Taking a lead from Mike Marchev, I have lately been spending more time than usual reading business books. Books by business leaders are not historically my first choice of reading material, but recently I have found my prejudice to be misplaced.
I am just now finishing What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshal Goldsmith. The author drew my attention as a “business coach” who reportedly charges CEO’s and upper managers $250,000 for his efforts on their behalf.
Goldsmith indicates the very skills which make someone a great entrepreneur, a brilliant engineer, or a very successful (fill in the blank) may also be the very characteristics holding them back from further success. The drive, the obstinance, the self confidence propelling a person to one level in their career might be an impediment to their next leap forward.
I mention Goldsmith and his book because I’ll be drawing heavily from it in the weeks to come and I wanted to get on record one massive footnote to his original ideas. It’s sort of a hack writer’s license to steal.
Goldsmith’s thesis is simple: successful people often think they have all the answers. But the problem is their failure to perceive how their input comes across to those who matter most to them – family, bosses, peers, employees, and clients. Goldsmith goes on to elaborate on the chief causes of the myopia from which we suffer and how to best correct our biased perspectives.
As a third party to most business mistakes, we can easily see both the source and the remedy of the problem. As a participant, however, it is a bit tougher to be so clear-visioned. We allow our credentials, even using them, to obscure our view. Our expertise makes us less empathetic, less client-centric, less aware of the particular reality of the situation before us.
Passion for travel will get you far in the travel industry. However, unless that passion evolves into something more client-centric, it will get you only SO far.
Remaining fresh, client-centric and, dare I say, “young” in our approach is vital to achieving an authentic, vital connection with our clients. We don’t have all the answers; in fact, we have no answers at all, until we know what THEIR problem is.
It’s all about features and benefits. We can list all of the great features comprising our travel practice and experience. Yet, it is only of value to our clients when we can relate it to their immediate needs. Your clients don’t care that you have been in the travel business for 20 years – that just means you are old and maybe that you can’t get another job. What matters to your clients is how your years of experience benefits them. That is the connection they want you to make.
Goldsmith lays out a formula for moving on to the next level, a recognition of how much is still to be learned and practiced. Then, and only then, can you bring your experience appropriately to bear.
“To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.” ~ Lao Tzu