25 Lessons Over 25 Years
Turpin’s twenty-fifth anniversary is this week. That’s an exciting and satisfying thing for me to think about. Strangely, I’m writing this at the office (I usually write at home) on the old library table that was my desk 25 years ago. It hasn’t been my desk for a long time. Now it sits outside Kevin’s office and is used as a workshop suitcase packing surface.
We were talking about this anniversary at our last PR meeting. Brian suggested that I write this article, thinking that it would be a good way to mark the milestone. I thought I would have trouble coming up with 25 things that I’ve learned. I was wrong.
What I've Learned
- Stay focused on what you do best.
- Your goal should be to be the best at what you do. Otherwise, why are we doing it?
- When the economy tanks, work harder and don’t cut corners.
- The sales pipeline must be full and diverse. Always.
- Take risks and try new things. If they don’t work, let them go.
- Buy the expensive luggage. You won’t regret it.
- Hire an excellent designer for your brand and website. If you’re lucky, he will ask you, “If Turpin were a cocktail, what would it be?” From this, you will learn that you can build a brand around single malt scotch.
- Speaking of your brand, protect it like a mother bear.
- Everyone thinks that they’re an expert when it comes to giving people feedback on presentations. Occasionally, they are.
- Honeydew melon sucks no matter what hotel or conference center you are in.
- Hire people with different backgrounds, education, and interests than you.
- Hire people who are smart and independent.
- An employee’s open mind and curiosity are far more important than their degree or business experience.
- Don’t be cheap.
- Make sure that everyone on your team understands what the company stands for and represents it with every client interaction.
- Make everyone’s job as pleasant as possible.
- Give your employees freedom and respect.
- An important hiring consideration should be: Would I want to be delayed late into the night at an airport after a long week with this person?
- If a prospect is buying solely on price, let them go quickly.
- Resist the urge to let buyers turn what you do into a commodity.
- A smart, skeptical client is a gift because they make you better.
- It’s all about earning the trust of buyers and workshop participants. Without trust, nothing will go well.
- People who have never owned a business will not understand why you aren’t taking a vacation and why you can’t just take the day off.
- If you’re not very good at some aspect of your job, find someone else to do that work.
- Write about what you do: a blog post, a white paper, a book. It doesn’t matter how long or formal the writing is; the act of writing forces clarity and exposes sloppy thinking. As Einstein said (at least many people think it was Einstein): “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I have learned a lot about what we do from writing about it.
There you have it. Big thanks and a how-did-I-get-so-lucky to everyone who has contributed to Turpin’s success. You are all amazing and you know who you are.
I’ll make another list in 10 years.
Written by Dale Ludwig
Dale Ludwig has a Ph.D. in Communication and, prior to Turpin, taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He founded Turpin Communication in 1992 with the mission to provide the best presentation and facilitation skills training possible. Since then he has worked to do just that. In addition to being one of Turpin’s lead instructors, he also serves as our Chief Learning Architect when tailoring learning engagements for our clients. Dale is a frequent blogger and the co-author of the book "The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined." He’s excited about his latest book, also co-authored with Greg Owen-Boger, "Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide to Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning."