Entrepreneurial Thinking by David Dahl (1994)        


Published


Mr. David Dahl, from Wichita State is a Professor of Entrepreneurial thinking at Wichita State University and their entrepreneurial school, one of the best in the Nation. He was a basketball player in his college days, twice WOil the most inspirational player award. He continues to do caller commentary for Wichita Basketball on the radio. He has become a Lawyer. He is interested in corporations and startup businesses. He is a coach of his son’s little league baseball team and he is an outstanding speaker. His course has been taken by Rob Snowberger. His family works at the Wichita Swim Club.

 

I gave this very same presentation about 2 weeks ago to the National Association for the Legalization of Nude Mud Wrestling and it was very well received  and I’m glad to see so many of you back again to hear it a second time.

 

Did any of you used to watch the show Star Trek? Remember that? And I guess there is a more modern version and I haven’t seen any episodes of the modern version. But let’s assume for just a moment that you are beamed up to the Starship Enterprise and you are put in charge. What are going to be some of the things that concern you? Has anybody here ever captained the Starship Enterprise? I haven’t. What are going to  be some of your concerns to do a good job of being the captain of the Starship Enterprise? We don’t want  to crash and if you’re not going to crash and if you’re going to be in charge, what are you going to have to have. You’re going to have to have the personnel to get you through. The people that know what they’re  talking  about.  You can’t do it all by yourself. We’ll talk a little more about that in just a little bit. Also, before you started driving a car, before you got your VCR, didn’t you open up an operating manual and look it over. Absolutely you did. And the same thing should be true with a business that you are running. You need to have an operating manual. Now, I helped over 400 businesses get up and going in the last 14 or 15 years. And  there are about  10 things that I consider to be the most important things for these young entrepreneurs that are getting up and getting start­ ed.    Kaley, would you please go ahead.  This is one   of

my sons. My twin sons are here with me as well as my wife and this one is Kaley. Thank you son.  The first thing that you have to concern yourself with as you are starting your business is, you’ve got to have a play book. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. You have to have the outline. Any former football players here? See, all  the guys who are walking around like this are the former football players. When you got out onto the field, when you practiced, didn’t the coach give you a play book so you knew what your blocking assignments were, so you knew where you were going to go when the quarterback was going to throw the ball? Absolutely you did. Something as simple as football required  a  playbook. Did anybody here ever build a house? Have you ever built your own  house?  One  person?  Two  people? What did you use as your playbook when you built your houses? You had diagrams, you had blueprints, and you had specifications. And if you don’t, you’re not going to build a very nice house. Your just going to go out and buy lumber and start your project like we did with tree­ houses when we were kids. No,  it doesn’t  work  that way. You have to have your playbook. Your playbook  as a business man is called a business plan. You absolutely need to have it. Has anyone here read the book, “Alice through the Looking Glass?” It’s  an old one.  Or “Alice  in Wonderland”,  it’s also called “Alice in Wonderland”. There’s a line in 11 Alice in Wonderland” where Alice is down in the magical land and she’s running and she runs into the Cheshire Cat. Remember the Cheshire Cat with the big grin and he would disappear and the grin would be the last thing to disappear. And Alice says to him “Am I going the right way, or is this the right road.”  She  says, “Is this  the right road?” And the Cheshire Cat says “Well where are you going?” And what does Alice say? Well, I don’t know. Well if you don’t know where  you  are going, every road is the right road. And the Cheshire Cat told her that because you have no goal. You have no objective. You have no plan. As a businessman, to be successful you have to have your playbook or your business plan. I tell my students this, and I teach one course a semester out at Wichita State and a lot of them are starting to follow this advice and it really works well. And it worked for  me when I was in school too.  When do  we usually write out resume. Not you. I know you  wouldn’t do this. But when do young students today usually write their resumes? (Answer from the audience) “When they’ re done with school and their trying to find their first job” That’s perfect. School is over, I need a job, let me think, I’m going to sit down with my parents and go over a list of things that I’ve accomplished. Right? Well, your resume should be like a business plan for you and please advise your students of this, the peo­ ple that you coach. What you should do, for example, if your students want to get into the marketing profession, and I deal with a Jot of freshman and sophomores. I say to them, “Go to some of the advertising agency’s in town, go to some of the television and radio stations and ask the Chief Executive Officer, who are your key peo­ ple, who are some of the shining stars, who are some of the up and comers. Now, tell me, what did they do to get this job. What have they accomplished.  What is their track record. What makes them special. What distinguishes them. And ask as many people as you can  and then you go back and write that resume as a fresh­ man plugging in all those things that you would have accomplished by the time you are a senior. Maybe you should be an intern for an advertising agency. Maybe you should take some extra classes at Texas Tech University. One of the best advertising schools in the Unites States. Find a mentor that will look out for you. And I’ JI guarantee you that at the end of 4 years if you have filled out this list and if you have written your business plan or your resume beforehand, by the time that you get out and have done all those things, you’ II get a job. It’s just as simple as that. And I’ve had students say to me, “Well my goodness, that’s unethical, to write those things down”. Well, what I say is I’m not telling you to go out and sell yourself with a resume that isn’t honest. What I’m saying is outline your future. Put down the things you want to accomplish during your sophomore year, junior year, senior year. And folks, it’s not too late for you to do the same thing. Is there another position that you want. Do you want to coach at another school, for example. Do you want  to get into the business world? What does it take? What would make you a shining star? Fill out your resume and then start to complete some of those things. And honest to goodness, it works and it works very well.

