Only The Paranoid Survive

I subscribe to the theory of Only The Paranoid Survive! Put forth by Andrew Grove, the former CEO of Intel in his 1996 book, Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, I believe this adage is a word to the wise in any business. In his book, Grove talks about strategic inflection points, which drive fundamental change. When they occur, it’s time for the company to wake up and listen. Think of Sears and Amazon. Sears was once one of the leading retailers in the country; an example of companies built to last. But they missed the disruptive approach that Amazon brought to the market, the inflection points, and now appear to be on their last legs.

In my business, I believe three things will help me respond to inflection points.


I need to be changing my business all the time. 50% of my revenue comes from things I didn’t do three years ago. While my practice is founded on knowledge I’ve acquired through years of education and experience, which continues to grow, my projects and client relationships are constantly evolving. Not only is this good for me, but it benefits my clients, since they look to me to bring them the latest thinking on Business Performance Improvement. For example, over the past several years, I have added coaching and mentoring to my repertoire to help executives and managers improve their individual performance, get better results and enjoy their work.

Raising the Bar

I need to constantly rethink how I do things. People often ask if I’m too busy to take on another project, and my answer is always no, but in fact I am busy, so how can I take on new work? I continuously rethink how I do things, and again, this benefits my clients. Many consultants and companies get stuck in their methods; they keep doing the same things in the same way and expect better results.

I must continuously raise the bar – not just be more efficient, but completely overhaul my methods. Not only does this make me a better consultant, but it shows my clients how they, too, can improve their business in a sustainable way. Too many company executives are mired in the weeds of day-to-day activities. They don’t take the time to survey the landscape, create a vision for the future, and develop strong strategy to get them there using new and improved approaches.

Expert Advice

I constantly seek help to see what is coming over the horizon. I have a mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss, who challenges my thinking and pushes and encourages me. I also belong to a mastermind group of leading consultants from around the world. We meet three times a year for several days in amazing places (i.e., Iceland) to discuss ways to improve our practices and grow personally and professionally. I read books for business and pleasure, which helps me write and think better, and I read the Wall Street Journal every day to stay up on world and business events. I meet with many professionals one-on-one over coffee or lunch to discuss business and what is happening in the market, which constantly gives me new perspectives.

I believe there is no such thing as work-life balance. There is just life. People are part of that, as is family, work, spiritual pursuits, learning, and hobbies. I find inspiration listening to a sermon or fly-fishing on a remote river.

The Take-Away

I’m constantly on the look out because I’m paranoid! Peter Drucker called this “an age of discontinuity,” and called for shifts in the way we approach people and problems. Grove said, “Strategic changes don’t just start at the top. It starts with your calendar.”

Have you scheduled the time to improve yourself and your business? Are you sure what to plan for in the future? Do you have access to the expertise you need? Are you making changes that will move you and your company to new levels of performance? Are you appropriately paranoid?

Call me to discuss how you can embark on new direction.


© 2017 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved