Finding Your Market

Wouldn’t life be grand if you only ever gave your sales presentation to a pre-enthused audience?

By pre-enthused I mean people for whom your product is a perfect fit…those folks who have been searching for the answer you provide.

Yep, that would be grand.

Philosophies abound. Sales lore mostly revolves around the idea that finding the right people – high probability prospects –  is a simple numbers game. If you present to enough people, some will come with you.

That looks increasingly like dead money to me. Meeting the people who are looking for me sounds way more efficient for everyone.

I have an answer. Who is asking the question?

Even the Smallest Thing

Sometime in the last twenty-four hours I heard or read or maybe even half-remembered the following concept:

When we stretch ourselves mentally, physically or spiritually, you cannot undo it. We’re forever stretched.

That’s my summary, but the idea is clear.

It reminds me of an older – again, stolen – thought about achievement. When Roger Bannister first ran a mile in fewer than four minutes, it sparked a rush of others doing the same. He gave athletes permission to break a previously unsurpassed barrier.

We all need to give ourselves permission to break barriers, especially the smallest ones closest to hand. They are the most important.

Unspoken Desperation

Lido Key, Monday MLK Day.
Lido Key, Monday MLK Day.

 

There’s more not-so-good stuff in the air. In 2014 America, nearly half of all families live paycheck to paycheck. That effectively means that half of the families in this country have no savings, no margin for error in their finances, and therefore in their lives.

It’s shocking that this can be the case. The last fifty years of the twentieth century were epic in the creation of wealth. Jobs were plentiful. Entrepreneurship thrived. Liberty reigned. Sure, there were not-so-good periods. The aftermath of the Vietnam War and the concurrent OPEC energy squeeze put a big dent in the seventies. But once Mr Volcker at the Fed crushed inflation, and Mr Reagan in the White House sparked America’s innate optimism, a twenty year expansion was born.

It’s not there any more. A lot has changed. For a start, Americans now must compete worldwide for all forms of capital: intellectual, human and monetary. Another difference between now and say 1980 is that the demographics are different. Japan is losing people, the first industrialized nation to do so. All western nations will follow this path. China has adopted a weird communist-first-centrally-planned-capitalistic economic model that looked to threaten the regular kind of capitalism, but now perhaps not so much.

The theme I’m hinting at here is change. I can look back longingly at the boom times of decades past, but it’s a waste of time. They’re not returning, at least not in the form I knew them.

In my opinion, Americans have failed to adapt to the new world. The education system is not producing the kind of skilled folks our economy needs. Our (baby-boom generated) ideas of being able to do whatever we want – and that it will all be alright in the end – are running headlong into a less sanguine reality. Think back to the half of all American families with less than a thousand bucks in the bank. Most of all we have failed to face up to it. And we cannot afford huge entitlement programs…eventually, that too must end.

Depressing? Yeah, kinda. But we’re supremely adaptable creatures. The way out of this mess is to start small. Let’s fix our own lives first, that’s always the beginning. Every journey, one step and all that. There is a great future out there, waiting. But we must choose it, and we must do the work. No more tune in, turn on an drop out I’m afraid. It’s over.

Peace out.

Takeoff

 

Ready to begin.
Ready to begin.

 

Takeoff in an airplane is the most stressful time for both machine and pilot, especially when doing so at maximum weight. An empty machine – one with a small amount of fuel and just the pilot aboard – has a greater margin of performance than a fully loaded one.

The best way to think about this is as a performance envelope (some test pilot talk there.) All the stuff that goes into making the plane work can be thought of as defining the edges of the envelope. There are design limitations, regulatory limitations, material limitations, restrictions on engine size and power, environmental limits and not least, pilot limitations. When you’re operating away from the edge of the envelope, there are margins between you and the tested maximum performance. As you add weight, speed, temperature or high trees at the end of the take-off area, you move closer to the edge.

This envelope is the reason it takes time and experience to learn how to fly safely. It’s complicated. Many inputs are outside of the operator’s control, and yet they must be understood in at least a rudimentary fashion. Those inputs that are within the operator’s control are the ones – rightly – on which flight training focuses. How many passengers you take, how much fuel you load, how long the runway you use – these are all variables that the pilot must decide upon. Any one or all of these factors can kill you.

If you have a strong sense of self-preservation, take-off is the time to think about most carefully. Keep your machine as light as possible. Always use the runway or direction facing most into the wind. Choose the longest obstruction-free runway. Maximise the performance of your airplane by climbing quickly to a safe altitude. All of these factors will keep you away from the edge of the envelope, giving you more time, space and thinking ability to get it right if things go wrong.

Starting the right way takes forethought and preparation. Do it right, and the rest of the flight will follow.