I was watching Francis Ford Coppola’s classic adaptation of Mario Puzzo’s The Godfather the other day, and was again reminded of one of the lines that should be quoted more often than it is, especially for business owners. Early in the film, Tom Hagen goes to see the film producer Woltz to ask him to give Johnny Fontaine a part in his upcoming film. Woltz is holding a grudge against Fontaine, and doesn’t respond well to Hagen’s request. When he gives Hagen his final answer, Tom Hagen requests that his car take him directly to the airport. “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on receiving bad news immediately.Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on receiving bad news immediately,” he explains. The scene occurs just before the famous horse head scene: astute aficionados have noted the bowl of oranges on the table during their dinner together at Woltz’s home.
Corporate Fugitive Sherri Garrity recently decided it’d be a good idea to blow the lid off some of the “Mastermind” programs out there — ones which I’d call a scam. I find it hard to believe that people would charge (or pay!) $20,000 a year for a mentorship program that doesn’t provide regular one-on-one mentoring (read: no individualized input), especially one that consists largely of flogging other programs which cost even more money. Excuse me? As a small businessperson, you can buy a fair bit of consulting for $20 grand, and I’m sure it’d go a lot farther in filling in your knowledge gaps. Seems a heck of a better idea than joining some shady MLM scheme. Anyway, Sherri writes,
A few weeks ago I accused bookseller McNally Robinson of missing the plot twist following their entry into bankruptcy protection. What I said was (1) that they had expanded at the wrong time, in the wrong way and (2) that they didn’t have an effective strategy for competing with online book sales.
Well, last week McNally emerged from bankruptcy protection and Paul McNally made some public comment on what went wrong, as he saw it. The biggest single factor he cites was the failure of their Don Mills store to meet the sales targets for which they had hoped. He speculated that their strategy of community involvement maybe didn’t play as well in T-Dot, but it has also been noted that the Don Mills mall in which they were located has been a disappointment to many of its retail tenants.
Via TED’s Best of the Web Talks, I discovered J.K. Rowling‘s Harvard Commencement Address in June 2008 on The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination. The subject brings up an important concept — the fact that although we list only successes on our CVs, it is typically the failures that teach us more. Comparatively, success perhaps teaches us very little. When was the last time you judged someone as qualified because of the lessons learned in their last failure? Granted, this might not be the single best criteria, but someone who’s never failed may well be an underachiever stuck within the constraints of mediocre thinking.
Generally when you work on something that matters, you find yourself making a little extra effort to get everything just right. I may only be addressing the perfectionists in the crowd, but there are enough of us out there that it’s worth saying. Now, I don’t know if there’s an 80/20 rule for this, but there seems to be an 80/20 rule for everything else. So let’s suppose it takes 80% of your effort to get the last 20% “just so.” And it’s worth it, that striving for perfection. It’s what puts you above the competition, makes you stand out. It’s what keeps you from being singled out for having errors in your copy, for example. Shoot for perfect, right?