Be the Leopard, Not the Coyote

Be the LeopardMy inspiration for this post occurred on a flight from Sao Paulo to Lima a few months ago during a conversation with the fascinating entrepreneur sitting next to me. His name was Joe Atick, founder of Jaacx, which distributes digital imaging products. He’s a true citizen of the world, with businesses and homes in eight countries, logging about a million miles a year. He is a genuine rags-to-riches story and the consummate salesman. He has tremendous energy and charisma, and he also clearly loves what he does for a living.  He shared all kinds of wonderful business, marketing and sales wisdom during the flight and regaled me with entertaining stories of his selling exploits.  One nugget that is especially pertinent to service providers was his advice on focus.

He explained to me that, while technically he’s a distributor, he sees himself as a service provider. He excels, because he is an expert at matching retailers with products that will sell in their markets; he also boosts their efforts with his own investments in marketing and outreach on their behalf. His success comes from understanding their customers even better than they do.  He makes it his mission to understand his buyers’ problems and solve them. This is where focus comes in.

He said that when a lone leopard sees a herd of gazelle and intends to get his next meal, he knows he can only catch one animal. He doesn’t look at the whole herd; he eyes one specific gazelle and studies it through the crowd to the point where he can anticipate its movements.  When he charges the herd, he is after that one animal.  And usually he catches it.

Meanwhile, coyotes are scavengers and opportunists. They take whatever they can get. As a result, they don’t get the best pickings.

“It’s very important to be focused: Pick your market and get to know it better than anyone else.  You can only take on so much at a time, like the leopard can only catch one animal.”  Shaking his finger at me, he said, “Be the leopard, not the coyote.”

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