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What do Milton Hershey and Mary Poppins Have in Common?

What do Milton Hershey and Mary Poppins Have in Common?

October 30, 2013

We’ve all been told not to be quitters. But does perseverance really pay off?

Consider that Milton Hershey started not one but THREE unsuccessful candy companies in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York before creating a rather successful business in the city that now bears his name. 

Consider that Walt Disney tried for sixteen years to convince novelist Pamela Travers to allow him to make a movie of her book, Mary Poppins… which went on to become one of the highest grossing family films ever.


Consider that 81% of sales come after the fifth contact.


Motivation Helps


If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” you may be interested to learn that actually, you can. Here’s the trick: salt his oats.

You see, it’s all about motivation. The salt creates thirst, and the thirst motivates the horse to drink.

Motivation is a powerful tool. Anybody who has ever exercised with great results has done so by being motivated. And as it turns out, motivation can come in many different forms.


The classic tale “Three Feet from Gold” tells of a man named Darby who staked out his claim in an area rich with gold. After some initial success, the gold ran dry.  For a while, Darby kept on searching. But after some more futile attempts, he quit in frustration and sold his machinery to a local junk dealer and left the territory.


As the story goes, the junk dealer moved the machinery a mere three feet, and that was where he discovered millions of dollars worth of gold. Frustrated by the close call, Darby decided to be more persistent. He switched his profession and used the gold digging experience to motivate himself to great success in the insurance industry.   


Perseverance 101


While persistence comes from within, there are steps that can be learned to enhance your chances of your persistence paying off. Consider the following three tips:   


1. Start Small:  Many people aim for the sky, with grandiose visions of success, then become quickly frustrated when they realize that they won’t create the next Amazon.com or Apple.  Confucius once said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”


2. Use the Best Method: If you are persistent but your methodology is flawed, everything will take longer.  For example, many people believe that a production-line approach is the best way to accomplish simple tasks. They are usually wrong. A one-piece-flow method is typically faster and more productive as illustrated by this video from LSS Academy in Texas. And, if we learned anything from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it was that you cannot cut down the biggest tree in the forest with a herring.  


3. Take Willful Action: Many entrepreneurs work long and hard to perfect something that their competitors release, perhaps imperfectly, before them. Sam Walton, of Wal-Mart fame, would say “Ready, Fire, Aim!” Get the ball rolling! As the old saying goes, “It is better to strike a straight blow with a crooked stick than spend your whole life trying to straighten the darn thing out!”  


Real World Perseverance

Let me share a current example of perseverance.

Dr. Rick Henningsen of Long Island, New York, got tired of the arduous process of trying to clear snow off his cars. It was particularly difficult for his 5’1” wife. He invented the Blizzerator, a specially shaped snow cleaning tool. By the winter of 2012 he had numerous pre-orders, and requests to be added to the wait list were pouring in along with payments. Everything was looking good.  

Then, everything went wrong. The product finally arrived. Although he had used a reputable manufacturer, it was of subpar quality -- not even close to the strict standards he and his team had committed to selling.


Henningsen made a difficult choice. He recalled all the orders, knowing full well that this could bury his chances of ever making the Blizzerator into a commercial success. The financial implications were staggering — the loss of of income, the need for additional operating expenses to float the company for another year with no revenue, the sunk costs of marketing expenditures, and many other considerations.


But Henningsen refused to give up. He persevered and, ultimately, he weathered the 2012 disaster. He moved ahead with a production run of the Blizzerator from a new manufacturer that met his quality standards. The product was so well-received that the company had to triple their launch production run to accommodate orders from large retailers like Sam’s Club, with others looking to work with them through March of 2014.


Persistence pays.


Could you be the next Hershey, Disney, or Henningsen? If you are passionate about your business idea or product, use the ideas I’ve shared here to bring them to life. Set goals and persevere to reach them by starting small, using the right methodology, and taking willful action.


Not sure where to start? Take our FREE 2 minute business assessment to identify your business strengths and weaknesses. Once you see where you stand, contact us for a 15-minute meeting with a Brand Launcher associate.



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