I am in New York City putting together capital for our next new venture. Everywhere I go people are talking about all the new crowd funding and lending companies emerging. There are so many it brings me back to 1999. There was no Lending Club then but there was an eBay and emerging internet commerce. I thought I was way ahead of the crowd with my idea to convert our industrial auction company into this slick internet corporate eBay. We put a hip dot com brand on our family name and headed for the “hill”… the one called Sand Hill Road with every venture capital zillion dollar fund.
After one meeting I knew I wasn’t exactly late to the game but went from thinking I was an innovative front runner to another runner in the middle of the pack with zero chance if I didn’t pick up the pace and realize it was going to be a long, long crowded sprint. Everyone was raising dot com money. There was a line for online mortgage, for online travel, but the biggest line of all was the handout line for online auction. No sector of commerce was left out. Fifty yellow iron guys got funding. Fifty scrap and salvage guys too. Every specialty from wood to metal to food to chemical. Every retail from drugs to lingerie…And me too.
This company called Free Markets did an IPO that proved we were all brilliant. With not much revenue but the coolest look of the crowd they were zillion-aired. And it was crowded. And like always, Darwin sees that and he shows up to wreck the party. He loves to watch a good fight and see who survives.
Yikes. My Crowd funding plan for distressed assets is in the middle of the pack once again and NYC looks a lot like I remember Sand Hill to be. Gonna be a big crowd sprinting now.
Lately I have been dreaming about work. I say lately because until I hit the backside of sixty I never remembered dreaming. But thanks to my very mature and still growing prostate I awake for a call of duty every two hours. The only positive is I now remember my interrupted dreams and interrupted sleep. I have two recurring dreams that must be telling me something about our company and my future.
I bet someone reading this is a sleep and dream analyst and actually knows.
Dream One: I am in a plant and the client says go look at the factory machines and meet me back in the conference room. I am walking through the plant for hours. I am so lost. At every turn I get more confused. Finally I say I can’t find my way back I just got to hurry and find a bathroom. Then I
Wake up. Soon I am back in bed and off to the dream land.
Dream Two: Worse. A client calls and says Ross congrats we have chosen you to do the auction. It’s going to be huge. I get really excited and call up the next generation of Doves with the good news. They say “Great Day” and “Uncle Ross, who is it?” I panic because I can’t remember what deal I won. I try to act calm and say give me a minute to remember. Then I wake up still wondering who hired me.
If you’re wondering why I am telling you this…..Don’t ever follow your dreams. Live them. During my waking hours I can still find my way around a plant and remember who hired me. And lately that’s a dream come true.
Give me a call and I promise not to sleep on the job.
Since I was a kid, I have loved boxing. My grandpa, our founder, had a brief career. He was 8 wins, and Zero losses. Then he stepped up in weight class and got punched into the auction business. Taking a punch helped us still be here in our fourth generation. He used to watch fights with me and always get mad at the boring ones. He would say, “Wrong match up.” Years later I heard the term “Styles make fights.” This sounds obvious, but it’s really true outside of boxing, both in life and in business.
It’s so true in our world. We never ever get a real fight against our competition to see who could deliver best for our client. There is no battle of the bands. There is no final judge’s scorecard. We all fight hard to earn your business Then you pick us and we do our best. It isn’t ever head-to-head like Floyd and Manny. You don’t let the next guy re-do the sale to see who actually performed better. Our world is usually judgement call.
I am thrilled when we win assignments and distraught when I think we should have. But in either case, I’m very jealous of Manny and Floyd. After killer long negotiations we finally get what we all want to see. The endless puffery and meetings end. The lights go on and it’s all in the center of the ring. I’m very jealous our business isn’t on the 12 Round Must System. However it’s exactly the same. The smartest, toughest, best prepared will always prevail. HGP is in our auction gym daily, training to fight hard for you. Let’s get in the ring together and rock.
P.S. Predictions pre-auction count…as do pre-fight. In Round 9 Manny loses his legs and with a minute to go and his back to the ropes. Floyd puts on the money finish and Freddie tosses in the towel.
Let’s us give you our best 12 Rounds.
1. Airlines adding an hour of fake flight time to declare they arrived on time
2. Email sales pitches to get SEO traction
3. Two Day online auctions, when in reality all the bidding is in final hour
4. Video that can’t tell if Aaron Hernandez has a gun or tv remote
5. Finding out the client I just pitched forgot to tell me he isn’t the decision maker
6. Conference call dial in numbers with silly long pass codes
7. Four year car leases and thinking how few I have left
8. Putting your airline seat in upright as if it matters
9. The ten people standing behind the counter at DMV passport and Car Rental stand oblivious to the long lines
10. The amount of hotel windows that you can’t open
Call us on any deal–we’re ready go go!
