During the Discovery phase of a recent project, I was fortunate to spend some time chatting with the company’s founder. Though he’s no longer very active in the business, he clearly conveyed the values on which the company was founded three decades ago. The employees live these values to this day.
He’s a wise, charming fellow, full of character, and I could really see why his customers loved him. Among the dozens of kernels of wisdom that I gathered in that conversation, one really stuck with me. When I asked him about the history of the company, he wrapped up a story of impressive growth by saying simply:
“The experiment so far has been a success.”
The more I think about this statement, the more I like it, and it reflects an excellent attitude for business-builders to adopt. Let’s break it into pieces:
Every business and brand is an experiment. You’re experimenting with how you serve a consumer, how you reach that consumer, and how you manage your affairs. And you’re experimenting with the kind of company you want to create. If you want meaningful growth, you simply have to break new ground. If you’re not experimenting, you’re just mimicking the herd. And that’s a slow road to failure.
These two words are critical – remove them and the entire thrust of the statement changes. The founder is conveying his unwillingness to rest on his laurels. A business is a living thing in a dynamic environment. Even if your growth has been meteoric, yesterday’s successes do not guarantee tomorrow’s.
“…has been a success.”
Here, the founder is being modest. His company has exceeded the industry growth rate by a factor of 10 for years. Most companies would happily trade their growth curves for his. Three cheers for humility.
- Are you continually experimenting in meaningful ways?
- Are you looking toward the future, not dwelling on the past?
- Are you staying humble (and hungry) even if business is terrific?
Much of success is attitudinal, and we could all do worse than to absorb the attitude of Bob Rogers.
About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win. Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.” His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation. Contact Matthew here. He calls Chicago home.
Copyright 2014 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.