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What Southeast Asian Entrepreneurs Can Learn From An Investment Banker

From the title you may think this post is about how to buy or sell a company. It’s neither.

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BY Tom Gimbel - 29 Jan 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

What you can learn from an investment banker is that everyone makes mistakes. Education and sophistication of the business doesn't make anyone foolproof. One of the premier, blue-chip investment banks in the country sent me an email, and while it attempted to be personalized, it was definitely a mass email. How do I know? Because it read:

Subject line: Investment Banking firm X / LaSalle Network

Dear Tom:

Congratulations on the success you have had in building XYZ firm.

XYZ is a competitor. It was a mass email sent from an investment banking group where the average transaction size is more than $100m. The bank does much, much bigger deals; however, this group focuses on sub $250m deals.

Educated. Sophisticated. Error.

I'm not suggesting the partner who signed the email wrote or sent it. It was done by an assistant or an associate. My point is mistakes happen.

As entrepreneurs start, build and grow companies, we want the right message to go into the marketplace. We want people we don't know to view us in a positive light. The right name. The right spelling. The right address. The right everything. Whether it be for a marketing piece or an advertisement, via e-mail or U.S. mail, we want perfection. It doesn't exist. Not with execution; otherwise, it takes forever, and even then you'll have mistakes.

I was at a conference last year when I heard the analogy of: are you Facebook, or are you Apple? Apple strives for perfection. Steve Jobs wanted every color, angle, interface to be perfect. Period. Facebook is constantly rolling out updates and improving on the fly. Just getting shit done. Obviously there's a difference between software and hardware, and the costs associated with it; however, the point of personality types shouldn't be lost.

As you grow your business, realize that you will hire really smart people who make mistakes, and hire not so smart people who have great successes. Manage your own expectations by realizing mistakes are a part of life, and to embrace the person (or fire them). Otherwise, don't try anything new because new things usually have problems associated with them. It's a fact of life.

So, the next time someone makes a mistake on a letter, e-mail, or God forbid a presentation, realize it's not a "you" thing. It's a life thing. If the person is bad, fire them, but if they are good, realize mistakes happen...even to the best investment bankers.

If you like this post, follow @TomGimbel for more.


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