Greg Bruce on relationships matter more than money

Greg Bruce visited the Davis College yesterday and spoke about the importance of following the money until it drains you of your passion. How did Greg learn that relationships and passion are more important than money? He told the 25 JU students in attendence that he made over $100k annually for almost 10 years in a successful run with a public relations agency. All of that money, expense accounts, and business travel did not make him happy. As a result, he decided to give it all up to pursue music. He opened his own marketing agency, Apollo to do music oriented events and work with musuc artists. He is now following his passion and loving life.

Greg advised students to make decisions based on what would enhance their relationships and family values. Ultimately each person’s values such as friends, marriage, children, and being able to mentor others are what is really important. These relationships should matter more than anything else.

Anyone worth listening to will advise you to learn from other’s mistakes. When starting a company, Greg advised would-be entrepreneurs to work for a company in the industry you want to start a business in–and learn from their successes and mistakes before starting your own.

Every college student knows the pattern…..good or bad—one decision leads to another and suddenly you are down a road you never thought you would travel. Maybe it was a romantic relationship, the particular college you attended, or the purchase of a pet. You met people, learned things, spent time and resources on things you never planned. With the pet example, your choice to own a pet led you to meet other pet owners and join a pet network. You became part of the pet fraternity. You went to pet friendly parks and met with other pet owners you never knew before.

Another example is smoking. II know people that started smoking because someone they thought was “cool” smoked cigarettes too. These new smokers join with other fellow smokers in special rooms or remote locations –such as behind the high school bleachers–and become separated from main body of students due to their habit. They become associated with other smokers by necessity.

Have you made a decision to travel by backpack in Europe, work in retail to get a company discount, or accept a job offer that led you down a strange or mysterious path?

Greg said “If you work in business development you better have a passion for doing deals”. He was charged with doing deals, creating alliances or making connections and loved going out of Jacksonville and extending his network.

Many of my classmates from Thunderbird have a passion for international travel like Greg.  As a business practitioner and coach in international business, I am particularly interested in their experiences. I enjoy hearing the success stories.  But when I suceed or do a really big deal, I want to celebrate with my closest friends and family. My former students who have been successful feel the same way. They don’t want to sacrifice everything to get a big deal done and have no one to celebrate their success with.

Greg talked about “getting back up” after your venture failed. His “busyboard” company failed and he lost tens of thousands of his family and friends investment capital in the process. It was hard to get back up after something like that. But he did.  He said companies that “get up” after a failure learn so much from those failed experiments, products, or companies and become stronger as a result.

It is fascinating to go back and disect the corresponding decision trees and “map” the outcomes based on a failed company’s original objectives or goals. External influences are powerful forces too. When the wind blows, it easy to pull up the anchor and go with the flow. We all make bad decisions when it appears to fuel our passion. Greg said “passion is an expensive thing” to follow. Just because “it felt right” at the time may not be where the money is.

Greg’s talk reminded me of one of my students traveled on a travel study course with me in Tokyo, Japan. He was the type of person that followed his passions. He chose to go into a Tokyo club in Roppongi that claimed, in broken English to offer $50 massages from beautiful Asian women. Unfortunately for my student it ended up to be an expensive episode in his life.

He broke the university rule of going somewhere alone and going somewhere he was told to avoid. $250 later (on his Visa card) he lamented his decision and the financial fallout. I tried to get a partial refund for this student, but when a 21 year old signs a Visa credit slip and agrees to a purchase it is hard get back to the original position. The $250 was lost forever.

Individually, the outcome of our cumulative decisions make us who we are. These decisions form patterns, habits, and establish our ethical foundations. If left unchecked, students learn as much from the media than they do from their family, and peers about what is right or “ethics”.

Some people believe they can get away with their bad decisions if they have the right friends, support groups, or financial resources. But bad decisions or following one’s passion will deplete precious resources. It can create a negative “ripple” effect. Sometimes you can lose something you will never get back.

It is hard to admit you made bad decisions, but being honest with your co-workers and the customer is always the best policy. People and consumers want to give you the benefit of doubt until you cross them twice. My advice is to learn from your mistakes and find a “true north” religiously or philosophically that guides your day-today decisions.

Put down an anchor and stand firm. When tempted to cross the line or follow your passions establish boundries and conditions. Consult someone stronger or more experienced than yourself. Maybe that person is your mentor, pastor, coach or parent. Stand up for those in your company that do the right thing even when the external forces are blowing you backwards. Better yet, be that “true north” compass for someone else as a mentor, coach, teacher, or parent.

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