Couple of quick items I thought you’d find interesting.
First Interesting Item: The Wall Street Journal ran a great story the other day on the follies of MBA-powered mismanagement.
Well, I thought it was a great story, anyway. No one else seemed to pay much attention… probably because it doesn’t fit into the average person’s belief system that a Master’s in Business Administration is good for anything.
Seems that Harvard lost $350-million bucks in a hedge fund… run by guys with Harvard MBAs.
Let that idea roll around in your head for a moment.
If you have a stake in believing that MBAs rule, then it’s just an annoying news item. Move along. Nothing to see here.
However, if — like me — you enjoy these tidbits of proof that MBA actually stands for Massive Bullshit Acquisition, then the irony is truly delicious.
I’ve always maintained it is harder to teach people with too much education how to run small biz and entrepreneur shops, because the nonsense is piled so deep and thick in their skulls. An MBA is often a red flag that trouble lies ahead… like getting in a car with someone behind the wheel who learned how to drive solely from books.
A lot of the people who come to me for private consultation have MBAs. They can wax prolific on all sorts of business theory… but when it comes down to actually making sales, they’re like a babe in the woods. Helpless, clueless, and desperately trying to bluff their way through whatever disaster they’ve created.
Okay, there’s probably some worth in getting advanced degrees in biz. If you’re looking to nail down a soul-devouring gig in middle management at some faceless corporation, for example, it’s definitely the way to go.
And it will, at the very least, force you to read some books. I guess that’s a good thing, too.
But a vast number of the most frightingly successful entrepreneurs and small biz owners I know have zero college under their belt. Many dropped out of high school.
And yet you would consider them intellectually “inferior” at your peril. They’re usually smarter than the most “officially” educated guy in the room, and possess infinitely more real-world “pedal to the metal” savvy. The world of small biz doesn’t do so well using theory and grand concepts like “branding”. Entrepreneurs generally do better by breaking rules, and employing old-time classic salesmanship to deliver targeted product via killer pitches to hot markets.
All my mentors were self-educated. That generally means they were obsessive about reading. If rumor of any good book in any MBA program leaked out, they were on it. And because they filtered all incoming data through the real-world crucible of making sales happen, I would bet on their comprehension level being higher than any student’s.
But they never relied solely on books. Often, they would stop reading the latest bidniz best-seller half-way through, having quickly picked up the essential knowledge they could use. Books are tools.
It’s how the info works in the laboratory of everyday selling that counts.
I’m a broken record on this, because it’s important: Whatever happens to the economy (and things are, admittedly, getting scary)… whatever happens in your market (including the sudden threat of increased competition)… and whatever happens in your life in general… the one key survival skill will always and forever be raw, classic salesmanship.
Learn how to sell. Learn how to identify your best prospects, how to find them, how to nurture their innate desire for what you offer… and, most importantly, learn how to needle their emotional sweet spot to get them to act. To buy, to try your stuff out, and to allow you into their complex, fuzzy-focused lives as a “go to guy” provider of goods, services and content.
And remember — if the dudes teaching the MBA courses really knew their stuff, do you think they’d be grinding it out in academia?
The School of Hard Knocks remains the best university out there.
Second Interesting Item: Last night, I had dinner with a friend who also happens to be the top real estate broker in Northern Nevada.
Nevada, you may or may not know, went from being one of the top ten hottest real estate markets in the country… to being one of the top five worst. And we did it in a matter of shell-shocked months.
Most real estate-related businesses around here are in full panic mode, laying people off, closing up shop, fighting off bankruptcy, wringing their hands and hiding under the covers.
Ask your average agent how things are going, and he’s liable to burst into tears (and ask to borrow twenty bucks for lunch).
My friend, however, is doing just fine. He’s not matching his record-setting pace from the recent boom years, but he’s not far off, either.
And how, you ask, is he able to survive and thrive while others struggle and fail?
The answer is very simple, it turns out.
He ignores all the strategies other agents and brokers rely on.
And, instead, he uses old-time classic salesmanship to help his clients sell when no one else is selling, and buy when no one seems to be buying. Any good salesman would immediately recognize his skill-set as bonding, smart message-to-market targeting, and (most notably) working within the rules of the real world.
No theory. No tricks. No special magic at all.
Most agents simply do not know how to sell. They violate the most basic principles… like forgetting that it’s not all about them, but rather all about the prospect.
You never “sell” a house to anyone. You create the opportunity for a prospect to sell himself. And you do this by completely understanding his needs and desires, and genuinely matching him up with the right house. However you need to define it.
Most agents get all caught up in self-defeating conversations about “no one’s buying”, “the market’s in the tank”, “we’re in a recession” and all sorts of other nonsense. The glass is half empty, and leaking.
A great salesman assesses the situation, adjusts, and stays frosty.
And they get real. People are still buying and selling, even in the most dire market conditions. Sure, they’re harder to find, but they’re there. The housing industry is a fluid, moving parade of action. And there is always a way around a problem. Always. The reality of the solution may not thrill you, but there are endless choices and alternative paths.
The world may or may not be headed for some kind of economic Armeggedon. We may weather the coming crises just fine, or we may all be living in caves in a few years.
But however the reality plays out, one stark fact remains: Those who survive and thrive will be the ones with the most real-world experience, and the best salesmanship skills.
It has ever been thus.