I just released a new ebook entitled Accomplishing the Impossible: Lessons from the Apollo Space Program. For this book, I did a considerable amount of research on the Apollo space program—the incredible program that put man on the moon. In addition to the famous Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the Apollo program was responsible for 5 more moon landings before it was concluded in 1972.
The Apollo program had its real beginnings in President John F. Kennedy’s address to Congress on May 25, 1961, in which he famously said:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
At the time of Kennedy’s statement, that last phrase was especially true: “…none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” We had not even made it into outer space yet—that wouldn’t happen, for the US, until the following February, when John Glenn piloted the first American manned space flight. To build a ship that would support three astronauts as opposed to one, and carry them all the way to the moon and back, was nearly inconceivable. A number of the technologies eventually utilized in the Apollo program didn’t even exist at the time. It would certainly be “accomplishing the impossible.”
The Vision…and the Hard Work
What’s the major problem with a project the size of the Apollo program? It doesn’t come ready made out of a box. There’s not even any books on building one. Nobody knows what it’s supposed to look like. To start with, then, a vision is required.
But it takes a great deal more than just a vision. All kinds of people have visions—I call them dreamers. I meet them in life and they say, for example, “Oh, yes, I want to go to America just like you did!” I ask, “Why haven’t you done it?” They usually can’t answer me.
Most people want to avoid the hard work behind bringing a vision to real life. Most don’t even want to go into the heavy details. But success only comes about through those details. Can you imagine if one detail had not worked in the Apollo program perfectly? They might not have made it back from the moon.
In addition to the mentality of someone who has a vision and is willing to pursue it, that person’s employees must also be of a mentality to stick with it, and have the willingness to hang in there for years or tens of years. They need to constantly keep in mind an end product that may not be visible within what they can conceive as a timeframe, and still be committed to performing a great job.
A great analogy here is the cathedral. The great cathedrals of Europe which today stand as astounding monuments to artistry and architecture took centuries to build. Construction on London’s Westminster Abbey began in 1245, and continued into the 1800s. Construction on the famous cathedral in Milan, Italy began in 1386 and was finally completed in 1965, over 500 years later. The Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, was designed by Antoni Gaudi; construction began in 1882 and has yet to be completed.
The people that began building either of these cathedrals knew they wouldn’t live to see its completion—yet were still very committed to it.
Such a thing would almost surely never happen today. Oh sure, people today still have and desire big visions, but when it comes right down to it, everything today has to be quick, fast and easy or it almost never happens.
This phenomenon is actually ruining the future for all of us. We are right now hopping from one little app, which everyone wants to fully scale in a year, to another. If you don’t scale unbelievably fast, you’re not the instant superstar that everyone is looking for. But there is an enormous amount of difference, for example, in building a Google app—and building Google.
The Overall Plan
Going back to the Apollo program, the foundation for something so grand is its overall plan. Of course that plan is not something that will be immediately put into action. For Apollo, such a plan contained many details, such as the escape velocity from the moon, the moon’s surface composition, the gravity differentials between Earth and the moon, and many others.
Such a plan must be composed before any of the details progress. For example, you can’t have someone writing code for a computer that isn’t even built yet—you have to create the architecture for those that will write the code.
On a smaller scale, we can take a look at what we have done for Pipeliner CRM. We have an overall plan or strategy, which is to be business-critical. The strategy is based on sound business principles, so nothing about it can be instantly replaced, as is the case with an app.
We developed a tool with which to do this, Pipeliner CRM. This is not simply an application, it is part of the foundation for our platform.
We have written about 90 ebooks designed to help businesses in many areas, and posted countless helpful blogs by ourselves and others. We are also putting into place an online sales academy called the Knowledge Factory which will be launched soon.
All of these things are parts of the overall strategy.
In addition to those willing to step up and make a dream come true, in the overall society we’re also losing investors who would commit to the long-term. Such investors were certainly involved back in the beginning of one of the cathedrals we discussed above—people who knew they would not even live to see the end result. But today many investors don’t even want to commit for a few years.
At Pipeliner, we have been very fortunate. As the founder and CEO I am committed for the long term, our investors have committed for the long term, and my primary staff have certainly made that commitment—some have already been with me for 10 years and longer.
Take Your Time and Do It Right
While we certainly don’t want to take centuries to build a business today, it does need to be done correctly and stably. Stable, steady growth over time, into a successful future, beats a near-vertical explosion and burn-out every time.
Like us, if you’re traveling such a path, you may see other companies around you, maybe even competitors, growing at 1,000 percent. You may wonder if you’re on the wrong team. Trust me, if you’re building a company with solid, long term fundamentals as its foundation, then you are not!
The critics might answer with, “Well, that’s easy to say. You’re just making that up so you won’t be under pressure to deliver now.” But the reality is that we are delivering now, through our product and through our publications. We’ve grown by 100% each year, for the last 4 years.
And we’ll still be here, growing exponentially, when most or all of the overnight sensations are long gone.
You should be, too.
Pipeliner CRM is designed to guide your sales team through the long term. Download it today.