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Showing posts from 2020


I want to talk with you about business bias: what today means for the future of your business. This is not going to be one of those “today is the first day of the rest of your life” discourses. It's going to have a little more impact. I'm going to ask you to check yourself. Now, you may not know, I was born in the 60s in Alabama, so I’m among the first of Dr. King’s children - arguably second generation, most likely first generation since he was assassinated shortly after I was born. Thus, I tend to have a slightly different view of racism during that time. For me, racism meant you couldn't go to an all-white school. My brother and I, along with another person, were the first three black kids to integrate the all-white school where I grew up in Alabama. All black people lived on the other side of the railroad tracks. My grandfather and I actually used to step off the sidewalk to let white women pass. I actually did sit in the back of the bus. I have a whole host of experien

Strategic Alliances

News headlines are dominated by events related to social justice, social equity, and diversity & inclusion gaps in the workplace and in the supply base.  In response, member companies of the Billion Dollar Roundtable are committing additional billions of dollars toward creating more opportunities to support small and diverse-owned businesses.  Corporations that are not members of the Billion Dollar roundtable are stepping up their commitment to small business and diverse-owned business spending as well.   H owever, up to 40% of small and diverse-owned businesses no longer exist due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.   This stark reality raises 2 concerns.   The first is why weren’t more of these companies better prepared to withstand this downturn.   The second is what new opportunities does this reduced number of competitors create for those of us still in business.     We will address the 2 nd concern here. As a consequence of the downturn, there are now grea
  MARRY THE PROBLEM -- NOT THE SOLUTION Imagine that you haven't been feeling well for a while and you've tried a number of different things, but nothing's worked. Finally you say, you know what, I'm going to have to go to the doctor, so you pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. Sure enough, during the time you're waiting for your scheduled appointment, your problem gets worse. By the time you actually get to the doctor's office, the problem still has not subsided, so thank goodness you scheduled that doctor's appointment. Upon your arrival at the doctor’s office, you sign in and they tell you it's going to be a few minutes before the doctor can see you. When the assistant calls you in, she takes your weight and your vitals, asks you what's going on and so forth. This all seems kind of normal, right? Now I want you to imagine that the doctor walks in and says, “here's your prescription. You can go”. You ask, “what do you mean here'

The Failure Opportunity

  You can’t have success without having known failure. If you haven’t failed at anything, how can you really know when you have achieved success?   I am very well-versed in business practices and protocol. I am privileged to have been exposed to material that was good whether you were just starting your business or had been in business for a long time. It grounded me in the basics of what I really need to do for sustained, continued success: be prepared; set up meetings beforehand; target a few companies on which I’ve done my homework, read their press releases, studied their current priorities, and for whom I believe I can make a difference right now based on what I understand their priorities to be. Additionally, seek to understand rather than be understood. It really is more about them sharing their needs with me; my recapping that I understood; and then asking them for an opportunity to share with them how I think I can support and help them.   Even though knowledgeable and exp


  I am often asked after lectures, PodCasts and/or seminars on Strategic Alliances, “Randall, how did you get into this?” Let me start at the beginning. I believe you are already familiar with the fact that I’ve had a great professional career. I started at Shell Oil Company without a college degree. I attended college at night and worked a full-time day job. After earning my degree, I was promoted from support staff to staff at Shell. This meant at that time, I had a career path to the very top of Shell.   I had numerous assignments in supply chain and purchasing. I then left Shell and went to Wesco Distribution (formerly Westinghouse Electric Supply Company). Eventually, I landed at a company called Pantellos, which was a “”. After Pantellos, I started Dobbins International. By that time, I had amassed skills in forming strategic alliances - as they are known in the supply chain world. Strategic alliances are the most intimate of buyer-seller relationships that really drive, a


Do you want to shorten the time it takes to land a corporate contract? Of course you do. With shorter time spent to land contracts, you will have an opportunity to pursue multiple business avenues. In order to make this happen, you must concentrate on your initial pitch – probably the most crucial part of the process.   I cannot stress enough how important it is that you get it right. If you are going to be a Blueprint Pro and we are going to get you to those six, seven, eight & nine-figure contracts, then you absolutely must nail the initial approach. When I was a buyer, the thing that stood out in potential suppliers’ initial pitches was that most of them were not ready. If you’re not ready, it’s going to take an eternity to get a contract. Sure, you can get lucky. You can happen to be in the right place at the right time on the right day and get a shot, and you may be one of those rare individuals that, really and truly, all you need is that shot. Somehow everything falls in

Doing "Anything" Will Hurt Your Business

DOING “ANYTHING” WILL HURT YOUR BUSINESS I’ve been at networking events, talking to diverse suppliers and eventually in the conversation we get to the point where it has become obvious that their “pitches” are not working. Usually they know it and I know it, so then they will say “Look, I will do anything”. I understand that these are good folks with viable businesses who are saying if I can just get my foot in the door, you’ll see that I was worth taking a risk on. The problem with that scenario is that it doesn’t help me as the person trying to find a place for them to do “anything”. For example, imagine that you are trying to participate in the Olympics and you are talking to the person who can get you in an Olympic event and they say, “Well, what’s your event?” And you say “well, I just want to be in the Olympics, I can run anything.” Now imagine that the person to whom you are speaking is handling all the Track and Field events: the 100-meter; the hurdles; the steeplec

The Partner Economy: The Single Greatest Opportunity and Threat to Your Business

THE PARTNER ECONOMY: THE SINGLE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY AND THREAT TO YOUR BUSINESS A gentleman that I recently met at a conference said something that I found fascinating. He said that “in the old days it was the big that beat the small, but in the current economy it’s the fast that beat the slow”. This guy worked for a large company and he recognized that the old business models weren't really working like they used to. As examples, in earlier years Standard Oil (which is now Exxon Mobil); Rockefeller; Ford; and US Steel owned all the factors of production from beginning to end. They were integrated - they owned everything. They could build everything, and they controlled everything. They controlled the price of every single raw material for input. They controlled the pricing that it took to make everything in the middle. Clearly they controlled the price at which they could sell everything because there wasn't a lot of competition back then, so that was a fantastic bus
THE SECRET SAUCE Corporations were interested in giving a helping hand to minority-owned companies - not a hand-out - in the early years of supplier diversity. They were willing to help them get in the door and to reach a certain level, but they were not guaranteeing a contract for life. In order to get a contract for life, your company had to out-perform everybody else that was performing the same service. Once the helping hand had been extended and you took it, you had to quickly transition to leveraging that helping hand to get new business with new customers. Large companies are very judicious when awarding contracts to minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses because of what is known as a “pass through” or “front business”. Majority owned companies would find someone diverse – it could be a woman, a Hispanic, African American, an Asian, etc., or in today’s world, a gay, lesbian, or veteran and use that person as a “front” to have their company qualify as a minorit

Does Size Really Matter?

Does size really matter? Yep, the question is “does the size of your company really matter regarding getting contracts with the big boys”? The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is “maybe”, if you're talking about the six, seven, eight, nine, ten figure contracts. If it's a large  manufacturing plant for example, you might be able to get that larger contract servicing one location, but more than likely for these types of contracts with the big boys, you're going to be covering multiple sites, multiple locations, multiple business units, and so you have the issue of what is reasonable for your company to handle. Ask yourself “would they give a $10 million contract to a company that only has one, two or three employees”? What if they thought you could ramp up and service the contract? Maybe, but more than likely that's going to be a push. You'd have to work really hard to convince them that you could handle the job with only a staff of three - even though the s