Archive for February, 2009

I have written about my passion for magic (illusions) in the past and will briefly mention it again and hopefully tie it into something useful.

There are few things I enjoy more than to see a brand new, to me, illusion that makes me go, “Hmmm…how’d you do that?” I enjoy that initial sense of awe as much, or more, than learning or figuring out how the illusion is actually done.

The same holds true with business. When I see or learn of something clever that someone is doing to build their business, it is very much like seeing and learning a new magic trick. Given today’s economy, we can use all the cleverness we can muster.

Riddles, logic puzzles, brain teasers have always fascinated me and I enjoy trying to solve them when time allows:

Q: A basket contains 5 apples. Do you know how to divide them among 5 kids so that each one has an apple and one apple stays in the basket?

Hold that thought and get ready for another tidbit from the world of golf…

Back in the day, when Jack Nicklaus ‘owned’ the PGA, before every season he would begin his preparations, with his golf coach, with a review of the fundamentals…starting with how to grip the club. When I first heard this I was dumbfounded. Do what? Jack Nicklaus reviewing how to grip the club?

During my most recent haircut, while I was waiting, I picked up a golf magazine and started flipping through the pages. As I was scanning the articles it occurred to me that each issue of any golf magazine is made up of at two main categories of content. (1) News and (2) Instructions.

There will be a review of the last big event, who is healthy, who is not, what is coming up on the tour, who will be there, who will not, etc. Then, the rest are articles are on how to shave a stroke or two off your game with this or that technique. Month after month, year after year, there will be articles offering some small tweak, some pear of wisdom that is aimed at helping you better your score.

Just like Jack Nicklaus reviewing the fundamentals, so holds true for staying the course, no pun intended, during challenging times like today. Remember, there are no magic bullets, no special shoes you can wear to make you drive the ball 500 yards, no putter head shaped like a frozen turkey that will do what sticking to the fundamentals will do.

Continue to market
Continue to offer great service
Continue to build customer relationships
Continue to price projects for a profit

Now, back to our logic puzzle:

Does his mean, as we stick to the fundamentals, we do not look for those neat and clever techniques to help build our business? Absolutely not. What I am suggesting is that in your lead group and within your network, seek and share ideas that are proving to help you reduce costs, get you in front of that hot prospect, present you with more pricing opportunities. [Note: When I say ‘lead group’ I am talking about something formal.]

What can you do this week that you did not do last week, which will help you build new business? That is your brain teaser. If you don’t have an answer, where can you go to find one? Who is in your network that is not just keeping up but actually growing during these times?

Set a goal to call at least three trusted people and ask them how things are going, how they are doing and bounce around a few ideas. Make sure that you have something to offer as well. This small investment of your time can pay off in big ways.

Remember, the answer is always ‘no’ until you ask and I am willing to bet there are people you know that, in spite of the doom and gloom, have created some new idea that is increasing their bottom line.

Your job is to ask, “How’d you do that?”


Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.


Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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