Less Strokes, More Laps

It has been a hectic summer. We have completed fantastic Wealth Dynamics Weekends in Singapore and Malaysia, the Entrepreneur Business School in Bali, magician Sydney and the Academy Asia Pacific tour with Thomas Power to six countries in the Asia Pacific. It’s been great connecting with so many people and seeing the changes we are going through. It’s easy to forget in this short time the World has also gone through many changes in economics, politics, and strife:


“The more things change, the more they remain the same.” – Alphonse Karr


And in a blink of an eye, this summer the Olympics came and went. This brings me to this month’s newsletter:


At the Entrepreneur Business School earlier this month, in a workshop, UK News we were working on transforming business systems. We began to speak about our business technique. Technique? Business strategies, processes, systems – we all know what these are. But business technique? The conversation moved on to the Olympics that came and went this summer.

For the first time, the attention was more on the pool than the track. Did you see Michael Phelps? Ian Thorpe? Did you notice the faster they went, the more relaxed they appeared? Technique. My younger brother, Martin, is a swimming coach in England. He visited me in Asia four years ago and told me he was looking to improve his coaching. I asked him who he had to mentor him. He said no one. I asked him where the best swimming coaches were. He said Australia. I asked him who he had to mentor him. He got on a plane to Sydney. wood door refinishing houston

He came back from Australia six months later, where he had worked with one of the best swimming coaches in the country. Within three years his school swimming team had won a string of golds including the relays in the National Championships. Of course, I was curious about what he learned in Australia. He replied, “Swim fewer strokes?”. What? He elaborated: “I had been focused on trying to get my swimmers to go faster. In Australia, they focused on the number of strokes per lap. Cut down the strokes and your body does less to get to the same place. More speed, less work.”


“More pace, less haste.” – My Grandmother


In business, how many ‘strokes’ from the beginning to the end of your customer flow. How many ‘strokes’ from a great idea to execution? How many ‘strokes’ from a sale to the money hitting your bank account? No matter how smart you are, if you haven’t counted your strokes, elpais you’re probably doing too many, being too busy, to achieve too little.

Martin continued: “In swimming, you need to reduce drag. Most of the drag comes from one stroke to another. So it’s not just about less work, it’s about less resistance as well. Twelve full, relaxed strokes are a whole lot faster than twenty rushed strokes.”

Is this not just business process engineering? No, because this isn’t just about your business process. It is about your technique as an entrepreneur, a leader, a presenter, an ambassador, and a networker for your business as well as your business processes.

How many strokes to establish rapport? How many strokes to get in your zone before an important presentation? How many strokes to calm down and think clearly while amid a full-blown argument? Five? Two? One?

How much of your efforts simply amount to wasted energy that isn’t moving you forward (and may even be slowing you down)? Take a part of your business, where you feel you are putting in too much effort for the results you’re getting out. Maybe it is in the decision-making of your team, choosing a vendor, making a sale, responding to customers, or starting a partnership. Map out each stroke from beginning to end. Now cut out every single stroke that can be cut. If it’s taking you ten, how can you do it in five? Then focus on perfecting each stroke. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link.


“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra


As an example, Sam Walton added daily innovations to his Wal-Mart stores by wandering around his competitor’s stores with his yellow notepad, jotting down observations and ideas, and then going back and implementing them. The consummate mechanic, as Wal-Mart grew Sam needed a smarter system to keep the innovation going. By 1979 Wal-Mart had 276 stores and $1 billion in sales. Each Monday his 15 regional managers flew out from Bentonville and spent four days visiting their stores, looking for at least one major innovation to improve sales – Stroke One. By Thursday they all flew back to Bentonville and on Friday morning met with Sam, each sharing the innovation – Stroke Two. The meeting ended with a decision on which innovations to introduce nationwide – Stroke Three. By the afternoon, the managers were on the phone with each of their stores to implement the new ideas, which were implemented the next day – Stroke Four. This system for constant innovation went on for the rest of Sam’s life, week after week, year after year. Through this rigorous focus on simplifying every process, the ‘Company Sam Built’ has grown into a 5,000-store global company with $256 Billion in annual revenue.

Once you have counted and reduced the strokes, make each complete: With a very clear beginning, middle and end. You will know when you’re getting there because you will feel the rhythm, you will feel the flow, and you will be getting further by doing less.


“Experience isn’t interesting till it begins to repeat itself.
Till it does that, it hardly is experience.”

– Elizabeth Bowen


So then I asked Martin. “How do you know when you’re at the right number of strokes?”.
He replied, “Just keep doing more”
“Doing more strokes?”
“No, doing fewer strokes. Doing more laps.”

And Finally

The Entrepreneur Business School was held overlooking the Temple Island of Tanah Lot. The island formed the centerpiece of the event. Created 500 years ago by the Indian priest DangHyang Maratha after being banished from the mainland by local priests, the words mean “Earth from Water”, and similarly the event took us all through the process of creating something from nothing.

The principle of alchemy – creating something from nothing – once the domain of wizards and magicians, is now the domain of entrepreneurs. We are using products and devices today that even twenty years ago we would have thought impossible. Within a generation, we have created an impossible world of impossible things, thought up in the minds of magicians amongst us. So I ask you, what magic will you create today? What incredible thought will you have? Today, what impossible thing will you believe?


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