Breakout Growth Strategies for Today’s Boom Market


Try on these “Boom Market” stats for size:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed today at 24,642.86, up 24% since January 1st and 34% since Election Day 2016. 
  • The U.S. economy added 228,000 jobs in November, including 31,000 in the manufacturing sector, and unemployment remained at a 17-year low of 4.1%.
  • Consumer holiday spending is on track to hit its highest levels ever, with online shopping up 16% and even the woebegone “offline” retail sector showing a 3%year-over-year rise.
  • Business and Economic Confidence are holding strong and steady at their highest levels since the “Dot Com” boom of the late 1990s.

But what does all of this mean for your business?

In a word, opportunity. For faster growth, for greater profits, for an accelerated path to a business sale and exit.

But opportunity is just that - an exciting but ephemeral thing that when not properly pursued disappears into the ether as competitors rush in and take what should be ours.

So here are four simple strategies to keep this from happening and ensure that we all get our share of this big boom:

#4. Raise Prices. When widely-held assets like stocks and real estate (and now Bitcoin!) are on sustained rises, there builds in every market a class of consumers that is flush with the feeling of wealth and liquidity, and thus becomes far less price sensitive.

And so very often our lowest hanging business fruit is to just give these affluent customers what they want - VIP purchase and consumption experiences at VIP, higher prices.

#3. Raise Capital. Almost all investors now are fully playing with house money, deep-in-the black on their portfolio and itching for more.

This frothiness, when coupled with very low yields on cash instruments, makes it far easier for more speculative investment propositions, like angel, venture capital, and private equity investments, to be evaluated on their individual merits versus more of a blanket “risk anxiety” as is typical in more normal markets.

Raising money will always be a lot of work and energy, but if ever there was a moment in time where the market and investment tailwinds make it far easier to do, now is it.

#2. Build Intangible Assets. So much of our business day is spent on revenue and costs - i.e. generating the most possible sales at the least possible cost to pay the rent, meet payroll, and keep the lights on, etc.

This is all well and good, but in a world where public companies are trading at multiples of 25 times earnings and 2.25 times revenues, it pays dividends to build the kind of intangible assets that "flutter the hearts" of key business stakeholders - investors for sure but employees, contractors, partners and vendors and too.

What are these intangible assets?

Well, for starters, our moving forward business and strategic plan, i.e. our vision of what the future of our industry and market will be, and then what our role in it will be.

Then relatedly, strengthening and boosting our brand and company culture.

And finally, increasing our Innovation Quotient, our ability to change and grow in response to fast-moving markets and competitors.

These are all classic "work on our business and not in it" undertakings, and hot markets like this are the best time to get after them and get them done.

#1. Work Harder. Hard work is a value in itself and a condition for meaningful success in any market or economy.

But in boom times like this, the cost of leisure and of not working hard is particularly and extremely high.

We can rest when markets cool, but right now let's work hard, think big, and get our share of this historic boomtime market.

Give Your Business a Holiday Gift. The holiday season is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring.

For the past 18 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including:

  • Arganteal (software deployment automation) secured $611K in growth capital.
  • DNT Express (logistics) secured $2.2M in debt funding for facility expansion.
  • FutureFuel (HRTech+FinTech) successful $1.6M financing round.
  • Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) acquired our client manufacturing process control company Ometric.
  • MPulse (SaaS), acquired by JDM Technology Group. 
  • NativeAds (digital advertising) closed on a $4M venture financing.
  • Permacity, completed the world's largest solar rooftop project and increased revenue by over 35%.
  • PayCertify (fintech), secured $700k in seed funding.
  • ViewQwest, launched in Malaysia in Q3 2016 with Indonesia next in line.

What do all of these success stories have in common?

The entrepreneurs and executives running these great companies understood that whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season between now and December 31st, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond.

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler.


The Most Interesting Part of CVS & Aetna


CVS' proposed acquisition this week of health insurance giant Aetna is a big deal.

It will combine a pharmacy retailer with more than 9,000 stores, with a health insurance giant with more than 22 million members. 

And, at a $77 billion purchase price, it is one of the largest mergers in the history of healthcare and will enrich Aetna shareholders to the tune of a 29% percent premium on their stock shares.

