Earning a Home Run

Earning a Home Run

I played baseball as a kid and I never hit a home run. I don’t know what it feels like.

A home run can happen in Business as well. Though, as with baseball, there are barriers so we don’t hit a home run.

It makes me think it has to be earned. By putting in the time and the preparation. Building up the small victories, until you become an overnight success.

The overnight success is the business equivalent of a home run. It may happen once, a few times, or never. I don’t know. I have yet to have a home run. But, I like to think I’m preparing for one.

When I think about the home run, three thoughts come to mind.

It’s not about failure

Failure, for the sake of failure, is not the way to a home run. That’s just failure porn. Playing the victim.

Failure happens, yes. But, it’s not a requirement. Nor particularly helpful. Being told no is bound to happen, but it is not failure. It’s a small rejection.

Building a portfolio of failures isn’t sexy. Building a portfolio of victories, no matter how small, is.

Getting small victories

If we cannot get small victories, how can we expect to get the big ones?

We can’t.

They’re like a prerequisite for playing in the big leagues. If we don’t get small victories, we won’t be prepared for what it takes.

We have to be able to close the small deals consistently. Then, like it’s the universe telling us we’re ready, we get a big deal.

Holding out for the home run, without putting in the time for the small victories, is gambling. It’s relying on sheer luck.

I don’t think luck is absent in a home run. Being the only thing we rely on, though, is dangerous. It makes me uncomfortable.

Small victories build. We get them, and we can stack them up towards a big win. It’s about stacking up wins.

Like the Oakland Raiders in 2016.

Stacking up wins

I am a huge Oakland Raiders fan. I have been through almost a new coach every year since 2002. And, Jamarcus Russell. What is sad is, I was excited about that draft. About the Jamarcus Russell future.

I have watched the Raiders consistently through a 14-year playoff drought. What gave the 2016 season something different was Jack Del Rio.

After each victory, he would tell the media we just want to keep stacking up wins. Then, we’ll see where it gets us at the end of the season.

There was no striving for a home run. Just one victory at a time. Then, maybe we’ll make the playoffs.

I try to apply this to my business. I stack up yes’s in a sales call and forward steps in the buying process. Then, see where the chips fall. Knowing that these are the necessary steps for a home run.

Only after enough time, stacking up small victories, can we be prepared for the home run.

At least I hope this is a way to get to a home run.

If not, I guess I’ll call BALCO.

Too many things in motion

Too many things in motion

I left Marin General Hospital and had to call my colleague to get an update.

We worked together, as I was his product specialist. It was convenient. I lived in the same territory he covered. Thus, we spent a lot of time together. We were a top 5 team in the country for the product I represented.

We spoke daily, sometimes multiple times. This was a many times a day call. I wanted to see how the rest of his day went.

Lucky for us, we had another trial of our product. Unlucky for us, we couldn’t begin the trial. We already had four trials going. There was no time.

It is the problem of putting too many things in motion.

This isn’t the busy problem where you have the dreaded conversation:

“How are you doing?”

“Oh, I am so busy.”

“Well, that’s a good problem to have. Better than the alternative!”

Yes, that is the worst conversation. Usually, because you know the person is not that busy. None of us are really that busy.

In this case, we weren’t “busy”. We were over-committing ourselves, which is a mistake.

This is a symptom of impatience, which is sometimes good to have. Other times, it can cause lost opportunities. We oversell our clients and then we get fired.

Why does having too many things in motion happen?

I only know why this happens to me. Not why it always happens.

It typically happens when I have down time. The normal downtime that happens in business. Most often when you are starting out and building your client list.

I spend too much time filling the funnel. Then I over-commit myself and lose business. This leads me to have more ups and downs and less consistency.

It has happened to me when working as a Sales Professional. It happens when I look for jobs.

I think I might have a problem.

How do we solve for it?

If we don’t make the first mistake, which is forgetting about the client, then we might be able to be proactive.

If we are smart, we can postpone a deal. We know that doesn’t happen often because time kills deals.

Another option is being patient and more strategic with our time. We can develop a sound strategy to focus on consistency.

Putting too many things in motion is not a good problem to have. We become distracted and we cannot commit to our clients or projects.

It’s an unwillingness to make a choice.

Sometimes that’s ok. Other times, it’s unsustainable.

If we take a step back, create a better plan, we might be able to avoid this scenario. Other times, it happens and we cannot avoid it.

Now, I try to be more strategic with my time. Let the lows in business go. Stick to a process the best I can. It helps me minimize these mishaps.

__ __ __

We never did get that trial. We over-committed, had to postpone, and the hospital never let us back in.

Sometimes, I guess it is better to wait until we’re fully committed.

Control the Controllable’s

Predictors of success are as varied as the weather. Predictable results can help. And to drive predictable results, we can control the controllable’s.

Often, the results we have to deliver can seem unreachable. Business growth does not happen in a linear fashion. At times, it’s sporadic.

All we can do is focus on what is in our control and execute.

Control the controllable’s and let the results follow.

Control the Controllable’s

What can we control?

We can control:

The process

The process we use to drive our results. To increase productivity. The process we choose is the principles, tactics, and habits we execute daily. It’s like compound interest for our business.

Sleep schedule

The time we wake up and go to bed. Sleep is important.

Activity level

The number of calls we make, emails we send, blog posts we write, and customers we see. We can control our activity and put ourselves in a position for success.

Showing up

If, and when, we show up. Consistently showing up is the hardest part.

Office hours

More hours do not guarantee better results. But, we need to put in the work.

