Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

The Ron Hollis Mini-Series – Ron on Balance and Alignment (Part 1 of 3)


hollisIntroducing THE most fascinating, high-energy, deep entrepreneur I know.   For those that haven’t met Ron Hollis  you should add this to your bucket list. Ron is a successful Atlanta entrepreneur who built and sold, which at the time was doing $25mm in annual revenue. He is also one of the original EO Atlanta members, having joined back in the mid 90’s.    Ron, with his PhD in hand, and crazy high energy conversationalist, is ridiculously smart and it shows. When I first read his answers to my questions profiling entrepreneurs for this blog, I was blown away and decided that he deserves his own mini-series! Two questions at a time.

Ron is a fantastic mentor of mine, and I hope that young entrepreneurs will take his words below to heart. Read them slowly and multiple times over.   You can even see the thought he put into these answers in this note he provided to me:

Johnson – The following responses were prepared with the intention to provide a deeper perspective to the provided question that possibly sparks additional intellectualization by the reader instead of just being a bunch of words espoused by someone responding the question.  My responses were overly cogitated to balance value to the reader while minimizing the boredom of reading about another person’s viewpoint, which we really don’t care about.  So, it is my desire that something sticks that can help provide a positive nudge on your path in life.  -Ron

What do you do as an entrepreneur to balance your most important personal relationships (spouse, kids, family)?

I think that in today’s world, there is no such thing as work-life balance and that one should plan their life with a complete integration of all activities and experiences.  Their “job” should be part of an overall strategy of a whole life, in alignment with their spousal relationships, children, friends, health, recreation, etc, instead of seeing their job as an extracurricular activity they are required to “clock-in” and “clock-out” of during their work week. This is much easier to do if you are pursuing your passion instead of just going through the motions of life.

For me, I have never felt that I was un-balanced in life, but was willing to invest my time into what I felt was most important at the time, which was usually my business.  A key is being a structured, disciplined and candid person, which allows the opportunity for expectations to be set with all areas of life so that disappointments are minimized. Candid communication about what I am doing and why it is important is critical to allow everyone to be on the same page in my world.  This is true for relationships with your spouse, children, business and with yourself, such as with your own health. For example, my family always has dinner together on Mondays that includes our family meeting to discuss our goals, schedules and challenges. I treat this meeting with the same commitment as a customer meeting and consider it equally important. By having the meeting scheduled and my commitment to be sure that I attend ensures a continued investment in important areas of my life. If I am unable or unwilling to attend my son’s sporting event, then this is communicated beforehand to avoid misunderstands and unnecessary disappointments.

During the early days of my career, I was always willing to sacrifice my Friday nights and weekends to work on something that could grow my skills, knowledge and value while my friends were out enjoying life partying. My rationalization was that the harder I worked then would allow me more freedom to enjoy life later. The risk I was accepting was a premature death, and then the strategy would have been wrong. So far, this approach has been successful for me. It is interesting to find so many folks that want to reap the rewards of success without being willing to invest their time and energy planting the seeds for their future.

So, balance is what you define it to be and not some fairy tale perception that you can invest equally in all areas that you consider important. I find that most folks naturally invest their own time in areas that THEY want to spend their time in and then blame work-life balance as an excuse for neglecting other areas that are seeking attention. An avid golfer will always find a way to play golf and then rationalize the time lost elsewhere.

What gives you the most personal energy?

My personal energy is driven from being aligned to my purpose in the world. When I am investing every precious minute towards my overall purpose, then I am happy and rejuvenated. Typically my alignment is around having a positive impact on the world around me, particularly in the area of business and life management.

I enjoy the power and impact of successful business enterprises in positively affecting their customers, the company’s team members, and the community of those team members. By investing time and energy, with appropriate discipline, it is empowering to see the positive transformations that can occur.  These transformations have very long-term and exponential impacts on the lives of those around you (both those you know and the folks you don’t know exist).

My alignment is also driven by association with other positive and impactful people. I have little tolerance for ignorance and laziness and I will willingly ostracize those people out of my life. This does not matter if it is my neighbor or my family. I think you become the average of the people you spend your time with, so I work to always be averaging up by intentionally finding and associating with those stronger than me in areas I wish to improve. Equally important is to NOT invest time around those that are negative, unmotivated and unwilling to manage the opportunities of their life.

 Stay tuned for part 2 of 3 of the Ron Hollis Mini-Series!



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