But that is the least interesting part of the deal.

Far more interesting is what it means for the rest of us.

How this deal is just yet another signal that all of us - no matter the size of our companies or the conservatism of our industry - are faced with a very intense "Disrupt, Innovate or Die" choice and challenge each and every business day. 

For CVS and Aetna, theirs is a bold strategic stroke to build a more efficient healthcare delivery model in sync with our information economy and technological age.

Now some will say that too strong a profit motive, per the mindset of retail and insurance executives, might have deleterious effects when placed too front and center for so many of the healthcare choices that we and our loved ones are often faced with, but... a bare minimum simply having a viable alternative to the so complex, byzantine, bloated, institutionalized system that is modern healthcare has to be an unambiguously good thing.

Even more interesting will be the competitive response - from the traditional retail and insurance competitors like Walgreens, Anthem and Humana.

And from the Walmarts, the Amazons, the Apples and Googles of the world - large, deep pocketed players with the ambition and the intellectual and innovation capital to look at this $3 trillion+ industry and simply say we can do better.

A lot better.

Yes, it is this mode of thinking and feeling that we should take away from CVS buying Aetna.

That fear is a good motivator.

For CVS, the fear of Amazon coming into their market and squeezing them, as they have done to so many others, so hard that margins just evaporate.

For Aetna, the existential fear that in a world of big data, predictive analytics, and financial disintermediation of why do big insurance companies like them need to exist at all anymore.

These kinds of fears are present in the minds of every thoughtful and forward thinking business leader.

That what once worked won't do so forever.

And that it is far better to be the proactive agent of change and disruption than the victim of it.

Once we work through these fears and re-frame and channel them into determination, into fight and will and the desire to win...

...what comes out on the other side is enthusiasm to take our swings  and do things different and better than
the same old same old.

And so like those bold CVS and Aetna executives, we too have the golden opportunity to move past our fears and make of our old, tired, and threatened businesses and perspectives...

...something new, potentially beautiful, and in congruence with the tenor and flow of modern life and business.

Let’s do this!

Rather Innovate than Die?  Like to explore what bold strokes like CVS buying Aetna are possible for your business in 2018? 

Or simply interested in selling your business in the next few years, or growing sales and profits in the New Year?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


Will “Rapid Demonetization” Kill Your Business?


Have you heard of renowned futurist Peter Diamandis?

Or what he describes as “rapid demonetization?”

If not, you need to, as we now have many examples of businesses getting killed by it, like:

  • Videoconferencing - today available for free via a wide number of mobile apps (Skype, WhatsApp, Hangouts, etc.), but was sold in 1982 by Compression Labs for $250,000 ($598,000 in today’s dollars).
  • GPS - also free today (Waze, Google and and Apple Maps, etc.), but in 1983 was sold by Navastar for $119,900 ($284,000 in today’s dollars).
  • 5 Megapixel Camera - free on your smartphone, but in 1986 was sold by Canon for $3,000 ($6,700 in today’s dollars).

Diamandis’ list goes on and on, and he presciently notes that demonetization like this is accelerating quickly in “big spend” arenas like transportation, food, healthcare, housing, energy, and education (wow).

Now, the cold hard truth is that most businesses have no idea how to serve customers in this demonetized world - how to meet their very low cost, very high value expectations.

Their leadership is just not talented nor flexible enough to execute upon the necessary pivots and re-inventions to do so.

So sadly, most of them will fail.

But a chosen few will win bigger than ever before.

Because the playing field will be cleared of so many failed and “lousy” competitors.

And because when we win digitally, we do so fast and big.

So how are these chosen few competing and winning in this de-monetized world?

Very simply, they are harvesting that most important form of capital of our modern age.

Intellectual Capital.

Our ideas.

Our ability to learn new things.

And unlearn old ones that no longer serve us.

Our imaginings of what our businesses might be.

And then our determination, fortitude, and stick-to-itiveness to will ourselves and those around us to make it so.

Our ability to inspire. To delight. To connect.

To not have technology distract us, but empower us to work more efficiently, collaboratively, sustainably and brilliantly than ever before.

All of us were born with vast troves of this kind of capital lying fertile within us.

