'Having a mentor or one or two close confidants to bounce ideas off is crucial...'
What I wish I'd known before I started
'No matter how many years experience you clock up, having a mentor or one or two close confidants to bounce ideas off is crucial. It gives you that outside view that can help you when you are too close to something. It helps if they also like to run as it can help shake observations or moments of genius - theirs, not mine - loose.
"Have a life. For me work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, and integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. Things like running, adventure racing and golf can go a long way to giving me something outside of my work life that enables me to gain some perspective.
"Someone far wiser than me once said: 'The customer's perception is your reality.' That means staying as close as you can to your customers, and adding value when and where you can. It is too easy to fall into the trap of only being a supplier. I have seen this in my career, across both the chemical and technology sector.
"Have targets and objectives, but don't overdo it. When it come to the big plan in business, less really is more. When you are happy with your vision and your plan, go with it. But never be afraid to cut off parts that do not increase your revenue or reduce your costs.
"A flexible plan is key to keeping things on track - and not being afraid to kill your darlings if they don't deliver requires bravery.
"I have overseen some major change within Canon, the biggest being how the online and offline worlds changed the face of printing. It is not only about the actual printing anymore, we evolved into full document management from the cloud to the printer out tray.
"Build your best team around you. While this is easy to say and can sometimes sound like the latest management cliche, it can be one of the biggest factors in your company's success and longevity. It is a delicate balance between having like-minded and opposite people to you in the company.
"The danger is you get the balance wrong, you either become blind as everyone agrees and questions nothing, or else you grind to a halt as no one agrees on anything and does not give ground.
"You need to have a team that is not afraid of being honest with you. None of us is as smart as all of us."
Sunday Indo Business