Sunday, August 9, 2009

A classic concrete lever

Years ago, when I first thought about the idea of starting my own enterprise, I got as far as a core idea: leverage is the reason that people buy. People spend money on goods and services because they can get what they want faster, better, or cheaper that way than by building it from scratch. No, it's not a terribly revolutionary idea - just an evolutionary personal revelation for me.

Those of us with a sales and marketing background are familiar with multiple models for "buyers' motivations." It dawned on me that all of these models boil down to one insight: that the basic buying decision is some version of the "build versus buy" question. I don't have time to cook, but I am hungry now, so I find a restaurant. Take it further back - I love to cook, but I don't have a farm, garden, or hunting capabilities, so I go to the grocery store. In both cases, I choose to use my time doing the part I want to do, and outsource the component needs to a specialist. You could call it the Dell Computer model of life. The core idea is finding the lever that increases the value of all of the other components.

Too abstract? OK, let's get really concrete, and take a look at the classic lever:

Yes, it's a crowbar. Nothing special about it - except that it's the one I bought two decades ago when the importance of leverage first found its way into my conscious mind. The educator in me couldn't resist taking this recent picture using a common flipchart as the background - more fodder for a future post. I called this shot, taken with my low-end cell phone camera, "Crowbar on White."

The crowbar is my symbol for this personal evolutionary revelation about leverage, the value that each of us adds with our own special sauce. When all else fails, that is what each of us needs to stand on - the way in which our contribution provides leverage, value, for someone else. We put our crowbars to work opening boxes and crates for others, or, even more powerfully, we act as a crowbar in their hands. My crowbar is a concrete symbol of the value of the leverage I can provide.

Think about a crowbar for a minute. It is a simple, elegant machine. Its shape and strength are optimized to multiply the force that one can exert through probing and prying, especially prying. As a former teacher, I recognize prying as a metaphor for self-directed research. Am I going too far afield?

What is your crowbar? And how can you use it to help someone today?

1 comment:

  1. I get it...what about this...

    I work for a stationery store and often find myself creating invitations for customers -- which is something I really enjoy doing. For that point in time you become a part of their lives as you create something special/ important for them. I have the knack of listening to the customer and then taking the wording they give me to create something unique for their event. Often they say, "Here just use this." I seldom do...I adjust the wording, add something, take away something else...all to the create a special and unique invite -- I leverage what the customer gives me to create something better.