One of the reasons why ExchangeDefender is on a roll this year is because I’ve been able to stay at work for over 6 months straight and keep my top talent focused on what we’re doing. It’s not like we didn’t know what we had to do before nor were we lazy – it’s just that to move to the next step you need to have all the puzzle pieces fall into place (or push them together by force and all nighters).
In the past month I’ve taken six business trips and visited with a wide range of partners, vendors, competitors – everything from end users up to CEO’s of the companies you probably work with or rely on. Among vendors, the conversations are pretty much the same as they have been a year or two ago – threat vs. opportunity, consolidation vs. partnerships, etc. Among the partners, the conversations are the same as they have been for at least the past decade: Struggling to grow.
The only thing that disappoints me about people is laziness.
Some people are just stupid. There is no help for that. If you think you don’t need to know history because you can Google it and don’t need to understand physics because it’s not a part of your daily life and don’t care about geography or politics because it doesn’t matter to you – there is no hope for you. The problem with stupid people is that there is no way to explain to them why they should care because they wouldn’t understand it and it creates an infinite loop of stupidity that can never be broken out of.
The excuse for the rest – laziness. Laziness is not just a matter of not applying any effort (sitting on the couch watching TV and eating chips) but the unwillingness to break out of a circular pattern. If you’re working well past midnight and hate what you’re working on but are stubbornly unwilling to snap out of the comfortable pattern you’re stuck in – that’s just lazy. Problems do not get easier with time, they grow.
Most of my partner-centric conversations revolved around the move to the next level – but almost all of them were dismissive of all the innovation happening out there and unwillingness to consider a model or offering different from what is already being done all over the place.
Here is a little tip – if you do the same crap that everyone else is doing, and market it with the exact same crappy cardboard marketing stock you buy in a toolkit and pair it with the brilliant advice everyone else gets from a show that is only keeping you in place long enough to give away stripper bucks and pack the vendor hall – then you will get the exact same crappy results as 50% of the people there. And that’s assuming that the other 25% of the audience goes out of business and the rest accidentally walk out into the traffic during the break because that’s the level of ignorance that is required to keep on doing the same crap over and over and expect something different to happen. That’s the kind of business that will be certified by Microsoft as an SBSC (Small Business Stupid Consultant) and dispatched to unemployment after the last client is transferred to Office 365.
The rest – get creative. Add to your model. Add to your mind. Add to your portfolio. Instead of doubling up the effort – screw it – take your favorite client out to lunch and ask them what they would do if they ran your business.
I do this EVERY time I go on the road. In return, some brilliant people have built my business – for free – and I’ve managed to pay them back by giving them tools and resources that felt and looked as if they built them themselves. Which is exactly what happened.
Don’t lose perspective of who you are working for. It’s your clients – not Microsoft. Not your largest vendor. Not the vendor you like to go out and party the most. It’s all about your f’n clients. And what happens to the employee that does the same thing over and over, day in and day out? Business growth, like promotions and raises, comes as a result of overachievement and changing of the routine stuff.