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Miscellaneous Thoughts

Sales Lesson from a Russian Uber Driver

Meeting Uber driver “Sam” reminded me that infectious enthusiasm is better than all the sales skills in the world.  From the word, “hello,” it was clear that Sam was from Russia.  I asked him his story – it’s an endearing one.

Sam “won the green card lottery,” leaving Russia where he’d been trained as an attorney and a dental technician.  There wasn’t time to learn more about this peculiar combination. Sam moved to NYC.  With no credit history, he managed to purchase his Rav 4 at 18% interest so he could drive for Uber and work on his English.  After 9 months, Sam decided that he missed the mountains of his homeland.  Opening a map, he saw that Denver was near the mountains, so he packed his car and drove here.

Sam told us this and more with joyful delight, enthusiasm, gratefulness and laughter.  He was so happy – and he made me happy.

I got to thinking about Sam and about sales.  In this NOISY world, one in which it’s so hard to break through to customers, Sam made me WANT to be his customer.  He made me feel good about him, myself, my country, my life.  I wanted to give him a $20 tip on a $21 fare.

In sales, we train skills, strategy, product knowledge – we teach our teams how to get the attention of our prospect, and how to get them to buy from us.  Sam, the Russian Uber driver I met once and will always remember, is a great reminder that people want to engage but are busy and defensive because they know that mostly, we want something from them.  Instead of trying to get something, let’s give honest, joyful enthusiasm.

Pies Make Me a Better Man

I like making pies.  I like the process, and I get a cheap thrill from sharing what I make with friends and family.  They have such low expectations of me when it comes to the kitchen, that my pie baking consistently yields surprise, which I take as praise.

I’m intense by habit, and I’m committed to my career.  Success for me, like for you, requires determination and focus, and the need to win over and over again in a competitive market.  Business can be tiring because, really, are we ever DONE?

Sometimes I want to create something that is done.  When I can step back and say, “Wow, I made that.”

My version of Hinman’s Cast Iron Skillet Cherry Pie. Recipe via Denver Post.

While I remain an active participant in the race of doing business in our cacophony of a world, I am trying not to be consumed by it.  I want to be deliberate enough to pursue things that have deeper meaning.  I want to be braver – brave enough to define success in ways that I know will be more gratifying, but I struggle to accept. While I haven’t solved this for myself, making pies gives me a symbolic and actual break from life’s intensity.  I enjoy the simple act of creating something that gets finished.

When Passionate Positions Make Us Idiots

As the national health care debate has played out, it’s a great example of how to become an idiot.

Health care is COMPLICATED.  Taking a “principled position” enables people to feel justified in ignoring the deeply interwoven complexities of this issue.  Please stop to consider these upsetting points of fact:

  • To my friends on the right: health care doesn’t, can’t and won’t work like any other “free market” service. Unrestricted competition works for craft beer or a Louis Vuitton handbag, and where supply and demand create an equilibrium.  It’s not free market when if have a heart attack you can go into any facility and get treated, without knowing what the price is, or often without the ability to pay.
  • To my friends on left who believe that all people should be treated equally: I was once driving with my young son who asked how health care costs work. There were two cars in front of us – a Mercedes and a Ford Focus.  I asked him, “Which would you pick if a stranger whom you’d never meet was paying?”  We just don’t have enough money to buy everyone “Mercedes” health care.  People with more money will get more care.

We need to accept that our world is complex and we need to approach problems with thoughtfulness.  Capitalism is another example where dogmatic positions are flawed. Seth Godin @ThisIsSethsBlog ‏ did a better job than I can in his thought-provoking essay, “Unbridled,” in which he suggests we think more clearly about just how much we want the “markets” to run our economy.

Our world is COMPLICATED and simple answers, while convenient, are generally wrong.  Work and business are complicated too.  A great book to read to really appreciate the complex nature of decisions in an entrepreneurial environment is The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz @bhorowitz ‏.

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