For many people retiring to a tropical island is the final destination on the road to success. For Dominic Hadeed and his company Blue Waters Products, Ltd., the Caribbean is the place where success began.
Hadeed’s company started small, selling bottles of purified water with the help of a handful of employees and two trucks. Now, with more than 500 employees, Blue Waters bottles multiple beverages including water, soda, and energy drinks, for distribution across the Caribbean and Hadeed was named Ernst and Young’s Master Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.
Hadeed, a member of YPO, says it can be very challenging for those who start life on a small island to achieve world-class success. He acknowledges that very few of his colleagues in international business circles come from Caribbean countries. Here are the qualities Hadeed has followed to achieve personal and professional success.
1. Know what NOT to do.
Hadeed says, “I never hear people say, ‘He went out of business because the product was excellent, staff was well trained, he delivered on his promises, he was dependable etc.’ Their comments always focus on mistakes or bad behavior: He was a thief, her staff was rude, their product did not do what was promised, and so on.” Hadeed minimizes errors and behaviors that cause failure. He believes success is as much about intentionally avoiding bad choices as making good ones.
2. Choose long term success over short term wins.
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While he knows that sometimes bad people win the day by cutting corners, cheating someone, or fooling their customers, Hadeed believes that lasting success cannot come from consistent bad behavior. “Along the journey, we all need others to trust us on multiple occasions. Generally, you can only betray someone’s trust once and get away with it. Do it often enough and you start getting a bad reputation. Then when you need that trust again, they are reluctant to offer it. This is why I say that you can win, but you can’t succeed.” Trust is vital for the long term win and comes from consistent honesty and dependability.
3. Put money in its place.
Hadeed does not believe money should be a prime motivator for success, but a by-product of great effort. “The majority of self-made people I have known had a cause, a call of duty, a belief that world would be a better place because of what they were doing. They knew ROI mattered, of course, because they couldn’t do what they loved without it.” He sees money as the means to keep doing what you love, not a thing worth loving for itself.
4. Be ruthlessly passionate.
Steve Jobs is Hadeed’s model for passion: “He was obsessed with putting out “insanely great” products, practically fanatical about them. He never allowed anyone or anything to get in the way of that passion.” He admits that Jobs could sometimes go to extremes, but points out, “The result was a customer base that is fiercely loyal to the brand.”
5. Work through people, but don’t go through them.
“I have observed many business owners or professionals who barrel through their partners, staff, suppliers and customers just to try and make it to the top quickly. This is a very shortsighted strategy,” he laments. Eventually, treating others poorly will trip you up. Instead of using people as stepping-stones, aim to bring them along with you in the journey. He looks at fairness and honesty as “making deposits in the Bank of Goodwill.” You can later draw on that goodwill when you need someone to help you, stand up for you, or go out on a limb for you.
6. Be selfish not for yourself, but for your business.
“By that I mean that the company has to come first,” he insists. That means being willing to make unpopular decisions and taking tough steps during difficult times. Sometimes good people will be negatively affected; you may have to cut jobs or salaries, shut down unprofitable divisions, or kill products. Your personal behavior should be as humane as possible even in those circumstances, but you still have to make those hard decisions to preserve the primary mission of the business.
7. Cultivate rich cultural soil.
Hadeed sees organizational culture as the soil in which you plant the seeds of growth for your company and your people. “Good nutrients like a worthwhile mission, fair compensation, and quality training will help you grow something that will bear long-term fruit. But if you neglect those things for short-term profits, eventually the soil will be barren and acidic. Then nothing will grow.”
8. Approach networking as working.
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“In my early years, I saw networking as a convenient excuse for not working,” admits Hadeed. “It was only later on that I realized that decision makers in many industries and countries place an almost equal amount of emphasis on WHO they do business with as they do the company or product. When two products were equal in price and performance, the deciding factor came down to who they knew and what they thought of them.” It pays to put intention and effort into networking as you are acting as a brand ambassador when you do. These settings may have a social feel, but are still office spaces. Your personal good reputation and likeability matter here.
9. Guard your ethics when they are most vulnerable.
“Don’t get to a point where you confuse ruthlessly passionate and plain ruthless,” he warns. “Most entrepreneurs start out bright eyed and almost naïve about what they hope and expect to accomplish. Once they get past the first stages of success, however, competition makes it tempting to cut corners or cheat.” Channel that passion into defending yourself, your employees, and your company’s purpose against anything that might compromise you. Hadeed has observed that leaders who survive that vulnerable phase often become great philanthropists and change agents.
10. Accept power, but don’t seek it.
“I’ve observed that the people who are best at gaining and keeping power are the ones who did not want it in the first place.” Hadeed finds it hard to trust those who obviously enjoy having authority or seek it too openly. “People accept that there always must be someone in the position of power but they prefer that the person in power be competent, fair and honest. After all, who will knowingly and voluntarily vote in a tyrant to be their leader or boss?” Would you follow someone knowing they would protect their position instead of your best interests? Hadeed would not, and neither would I!