The highs and lows of business

When things are good, they’re great.

When things are bad, they seem insurmountable.

Projects, careers, jobs, days, and years’ all experience highs and lows.

Moving to the next project at a high can seem like we had a success.

Ending a project when we’re at a low can seem like it was a failure.

Both situations may not be accurate. The result might be due to good, or poor, timing. The length of time in a project can determine success.

How long can you manage the highs and lows of your business?

The highs

The highs are fun. We’re killing it!

As we watch The Wolf of Wall Street, view Enron’s trajectory, or American Real Estate in the mid-2000s, the high is great. Everyone is making money. We’re living like rock stars.

If not managed, a crash follows. As with all three of these situations, you think nothing bad can happen. Then, the bad happens.

We glorify the highs with excess. Not management and preparation for sustainable growth. Sustainability for when the things begin to turn.

This is when we hit the lows.

The lows

Rising up from nothing is the American Dream. As an American, I love the story of the person who rose up when all odds were against them.

What happens is managing a low situation. This can also happen in our sales, marketing, and business.

A time where nothing works. The key is managing this period until the next high. Where we begin killing it again.

The lows happen to all of us. What I find difficult, is when your lows are coming at the time of another person’s highs.

For example, missing quota while colleagues are crushing it. Attending the sales meeting is not easy. Next quarter, though, the tables might be turned. It is merely a low before the next high.

At this point, maintaining the courage and motivation to continue is the only option. Moving forward when nothing seems to work.

The highs and lows of business

Managing the highs means we continue looking for new opportunities. Maintain the process that got us to the high. Hopefully, mitigating the damage of the lows.

When we hit the low, managing and continuing to the next high is the only path forward. If the past can provide any indicator to the future, we know there is a high on the horizon.

The question is: how do we get there?

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.

Taking a Pause to Regroup

In football, teams can come out of the second half and begin their comeback.

They had 15 minutes to pause, reflect, and regroup.

The same can be applied to projects and our careers.

I have taken two major pauses recently. A pause in learning German and a pause in my blogging.

One was a poor decision, the other might turn out to be good. That is yet to be seen.

A pause can take two forms. It can provide the necessary time to regroup and reflect. Then, go out and crush the second half.

Or, it can kill momentum.

The trick is knowing when it is time to take a pause and when it is time to push forward. Enduring the difficult road ahead.

Taking a pause that loses momentum

A pause that loses momentum is a start-stop problem. In sports, a long pause in training can leave you out of shape.

A long pause in sales, such as a longer than normal vacation, can leave you the amount of time you were gone behind. It could also be more than that. It’s a gap in filling the sales funnel.

Or, when learning a language, it’s use it or lose it. A long pause causes us to forget words. A need for remedial work.

Taking a pause to regroup

A pause to regroup, on the other hand, can bring life back to achieving goals.

A productive pause, such as a sabbatical, can create much-needed rest. An ability to clear our mind. Renewing our sense of purpose.

This pause is like the football team that comes back from a 25-point deficit in the second half. Ultimately winning the game.

Coming back after a pause

The most difficult part of any pause is coming back after the break. Starting again.

In many projects, starting the first time is difficult. Not to mention having to do it twice.

When considering a pause, it might be, like anything, worth asking why. A pause for the right reasons can move us forward.

On the other hand, a pause because things are difficult can do more harm than good.

Not all pauses are created equal. We should not take the decision to take a pause lightly.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is here.

It is time give thanks for what we’re grateful for.

For me, I am thankful for so many things.

A loving wife, great family, the best friends.

Thanksgiving forces us to reflect on the power of a thank you.

A sincere thank you can change someone’s day. Equally powerful is acting in a way that someone else is compelled to give thanks to you.

This is showing kindness, love, and empathy.

Thanksgiving is a great time to be thankful for all we have. It is also a great time to think about giving something to others. Give someone the opportunity to be thankful.

Today, let’s be kind, thankful, and generous.

Good luck and good selling!

That Doesn’t Work Anymore

“That doesn’t work anymore.”

A naïve statement used when an activities effectiveness is lower.

Currently, in business, this is often associated with cold calling and outbound sales.

Both are making a resurgence in popularity.


They work.

Just because the effectiveness of an activity is not as high as before, doesn’t mean it no longer works. It is not dead.

This goes for cold calling, email marketing, and advertising.

All work with varying degrees of success. Though, the success is not as high as when they were first popularized.

To ignore an entire channel of possible lead generation and business revenue is foolish.

Just because an activity is more competitive, difficult, and less effective as it once was, does not make it dead.

Good luck and good selling!