FEATURED | Business


The future belongs to the creative, and business depends upon a constant flow; an attitude of “how about this?” The small cost of failure is dwarfed by the huge cost of not trying. Trust is the motivator.

Many businesses today remain stuck in the top-down, do what I tell you now, at the least cost, for a quick solution mindset. That worked in the past, but it places tactics above strategy and the end-game is a slow decline.

How does that play out?

More pressure on lowest cost to hold market-share, wage stagnation that feeds turnover and increasingly disengaged employees, heads-down, grinding it out. The worst employees stay with you and the best find opportunities elsewhere. Not a pretty picture. Not a way to build, but a sure way for a business to lose its most valuable asset.

What to do?

All the levers of control in your company are in place right now. They exist. You already provide products or services and have a reputation. You have an asset-based structure—an owner, sales force, division managers, research and development, backup staff and the people in place to operate them all.

So, change one of the levers. One at a time. No serious owner or CEO would risk sweeping change throughout his company. So, let managers lead the way and good things will follow, but you need to empower them, and we can talk about that.

When I was in university, I sold automobiles during the summer. The older salesmen thought “here we go, another young kid who won’t get far.” They depended upon their past customers for sales, and I obviously didn’t have any. But there was a commuter train-station into Chicago near the dealership and I slipped my business-card under the windshields of three and four-year-old cars parked there. Hand-written on the back it said, “I can put you in a new Ford for $250 a month.” Appointments began to roll in.

Because we were a suburban dealership, we couldn’t match Chicago big-volume dealers on price. So, when I got a prospect, I talked about that. “You can buy a car for a couple hundred bucks cheaper in Chicago,” I’d tell them. “But when you buy a Ford from us, just drop it off for service and hop on the train. That evening it’ll be ready for you, serviced, and washed, at no extra charge.”

In my third month and just before returning to university, at nineteen years old, I was salesman of the month. I had changed one of the levers and good things happened.

Together, you and I can discuss changing a lever by how you manage your team. Spoiler alert—it’s all about trust. Whatever your responsibilities, you’ll see an immediate improvement in their focus and output. Then—and only then—will you have found a way forward to apply elsewhere in the company.

One step at a time.