62: Calling in Air Support
This week, both Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have criticized Lebron James for passing on an extended attempt to turn today’s Cleveland Cavaliers into the 90’s Chicago Bulls—to will his way to championships. Said Jordan (who actually had a Miami Heat-like trifecta with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman), “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.'”
Jordan, like many entrepreneurs, wanted to forge a singular legacy—a custom, one-off version of the American dream. I’ve often heard successful business owners dubbed “self-made millionaires.” With personal fame leading to personal fortunes (or just personal spot lights) in the era of reality TV, the goal of C-listers seems to be getting their name shortened to handles like Tyra and the Donald, Snooki and Rush—Tiger. The basic idea of this path to success more or less comes down to “Get yours, while the gettin’s good.”
When we do hear about team work, it’s usually from some author or consultant, selling the potential synergy in the talent pools of our respective companies. Collaboration tends to be framed in terms of employee/employee or employee/management relationships. This packaging wraps around win-win situations with the premise of, “Get yours by everybody getting ahead.”
But last week, at the National Auctioneer Association‘s annual International Conference & Show, I was reminded of a truth that I regularly need to remind myself: “Help your prospect get theirs. Yours will be in the mail.”
As I walked the trade show floor I was struck by the pervasiveness of the franchise/affiliate/alliance models that are available and growing within the auction marketing industry. My past and present client lists include members of some of these groups, and I’ve seen enough of each to like and dislike aspects of each network. So, I’m not advocating joining any particular network or even recommending joining any of them. But I like to see auction marketers calling in air support.
I’ve been a part of projects where firms tried to sell something outside of their geographic or asset markets—and didn’t get those assets sold. We’ve collectively leveraged our experience base without much fruit. Rather than refer the work to a specialist in that segment, I’ve seen auctioneers bite off food they’ve never chewed. I don’t know if they believe that the auction podium is the great equalizer or that they are good with learning curves. Maybe extenuating circumstances got in the way. I don’t know.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the appeal. There’s a commission check and conquered challenge on the other end of the speculative work. Those results are part and parcel the lure of the capitalism I love so much.
In my first few years in business I built a series of flameouts that proceeded trying to be all things to all clients. Now, I’m more inclined to “take my talents to South Beach,” as Lebron would say. Now that it’s not about me proving I can do it by myself, I regularly refer work to my competition, to related vendors, and even to the cloud. I don’t always get those prospects on my accounts receivable list down the road; but I retain enough clients, who now know I have their best interests in mind—even when those interests might come at the expense of mine.
How? By finding them a good fit, even when it’s not biplane productions.
Warning: you might have to share your commission, if you get a commission at all. But taking on an unfamiliar project without partnership with a seasoned expert is gambling with your income, anyway. So, if you’re selling a golf course—and you’ve never marketed to that buyer base—contact a firm that specializes in golf course marketing. If you’ve got a group of expensive colonial books mixed in with a local estate, research firms who deal almost-exclusively in antique books. If you sell factory equipment, and you get a lead on a liquidation of yellow iron and rolling stock, call for reinforcements.
Whether or not you work with UniTranz MarKingWilliams (or smaller/private group), you can help a rising tide lift all boats. Hopefully, you’re networking at national and/or state association environments and attending continuing education. Hopefully, you’re analyzing your strengths and weaknesses often and thoroughly enough to know what kind of work belongs inside your circle or out of it. Hopefully, you have the courage to pass on the shaky deal in the hand for the efficient jobs in the bush.
Sellers will discover whether or not you’re uniquely competent to help them—optimally, long before auction day. An honest referral or strategic partnership may spare you some egg on the face, some unpaid/underpaid work, and some time wasted that could have been spent on what basketball analysts call “a high percentage shot.”
How many times have you heard other Americans declare faith “a private matter”? If you’re like me, part of your spiritual journey came with a lot of internal determination and a desire to right your own ship after (many) tacks off course, praying prayers like “I’m going to try harder next time, God.” In our bootstraps culture, we think 15 more minutes of daily Bible reading might just do the trick. This thinking finds reinforcement from teachers and preachers emphasizing the act of getting alone and experiencing God by yourself.
And while a part of that solitude has biblical basis, the truth is that we were built for community—authentic, candid community. Most of the verbs in the epistles are plural in the original language. Even the idea of going to our closets to pray is married to the fact that the word closet for centuries was the term for the sequestered room for royal advisers—a circle of true friends.
God exists in unified, transparent community (even Jesus told his Father he wished there were another way to save the world). And heaven intends for its kingdom to operate in like fashion.
It’s not easy to be real about our junk, to let people into our struggles. When we admit we don’t have it all together on the inside, there will be those who judge us from the outside. But if you want to accelerate your spiritual journey, walk or run with someone else—preferably a group of someone elses. You will find healing faster, and you will see greenhouse-forced growth.
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