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Guest: Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of jetAviva, “Life is Short. Fly a Jet.”
Episode in a Tweet: “Life is short, fly a jet,” is more than a catchy slogan for jetAviva. It’s a metaphor for how the co-founder lives, runs his company, and makes people’s dreams come true.
Quick Background: Cyrus Sigari and his childhood best friend Ben founded jetAviva to help make people’s dreams come true. They just happen to do that by selling executive jets–over a billion dollars worth! As an Iranian Muslim and an Israeli Jew, these two men have put aside geo-political differences to build a hugely successful company and remain best friends. Cyrus has an incredibly positive outlook on life and business that is not naively simple, rather, it’s refreshingly candid. In today’s podcast, Cyrus shares some true wisdom about life as well as some insightful comments about building and running a successful luxury goods company.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
1. You may not be in the business you think you’re in.
On the surface, Cyrus is in the business of selling executive jets, but, “At our core, what we do is make people’s dreams come true.” Think about your business. Beyond the obvious literal business you’re in, what does your business “really” do? What core emotional need or strong desire does your business meet? If you can get to the heart of what you do and what outcomes your business delivers, you may discover better ways or new avenues to pursue to grow your business 10x.
2. Being curious about how you approach business and life may make both much more exciting.
“The concept of hard work is an interesting one, because I feel, with a few exceptions, that I haven’t really worked a day in my life,” said Cyrus. This isn’t some psycho-babble. Cyrus said, “Business isn’t work because I’m curious. When I was growing up, I always wanted to know more. I wanted to learn how to fly another jet, or I wanted to understand how an engine works and understand how an airplane is certified, and understand how they’re maintained. That curiosity fueled me.” Loving what he does also helps. “I wake up every day and I get to hang out with some of the coolest people on earth, with the coolest machines on earth, see the coolest places on earth, and I get paid to do it. It doesn’t get any better than that.” How curious and passionate are you about what you do?
3. If your passion and enthusiasm for your business is waning, it may mean it’s time to move on to the next big thing.
Cyrus recently bought out his partner Ben. After being best friends and business partners since childhood, it was a shock to Cyrus that the friend he was so closely aligned with in business and friendship was no longer going to be there. “I realized that what’s important to somebody today and what gets them excited today is just that. It’s what gets them excited today. It may not be the same tomorrow,” said Cyrus. “Going through the process of buying out Ben was a big inflection point. It was a really beautiful experience in recognizing that individuals’ purpose, desires, and needs change as time goes on,” said Cyrus. “If you can be respectful in honoring that process and be true to your purpose, you can really use that as a catapult to the next level of success.”
4. Be analytical in how you analyze the downside of a major decision, but don’t “stare” at the downside.
Once Cyrus has reviewed the pros and cons of a big decision and made the decision, he starts to, “Focus exclusively on the winning part of it, and the concept of losing or it not working out gets eradicated from my mind. The only thing I’m doing is focusing on winning. I’m not focusing on not losing. I think that’s a subtle but important shift from a psychological perspective. Once you’ve done your homework and made the decision, you’re pregnant. Go. Don’t stare at the downside.”
5. An employee that is failing in their current role may not need to be fired, rather, they may need to move to a different role that better suits their skill sets and desires (and your needs).
Looking back, Cyrus said, “I wish I would have gotten clear on the concept of there’s the right person for the right job, the right person for the wrong job, the wrong person for the right job, and the wrong person for the wrong job.” He’s seen several examples in his company where, “We moved somebody from our team into a different capacity and watched them flourish.” Can you think of anyone on your team where you know they are the right person but they may just be in the wrong job within your company? Do you have a good process to bring the right people on board?
1. Get clear on the business you’re really in. Once you move beyond the product or service you provide, get to the core of what problem you solve or deep-seated need you meet. This level of business understanding could lead to breakthroughs.
2. Always be curious. In business and life, make it a point to be curious. Approach things with a new set of eyes. And when your curiosity starts to wane, it may be an early warning sign that things need to change.
3. Once you make a big decision, focus on winning, not on “not losing.” Companies that make big happen focus on maximizing the upside, not on nervously protecting the downside. Yes, you have to protect the downside, but once you’ve done that, focus your energy on winning. As former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, “Just win, baby.”
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.