 

There are 13 parts to a business plan. I have a handout up here and please come up and take one of the handouts after the session is over and we’ll conclude at about 11 o’clock. And that gives you the 13 points of the business plan. Very basic. All 13 points need to be in your business plan. Your game plan. If all 13 are not  in, you will not have a successful game plan. The pieces that  are  missing  will  make  you  less  successful.  For example, did any of you used to put models together when you were kids? That was always so tough for me, you have to be a pretty patient person. A very precise person to put models together. And I remember about three years ago, no actually it was about 5 years ago, that Kayle and Brock, my sons, asked me to go to the Hobby Lobby with them to buy a model airplane kit so that they could put it together. So we got one for each  of them. One for Kayle and one for Brock. They came back and started working on those models that very evening and after about 30 minutes Brock was done and it took Kayle about 3 hours to put his together. Brock came up to me after 30 minutes and said,’I’m done”. And I said, I don’t know much about models but how can you be done in 30 minutes. He said, “I’m done Dad, but why do they give you all these extra parts?” Well, they give you all those extra parts  because  you didn’t put all the parts together. And it’s the same thing with the business plan. You have to put all the parts together if you’re going to be successful as a businessman. Also, personnel is very, very important. And I tell my clients this and a Jot of my clients have businesses that are, and I represent almost as many women business owners as men business owners. You’ve got to have people that are going to help you do the job. They may be volunteers, they may be friends, they may be employees, and they may be advisors. But you’ve got to have them if you’re going to be successful. All too often, and I know all of you are very self-confident, and in my opinion you have to be to be a coach and to be a successful coach. That’s part of success, is being self-confident. But you may get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and say, holy cow I’m looking good today. I feel fine today. I’m going to get out and whip the world. And that’s fine and you may be able to do it as a coach but as a businessman we all need help. You cannot possibly have all the skills that is takes to be a successful businessman. In Topeka, for example, or in Wichita, excuse me, for example, Frank and Dan Kearney started Pizza Hut about 30 years ago. Small pizza shack on  the corner near Wichita State University. And finally when they got so strong and they were thinking about franchising, they hired somebody that was an expert in franchising. They hired somebody that was an expert in marketing. Somebody that was an expert in finance. They hired an attorney full-time because they don’t have all those skills. You guys can’t possibly have all those skills.  You ladies can’t possibly have learned all there is to know about business at this age and still devoted enough time to coaching. It just isn’t possible. So what do you do. What can you possibly do.  You read a little bit.  You educate yourself. You enlist help. You get people on your committees and on your Boards of Directors that are fundraisers that are financial people that are CPA’s that are marketing people. Involve them in your organization and your chances for success will skyrocket.

 

