Hal Turner Answers Why Entrepreneurs Will Be Lexington's Legacy
Cromer's P-Nuts Chairman of the Board Hal Turner addressed the crowd at the Greater Lexington Chamber’s monthly breakfast Tuesday morning, sponsored by Wells Fargo, and discussed what it means to be an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Turner, who was a senior at Lexington High School 50 years ago. “I think it’s entrepreneurs that are going to help our whole region recover.”
Turner posed a challenge to the audience and asked the question, “As we look forward to the next 50 years or so, what will the legacy of Lexington be?”
Turner believes that will be largely dependent upon today’s entrepreneurs. So he laid out the challenge to start a business.
“I think the number one thing you can do is challenge someone to start a company,” he said. “That’s what I’d like to do today – challenge you to start up a company.”
With that come the challenges of being an entrepreneur. How do you raise capital? How do you start something from nothing?
Turner believes an entrepreneur is somebody without any concern about the lack of resources, the obstacles they face, or the challenges they have to endure.
“If you start a company, you’re going to gain some new life experiences, and I want to share some of those with you that I’ve experienced,” Turner said. “But you don’t have to start a business. You can be an entrepreneurial employee.”
One of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur according to Turner is their commitment level.
“Entrepreneurs are all in. They don’t have side interests. They don’t have part-time jobs. Entrepreneurs have bet their house. They’ve bet their life. They’ve bet their career,” he said. “They’re all in to what they’re doing. That’s what it will take for us to create the legacy of Lexington.”
Turner also focused on the idea of leadership. Entrepreneurs must be able to lead, and he believes a leader possesses three primary qualities. The first is trust.
“That’s something that’s earned, but you have to earn it by acting trustworthy,” Turner said. “When things go well in your organization, it’s not because of you, it’s your team; but when things don’t go well, it’s your job as the leader to take responsibility.”
He also said leaders have to provide direction for the entire organization.
“Leaders are able to say this is the hill we’re going to take right up there,” Turner said. “This is how we will differentiate.”
Finally, and most importantly, Turner believes a leader is responsible for the concept of hope in an organization.
“If you can’t instill the hope to get there, all could be lost,” he said.
The idea that everyone is in sales is another key component of Turner’s philosophy. This is because you have to communicate, and you have to sell your passion.
“I wonder how you sell your passion when you’re my wife selling popcorn and peanuts. Well, you’re not selling popcorn and peanuts. You’re selling how that makes people feel. You’re selling how it helps a business keep its customers,” Turner said. “You do business with people who believe what you believe. Tap into your passion, and it taps into the passion of the person you’re speaking to.”
Turner also went on to outline some key points to success as an entrepreneur. Some of those highlighted include holding people accountable.
“The Hawthorne Effect says when people understand they’re going to be held accountable; things will improve even if you don’t change anything probably,” he said.
He also said you must understand paying for performance and having a big, audacious goal that will get people excited. Another key factor is not just knowing what to do and how to do it, but also understanding why you’re doing those things. Manners also count.
“You have to be nice to people,” Turner said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t be demanding. It doesn’t mean you can’t ask for results and accountability, but being civil is very important in this.”
Turner noted to a quote from Michelangelo that should paramount for all entrepreneurs.
At age 87, Michelangelo said, “Ancora imparo,” which means “I am still learning.”
“Entrepreneurs need that in their fiber of being,” said Turner, who left a challenge for the audience.
“The skills exist in this room,” he said. “What are we going to create in Lexington? In the Midlands? I think there are some good companies that could come out of this.”
The breakfast was sponsored by Wells Fargo and catered by Crescent Moon Restaurant.