There is a possibility that few will have heard of Robert Zuppke – perhaps because his successes as a top college football coach were in the first half of the 20th century, starting in 1914. Interestingly, Zuppke was the inventor of the “huddle.” For many in business, the times we are living in make the most recent recession of 2009 look like a “walk in the park. We all get it. The “playbook” is out the window. Longer term forward thinking is nothing short of guesswork. And predictability, never a sure thing at the best of times, is virtually non-existent. So maybe it is time to quit. But let’s not use Coronavirus as a screen to do so. Unfortunately, we are seeing a significant number of CEO’s hiding behind Coronavirus as a reason for non-performance and outright failure. But here’s the thing……looking back in history, the first known records of pandemic-like events on planet Earth date back to about 3000 BC. So it is not the first nor will it be the last time our planet has had to deal with a world-wide health crisis. The simple truth is that people throughout the ages have found ways to both survive and thrive during such times. Consider that both Isaac Newton and Galileo produced some of their best work right in the middle of a pandemic. So, to quote another top performer, Josephine Esther Mentzer, “There is no such thing as bad times. Business is there if you go after it.” Better known as Estee Lauder, she was the only woman on Time Magazine’s 1998 list of the most influential business executives of the 20th century. Explaining her success, she often mentioned that she never worked a day in her life without selling, and selling hard.
Born exactly 141 and 114 years ago this month, respectively, it seems that the words of Zuppke and Lauder are still germane all these years later.