Then the next one. I’m a horrible speller.  I don’t think that I spelled that correct. Is that how you spell niche? Number 2? No that’s the psychiatrist. I had just come back from my psychiatrist and I just, Freudian slip I guess, and I put that up. But number 2 is actually niche, niche. What you have to do, a second of the 10 points we’ll talk about this morning is find your niche. Find your niche. And you do that by determining what the needs are of the people that you deal with. That’s your target mark, find out what their needs are. You have to analyze your competition just like you would have to analyze your opponents that  you  swim  against. And I’ve got a list of 10 or 11 items on breaking down. the competition. It’s on the flip side on one of the sheets on the handout. So please get that. It’s great and it works. You can find a lot of things about your competition. So you have to analyze your competition and then you have to do an accurate job of analyzing your own strengths and weaknesses. I mean both business wise and person­ ally. Analyze those  strengths  and  weaknesses. Let’s take a quick example. There’s a sporting goods store, Rob, maybe you know the name, and I don’t know the name that’s coming into Wichita. It’s like Goliath Sporting Goods, on 21st Street. And it is huge. It’s like the Superdome. It’s going to be filled with brand name sporting goods at discount prices. What does that do to the smaller Mom and Pop sporting  goods store? There out of business. Because sporting goods is, and I represent 2 sporting goods stores, it is most, the most price sensitive business I am involved in. It’s  just  really  tough. People aren’t loyal to sporting goods stores. It’s just really  price sensitive.  OK.   Well, let’s take  it one step further. Incidentally, there are ways not to go out of business. You create a differential advantage. You take advantage of your smallness, Let’s take it one step further to illustrate that. Walgreen Express. Who knows what Walgreens Express is? It’s a drugstore. Discounted prices. Volume discounts. And they come into a community with 5 or 6 stores and they can get volume discounts. OK. We represent 2 pharmacies in Wichita as well. Their smaller shops. One of them  has 2 outlets. One of them has 5 outlets. Walgreen Express does, sells what? Price. OK. What differential advantage does the Mom and Pop pharmacy have. They have great service. Your name is? Dotson? You come in and I say “Dotson, how’s your wife doing, you know I notice that you want to pick up this prescription but you might also want to try this and here’s an over the-counter thing that might work also…. They develop a personal relationship with  their  customers.    That’s  what  you  have  to   do. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit. What are some of the things that the pharmacy can do to create a differential advantage? What else can they do? They could specialize possibly in a few things. They can deliver which Walgreen Express did not deliver. OK, Let’s take  it one step further. Let’s talk about your  swim  club. What differential advantage can you talk about  when you try to sell people on your swim club.  The location  is great. Short driving distance, easy access, easy to get to. What else can you sell  them? Super  coaching,  I think that’s the most important thing. You want  your child to be competitive. You want your daughter to develop self-esteem. You want your child to potentially be a high school athlete, to potentially be a college athlete, to potentially get a scholarship. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to talk about those things. We’re success orientated here. We’ll develop those traits in your child. We’ll help you develop those traits in your child. What else can you sell as a swim club. Fitness. Fit for life, your child will develop a life style that will make them healthier, more successful in life. There are  tons  of things that you can sell in creating a differential advantage. And trying to carve out a niche for yourself. Now just very quickly we talked briefly about competition. Who’s your competition? Other sports. Now see foot­  ball is just going nuts over this. There are football coaches in Wichita that are just going crazy over soccer. Soccer now is a 9 or IO month a year sport. The quick defensive backs in football are playing soccer  now.  They don’t want to get banged around. They’d  rather play soccer. Other sports would be one. What’s another competitor of yours. Other youth activities. Piano lessons. I coach basketball, I coach baseball. Sorry, my son can’t come to practice tonight, he has basketball. That’s fine. My son is in a play. That’s fine. I under­ stand that. But that’s tough and at one point the child makes the choice. What are other competitors? School work academics. It’s a  tough  one  to fight. Gotta  be there but it just is a matter of budgeting time in my opinion. And it’s been my experience that the better athletes are the better students, as a general rule. The athletic population gets a higher grade point average as a general rule than the non-athletic population. What else? Other teams. Church involvement. Money. I can’t  do  it because_ of the money. I don’t know enough about the sport. You know one of the things that is a competitor that is really bothering me lately  and  I’ve got friends that have kids that are pretty competitive athletes as sophomores and juniors in high school in a number of different sports and the hormones kick in and the competitors are the mall, and the car, and the girlfriends that aren’t interested in sports, and the boyfriends  that want  to hang out, and Bevis and Butthead because we’d like   to watch TV instead  of  working out.   