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If It Were Easy, Everyone Could Do It – Sometimes Leadership is Hard Work

How do you maintain consistent growth year after year for over 30 years? Through bull markets and bear markets, recessions and recoveries, FSG has managed to grow year after year since 1982.

Recently, in the “Electrical Wholesaling Top 200 Electrical Distributors,” FSG climbed from number 52 in 2015, up to number 45. (CLICK HERE to see the entire article from EW Magazine.) Whenever publications like this highlight the growth of one of the disciplines of FSG, it gives us a great opportunity to think about the mindset and values that have served us well over the last 30 years.

At FSG the “secret formula” is a combination of hard work, talented employees, hard work, dedication, an unrelenting commitment to the customer, hard work, and divine intervention. (Did I mention “hard work”?) It also takes a leadership mindset that says, “We are building an institution for the NEXT 30 years” rather than “This is MINE, look at what I did over the LAST 30 years.”

If you are reading carefully, you might have noticed that I repeated “hard work” several times and there are reasons for its multiple inclusions on the list (other than trying to make a cheap joke). In order to have the kind of “season-proof”, sustained success that FSG has enjoyed, you need to commit to more than one type of hard work.

Hard Work Means Avoiding Shortcuts

In this day-and-age of technological advances and quick solutions, you need to do the hard work of avoiding shortcuts. Of course, it’s important to work smart and stay current with best practices and tools, but it becomes very easy to get distracted by an easier process and forget the end goal of quality and excellence. The customer will only ever see the end quality of your work and the depths of your character. A quick, minimum-effort process will yield quick minimum-effort results than any of your competitors can accomplish. Like the poet said, “taking the road less traveled” will make all of the difference.

Hard Work Requires Persistence

You might have heard someone say, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” In business, this persistence is critical to the kind of long-term success that FSG has enjoyed for over 30 years. Seth Goodin in his book “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit” says,

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”

This type of hard work never settles for anything less than what you are capable of.

Hard Work Adopts the Customer’s Pain Points as Your Own

“Pain points” has become a buzzword around business these days and much of the discussion is based around manipulating the customer to spend more money than necessary or feeding off their insecurities to garner an advantage. This is not what I’m talking about. The hard work here is adopting what is important to the customer and making it just as important to you. FSG works with customers in a wide array of settings with a similarly wide array of needs, restrictions, and restraints. The correct solution is rarely the easier solution, but because it is important to the customer, it must be important to you.

When FSG worked with a Dillard’s distribution center to retrofit their warehouse lighting, the customer needed the work to be done in such a way that it did not disrupt their day-to-day business and cut their productivity. Other contractors literally walked off of the job, but FSG adopted the customer’s needs as their own and found a solution that replaced the lights while keeping the warehouse running. (CLICK HERE to hear Jeff Bowen from Dillard’s talk about the project)

Whether the customer is a luxury high rise in Manhattan, a cutting edge medical research facility, or a very unique educational environment, you will find plenty of opportunities to adopt the unique needs of your customer as your own.

Things That Are Rare Are Valuable

Lastly, “hard work” is repeated because to have long-term success, it’s something that you must keep repeating day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year. As technology and customer’s needs change and grow you will be faced every day with new challenges, new environments, and new temptations to take the easy road or walk away from projects that seem too hard.

That’s ok.

Remember, it’s the hard work that causes your competition to quit, which is what makes you remarkable, special and ultimately, valuable.

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