Entrepreneurs go down the rabbit hole

entrepreneur rabbit_hole

Raymond Ackerman, founder of Pick n Pay, South Africa’s largest retailer, once told this story:

Whilst Raymond was CEO of Checkers, at the time the largest retailer in South Africa, some guy called out of the blue and asked whether he could get a tour of a Checkers store.

Turns out the guy had recently bought four stores and wanted to learn some best practices.

Raymond said no problem and arranged for a store manager to give a tour a couple weeks hence.

For some reason, on the day of the designated store-tour Raymond woke up and recalled the date. He decided to personally give the tour and use it as an opportunity to walk the floor.

The tour ended, they shook hands and that was the end of it.

Five years later Raymond was fired from Checkers. 42 years old with 5 children, he didn’t have many prospects. Suddenly he gets a call.

Its the guy he’d given a personal tour to. Turns out he’s decided to emigrate and is selling his stores. Seeing as Raymond had been so generous with his time, he was given first option to buy the stores.

The chain was called Pick n Pay, and the rest is history.

Sometimes a meeting seems like a waste of time. You know the guy will be late, or not offer any value, or just be plain irritating.

Sometimes it feels like you’re going down a dead-end. A path that is taking you away from your core mission.

Be cool. Be patient. Be polite. Have the meeting. You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of the rabbit hole.