideas take longer and usually involve bigger risks but are normally worth it.” It took AOL nine years to reach 1 million customers, Case said, but by the time the next nine years came around, they were at 25 million.
In his closing remarks, Case said he believes people in Hawaii are too risk averse. “There’s too much concern about failing, and that’s not going to result in great breakthrough companies,” he said. “We can’t be afraid to fail.”