Spring of 1998 and I’m attending a corporate planning meeting with about 40 other people. I’m sitting in the back row and squinting to see the screen at the front of the room. My peer sitting next to me said “put your glasses on”. I told him I didn’t have any; didn’t want to put out a couple of hundred bucks. That’s when he delivered the line I used here as my article title. He was right.
I was 31, a young father, not earning a ton of money and really only needed glasses every now and then. I figured I’d save money and just see how things went over time. The artfully-delivered line by my peer has stuck with me over the years. You have to spend money to accelerate impact and productivity.
Organizations are all about making money, saving money and doing things better for customers and employees. Too often the “saving money” part gets in the way of making money and doing things better. There’s no way you can do everything in-house. You have to partner with expert third-party firms, be it for marketing, finance, accounting, logistics, legal counsel, whatever.
Over the course of my career, I’ve balanced fixed costs with variable costs, internal vs. external. I’ve preferred modestly-staffed marketing teams that are thinkers, planners and can easily go from strategic to tactical. I don’t need my team to do everything…I need them to get things done…and that means having business savvy and leveraging experts from outside of the organization who can accelerate activity, pull business results closer to the front end of the fiscal year.
To use a sports analogy: At the end of season, I rather have 12 wins and 5 losses than plod along and finish 2-0. Business requires that you move fast, with urgency and that means spending a few bucks at times to create faster and greater impact.