And if it  doesn’t happen with you yet, it’s going to. And  to me, that’s  one of the biggest concerns, one of the biggest competitors. Number two though, it find that niche. Kaley, would you do me a favor pal and go ahead and put up the next overlay. Thank you sir. Number three is focus. You know what we can do is spread ourselves so thin trying to do too many things. It’s been my experience that most coaches, my father-in-law was one, I have  very good friends that are coaches, I do some, not on the same level as you do. We’re type A’s. We do every­ thing. We don’t delegate as well as possibly we should. As we take on more and more responsibility, we do things maybe that eliminate some of the focus we need to have to be successful. You’ve  got  to have  focus. You talk to your athletes about it you have to have focus to be successful. I’ll give you an example. Does any­ body have kids that play baseball? Tim, I know you do. They ever play coach pitch? Your kids ever play coach pitch. Where their own coach pitches to them. It’s a fun game. Kids aren’t too skilled at that point. They are 7 years old. I saw a game 2 summers ago, not this summer but the summer before. There is a shot that is hit to the outfield. There is a man on second base, the score is tied, and it’s the bottom of the 5th inning. My friend’s team  is in the field. The outfielder goes back to play the ball. Now usually he will miss the ball and it rolls to the fence. He plays it on one hop. This 7 year old kid plays this ball on one hop and this kid is running from second. This is the winning run, our opponents, and he’s  not even on third yet. The kid catches it on one hop and uncorks a throw to the plate like you wouldn’t believe. I mean it’s right out of ESPN highlights. It takes one bounce and those little league fields, if they are the same where you play as they are where our kids play so they can play games even if it’s a torrential downpour are so hard that the ball hits the infield and one hops over the catcher’s head. But this kid is just rounding third. The backstop is not too far from the plate. The catcher turns to run back and get the ball, he’s going to have plenty of time to tag this kid out at the plate and send this game into extra innings. As he turns to go back, this 7 year old catcher, he notices something. Now see these umpires can move these games along at a pace of one per hour. So they’ll umpire 4 games in an evening. The umpire then doesn’t have an opportunity to take a break so they’ll bring some treats with them and this umpire had brought a huge bag of peanuts M & M’s and he was eating them between innings and then he’d roll it back  up and he’d put it back up against the backstop. The catcher turns to get the ball and Oh, out of the corner of his eye he sees the bag of peanut M & M’s. It’s funny, he stops dead in his tracks. And the parents are now starting to become aware of what’s going on. The kid stops dead  in  his  tracks.   The  baseball  is  over  to his right, the M & M’s are over to his left. The parents are screaming get the ball, get the ball. The kid finally gathers his senses and moves to get the ball, stops again, looks at the M & M’s, and runs over,  true story, gathers  up the peanut M & M’s and starts to eat them as the winning run scores.  Parents  are beside  themselves.  One of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen in sports. But we do the same thing with our businesses and what you do with your clubs. We lose focus. We’ve got too many things to do. If you put 2 bales of hay in a corral with a donkey, he’ll starve  to  death.  Which  one  do  I  cat. Which one should I go to. You’ve got so many  things to  do that unless you have held and unless you have focus, you’re out of business. So you’ve got to narrow down your focus as to what you do  best and  what your club  does best. I’ II give you another quick example. I represent a guy that, anybody a Harley Davidson driver here. Well,  they’re  really  making  a comeback  and  I  represent a guy that’s on the outskirts of Wichita, that sells Harley apparel and I’m not talking about knives and guns on the streets, I’m talking  about  vests  and  leather  jackets  and it’s pretty good looking stuff. And t-shirts and boots and he’s making a ton of money and he’s moving his business to Wichita, Kansas.  Don’t tell anybody  yet because   it hasn’t been finalized. But he’s moving his business to Wichita, Kansas and we’re trying to team up with a very wealthy individual and one of the things that  my  guy wants to do is get a huge location and then open up a 50’s restaurant over the clothing store and the  apparel store. Well, you know what is going to happen  with this guy who has never run a restaurant in his  life,  if  he  opens a restaurant, he’s out of business and he’s out of business within 6 months because he doesn’t have focus. You’ve got to focus in on what you do best and get help with the rest of it,  but  focus.  There’s  another  quick story. One of the guys I represent is a plumber. That’s a tough business, a hard business. He works  60  hours a week and I mean he works 60 hours a week. He talks to  me about once every three months and he says  when should I hire another person and we analyze it and deter­ mine and we get in part time workers because it isn’t advantageous, it isn’t efficient enough to hire in a full time worker and we go over that every three months or so and he’s not around his family, he’s not around his spouse, she has to work and  he came  into  me  about  a year ago and he said you know what we’re going to go ahead and buy a little piece of property in Rose Hill and we’re going to put in a hardware store. And I said Wow, I agree Rose Hill needs a hardware store but why would you give up the plumbing practice. I mean you’re finally doing pretty well at it.  And  guess  what  his  answer was. Well, that’s what I  was expecting.  Spend more time at home but guess what his answer was. Who’s giving  up the plumbing  practice.   I’m  doing both.

