Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of learning some keys to success straight from one the most powerful men in corporate America, our 2016 Corporate Executive of the Year, Marvin R. Ellison, the chairman and CEO of JCPenney.
I spent a day with Ellison at JCP‘s headquarters in Plano, Texas, listening to how he’s turned the company around. Here are three of the keys to success that really stood out for me, as he shared his journey from being a small-town son of a sharecropper, to leading one of the largest retailers in the country.
1. Listen to Your Parents
“They were so specific about what it took to be successful in life. Education was one thing that can never be taken from you. I heard my dad say that countless times. Get a good education. Work hard. Be a good citizen. Have strong faith. Live a life that you would be pleased with. ‘Live life like you’re going to run for president one day,’ is what my mother would always say. Make few mistakes that stick with you for a lifetime.”
2. Have a Hunger for Learning
“I’ve always been intellectually curious. Although I started out in college as an hourly store security officer, I wanted to learn everything about the store that I could, because I wanted to stay informed, active, and engaged. My intellectual curiosity led me to learning a lot about the store, so as other jobs and positions opened up over the years, I just migrated through. But, it all started in that $4.35-an-hour position.”
3. Control Your Own Attitude
“Never have a bad day. Never allow the trend in the business, something that a competitor is doing, or an event that is to occur get you down or to take away your resilience. Never allow any negative trends to be the overriding reason why you’re day does not play out the way you would like it to. Every day is about having a good day. Every day is about getting one step better than yesterday. I tell the team, ‘We don’t have bad days.’ We try to make every second, every minute, every hour, every day, week, month, quarter, and year the best that we can make it. We control that. For me, that’s how I approach business. That’s how I approach life.”