We can learn a lot from Samuel Zemurray (Sam the Banana Man). But first we have to learn who he was. According to an article by Rich Cohen in the Wall Street Journal, among the many entrepreneurial roles Sam played, his first fortune was made in bananas, (hence, his nickname), though he also was a cowboy, trader, philanthropist and CEO of United Fruit.
Cohen suggests that Sam’s was the kind of thinking “today’s America, beset by economic ennui, needs more than ever.” That well may be, but his lessons demonstrate to me the kind of thinking you and I need when getting creative.
Cohen’s first example is headlined: “Go see for yourself.” He points out that when Sam decided to become a banana grower, he moved to the jungle in Honduras. I am not suggesting you search your drawer for your passport right now. But it is a good lesson for you when you are doing your due diligence for a new client or one you are pitching. Go to their location(s), speak to as many of their people—the actual workers, not the biggies—as you can. Taste, try on, examine…do whatever is necessary to experience the product or service for yourself. Research is fine; hand’s-on is best.
Another one of the examples Cohen mentions is “Don’t trust the experts.” To me, that advice alone is worth the price of admission. I don’t mean you should automatically ignore the conclusions of others. But doubting conventional wisdom, showing skepticism, and challenging authority will lead you to places you can’t find when following a well-traveled path.
Got the idea?