“My Mom told me at some point in life that it’s certainly much much better to be world class at one thing, however small, than kind of half assed at eight things.”
I laughed when Dennis Mortensen, Founding CEO of x.ai, said this during our recent podcast interview. It struck me as funny because my Mom said something similar to me when I was young. Perhaps that’s why his comment stuck with me throughout our recent trip to Hocking Hills, Ohio.
Dennis leads a company focused on one and only one thing…scheduling meetings. There’s one hitch. He’s using artificial intelligence and in the process he is democratizing the personal assistant business. He and his team’s solitary focus on making the meeting scheduling process seemless, stressless, and humanless has led to amazing success. He credits the success to one thing. Focus.
“…latch on to one idea and just never let go…run it to the end…latch onto it,” advised Dennis in his Danish accent.
His words echoed through my mind as I hiked through the hemlock trees that populate eastern Ohio. There is something about hiking through a beautiful forest that makes me think and focus. The enduring quality of the forest reminds me of the enduring Bristlecone Pine.
You’ve never heard of the Bristlecone Pine? I first learned of this amazing tree on a Nova special called “Methuselah Tree” in 2001. Tucked away in California’s White Mountains, are Bristlecone Pine trees that are over 4,000 years old. What accounts for their longevity as “the world’s oldest living thing?” Nova says their are five qualities that help it focus on survival.
5 Questions To Determine If You Are Focused Like A Bristlecone Pine
And, these five qualities can also help you and your focus as a Founding CEO.
- “Unlike their towering fellow conifers, the sequoias, bristlecone pines put a greater premium on getting by than on getting big.”
1 – Do you and your team focus on surviving by serving customers with an inspiring vision, rather than simply “getting big?”
- “…bristlecones live where practically nothing else can, little competition exists for water and nutrients…”
2 – Is your business focused on a specific area where relatively few others exist, where it may be difficult for others to thrive, and where you have a unique advantage?
3 – Do you help your team focus on surviving the stress and ups and downs of building a sustainable business?
- “Like the trees that produce them, bristlecone needles are long-lived; they last up to 30 or 40 years.”
4 – Do you retain your team members long enough for them to focus on gathering the knowledge, skills, and abilities so the company can experience long-term success?
- “The tree has a dense, highly resinous wood that is a formidable barrier to invasion by insects and bacteria.”
5 – Does your team focus on the customer and on the development of each other so as to ward off marketplace competitors and create a strong team?
If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations. Your business may experience long-term, steady, and sustainable growth just like the Bristlecone Pine.
However, in my experience we are often not as focused as we can be.
As Dennis Mortensen says, “Sure. You are focused. But, are you really focused?” He and his team at x.ai seem to be.
Is your company focused liked Dennis and his team?
Are you focused like the Bristlecone Pine?