Two from the top please Carol

The writing of this theme started when we came across a blog of someone who we have worked alongside for the last 8 years . It sparked a thought that we have held for a number of years:

  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen
  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
  • Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard
  • Richard Branson and Will Whitehorn

It seems that success is quite often a factor of two. So, is it the case that behind every great ambitious business owner is a great number two?

Perhaps, the term number two is less than useful. Perhaps, we are talking about a partnership that essentially is equal, certainly in terms of reciprocal value. Perhaps, it is a partnership with important distinct roles and offerings, yet also a partnership that becomes a powerful whole. Perhaps, it is as much about Ying and Yang; Pilot and Navigator; Morecambe and Wise!

In those businesses that we have observed to go on to great things, these types of partnerships seem to be an important characteristic. Within the partnership there is a level of trust and a clear understanding of confidentiality, which allows the unspeakable to be spoken, pressures to be genuinely shared and offloaded. Importantly, along with support, there is the opportunity to challenge and disagree with mutual respect, attention and a valuing of different perspectives.

In our minds, we often see one as up in the crow’s nest, off visiting foreign lands, experimenting and visioning, whilst the other  is “holding the ground”, covering the bases, running the show.  Perhaps the roles are important, who has which and with what blend less so. If we return to the idea of the Ying and Yang however, we might remind ourselves that at the centre of one shade or texture we find the other. There are distinctions and similarities, overlaps and the ability to operate in both roles and of course, if needs be, take the helm alone.

So, if you are an ambitious business owner and if this type of partnership is fundamental:

  • What does this tell you about your quest for enduring success?
  • If you already have this partnership, what do you need to do to capitalise further on it?
  • To what extent do you both share the same sense of ambition, purpose, values and vision?
  • If you don’t have it, how might you find it?

Perhaps, one final thing to say is that this is not about succession planning – a great number two does not necessarily make a great successor.

About adampscampbell
Passionate about helping ambitious business owners to create sustainable success. For information on our work with our broader client base please feel free to look at the website To connect more with our work with ambitious business owners follow me @adampscampbell or connect at

3 Responses to Two from the top please Carol

  1. Peter Shepherd says:

    Hewlett and Packard are another to add to this model. Which I believe does create an enterprise with staying power.

  2. Great addition Peter thanks.

  3. Pingback: Growing your business with other people involved « Telos Partners

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