And through years of education and life experience we have accumulated enough of it to enable any modicums of success we might have.

So to go to the next level of modern business success, we simply need to go to the next level of increasing and harvesting it to compete and win like never before.

It is not just possible, it is easy.

Everyday simply honor, protect and strengthen our minds, our creativity, our indomitable wills for the incalculably valuable assets they are.

Then watch the love, and the money, flow like manna from Heaven.

Want to Build More Intellectual Capital in Your Company? Feel like your business doesn’t have enough of the “right stuff” to compete and win in this daunting, “demonetized” world?

Interested in selling your business in the next few years, or interested now in growing sales and profits?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


Why These 50 Companies are Positioned for Breakout Growth


Fortune Magazine and Boston Consulting Group just teamed up to create their inaugural "Fortune 50" list.

The list ranks companies best positioned for breakout growth in the years to come.

I love the list for a few reasons.

First, because it highlights some incredible companies and their amazing successes, like Salesforce (#1 on the List), Tesla, Intuit, Tableau, Splunk, and GoDaddy.

And, because the insights from the methodology utilized to create the list allow any executive, no matter their industry or type of business, to make their company perform better right away.

Its first component is an evaluation of a company’s market potential, defined as the “Present Value of Its Growth Opportunities (PVGO).

PVGO measure is the premium the stock market is willing to pay for the “hotness” of a company’s market sector. 

So companies ranked high on the Future 50 like Tesla, Facebook, and Netflix, driven by the great market bullishness for electric vehicles, social media, and on-demand entertainment respectively, score very high by this measure. 

The lesson here is pretty plain and simple.

For a higher probability of breakout growth, executives should study and understand carefully the overall growth of their market sector and if it is too low...

...then to think long and hard about pivoting to a more attractive one.

The next component of the methodology measures a company’s ability to actually deliver on its market potential.

This is described as a company’s vitality measurement - i.e how much internal strength and "bones" does it have to actually convert upon and profit from its market opportunities?

Into this determination go factors like Technology and Investment, i.e. the more a company invests back into itself, into its people and intellectual property (both via internal R&D and acquisitions), its probability of breakout growth commensurately goes up.

And it discovers, not surprisingly, that Younger-Aged leadership teams that have worked together for a long a time are more likely to deliver on breakout growth than older, recently assembled ones. 

While perhaps not politically correct, the statistics show that teams lead by chronologically older executives often struggle with change and growth.

Finally, the methodology makes powerful use of artificial intelligence tools like machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze 200,000 earning calls and 70,000 10Ks to measure the soundness and consistency of a company’s strategy and its capacity for innovation.

Here, the highest correlation with long-term revenue growth was found at those companies where their executives defaulted to words like "invest" and "vision" versus words like “current” and “short-term.” 

And, when those executives demonstrate Biological Thinking, or “ability to address the uncertainty and complexity of business environments with flexibility and adaptation.”

This may sound like a lot of jargon, but it is just the simple idea of prioritizing the long term over the short term while being willing to bob, weave, morph, and evolve in its pursuit.

Along with the simple, but so beautiful zen idea that as business leaders just talk about this kind of behavior, this alone increases their company’s prospects for breakout growth.

The Buddha famously said "we become what we think."

Well, the Future 50 List shows us that companies become great simply as their leaders think and talk about them like this every day in every way.

Can you do the same for your business? 

Want to Experience Breakout Growth Like the Future 50?  Tired of business as usual and want something BIG to happen to and for your company? 

Interested in selling your business in the next few years, or interested now in growing sales and profits?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


Want a $105 Billion Offer for Your business?


Have you heard about Broadcom’s takeover bid for long-time competitor Qualcomm?

Well, it’s happening now and it has dominated business news this week.

Because, at an offer price of $105 billion, if completed, it would represent the largest technology industry deal ever.

Now, big numbers like these can arise some intense emotions in any ambitious businessperson.

The first can be a testy combination of jealousy and frustration often expressed as the question - “why aren't big, exciting, lucrative things and possibilities like this happening for my business?”

For sure, a $100 billion+ purchase offer is beyond even the conception of the vast majority of businesses, but the usual slow-moving “business-as-usual” fare can get so old sometimes, can it not?

From here, it can be a very slippery and enfeebling slope to wishing a deal like this fails - as if someone else’s failure could excuse or justify our own lack of business performance.

The second emotion can be more pure and advancing - greed.

Of the best kind - that carnal feeling that there is money to be made  - a giddy excitement that there exists in the world enough wealth and optimism to fuel a financial commitment and risk of such an inspirational magnitude.

We read about that $100 billion+ number and feel that as and when we “hit on something” that there will be well heeled suitors to court and offer us value on our promise - i.e at a level well beyond our business and financial performance to date.

From this space of possibility and inspiration, we excitedly and urgently get to work upon our “big business things.”

Things ranging from those that arise strategically and opportunistically, like here with Broadcom and an acquisition of a competitor.

To those that arise from the launch of a new product or service - a Tesla, an Uber, a Dropbox, a Netflix, etc.

To those that arise more "softly," but for the vast majority of businesses are more accessible.

Like sales, marketing, and organizational initiatives that transform the perception that people have of and toward our business.

Now, what all these “big things” have critically in common is an individual who draws that proverbial line in the sand and says what “our organization is about conjuring up and doing big things.”

Once this line is firmly and irrevocably drawn, then the “sausage making” commences - the messy and hard work of deducing down from big ambitions the type and scale (and at what risk profile and requiring of what resources) - of business projects, tactics, and initiatives to pursue.

Which, at times, can be VERY hard to do.

Because, sadly, the vast majority of business things just don't work.

Buyout offers fall through, or when consummated don’t return the amount of value as initially hoped and planned.

New products get stuck in development or meet apathy when introduced to market.

New hires don't “gel” and transform our businesses as hoped.

The pull is always, greatly, toward that discouraging business as usual.

And it always must be resisted and overcome.

Because we live in an age where $105 billion buyout offers happen.

The money and opportunity is out there.

The only question is when we will join the party.

Want an Offer for Your Business?  Tired of business as usual and want something BIG to happen to and for your company?

Interested in selling your business in the next few years, or interested now in growing sales and profits?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


How to Sell a Lousy Business, Part II


My article last week, "How To Sell A Lousy Business" prompted more replies than any of the 250+ articles I have written in the past four years.

While I would like to think that the reason for this was the profound business wisdoms I shared in it...

...the real reason for the post's popularity came down to one word.

That word, of course, is lousy.

As in, for better or worse, so many business men and women out there consider themselves as leading, or working at, or being connected to...

...lousy businesses.

Characterized in the replies were two basic forms of this so-called lousiness.

The first form were those businesses very much filled with hope, promise, and technological advantage, but that just can’t seem to make any money.

The second were the “tired” businesses.

Their financial performance was not terrible - most of them had decent revenue bases and some profits - but had poor prospects for future growth and positive change.

They had a "caretaker" feel to them, with their managers mostly working in "respond and react" mode. When the usual stuff “came in the door” it got done, but true effort to create, sell, and do new stuff had become a distant memory.

In both cases that word "lousy" struck a chord.

Surprisingly, the chord struck for the most part were not requests for help as much as they were...

almost touching reach outs for some empathy!

As in “let me know that I am not the only one with a lousy business!

Or more poignantly, “that it isn’t my fault! I am dealing with so difficult business things - competitive, technological, personnel pressures and more - that my feelings of lousiness
are justified!”  

Well my friends, the good news is that at least there is misery in company as the vast majority of businesses, by whichever scorecard we measure them on, really are lousy. 

Most of them don't make much money.

And those that do, usually have their innovative and high growth periods back in their business’s past.

And in both cases their most likely futures is just more of the same.

Those riding on hope will most likely not make money.

And the “tired” will not anytime soon conjure up and execute upon breakthrough change and growth initiatives.

But in a strange but understandable way, all of this “bleakness” is ok, natural and good 

Because only when we just accept it, then and only then can we quiet our minds and truly focus on the best possible answers to our most important business questions like:

Should we try to sell our business to someone who can get more out of it than we can?

Or if our financial results are going to continue to be bleak, should we just cut our losses and close up shop?

Or pursue a hybrid and harvest as much cash as possible from those parts of our businesses that allow it, while carving out entirely new businesses for some possibility-filled “moonshots?

Moonshots like taking on the "the big boys" in our industry or even the world at large - becoming the next Amazon, Facebook, Google, et al. 

Or smaller, but no less worthwhile moonshots like the goal of doubling revenues in the next three years.

Or even better, of tripling profits in that same time.

Now, even when we accomplish all of the above and more, our businesses probably will revert again to some “lousy” state. 

But always the faith remains...

...that from any state of lousiness and despair rises the foundation of a new awesomeness.

Because while our businesses might at any point in time be lousy, we never are.

Is Your Business "Lousy?" Is it not generating the kinds of profits that attract business suitors of all types?

Have a key business initiative you would like some fresh ideas on how to get done?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you. 


How to Sell a Lousy Business


For the most part, the value of your business is based on financial performance.

However, there’s an equally, if not more important factor, that causes others to want to buy your company.

In fact, I’ve seen (and helped) many businesses with lousy financial performance sell for very solid sums.

Before I share what this factor is, let’s be clear what we mean when we talk about financial performance.  

We are talking about profits, both on a historically demonstrated basis and with the prospects for even more of them in the future.

Truly profitable companies are the "belles" of the business dance, effortlessly attracting suitors of all types - growth capital, owner liquidity, unsolicited buyout offers and the like.

For everyone else, there is just a ton of self-improvement and “prettying up” work to do.

The self-improvement spans across every aspect of our business, the gritty and demonstrable details of our marketing, sales, operational, and financial competencies.

And then there is the “prettying up” - the work on our company culture, on the skill sets of our people, and on the élan with which we work and fight together to overcome adversity and win.

As we grapple with it all, transformational things begins to happen.

We “hit upon” those golden ideas, those awesome projects, the brilliant new hires, and / or the new products or services so exciting in their prospects that...

...they attract the eyes and hearts of our desired business suitors in the same manner and with the same effect as actual profits do.

As we have more and more of these “aha moments,” we start to develop that so lovely business asset that creates multi-million, and in this day and age, multi-billion dollar offers for companies with not much more than business plans and histories of operating losses.

That asset is the promise of our business.

The promise that its future will be brighter than its past.

The promise that we can break out of that “lousy” pool, and be seen and judged as the business “belles” we really are.

This promise can sometimes, in the midst of the daily struggle, be hard to find and feel. And even harder to communicate.

But through the commitment to, and daily practice of ongoing business change, innovation, and improvement, eventually, inevitably,
we will find it. 

And then our biggest problem will be which of our many business suitors to dance with...

...and to party all night with!

Is Your Business "Lousy?" Is it not generating the kinds of profits that attract to it business suitors of all types? Have a key business initiative you would like some fresh ideas on how to get done?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and give us a brief description of your current situation, and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


The Money Machine


Business is pretty straightforward. 

You take a certain amount of human and physical capital... 

add quality ideas and consistent energy... 

and what naturally will come out is... 

And lots of it.

Given this simple formula, why do so many businesses fail?   

Or come far from reaching their full potential?

More to the point, why are so many otherwise extremely talented, hard-working, and ambitious entrepreneurs and executives unable to lead their businesses in a way that creates and distributes far more money for themselves and their companies?

This is arguably the most important question of business, because when it is answered,
everything is possible - profits, healthy growth, and more value delivered to customers and stakeholders.

And when it is not,
nothing is possible. 

A business becomes a house of death: operating losses, contraction, dissolution, forlorn customers, scarred employees and wiped out shareholders.

In my 25 years of entrepreneurship and of advising and observing companies that have rose and fell on this spectrum of "Money Machine" success, ranging from those that started out as informal ideas and grew to become some of the most valuable companies in the world, to those with similar promise but instead that fell by the forgotten wayside, I have noted three fundamental factors that separate the former from the latter, the successful from the unsuccessful:

3. They Give their Love to the Money Machine not to its Outputs. I've yet to meet a businessman or woman who doesn’t want to make a lot of money.  

And to this fundamental business want and desire, I say so what? 

Because a) it is just so obvious b) nobody cares, especially not those that really matter - i.e. customers and c) the whole conversation around it distracts from the very hard, urgent, and important work always at hand. 

As in the bloody tens of thousands of details, tasks, to-dos, and projects that in their sum is the totality of a great company.

The next product, the next software release, the re-designed organizational chart, the revived company culture, the reimagined brand, the new paths and channels of product and service distribution.

All of this and more is where the complete focus of the best and most effective executives goes, which then just crowds out any time or energy to think or worry about what it all means for “their” money!

2.  They Treat their Customers as Honored Guests not as Gods. Healthy customer relationships start with a clear understanding of exactly the makeup of the customers our business is best suited to serve. 

And we then strive to serve only these customers as the most honored and important guests that our business can ever have. 

But our customers are not Gods.  They are not omnipotent or always right. 

Rather, upon them, as with guests to our home, are placed expectations of decorum and reciprocal respect.

And also like guests, they come and go. Both of their own volition and because more than a few of them we just don't want to invite into our homes anymore!

1. Building on the Above, They Have the “Proper” Relationship with Money.  If the company is the loved and cared for money machine into which we invest our sacred life and business force...

...and if our customers so appreciate our “machine” that they give to it their ultimate sign of business love and respect, their money.

...then at this nexus exists the proper relationship between our business and our money.

We respect on the highest possible terms the money our customers spend and invest with us, and the profound trust and respect it represents. 

We in turn know we have fully earned and deserve that love and respect.

Through all of the effort, intelligence, and soul we have poured into our businesses over the years.

And through our ongoing commitment to keep pouring more in, forever.

And from this zen and aligned place of customer respect, of self respect, of everlasting effort well... and more money pours effortlessly out of our businesses for as long as the eye can see.

How cool is that?

Is Your Business Humming as a Successful Money Machine? Is all of your hard work yielding the bottom line results you want so bad? Are you able to turn your most important business initiatives into profits, fast and consistently?

If so, great and congratulations!

If not, complete this short questionnaire and give us a brief description of your current situation.

And we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.


The Indispensable Man or Woman


Are there really those among us so talented, experienced, motivated, connected...

...that without their dynamic presence our businesses will suffer greatly?

Well, this past week I had two unforgettable experiences that answered this question in an entirely new and powerful way.

The first experience was on Saturday, in my weekend identity as an AYSO youth soccer coach for a morning match against the best team in our region.

When less than an hour before game time I received a call telling me my star player would be unable to play in the game.

And while processing this news, my 2nd best player was dropped off at my house to ride with me and my sons to the field, not in our team's shiny neon uniform, but instead in flip flops,  t-shirt and shorts!

When I asked the fine young fellow where his uniform was, he replied that his mother felt he shouldn’t play because he got hurt playing “American” football the night before!

Now, as a proudly dysfunctional youth coach who hates to lose, this double-whammy talent loss pretty quickly changed my game time mood from  cautious optimism to more than a bit of self-pity and dread.

I will share how our team did in the game in just a bit, but before I do and to bring it back to business, my 2nd experience on Monday was of our company's Vice President and sales leader departing for his European honeymoon, leaving our team down a key rainmaker during an extremely busy season.

While neither of these scenarios even remotely compare to the loss of an entrepreneurial leader and founder like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney or Ray Kroc, they do shed light on the value creation levers of team and organization, and how to best respond when the vagaries of life and business take a key asset away from us.

Mr. Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, often talks about determination as the key success factor in any entrepreneur, executive or leader of ambition.

I love his definition of determination as "willfulness balanced with discipline, aimed by ambition.” 

And, if there is ever a time where determination is required, it is after the loss of a key contributor, of that man or woman viewed as “indispensable.”

Yes, once the natural and proper state of grieving is worked through (and when it comes to fast-paced modern business that grieving period must be very short),   then leaders of substance and ambition channel losses into:

  •  Motivation to first compensate for and then overcome that loss
  •  Education into an organization’s mission, and into its key strengths and assets that exist well beyond and outside of any one individual
  •  Growth, as in how to become a healthier and more valuable enterprise on a moving forward basis?

Motivation, education, growth.

These are the opportunities for those "left behind." 

It is not just possible, but it has been done again and again.

The Walt Disney Company at the time of Walt Disney's death in 1966 was valued at approximately $80 million, 30 years later it was worth close to $50 billion.

