Margaret Heffernan last week highlighted 3 key entrepreneurial characteristics that the great man admires and looks to see in people he does business with. Energy, Intelligence and Integrity. Let’s look at all three and what we at TPP believe they mean to leaders of businesses. If you like, what walking the talk feels like.

Energy: Mr. Buffet uses words like vitality, health and a bias for action.
Walking the Talk: As the leader of a business you need to have your best game face on every day, not some days but every day. Always be thinking “key next steps”. Ideas are cheap it’s execution that makes the money. Build your 30-day, 60-day and 90-day action plans for you and your team and execute relentlessly.

Intelligence: He’s talking about adaptive intelligence, in Margaret Heffernan’s words – the ability to scan the horizon, pick up on the signals and adapt accordingly.
Walking the Talk: We call it auditing the signals. What are your customers telling you about your market? What pressures are your customers feeling and what are the issues that your client’s client is dealing with? Do you listen to the thought leaders in your sector? Are you aware of analysts’ reports? Do you track changes to competitors’ web sites? Are you reviewing with your sales teams what narratives are working in the marketplace? All of these are examples of auditing the signals, of displaying the curious mind that will allow you to adapt to move nimbly when you need to. These days change come fast and it comes hard. Think Blackberry, Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, HP – all struggling to adapt.

Integrity: Mr. Buffet likes people to simply say no. Having integrity is about resisting the fast buck, the apparent shortcut that doesn’t feel right.
Walk the Talk: We simply encourage our portfolio companies to check their gut. Does the decision pass the smell test? In our experience 99% of managers know right from wrong. Some choose to ignore that.