Are you B-Arking?

April 18, 2013

Not knowing your territory can be the biggest missed opportunity of all, warns The Survivalist

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There’s a great bit in Douglas Adams’ classic comedy science-fiction novel ‘The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe’. (That’s the second book in the ‘Hitchhiker’s…’ series, which if you haven’t read, you must.) Our heroes, Arthur and Ford, are stranded on primeval Earth as a result of having been unwittingly teleported aboard a space-ark (Ark B) full of several million cryogenically-frozen colonists sent off from the planet Golgafrincham.

Said colonists are thrilled to have been despatched ahead of their fellows, but aren’t quite sure why. They are all hairdressers, marketing executives, second-hand car salesmen, telephone sanitisers and the like. Arthur quickly works out the reason the rest of Golgafrincham sent all its middle-men and women off to crash-land on a distant planet is because – and I quote – “you’re all bloody useless!”

Lawyers would have been on the B-Ark. (As would journalists and bloggers).

Thrust into primeval Earth, our B-Arkers are incapable of ‘launching’ fire because they haven’t completed the market research into what colour it should be. Turns out that the middle-men are incapable of doing anything beyond the narrow confines of their own discipline. In other words, they have no survival instincts.

One of my mates, a marketing manager, was unconvinced that her real estate team were really as on the ball as they said when it came to ‘knowing the market’. Her firm had 63 subscriptions to the leading trade rag, Estates Gazette. One evening, she stayed late and went to the real estate department and started collecting up still-bagged copies of Estates Gazette, not just from that week but previous weeks.

After a little counting up and some analysis, she concluded that of the 63 subscriptions, just five of her real estate lawyers were bothering to read their copy of EG.

Being a real estate lawyer and not reading EG (or Property Week) or being any other kind of lawyer who is not on top of the latest industry gossip or innovations, and does not know who the industry movers and shakers are, is classic B-Ark behaviour, and endemic among lawyers.

Yes, I know you’re busy, you’re working all the hours god sends. I know that the last thing you want to do is read about something which seems only distantly relevant to what you’re actually doing. But if you read your firm’s website, it will say somewhere that the difference between you and all the rest is that you take time to understand your clients.

Developing a geek-like knowledge of what’s going on in your industry is what will mark you out from your competitors – and I mean your internal competitors – when you meet the client, the person who, after all, pays your wages. Oh, and it will make you better at your job, and ain’t that the point of this rat-race?

Simple survival principle: know the territory.

Stay frosty. TS

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