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Winners

November 25, 2009

I was sitting in the office of a purchasing manager in Iowa when I first read it. Earlier that day I had flown to Madison, Wisconsin to meet with the owner of a manufacturers representatives firm. As I sat and waited in that office after a long day of traveling, my eyes scanned the walls and the various memorabilia that hung there. That was the first time that I can remember reading “Winners vs Losers”.

While I hadn’t seen it written before, I guess I was probably familiar with the substance of it. It’s stated pretty simply and probably can come with endless variations. But that night it attracted my attention.

The owner of the sales representatives firm had contacted me several months earlier. He believed that the type of products that my company manufactured could be effectively distributed to the customer base that his firm had been servicing for some time. This took place during the late seventies when there was substantial turmoil and uncertainty plaguing the economy. He saw an opportunity and took the initiative.

After several conversations and some correspondence, we decided to arrange a series of meetings to include his firm, my company and the perspective customers. The meetings where to be preliminary in nature and where to be scheduled at locations in four different states during the same week. While each of us could have delegated the road work, we both shared the opinion that first impressions are lasting ones and that preliminary meetings often set the tone for final ones, so we decided to make the trip together.

This was the background for my flight to Wisconsin, an afternoon meeting and the subsequent drive to Iowa for an early evening meeting in that purchasing managers office. Those of you that have traveled on business and had one of those days where you have had two plane trips, been in two time zones, driven for five hours in a mixture of rain and snow and found yourself sitting alone in a strange office at 7PM, know what my frame of mind was when my eyes noticed the plaque titled “Winners vs Losers”. It made me feel good to read it.

The winner–always does whatever it takes to get the job done right;
The loser–does whatever is asked of them.

The winner–is always part of the answer;
The loser–is always part of the problem.

The winner–focuses on where they want to go;
The loser–is concerned with where they are coming from.

The winner–says, “Let me do it for you;”
The loser–says, “That’s not my job;”

The winner–always takes the time to teach and train;
The loser– always wonders why people don’t work like they used to;

The winner–is finished when the job has been done right;
The loser– is finished when they have done enough.

The winner–always expects the best;
The loser–always anticipates the worst;

The winner– spends their time getting the hard jobs done;
The loser–spends time complaining how hard it is to get the job done;

The winner–always has a program;
The loser–always has an excuse.

The winner–says, “It may be difficult but it’s possible;”
The loser–says, “It may be possible but it’s too difficult.”

I spent the balance of that week driving across the state of Iowa and on into South Dakota and Nebraska. We drove into the night to get to our next destination so that we could be start the day with an early sales call. I got to know my new traveling companion real well that week. He is a winner and has built an extremely successful business.

As things turned out, we never developed any significant business from that trip. I know that my friend has made a lot more unsuccessful trips than successful ones. The problem is that he has never been smart enough to figure out before starting the trip which ones are going to turn up successful, so he makes them all. Some people think he has been lucky, but I know that he has been successful because he is a winner.

I obtained a copy of “Winners vs Losers” and posted it in the office coffee room. Each month our company newsletter would include two or three winner vs loser items. I don’t know for sure how much of an impact it had, but I suspect that every now and then it got somebody to thinking.

Because it’s your business, keep an eye out for the winners. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are special people.

Joe Driscoll is a management consultant whose column appears regularly in the Monday Herald.

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