It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


When last we left off, we were focusing on 30 years’ worth of business experience, building off of my education at Ursinus College and wading through the waters of my professional life. Without further ado, here are the other 10 pieces of advice I want to share with you.

  1. “Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need help.’”

Asking for help and/or admitting you do not know something is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of maturity. Speaking of which…

  1. “Do not confuse immediacy with accuracy.”

We have all had it happen. You get an email with a question. Shortly thereafter, your office phone rings. Then, your cell phone rings. The message from the caller? “Did you get my email?” In this day and age, it is hard to resist the temptation to respond immediately to everything. Yes, immediate and accurate is best. But, if the choice is immediate or accurate, choose accurate. Speaking of which…

  1. “Go fast, but don’t hurry.”

John Wooden had it figured out. Speed wins. Go as fast as you can without becoming out of control. It is when you are most busy, under the most time pressure, with the strictest deadline, that you have to slow down, take a breath, and not hurry. Speaking of which…

  1. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Very true. But here is the Michael Marcon Tweets corollary – World class marathoners run 4 minute miles for 26 miles. In reality, it is a marathon and a sprint.

  1. “Hire well. One person can make a huge impact on client perceptions.”

Two people board the same flight. They depart at the same time. They arrive at the same time. They see the same movie and are served the same meal. The first person is engaged by the best flight attendant the airline has. The other person is served by the airline’s worst performer. One person gets off the flight a raving fan. The other gets off vowing never to fly that airline again.

  1. “Read business and industry periodicals.”

There is no excuse for not being informed about the world around you and the state of the art of your industry. Remember, in a group setting, you are the smartest person in that group… until you open your mouth. Then, you will either prove it or disprove it.

  1. “If they are talking ABOUT someone else TO you, you can bet they are also talking ABOUT you TO someone else.”

There are many traits that leaders value in upcoming colleagues. Discretion may be among the most appreciated. When I suspect someone of not being able to keep their mouth shut (because, what’s the point of having a scoop if you cannot impress people that you have it?), I purposefully give them a piece of false information. I then sit back and wait to see how long it takes to get back to me. Speaking of which…

  1. “You start out with my full and complete trust… Until you lose it. It is really hard to get it back.”

I am a contrarian on this point. I understand the concept of “earning someone’s trust”. But, I always find it interesting that we are willing to hire people, invest tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars in them, entrust them with access to clients, financial information, bank information, HR information, etc., but they still have to earn our trust. If you have passed our hiring process, you have earned our trust. Treat it like the treasure that it is.

  1. Forget about comparing yourself to others. Compare yourself to your potential.”

That is the sole purpose of the “potentiometer” (pat. pending – waiting for Elon Musk or Tony Stark to help me build it). Everybody has different circumstances. Maximize yours. Forget about hers.

  1. “Thank your parents.”

Don’t wait too long. The chance may disappear before you know it. You don’t want to be reading the thank you note at the eulogy. While you are at it, make a point to thank the spouses and families of your co-workers.

If you don’t figure it all out, do not worry. Remember, I only have this stuff to share because I’ve spent 30 years thinking about it! Just remember what Tim McGraw said…

For my next thirty years I’m gonna watch my weight

Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late

Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers

Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life

Raise a little family and hang out with my wife

Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear

Make up for lost time here in my next thirty years

Michael C. Marcon is the founder of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.

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