That Little Chip on Your Shoulder

Accountability Growth mindset Transformation


Key Point: Folks like Steve Jobs, who want to put a “dent in the universe,” have a little chip on their shoulder. I have nicknamed people like this, “Chippers.” They are not happy with mediocre or average. They’re not even satisfied with just winning. They don’t want to ever just settle and have a deep belief that they can and will create something exponentially better. Less informed people might even confuse their confidence and persistence with arrogance.

I’m fortunate to be working with a group of leaders who think like that right now. Individually and collectively, we have a chip on our shoulder. We have no intention of just “being a bank.” We actually want to transform banking so that people rave about us being that much better and different than any other comparable financial entity. It’s a fun and exciting place to be. I like to be around “Chippers.” They dream big, have fun and get s#^t done! 

We can’t all be Steve Jobs (and as we all know, he was far from perfect in many aspects) but we can work with a constructive chip on our shoulders. You may have heard the quote, “good is the enemy of great.” Well, “Chippers” don’t ever accept just “good.” And they become tenaciously tied to a set of principles or “Isms…”; key action-guiding principles they intensely believe in. You get hired or fired on these “Isms.”

Quicken Loans is known for lots of things, from torrid growth (the company closed a record $80 billion worth of home loans last year, up from $70 billion in 2012), to much-praised customer service (it is a perennial J.D. Power customer-satisfaction winner), to its intense and outgoing corporate culture. I believe the company’s founder and current CEO are big time “Chippers.” As an example, see this excerpt from a recent HBR article:

“Dan Gilbert and Bill Emerson urged their new colleagues to embrace the idea that, “The inches we need are everywhere around us” — in other words, there are countless small opportunities for people to tweak a product, or improve a process, that lead to big wins in the marketplace. They insisted, no excuses allowed, that everyone agree with the Ism, “Responding with a sense of urgency is the ante to play.” Gilbert personally emphasized again and again, sometimes with jokes, sometimes with withering disdain, the absolute requirement that Quicken employees return every phone call and every email on the same business day they were received. “We are zealots about this,” he thundered, “we are on the lunatic fringe. And if you’re ‘too busy’ to do it, I’ll do it for you” — at which point he gave out his direct-dial extension and promised to return phone calls for any overwhelmed colleagues.” 

Character Moves: 

  1. If you want to “dent the universe,” I think you have to have a positive, big chip on your shoulder. This is a hungry, fierce desire to be exponentially better. It is first and foremost a mindset. Do you have it?
  2. Develop a few personal “Isms” that are both simple AND incredibly powerful if you follow them. For example, I believe a lot of people quit before the finish line. One of my “Isms” is “always finish!” What are your personal, zealot-like “isms” that differentiate you and/or your organization? 

Being Chipper in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I like how this blog notes some “less informed individuals” might confuse “their confidence and persistence with arrogance.” These days, some very successful people like to boast about their superior intelligence, discuss their plans for industry domination and go as far as to compare themselves to deity (what’s up, Kanye West)? That mindset can sound delusional, cringe worthy and infuriate some who may just be like “dude, you have achieved enough ALREADY! Chill out.” Well, to the successful, maybe they’re doing “good” and they still strive for “great.” Who’s to limit or define that for them? Who’s to say you can’t be great too? I don’t condone arrogance, but I sure love confidence, and that fine line is an awesome thing to learn how to balance. I also don’t believe another person’s success will limit your own. If you have a problem with striving for greatness, that’s ok, I’ll take a tip from the Quicken Loans guy and just “do it for you.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis