Years ago I was a highly competitive photographer for the Associated Press, and many times that meant I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder at Presidential trips, visits by the Pope, Super Bowls, with my equally eager competitors from UPI, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Reuters, the New York Times, and others. All of us were determined to get the one great photo of the event, ideally one missed by all our competition!
I paid a lot of attention to how these shoot-outs turned out, and I started to see a pattern. It was rarely the case that any one photographer was head-and-shoulders above the rest in talent, but the same people kept coming up as winners, time after time. Initially I thought they were just cosmically lucky, but then I realized there was more to it than that.
The people that could be counted on to win consistently did a whole lot of things 5% better than the person standing next to them. They always had their wide angle camera over their neck, and their telephoto over their right shoulder. They always had new rolls of film (yes, it was that long ago) out of their container and waiting in one pocket, and their exposed film always went into the same (other) pocket. They had spare charged batteries ready for everything, they knew which pocket to reach to for an ultra-wide lens, and it was always in the same place. They filled out their caption envelopes as much as possible beforehand. And at the crucial moment, when their competition was fumbling thru their pockets for something, they had the camera to their eye, ready to capture that special image. And the next morning their photos were on front pages all around the world.
So I began to realize that once you are in pretty elite company, the way you stand out, day in and day out, is by doing a lot of little things 5% smarter, better, and faster than your competition. Pretty soon a bunch of 5% improvements adds up to a hugely better product or service.
When I stopped shooting 16 years ago to start MerlinOne, I tried to bring this concept of being “5% better” in a whole lot of ways to our digital asset management software products. I’m privileged to work with a terrific team of people who have adopted that as part of our culture, and as we start on our first-ever blog, a few members of our team will try to show you what “5% better” can mean to you in a digital asset management system. We hope you choose to join us for the story!
How have you used being 5% better to win in competition?
Posted by David Tenenbaum
Photo by Chuck Burton