The Principles of Success in Business
A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time with Denny Corby after he spoke at the ScaleUp Summit in Atlanta. One of the things I love most about meeting people is finding out who they really are. Not just who their business or professional persona is but what makes them tick, what do they love? For Denny, I found out its magic. Denny is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania. If you are familiar with the US version of the TV show ‘The Office’ Denny’s families business is the basis of the show!
Like many family-owned businesses Denny joined his dad from a young age and feels blessed that his father recognised his love of magic and after Denny worked at the business for a couple of years his dad took him aside for a chat. Denny’s father recognised the value in allowing someone to follow their passion and rather than the usual expectation of “you’re part of the family. You’re going to work in the business” or “business success is family success”, his father set him free to follow his love of magic so that he wouldn’t harbour any regrets later in life. If I finished this article here I think that would be a lesson to us all, wouldn’t it? Especially after the last year. Life really is short.
But I’m not going to finish here because Denny’s story gets more interesting!
Denny originally thought that if he could do just a couple of magic shows a month he would earn the same sort of money as he would as a salesperson in his fathers firm, so what did it matter? He was used to minimum wage so why not give it a go. However, he actually turned his passion into a business success by learning a few key lessons.
Social Media and a Website are not Enough
Denny told me that he initially thought that because he had a website and a social media presence that people would flock to his door but it wasn’t the case. I’ve found there are a great many people like this, all their posts on social media are jab, jab, jab, right hook. They’re all, “Buy my shit. Buy my shit.” It’s not, “Here’s some value. Here’s some value. Here’s some value.” So when people see that you post and all you’re asking for is the business, those people are just going to scroll past you because they just know you’re trying to get their money from them.
Persistence Is Key
Denny has built his business on a couple of key pillars. One of them is persistence. Denny told me that when he is at home and doesn’t have a gig for a couple of days, even if he’s travelling and doing shows, he still tries to spend one to four hours a day on money-making activities. So phone calls, emails. He considers a post on social media because that’s staying front of mind and front-of-mind awareness. Just doing something to at least, even if it’s only 20 minutes updating his CRM system. Denny feels that even if he is behind on his to-do list as long as he is still just knocking things off and keeping in touch with people and following up on events then he is making progress which leads to business success.
And that’s really important. The whole thing around persistence and consistency is actually making sure you work out. There are a lot of people who cannot handle rejection. Now, as we all know, very often, we speak to people and they just don’t do anything with you, nothing comes of the conversation. How do you handle that rejection? Denny’s advice on this subject is to rely on your persistence. We all know that we don’t like or gel with everyone that we meet, and that has to be okay. If you don’t click with someone it’s just not going to work. It’s better to be upfront and honest about it and then move on. There are always plenty of other opportunities if you’re prepared to look for them and prepared to keep being persistent.
Some of the best relationships can take years to bear financial fruits and that’s okay too. Think of all the things you can learn over the years about someone and how when you do eventually work together how much better the relationship will be because you chose to persevere with it.
Don’t Take It Personally
One of the key things to remember is that business success is hardly ever personal. It might feel like it at times but remember we never know what’s going on with someone. As business owners we all have busy lives and whilst we may intend to get back to someone, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But it’s not personal. It’s human nature. I’m the same. I will sometimes need to get back to someone and I’ve got all the intention in the world that I’m going to get back to that person. But shit happens. Your day gets in another email, phone call, another thing you have to go and deal with. And before you know it, it’s out of your mind. And you don’t mean to be rude. It’s just part and parcel of what happens.
Low-Level Techniques For Relationship Management
One of Denny’s favourite tricks for low-level keeping in touch is texting his clients because for him A, who do you text? Your friends and family and people that you like. And B, even if they’re doing something else, you can always respond to a text.
Short texts like, “Hey, it’s Denny. Haven’t heard back. Are we a go?” Just something simple. And plus, it allows me to connect more personality because of emojis and GIFs and stuff like, “Oh, that’s the best.”
It’s important to remember what you lose with email and text is you can’t tell how sincere people are. It’s hard to gauge how someone feels. So maybe try to add a smile, just whatever funny faces or funny GIFs. That kind of opens up the door. It’s about building a good rapport, good relationships whenever you can.
One of the reasons for Denny’s success is not just that ever-present persistence, it’s that he acknowledges that the business side of his enterprise is just as important as the artistic and creative side. Denny told me “ I think that’s where a lot of magicians and people in the arts, even the comedians and that whole spectrum, that’s where they fall off the wayside. I think you still have to spend time on your craft, on the creativity side. But then also, on the business side, the professional development side. Plus, it’s just great networking too, because now you’re with other people who want to do better too. So it’s just like, “Oh, a comedian’s here. He must be good too.” So it’s just kind of like that ongoing. Plus, you just feel good about yourself”.
Unusually for a magician, Denny has also worked with a business coach and found the experience extremely rewarding. In his words, “ It was not cheap. So it definitely pushed me because I was like, “Well, I paid for this. So definitely going to get the most value out of it.”
I know a lot of people out there, they get really scared around getting a business coach. They think about the investment and it does frighten them. But at the end of the day, I think it’s not a coincidence that Denny is where he is because he was prepared to back himself. And that’s the thing. It’s about making sure that you are able to learn and grow. And actually, I see it with accountants. I see it with lawyers, where they know their craft. But they never learned the business element.
I would say that the business element is as important as a craft. Let me give you a great example. I’ve just finished Kevin Hart’s book and it’s an epic book. I mean, apart from all the bad language and swearing, he’s hilarious. But what he’s brought into it, the kind of entrepreneur he’s brought into it, and actually, how much time he spends on his business, it’s not surprising. He’s an absolute machine.
It goes back to know where you want to go. Be persistent. Be prepared to learn. You’re going to have to take a few knocks along the way. But if you truly believe in the dream and you really want the dream, it’s about doing whatever it takes. Make sure you’ve got the right people around you to help you get there.
Delve deeper into those overnight success stories you hear about and you’re likely to find that it has taken them more like 15 years to actually become an overnight success. And that just shows you how much persistence is worth.
If you’ve reached this point and anything has resonated with you, whether it’s around finding your passion, having that ability to be persistent or making sure that you’re systemised and processed and you want to explore it further, look around the site and get in touch.
And remember, failure to learn is learning to fail.