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Interview with Kim Perell: Transforming Vision into Business Success via the Execution Factor

What is the determining factor that separates successful businesses from ones that fail? According to Kim Perell, it is the ability to execute that can decide the outcome.

Kim Perell, author of The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success, has invested in over 70 startups and is the CEO of Amobee, a multimillion-dollar marketing technology company. Through her observation over the years of many successful and failed startups, and from her own personal experiences as an entrepreneur and an executive, she has developed a blueprint for those seeking to turn their business vision into a reality.

Here, she explains the concept of the “execution factor” and breaks down the five components (vision, passion, action, resilience and relationships) that make up this business approach.



Greg Corombos: Hi, I'm Greg Corombos. Our guest this week on Expert Insights is Kim Perell. Kim is CEO of Amobee and author of The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success. Today, we'll be discussing what successful execution looks like, and what the critical components are. And Kim, thanks so much for being with us.

Kim Perell: Thanks for having me, Greg.

Greg Corombos: Well, you've got a great story here. And we'll get into the aspects of execution that you believe are so critical to business success in just a moment. But to set the stage for that I want our listeners to understand where you've been on this journey. I know things were looking pretty financially bleak for you back when you were in your twenties. You were down to your last, I think, a couple hundred bucks. So talk about your decision at that point to pursue a startup that ultimately grew to a massively successful company that you then sold to the company that you're now in charge of. So how did all that happened?

Kim Perell: Yeah, it's been an incredible journey as an entrepreneur for the last 20 years. I definitely know about failure. And I've seen my fair share. So at 23, I was broke, unemployed. And I was a statistic. And, you know, looking back at that experience, and not knowing what was next, or what was I going to do, I decided to take matters into my own hands and start my own company.

And that was, you know, fairly early on in the infancy of the internet, and everyone, I knew thought I was crazy and thought, you know, the internet, digital marketing was a fad. But, you know, I believed in my vision. I believe the opportunity. And, you know, I made a bet on myself. And I think looking back that the best bet you can ever make is the one on yourself. Because you can only control yourself and what you do, and not, you know, not the surroundings.

Greg Corombos: So you were in a bad place financially and businesswise, before you were able to start the successful business. So, given that less than auspicious start, how did you determine that a lot of success ultimately comes down to execution?

Kim Perell: Yeah, so looking back over the last 20 years, and I've been an entrepreneur, an executive. I'm an investor in over 70 different startups. I'm an advisor, and I'm on a couple of different boards. You know, looking back at that red thread between those companies that are successful and those that are failures, I've seen that execution is that difference, and execution is what separates the good from the great. And it's easy to dream, it is hard to do. So looking back, you know, at so many great ideas, and so many great visionaries. And it's important to have that vision. But you also have to take the necessary action in order to make that vision a reality.

Greg Corombos: And you've mentioned two of the five critical components--vision, passion, action, resilience, and relationships. Let's briefly go through them one at a time, what is a quality vision look like?

Kim Perell: Vision is having that North Star and a crystal clear picture of what you want to achieve, whether it be buying a house, starting a business, selling a business, raising money. It's really about being very specific. And, you know, really having that every day, that North Star and that compass. And I put a Post-it on my bathroom mirror, and I look at what I'm trying to achieve every single day in the morning and the night. I did this when I sold my last company. It's a very powerful tool. When you look historically, there are statistics that say that those who write down their visions are nine times as likely to be more successful over their life, and as those who aren't. So why wouldn't you do it? And I think anyone looking to achieve success, this is a great place to start

Greg Corombos: That is followed by passion. How is that different? And what does it look like?

Kim Perell: Passion. How I see passion, not just getting excited and energized. It's really about passion, being the Latin root word for pain. So what are you actually willing to suffer for? And really knowing that going in because it's going to get hard? It's not easy. There's going to be late nights and early mornings. And it's, are you really willing to suffer for what your vision is and to achieve it? I think it's, you know, really understanding if you are or if you aren't, and making, you know, deciding if you're going to take action against it.

