From a business leadership standpoint, I started my first business when I was 22 years old.
My wife and I grew up in two very different economic situations. Not a bad different, just different. When I first met her family, my head was spinning a little bit, first, because whose head doesn’t spin a bit when they first meet what could potentially be your future in-laws, and second because I was thinking: People live like this? This isn’t a hotel? This is a house?
In the same neighborhood as my potential, future in-laws, was another beautiful home, and instead of just thinking to myself, I actually said out loud, to my potential, future father-in-law, “Who lives there?” He responded, “That’s a friend of ours, Donald. You should go introduce yourself.”
So I walked down the street and I knocked on the door of this beautiful home that I still couldn’t believe was an actual home and not a hotel. Donald answered the door, I introduced myself, “Hey, my name is Dan Quiggle. I’m just meeting with my potential, future in-laws and I’m supposed to come introduce myself. But before we start, what do you do?”
Donald chuckled to himself a bit, and said, “I own a vending machine company.”
I inquired further, “This is the house that vending built?”
He said, “Yes, it is.”
I volleyed, “Well, if this is the house that vending built, then I want to go into the vending business. Let me come work for you.”
Donald said, “Dan, I’d pay you five dollars an hour. You don’t want that, do you?”
I quipped, “No you are right, I do not want five dollars an hour.” Now genuinely inquisitive, “But Donald, what if you teach me how to start the business? What if you help me? Would you?”
And if somehow you can imagine, on that doorstep, that day, he said yes to me. I did not waste that yes for a second and five years later Red, White, and Blue Vending was bigger than he was.
He remained encouraging, very engaged with me, and would joke, “Ah the teacher is being taught.”
That meeting on Donald’s doorstep ended up being a win-win for both of us. To this day, Donald’s wife says that was the best thing to ever happen to her husband and to his company.
Why you may ask? What was wrong with Donald at the time.
He was jaded. He was complacent. He was burned out.
The good news though, is when he started seeing the growth of Red, White, and Blue Vending, it lit a fire under him. It motivated him in new ways. He started thinking, I’m not going to let this punk kid beat me. He started growing that business again.
Whats more, is Donald and I added value to each other. Donald would show me where to buy machines, how to buy machines, and how to fix machines. I would show him how to use new technology to track drivers, to track cash, and to track inventory. We fed off of each other.
The best part is that healthy competition and our mutual value add was an exponential value add to our customers. They got a greater variety, more places, and at a lower cost to them. Win-win-win.
The real business leaders do not see competition as a threat or something to be avoided or something to whine to congress about in hopes of getting more regulations to stop competitors instead of competing with them. Real business leaders treat competition as an invitation to get better and create exponentially more value for society through new innovative ways of serving others, making people’s lives better, and creating solutions for individual leaders.
Enjoy this episode of Garage to Goliath | Leaders Building Legacies.
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