The PivotDesk Blog


BTDT: Why I actively reject the idea that winners never quit and quitters never win

As children, the idea that quitters never win helps power our drive and teaches us to fight weakness. As adults (and in business), we experience the contrary. It affects our drive but can incite weakness as a result.

As entrepreneurs, it’s ingrained in our systems — for better or for worse.

On the positive side, the “I’m not a quitter” mentality empowers us to take enormous leaps of faith in order to make our vision a reality. In that sense, it sets us apart from most. On the negative side, it creates blinders. It gives us the impression that success is driven by brute force. As a result, we are wired to stay the course — often in a manner that equates more to stubbornness than progress.

The problem is that stubbornness (while very powerful) usually means we continue to push even when an initiative is underperforming. We do so because our instinct is to identify the problem as a lack of effort when what we really need to do is evaluate the efficiency of our approach.

For me, things like slowing down to speed up feel completely counterintuitive both due to my wiring and the pressure that surrounds me as the CEO of a young business. Most of my exec team suffers from the same thing. They’re all people who learned early on to never give up — and that’s the very reason they’re all VPs managing a growing business at the age of 35 and under.

Together, we have to solve for one key issue:

The same wiring that drives us puts us at risk for failure.

Luckily, we’ve identified a core philosophy that helps us solve for this:

We need to get out of our own way.

Collectively, we hold each other accountable for practicing that. We make decisions to actively re-wire ourselves and the lens with which we evaluate the business.

We create an environment where quitting is welcome (assuming you can back it up with suggestions for what we should do instead) and we take the time to celebrate when our decision to “quit” pays off.

(This BTDT blog series is part of how we call attention to (and celebrate!) those surprising wins.)

In the last year, we’ve done an absurd amount of quitting — I’d say we’ve become experts in the sport.

We’ve talked a lot about the things we quit in recent posts. First, how we increased our revenue 300% by ignoring everything we possibly could and second, how we asked our sales people to “do less” and tripled output as a result.

In those cases, we were underperforming. We had to re-evaluate, re-structure and quit a lot of what wasn’t working.

Today, I want to flip the script.

I want to show you how it pays off when you take a big risk and quit things that work.

Most recently, we saw this happen within our marketing.

It all started with this blog. We originally launched Been There, Done That in the fall of 2014. We were on a mission to get in front of, and help, more businesses digitally. We wanted to provide value outside of PivotDesk’s office space solution and we had a lot of insight to share… so we dove in full force.

The feedback was outstanding — on a daily basis I received 20-50 emails and comments from people validating that our content was helping them navigate through the trenches of growing a business.

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People liked the series and they were engaging with it. Blog traffic was up 416% after the first month. Just minutes after launch, our subscriber list looked like this — and it increased exponentially each day after.

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Long story short: There was no doubt we were on to something.

There were of course some issues… for example, the bandwidth it took to brainstorm, research and write valuable posts had a big impact on myself and my head of sales and marketing. As it stood, the blog was taking away from some of the core pieces of the business that we were in the process of improving.

For some, that would have been enough to re-evaluate the initiative. We made the mistake of pushing forward — because winners never quit, right?!

We moved the blog to “after hours” where we went late into the night reviewing feedback, responding to comments, gathering data for new posts etc. That was the stubborn part of us rearing its ugly head. We saw results and so we kept pushing… somewhat blindly.

Is that was made us pull the plug? No.

The reason we pulled the plug… the honest truth… we weren’t ready for it.

Part of the goal for the blog is to get in front of more businesses to ensure they know about us so we can help them if and when they need office space. At the time, we were in the process of re-evaluating the process by which we engage businesses to help facilitate space for them. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a lot of holes in that process and that meant the results our blog was driving were being wasted. All the extra time and resources we were dedicating to the blog was flooding a leaky bucket and we were missing out on the opportunity to help a lot of people.

Here’s the problem. We could have fairly easily identified this issue before going deep… but we were so busy proving we weren’t quitters that we missed the warning signs.

We missed the signals telling us the initiative was flawed from the start. But that’s the funny thing about warning signs; eventually they get so loud you can’t miss them. When we got to that point, we let go of our pride and made a painfully difficult decision:

We decided to quit something that WAS working in order to invest in something that WAS NOT.

And you know what? The sky didn’t fall. Nor did the ground crumble beneath us! Instead, it got us back on our feet.

Today, we’re back at it again (as is evidence by this post). The feedback is positive, the traffic is flowing and we see new subscribers every day. This time, however, we have a more solid structure to support the activity we’re driving.

This blog taught us a valuable lesson in evaluating the impact of our initiatives and we quit a lot more things as a result. In fact, we quit nearly every marketing initiative we had in play — including those that were working — and yes, I’ll walk you through what that looked like, but not today. Instead, I’ll bring Ginevra (VP of Sales and Marketing) back in on an upcoming post to share the gritty details.

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