 

And he said What do you think of it. And I’m really candid with my clients after practicing law for 18 years and I said you’re out of business in probably less than 7 months if you do that. You’re working 60 hours a week now, you’re plumbing business needs you personally there. You do one or the other. You open up that hard­ ware store, that’s fine, don’t do both. And thank good­ ness he did not do both.  You’ve got to have focus.

 

Number 4, what’s my batting average? You folks deal with statistics all the time, don’t you? I mean don’t you deal with times on your swimmers and don’t your swimmers know what times and you know you’ve got statistics on how you perform in certain meets I assume, is that correct also. You have your statistics. I coach base­ ball. We have our statistics also.  Just  tell  me  and  I don’t know enough about swimming to know what times are good times. I’m a very good friend of some of the people in Rob’s Club. Rob’s a friend of mine but I don’t know enough about it to say what good times are. However, I do know enough about basketball and base­ ball to say what good percentages are, good ratios are. Who can tell me what is a good batting average for base­ ball? 300 and now 300 you’re  in  the  hall of  fame.  I mean 260 and you’re making a million  dollars  a year. But 300 is a magical plateau. How about basketball. If your shooting from the field what’s a good field goal percentage? What we like to say is if you can get up to 50 percent you’re a pretty darn good basketball player  and how about from the free throw line. What’s a pretty good percentage from the free throw line? 80 is a very good percentage, or 75 and they say if you do  other things well then that’s college material. Now you’ve got  to do a lot of other things well but they want their college players to shoot 75 percent.   You know what  good times are, you’ve got your standards, you’ve got your numbers, and you’ve got your batting averages. Well, how about your business. How about the way you run  the club as a business. What are good percentages, what are good ratios? How do you tell.  What do you  have to  have to tell that. You’ve got to have the bottom line and there are three documents that can get you to your bot­ tom line as easily and as clearly as possible.  A profit  and loss statement is one and I like to cut them down, people call them P & L’s and  that’s exactly  what  they are, financial statements. I divide those two into balance sheets. But balance sheets and income statements, got to have them and your cash flow statements. You’ve got to know how much cash you have on hand to pay the bill. Balance sheets and income statements  and  cash flow statements. There was a company out of Wichita called Carmel Corn. People stood in line as far as from me to the wall to buy this Carmel corn in the largest shopping center in Wichita, Kansas.  The books were done by the owner’s brother-in-law. He was in Gary, Indiana. Now what often times happens when relatives  do work they don’t get to it as quickly  as they  would their normal clients because they’re not getting paid. Even though people daily, were in lines this long, he went out of business and declared bankruptcy.  He  did  that because he was charging too little for his product. What he did was determine the cost of the ingredients of the popcorn and the box and marked it up. Took  into  account nothing for insurance, nothing for rent, nothing for the payment of the employees. Just the cost of the ingredients. And it was a healthy mark-up and  he thought with this kind of a mark-up I’ve got to be successful. He was out of business in a year and a half. Somebody bought the business out of bankruptcy. The first thing they did was increase the price by about 40 percent and what happened to those lines when he increased the price 40 percent. They didn’t  go down at all because the product was great. Product was good. The guy needed to know what his batting average was as he went along, he needed to know his numbers,  and he didn’t know his numbers.  How  often  should  you have your income statements and balance sheets done? On a monthly basis and it used to be quarterly and then annually after you were in business for a while and now we talk about having them done on  a  monthly  basis. Who should do those financials for you? An outsider. It will cost you seventy-five or a hundred dollars a month and I know that’s though and I know it’s tight but why    do you want to have an outsider do it rather than doing it for yourself. There are a couple of good reasons. He’s objective. You’re going to skew to figures in your favor. You may not even intentionally do it. But a third party will be totally objective with the numbers that they put down. Who does their own taxes? Isn’t it hell  week  when you do your own taxes. You stay up late.  I don’t  do them anymore because my wife and I used to get into so many arguments about the taxes. Most of us aren’t accounts. Most of us aren’t CPA’s. You can be much more efficient if you spend your time with  the  club either coaching or developing the club business. I just don’t think it’s an efficient use of your time if you serve as it’s accountant as well.  The  financials  illustrate things. Does anybody watch the weather channel? It illustrates things to you. Like an EKG. I had a friend  what had an EKG for an insurance physical and the guy said we’ve got to put you in immediately you’ve got a blockage, you’ve got all kinds of problems. They did  open heart surgery within 2 days and they saved his life. It reveals things about you and your business.  That’s  why you have to have those financials done. My mother-in-law was a kindergarten teacher. Every second week of every semester the photographer would come in and take the picture of the class and about a week   after that the picture would be posted and the students could buy the picture. Photographer comes into Carol’s class, takes the picture, a week later which is now three weeks into the semester the picture is posted up and the kids come rushing up and look at it and they start saying to one another, Hey, we’ve got a black kid in the class. And they started to look around and they say that’s  right. We do have a black kid. in the class and they looked around and finally figured out this kid was the black kid. They had been together every day for three weeks and nobody noticed that anybody was any different until it appeared up on the picture. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if we were still that way and we wouldn’t notice that we were any different because we’re not. But the picture reveals it. That’s why you have to have those pictures for your business. The financial statements and the income statements.