Greg Corombos: And that obviously can flow into action itself. But you also talk about action and just setting one or two, maybe even just small little tasks in front of you to keep the drive going.

Kim Perell: Yeah, I think when you look at action, people always look at how do I create, you know, this incredible vision. It's so big. But that gives you analysis paralysis. You just don't know where to start. So it's really about taking one small action every day closer to your vision. And that's what I found to be the most successful because if you try to tackle the entire you know, your entire vision, it's just going to get overwhelming and almost, you know, paralyzing. It's been that way for me.

Greg Corombos: You mentioned Kim, that you're going to suffer at some point. There's going to be setbacks, there’s going to be disappointments. And that's where resilience kicks in. How do you know if you have it before you've actually encountered one of these trials? And what does it look like? Again, to put it into practice, when you see a massive setback. The loan doesn't come through. Your partner doesn't turn out to be an honest person. The customers aren't responding. Whatever it is, how do you dig deep and bring that out?

Kim Perell: In my 20 years, I've never seen an overnight success. And you know, when I work with entrepreneurs, I tell them, they should assume it's going to take a minimum of five years before they see that ultimate success and that sign. And so if you really look at that long-term strategy, you have to be willing. It's going to be hard, and are you prepared to endure the wrong turns, the detours, the roadblocks along the way. Because success is not a linear line, straight to the top. There are challenges. And how do you build that resilience muscle, because it's really something that you're going to have to prepare yourself to overcome, as you said. The loan doesn't come through, the funding doesn't come through, you lose a big customer. These happen every day in business. And I think knowing that this happens's not just an individual, this happens all the time to businesses all over the world. Know that you're not alone. And if you get knocked down, you have to get be willing to get back up. It's easy to throw in the towel. It's hard to keep going.

Greg Corombos: We'll get to relationships in just a moment, Kim, but some people might be looking at this and going well, she's explaining very well that this is not easy to follow these five steps. But it sounds like if I do these five things, I'm going to be a smashing success. What would you say to folks who come to that conclusion?

Kim Perell: Yeah, you will. I mean, throughout my experience, I believe these five traits that rate success from failure. I've learned and I've looked at, you know, an incredible amount of companies. I currently run a company and based on my experience, if you can master these five traits, you will be successful. So this is...I think it goes back to the relationship being the fifth trait and surrounding yourself with people that are supporting and encouraging you to achieve your dreams. And I think that's really important. I mean, I personally do something called the life audit, which look at the five people you surround yourself with. And then you really do a very simple exercise, which is, if they're encouraging you and supporting you, challenging you, put a plus. And if they're just telling you, it's not going to work, they're discouraging from your dreams, you put a minus. And then you just start auditing them out. Because whoever you're surrounding yourself [with] and whoever you are spending the most time with, that's where you're going. So surround yourself with people that are thinking big and trying to achieve their dreams, because whatever they're going, you're going to be going too.

Greg Corombos: And those are the relationships you obviously want to cultivate. So again, its vision, passion, action, resilience, and relationships. And so briefly walk us through how this worked for you when you went from dead broke to successful CEO of multimillion dollar company. How did each of these components play into your success?

Kim Perell: Yeah, they're all...I think when you look at execution, each one of them is very important to mastering execution. So my, you know, every day wake up and I think, how can I master each one of these even better than the day before. And it's...I can go from my kitchen table 20 years ago to today, running a global marketing company with a thousand people and writing a bestseller. Anyone can. And that's what I'm trying to, you know, really educate and provide that blueprint in my book, The Execution Factor, so I can help teach people how to build the vision they have for their lives, to surround yourself with those great people. And when they get knocked down to get back up. So really trying to help to give that framework and that blueprint to help others achieve the same success.

Greg Corombos: Kim, it's a fantastic book. It's a fantastic lesson on so many of the qualities that are needed, not just in a successful business operation, but getting the most out of life in many ways, as well. So thank you very much for your time today. We greatly appreciate it.

Kim Perell: Thanks so much, Greg. Appreciate you having me.

Greg Corombos: Kim Perell is CEO of Amobee and author of The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success. I'm Greg Corombos. This is Expert Insights.

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