Novel Excerpt: “It was 2007 and we were proudly sailing our ‘built from scratch’ royal blue rig in an open water race. We were still on a high having won several awards of merit in the last race. Our two largest competitors were ahead on either side of us and we were gaining on them, as in a light wind we had an ever so slight advantage inherent with light weather sailors. I was proud of the crew and each one was well matched to their duties.
Suddenly, as the sun shone down on us, and as I busied myself reading the telltale signs of the wind and adjusting our course accordingly, a missile blasted across the sky hitting us and leaving a severe hole in both the main sail and the bottom of our boat. As water poured in we bailed out, swimming to shore. We dragged what pieces of our sailboat we could.
Shocked and dismayed we huddled together on the shore surveying the wreckage. The brutal attack made no logical sense because the missile was shot by a large Yellow boat behind us who was not only not in our race, but whom we knew well and considered friendly…”
Over two years has since past since I received the note from a businessman I respected which included a long passage from “The Art of War”. You see I had been the deliberate target of a billion dollar monopoly who wanted me and our successful business out of business. The tactics used were dishonest, unethical and malicious and I was ready to expose them and take them on.
But the businessman disagreed with my approach and so persisted in getting his point across by sending more passages. I could not win he said because the monopoly was too big and powerful and because they had unlimited resources. It was best for me to heed the advice in the “Art of War” passage and “surrender”. “Fleeing to the hills” in my mind was cowardly, but losing my life would be stupid. So I surrendered but not without coming first to a profound realization. I discovered that I have something more valuable than the billion dollar predator’s billions and that is….The Truth.
They say crisis breeds opportunity and historically there is considerable evidence that such adversity fosters innovation in companies. The Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity showed that the rate of new business creation was higher during the deepest part of the 2009 economic recession than it had been in fourteen years. We were a part of this rejuvenation as like these companies we were forced through no fault of our own to reinvent our business-models. We did this by expanding our footprint and our service offerings, and finding solutions in unlikely places. Inspiration came from our loyal staff, from our social network, from our wonderful new suppliers, from our customers and through participating in new growth opportunities.
The final chapter of my book will be about how we learned to harness our drive and ingenuity in new and compelling ways to create a more dynamic and prosperous future for our customers, ourselves and our organization.