Desperate Times Do Not Call For Desperate Measures

In baseball, it is known that major league players, though they are at the highest echelon of their profession, always go through slumps.  They may go through a drought of hitting whereas they had had streaks of success in the past.  It is in those times that baseball players get back to the fundamentals.  They start thinking through the micromovements of their swing, stance and approach.  The fundamentals were what made them successful in the first place; they cannot violate natural laws for long without having to realign with them.

This is true for golfers, basketball shooters and business people.  Yes, in the game of business and life, there will be slumps.  Many are due to macro effects.  Some are due to ability and talent.

In my thousands of hours working with business teams, three things account for success.  These are hard work, talent and luck.  This is their rough breakdown:

  1. Hard Work: 20%
  2. Talent: 20%
  3. Luck: 60%

This may be surprising to many, but the truth can be seen again in sports as an analogy.  How many hard working and extremely talented superstars retire without a Superbowl championship or a Major League World Series ring?  How many less talented or lazier people have one?  The answer is a lot.  That is reality.  They were on the right team at the right time.

In the late 90’s, many people got rich because they happened to pick the right start-ups with stock options, regardless of their talent or hard work.  They rode the wave of euphoric speculation.  Most of them will not attribute their windfall to luck.  They think they did it themselves.

If you decided to be a travel agent and work really hard, you may not have a lot of luck.  People aren’t buying airline tickets and hotels like they did in 1980.  They go to Expedia or  Expedia and got luckier.

Gary Player had it right, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” He was a world class golfer during his day known to practice and refine his game for hours on end even in terrible weather.  He was working in the right game in the right situation with hard work.

Peter Drucker was also right, “There are no products, there are only markets.” Today, the market for mortgages is abysmal.  Many people in that industry believed they were rock stars with the wealth they amassed during the housing boom.  So were the Realtors, title companies and supply chain of vendors riding the housing market wave.  The truth is that if they were truly credited with the success, then the mass majority of them would still be doing well today because of their talent or hard work.  However, luck has changed, namely the market.  That was what was a much larger factor in their success. Those people are looking for another lucky play.

If you are not very talented, you may need to find your talent.  Get busy finding it.  There is something you are uniquely better at than others or other companies.

If you are not hard working, then it is likely you are lazy or dispassionate.  70% of Americans are in a job they do not like.  That means that 70% of people you shake hands with compromise.  Because of money or fear, and often both, they do something they dislike.  Tell me if that is not insane.  Get congruent with your passion, and motivation should skyrocket.  Work for money and the best hardly comes out of you.

If you want to solve the bigger problem – how to get lucky – start by recognizing that you and every one else is in a “slump.”  Within this “slump,” there are multiple opportunities.  Can you see them?

Only in crisis do people and organizations change often times.  Here are the ways to affect your luck:

1.  Positioning: Answer this question:  What is the core of what you offer? Use that to create new value in the marketplace.

  • IBM was a typewriter company before it became known for servers and consulting.  They made the transition with changing times. Imagine if they insisted on making better typewriters.
  • Ronald Reagan had to reinvent himself from acting to TV reporter to politician to President.  Failure caused him to shift.  Yet, his willingness to reposition opened up new opportunity and luck.
  • Deluxe Checks realized their business will be gone over time.  People write less checks.  They developed a new competency – consulting for banks.  As one revenue stream was going down, another developed.

Don’t protest what is being lost.  Think through ways of bringing new value or risk being irrelevant.

2.  Process:  All a business is essentially comes down to a process.  Business is a means of bringing resources in an organized fashion to someone who wants it and wants it fast.  If you are difficult to do business with, there are plenty of choices in today’s market.

Make it easy to do business with you. When a sale is made and your service or product is delivered, can you make it faster using less money and resources?  This is where most businesses fail.  They do not want to invest in their business.  Thus, they neglect the customer.  They are money-focused, not value-focused.

You are valuable based on how fast and elegantly you deliver your sales process and your service process.  All things being equal, it is why the customer will do business with you long-term.

3.  Think: You are a customer.  You buy stuff.  Have you ever bought based on a cold call?  Do you throw away the junk mail when you get home?  At minimum, there is a lack of congruence between how people who do business sell and how they, as consumers, actually buy.  Even more so, there is a lack of integrity.  Cold calling is insane.

Direct mail does not work.  They worked in the 70’s and 80’s.  It is the 21st century.  You buy differently.  Your customer buys differently.  They buy through a process.  If you cannot meet them step-by-step on this buying process, you will lose every time.  Don’t follow the herd and do things that will not work.  1% opening of the mail is 99% failure (the trash).  There is a lot of cost and little return.  Pay the brain bill and get strategic, not merely reactive because you need more money.  That is a sure way of losing more and damaging your name in the marketplace with desperation written all over it.

The questions you ask are more important than the gimmicks you attempt. Working hard at the wrong things will not lead to success.  Being systematic and not merely reactive will lead to much greater opportunities.  Read about any successful person in their biographies.  It is the same story.  There is adversity.  There is failure.  There is hard work and tenacity.  There are naysayers.

How did they win?  They had talent. They were not afraid of working hard.  They continually iterated.  Do that and you separate yourself from the mass majority of people and businesses.

John Maynard Keynes was a politician during the Great Depression who was criticized for his changing position.  In response to a cynical reporter he said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

The facts are changing today.  What are you doing? How about getting help to use sensible and systematic strategies for desperate times?  Find out more here.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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