Boland Jones, founder and CEO of PGi, visits with students at the UGA Chapel following his talk at a Terry Leadership Speakers Series event.

Boland Jones, founder and CEO of the multinational corporation Premiere Global Services Inc., laid out four pieces of advice for student entrepreneurs at the Terry Leadership Speaker Series on Feb. 21.

Jones, who has funded or started more than 100 companies including WebMD, said that the two pieces of success always include hard work and luck. Other than that, he said, the following pieces of advice are good guides:

1. Be passionate.

“You’ve got to do what you’re passionate about… Living without passion is like living without a soul,” Jones said. “I don’t care what the passion is for, just let yourself be passionate. Let yourself be embarrassed by showing your unveiled self to whoever you’re showing it to. You’ve got to be passionate.”

2. Learn the art of persuasion.

“Learning how to persuade people to do things is a big part of leadership,” he said. “Most people are insecure. Most people are afraid to come up on this stage and put the microphone to their mouth. And I’m nervous, too. But once you start doing it and start gaining confidence, it’s an amazing tool. You can lead people to improve their own situation and thus improve your situation, too… It’s all about learning how to persuade people to do things, which is really learning how to lead people.”

3. Don’t settle for the status quo.

“Don’t ever settle for what somebody tells you is the deal. If you do something every day and you go, I wonder why they do it like this? If they say to you, ‘Well, this is the way it’s always been done’ then don’t settle for that,” Jones said. “Always question the way things are done, no matter what you do… I started my company in 1996. Back then, if you did something online and you had the boldness to go forward with it, it worked… A lot [of what I accomplished] will never work again. The world has changed. You have to take a different approach.”

4. Listen.

“The last thing is to listen. It’s the art nobody has anymore,” he said. “Listen with the intent of being influenced by what the other person is saying. If you’ve ever done that before, you actually have to listen… When somebody’s got an idea or a counter idea to your idea, listen. It’s a time to learn. The biggest opportunity is learning from other people, and learning about their passion and their ideas, which will eventually turn your light on. And you can compare notes from your inner thoughts to their thoughts.”

Summing up his points, Jones said, “You cannot be successful on your own… I don’t care what you do, you have to have other people with you, and those people have to believe in your leadership if you’re the leader. You have to win them over, and the way to win them over is to persuade them to see your vision. You’ve got to let them see your leadership vision, and you’ve got to let them contribute to it. It’s important to include others.”

The Terry Leadership Speaker Series presented by the Institute for Leadership Advancement brings well-known leaders from a variety of organizations to the Terry College of Business and the University of Georgia. 

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