Continuous learning

Seeking further improvement. We all have something to learn. We’re all amateurs at something.

For most business, positive results are not guaranteed. The economy can be poor. Or, a star client is sick on the last day of the quarter. So, no last-minute deal to make quota.

Manufacturing is on back order. Shipping didn’t get the order out. Our proposal was not brought up at our prospects meeting. Meetings were canceled. Our contact changed companies.

It may seem as though our company and clients are plotting against our success.

These are all issues outside of our control. All can result in negative outcomes. Thus, a focus on what we can control is the only path forward.

What is in our control are the habits we use, the principles we follow, and the tasks we accomplish.

We may not be able to control the end result, but we can control the process.

Let’s put our focus there and control the controllable’s.

Establish a process

At 4:30 am, you don’t want to think. Actually, you do think. You think “why I am up at this hour”.

I’m a swimmer. That means practice is at 4:30 am, three days a week.

We aren’t going to go into why swimmer’s workout that early, but they all do. And when I swam at that hour, the team I swam with had to set up the pool.

What does that mean?

Removing covers and changing lane lines. I had the luxury of swimming in an Olympic pool. This meant we could swim a length of 25 yards or 50 meters.

Naturally, we did both. 25 yards in the afternoon, and 50 meters in the morning. Each morning before practice, we had to change the pool from 25 yards to 50 meters.

Removing the pool covers, changing into our suits, and switching the lane lines. We had it down to a science. A well-oiled machine with a process that worked every morning.

The process

The process was rolling the covers off the pool, while chlorine steam hit our faces.

On cold days, you couldn’t see across the pool. Thankfully, the pool was heated.

Then, you loosen the lane lines. Pull half the lane lines to one end and the other half to the opposite end. There are also these things called connectors. Because the lane lines are designed for 25 yards, two lane lines don’t make 50 meters. It’s basic math.

So, you throw the connectors in the pool and they float to the center. The connectors are the best job because they’re the least work. No one can see you in the steam.

Last, you connect the lane lines together with their connectors and tighten them.

Now we can swim.

Seems like a long process, but with a full team, it’s done in about 15 minutes. That’s from the time you walk into the gate until you’re swimming. The beauty is you don’t have to think about it.

This leaves more time to question life choices. Like why am I at a pool at 4:30 am.

Establish a process

Building a process, so when it’s 4:30 am at a pool, you can get to work. Or, it’s just Monday morning and I have hit snooze for the last half hour.

Regardless, when we establish a process it works under pressure. When things don’t work right.

Establish a process and it works when we are tired, burned out, and questioning why we keep subjecting ourselves to our work.

I have not swum at 4:30 am in years. Not sure I ever will again. I don’t think I miss it.

On second thought, I am writing about it, so maybe I do.

The Grass Roots Level

Grass Roots Level

Everything begins at the grass roots level. One person at a time. A small community.

There’s no doubt this method works.

It is slow, difficult, and may not have exponential growth. But, it’s sustainable.

Let’s take a look at four examples of starting at the grass roots level.

The Pabst Blue Ribbon Come Back

Pabst Blue Ribbon was going out of business. There was no Marketing budget. Sales were in a steep decline.

They went back to the grass roots level. No advertising.

The new target market? Hipsters.

The target for Pabst was Hipsters who wanted a beer that had zero national attention. Naturally, Hipsters were a perfect target.


Pabst Blue Ribbon is back on the national beer scene. You can see it in dive bars and Fraternity Houses across America.

Changing the balance of beer power with a grass roots approach. And Hipsters.

Grass Roots Level with The Art of Shaving

Shaving got to a point where, basically, men were putting sharp blades on their faces with little more than foam as protection. Not taking care of our beautiful faces during our morning shave.

The result in the market was men looking for high-quality shaving products. This began with a small community of dedicated shavers. Using double-edged safety razors. Going back in time.

The Art of Shaving produced a high-quality shaving cream, designed for the double-edged safety razor. A better shave for your skin. And, my preferred shaving method.

When word got out how much better the products were and the community they built, Gillette bought them.

The return of a great shave at the grass roots level.

The 3rd Wave of Coffee with Blue Bottle Coffee

Folgers put coffee in everyone’s homes in America. The 1st wave of coffee.

Starbucks taught everyone to love coffee in its many forms. The 2nd wave of coffee.

Now, with Blue Bottle Coffee out of Oakland, we have the 3rd wave of coffee.

Produced in small batches, for a small group of coffee aficionado’s, it’s a coffee movement. The ultra-premium coffee market. I am a fan of the new wave of coffee.

I’m a fan of Blue Bottle Coffee and the Blue Bottle Coffee story.

Roasting beans in his Oakland apartment and selling them at a Berkeley Market, the founder, Freeman, began small. At the grass roots level.

Building a community of coffee drinkers led to the expansion of Blue Bottle Coffee and Venture Capital funding.

All from the grass roots level.

Sales Territory Building with Referrals

Whether opening a new sales territory or building an underperforming territory, it takes a grass roots approach.

Starting small. A few customers you can use as referrals. It’s painful, it’s slow, but it works.

I built an underperforming sales territory on low margin service work. Built a community of clients, then leveraged trust for big purchases. Then, I asked for referrals.

We can’t be everywhere at once. It makes sense to focus on the small community we can serve.

In each of these examples, starting at the grass roots level worked. Building a community, one person at a time.

I am sure there are countless more examples, but this is all I could think of.

If we start small, we might have the opportunity to get big. Slowly building traction. I am not too sure what other methods to use.

I’m going to stick to the grass roots level.