The joy of competition:
This week I had one of those blah attitudes. I just didn’t feel like flying to Tennessee in coach, with a stop in Dallas, then heading an hour past Nashville, just to stay in another look a like Marriott Courtyard. Yikes. Forty years and more frequent flyer points than anyone needs. Anyways, I upgraded and crushed the online free poker game, and then realized I was just being a baby. Then the good part.
The company who invited HGP, also invited all our very best competitors on the same tour. Now, I can’t sleep because I am so energized trying to figure out how to win. How to best convey my belief in HGP and deliver for our company, our stakeholders and for our (hopefully) new client.
The bottom line is that I am really glad I have great competition that forces us to rise to the challenge. Beating all of them will be far more rewarding than the fake money I won on the delta poker video. If I do it right we can make real money and deliver real value. You can bluff at poker but at my day job it’s all about laying the cards on the table.
That part is still fun 40 years and 4000 auctions later.
We’re back now full throttle at HGP. I am 62 and took a pass on social security for a far better investment. There are three, fourth generation Doves working here. Plus the best talent in the industry, I truly feel. I figure if I bust ass to get them ready the next few years they will owe the old man more than the government. Plus I am not healthy enough or smart enough to retire. Two days of Golf and I need a week of Advil and back heaters. They say you’re supposed to have intellectual hobbies, but I would rather read about industry insight to grow HGP than expand my awareness outside of the biz. Here is the truth: My grandpa and my dad were both on the auction block at 80. If I am lucky to make 80, I might outlive the auction block (as online sales really have matured faster than me).
So HGP has our yearly company-wide Summit meeting this week. I plan on committing to just another two decades as long as Gen-Four commits, that at some point I can’t get my bag in the overhead bin, or climb the four story power plant.
Wow, another 20 year run, here we come. I can’t wait to hear the plans for 2015 and beyond.
To the HGP faithful clients, I promise we’re gonna rock this year.
Let’s do fun, profitable business together.
Mark Twain said it perfectly, “The two most important days in your life are the the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
I grew up in a generational business, founded by my grandfather. Then my Dad. Then my brother and I. Now we have our three sons in the business. Nobody alive has seen it start to finish for our family quite like my Mom. Now, her memory is slipping and it’s tough to watch. However, somehow there is real clarity as time marches on past short term memory. Sometimes she can’t remember my Dad has past or how old the boys are, but tonight she made me remember something far more important. She said ” Are you making sure your son’s ask their Grandfather for advice?” I said, “Mom, don’t get upset, but we lost dad 7 years ago.”
She got mad and said, “That’s because you never were good at listening. Don’t let that happen to your sons. Let them listen to him.”
I said, ” Ok, what is he saying?”
After some silence she said, “He can’t talk now. He left us.”
“Ok Mom,” I said, “What would he say?
Then it was never just an auction to Millard. It was knowing someone needed him. Long term memory is what really matters.
We’re half way through our Q4 of my career year #40 in the biz. We just finished up presenting to our Board of Directors the year end estimates along with the plan for next year. It made me really start thinking about how different everyone defines success. There are lots of business people who see it all on spread sheets. You’ve heard them over and over say numbers don’t lie, or the only true measure of performance is how much money you made. Then there is the flip side of those who run far away from black and white facts you can print out, instead wanting to be measured by the effort they made or the progress invisible on financial reports. And then there is this quote by WC Fields, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Then Quit. There is no business Making a damn fool of it.” So since I despise quitting and have zero issue risking making a fool of trying and trying again, I have come to define success very clearly.
- Did we do all we could and leave it all on the mat?
- Did we make bold promises to ourselves, to our colleagues and to our clients and live up to them with relentless effort
- Did we deliver?
- Did we as a team have each other’s back?
- Did we make a fair profit ?
- Did we meet new interesting people and learn and grow ?
And finally: Are we finishing strong? It’s still just November, so too soon to declare success. Still time to pick up the pace because one thing we can do for sure at least is work six more weeks hard enough to make sure we leave it on the mat.
Help us succeed. Put us on the road helping you sell and value.
We ready to run ragged because success is simply never quitting on ourselves or our clients or our investors.
We’re proud of our success at HGP and look forward to finishing strong.