Timeless Business Concepts I Learned on an Etch-A-Sketch
Okay, to begin this post, I will start by dating myself but…when I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was creating pictures on a drawing devise called an etch-a-sketch (If kids today only knew!). It was great. I remember spending carefree days “ lining” my way through masterpiece after masterpiece.
On occasion however, I would create something absolutely amazing and found it difficult to let it go. I wanted to savor the success of a job well done. And sometimes, my efforts were not up to par and I wanted to eliminate it from memory, however it too, was difficult to let go. BUT, regardless of outcome, in order to begin the creation of my next masterpiece, I had to overcome my etch-a-sketch syndrome…my obsession for dwelling on a past performance; I had to shake it up and go again!
While thinking on this concept, I realized there was some great application to business development, entrepreneurship, or anything really that has to do with building or growing something. Here are a couple of actual case scenarios to illustrate.
Dwelling on a great success
I had the opportunity to work with a sales rep many years ago who after much effort, closed a BIG one. While it could have been the greatest sale of his life or just the beginning of something grander, we will never know for you see, after finishing up his “masterpiece” the sales rep stopped creating for a while and simply sat back and admired his work. He stopped prospecting, stopped networking and before long found himself out of work for lack of productivity. Now please hear me, I want all of us to enjoy our successes! We work too hard to achieve them. So when they come, we should celebrate. But beware the “etch-a sketch” syndrome of admiring too long; it will find you and destroy you if you aren’t careful.
Dwelling on an unfavorable outcome
I worked on a case once with a new sales rep that had the potential to be the BIG one. We had gone through the screening process, met with all the players and decision makers and virtually had the “YES” everywhere except on paper. After a few weeks and hours of preparation our efforts were thwarted and the prospect went another direction. Needless to say we were disappointed. The point here is that sometimes after preparing your masterpiece, someone else grabs your etch-a-sketch and shakes it up for you! The syndrome takes on a new meaning. Now the question becomes after an unfavorable result, how soon will you to pick up and start performing again?
If either of the above scenarios sounds all too familiar to you, you are not alone. Here are a couple of symptoms and remedies for your consideration.
Symptom: Just closed a BIG one and my efforts deserve a much needed break. Showing signs of complacency and have not created new activity in days!
Remedy: Recognize the immediate need for ACTION. While as stated earlier, it is fine to celebrate a big victory, but start looking for the next one NOW. Don’t wait…move now…right now. Finish reading this and go!
Symptom: I closed the BIG one, so I only want the BIG ones. Not making as many calls, ignoring daily opportunities, not following up or paying attention to past clients or customers.
Remedy: Swing for the fence, while you hit the singles. When you close a big one or gain your largest client, let this be a catapult to finding the next one. However NEVER forget the “bread and butter” to your business, the things that sustain and help you grow daily. Homeruns come along just so often, so while you are swinging for them remember the value of the one customer at a time approach to success.
Symptom: Unfavorable outcome. I spent valuable time preparing and it did not work out. Feel like a failure and not excited about being rejected again.
Remedy: Evaluate and learn from mistakes or experiences, then get up and create another opportunity. As in the example earlier from our failure to close the deal, we learned that there were some things we needed to get up front before moving forward. When we did, we knew early in our process if we had a potential deal or not and if it was worth pursuing for the benefit of all parties involved. Do not dwell on an unfavorable outcome, learn from it and move on. The quicker you apply the remedy, the quicker you will be cured!
So there you have it. A simple toy from the 60’s (or even before then) can provide us with powerful insight on how to operate on a daily basis. As I conclude this post, I leave you with one question…what are you drawing on your business etch-a-sketch right now!