For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I write about my Grandpa Joe from time to time. What stands out about Grandpa Joe is that he was one of the happiest people I have ever met. He had a phenomenal sense of humor and could work a room of adults and/or children equally well. One of the reasons he was happy is that he had a great passion – fishing. He lived in Minnesota (known as “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”) and his world revolved around fishing. As a young lad, I learned that everything you need to know about the world, you could learn from fishing.
One of the lessons he taught me was “timing”. Fishing is all about timing. You need to be at the lake, river or stream when the fish are hungry. This is a lesson that most of us forget in business. We launch products or introduce marketing campaigns and spend little, or no time strategizing whether the “fish are hungry”. Never underestimate your target audience.
I, like most young boys, didn’t understand patience until I spent time with my grandfather. Fishing is all about patience. You can sit for hours without a nibble. However, you are learning the whole time. You learn from your mistakes. You try different spots. You try different bait. You try different tackle. In the end, you may hit big or you may walk away. Yet, throughout the day, you learned a tremendous amount. Don’t waste your efforts. Learn something from every endeavor.
On the other hand, you also need to know when to walk away. Only a fool will continue to fish in a spot that has no fish. My grandpa, being an accomplished practical joker, would send people to fish a pond that had no fish in it. They would come back complaining that they didn’t get a single bite. The next day Joe would come home with a string of fish and claim he caught them from that pond, and his buddy would be back the following day – wasting his time again. All the while, Grandpa Joe knew that the pond was empty. He loved having a “victim” to play a joke on.
We all need to know when to walk away from a deal. Customers, venture capitalists, vendors, partners and even employees will do the same thing. They can string you on and become a resource drain. You never hear “no”. You simply get a stall-tactic, such as a request for more information. I don’t believe they are as malicious as my grandfather. However, I think of him often in these situations and realize that he was right. You need to know when to walk away.
Finally, you need to realize that the “fish are biting right now” – as you read this. I would always ask my grandfather, “when is the best time to fish”, expecting him to give me a sophisticated and complicated answer. He would always say, “right now!” There is never a better time to get started than right now. Opportunities surround us, yet we become experts at finding reasons not to proceed. Your customers have needs and are talking to your competitors right now. The fish are biting. Others are catching the fish. Shouldn’t you grab your pole and get your fair share?
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