For those of you unfamiliar with him, he’s best known for saying (in reference to Leon Trotsky) “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I’ve always considered him the successor to Mark Twain in many ways in that he often made very pointed remarks in a gentle, funny manner. That didn’t make his humor any less barbed, however.
You might think that I want to use that to make a point about business behavior. That’s not a bad notion but not where we’re heading today. Instead, let’s think about something he said that was brought to my attention via a fortune cookie. A reader sent me the contents of the cookie (and I do hope that you will feel free to send in ideas, questions, or even rants) and when I read it I just knew it had to be a topic. It said:
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
For a man who died even before commercial television began, Will certainly gets business today. No business can afford to rest on its laurels. Market conditions change, consumer preferences change and of course technology has changed everything. Take, for example, a huge company like Microsoft. They built up large, profitable markets for their operating system and their Office products and those were cash cows. Sure, there were constant upgrades but mostly they just “sat there” enjoying the stream of profits. Suddenly, Google and Apple are cleaning their clock and those cash cows are in danger.
I take the statement on a personal level as well. We all need to keep learning. Much of what I do today is built upon the base of 35 years of business experience but it also requires me to have kept up with changes in the media and tech worlds. I submit that none of us can be effective at our jobs or personal lives if we don’t make a constant effort to keep growing, no matter how successful we’ve been to that point.