During our meetings and planning sessions among the board members, we continually talk about our mission to provide “One idea, one opportunity, one connection” for NARSA/IDEA’s membership. The idea is that if we can provide a forum where our members can find out about one idea, learn about an opportunity, or make just one connection that could positively impact their business, then we have done our job. In my case, I would estimate that I have received hundreds of ideas, connections, and opportunities through NARSA/IDEA. Some were minor or I chose not to pursue, but I implemented many other ideas quickly, and they had an immediate financial effect. A much smaller amount were game changers that quite literally changed the course of my life professionally, financially, and personally. The fact is you never know if any of these ideas, opportunities, or connections will amount to anything when you first encounter them.
“To keep learning and growing, we should always seek out new perspectives” – Derek Sivers
We live in an age where we are more connected than ever and yet paradoxically, it is also easier than ever to exist in cultural and professional silos where everyone thinks like us. While this may be comforting, it usually does not promote learning new ideas. It is precisely that exchange with others who may look at something from a different perspective that helps you grow. I often find that attending trade shows put on by completely different industries to be very enlightening. I have attended trade shows where I encountered tools or chemicals that I have never heard of that can be adapted to our industry. Or conversely, I have seen situations where an unrelated industry was not aware that a better solution to a problem they encounter regularly has existed in the radiator industry for 50 years.
I have written before that one of my favorite things to do professionally is visit other shops and facilities. It does not matter whether it is a top of the line advanced facility or the most humble one man operation in a far off part of the world. In every situation, I can gather value for my business. From the advanced facility, I can learn about new equipment, processes, and procedures that I can perhaps adapt to my own facility. From the small shop, I often find the most innovative solutions to problems that we never thought of in my facility and that I never encountered in North America. Necessity is truly the mother of invention. The important thing is to continually seek out these new perspectives.
“Fortunes are not made by the meek, they are made by the brave.” – Frank Finger, Finger’s Radiator Hospital
While NARSA/IDEA can provide the forum where you can be exposed to that one idea, one opportunity, and one connection, only you can choose to execute on them. Of the hundreds of aforementioned ideas, opportunities, and connections that I encountered over the years, I am certain that most of them would not have amounted to much had I pursued them. However, I am also 100% certain that there were a few that would have turned out great had I pursued them. As my father always says, “You win some and you lose some… just make sure you win more than you lose.” The fact is we only have so much bandwidth to pursue these ideas, opportunities and connections that come our way. One must choose what you think is the best knowing that some of those you have chosen not to pursue may turn out to be winners.
These ideas, opportunities, and connections you encounter are only valuable if you take the initiative and risk to execute them. In my former life in the investment world, professional analysts were constantly doing deep research on companies trying to find out little bits of information that the rest of investors were not aware of. They did this to get an edge that would ensure they made a successful investment. The fact that you are a NARSA/IDEA member means that you belong to a niche industry that very few people have much knowledge of. And most likely you have an even more specific niche that even fewer people within the industry are as familiar with. This means that when considering making an investment in an idea, opportunity, or connection, no one will have more of an edge than you. You know your customer base, geographic area, and the particular needs of your market better than the vast majority of people. Of course, all opportunities must be analyzed carefully, but at the end of the day, one needs to take the risk and execute on these ideas. So I encourage you to take on that inventory you were thinking about, buy that machine that may help you get to the next level, and make that key hire that may allow you to grow your business. NARSA/IDEA can provide the forum, but only you can execute.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt
The important thing is to put yourself in the arena.
This editorial was originally published in the March/April issue of The Cooling Journal