 

Number 5, who knows what MMFI means? Who knows who Mary Kay is? May Kay Cosmetics. One of the greatest marketers in the entire world. Number 5, MMFI means Make me feel important. And Mary Kay says that in her business when she runs into anybody, she sees emblazoned on their forehead, tattooed on their forehead, MMFI because everybody is saying to you make me feel important. And I’m here to tell you if you want to be a successful business person, if you want to be a successful club manager, a successful coach, you have to make people feel important. What kind of peo­ ple am I talking about? Who do you have to make feel important? The customers, the people who will donate money to your organization. Who else? The employees have to be made to feel important. Don’t forget the athletes. I’m not saying make them feel that their important at all times because there are some time, like when I sat in on two sessions yesterday when you have to take them to task, I understand that, I agree with that. But you can do that in the proper way. You make them feel important. You treat them in an uncommonly courteous way and they will want to deal with you. They will want their child to be coached by you as long as you know your P’s and Q’s and I’m assuming all of you are good coaches. I’m   assuming you have taken care of the technical part yourself J C Penney was being interviewed in his home. He was in his nineties, he has since passed away. And there was a phone call and JC Penney picks it up and he lives in a small town and he say hello, yes, I don’t know if we have that, let me check. And then he picks up a second phone and he dials the number and he said “Do you have any of the off-white paint that we’ve been talking about in our advertisements? Good, how many gallons do we have left?  Great, how much is it going for now?    OK, good. Would you hold two gallons of that paint and somebody is going to be coming in to pick it up. He hangs up the phone and picks up the other phone and he says We’ve got two gallons for you right now. We’re saving it for you it has your name on it just come in any time today or tomorrow and it’s $10.95 a gallon. And the interviewer said, my god, what was that. Well, J C Penney listed his name in the phone book as J C Penney and a woman calls and says I want to know if you’ve got any white paint. And he says you know I bet this hap­ pens to me a hundred times a year and I Jove it. And he treats this woman who’s ordering two gallons of paint from one of his stores as if she is a queen. And that’s one of the reasons that J C Penney was so successful for all of those years.

 

One time, I had to catch a flight and it was a really cold snowy winter morning and I needed to get some cash and I waited too long to get the cash and my flight leaves at about 9:30 and at five till nine and I pull up and it is blizzard conditions outside and I’m knocking on the door and it’s a branch bank and I can see 3 employees inside with hot apple cider, coffee and their nice and warm and chatting back and forth and they see me out­ side and I look like Jack Nickelson in the Shining when he’s frozen and I’m saying, Please let me in and it is five till nine and the woman points up at the clock and she says we’re not open for five more minutes. Well, how do you treat people. And I’ve had students of mine say hey, I work in a bank, they can’t do business with you for five more minutes and I said I know that, just let me in the door. You can do that. And they can to that. You have to treat the customer in an uncommonly courteous way. And it was far from it.

 

One more quick example. Have you ever eaten at a place called Long John Silvers? There was one that came to Wichita and this was about 20 years ago and it was when I was working at the Chamber of Commerce before I went to law school and all of the members of the Chamber of Commerce who were invited for a free meal at Long John Silvers. Now, talk about being treated in an uncommonly courteous way. This was  it. More so than any other time in my life. They  were trying to get the people in and out as quickly as they possibly can because this is free lunch day for invited people. And they would seat you as quickly as they could as soon as the people in front of you were done at their table and then they’d get all the things on the table off but they were doing it so quickly that we were being seated when they were still wiping off the table. And you know at Long John Silver’s they’ve got these little crinkly things with the fish. These little fried crinkly things that are pretty good.  Not on the diet.  Is anybody giving a talk on nutrition here? So I’m seated and this 19 years old waitress is wiping off the table and she wipes all these crinkly things right into my lap. And she looks down and there they are all over  my lap and she reaches down and brushes them all off of my lap. I ate more fish in the next 30 days going back  to Long John Silver’s then I’ve eaten in my whole life. But what you have to do is treat the customer in an  uncommonly courteous way.

 

Number 6, you have to be creative. We’ve got limited budgets. We have to make the most of what we can do. Most of the businesses I represent are this way. We simply have to be creative. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Who likes to do laundry and garden work? I don’t. I would asphalt my yard if I could. I’d put in a huge basketball court. I don’t really care to play basket­ ball but then I don’t have to mow that section  of  the yard. But in any event, John Deere comes up about 10 years ago with a lawn mower that’s a riding lawn mower and it can turn on a dime and it can cut right around the tree. The reason I don’t like yard work is it’s too much work and it takes up the whole weekend. And  that’s finally a little bit of free time. Now I know most of you work on weekends because your meets are on weekends but if you don’t work on a Sunday, you want  that  Sunday to be free. Well what if John Deere called their riding lawn mower the weekend freedom machine. And all of a sudden that codgers up a real picture. It’s creative, it helps them promote their lawn mower and they’ve had a lot of great sales because of it. Talk about creativity is anybody familiar with the Beatles? I was talking with a 15, 16 years old girl the other night and I said oh that’s a Beatles song and she said that voice sounds familiar. And I said it’s Paul McCartney and she said “He played with another group besides Wings?” I said are you kidding it was the greatest group of maybe all time. They sold so many records. Anyway, remember the great marketing ploy that the Beatles had. It was creative. How about the album where you spun  it  around backwards and what did it say, Paul is dead. On the Abby Road album, as their walking Paul is out of step on the cover walking across the street, and Paul was barefoot and everybody else had shoes on and one of the songs talked about Paul’s disease. People thought that there were clues in the album relative to  Paul  being dead. And guess what happened to sales of that album? The songs were Ok, the songs were pretty good. Bestselling album that they’d every had up to that time because we wanted to solve the clues, we wanted to be the detective. It was simply, purely a marketing ploy. They were just very creative.

