The Key To Winning: Preparation

Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

I couldn’t disagree more.

One of my favorite television characters, Don Draper of Mad Men, once said, “You’re good.  Get better.”

How do we get better?

Earlier this year, I was invited to participate in a training program called CBRE University. It was a three-day, intensive program focused on presentation skills. We were placed into sixteen teams and tasked with developing a ten-minute presentation.

Over the course of the three days, we were given the opportunity to present in front of coaches and judges, and we had plenty of time to practice, rehearse and enhance the presentation. On the final day, a competition was held to determine the best presentation.

My team won.

We didn’t win because we simply showed up.  We spent hours practicing our delivery, tweaking the presentation, and the night before the competition, we even rehearsed on the stage where the finals were being held. We left nothing to chance.

Was our presentation better than the others?  Maybe. No. Were we more prepared than the others?  Definitely.  The overriding lesson of the training was that the only way to get better was to be prepared, practice, and then practice some more.

Just last week, I was on the phone with Joe Forgione of JMF Properties, a great friend who is a very successful developer. We were talking about a development project that he’s working on that is very complex and the steps necessary to get the necessary approvals.

When I told him how smart I thought he was (he is), he argued with me.  He said, “Jeremy, I’m not smarter than anyone else. But when I walk into a Planning Board or Zoning Board meeting, there’s no one that is more prepared than I am. I try to think of every question before they ask it so I can make it easy for them to say yes.”

Right now, I am on a plane, headed to what I anticipate will be a tough negotiation on a very important deal for one of my largest clients. Why am I confident?  I’ll give you one guess, and it’s not because I watched an episode of Mad Men last night.