Over a steak dinner (what else?) at Buckhorn Tavern, in one of my rare meetings with my boss, I dared asked a simple question that vexed me for some time. It was my first year as a field nutritionist in the United States, and I had been given free rein over product formulation (to the horror of the sales team). Being brand new out of graduate school, I wanted everything to be perfect, but I had already realized that this required considerable amount of time and money. And this was a process that robbed me from energy to support sales and customers in the field. I needed to find my own golden rule.
“So, how much should I go on improving any single product, Terry?” I asked, unsure of what to expect. To my surprise, the response I received not only pleased me but it proved a lifesaver to a “control freak” like myself. In fact, I have been using this advice since to very good effect in almost everything I do.
“If the product is successful,” said Terry, “80 percent is good enough, otherwise the return on investment is just not there.” Like any good answer, this one created another obvious question for me, so I had to press on. Terry was busy enough with his steak, plus he had always been happy to share his wisdom, and I was always eager to learn everything I could not learn at school.
“And, if the product is not successful?” I asked again, expecting the obvious: to improve it until it is 80 percent good enough. But, once more, I was surprised, and Terry was right as always. “If it does not sell, then kill it and make another that can be successful,” he said.
The next few days I stopped tinkering with my successful products, and I took to the chopping block a couple of others that were underperforming. To my surprise, this left me with enough free time to develop a whole new line of products that proved as successful as the original one.
Needless to say, this whole conversation with Terry made a huge impression on me, and his advice still follows me in what I do today. So, once more, thank you, Terry.