January '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 8 5 I started allocating time to call upon tar- geted clients whom I wasn't currently doing business with. Some were long shots and most took weeks, months and even years of systematic engagements before we ever saw an opportunity. Eventually, a day would come when their current ven- dor dropped the ball, missed a delivery, or worse. By staying top-of-mind during this proactive barrage, I ensured that the customer would inevitably call me. e door opened. It might have only been a small bit, but my foot was in. And that was all it took. Many competitors would have given up long before then. I have a heavy dose of the persistence gene, so the challenge kept me going when my rational mind was arguing with the persistent part. In some cases, it took years to get my first order with some customers. One is now one of my largest clients each year and does well over $1 mil- lion in annual sales. But if I hadn't been proactive and started when there was noth- ing, they would still be someone else's cus- tomer. So never quit, be tenacious, and go after them. It will pay big dividends. For as long as I can remember, my mom taught me about being proactive. She was the first person in my life to read self-help books and invest in self-improvement. She was very optimistic and this imbued eter- nal optimism in me. She would always say, "You can be anything you want to be." She was encouraging and never limiting. is was not a product of her Depression-era parents; they were great, loving people but not big encouragers. My grandmother's sister Margie was the magical factor for my mom; she was a Renaissance woman who took vitamin supplements, exercised every day, and ate health food before it was popular. She showed my mom she was capable of anything. My mom went back to school to get her MBA and teaching cer- tificate at Margie's urging. is allowed my mom to teach at the same school for 34 years and raise two boys on her own. Margie was also a special caregiver in my life. She did the same things for me and encouraged me to dream big and to know there were no boundaries. She taught me about birds and spent time climbing the mountain with me behind her house in Alpine. She raised African Violets, col- lected Reader's Digest books, and spent quality time being a mentor to me. Her marriage was emblematic of cooperation, love, patience, and sacrifice. No one in our family saw Margie and her husband Jack share one argument or terse word in 70 years together. Margie was a 'get it done' individual and always on a mission. From her mouth, I heard the word 'pro- active' for the first time. She epitomized the meaning of being proactive. Be a visionary What is a visionary? It's some- one with foresight and imagination who sees a potential outcome and can often provide the roadmap to get there. ose with both discipline and vision are rare. Sometimes they are controversial fig- ures. ey often have the unique ability to allow their minds to flow freely and unencumbered. Yet they often can bring everything together to seamlessly inte- grate it with the real world. For me, I live in the future. I believe you can state clear goals, outline a strategic road map to get to the destination, and empower the individuals in your organi- zation to help you get there. You must be a risk-taker — brainstorm, dream and be creative. And you must be a good com- municator and motivator. Don't forget to adjust your plan as needed. e hallmark of a visionary leader is his or her ability to mobilize people towards a goal. is leadership style is defined by persuasion, charisma, and a high emo- tional IQ. Leaders who practice this man- agement style can articulate a vision for the future and the path others must take to reach it. For your business to survive and even thrive, you must have a visionary in your highest levels of management and/or own- ership. ey often have an uncanny way of knowing when, how, and where to cat- apult the company forward. ey stretch everyone like Play-Doh. Growing up in West Texas helped me become a visionary. With mountains and large vistas, you feel like you are in big sky country. You see ranchers who talk each day about when it rained last, when it's going to rain next, or whether their cattle prices are going to hit rock bottom. Ranchers must be visionaries; they look for diversification opportunities and ways to survive each season. Some invest in other businesses to augment their cattle raising. e dry climate and many days of sun- shine produce some faces that are tanned and lined like the saddles they ride. But their optimism about change and what is next keeps their teams engaged and on track. ey act like anything is possible, and that is contagious. So set the stage in your organization and be the visionary. Let your mind wander through the possibilities. Figure out the way to get where you want to go. Do, plan and adjust. Never stop dreaming; it fuels the soul. And if you get the chance, go visit West Texas and spend some time in the cities I've mentioned. It will change your perspective on many levels. You might even learn a life lesson that will stick with you forever. GP 5 What is a visionary? It's someone with foresight and imagination who sees a potential outcome and can often provide the roadmap to get there.

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