The key to success lies in discovering and using tools you already possess. It’s that simple.

The latest in the Ralph Nye Lecture Series, Steel Concepts CEO Eli Willis gave a lecture on Sept. 27 stressing that message and focusing on building personal success.

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Steel Concepts CEO Eli Willis gives a lecture on building a culture of success. (Cameron Gifford / The Signpost)

Willis’ lecture focused on building a personal culture of success and using that success to then develop yourself professionally. The first real developmental tool is, as Socrates said, to “Know thyself.”

Willis stressed the importance of figuring out who you want to become, writing it down and reviewing it regularly to be reminded of your ultimate goals.

“Take quiet time to assess your strengths, weaknesses, passions and dislikes,” Willis said.

Willis frequently asked the audience what they were thinking, keeping an open dialogue.

WSU Finance major Jake Kruitbosch, a former neighbor of Willis, said the lecture was a reminder to trust in himself and follow his passions to be successful.

“Everyone has a different definition of success but for me it means being in a career or a job that I find challenges me and helps me grow, helps influence people around me for the better and delivers value to society,” Kruitbosch said.

Being successful, Willis said, also means surrounding yourself with others who want to be successful. If you’re interviewing potential candidates in a future business, make sure those candidates will complement your strengths and supplement your weaknesses.

Willis emphasized that technical skill can be taught; drive and determination cannot. Those things must come from within. Know how to answer questions in interviews in a way that shows you have the desire to be a driven employee.

Willis ended the lecture with one of his favorite quotes by Holocaust survivor and neurologist, Dr. Viktor Frankl.

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it,” Frankl said. “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself…”

Willis said he hopes that anyone who attended his lecture remembers to develop themselves first, and all else will follow.

“As they develop themselves personally, and that’s in all aspects of life not just business… Reading, studying, constant learning, learning to interact with people and developing key relationships; all of that will benefit them and help them to become who they need or want to become,” Willis said.

The Ralph Nye Lecture series will continue with guest speaker Mark Jenkins, CEO of Petersen, Inc., on Oct. 4 at 12 p.m.

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