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August 09, 2006

Look Into the Good News

A daughter of a good friend blew me away with her business savvy.  She’s a mortgage broker, perhaps the most successful mortgage broker in Vermont.  So I asked her for the secret of her success. I already knew she’d inherited a capacity for tremendously hard work.

She explained very cogently how her business works, what her channels are for new business, how she gets referrals, how she meets her clients’ needs. I was impressed; but it was what she said next that made me sit up straight: “That’s all not going to work any more.”

“What?” I asked, sitting up straight.

She explained that people are more and more frequently pre-approved for mortgages before they shop for homes.  The implication of this is that real estate agents as a channel for mortgages are losing importance.  There has to be a way to reach buyers BEFORE they have a specific place in mind.  I’m not going to give away her plans for dealing with this sea change.  What’s important to any business person in any business is the kind of thinking she did.

  1. UNDERSTAND what the important ingredients of your success are;
  2. Keep QUESTIONING whether the conditions that made these ingredients important still exits;
  3. DON’T assume past results predict future results;
  4. make a new plan BEFORE the old plan fails.

If this kind of thinking had penetrated Carpetland (where the execs hung out) at AT&T, it might not be just a small part of lowercase at&t today.

Good exercise for your next staff meeting or offsite (hint: take it to the board after staff has had a whack at it).

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I just started reading MarketBusters. The book summarizes a three-year study by Rita Gunther McGrath (from Columbia Business School) and Ian MacMillan (from Wharton) on strategic moves that create at least a 2% change in market share, or a 5% [Read More]


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