A common trait I have found in successful leaders is a commitment to preparation. Benjamin Franklin noted, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” On game day, well prepared athletes make it look easy. However, we know that hours of hard work went into getting ready. Legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant explained, “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” In our fast paced culture, it is easy to cut corners and not do our “homework.” However, digging in and really being prepared makes all the difference.
Whether preparing for an interview, sales opportunity, or investor presentation, being prepared helps you stand out from the crowd.
Colby Lane has led a life of intention and preparation. He is a business leader on the rise and one to watch in the coming years. Lane, a native of Brandon, earned a B.A. in Economics from Millsaps before going on Harvard Law School. After practicing with Wilmer Hale in Washington D.C., he returned to his home state to serve as Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Mississippi. He then went on to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel for Governor Haley Barbour. After a very successful career in the law and public service, Colby formed Eagle Ridge Growth Partners as an operator-led private investment company which recently acquired its first company, PEC Safety. As of November, Lane has assumed the role of CEO of that company.
During his career, Lane has benefited from learning from some very talented leaders. He shared, “After law school, I had the opportunity to work for a couple of world class lawyers, Mark Dewire and Jay Watkins, who taught me the value of preparation and actively listening to clients. As a leader, I try to apply both learnings: always prepare (if anything over prepare) and always listen first, whether talking to an employee, customer or vendor. It is amazing how much success comes from doing these two things.”
Lane also noted that he learned a great deal from U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton about aggressively pursuing solutions. Lane noted, “Dunn always tried to find ‘yes’ and ‘can do’ and avoid ‘no’. Too often an ‘easy no’ can stand in the way of success.” While working for Governor Barbour, Lane learned how, in the face of crisis, the best teams and leaders stay calm and act. He said, “A crisis may require you to work faster, but the best teams follow the same core principles and practices and make decisions. Inaction is paralyzing.”
For future leaders, Lane offered some sage advice. He encourages people to “find the best people to work with and volunteer for the hardest projects. You will learn from the best people and you will grow by succeeding (and failing) at hard projects.” He also explained that he believes the job of a leader is to help the team win and take the blame when they don’t. He said, “As a leader, it is essential to be transparent and explicit. Let your team know exactly what your goals are and why you are pursuing them. This clarity of purpose eliminates surprises. And finally measure results. As they say, what gets measured gets done.”
Lane has worked hard and developed a reputation for delivering results with high integrity. His commitment to hard work, preparation, and service have allowed him to be successful at each stop in his career. I know his new venture will certainly benefit from his skills, expertise, and preparation. He will be one to watch in the years to come.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.
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