The Elephant and His Brother-In-Law

“I just don’t get it!” trumpeted the Elephant. “We have a great product! We have a great reputation! And our service is unparalleled!”

“Why are our competitors growing so much faster than us!” he complained to the consultant.

The consultant looked at the pile of papers before her, all information she requested of the Elephant. “Let me have a week to look this over, interview your executive team, and ask some questions of your customers, and I’ll get back to you in a month,” she said.

At their meeting the following month the consultant did indeed have some answers. She walked the Elephant through charts showing improvements that might be made in delivery and some additional things customers wanted from their suppliers. However she saved the biggest item for last.

“Your growth slower than that of your competitors is because of your Vice President of Sales,” she stated. The consultant went through the chart ticking off her findings leaving little doubt in the Elephant’s mind she was correct.

In summary she said, “His sales process is old, inflexible to your prospect’s needs, and he is unable to shift quickly to respond to changes in industry. As a result, neither is your sales team. That is why you are not keeping up with your competition.”

The Elephant sat silently and his shoulders sagged. “That’s a problem,” he said quietly. “The VP of Sales is my brother-in-law.”

The consultant sat thinking for a few minutes. Gently she said, “It is a choice only you can make. You can keep up with your competitors… or you can have peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.” And she packed up her things and left the Elephant’s office.

A few months later the Elephant called the consultant. “I’ve decided,” he said. “Christmas and Thanksgiving are more important to me than a few more dollars.”

“Are you sure?” asked the consultant. “If you find your path first, everyone else will follow. If you aren’t happy, no one else can be either.”

“Yes,” said the Elephant. “I’m sure.”

“Great,” answered the consultant. “Now let’s work out a plan to maximize what sales can achieve, and I have a few ideas for the rest of your business too.”

On Christmas Eve, the Elephant rested comfortably in his favorite chair, before the crackling logs in the fireplace, watching the kids crawl around the tree stuffed with brightly colored packages. His wife and sister-in-law laughed as they prepared the table for the upcoming feast. And his brother-in-law trunk-wrestled with his son, knocking over a chair, as their play became more rambunctious.

“The business did well,” the Elephant thought. “Grew a bit. Profits up. And we were even able to improve our customer engagement score.”

“Yes, I’m happy,” he thought. “I’m happy.”



There is more than one definition of success.

Choose and achieve yours.

This story is an excerpt from “Elephant Tales: The Workbook” by Keith Okano, available on in print and Kindle format.

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