Taking Big Leaps With Jon Bostock

Jon Bostock

Although Jon Bostock has done a lot to shake up the industries he’s worked in, he doesn’t consider himself to be a disruptor. “You have to start by taking a step, and then that first step leads to a bigger step, and that bigger step leads to more,” said Bostock, author of “The Elephant’s Dilemma.” “I just consider myself someone that’s been willing to take leaps.”

And they’ve certainly been some interesting leaps: Bostock spent more than a decade at General Electric before taking a role as president and chief operating officer at Big Ass Fans. From there, Bostock co-founded and operated Truman’s, a cleaning product company, for three years before exiting.

At Nexus Louisiana’s Baton Rouge Entrepreneur Week (BREW), Bostock joined Julio Melara on stage to chat about building a business with potential, building a more positive future and unleashing your own power.

Build Something Others Can Run With

Big Ass Fans eventually sold for a whopping $500 million. How? “When you’re selling a company … you’re basically doing two things,” Bostock said. “You’re running a business and you’re running a sales process.”

When selling your business, you need to consider how the business is perceived by potential buyers. You need to demonstrate that you’ve created something that’s valuable but retains growth potential and room for further acceleration under new ownership.

To understand how other companies have done (or failed to do) this, Bostock reads annual reports from publicly traded companies. He recently read BlackBerry’s annual reports and compared them with Apple’s over the same period. He found that BlackBerry was focused on a singular hardware product while Apple was building an ecosystem for scaling content that impacts and informs hardware.

Create Buyers of the Future

Future consumers are an important consideration when Bostock makes business decisions. He’s drawn a lot of inspiration from his grandmother, who left her home in Eastern Europe to create a better life for her family in the U.S. “Her decisions were based on things beyond just her individual world,” Bostock said.

Similarly, he is conscious of the impact his business might have on creating a better future for consumers, which drives a healthier market. “The reality of business is we need our communities to be safer, more secure, stronger,” Bostock said. “You have to think about your actions beyond just you.”

Think in the long term about how your decisions will affect future generations, just like Bostock’s grandmother did decades ago.

Never Forget Your Own Power

Bostock wants you to know that you don’t have to stay tethered to a corporate job. You have more power and potential than you give yourself credit for — and that’s why he named his book “The Elephant’s Dilemma.”

Elephants in the circus are extremely powerful creatures that could break away from their handlers at any time. But they don’t because they’re conditioned to stay. “That’s what we are in corporate America,” he said. “I wrote … [the book] for people like me, who spent six years wanting to do something else but didn’t have the courage to do it.”

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