One of my favorite people in the world is one of my former board members in Denver, David McReynolds. David is a great businessman, a superior mentor, and an awesome friend. He has been alongside me and my family through thick and thin. We are truly grateful for having David as part of our lives.
I’ve spent a good amount of time with David since meeting him 18 years ago, and if you get the chance to be around him enough, you will pick up on some common themes or sayings. David-isms if you will. One of those is the theory of working to put more money in your own “blue jeans” than the other guy’s blue jeans. He is basically talking about making solid deals that have the opportunity to benefit both sides, but with incentives that can help your own cause every bit as much as the other party. To really understand this theory, you need to know something about David. He is a self-made success. He has built a highly successful healthcare company from the ground up. He has served on numerous boards and has helped launch several successful non-profits, including the Denver Sports Commission. I could go on listing his many accomplishments, but the bottom line is this – David is smart, works hard, and succeeds a lot more than he fails. Much of this success is based on this “blue jeans” premise. What does the blue jeans theory really say and how does it apply to me? Good questions. In watching David operate, here are the four things that I believe serve as the foundation of the blue jeans principal. Each of these is also at the core of David’s sustained success…
Think Win-Win – Yes, in each deal we want to put more money in our blue jeans. However, if you strike fair partnerships that benefit both sides, that partnership is likely to lead to another one in the future. And another one. And another one. Each time both parties gain from a deal, more deals are likely to come. This is really playing the “long game” which we have written about many times before. A quick win is nice, however true success is sustained over the long haul. Make decisions that have the future in mind, not just the right now.
Know what you want – David is very good at evaluating what goals he wants to achieve. Similarly, he is also great at defining what he DOESN’T want. After all, knowing what is undesirable is as important as identifying the primary goal, isn’t it? When I’ve been around David when he talks about his future goals, there is always a discussion about what he won’t be pursuing and why.
Go after what you want – Once the objective is defined, David goes after it aggressively. As a self-made successful businessman, he doesn’t know any other way than to define the target and launch an offensive.
Greed is not good – David is not Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, that is for sure. As a matter of fact, he is the opposite. He is fair in his business dealings and I’ve often seen that when he gets what he wants, he is more than willing to share any extra resources that may be left over. His view is that when he defines the goal and what success looks like, anything beyond that should be shared or reinvested. That notion ties into the long-game concept of win-win. Think about how you would react if your boss or a business partner walked into your office and said, “Hey, we did better than anticipated, what should we do with the extra money we made?” Or how about the same idea but with this outcome, “We did better than expected, here is a team bonus for you” then hands you a check.
I’ve learned a lot from my mentors, David included. There are so many stories I can share to support the four foundation points we have laid out here. And in the future, I hope to add to that collection and learn even more. Think win-win. Know what you want and go after it. Share the spoils. Remember the theory of the “blue jeans.”