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Stephen Dela Cruz’s Note to Self: You don't have to do it alone

Do you remember when you were 28 and you had a stroke? You were lying on the floor of your office, waiting for your assistant to come back from the tanning salon to help you; your whole left side was paralyzed. Do you remember what you told her when she tried calling 911 for you? ‘It’s not in my budget.’ It’s a darn good thing she didn’t listen to you!

Do you remember how you got to that point in your life? Ten corporations with 500+ employees and you were doing it all yourself.

Photo of Stephen Dela Cruz
When you’re focused on the road in front of you, it can be difficult to recognize how far you’ve come and the valuable lessons learned along the way. As the premium car rental brand for road warriors, National wants to help business travelers fuel their journey ahead. The ‘Note to Self’ articles feature stories of road warriors who’ve “made it,” as they share the advice they would give to their younger selves.

You don’t have to do it alone, Stephen. You can’t, actually; a stroke taught you that. You managed all of those employees; you drove to all of those prospect meetings and those networking events and those investment meetings all by yourself. You are stubborn but you can change the way you handle business now and prevent the health issues later down the road.

There is so much value in having a team. A team does not mean that you are weak. A team means that you identify your strengths and your weaknesses and allow others’ strengths to grow your empire. A team helps complement you by bringing to the table the skills that you may not have. They help you to brainstorm how to overcome issues that arise.

Think about a candy bar, like a Snickers bar for example (your favorite), starts out with nougat. Nougat is the foundation of the candy bar; they mix in some peanut butter and then allow it to set; next they cover it with caramel and peanuts then add a ticker layer of caramel on top. They finish the bar by drenching it with chocolate and BAM — you have a delicious candy bar.

A good team is like a candy bar — (side note, Stephen — stop eating so many candy bars or you will end up in the hospital even with a team in place.) A good team helps you with the foundation; they add the skills you aren’t as strong in. They have expertise of their own, like a CPA and a lawyer. Finally, when you make sure you instill your vision in them, they become an intricate part of your business and they all complement one another perfectly.

When you leverage the strengths of the people around you, you can grow a company exponentially but also take a ton of pressure off yourself. Have the sales team attend prospect meetings. Have the marketing team represent the company at those networking events to build relationships with potential clients. Have an investment manager be responsible for those investment meetings to handle those portfolios. Stephen, if I could give you any advice, begin building your team today. Do not let your life’s defining moment be you lying half-unconscious on your office floor. Always remember, you don’t have to do it alone.