Plywood Leadership at the INC 500 Conference

By Dick Stark

I just returned from the INC 500 Conference which I’ve attended every year for the last four years.  This year RightStar came in at #1975 on the list, after hitting #’s 1264, 454, and 892 in years 2010, 2009, and 2008 respectively. This list ranks private company growth rates over the preceding four years.  Of course, as we get bigger, it will be harder and harder to sustain the growth rates that RightStar has experienced in the past.

This year’s conference was the best ever. I enjoyed listening to General Stanley McChrystal, former commander, US and International Forces in Afghanistan, Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Mogul and Star of ABC TV Show, Shark Tank, Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It!, and Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of Charity: Water. Each presented a compelling success story of their own with underlying themes of leadership, happiness, social media, and corporate responsibility.

Plywood Leadership. In Afghanistan, General McChrystal described the Plywood Palace that his men build as a command center out of two by fours and plywood. This palace could be easily modified to convert to almost anything and very quickly.  It was a symbol of strength, flexibility, and versatility.  General McChrystal concluded that his troops were like plywood, which although composed of thin sheaths, were at their best when glued together.  It is this leadership glue that provides the winning difference.

The Thank You Economy.  Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy and Crush IT! is a social media guru.  Gary proclaimed that the Internet has given consumers back their voice, and the tremendous power of their opinions via social media means that companies and brands have to compete on a whole different level than they used to.  He concluded that those companies without social media will be left behind.

Shark Tank.  Barbara Cocoran, star of Shark Tank, described her rise to fame and fortune in the competitive New York real estate market.  Her formula?  Perception creates reality. She was able to grow through shrewd marketing and hard work.

Charity:Water.  Scott Harrison, CEO and Founder of Charity:Water presented the most remarkable rags to riches story, not just because of his rapid growth, but because his charity is designed to give 100% of the donations to clean water projects. In just five years he has provided clean water for two million people in developing nations around the world.  The bottom line: every $1 invested in improved water access and sanitation yields an average of $12 in economic returns, depending on the project.

What other INC 500 company can make that kind of claim?

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About dick1stark

I am the President, CEO, and founder of RightStar Systems, a leading IT consultancy and BMC Software Solution Provider and Atlassian Expert Partner. My passion is customer success—whether it’s reducing the cost of service management, improving overall efficiency, or increasing end-user or employee satisfaction. Since founding RightStar in 2003, RightStar has made the INC 5000 list four times. In 2011, RightStar was awarded the prestigious National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA) by the Society of Financial Service Professionals based upon RightStar’s foundation of honesty, ethics, and integrity. And in 2014, RightStar was selected by Forrester Research as one of 13 North American companies profiled in its ITSM Consultancy Wave Report. Finally, in 2016, BMC selected RightStar as its 2015 Supplier of the Year for its consulting partnership and excellence in service delivery. Dick is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
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