18Jun

Today’s post is inspired by the remarkable journeys of Rose Blumkin, an American businesswoman, and Jack C. Taylor, as recounted by Warren Buffet. Jack C. Taylor was a world war veteran whilst Rose was an immigrant from Russia who later built a very successful furniture company in the United States over 60 years ago. I found their stories fascinating and I want to share the invaluable lessons I learned with you.

Rose’s story begins in 1917 when she arrived in Seattle, unable to speak a word of English, and nothing to her name. Yet her determination propelled her to Omaha with her family just two years later. With an obvious language barrier, her young daughter Frances at the time took it upon herself to become her teacher, introducing Rose to new words she learnt from school. Rose, having been through a Cold War was already prudent and good at saving and through diligent saving from selling used clothing she saved up $2500 worth millions of dollars in current value today. With her savings, Rose purchased a furniture shop in Chicago called the Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1937. By 1983, she sold the business she started with $2,500 for $60 million to Warren Buffet. Currently, the business is now valued at over $1 billion, a testament to her legacy and unwavering determination.

Meanwhile, Jack C Taylor, a former decorated navy officer went into the auto business at 35, he later declined Warren’s offer to buy his business. He began working at a car showroom and became interested in the car leasing business. He went into business with his employer beginning with just 7 cars. By age 40, he entered the car rental market with only 17 cars, naming his business Enterprise named after one of the ships he worked on the ‘ USS Enterprise’. Jack’s unwavering commitment to exceptional customer service propelled his business to outshine industry giants. He started small but had a big vision. This is key to getting ahead. If we focus so much on how small we are instead of how big we can be, we will never know how much we succeed.

Today, his enduring legacy thrives, with his business now a global brand and in direct competition with other big names in leasing like Hertz and Avis. This is a testament to his relentless drive and dedication to customer satisfaction. The reality is there is always room for more competition no matter how good you think the market is as long as you apply the following principles:

1. Persistence Pays Off:

Rose Blumkin saved diligently for 20 years, amassing $2500, and started her business with just $500 in her husband’s basement office. Jack kept his struggling business going with determination. Success often takes time and perseverance.

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Achieving big goals often requires taking smaller steps over time. The key is to be consistent and not get discouraged if you do not see immediate results. Success often comes after a period of delayed gratification.

Rose could have decided there was no point in starting at all because of all the obstacles she faced, regardless she kept saving little and as often as she could. There will be times when you have to put in the hard work without immediate results, but if you stay focused on your long-term goals, it will be worth it in the end. Persistence helps you build momentum, which can snowball into bigger successes over time.

2. Focus on What You Can Control:

By directing your energy towards what you can influence, you become empowered to take action and create positive change. Dwelling on uncontrollable factors like language barriers or slow growth can be paralysing. Instead, by focusing on controllable aspects like saving money or service quality, you take charge of your situation and pave the way for success. While Rose could not speak English initially, she could still learn and save. Jack, despite a slow start, could still offer exceptional service. This approach encourages identifying opportunities for growth within limitations. By focusing on what you can control, you unlock the potential for progress, even when faced with challenges.

3. Keep Learning and Improving:

Success is rarely a one-time achievement. It is an ongoing process that requires continuous learning and improvement. The world is constantly evolving, and so should your approach. Seek out new knowledge, learn from your experiences, and adapt your product or service to stay ahead of the curve. Sometimes we let early failures define us when in reality they should not define us , failure is part of the process sometimes. Failure is a powerful teacher and through it we learn. We improve, we retrace steps, we iterate the process. This teaches us to view failures as opportunities for growth. Analyse what went wrong, adapt your approach. This emphasises the importance of believing in your ability to learn and improve. By embracing a growth mindset, you approach challenges as opportunities to develop your skills and refine your approach. This continuous learning journey is essential for achieving long-term success.

4. Customer Delight is Key:

Shift your focus from simply providing a product or service to creating a positive transformation for your customers. Did Jack just rent cars, or did he enable hassle-free road trips? Think about how you can elevate your customer interactions beyond the basic exchange. This emotional connection fosters positive memories and keeps your brand at the forefront of their minds. Exceptional customer service goes beyond just fulfilling a transaction. It is about building relationships. Creating positive experiences doesn’t require grand gestures. Sometimes, small details can make a big difference. Understanding their needs, exceeding their expectations, and creating a memorable experience are all crucial aspects of customer delight. By prioritising customer happiness, you not only ensure their satisfaction but also create a foundation for sustainable growth and success. When customers feel valued and respected, they are more likely to become brand advocates, promoting your business and contributing to long-term success.

5. Surround Yourself with Great People:

Imagine a puzzle – each piece unique, but together forming a complete picture. Similarly, a strong team comprises individuals with complementary skills. By surrounding yourself with those whose strengths fill your gaps, you create a well-rounded unit capable of achieving remarkable things. Finding a mentor – someone with experience and wisdom in your field – can be invaluable. They can provide guidance, share valuable insights, and help you navigate challenges. A mentor acts as a multiplier, accelerating your learning curve and propelling you towards your goals. Equally important is surrounding yourself with people who share your drive and passion. This creates a positive and motivating environment where everyone pushes each other to excel. A team fuelled by a collective ambition can achieve far more than any individual could alone. The key takeaway is to be intentional about the people you surround yourself with. Seek out mentors, partners, or employees who complement your skills, share your vision, and inspire you to be your best. By building a strong team, you will multiply your potential and pave the way for extraordinary achievements.

6. Start From Where You Are:

Starting small does not mean aiming small. Both Rose and Jack’s journeys began with seemingly insignificant steps, but their determination led them to achieve remarkable things. In a letter to Berkshire shareholders in 2013, Buffett wrote, “Aspiring business managers should look hard at the plain, but rare, attributes that produced Mrs. B.‘s incredible success.

Remember, every successful venture begins with a single step. Focus on taking consistent action, no matter how small, and trust that over time, these steps will lead you closer to your dreams. You do not need everything figured out or possess grand advantages to begin. What matters most is the will to start and the unwavering determination to keep going.

Rose Blumkin and Jack challenge the myth of needing a perfect starting point for success. Their determination and focus on what they could control propelled them forward. You too can begin with what you have. Focus on making progress, no matter how small, and gradually build momentum towards your goals. Don’t get paralysed by the desire for everything to be perfect at the outset. Identify your strengths, and available resources, and explore creative ways to utilise them to move forward. Stop waiting for the “perfect” moment to begin.

The key takeaway is Rose and Jack didn’t wait for ideal circumstances to start – they started with what they had. By taking action now, with the resources available to you, you set yourself on the path toward achieving your goals. So, don’t wait for everything to be perfect, embrace the power of now, and take that first crucial step.