Peak Your Profits: Aye aye skipper!
Valuable lessons for business and life, can come from many places. Including the office or even the open seas.
And Bob Roitblat knows what it’s like to be in-charge, as a company leader or the skipper of a boat in a yacht race. Both require extreme focus, a strong desire to win and the willingness to prepare for the unexpected or even uncontrollable.
As a speaker, author and self-proclaimed, “purveyor of fine ideas and experience,” Roitblat is ready to help you successfully reach your goals, even when confronted by relentless obstacles or “enemies.”
How’d you get involved with yacht racing?
Bob Roitblat: It began during a meeting with an attorney whose office was decorated with a sailing motif. When I asked if he sailed, he said, “No. I race!” Since I have a need for speed, which got my attention. The conversation quickly turned to racing and he invited me to a day of race practice. At the end, the team captain handed me their schedule and said, “Don’t be late.” I showed up and kept coming back.
JB: How is sailing a metaphor for business?
BR: Both share common, fundamental elements: a team of people using speed, tactics, strategy, timing and multiple resources to reach a destination and achieve a goal while facing a fleet of opponents.
The environment each operates in, is constantly changing — the physical environment of wind, waves and weather, the competitive environment, and the economic, regulatory and technological environments.
Both the business-executive and boat-skipper must exercise choice and control over some elements and adjust to those over which they have no control. Effective executives, like effective skippers, anticipate when conditions are about to change. The leader best able to anticipate changing conditions and effectively adjust—is the one who comes out ahead.
JB: What’s the biggest challenge of sailing?
BR: The same as operating a business: the first is finding good people with compatible attitudes and traits, plus a high level of skill for the role. Next, is collecting and interpreting forecasts—wind and weather for sailing, market and economic for business. The third is execution: knowing when to stick to your strategy or alter it.
JB: What was your biggest sailing mistake, and what did you learn from it?
BR: Failing to inspect the mainsail on the boat I was racing on during the Fastnet. It’s a race from England to Ireland and back, and one of the four premier yacht races in the world. By skipping this important step — by assuming it’s working and it’ll continue to work — we had to withdraw from the race because a small, unnoticed tear became a large irreparable rip. I learned when you short-circuit the preparation process — you short-circuit the results.
JB: How can speed and tactics work for or against you?
BR: Speed alone won't win the race if the wrong strategic choice is made, or if the boat or business sails in the wrong direction. And perfect strategy and tactics can't overcome slow speed. Winning requires a mastery of all these elements: preparation, strategy, agility, speed and tactics.
JB: Sailing and business can have “disruptions.” Yet you encourage one, to disrupt. How come?
BR: Committing to generating and adding value to one’s customers, will always serve a company well. Yet clinging to one's products or services, will not.
No one wants to abandon a service or product-line that's currently profitable. It takes immense effort to overcome the inertia of, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” But if you don’t abandon your “golden goose” on your timetable, somebody else will kill it on their timetable.
It’s better to be the disrupter than the disrupted — even if the business has to disrupt itself before anyone else has a chance. Innovation involves not only generating new ideas, but also letting go of existing ones.
A business disrupts itself by practicing Proactive Obsolescence, by replacing its own successful products or services with fundamentally new solutions that provide a significant leap in customer value. And then doing it, again and again.
For more of Bob’s ideas, visit roitblat.com.
Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” If you hire speakers, contact Jeff at 847-998-0688 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And visit jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s free e-letter, The Results Report. Jeff’s books include “Stop Whining! Start Selling!” (an Amazon Bestseller) and the revised 4th edition of the best-selling “Peak Your Profits.” You can also stay connected with Jeff via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: @BlackmanResults.