Eyes On Your Own Paper

Such warnings by teachers, during exams, were appropriate cautionary messages to prevent copying or cheating and the resulting punishment. Indeed, even beyond school, propriety may dictate not looking at your fellow airplane passenger’s laptop screen. And “Peeping Tom” behavior can result in a misdemeanor or worse. Wandering eyes can get you in trouble in many circumstances. However, don’t let such warnings and advice totally prevent you from looking at what others are doing.

            In my research that led to Visionarie$ Are Made Not Born, I found examples of highly successful business visionaries who not only looked at, but actually copied, what others were doing.

Ø  Bob Walter built a grocery distribution service that he bought for less than a million dollars into a multi-billion dollar behemoth. Walter says he never had an original idea but copied others’ ideas, which he adapted to his own business, Cardinal Health.

Ø  Rocky Wirtz was presented with a seemingly devastating bill for $20 million when he assumed leadership of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team after his father died. Many would have sold the team and walked away with $100 million net. Rocky examined other teams’ finances, paid the debt and kept the team, now likely worth a billion dollars.

Ø  Fred Smith’s plan including use of a central hub, received a “C” from his Yale professor. Fortunately, Fred ignored the grade and started FedEx with a central hub in Tennessee. Interestingly, the central hub concept had been used in other circumstances when Fred read about it and incorporated the idea into his plan.

So if you’re taking an exam, do keep your eyes on your own paper and generally your own laptop or phones. Needless to say Peeping Tom behavior is out! If, however, you are in business, I advise you to look at what others are doing or have done. It’s what I call “Over the Eaves Vision” in Visionarie$ Are Made Not Born, and it can prove very rewarding if properly implemented.

Have you known or read about a successful businessperson who did something clever in his/her business? Can you think of a way to adapt that to your business?