I was stubborn. Now I am persistent. I was self-centric and self-serving. Now I value equality and mutual respect. I was a day dreamer. Now I can envision things and think creatively about strategy. CEOs are not born; they are made – by themselves and by people around them.

“Focus on contribution” has become a personal mantra that reminds me of my intention whenever I interact with another person: “What can we learn from each other from this shared experience? Do we leave being any smarter, wiser and kinder?”

There is just one way to lead a team to success: by believing in the positive energy of each individual. Doing so sometimes leads to the wrong path. An important moment comes with the next project. A confident team which knows that experimentation is allowed and failures are not punished will be amazingly innovative.

Focus is not what you do, but what you choose not to do. Startup CEO Kristo Ovaska learned the hard way to say “No”. He now declines long meetings, non-vital emails, external press requests, speaking engagements, and investor contacts that are not yet needed. This has brought about an entirely new level of productiveness.