Success Tip 1 Do one more thing
Steve Jobs created something of a catch phrase with “one more thing”, but long before he was saying this at product introductions, it was a deeply embedded part of my philosophy of success. Like any successful philosophy, the strength of this mantra is its simplicity. I have used this throughout my life to drive my success. I did not achieve what I did in life by a sustained herculean drive, like most people suppose. I simply worked hard at something I loved, then, when I thought myself done for the day, I just did one more thing. I believe the difference between mediocrity and success is just doing a little bit more than everyone else, every day.
By now you know my hard luck story about leaving home at 17, working my way through college and then forging my way through the technology industry from the ground up. I will spare you all of those details. But here are a couple of examples of what I mean when I say “do one more thing” and how it paid off for me.
When I landed my first software sales job in 1990 we had monthly competitions for orders. We were calling architects and selling them real-time 3D design software. Most of the architects we called didn’t even have computers yet. This made the sale more complicated, but you know by now that I am someone who is not easily deterred by a simple speed bump like that. I would actually find out where they were and called a local computer store to pick out the right machine for them. Once they had the $3,000 Macintosh I could then sell them the $495 piece of software, and maybe some design services.
The competition among the sales people was pretty fierce, and complicated by the fact that the sales manager had hired his brother and his best friend as my competition, but I sustained a long streak of salesman of the month victories by doing just a little bit more and being creative. I would go so far as to leave the office at 5, go get a coffee or something to give the rest of the sales people time to leave, then I would circle back to the office and start calling the west coast. The manager was always a bit surprised when I put up orders on the board first thing the next day. I learned to kind of space them out so as not to tip my hand.
One Friday afternoon I had gone for a coffee and waited for the parking lot to empty, then came back in to make calls. As soon as I sat at my desk the phone actually rang, a rare occurrence, and it was a lady named Suzanne Peck who said she was from Warner Brothers. She said she had heard about our software from James Cameron and wanted to know if we could rapidly create a scene for a movie they were doing called “Joyride” The rub was that they needed the shot by Monday. I saw a great opportunity to nail another monthly victory. I quickly negotiated a deal to create the scene for her and packaged together the software and my services. When I hung up with her the fax chirped and spit out some crude architectural drawings of a store called “Nutty Nicks”. I had very little experience with our software, much less with reading blueprints, but turned on one of our systems and started designing. One of the engineers, David Easter, was still there and gave me some tips as I worked. I worked on in to the night and was able to Fedex a big tape drive to Warner Brothers on Saturday to arrive Monday morning. The short version of the rest of the story is that this scene I created became a 12 second scene in the Peter Weir film which came to be known as “Fearless” starring Jeff “The Dude” Bridges, Isabella Rosellini, John Turturro and Rosie Perez. Rosie was nominated for an Oscar. I didn’t get a credit but had the thrill of seeing my work on the big screen for the first time. Oh, and I also made salesman of the month again.
I have dozens of stories like this where I just did a little bit more than everyone else, but this post is already long. I will bore you with them in person once you have leveled up. Remind me to tell you how I went from bus boy to bartender in the space of one Summer at the Santa Barbara Sheraton during college.