Well... umm... I went to Harvard yesterday... while I was in Boston visiting another toy store owner.
I thought about applying to Harvard when I was in high school. I had the grades. I had the test scores. I had the extracurriculars. I only needed to take three more tests and I could apply. Problem was, I knew that even if I got in, I wasn't going to go there. I had already been accepted to the University of Michigan, which meant I had season tickets for football. Plus, I didn't want to take any more tests.
But it sure would have been nice to say...
"Yeah, I turned Harvard down."
Today, however, those same grades and test scores and extracurriculars probably wouldn't even get me into the first cut in the application process. The stakes have gotten higher. The bar has been raised. What I did in the early 80's isn't enough in 2012.
The same is true of your business.
The stakes are higher. The bar is raised. Your customer service has to be amazing and unexpected. Your product knowledge has to be over the top and relevant. Your inventory control has to be fine-tuned and adaptable. Your marketing has to be refreshing and memorable.
What you used to do isn't good enough anymore.
I was thinking all of this while walking around the Harvard campus knowing that I was smart enough to go there 28 years ago. But I better get smarter if I want to be able to compete with those kids today. Being smart back then isn't enough in 2012.
What are you doing to get smarter?
PS The one thing I do have over that kid back in 1984 is that I am a much better student today than I was back then. I had the grades to get in to Harvard, but I'm not sure I had the study habits to stay there. Now I'm trying to learn everywhere I go. And I promise to share what I learn with you right here on this blog and in the Freebies section of my website. Maybe we can all get into Harvard some day.