I sat down to write this last blog with the idea that I needed to give you something to think about, going into the new year. Then, I stopped after my first sentence because I had too many thoughts with too few ideas. It felt like I was at the doorstep of inspiration, and inspiration refused to let me in! (or something like that)
So I decided to piece some stories together in an attempt to end up with my thoughts:
Not far from our Richmond office stands a building with a sign that identifies it as a restaurant named Famous Dave’s Barbecue. This is an area that really enjoys BBQ for lunch as evidenced by the fact that there are three restaurants, within a 2 mile radius.
Regularly, we would drive by that restaurant at lunch, and invariably, someone in the car would remark that no cars are ever in the parking, “How do they stay open?”.
Prophetic! They just closed. In fact, the other two Dave’s restaurants in the Richmond area have also closed. (CBS 6) According to their CEO, the closings are part of a “strategic reevaluation” as “the current leadership team continues to evaluate the performance of our legacy company-owned portfolio as we drive toward a return to positive same store sales and improved unit and company-level profitability, while we actively pursue our re-franchising strategy”. (I don’t even know what that means)
It was 2005. Sheep herding was the primary livelihood in Gevas, Turkey. The average yearly income there was $2700. According to USA Today, every family had an average of 20 sheep.
On that fateful day, 26 families were eating breakfast together on the hillside, while they watched their sheep graze nearby. No one knows what caused it, but all of sudden the sheep began running toward the edge of a cliff.
In horror, the shepherds watched as their sheep began jumping off the cliff to a certain death. One sheep apparently started toward the cliff and 1500 followed that one sheep. Soon, more than 450 sheep had died.
The only thing that saved the other sheep was the fact that those who jumped later, were saved as the pile got higher and higher. Their fall was cushioned. According to one villager, “now only a few families have sheep left. It’s going to be real hard for us”.
Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, was founded in 2010 by several Chinese entrepreneurs. The company just announced that it has shipped 17.3 million phones in their third quarter of 2014, and that they have now become the third largest cell phone maker in the world, while trailing only Samsung and Apple.
They admit to mirroring the business model of Apple; including the Chairman and CEO, Jun Lei, appearing on stage at a shareholder meeting while wearing jeans and a black turtleneck … just like the late Apple founder Steve Jobs. They attribute their success positioning themselves as a high end alternative to the status quo.
I have been thinking about what to write for my year-end blog. It has caused me to read articles and tweets of several entrepreneurs as they identified their 2015 goals and resolutions. That included reading this USA Today article with 15 inspirational quotes from the book Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. Still I kept searching.
I came to realize that goals have to be my goals. That someone else’s goals can be aspirational, but they aren’t mine.
I looked at these three stories in their randomness and this is what I took from them. First, you need customers. In our case as a firm, you need clients. If “no one is in the parking lot”, all other goals really don’t matter.
Second, I need to be a leader who matters and knows where we are going. Just being a leader can also mean taking everyone over the cliff of failure.
Third, relates to Firm growth and the status quo. It’s fine to look at other business models of success; but, ultimately it’s about me or about the firm. I cannot be satisfied with “how we have always done it”. I need to keep pushing!
Maybe something in this randomness will help you in your goal thinking. Thanks for reading the blog this year. I promise to do better next year!!!!! Have a wonderful New Year!
“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”
-W. Somerset Maugham
And for a final pic o’ day, I had a hard time picking what I wanted. So… I went with some “bad planning”.