Follow Your Why and Strive For Excellence

I recently had the opportunity to meet Jeff Hoffman, the Founder of Priceline. He spoke at a Family Empowerment conference in Charlotte, NC. It was truly an inspiring event. He discussed some of the challenges of running his own company and how he overcame them. There were many golden nuggets of wisdom that I gleaned from his speech but, the two major highlights that stuck with me are “follow your why” and “strive for excellence”. These two points are true in business as well as education.

Follow Your Why:
Mr. Hoffman discussed the difficulties of being an entrepreneur and how the focus should not simply be on chasing money. His reasoning for this was that if you “follow your why then the money will come regardless. He went on to explain that the issues an entrepreneur faces can be numerous and oftentimes overwhelming but, knowing your why will help you to stay focused. What I found to be most remarkable was that in all the years that he led Priceline.com no one ever resigned. In this day and age of high employee turnover I thought that was amazing and, a true testament to his level of dedication. I believe his employees stayed because of his level of commitment to them. For example, one of his employees came from extremely meager beginnings and his major dream in life was to purchase a home for his mother in Florida. With a lot of hard work and late hours Mr. Hoffman and his team were able to make this a reality. In this instance Mr. Hoffman’s “Why” was to help this employee to realize his dream. There has to be something deeper that drives you was his main point.

Strive for Excellence:
Now this should go without saying but, how many entrepreneurs or people in general get so caught up and inundated with day to day things that they just manage to keep up with everyone else. They fail to concentrate on excellence because they want to keep up with the average standard. If you are the best of the best, people will want what you have to offer and you will set yourself apart from the crowd. Priceline was and continues to be a Trailblazer in the travel industry. Whether you are a business owner, or the parent of a student, consider what you can do to set a higher standard.

As I reflected on his comments, I thought of how these two principles related to education. For example, when a student knows their “why” they are more likely to stick with things when the going gets tough. This is especially true in college. Staying focused during college can be one of the most difficult things in the world. There are numerous distractions for young and old students alike. When a student digs deep and can pinpoint their “why” then they will go the extra mile because, they know what’s at stake. This is something that parents may need to re-emphasize when their student has those challenging moments filled with doubt. Striving for excellence in college means a student puts in some hard work and they are not satisfied with a mere C, unless a C is their absolute best.

At the end of the day whether you are an entrepreneur or the parent of a student, Mr. Hoffman’s words ring true and they are two guiding principles for us to follow. In business as in education understanding our “why” and exemplifying excellence are two sure fire approaches to meeting your goals and reaching success!

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