How Cutting Corners Can Kill You

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I’m writing this from an airport frequent flyer lounge. In my business as a professional speaker, I spend a lot of time in airports, and I consider the annual investment I make in these frequent flyer lounges to be almost a necessity. Like most of my colleagues, I do so much work in airports while waiting for flights that it’s particularly important to have a comfortable place to relax, plug in the computer, have a cup of tea or glass of wine, and focus. To me, the lounge membership is a tool of my trade, and it helps make me a more effective speaker.

When the Beatles were recording the Sgt. Pepper album, their recording studio (at that time, EMI Studio; later renamed Abbey Road Studio) only had 4-track recording capability. Without getting technical, suffice it to say that 4-track capability was becoming primitively obselete even then—many other studios had already upgraded to 8-track. (Basically, the more tracks available, the more options you have in recording, adding instruments and vocals, etc.). The Beatles complained bitterly, and finally talked the powers-that-be into upgrading to 8-track. The Beatles realized that for them to do their best work, they needed to invest in and use the best tools of the trade available.

I spent many years working in television, and I was continually amazed at how many stations tried to save money by skimping on their studio lighting. Lighting has a huge effect on the picture that comes through the screen, and if you’re a TV station, the picture that comes through the screen is your product! Why would you cut corners there? Professional speakers spend a lot of our time on the phone with clients, yet I know a professional speaking colleague whose phone system is so outdated that she has to change phones every few minutes because her batteries keep dying. What kind of message do you think that sends to her clients? “I’m too cheap and/or unsuccessful to invest in the tools of my trade.”

Yes, times are tough. I’m not suggesting that you go out and splurge on things you don’t really need. But, by the same token, don’t skimp on the things you do need. Think about the messages you’re sending to your customers and clients. Successful people want to work with other successful people. Are you setting yourself up for success, or are you skimping your way to failure? It’s time to upgrade from 4-track to 8-track.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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