 

Number 7,   you  have  to be resourceful.   You  have  to create something where  there is nothing.  You have to be resourceful. Like a magician,  like  David Copperfield. I’ll give you a couple of examples of resourcefulness. Ford, back in 1902 or 1903 was start­ ing his automobile manufacturing company.  Henry Ford was ingenious. And if you would  make engine parts and you would make wheels and you would make steering wheels and you would make lights, I would require that you would ship those component parts to me in crates that had very rigid specifications. Now what difference would it make that the crate was a certain size and a certain thickness of wood. What could that possibly have any bearing on. Anybody ever  go  to  Sea World and look at the penguins? I was never interested in penguins until I went to Sea World. their risk analysis is the greatest in my opinion of any animal in the wild. What they do is they will be out on the ledge, huddled around and the ledge is back out a ways and back to the ocean and then they decide in mass that they want to go for a swim and have some fun. But, what’s  the problem? Is there a killer whale there? We don’t know. Seals eat them, because there are large seals. So they start to edge over and they start to push and they edge over and the one that’s closest to the edge falls in and it’s funny. Once one  falls in  they just come over  and look.  Only one goes in and you read about this and  I said, that can’t be true, and it’s true. Talk about great risk analysis.  Only one guy pays the price.

 

Number 9, start your engines. You ladies and you gentlemen I know already are doing this but what you have to do is translate this to the business part of what you do. You have to have enthusiasm. Got to have some vigor. It’s contagious. Your athletes will perform better if you have that. Your parents will be on board, the adhesion will be stronger. They will be more tied to you. Your investors will like dealing with you because of that zest, because of that enthusiasm that you have. Who’s ever read Winnie the Pooh? There’s  a character  in Winnie the Pooh that’s a real downer. Eeyore, oh, what a day, we’re supposed to go on a picnic and it will probably rain. It seeps off the pages and if it doesn’t rain the food will probably be no good. And if the foods any good the ants will probably pester us to death. And that’s Eeyore. And I’m telling  you, you can’t  be that way.  You can’t be that way for one minute. And another thing, another piece of advice, it’s tough if your around  people  that way too. They just pull you down so be very careful with your associations because it’s tough to be  with them. This glass, the optimist’s creed. What do I have here? It’s half full, not half empty. It’s just a way of looking at things, We go on vacation. We’ve got 2 days left and do we say, Oh my god, 2 days and  then  I’m back at work and then it’s another 50 weeks before I get a vacation. Or do you say, two days and these are going to be the most enjoyable 2 days of my life, let’s get out and have some fun, what should we do. And it’s a way of looking at things, it’s a way of approaching things. Anybody have a pet? They all have their personalities and they’re so funny. A guy showed us the capitol building yesterday, he had worked in the House of Appropriations Committee. I had just met him and his cat was sick and the guy was just beside himself. He was despondent over this cat. We get attached to these animals. But dogs, you can tell what their  thinking. You see the expression on their face. They smile, they almost laugh. They get sad at things, they get disappointed that things aren’t going well. We have a dog, named Mitzi, we have another dog, my sons named our second dog who looked like to first one, they named him when they were 6 years old. Guess what they named her. Mitzi two. Anyway, Mitzi, the doorbell rings and Mitzi immediately is up. The ears are up and that tail is going a hundred miles an hour. And it’s just a bee line to the door. And she’s just so excited and she’s jumping up on the door and she’s yapping and the door comes open and it’s for me or for Tony or whatever. Every time the doorbell rang for 16 years, it was the same. The smile, the tail, every time she’s that way for 16 years and you know what it was never for her. Not once. But she still maintained that zest. She still maintained that enthusiasm and that’s what we have to do as coaches and people that run businesses.

