Small Business Summit Speaker Notes Vital Leadership Lessons

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Summit

05.01.13 | By

I sat in on a few sessions at yesterday’s US Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Summit, where I was lucky enough snag a front row seat (!) to hear General Michael Hayden give leadership advice to small businesses owners. He had some tough-love lessons for small business leaders drawn on his experience as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. His advice was especially cogent given the hundreds of thousands of large and small businesses who provide services and supplies to the biopharmaceutical industry. 

In Virginia, for instance, 17 biopharmaceutical companies have more than 4,608 business relationships with smaller vendors, as reported on our Virginia vendor map through the We Work For Health program.  If that number didn’t knock your socks off, consider this one: those 4,608 vendor relationships represent more than $701,428,295 of spending within the state.  That spending doesn’t even count the jobs, both direct and indirect, supplied by the biopharmaceutical industry itself. Small businesses matter to the biopharmaceutical industry as they research and develop new medicine; they always have. Listening to General Hayden’s speech yesterday drove that point home.

General Hayden’s life lessons for business owners were fairly simple: first, real humility counts, in that whatever decision you’re faced with making is one you’ll have to live with the rest of your life. Second, the more senior Gen. Hayden rose in the ranks of the intelligence community, the more he realized success was really about what he learned in first grade or from his parents. He further noted that it became increasingly important for him to truly winnow down a list of what he could or could not do in a day; sifting through what was delegable, from what had to be personal.  He noted that staying true to oneself was consistently important throughout his career, and that there is no success drawn from a character transplant. Further, being very involved in the hiring process became essential in his role, and integral to success. He spent a good amount of time picking great people, getting to know them, and then setting their parameters and letting them go.  He noted, also, that learning how to read a situation and act upon it became vital, as well as knowing how to employ people skilled at doing the same.

Later this week, I’ll be posting a Q&A with a small vendor that does business with the biopharmaceutical industry, chatting about their own business-related life lessons and growing pains. Stay tuned for more information about the smaller businesses that help in the process of making innovative medicine, and if you’re interested in the Small Business Summit, follow them on twitter with #asbs.



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