What do Gene Simmons, aka “The Demon” in KISS, and Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, have in common? Most people would say nothing. But Dayna Steele, a motivational keynote speaker and author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned About Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars, would argue that both worked hard to get where they are.
“In the last few months, I was reading an interview about Gene Simmons and a completely separate interview with Warren Buffett,” she said. “Both of them were basically asked: ‘What do you attribute your success to?’ Both of them said ‘reading.’ The bands that have lasted a long time and have been successful realize, yeah, it’s fun, but it’s [also] a business.”
It doesn’t matter if you are a rock star, a high school graduate or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Steele said. You need passion, knowledge, networking and appreciation to succeed.
“All that’s going to build a confidence within you that’s going to allow you to swagger on your stage,” she explained. “You have to practice those things each and every day. If you’re not prepared, [if] you don’t love what you do, [if] you’re not reading, [if] you’re not networking and [if] you’re not telling people thank you, you’re not going to be confident up there on [your] stage.”
As a DJ, Steele, who was known as Houston’s “First Lady of Radio,” had a backstage pass to rock stars, and she saw that they worked really hard, developed relationships with the right people — whether it was radio stations, record companies or fans — and said thank you at the end of the day.
“Everybody sees the glamour and the glitz. Nobody sees the sweat equity and the work that goes into it,” she said.
Those in learning can help employees build passion, knowledge and networking skills. One easy way to develop knowledge is by providing relevant publications in easily accessible locations such as break rooms.
“Do you have a TV on that’s got CNN playing? Do you have your trade publications out on the table? Do you have USA Today, The Wall Street Journal [and] Fortune magazine — all these things that can help you keep up with the world?” Steele said. “It’s such a small investment to make.”
She also believes everyone should Google their names, their companies and their products.
“That’s going to be one of the first ways you find out something is wrong, and you have an opportunity to fix it,” Steele said.
To create passion within the ranks, organizations should provide opportunities for employees to become invested in their work. One suggestion is to develop an environment that’s receptive to new ideas and suggestions.
“A large corporation I read about [asks] everybody in the company to submit ideas. If you were a CEO for a day, what would you do?” Steele explained. “And no idea is too small, too big or too crazy. They pick some of the ideas and they implement them.
“You hired somebody because you thought they were good at the job. Now let them do their job, let them express their ideas and let them come up with some innovations for the company.”
Steele said it’s also important to foster an environment in which making mistakes is OK.
“Failure is not the end if you take it as a learning opportunity,” she said. “I moved out to Los Angeles in 1990 because I thought I always wanted to act for a living, and I learned I can’t act my way out of a box. Some people consider it a failure. I don’t. I learned that I have no business being an actress, and [then] I was able to go on with my life.”
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