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It’s NOT “the Fast Eat the Slow” – It’s the Smart Eat the Dumb…

A while back, I was in the audience for the presentation of another author/speaker

A while back, I was in the audience for the presentation of another author/speaker during a meeting of a very prominent technology company.

As he addressed the group, he told them his basic business philosophy: it isn’t the big that win out over the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.

And, while I agree that speed can often be a competitive advantage, I sat there and thought the statement – in my opinion, and with all due respect – is blatantly false. It’s just flat out wrong.

Native Americans almost hunted the buffalo to extinction. Was it because they were faster than the bison? Of course not.

I had a great meal of ahi tuna last night, but put me in the ocean next to one, and see who swims the fastest.

Fishermen secured the catch – not because they were of superior speed, but because they were smarter than their target. Indians could not outrun the great buffalo – but, they could outthink them.

It’s not the fast that eat the slow – it’s the smart that eat the dumb.

Faster doesn’t always explain success – Facebook wasn’t fastest to the market, but it sure ate MySpace, didn’t it? Nokia, Motorola, and others were faster to the mobile market than Apple – but, which one would you rather be right now?

As observed in Ecclesiastes 9:11, “the race is not to the swift.”

In the world of sports, Renaldo Nehemaih was the fastest human in the world when he played with the San Francisco 49ers. But, it was another receiver – named Jerry Rice – who was the one on the team making the catches that won games. In earlier times, sprinter Bob Hayes was a star for the Cowboys – but, eventually defenses started playing zone and bump-and-run and began to limit his effectiveness. Want the fastest player to quarterback your team? Or a smarter guy – like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning?

The world is filled with fast products and instant service that is shoddy. But, what’s superior about being first with something that’s substandard? You don’t want to be fast – you want to be smart…you should desire distinction.

Certainly, there are times when speed is of utmost importance. “Just in time” manufacturing and maintaining low inventory are important concepts in industry, for example – but not because it’s quick; the reason is the approach is vital is because it’s smart business.

If your focus is upon fast, you tend to become a leader or an organization that tries to do what you are already doing with more speed. If your focus is upon smart, you tend to become a leader or an organization that develops a culture of learning, and tries to discover more compelling and productive ways to obtain and retain customers.

To become more profitable and grow your business, you don’t necessarily have to outrun your competition – but, you do have to outthink them.

The old story of the tortoise and the hare was ridiculed as outmoded in the discussion of the “fast eating the slow.” Yet, I sat there in the audience, unable to let go of my belief that – like many of the best tales – the essence of the fable, and the moral of the story, were both timeless and true.

And, by the way, never forget who wins that race in the end.

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Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.