Executive Reads: Steve Hulford

Steve has founded, developed and launched numerous Internet products and companies. Filemobile is Steve’s third venture. He serves as Filemobile’s Chief Creative Officer and is responsible for business development and marketing. Steve has a passion for blending creative and technical solutions that drive media value. Previously, he was a Co-owner of PoolExpert.com, which was purchased by Rogers Communications in 2008. Steve has served as the vice-president of sports products for TSN and RDS where he managed the product development and P&L for these popular Canadian sports websites. Steve was once on the Canadian National Swim Team, has produced and directed a documentary film called 60 Days in Indonesia, and has traveled to over forty countries. Steve lives in Toronto with his wife Kerry and two kids, Jack and Kate.

I have been reading a lot of historical non-fiction lately. The historical context of people that long ago did extraordinary things with a lot less resources and means really appeals to me. Each of these books draw inspiration for me in my business.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
I read this book over the Christmas holidays. The story of Louis Zamperini is an inspiration and lesson in survival and continuing in the face of adversity. Louis lived an extraordinary life and by all accounts has used up nine or ten lives. Louis was a high-school phenom in the mile and competed at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. During the WW2 he was a Norgen Bomb sight operator in the US Airforce flying in B-24 Liberators during the war in the Pacific. He saw plenty of battle and survived a crash in the Pacific that left him and two others adrift in the Pacific ocean for 47 days on a raft. They survived barely on a diet of shark/sea birds and scant supply of water only to be captured by the Japanese where he spent two years in a concentration camp. While I can draw no parallel to Louis in my own life, I do draw inspiration from his story in business. Being an entrepreneur is a roller-coaster ride, and you need to stay steady, and persist. Some days you can’t see the finish line, but you have to have the tenacity and determination to go for it.

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda
Hero is a story about TE Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. It is an amazing story of TE’s life from childhood to is death at 46 in a motorcycle accident near his home in Dover, England.

TE’s life exploits are the stuff of legend and his activities and associations are extraordinary. In particular, TE was influential in guiding a rag tag army of nomads for the British against a much stronger army of the Ottoman Turks in the Arab Revolt in 1916-1918. He was responsible for perfecting and teaching his nomad army “guerilla warfare.” He learned the languages of the middle east and totally assimilated into their culture. The strategies he used to defeat bigger, stronger foes hold a lot of learnings in business in how to compete against bigger competitors. Almost 100 years ago, people with his skills were put to work in the Army. I am sure if TE was around today, he would have been an internet entrepreneur.  

Life by Keith Richards
I work with partners in my business. In business, you can’t do it all, and having partners helps you round out your skills and put an all-star team together. Perhaps the greatest partnership of the 20th century is that of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. Lets face; neither of them did very well in a solo career. These two unlikely partners came together to make rock and roll history. The book is a great story of Keith’s humble beginnings and his rise, fall and shenanigans with Mick through the 50 years of the Rolling Stones. Life’s insight into the Jagger-Richards partnership is a must-read on business partnerships.