Nobody knows anything

Nobody knows which ideas will succeed until one does. Paul Orfala, self-described as mechanically inept and dyslexic, was a “C” student at the University of Southern California. He once said “If you can’t fix things and can’t read things, then you can’t get a job, … I’m sort of unemployable. I’m basically a peddler.”

In 1970, Orfala rented a garage on the main street entrance to UC Santa Barbara to sell photocopies, pencils, and notebooks to students on their way to school; commodities almost anyone could get almost anywhere. No one thought he would succeed. Until he did. That was the beginning of Kinkos.

Ann Tardy, a no-nonsense, tell it like you see it kind of person has a wonderful newsletter. The December 9, 2021 issue is titled Nobody Knows Anything… including your mentor* which caught my eye.

In it, Ann makes several excellent points about why success stories are often written off by the experts as bad ideas that won’t work before they’ve been tried or tested.

For almost two years now every business unrelated to healthcare and death has been struggling. Business leaders have been forced into battle against COVID and the disruptions it’s imposed. From loss of family and friends through health issues to their loss due to deeply felt emotional differences over vaccines and politics.

“How will COVID affect my business?” was the most common question I’ve been asked for the past 15 months by clients, colleagues, and friends. I’ve had several ideas about the answer with none of the routine, gut feelings of confidence in my insights.

For the first time in my adult life, I had no sense of how things were about to change. It was unfamiliar and destabilizing.

As a leadership mentor, my job is to help leadership teams develop clarity about their issues and desires, teach them the things they need to know and haven’t had opportunity to experience yet, and walk with them on the journey as they develop expertise.

Every successful journey begins with an idea, and for a business, the pursuit of the idea is its purpose. The ability to consistently execute as the purpose is pursued is the key to delivering value. The ability to bring other like-minded people with you on the journey is how you create generational sustainability. Together, these three objectives create sustainable, profitable growth.

The answer to the question, how will COVID affect my business, is embedded in your purpose. The changes imposed on your business by COVID are nothing more than the changes your business deals with every day.

They may be a bit more complex or impactful, they may be a bit more unpleasant or disruptive, they’re probably also more expensive while the decisions you need to make are more critical with less room for error. But it’s still just change. Something you are well equipped to handle if you have clarity of purpose.

You should not be asking how COVID will affect your business, you should be asking how your plans should change so you can continue your journey toward your purpose and avoid the COVID obstacles.

The opportunities to be part of my clients’ journeys are how we grow and learn. As far as what the future holds, it should be clear at this point that nobody knows. Of all the things we could do to survive, I can’t tell you what’s right. I can tell you what works and get you pointed in the right direction.

Do you want the successful organization you’ve built to survive? If so, you must find your purpose and stay on track toward achieving it.

If you want to talk about your company’s purpose, email me at or call 916-798-0600.


Subscribe To My Newsletter.

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!