People always wonder what it takes to really be successful. I remember wondering as I graduated from college whether I would “make it” in the “real world.” I somehow had this picture  that everyone would be smart and hard working and know what they were doing. 12 years out I know the sad reality of incompetence and laziness that unfortunately is part of everyday business.Handraised

How many times have you sent an email to a business, or left a voice mail for a business person (and I am not talking to all you competent sales people who probably contact many people without return calls or emails) that is simply not returned? It shocks me when I experience first hand a business that simply doesn’t “show up”. People wonder what it takes to start a business, or to be successful in a business. After over a decade in the business word here is my advice:


Recently I have been interviewing prospective applicants for Princeton University. It is something I do every year as a Princeton Alum, and something I enjoy doing. The idea is that the admissions office gets a sense of the applicant from a real person rather than just evaluating the paper application and looking at all the grades and test scores. Of the 4 applicants that I have to interview I seem to be able to only get 2 of them to show up. Everyone is local. this is a small town. Everyone should be able to easily get to my office. Yet somehow they are having trouble responding to my multiple requests and simply showing up. This is just amazing to me. Why bother to apply to a school that you know only accepts 10% of all applicants. Why not help your chances a little bit and show up for my interview?

As I deal with these students it just reinforces the idea that 90% of the game is just showing up. Be there. Be the sales guy who’s there to answer that big sales call. Be the restaurant owner who meets you personally at the door. Be there. And heed the Woody Allen quote – 90% of success is just showing up!

Sabrina Parsons aka Mommy CEO

AvatarSabrina Parsons

Sabrina has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007.