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Watch out for the killer asteroid!


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Just when you thought you had enough to worry about in your business, according to USA TODAY (April 23, 2014) it now looks like the chance for a “killer asteroid” is a bigger threat that we believed. I’ll bet you didn’t capture that as a possible threat in your strategic plan! Better fire up the laptop again ....

According to the B612 Foundation (sounds like a vitamin!), once every 500 or 1,000 years a killer asteroid capable of destroying a city will hit the Earth. I don’t doubt the estimate but believe I can sleep tonight without my Ambien.

I recently had a meeting with a young CEO who was chasing asteroids. He’d grown his company to a small business of respectable size and had a goal to achieve $50 million in sales in the next few years. However, as we talked further, it was apparent that he was terribly distracted chasing asteroids and even dust particles.

After a few years of big growth, he’d been flat the past year because he was sidetracked. He had, in his own words, been so busy that he “forgot about sales.” That’s a pretty big thing to forget about! As we continued talking, he shared that he’d jumped from one crisis to another, some significant, some less so.

This was my fourth conversation with this CEO. A mutual acquaintance, someone with lots of experience and a bird’s-eye view into this business, suggested he needed help developing a clear strategy. He can’t identify why his customers buy from him versus competitors and isn’t sure if he should try to grow (once the asteroids are killed) by adding products, adding geography, building a different type of sales force or starting another business. You get the picture.

Unfortunately, every time we’ve talked, he says he really wants some help thinking about the future, but he just has a few more things he wants to clean up. He has said this four times over an extended period.

You could draw numerous conclusions from this, including “Todd needs to get better at his closing technique!” However, I’m very worried about his young CEO because he’s so busy chasing today’s problems that he’ll never have a clear path to the future.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, titled his book Only the Paranoid Survive. It’s a catchy name and has some value as a prescription, but if you spend all of your time looking through a small window for asteroids rather than planning for success, you’ll just be a paranoid guy looking through a small window.

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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