The Huge Mistake

When you’re in business, you can’t afford to make any huge mistakes. As a matter of fact, many of the technology entrepreneurs that I coach are afraid of making that one huge mistake that can cost them their business. How do you avoid it? First you have to identify what that mistake is. This article, the first of two parts, helps you identify the huge mistake. The second part tells you how to overcome it.

The Huge Mistake,
By Dan Kennedy; based on a discussion @ Gold/VIP-Millionaires Group 2006

The specifics of the discussion are not important, but here’s what happened: one Member was on the “hot seat”, talking about his business, past, present and future, and at one point, another Member piped up and suggested an idea, quickly, briefly. The Member on the hot seat acknowledged him but brushed it off and continued talking about what he next planned to do. I let it pass at the moment, but thought better of it later, and interrupted our meeting to talk about what had happened.

Unfortunately, the incident is very, very, very common. Even smart and successful businesspeople are too often “knee jerk reaction” quick to judge an idea they read or hear or a suggestion given them as inappropriate to their business. Our focus can be our downfall. The smarter reaction, in this case, and in many, is to make a written note of the suggestion or idea, make sure you understand it, and if you don’t want to be de-railed, set it aside to think about later. But by all means, return to actually think about it.

Every idea or suggestion attempting to enter your environment, for your consideration, runs up against a line of guards, a pre-set array of defenses, built from your present “picture” of your business, your beliefs about how it works and what it is and where it’s going – so that anything that doesn’t easily match up with what’s already there is swatted away automatically, thoughtlessly.

McDonalds Corporation fought a few renegade franchisees tooth and nail, very stubbornly, for an extended time period before grudgingly giving in to their insistent wish to be in the breakfast business. For years, McD’s restaurants all opened at 11:00 AM, not before. They were, after all, in the hamburger business. The very idea of “breakfast” had no place to land. Of course, now, it’s about 1/3rd of the gross and I’d guess an even higher percentage of net. But few ideas are so persistent.

What’s worst, though, is when you deliberately put yourself into an environment to get new and different ideas and suggestions, but still keep your defenses up, still let those that don’t fit be swatted away instantly. Why come to a mastermind meeting and operate this way? I see people at seminars, conferences and in these mastermind meetings paying attention to people they view as “like them” and in “similar” businesses, then letting their attention wander to other things when someone in a different and “unrelated” business is talking. All this does is reinforce business and marketing incest. It’s re-circulation of similar thought and experience, like the (toxic) re-circulated air in airplanes (ever since they outlawed smoking and no longer need fresh air added during flight). The whole point of participating in a mastermind environment is to find and consider FRESH ideas. As a result, incidentally, I’ve decided to outlaw laptops in my coaching group meetings in 2007. I realize people use them to take notes, but I also see the computers acting as a giant distraction…people “playing”, going to sites, checking e-mail, etc., when they should be fully engaged in the meetings. So, for 07, there will be no cellphones, no Blackberrys, no Blueberrys and no laptops permitted inside my meetings. If somebody finds that untenable, they need not join.

© 2006/ Dan S. Kennedy,

Make sure you come back on Monday to read the second part of the article, The Huge Mistake.

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