My father (the late professor OJ Firestone) and I used to
argue over what is more important in business:
Sales sales sales
Check check check
My argument was that without sales, a business can’t long survive
so entrepreneurs should focus most of their attention on the revenue side of
Pops argued that without the ability to deliver your product
or service to customers on time and at the price and quality you said you
would, you won’t have any clients, or not for long. So he wanted people around
him who would check everything three times.
As I got older, I realized you need three personality types
to make any business a success—the entrepreneur (sales and leadership), the
technician (implementation) and manager (organization). If
you are a sole proprietor, a solo entrepreneur, or an individual practitioner,
you need to be a bit of all three or you will, in all likelihood, fail.
Today, however, I might add a third component to the
discussion I had with Jack Firestone, which we resolved then by agreeing that
you needed both more sales and to be always checking that things are getting
done—there are no fire-and-forget missiles in business.
That third item?
Focus focus focus
In the 1960s and 1970s, every young guy I knew had one
ambition—to be in a band. Now, they all seem to want to be entrepreneurs.
But one of the flaws I’ve discovered in that breed of human
being is that they often aren’t able to focus on one thing over a long period
of time. They are easily distracted. They can’t follow a single plan, or not
for very long.
Plus most entrepreneurs have two or three great new ideas every
month, each one obviously (to them) better than the one before. So they chase
new dreams every few quarters and nothing ever really gets completed. You don’t
finish, you don’t win, baby.
Steve Jobs before he passed was reputed to have said, “I’m
prouder of the things Apple hasn’t done than that it has,” meaning he and his
bros in that company didn’t run after every hot new tech fad; instead, they focused
on just a handful of products and services (itunes, ipads, macs, iphones and a
few others). That’s it, that’s all.
Did it work?
Yeah, to the point where Apple is now the most valuable
company on the planet.
The people who have the most success not only in business
but the arts, sciences, medicine or pretty much any field, are those that
concentrate on one thing, repeating that one thing over and over while getting
better at it than anyone else through endless iteration, improvement and
At age 61, my life coach asked me how many goals I had. I
said I didn’t know. She asked me, for our next session, to bring a list so I
did. I had 42. 42!
She said, “Don’t you think that maybe 42 goals is a few too
many for someone who is 61? Are there any you could live without?”
Turns out there were.
I went from 42 to 4 goals over the next four years. Now I
focus on real estate investment and business coaching, being a realtor, a
writer, and an occasional keynote speaker.
That’s the full list.
As a result, I am happier, have less stress, make more money,
and am far more productive. Plus I think the things I am creating with my
clients (new real estate business models and insights, for example) might be
the best of my career.
Andrew Carnegie discovered the same thing… back in 1885. He
addressed students at Pittsburgh’s Curry Commercial
College on June 23rd
of that year; he said—
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket is all wrong. I tell
you put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”
Bruce M Firestone, PhD
Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker, Ottawa Senators
founder, Real Estate Investment and Business coach
613-762-8884 firstname.lastname@example.org @profbruce
making impossible possible
 Still worth reading: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small
Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael E Gerber, 2004.
 Mark Twain has used
various riffs on Mr Carnegie’s quote in his works as well.
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