Is the “ONE THING!”
When I ventured out to build my own business in my early 20’s, I had no formal education, no real mentors and no network to draw upon. I wasn’t a particularly impressive kid. Lazy by nature, and, like most young guys my age, easily distracted.
I remember discovering two, highly successful entrepreneurs that served as huge inspirations for me while I was building my PR firm. Never met either of them, but they had a big influence on me as I ventured out to build my own company.
I read an article in some biz pub about Leigh Steinberg, the super sports agent, and how he had a dominant niche mostly representing NFL quarterbacks. I also remember reading about Lew Wasserman, the uber-powerful Hollywood agent and how he built MCA into the dominant agency in town. And, I was fascinated by Michael Ovitz, who built a monster talent agency, CAA, but imploded after leaving the firm he built when he left to try his hand as a studio boss at Disney.
I have hundreds of examples of similar stories. Entrepreneurs who dominate one field. And those that venture out of their niche, lose focus and get crushed. Those were formative lessons for me I never forgot.
So, what’s the lesson? What’s my message here?
It’s all about the “one thing.” It’s the biggest lesson of my career. Do one thing. Keep doing it over and over and over again. And get better and better and better. And when you do, you will dominate your niche.
Robert Bennet, the Washington D.C. attorney. Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker/consultant. Even Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen worked on his craft for 50 years. No Hollywood side career. No restaurant business. No distractions.
Same with the most successful entrepreneurs I study. They focus entirely on their craft and never deviate from it.
When I started out on my journey to build my firm, I initially lacked focus. I was full of hubris and gusto. I thought the right plan was to go after everything I could and do as much as they asked me to do. I thought I would be great at everything. A Master of The Universe. I worked my ass off and was fortunate enough to have really good employees with me so we did grow, in spite of my cockiness as a young entrepreneur. To the outside world, we were a hot agency and garnering lots of press and big name clients. But inside, I knew it was a struggle to juggle all of these client commitments and I was totally overextended and miserable as a result.
And that's when I discovered these amazing entrepreneurs who were specialists in their own field. I knew then what to do; I made a crazy decision to resign more than half of my agency's clients so that we could specialize. I was going to be as good as I could be in one thing...real estate PR.
And it worked...beyond my expectations actually.
30 years later, after building a successful niche firm, I was ready to pivot into the tech world. It's just where I saw huge opportunities, again, in my one niche, real estate. Having already learned the "one thing" lesson, I knew I couldn’t do “two things” well so I made the tough decision to leave my firm and focus 100% on The News Funnel. And that story is yet to be written but so far so good.
When I think of the people I admire for their success in my particular niche of real estate, it’s the same thing. They have been doing the same thing over and over and over. Working their craft every day and getting better along the way. Whether it’s Jonathan Mechanic, the powerful attorney at Fried Frank, or Steve Siegel, one of NY’s true legends in the brokerage field, they are the best at what they do and the market clearly understands what that “one thing” is that they are great at.
On my professional journey, doing “one thing” has always served me well and apparently for a few others as well. In every industry there are similar examples.
I would love to know any similar examples you can share.