McDonald’s, at the time of Ray Kroc’s death in 1984 was valued at less than $4 billion, 30 years later it was worth more than $100 billion.

Apple, at the time of Steve Jobs’ death in 2011 was worth $311 billion, today it is worth more than $800 billion.

And as for my little soccer team this past Saturday? How did we do playing against our league’s #1 team, short our two top players?

Well, we lost 5 - 2. 

But, our “lesser” players - without the safety blanket of their more talented teammates - competed with amazing heart and passion, transforming themselves in front of their skeptical coach’s eyes from laggards into gritty young footballers. 

And from their effort, new possibilities as to game strategy, player positions, and teamwork were almost magically revealed.

Yes, it is true that so often the best thing for a team or organization are those moments when we must fight on without the “indispensable” among us.


The Power of Delusion


Great entrepreneurs successfully walk that very fine line between level-headed rationality and...

...utter, charming, frustrating, and complete delusion.

The most successful entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, are so because of their delusions, not in spite of them.

Delusion is defined by Webster as “an idiosyncratic belief that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of a mental disorder.

In many ways, the best entrepreneurs are like children, being assured of things coming to pass that have an extremely small probability of doing so. 

As a little league baseball coach, I so charmingly see this on the ball field with my young players - no matter how small or slow or lacking in hand-eye coordination they might be - so innocently being assured in their self-belief that they will be the next Mike Trout, the next big star.

Similarly - and no matter how old they might be - the best entrepreneurs maintain a steadfast and unshakeable faith that they are immune, above, and separate from the discouraging probability curves of business success and longevity.

Now, so importantly, while all great entrepreneurs are delusional, by no means are all those who are delusional great entrepreneurs.

And it is in this distinction that the more level-headed among us can model and emulate how the great entrepreneurs-the Musks, the Jobses and the Bezoses, utilize delusion to serve their businesses while...

...not trying to be someone they are not, nor be counted among the foolish that believe that "faith alone" will propel them to breakout success.

This fine line is best distinguished in the difference between business strategy and business tactics.

In the former, delusion is almost always helpful, while in the latter, it is almost always crushingly self-defeating.

Great business strategy is focused on big picture vision, product and service benefits to customers, and company culture, and is best approached from a place of and with the strong spirit of possibility.

Possibility is the realm where the very belief of things coming to pass has a profound and meaningful impact on their actually doing so - or for that matter of them being even conjured or dreamed up in the first place.

This can include a business possibility like growing sales by a 10X factor over the next few years via providing customers with extraordinarily high quality products and service, and enabled by a company culture attractive, admired and emulated by all those who touch and come into contact with it.

Visions and goals like these sprout from those human qualities best demonstrated again, by children.

A sense of wonder, of the feeling that we are in fact special and destined for great and inspirational things and experiences. 

This is the world of the supernatural, of the transcendent, mythical, and heroic.

And like in the science fiction that many of us love so much - remarkable, improbable, magical things, thoughts and feelings are created and experienced.

Like the development of the personal computer.

Or flying cars.

Or a cure for cancer.

Or, on a more mundane, but not less profound level,  the building of a profitable, growing business, a company at which many good people love to work and with monies earned build and support their families and communities.

All of these beautiful business things are only possible with, against the odds and reasonable belief, one or several courageous souls delusionally dreaming and willing them into being. 

This is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to build and sustain a real business.

No to do this, and not just live in that dewey, but ultimately imaginary world of children, of dilettantes, of hot air merchants and purveyors of nothingness...

...well this requires the delusional dreams and visions be referenced and remembered daily yes, but only briefly so, and then with the vast majority of the business day being given over to hard, rational, intense, consistent, incremental, and repetitive work.

The key insight is that we don’t have to choose between flighty, crazy delusion...

...and "it is what it is” cold-eyed realism and spirited hard work.

We should, must, and can easily have both.

So let’s honor the delusional among us, and feed and nurture the delusion
in all of us.

But let's do the same for the heads-down plotters, for the conservative, calculated risk takers, for the “lunch pail” workers that just go to work every day.

They are both beautiful and admirable in their own way.

And completely and necessarily complementary.

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