This year at the 2016 Top 100 Summit we were lucky enough to get a Navy Seal; J.C. Ledbetter; as our keynote speaker. We got him on board because we knew that the Navy Seal veteran would have a lot of good advice for businesses going through interesting times, like the office equipment industry most certainly is today. What is the The Top 100 Summit? It is a place for business owners to gather and do the hard work of building the business model of the future together. Whether or not you are in our industry the following advice will help you to grow your business. Period. We learned a lot from J.C. Ledbetter while in San Diego. Here are my 5 top takeaways from a true hero and inspiration, J.C. Ledbetter.
1. Hooyah! When you are asked to do something it’s often best just to get on with it and do it. J.C. explained to us that “Hooyah!” is used in the Navy as an acknowledgement or a “yes sir!”. Sometimes it’s used enthusiastically, sometimes with a hint of sarcasm, and at other times with sharper tones (think of a four letter word that starts with “F”). But the important thing is, no matter how you say “Hooyah!” you’d better mean it and do what you said you’ll do. At the Top 100 Summit we certainly took that advice. We used “Hooyah!” throughout the 2 days of hard work building the business model of the future together.
2. No Quit! Listening to J.C. Ledbetter talk about “Hell Week” made me grateful I’ve never had to go through it. From what I’ve read there are only around 2,000 Navy Seals, and only 25% of those who start actually make it. The Top 100 attendees are like that. We had 60 or so dealers at the conference out of some 3,500 dealers in the US. We spent 2 days working hard together to share ideas on how to move our industry into the future and nobody quit, because there IS NO QUIT. That also means we’re just getting started.
3. The More You Sweat The Less You Bleed: Training is absolutely critical. Mr. Ledbetter told us that in his career with the Seals as a parachute specialist he did over 17,000 jumps. He talked about the fact that they would see a 3 month tour and spend over a year preparing for the next one. Hard work and practice are key if you are to be the best of the best. We got that message loud and clear in San Diego and did more round tables than most people would do in a year. It was a ton of work. And we aren’t done yet. We will be forming 3 practice groups to continue the hard work we started at the Top 100 Summit throughout the year.
4. Be Unexpected: One of the things Navy Seals are famous for is getting in and out of hazardous places without anybody knowing they were ever there. That is, of course, unless you are the bad guys they’re coming after, but by then it’s far too late. Top 100 Summit members are working together to the same end: To make sure our competitors have no idea we are coming. We’ll do that by building the business model of the future together while our competitors sit back and do things the old and predictable ways. By the time we change how business is done in the office equipment channel it will be too late for our competitors. So be it.
5. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable: The Navy Seals train in the most difficult circumstances so they can get comfortable being uncomfortable. J.C. told us sometimes that means having your arms and legs tied up in a swimming pool while you fight to get air. Other times that means standing in the ocean overnight watching the people in the hotel across the road laughing and enjoying civilian pleasures. Of course mere civilians will never know discomfort like a Navy Seal does but we can certainly “suck it up” far more than we do and not expect that changing the imaging industry will be easy. It’s going to require us to do uncomfortable things, to do things in new ways. The Top 100 are ready.
Of course the Top 100 Summit wasn’t all blood, sweat and tears. We had a lot of fun together too. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll bet the Navy Seals know how to have some fun together too! Great teams, whether in business or warfare, are made of people that are the best of the best. I feel privileged to be a Top 100 Member and look forward to doing it all over again next year!