About Michael R.H. Stewart
WHO I AM
I believe strongly in my personal motto which describes my world view: As Guy Kawasaki, one of the foremost thought leaders in the Internet industry, explains in his remarkable book, Reality Check, “… at the end of one’s life, you are measured not by how much money you made, how many houses you own, or even how many books you wrote. Instead, you are measured by how much you’ve made the world a better place.” That is my ambition and my most important objective. Who you are is vastly more important than what you do.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO ME:
The image collage above is an effort to illustrate what’s important to me: the man behind the job, if you will. From left to right, the images represent:
My Business Career: During the 1980′s and 90′s, I spent much of my career working as a corporate officer for AIGM, a marketing arm of the American International Group (AIG). During that time it was an honor and a privilege to do so. I learned a great deal during my years as a Senior Vice President, but one of the most important lessons was that all successful businesses function similarly. Like the tops of most mountains, the upper echelons of most companies are the same. Once you understand that principle, you are never intimidated by Board Room-Level executives again. A secondary lesson, also important, was that most companies are simply advanced distribution systems for their products and services. It’s really that simple. Once that axiom is understood, an innovative company can guarantee its success by keeping that distribution system active and filled with profitable new products and services. The Internet changed the way we distribute products in a fundamental way, so when I started Jericho Technology over 20 years ago, I simply re-engineered the distribution system idea to comply with the 21st century variation.
Also notable as a take-away from those multinational years, is the usefulness of global marketing skills. The world is not only shrinking, but it is repositioning the economic centers of gravity. In a few years, the hotbeds of business innovation will not be located in New York City as is true today. And the potential market locations will be changing as well. Places like Fortaleza, Manaus, and Recife in Brazil; Huambo and Casablanca in Africa; Sharjah in the Middle East; Nagpur,Vadodara and Visakhapatnam in India; and Chengdu, Foshan and Xi’an in China, will be enormous marketing opportunities.
Value vs. Price: As businessmen and women, we have all participated in the ongoing, raging battle over value vs. price. It is a discussion as old as business itself — and businesses rise and fall because of it. Perhaps no other business strategy is as crucial but also as overlooked.
Recently, the world lost one of its finest innovators, Steve Jobs. Among his myriad talents was the ability to differentiate appropriately between value and price. One of his earliest and most eloquent evangelists, Guy Kawasaki, put it this way: ”Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe unto you if you compete solely on price. Price is not all that matters—what is important, at least to some people, is value. And value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made. It’s pretty safe to say that no one buys Apple products because of their low price.”
Kawasaki continued, “Steve believed that A players hire A players—that is people who are as good as they are.” He amplified this comment by saying, “A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players.”
We are struggling through perilous economic times, but even a recession should not compel professionals to cascade down the slippery slope toward mediocrity. If you are not the best in your field you should strive to be. The common denominator in business should be exceptionalism and value, not sameness and price. If you cannot add unmistakable value — if you cannot justify your superiority — and if you cannot raise the bar for all you serve, then perhaps you should reevaluate your professionalism. Extraordinary value should be the minimum acceptable standard.
In short, be an A player. Surround yourself with A players. Work with and for A players. And when you achieve A player status, you should price your products and services accordingly.
My Perspective: Perspective is the one factor that materially affects every business, but is most often overlooked. Consider the image on the right of this page. What do you see: A man holding a golden orb in his outstretched hands, symbolizing power and a bright future – or an optical illusion caused from the camera’s perspective, of a man pretending to grasp the sun from 93 million miles away, and actually holding nothing? The difference between these very different realities is perspective.
Entrepreneurs, (myself included), tend to be myopic regarding their own business interests. I make it a point to be rational, and to look at all online businesses from a dispassionate perspective. By adopting this approach, it is possible to analyze the relative value of a product or service, the power of a business website, the strength of the competition and the empirical likelihood of success, from the evidence and not from bias.
Where I Choose To Live: During my years at AIG I traveled extensively. Business often required my presence in Paris, Cyprus, Europe, the Middle East, and many states in the U.S. Far from glamorous, it was an ordeal. Jericho grants me the opportunity to work from virtually anywhere that has a reliable broadband connection. For a period of time I worked extensively from the aft deck and salon of my boat. Who knows where I might hang my hat, (plus my laptop, iPod and iPad) in the future? But for now, the beauty and serenity of the Arizona desert is where I choose to live.
A Man’s Best Friend: Six years ago, I traveled from Texas to Arkansas and returned with my Golden Retriever, Annie. We have become inseparable and I would not have it any other way. She swam in the surf in Kemah, Texas, survived two hurricanes, traveled across country twice and now is the unofficial mayor of the condominium complex where I live in Scottsdale. I can no longer lift her above my head, a change we both appreciate, but she will be a close friend for many years.
A Need To Help Others: To the extent possible, I will always help others. In particular, the plight of children who are suffering has a special place in my heart. In the United States, Africa, India or anywhere else where time or resources can be useful, we all have an obligation to do our part. We live in an ever-smaller world, with ever-increasing needs, and Jericho will always make time for a helping hand. It is a privilege, not a duty.
Pride In America: For as long as I can remember, I have taken great pride in our country. When the time came to serve, I went. When the time came to sacrifice, I gave willingly. And today, when the time has come for trust, I give it with cautious optimism. Jericho has always been willing to volunteer when we could be of some small assistance, from websites for the homeless to projects for members of Congress, and we will continue to do so as long as we can make a difference. The recession has made business much more difficult than at any time before, but we have confidence that our skills and dedication will see us through, as a business and as a nation.
Gratitude To God: Finally, my personal faith in God and Jesus Christ sustains, protects and defends me and the business I have been blessed with. No other single characteristic better defines my world view. I am immensely grateful to God for my life, my family, my friends and my faith. And I am humbled that he has, so often, come to my aid. I am proud and pleased to present myself to the world as a Christian, with the knowledge that we are all children of a divine creator, blessed with the freedom to worship as we see fit, and granted the free will to follow our God as our conscience dictates.
Getting in touch with me is very easy
Have a question? Or just want to chat about your business? Simply call the number below. During normal business hours (8 AM – 5 PM Scottsdale, Arizona time) it is my direct line. Otherwise, just leave a message. If you would prefer to exchange email I would love to here from you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or click the email badge below. I promise I will get back to you within 24 hours.
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