“The Harvard Story”

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This is the Harvard story and it is one of the most important business lessons that I’ve experienced, particularly for entrepreneurs. 

And I say experienced rather than learn because I definitely have not learned this in terms of incorporating it into my behavior as much as I should. So I’m going to take this and apply it more in my business and my life.

You should definitely do the same. 

So the Harvard story started when I was about two years into building EVERON, my IT services company.

I got a call from a prospect. This prospect said, “Hey, we’re going to need IT services for about 35 employees. I like you to give me a proposal.” 

Of course, my sales process was I want to come over, meet with them and talk with them.

It is important that I get some facetime. I knew that I could always have a better opportunity to close those deals if I got facetime with people. 

So I said, “Great, when can I come over and talk to you?” 

He said, “I’m okay Monday through Friday before 8:00 AM or after 5:00 PM.” 

And I was like, before 8:00 AM or after 5:00 PM? People don’t work before 8:00 AM or after 5:00 PM. After 5:00 PM is when we all take off and go to the bar in Boston, you know. 

He was very adamant that those were the only hours. So I said, “Fine, I’ll come over right at five o’clock on whatever day of the week it was.” 

What I saw surprised me

I showed up there and I was shocked to see that there were no 35 employees in there. 

In fact, it was a pretty big office in a tower in downtown Boston. Mind you, it is a very expensive space. There were two desks with a laptop and a phone on each of them and they were sitting in the middle of this room facing each other.

I see these two guys in there and I’m like, What the heck is going on? These guys are wasting my time bringing me over here for a proposal for 35 employees.

But I sit down and start talking to the guys. I’m finally getting some rapport going with them.

And I’m like, “All right, man. Tell me what’s going on here. You said you needed a proposal for 35 employees and you wouldn’t let me meet with you before eight and after five.” 

I followed it up with, “You don’t look like you got too much going on here. Why couldn’t we meet during business hours?” 

So these two guys are from Harvard and had Harvard MBAs.

That already made me think less of them. 

Because I’m thinking, I’ll ask these kinds of spoiled brats who don’t know how to work hard and just using mommy and daddy’s money.

Everything’s easy for them. Of course. 

The reality is that these two guys knew that the single most important activity for them to grow their business was the two of them sitting and making prospecting calls. 

The single most important activity

These guys sat face to face and did nothing from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM but make cold calls to get appointments, to book opportunities, to sell and grow their business. That was all they did from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

They did not allow anything to interrupt it, including meetings with vendors. 

And it always, always just stuck with me. I admire their discipline so much because they knew the one activity they were very, very clear about.

The one activity that was going to grow their business, that was going to change their lives. And it did.

They got to their 35 employees very, very quickly. They had a great business model. It was a great financial related business model. 

So once they got some deals coming in, the money was there and they grew the business very quickly. Their company grew up very quickly past the 35 employees and out of that space within just like 18 months. 

They were incredibly successful because they were laser-focused on one thing. They didn’t let anything get in the way of it. Not Meetings, not administrative stuff, nothing.

Nothing to stop that one activity that they knew would drive everything else. 

The most powerful question in business

Gary Keller, the founder of Keller Williams real estate has that question. 

What’s the one thing that you could do that if you did it would make everything else easier or unnecessary? 

I love that. That is a powerful question, what’s the one thing that by doing it would make everything else easier or unnecessary?

These guys knew what their one thing is and that’s the Harvard story.

Figure out what your one thing is, get your focus and you’re unstoppable. 

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Mike Cooch
Mike Cooch

LVRG CEO Mike Cooch is a serial entrepreneur who generates 6-7 big ideas before breakfast (conservative estimate) each day.

Mike has a Texas-sized passion for sales & marketing, business development, technology, and entrepreneurship.

He has founded successful businesses in technology services, agency services, publishing, and ecommerce (and flopped on a variety of attempts as well…keepin’ it real!).

His businesses have made the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America three times, and have been recognized as a 'Best Place to Work' in their respective cities.

He has an MBA from Babson College, the #1 ranked entrepreneurship program in the world by US News 24 years running, where he has been a regular guest lecturer on 'Managing a Growing Business'.

He has three children, is an avid skier, hiker and traveler, and is loving his adopted hometown of San Diego.