Under the category of ‘even a broken clock is right twice a day‘, Donald Trump struck upon a truism in what otherwise might have been mistaken for an election night victory speech – albeit 7 months late – when he addressed the Boy Scout convention in Virginia on July 24th. It is too easy in the President’s case to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and I almost did as I joined the international cringe at the majority of his address. However, sandwiched between examples of his own greatness, he told the story of an elderly gentleman he met at a New York cocktail party whom he recognized as a once great real estate developer, now down on his luck. He asked William Levitt “What had happened?” Levitt replied “Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.”
All businesses have momentum, either positive or negative. As business owners we may delude ourselves into believing that our business is in a stable holding pattern, re-focussing, re-branding, or the popular fib ‘we are as big as we want to be.‘ The unfortunate reality is that if we are not moving noticeably forward, we are in fact moving demonstrably backwards relative to our marketplace and our competition. Show me a business that is satisfied with it’s market share, and I’ll show you a business that is about to lose its market share. Maintaining or building upon positive momentum is a constant reinvention of a business plan and value added proposition, all the while remaining true to the core values that brought your success in the first place. If it were a simple task new companies would have a much more difficult time breaking into the market. It is the complacency of today’s market leaders that will open the door for tomorrow’s market leaders. There is always room for better. Mediocrity is a crowded room in any profession.
As a business owner I live in fear of the affliction that felled Mr. Levitt. Not afraid enough to change core patterns that I hope reflect core values. But afraid enough to be willing to consider large changes, before large changes are clearly called for. Waiting till it’s an obvious necessity is waiting too long. Mr. Levitt’s plight reminded me of that. The fact that Mr. Trump brought it to my attention was a personal reminder (not that it was needed!) that everyone has some wisdom I don’t. Clearly Mr. Trump must have some wisdom to share. It seems highly improbable that someone could rise to his level of achievement accidentally. He does however seem to do a better job than most of hiding it.
Thanks for reading,