Monday, August 6, 2012

Cooperating Instead of Competing

One thing I am living more and more each day is that people are nicer here. I don't mean more polite, I mean nicer in every aspect of life. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but everyone seems to always want to help each other here - not just in moments of crisis but all the time. That doesn't just mean helping a woman with groceries or be considerate of your neighbors. It means actually sacrificing something for someone else, even their competition.

Let me fiance is bringing a partner in who happens to be his closest friend and our roommate, David. David worked previously for the largest dive center on the island and from what I can gather is very very good at his job. But it's competitive, there are only so many people that want to dive and there are actually quite a few options on the Island so every client counts. It's pretty obvious David's previous shop has had some difficulty since he left and there was a void. When David got back from his vacation he was set to start working with La Bulle and the timing was really perfect because we need the extra body in August since we are getting married in just a few weeks.

What happened next is what is surprising to me - David's old boss was in a bad situation he had no help and his boat needs two people on it so he asked if David could stay on for a few more weeks. At the same time, his boss is going on his own vacation and is forwarding all inquiries directly to David and Didier while he's gone. Now David's old boss has to know there are clients that will follow David anyway but there seems to be absolutely no ill will there, NONE. When they were explaining this all to me I was very confused - it didn't make any sense, yet.

For my friends in the digital space - it would be akin to Google asking permission for Marissa Mayer to stay on a few more weeks so they could transition and then send some business Yahoo's way once she heads over there because they just couldn't handle it. Ok, that's a little extreme but you get my point.

For anyone in sales - it's tough out there and it's our job to kill, bury, obliterate, destroy etc... the "competition."  That's what you are taught and that's the language that gets thrown around. The funny thing is we know that someday that competitor we trashed may end up owning us or worse - we'll go work for them and have to answer the question from a client "but you said they couldn't do that or?". Here the philosophy seems very different - you help the competition because you really don't want anything bad to happen to anyone - it becomes personal. See my point? It's different but it certainly doesn't suck. In this situation, the competitors are working together to reach a solution that works for everyone. In the end both companies will benefit from this and probably be in better shape.

This isn't the only place I have seen it - I have been sent to different shops when I couldn't find what I was looking for and even had a hotel recommend I use a villa company instead of them for my family when they are coming in a few weeks. I tell you this story because it's part of me learning how to live here. I need to check my thinking at the door (or in the case at the port). It's a more civilized and frankly better way of being. Look, I am a competitive person by nature or I would not have chosen sales for a profession, but there is a lot to be said about stepping in an helping someone when they need it. You never know when you will as well. And I don't just mean carrying the groceries.

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