For my money, Roth isthe greatest frontman in the history of Rock and Roll (I didn’t say “singer” — there’s a huge difference, so don’t even start). He’s also come up with more than his share of keen insights over the years. This one has always stuck with me since I heard him say it back in 1986.
It’s exciting to come up with an idea you just know will be “the next big thing.” But any idea that’s going to work on a big scale will almost always succeed on a small scale first.
I’ve seen people invest their life savings and even take a second mortgage out on their house in order to open up a restaurant. They knew it was a sure thing, since all their friends loved their unique recipes. It wasn’t.
Better to be a seed first. They could have started a small catering business, just to see if there really was a demand for their special dishes recipes. Then, once they built up a following, they could have used the profits from the catering business as seed money (no pun intended) for the restaurant. Only then would it be flower-time.
Unfortunately, I’m not immune to thinking too big, too fast either. When I had my direct marketing business, I’d have a product idea, then get a few dozen prototypes made to test the market. After the test was successful, I’d ramp up to 5,000 units.
After a few successes, I thought I had it all figured out. On my next project, I said to myself, “I don’t need to bother with prototypes. I know this thing is a winner. Look how much we’ll save if we get 10,000 units made right from the start.”
You guessed it — it was a total flop! I wound up eating about 9,996 of those units after they sat in my garage for a few years.
I should’ve listened to Diamond Dave.
I want it, and I want it now! Not only do I want instant gratification, I want immediate recognition, too. I want to be the best, and I want the world to know it right away.
For most meaningful things in life, there are no shortcuts. You simply must put in the time and effort.
There was a movie called Rat Race several years ago in which two guys in a truck were trying to beat the other characters to some location, and one says, “I know a shortcut!”
The driver says, “No! Shortcuts are dangerous. If they weren’t, it would just be called ‘the way.’”
A slow and steady pace in the right direction is far better than speeding down the wrong road, then another, then another.
To get faster, more efficient results in any aspect of your life, abandon the idea that you’re not going to have to do any work to get there, and embrace the idea that learning from both the mistakes and successes of others will vastly accelerate your progress.
Want to be a flower? You gotta be a seed.— David Lee Roth