Go from being the little nobody to the emperor of your industry using these strategies

Hey You,

It’s Lewis aka Nerd #2.

Quick and important question for you…

Are you you on the verge of eating someone’s lunch or is someone about to take a chunk out of your business’s ass?

If you’re the leader in your industry, you and I know you’ve got a great big target on your back. Competitors lust for what you have and are gunning for you. How do you keep them behind you?

If you’re chasing the leader and you need more of the market share to keep your business afloat so that you can keep a roof over your family’s head, this might be your lucky day.

In either of these instances, the story I’m sharing with you now is pulled from Robert Greene’s incredible ‘33 Strategies of War’ book and it gives you the solution to these problems.

Pay very close attention…

What most often weighs you down and brings you misery is the past, in the form of unnecessary attachments, repetitions of tired formulas, and the memory of old victories and defeats.

You must consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment. Be ruthless on yourself, do not repeat the same tired methods.

Sometimes you must force yourself to strike out in new directions, even if they involve risk. What you may lose in comfort and security, you will gain in surprise, making it harder for your enemies to tell what you will do.

Wage guerilla warfare on your mind, allowing no static lines of defense, no exposed citadels – make everything fluid and mobile.

The Last War

No one has risen to power faster than Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821).

In 1793 he went from captain in the French revolutionary army to brigadier general. In 1796 he became the leader of the French force in Italy fighting the Austrians, whom he crushed that year and again three years later. He became first consul of France in 1801, emperor in 1804. In 1805 he humiliated the Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz.

For many, Napoleon was more than a great general; he was a genius, a god of war. Not everyone was impressed though: there were Prussian generals who thought he had merely been lucky. Where Napoleon was rash and aggressive, they believed, his opponents had been timid and weak. If he ever faced the Prussians, he would be revealed as a great fake.

Among these Prussian generals was Friedrich Ludwig, prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen (1746-1818). Hohenlohe came from one of Germany’s oldest aristocratic families, one with an illustrious military record. He had begun his career young, serving under Frederick the Great (1712-86) himself, the man who had single-handedly made Prussia a great power. Hohenlohe had risen through the ranks, becoming a general at fifty – young by Prussian standards.

To Hohenlohe success in war depended on organization, discipline, and the use of superior strategies developed by trained military minds.

The Prussians exemplified all of these virtues. Prussian soldiers drilled relentlessly until they could perform elaborate maneuvers as precisely as a machine.

Prussian generals intensely studied the victories of Frederick the Great; war for them was a mathematical affair, the application of timeless principles. To the generals Napoleon was a Corsican hothead leading an unruly citizens army. Superior in knowledge and skill, they would outstrategize him. The French would panic and crumble in the face of the disciplined Prussians; the Napoleonic myth would lie in ruins, and Europe could return to it’s old ways.

In August 1806, Hohenlohe and his fellow generals finally got what they wanted: King Friedrich Wilhem III of Prussia, tired of Napoleon’s broken promises, decided to declare war on him in six weeks. In the mean time he asked his generals to come up with a plan to crush the French.

Hohenlohe was ecstatic. This campaign would be the climax of his career. he had been thinking for years about how to beat Napoleon, and he presented his plan at the generals’ first strategy session: precise marches would place the army at the perfect angle from which to attack the French as they advanced through southern Prussia.

An attack in oblique formation – Frederick the Great’s favorite tactic – would deliver a devastating blow. The other generals, all in their sixties and seventies, presented their own plans, but these too were merely variants on the tactics of Frederick the Great. Discussion turned into argument; several weeks went by.

Finally the king had to step in and create a compromise strategy that would satisfy all of his generals.

A feeling of exuberance swept the country, which would soon relive the glory years of Frederick the Great.

The generals realized that Napoleon knew about their plans – he had excellent spies – but the Prussians had a head start, and once their war machine had started to move, nothing could stop it.

On October 5th, a few days before the king was to declare war, disturbing news reached the generals. A reconnaissance mission revealed that divisions of Napoleon’s army, which they had believed was dispersed, had marched east, merged, and was massing deep in southern Prussia. The captain who had led the scouting mission reported that the French soldiers were marching with packs on their backs; where the Prussians used slow moving wagons to provision their troops, the French carried their own supplies and moved with astonishing speed and mobility.

Before the generals had time to adjust their plans, Napoleon’s army suddenly wheeled north, heading straight for Berlin, the heart of Prussia. The generals argued and dithered, moving their troops here and there, trying to decide where to attack. A mood of panic set in. Finally the king ordered a retreat: the troops would reassemble to the north and attack Napoleon’s flank as he advanced toward Berlin. Hohenlohe was in charge of the rear guard, protecting the Prussians’ retreat.

