I Think I’ve Heard This Before…


The story you are about to hear is true… but Bob’s name has been changed in order to… well, you’ll understand in a minute.


Walking to my car the other day, I was scrolling my received calls list and checking messages when a voice from the past came across my phone.

“Steve… this is Bob. I know it’s been a couple of years, and I know I totally disappeared, but…”

Oh, Gosh… I had to think.

Yes, it had been a couple years… and then a couple more. If I remembered correctly, we hadn’t spoken since August of 2004.

At that time, he had called me to get an opinion on a business he was planning to start, and asked if I would give it a completely objective review.

I said I would.

Details were in short supply, and no business plan had been done. He had very little investment capital, and I could see no revenue stream that would offset his startup costs within the first three years.

I told him so, and then suggested that he might want to consider…

He stopped me in mid-sentence. “No, I don’t want to go that route. I’ve always had MY MIND SET on doing it THIS WAY… I’ve just got to get in to see enough people… to CONVINCE enough people… that I’M RIGHT about this.”

Very agreeably, we agreed… to disagree.


Fast forward to last Friday.

Five years have passed, and his venture has been defunct for almost 30 months. “I could really use your advice,” he said. “I sold some real estate, and I have money to invest in a business… but I can’t seem to GIVE it away.”

I suggested that if he was serious about giving it away, I would be more than happy to provide him with the address to my Post Office Box, and then I asked how much we were talking about.

“Ten Thousand Dollars… and I know EXACTLY what I WANT to do with it… I’ve just got to get in to see enough people… to CONVINCE enough people… that I’M RIGHT about this.”

Deja vu… all over again.


I ball-parked an estimated that, to make a real financial impact, it would likely require several hundred thousand dollars, not ten thousand… but that was the least of my concerns.

Over the next twelve to fifteen minutes, I asked a Bob a number of questions, and then listened intently as he answered…

“Well, let me tell you why I wouldn’t…”
“The reason I want to do it my way is because…”
“Yes, I know others are moving online, but I really don’t want to take the time…”
“I already thought of that, but I really have made up my mind to…”

And the clincher…

“I know the customer’s important, but let me tell you what’s important to me…”

He actually said that? Yeah… pretty much.

And he’s not alone. Many businesses do what they do, the way they do it… simply because, well… that’s how THEY want it.

Yes, the status quo is fairly secure in American business today. And if history is any judge, it will likely remain so in the future. In fact, I suspect I’ll hear from Bob again in about five years… and I wonder what will have changed.


In the meantime… I wish you continued success and impact!



If you knew exactly what your customers were looking for… would you give it to them?

What if it required changing your entire business model or product line?

Are such ideas that challenge the status quo encouraged in your organization?

Is your team’s environment safe, and free of ridicule?

How open to change is the environment at your fiercest competitor?


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