9 Insights from the Fastest-Growing Companies in America

inc 5000

It almost seems like an impossible proposition: gather some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds in the world for a whirlwind, three-day conference packed with inspirational speeches and tips for best practices with the expectation of imparting years of hard-earned wisdom to the masses.

No pressure.

But that’s exactly what the organizers of the annual Inc. 5000 Conference and Awards Ceremony do, year after year. Jarrod and I recently returned from our second consecutive trip as conference honorees, and we can vouch for this.

From Oct. 15-17, we represented Noble Studios at the Arizona conference both as winners and as co-executive directors of the San Francisco/Silicon Valley chapter of the Inc. Business Owners Council.  Noble ranked 2,100 in the awards, joining companies such as GoPro, HubSpot and Zoosk in the honor.

Our days were spent networking, taking notes and generally soaking in inspiration from morning until late at night. During evening cocktail parties, we were honored to mix with some of the brightest minds in business.

The lessons of Inc. columnist and successful entrepreneur Norm Brodsky resonated with me. Brodsky took a novel approach with his children where he refused to let them take over the family business. He said they need to start their own ventures.

A talk from tech pioneer Michael Dell also got our entrepreneurial juices flowing. Dell, who has led one of the largest companies to go from private to public and back to private again, said one of the big advantages to his situation is that he’s back to focusing on the company rather than shareholder reports. This lesson reinforced our commitment to setting up Noble’s vision for long-term value of services, processes and movement to continue to stay relevant for a more successful future.

The Inc. 5000 honor puts Noble in the rarified air of privately-owned U.S. based businesses that have shown upwards of 30 percent or more growth over the past three years, no mean feat in a recovering economy. I credit Noble’s success with our collective ability to remain agile during a time of change. As my partner would say, “We charted our course by the stars, not by the ships around us.”

Some other valuable nuggets I picked up at the conference:

  • Your team is your company value. It’s important to learn every role within your business, even if you suck at it. It’s still a valuable lesson.
  • A good/fair negotiation is when both parties walk away a little uncomfortable.
  • Every individual is the owner of their personal brand.
  • Private business has more potential for change and growth than public.
  • A good leader leads with humility, accessibility and transparency.
  • There is a difference between privileged and entitled. Privileged is getting something you didn’t earn. Entitled is the level of thankfulness. Teach your children to be thankful for the things they have because they are privileged to receive them. Don’t apologize to your kids for working so hard – just be fully engaged when you are with them.
  • Who do you depend on to tell you what your customers want? Entrepreneurs should be looking to their customers for that information.
  • Ask yourself: “What would my 80-year-old self tell my today self if they had a chance?” Old people never regret the risk they took and failed – they only regret the risks they failed to take. I think my 80-year-old self would tell me to relax, don’t sweat the small stuff and “your butt is way smaller today than it is 50 years from now, so quit whining.”
  • Respect is the word that keeps marriage together in entrepreneurship.