Special thanks to the
2014 TMA Partners for
their year-round support
of TMA programs.
Q What items are at the top of your bucket list?
To take six months off,
go to the South of France, and write a
book and take cooking classes.
Q Would the book be about cooking?
No, I would actually write
a book around how I’ve seen businesses
fail. I’ve spent 22 years helping people
who have got into difficult situations. I’ve
watched a lot of failures through all these
bankruptcy cases, and I think there’s a lot
to be learned from that.
There are a lot of books out there
on what to do right, and I would
write the book on what not to do.
Q What would the first chapter be?
Pick your partners very
carefully. I’ve seen businesses fail around
who their business partners were. I’ve
seen businesses fail around bad
agreements, legal documents. There
have been failures about not really
focusing on where things are going.
They’re too focused on the past, the way
things have been, instead of where
they’re going. There’s the phrase, “You
can’t know where you’re going if you’re
always looking behind you.” I think a lot
of businesses just operate the same way
until somebody comes along and says,
"You can’t operate that way anymore."
A case in point in the auction industry is
the whole transition over to the online
auction business. As an auctioneer, I
enjoy standing up in front of people
and doing the auction chant. I was
even an instructor to teach that. While
I was promoting that, other people
in the world were saying, “That’s all
interesting, but you know what? We can
do it online.” I could either deny it and
then one day wake up and realize I’m
no longer relevant or embrace it and
become part of the change. I embraced
it and became part of the change.
That gets into the importance of always
rediscovering yourself, rediscovering
your company. One of the examples I
always use is what if Apple just stopped
with the first iPod and said, “Here it is.”
We’d all laugh. Really? You wouldn’t have
version 2? You wouldn’t have version
3? You wouldn’t have version 4?
So, tell me about your business. What
version are you on? “Well, we’re still
doing it the way Dad did.” That’s not
going to work for much longer. People
have a hard time accepting that. I’ve
seen these themes over and over again
in the various bankruptcy cases.
Q A lot of times it’s just fear of change. “We did this in the past and
it worked. I don’t know what will happen
if we do it differently.”
Exactly, and it’s harder
on family businesses where they don’t
want to change because it’s going to
upset the tradition that the family
established. But you can either facilitate
the change, or you can be changed. Of
course, you always want to control it, so
you should facilitate it. One of the
things that you need to do when
looking back on your business is say, “If
I were starting over today, how would I
structure it? What would I do
differently?” If what you’re doing today
is not the same as what you’d do if you
were starting today, you need to
evaluate what’s holding you back from
making that change and then fix it.
It’s definitely on my bucket list to write
that book. How to Fail is what I would
most likely call it. My plan is to actually
get started on that and have that
completed by the end of next year. J
continued from page 49
I could either deny it and then one
day wake up and realize I’m no longer
relevant or embrace it and become
part of the change. I embraced it
and became part of the change.