The Forgotten Character Trait In Business

Everyone talks about the brilliance of Steve Jobs. One has to assume he was brilliant. Yet we all forget that at some point he was just a guy, no different than you or I.

Well in reality he was probably smarter and more capable than all of us, but go with it.

My point, there was a time that Steve Jobs was just Steve Jobs, before he was “Steve Jobs,” if that makes sense?  I have been thinking long and hard about what character trait he possessed that broke the machine, the traditional path, two kids, mortgage, a few weeks holidays a year, etc.

What is the magic behind Tony Robbins? His ability to lead is truly remarkable. What made OprahOprah?

Bringing it closer to home, Ray Dalio, Jane Buchan, Michael Bloomberg, Stephen Schwarzman, Leda Braga, etc., they all have something in common.

What is it?

It came to me yesterday. It’s courage.

Sure the intelligence quotient and grit surrounding all the people mentioned is off the charts, but I know a lot of really smart, tough people. Integrity, honesty, and conviction are all important, but again, there are a lot of good people out there that try exceptionally hard.

The level of success that surrounds the people above requires something more.

Do you think James Simons’ views on quantitative trading were widely accepted in 1982? Doubtful. It takes courage to stand outside the fire.

James Everett is another great example, just lesser known… for now. He believed in sustainable investing long before it was fashionable. Swimming upstream takes guts. Believing is easy. Doing is hard.

If you are starting a hedge fund or private equity fund, have the courage to reach. If you don’t find yourself in heated debate over your position, regardless of what it is, I would re-evaluate. If the situation doesn’t call for courage it won’t be long until you turn a corner and encounter other smart, tough people on the same path.

On the flip side, if you are an allocator, search out the courageous. If everything else stacks up, that is where you find what you are looking for.

Regardless of the discipline, those with the courage to step into the unknown are typically the first to discover new opportunity.

By Kyle Dunn