 

And finally, number IO, income.  Got to be like a fighter. You get knocked down,  you  get  back  up.  How  many times have you told your athletes that? Got to be like a fighter with your business. Get knocked  down again, get back up again. You’ve got to hang in, you’ve got to be tough. In your business, because you’ll be tempted to bail out just because some of the business things that go on. There was a woman that lived in Minnesota, which was my home, which was where I was born and raised, and this was many years ago, and she weighed I 55 pounds and she had 2 kids and she was married and she said to her friends, You know some­ thing, I want to be a model.  And  what did  her friends say to her? You can’t do it, don’t even think about that. Don’t waste your time, you’re a little too heavy to be a model, you have 2  kids,  your  here  in  Minnesota. Models don’t come out of Minnesota, your  husbands  here, his job is here, and you can’t do it.  Her  relationship with her husband was not on good grounds anyway and that’s why she was  thinking of  this career.  She  moves out to LA. She sheds a few  pounds  and  she  gets  an agent and then they start taking some pictures of her and she was in an ad finally.  Oh, and she felt ecstatic.  She felt great about  herself.   She  worked  a little bit   harder and she lost some weight and she had a very pretty face and she was raising her kids and her agent worked very hard for her and she was a sincere person and she was in  a couple of more ads. And she worked even a little bit harder and her agent transferred her to another agent and he had better contacts and she was on the cover of a magazine. How great, she’s finally on the cover of a magazine after only a couple of years of working all the time at this and after having people tell her there’s  no  way and after having people in LA say, there’s no way. And then she was on a couple of more magazines and then at one time she was on the cover of every magazine at one point or another in the entire world. You know who I’m talking about? Cheryl  Tiegs.  I don’t  know  if any of you have seen pictures of her but a very beautiful woman and the last time I looked she was still looking pretty attractive to me but she didn’t stay down, she got back up.  She persevered.  She was able to hang tough.

 

There was a guy who fashioned himself as a cartoonist. That’s what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I drew a cartoon strip for my parents and it was horrible. They humored me and never told me how bad it was and as I look back on some of the things they saved, I’m embarrassed by how bad it was. But I wanted to be a cartoonist. There was a guy in Kansas City and that’s  where I went to high school, my parent’s  had  moved  that,  but this was long before I went to high school. But he too, thought he was a cartoonist  and  he drew a cartoon  and he took it to the editor of the Kansas City newspaper and he said I think this is a pretty good cartoon, what do you think. And the editor of  the paper said,  we don’t  think it’s a very good cartoon, i.e., don’t call us, we’ll call you. But there wasn’t any call  that came.  So  he goes back and he sketches some more and he goes into a little business in the meantime and he brings the next cartoon back and he says, what do you  think of this one?  And that time he didn’t even get in to see the editor.  They don’t want to see him, they know the  quality  of  his  work. Well, this guy in the meantime was submitting a lot of cartoons to the editor of the Kansas City newspaper. He can’t buy his way in, he can’t see him. The editor would make snide comments about him. So this guy goes into business to try to make some money in the meantime and he fails and he tries and he fails and actually 7 of his businesses failed as he was trying to develop this cartooning career. Finally, one day he gets a call from the editor of the Kansas .City newspaper, who says, well, this one’s  not too bad.  I think I might want to talk  to you about it. As a matter  of fact,  we might  want  to buy this cartoon strip. Come down  this afternoon, let’s talk about it and we’re ready to sign you up to a retainer. And the guy couldn’t come down until the next day because he was so poor at that time he didn’t even have a pair of shoes he could wear there. So he had to go out and borrow some money to go out and buy a pair of shoes so he wouldn’t embarrass himself. The guy buys the strip. Who am I talking about? Walt Disney. My god, that guy can got knocked down and got back that many times and look what happened to him. We can do that with our swimming clubs, we can do that with our business.

 

The final example, there was a guy that was interested in politics and what he did was run for the state legislature and he lost. And what happens with most of us, when  we lose at a political campaign? That’s it. It was fun. I gave it my best, but it’s over. So he was done for a while and went into business. He thought he was through with politics and his business failed and  he spent 17 years paying off his debts. But that’s ok, because he was in love with a beautiful woman and he could withstand any kind of a problem as long as he was with her. However, she died and he was so despondent that he contemplated suicide. People talked him into getting back into politics and eventually he had enough support that he ran for congress and he won by the narrowest of margins. An eyelash, a sliver, he wins. He’s ecstatic. He serves 2 years, he runs for re-election and then what happens to him. He’s soundly defeated. He’s embarrassed, he’s humiliated. He tries to get a job now with the US government. He can’t, they won’t hire him. He tries to get a job in private industry back home, he can’t, and they won’t hire him. They’re afraid he’ll get back into politics. He does get back into politics. He runs for the vice-presidency of the United States, he loses. He then runs for the US Senate, he loses again. Who are we talking about? Abraham Lincoln. How many times can we get slapped around. How many times can we get knocked down and get back up again? One more time. And that’s what you should say to yourself. I can do it one more time. And then when you get knocked down the next time, I can do it one more time. You can always do it one more time. That concludes my little presentation on IO important points of the successful entrepreneur. You can do it. You translate your coach­ ing skills to your entrepreneurial skills. You folks are all very good coaches, excellent coaches. And what  you have to do is make sure that the business part  of  it doesn’t throw you into failure. And you do this by adhering to these principals.

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news