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You can do it, if you only believe

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Richard Fairbank was one of those people who saw beyond the conventional wisdom to an approach that not only built a new business, but a new way of doing business.

As of the late 1980s, “The credit card business was very profitable but was run by [traditional] bankers,” says Fairbank. “Everybody in America had the same terms, and half of America couldn’t qualify.”

Fairbank thought there ought to be more ways to judge credit worthiness. So, he and a partner persuaded one bank to let them rebuild the credit predictive system. After four years, they were still running on “the vapor of passion and belief.”

Then, they landed a behemoth: the credit-card balance transfer. Their division became Capital One Financial, and within a decade, balance transfers became standard.

“My dad taught me a fundamental truth,” Fairbank says: “that success isn’t about titles and compensation. It’s about having a dream, a quest.”

— Adapted from “When Leadership Becomes a Quest,” Knowledge@Wharton,

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