We have all heard of the hard driving, tough as nails, no nonsense business owner whose only concern is the bottom line and it does not matter to him who is sacrificed along the way.

In some ways, we admire people who have this single minded, intense, and uncompromising drive to be successful at all costs.   However, on further reflection you realize that you can’t take the human element out of the equation.   No one achieves success without the help of others and it will catch up to you if you leave a trail of beaten and battered people in your wake.   I love the observation that you should be good to the people you encounter on your way up because you will meet them again on your way down.

When I practiced law, as I have mentioned, attorneys generally made accommodations to each other even as they zealously represented their clients.  This is not a sign of weakness but, rather, a concession to the fact that a cooperative attitude makes the system work for everyone’s benefit.

More importantly, you can’t look upon your clients as merely a means to earn a living.  Particularly, in litigation your clients are in a difficult point in their lives and they need to feel that you care about them.  It is a very personal relationship that requires you to have compassion for your clients as well as being passionate about their case.   Again, you can’t overlook the importance of the very human need your clients have to make a connection with you.

When I came to USFSB I did not have much experience interacting with a large group of employees and it was difficult, at first, to know how to work with them as their employer.   Even though I may have had some difficulties, over the years, with some of USFSB’s employees, being an employer is, in its most basic terms, still about connecting with people.

As a small business owner, you and your employees depend on each other and you need to develop a connection with them that you hope will foster a level of trust and cooperation that will be of benefit to your business.  Even when this failed at USFSB, I always felt that I had done the right thing and had tried to make it work.  At times, there was disappointment but rarely regret.

Whether in life or in business, your drive, intensity, and ambition will only get you so far if you don’t also have a heart.