Growing up just south of New Orleans, I am a longtime (and usually suffering) Saints fan. Because of that, I’ve likely read a hundred different columns, stories, and reports about last week’s NFC Championship Game.
Saint’s fans keep reading the results over and over again…just to be sure it actually happened.
In the course of my reading, I came across what I found to be an amazing fact in a column by Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com. The factoid he shared reminded me of a subject that I’ve written and spoken about many times over the years.
That subject is the importance of not allowing “experts” to convince us that we are unable to achieve things we have our minds set on achieving.
Easterbrook pointed out that of the 88 players who started in the AFC and NFC championship games, 19 of those players were undrafted. We’re not talking about simply being on the squad. We’re talking starting lineups.
Think about that for a moment. About 1 of every 5 starters on Championship Sunday was initially passed over by a league with a talent evaluation process that is supposedly second to none. These weren’t “late round” draft picks. These were many guys who dreamed of the day an NFL team would call their name on draft day… only to hear team after team repeatedly pass on them.
Hiring the right talent is the lifeblood of NFL teams. The stakes are huge. Because of this, they spend incredible amounts of time and money on scouting, player interviews, watching hours of game tape, interviewing past coaches and teammates, micro-analyzing mental and physical performances at combines, etc. They have one of the most expensive, sophisticated, and objective talent evaluation processes of any business in the world.
And 1 in 5 of the top performers on the top 4 teams in last week’s championship games was at one time told that he wasn’t good enough to make an NFL team. Each dealt with rejection. Each had to make the decision not to give up on a goal a lot of “experts” told him that he wasn’t going to achieve.
Most of us never face the public rejection of not being “drafted”. But disappointments, setbacks, and non-believers are a part of business… and life. Remember that the only person who knows what you are capable of is you.
And it’s up to you to prove it.
I was saddened recently to find that a coffee house I was fond of had gone out of business. It was located about 10 miles from my home and away from my daily routine. But on many Sunday mornings, I would spend a couple of hours writing or researching things at my regular table.
When the initial surprise and disappointment passed, I couldn’t help reflecting on some of the factors that likely led to the place’s demise.
It wasn’t the products, the pricing, or the service. The place was always clean. The furniture and décor were welcoming. The products were as good as or better than anyone’s and comparably priced. The two regular employees there were always nice and even remembered my regular order.
But it dawned on me that until I walked up to the door, I wasn’t sure the place had closed. Sure, the parking lot was pretty empty, but nothing on the outside of the shop looked different now that it was out-of-business.
And while it was located just off a busy highway, it was tucked just far enough away from the road to peacefully blend into the background. Good products, prices, facilities and service are of no great use if your target market remains oblivious to your very existence.
The other thing that struck me is that I never saw the end coming. Maybe Sunday mornings were busier than other times. But their “game plan” apparently remained unchanged right up to the day they closed the doors.
As I drove away, I envisioned helium balloons, temporary parking lot and roadside displays, targeted giveaways, etc. that I wished they would have attempted. It’s a pretty simple concept. If what you’re doing now isn’t working for you… uh… maybe try something else. I’m just saying.
But the owner was likely convinced that he had the right products and prices and that would be enough. Sadly, this often isn’t the case.
Consider whether this coffee house’s lessons may apply to you. How easy is it for passersby to miss seeing you? When your branch is open, does it actually look, you know… open? And what does it look like when you go home? Is it an appealing billboard or a dark storage facility?
Hopefully your results are what you’d like. If not, how married are you to the tactics that are producing those results? It’s not customers’ jobs to find us.
It’s our jobs to make ourselves hard to miss.