I started my first business at the age of 13, and have only had one “normal” job in my entire life.

I was working for my Dad, who runs a life insurance brokerage firm called AccuQuote. I was in a call center where our job was to call leads and get them transferred over to sales associates. One day, the voicemail of a prospective customer said the following:

Ideas are a dime a dozen, but those who put them into practice are priceless.

That quote stuck with me and continues to be at the bottom of every email I write almost 15 years later.

Why do most people come up with ideas which could make them so wealthy they would never have to work another day in their life, yet don’t often bring them to fruition?

The answers lies in the execution. Most endeavors take 10x as much time and are 10x as difficult as our minds originally perceive them to be.

Being aware of the amount and intensity of execution required to turn a commitment into a success is critical to being a great leader.

A few months ago AoaM reader Norman Jacob sent me this quote, which sums it up perfectly:

You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.

And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.

Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.

And it’s that process that is the magic.

-Steve Jobs

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