This week, almost everyone from school kids laboring over their well worn essays to those of us gathered around both the real and virtual water coolers will be answering the end-of-summer-question, “What did you do on your vacation?” Since I’m just now returning to Boston after spending most of the summer on the beach studying and writing a couple of business plans, my answer is pretty simple: I spent some time searching for The Elusive Red.
Since my June article on beach glass, a bit more than a hundred of our readers have written, called, emailed and pulled me aside before and after meetings to tell me their own beach glad vignettes. After a recent board meeting, VP of Sales & Marketing Andy mentioned to me that his wife travels the U.S. in search of shards. Beverly, who I met at the June E&Y Entrepreneur-of-the-Year dinner, mailed me a few of her favorite pieces. Dave, a highly respected venture capitalist in town, sent me an endearing note about how he and his brothers collected the well scrubbed trinkets for their mother. And the list goes on.
And then there’s my wife, who has truly gone over the edge. To put this into perspective, a summer ago, I rented a house on the beach as an experiment to balance out the hills of Vermont with a little surf and sun. To be truthful, the emphasis here is on the word “I”, since I had failed to mention this little bit of news until mid June last summer, which was then responded to with those words that every guy (me more than others) has heard at one time or another: “Have a nice time”. June became August, and the Cold War of The Hills vs. The Beach was cooling down a bit such that she started to visit the beach more and more which led to the Fall House-on-the Beach Hunt which became the Winter Purchase which became the Spring Renovation, which became this Summer’s Dream.
From not knowing anything about beach glass, Jan has become an avid (make that rabid) collector. Books on the subject are now stacked in her studio, glass in various shapes and colors have become hand-crafted jewelry, connections have been made with other collectors, and countless expeditions have been made up and down the beach at all hours in the sun, the rain, at sunrise and in the shading strands of twilight. All in search of The Elusive Red.
Well scrubbed glass comes in a variety of colors with whites and browns being the most common followed closely by every shade of green, lighter being the more “valuable”. But it’s the yellows, the bright turquoise, the ambers and the most highly sought after, The Elusive Red, which drives her to take that one last look over just one more rock and to wake up at 5:00 AM in order to get on the beach extra early. Maybe this is what we call “Relentless Drive” in our best salespeople, and certainly with her it’s become a collector’s obsession with just a bit of craziness mixed in, but it’s a quality that suits her well. Although there’s been great success this summer in finding a variety of treasures from the sea, The Elusive Red has remained well, just that-elusive-, but then-for her-there’s always tomorrow.
All of those same attributes of focused drive, obsessive compulsion and just a bit of craziness are some of the qualities that I find in my best performing CEOs and certainly in my most successful salespeople. It’s that personal fire in the belly to make that one last sales call at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon rather than head home early. It’s the drive to push the negotiation to a close even though it’ll result in catching the 7:00 PM Amtrak out of New York rather than the scheduled 5:00. It’s the discipline to always schedule just one more sales call every day after 5:30. It’s the consistent push during the month to beat out the top sales producer in the company. It’s the search for The Elusive Red.
As we now push into the most intense and most critical season of the year, continuing the search for The Elusive Red, which means pushing to not only make, but break, quota and exceed the business plan should be foremost in everyone’s head. Certainly this attitude is critical to the success of the company, but much more importantly, it should frame our own personal definition of superior achievement by creating exceptional sales performance in everything we do between now and the end of the year.
It was a superb summer, but it’s time to get back into the game since the clock is ticking on the 77 selling days left in the year.
Happy September, everyone!