Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Hollis on Energy Drains and Entrepreneurial Altrusim (Part 2 of 3)


Today the RHMS continues! (Ron Hollis Mini-Series). You know your DVR’s are set and you can’t wait to see what Ron says next.   Details and background on Ron here in the first post.

Let’s get back into the questions for Ron.


What do you avoid because it drains your personal energy?

My personal energy is drained by poor planning, mismanagement of resources and waste. I have always strived to be a disciplined person that is willing to invest time to plan, track and execute what I wanted accomplished.   However, being associated with others that are less motivated can create energy drains.

As an aside, I’m a big believer in using energy drains to identify deficiencies in your own plan or execution, particular as a business leader. My definition of energy drains are the compelling thoughts you are having about something that is not positive and causing you stress. A simple test is to assess what you are thinking about while driving in mind-numbing rush-hour traffic (there are plenty of these times in Atlanta). If you continue to think about the same person and their deficiencies, and just not sure why, then they are an energy drain.

As a CEO, I would document and review my current energy drains every morning. Since much of my responsibility is about putting the right people in the right position, it was typically a person (instead of something else) that was the energy drain. I challenged myself to remove an energy drain from the list within a few days. I would have a critical assessment of the energy drain and try to identify a cause. Sometimes this is easy, like when the sales person is just not closing their deals because they don’t have strong enough product knowledge.  While other times it could be that this person is just not getting it, but you’re not sure what they are missing and why.

Typically, my resolutions became a partnership with the person causing my energy drain. I would meet with them and let them know they are on my “energy drain list” and that WE must figure out what the cause is and how to resolve it quickly. Amazingly, this candid, and sometimes difficult, conversation is very effective with the issue being easily identified, like the sales person does not like the technical aspects of the product and so not motivated to master the information. With the issue identified, the resolution can be simple and mutual, like the sales person finding another job in a different field in which they are interested in mastering their product.  Either way, the energy drain is dissolved and life continues.

Also, I find negative people are energy drains and very frustrating. They can create the few situations where I will become emotionally expressive and critical. I will typically just remove myself from the situation. This is true in a meeting or a family get-together. These people have realized that it is easier to complain and predict failure, than to invest the time and energy to influence a positive outcome.

How do you find ways to help others and give back?

I’m not a big fan of typical philanthropic and charitable approaches. I think the business of the charity (donations, expansion, executives) typically gets in the way of the mission of the charity, so why waste my money on something that will have little impact. Most folks only give so they can check off their “feel good” action and think they have done their part with a cleared check and take no accountability if their investment was actually useful.

So, I work more on teaching a man to fish and then let him decide how to guide his own life. On  a personal level, my primary areas of ‘teaching” are about setting life goals, being accountable for one’s life and being willing to invest more today than you are being paid for (a basic tenet of Napoleon Hill). For life planning, I give a copy of Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Tommy Newberry’s Success is Not an Accident. From there, I am willing to meet and discuss their progress. Since success requires a lot of work and unpaid effort, most give up fast, so it’s an easy way to free up my philanthropic calendar.

Another means of giving back is through what I call “entrepreneurial altruism”. This is where I will invest my time to work with a young business CEOs to help clear the clutter of their business path and increase the chances of success. I apply my skills of candor, logic and accountability to drive the business leader forward. I find this approach has more potential to impact the world since a successful company can touch exponentially more folks, but also find it hard to make a successful CEO out of a person that lacks the fundamental skills required to be a CEO. If  you don’t have  the courage to make the hard decisions, then you cannot succeed, regardless of who is helping.

While I was running Quickparts, my philosophy on philanthropic efforts and giving back was to invest heavily in building great leaders within the company. We would invest heavily in formal training and structured programs that would help a person become a better leader, both academically and practically. For the company, this was beneficial in that we had a strong foundation of young leaders to continue to build the company. Also, the altruistic rationalization was that a strong leader at work would also be a strong leader at home, in church, their kid’s schools and other areas of life. This would provide an exponential impact on the world that made our small investment have a great return.


Thanks again Ron! One more post tomorrow.



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