As we close out 2016, we thought it best to reflect on some of the key learnings for us over the past year in the hope that there may be a nugget or two of wisdom that you may learn from. Some came in the form of epiphanies, others came in the form of “pivots” and alas, one came in the form of a punch in the gut.
Four of our learnings include…
1. As a company, we learned we are always “under construction.” We learned building a great company is not something you can take a step back from and admire when complete. It is a journey that requires a desire to achieve and develop world-class endurance. It requires a self-sustaining culture with strong core values and a commitment to continuous improvement. It is an ongoing process of design, laying the foundations, forming, building, bonding, changing, detailing, refining and renovating. We never quite get it right. It is never perfect. And it is always under construction. The same applies for each of us as individuals.
2. Focus, focus, focus. We understand that we have a finite amount of time and a finite amount of capital. Time is money. One of the things we did very well this year was focus. We don’t try to be all things to all people. We focus where we can win and stay true to who we are and perhaps, more importantly, who we are not. We feel this focus has enabled us to create more value for our customers.
3. Don’t get caught reading your press clippings. We lost a big deal this year and this one was on me. For me personally, it was my most disappointing loss since 1994. It was one we thought we were going to win. We were on a roll last year and thought we were unbeatable. Guess what? We weren’t! We deviated from tried and true process. The prospect was kind enough to share with us why we lost and they appeared surprised when I responded with “We were outsold.” I continued with, “We clearly did not define the value of our approach, and how it would create more stickiness in the long run.” I thanked him for his candor and let him know that he unequivocally, made us a better company that day and for that, I was grateful. Every loss is an opportunity to learn… and we learned a great deal that day!
4. Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. As of 2015, the millennials are the largest segment of the workforce. They learn differently, work differently and think differently than previous generations. To inspire the Millennial learners of today, sales training must be accessible anytime, anywhere and in ways that are structured, yet flexible, personalized, interactive, stimulating and social. With these facts in mind, we have made considerable investments in 2016 to ensure we can help our customers train, retain and develop their Millennial workforce further reinforcing our Butler Street mantra:
If we solve our customers’ problems, we’ll solve our own®
As I reflect on 2016, it was a big year for our company in so many ways. Building a great company and how each of us impacts it, I liken to driving a car. It calls for us to gain hindsight or experience, by glancing in the rearview mirror, looking back on all that has happened before, which is now history. It calls for us to take the time to reflect on our successes, our failures, our mistakes, and our missed opportunities. It calls for us to look through the windshield and imagine a better future ahead. To gain precious foresight by passing on our trials, errors and achievements as lessons in leadership. It calls for us to live in the present, worrying about neither yesterday, nor tomorrow, but rather facing the challenges of what today offers, one interaction at a time.
To our nearly 5,000 weekly blog recipients, we would like to thank you for making us even a small part of your week. To our customers, we thank you for your confidence in us and rest assured; we will be the poster child for learning from experience and striving for continuous improvement.
Best wishes to each of you for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017!