1. People act when there is enough motivation, which could be at any time.
When Lawrence Luellen invented the paper cup, which he originally named the “Health Kup,” the timing wasn’t great. This was around 1907 and everyone used communal “tin dippers” to quench their thirst with a drink of water from a bucket or other container. A single tin dipper could be shared by hundreds of different people. (No thanks!)
It was just starting to be understood that there were these inconvenient things called “germs” and that contagion should be a concern. Dixie cups (as they came to be known) remained a small business for 10 years. It’s hard to sell a solution to a problem people don’t know they have.
Then the Spanish flu hit. Disposable cups became a necessity in every home and business. When there is enough motivation (from any number of things), people will take action.
2. This too shall pass.
Sales up? Business in the tank? Never forget that business is fluid. It doesn’t stay in one place for long. Being overly excited when sales skyrocket can end up hurting your company—staff may relax a bit too much and become complacent or even sloppy vs. sharp. Or, you can lose focus on marketing or customer service—key things that build long-term success. If you neglect getting new potential customers into your sales pipeline because you “don’t need them” at the moment, who will come up empty when sales slow down? You will.
The converse is true as well—a dip in sales or even a dramatic fall in business (due to something like the pandemic) does not mean you should let your foot off the gas pedal. Don’t waste any time drifting aimlessly, complaining, or worrying. If you stay the course, this too shall pass.
3. “Timing is everything,” says any professional comedian.
There are many things they cannot control, but they can control their timing: notice it, get feedback, fine-tune it, practice it, deliver, and seek continuous improvement. Jack Benny, among other great comics, is remembered for impeccable timing.
One of the most important skills for any leader is the ability to adapt. Hint: if you’re still trying to sell tin dippers or other products on their way out, get creative with your offers—i.e., updating or innovating new ones based on today’s market.
How do you know what “today’s market” is? Some information about trends can be gleaned from business media outlets, but you need much more specific input that is particular to you and your company. You need connection and communication with your customers and prospective customers. The connection and communication between you and your market must be in synch, in rhythm. When there are two comic actors joking back and forth, each actor needs to allot time for the other party’s joke to land. This rhythm is perfected through rehearsal and building a rapport with their fellow actors. When you have that level of rapport with your staff, vendors, customers, and potential customers, your impeccable timing will be effortless.
Take this QUIZ and see if you’re ready to write the book that is inside you.