On October 14th, near the town of Jena, Napoleon caught up with Hohenlohe, who finally faced the battle he wanted so desperately.

The numbers on both sides were equal, but while the French were an unruly force, fighting pell-mell and on the run, Hohenlohe kept his troops in tight order, orchestrating them like a corps de ballet. The fighting went back and forth until finally the French captured the village of Vierzehnheiligen.

Hohenlohe ordered his troops to retake the village. In a ritual dating back to Frederick the Great, a drum major beat out a cadence and the Prussian soldiers, their colors flying, re-formed their positions in perfect parade order, preparing to advance.

They were in an open plain, though, and Napoleon’s men were behind garden walls and on the house roofs. The Prussians fell like ninepins to the French marksmen. Confused, Hohenlohe ordered his soldiers to halt and change formation. The drums beat again, the Prussians marched with magnificent precision, always a sight to behold – but the French kept shooting, decimating the Prussian line.

Never had Hohenlohe seen such an army. The French soldiers were like demons. Unlike his disciplined soldiers, they moved on their own, yet there was a method to their madness. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, they rushed forward on both sides, threatening to surround the Prussians.

The prince ordered a retreat. The Battle of Jena was over.

Like a house of cards, the Prussians quickly crumbled, one fortress falling after another. The king fled east. In a matter of days virtually nothing remained of the once mighty Prussian army.

Interpretation:

The reality facing the Prussians in 1806 was simple: they had fallen 50 years behind the times. Their generals were old, and instead of responding to present circumstances, they were repeating formulas that had worked in the past.

Their army moved slowly, and their soldiers were automatons on parade. The Prussian generals had many signs to warn them of disaster: their army had not performed well in it’s recent engagements, a number of Prussian officers had preached reform, and, last but not least, they had ten years to study Napoleon – his innovative strategies and the speed and fluidity with which his armies converged on the enemy.

Reality was staring them in the face, yet they chose to ignore it. Indeed, they told themselves that Napoleon was the one who was doomed.

You might find the Prussian army just an interesting historical example, but in fact you are likely marching in the same direction yourself. What limits individuals as well as nations is the inability to confront reality, to see things for what they are.

As you grow older, you become more rooted in the past. Habit takes over. Something that has worked for us before becomes a doctrine, a shell to protect us from reality.

Repetition replaces creativity. We rarely realize we’re doing this, because it’s almost impossible to see it happening in our own minds.

Then suddenly a young Napoleon (Netflix vs. Blockbuster Video) crosses our path, a person who does not respect tradition, who fights in a new way. Only then do we see that our ways of thinking and responding have fallen behind the times.

Never take it for granted that your past successes will continue into the future.

Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle: every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today. You must cut yourself loose from the past and open your eyes to the present. Your tendency to fight the last war may lead you to your final war.

7 Questions To Ask Yourself To Ensure You Aren’t Dooming Yourself Into Extinction Like The Prussian Army And So Many Businesses Do

1. Who is succeeding in your market that you underestimate or resent, that you might do better to learn from?

2. Like the Prussians, who are you studying too closely because they embody principles you’re comfortable with?

3. How can you use technology to enhance timeless principles while breaking the rules as the unruly Dean Jackson did when he created the Squeeze Page that wouldn’t allow you to see a salesletter until you gave your email address and thus revolutionized internet marketing and turned your site into a lead generating machine?

4. What outdated and ineffective industry standards are you afraid to violate for fear of being rejected by your peers?

5. Are you blabbing about your new plans to come at a direct competitor to too many people, enabling spies to give juicy details that allow the competition to beat you to the punch?

6. How are you moving like a “demon” around the established 18th century aged department store business models; coming at your customers and prospects from all angles – direct mail, email, fax, voice blast, content marketing, article marketing, social media, etc.?

7. What’s the reality you face in your market now? Not what you wished it was, but what it is? Are you watching who’s in your market and winning despite facing the same cold harsh reality that you are. And are you admiring, studying and then implementing in your business what’s working now?

By Asking Yourself These Questions, You’re Walking Into Fear and Freedom

You address that which 95% of people running a business never will. Instead the 95% hope that everything works out for them. They hope the President fixes things so that everything is “Fair” and “Cozy”.

Hope is not a strategy. Hope without strategy is dead. Hope shored up with truth is the beginning of clarity in your vision of what’s possible.

When you’re free from delusion, and you know the challenges that need to be overcome, you can start systematically attacking them one by one, which for most companies is what sparks innovation that frees you from dependence on hope alone.

Once again, I can’t recommend Robert’s book, ‘The 33 Strategies of War’ highly enough to anyone who has a pulse. Not just testosterone loaded macho men. Everyone can benefit from this book as I hope you’ve seen in this piece.

Talk soon,

Lewis LaLanne aka Note Taking Nerd #2

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