Art Coley: The Formula for Success
There is a success formula. Success is not an accident, it’s not a mystery, and it’s not a coincidence. The formula for success is very predictable.
“It’s pretty simple. That’s why an old boy from central Texas like me can make it.”
Art Coley, the CEO of AlphaGraphics reveals that being successful is not as complicated as you might think. There are proven methods, tested habits that have led thousands before you to a successful life. If you want to be successful follow the formula for success. Be disciplined and committed to implementing and executing things that really work.
How to Overcome Failure
One common trait among those that have walked the road to success is that they have failed. They failed until they got it right. They have learned from their own mistakes and have studied the lives of successful people to learn from the mistakes they have made.
“I’ve had times where I felt like a complete failure.” Art explains.
“I’ve had times where I just didn’t know what was going to happen. When I was in college, I had a little direct mail business that was a bust. I owed the bank, a printer and mail house money. I owed $50,000 and it felt like millions of dollars at the time. I felt terrible.”
“I remember the struggles of my late 20’s, owning a restaurant in central Texas. It took more than two years before I could take a dime out of the business. My wife had to go back to teaching just so that we could make the mortgage payments.”
“No matter what comes my way, no matter what kind of crappy day I might have…if my dog bites me, my wife chews me out, my kids think I’m the worst dad in the world, there’s a market crash on Wall Street—when all things that I thought were safe and secure are in jeopardy or taken away, I can turn to my faith in Christ and know that, I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me…that is the bedrock, the foundation. That relationship is where you can find a little hope and the little bit of inspiration needed to take one more step forward.”
“Some people believe that Michelangelo’s David is the perfect representation of the human body ever sculpted. What I find interesting is that Michelangelo did not make David. It was a block of marble; David came out of that block. It was the result of Michelangelo chipping away the part of the marble that was not David. I believe that inside all of us is that perfect representation of ourselves that God has made. What I’ve got to do is what Michelangelo did, and that’s chip away all the stuff that’s not really me.”
Art explains that the best way to chip away all of that extra marble in your own life is to establish a strong set of values and priorities. Remember faith, family, career and then all of those other things. If you keep it in that order as best you can, that perfect David, your perfect self, will manifest itself and you will be able to continue to overcome the failures and challenges of life.
How to be a Successful Leader
“One thing that I have learned in this role, that I wish I understood when I first started out, is the job of resource allocation. Every CEO has a fixed number of resources, a fixed number of dollars, man power and time. The CEO is responsible for directing those resources and making the decisions as to where they go. If you act like the government or think in a way where you are just trying to make people happy, or if you are trying to be popular, you will not be an effective CEO.”
“Some people think that the role of a CEO is just a visionary leader, someone to come up with the next phenomenal idea. Much of the work is very studious. You do a lot of reading and looking at data. You learn to ask the right questions and ensure people are giving you the right information in the right way.”
“As a leader in an organization, you will have to make tough decisions. You must understand that part of your job is making sure that money, time, energy and the resources available to you are put into a place, a program or department that is actually going to generate the best results for the company. An effective leader must understand resource allocation and then be able to implement and execute.”
“Vince Lombardi talked about the importance of being brilliant in the basics. Take any successful small business owner and you will see that day in and day out they are brilliant in the basics.”
“Understand your spot on the org chart. As the leader, the CEO or the business owner if you are putting your energy into things that do not deliver high value to the company, you are hurting the organization, the business and the employees. If I am doing book keeping or vacuuming the floor because I haven’t implemented the systems, processes or people to do that for me then that’s a problem. However, occasionally getting out there and doing some of that front line work will help you keep in touch with reality.”
Finding the Formula for Success
One commonality among successful people is that they are always engaged in learning something new. Even at 44 years old, Art still considers himself in spring training.
“I am a fan of reading about leaders like Lincoln, Jefferson, George Washington or Sam Walton. I prefer biographies, books about great men and women. As you read about their lives, what they studied, as you learn about their hobbies and habits, you start to notice the patterns among the world’s most successful people. There is a success formula. Success is not an accident, it’s not a mystery, and it’s not a coincidence. The formula for success is very predictable.”
All of your choices create very specific consequences. Just like there is a formula for success, there is also a formula for failure. Your end result will be determined by where you put your time and energy. Art explains, “If you go out and party, sneak around on your spouse, if you do drugs and you drink, it’s not a surprise where you will find your life if you look five or ten years down the road. The reverse of that is also true. If you are investing in successful habits and traits, you are planting goods seeds that you will be able to harvest later on. This path does not lead to a dead end.”
Here are a few books that Art enjoys:
“The Bible is a given, it’s the best book out there.”
“It’s about loyalty, it’s about commitment and it’s about believing in something important to you. This is where I discovered for the first time the power of reading. This book made me cry. I was amazed how words on a page could be that powerful…to move me to this kind of emotion, it was a very eye opening experience.”
“This was the first book that helped me understand nothing starts without first thinking it. This book really influenced me in terms of having mentors and surrounding myself with phenomenal people, people that are better and smarter.”
“I’ve read this book all the way through four or five times, and have referenced it countless times. I don’t believe that there is any other story more powerful about what somebody can do—the story of building Walmart. It’s a classic story about playing to your strengths. He had less money, fewer resources and probably fewer MBAs on his executive team, but they were a bright group of guys who built this idea of going to these small towns. A lot of people don’t realize what’s behind the story of Walmart and how they got to where they are. They developed a better, more efficient distribution system that allowed them to out price their competitors, so when they went into these bigger larger markets, the other guys just couldn’t compete with them on prices.