Self-awareness is accepting your shortcomings and accentuating your strengths. It’s being at peace with yourself and your skillset. Try to get to a place where you understand yourself and what your strengths are, then go ALL IN on them.
Gary nailed it on this one. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and every day we have a choice on whether to focus on either maximizing our strengths or minimizing our weaknesses. We can choose to be more ‘well-rounded’, or throw everything we have into what we’re really good at.
As someone who’s always prided myself on being well rounded, it has been hard for me to go all-in on anything. I’m consistently envious of those who do, as it’s amazing to see the results others achieve when they put everything they have into what they love over an extended period of time.
As I age and gain more experience, I am realizing (slowly!) that there are things about my work that I truly love (product development, working with our dealers, business strategy), and those tasks I am capable of doing but really don’t enjoy (bookkeeping, social media management to name a few). My well-roundedness, while great for being able to jump into most activities and not completely fall on my face, is holding me back. At least I’m aware of it and am slowly taking steps to remove myself from activities and tasks I can do and shifting that time to activities I love and should be doing. The same thing can be said for a business. While most businesses have capabilities that could stretch far beyond the market they serve, it’s best to focus on what they are the best at.
At Grey Duck, we have a unique set of strengths, and the only way that we can survive (and thrive) is to recognize what our advantages are and lean into them. So, what are they?
- Design - Our boards are uniquely ‘Grey Duck’. Clean, classic and functional – our combination of design aesthetic, quality construction, and board shapes is not something you can just go down the road and find with another brand.
- Distribution - We sell our products through independent outdoor retailers throughout the Midwest, all of which are within a day’s drive of Minneapolis. This allows our dealers to carry an appropriate amount of stock, react more quickly to customer’s needs, and deliver a better SUP offering than they otherwise could if they were working with anyone else. Our distribution model also helps support local brick and mortar businesses throughout the Midwest. We believe in the awesomeness of having a local outdoor ‘gear shop’ in our hometowns and hope that selling our boards through those shops helps keep ‘Main Street’ alive.
- Personal Touch – We personally deliver boards to our dealers, train their staff, are on the beach at demo days, and have a compelling reason for why every product in our lineup exists. Other brands can’t deliver this type of knowledge and service – nimble and personal is our superpower.
- Knowledge of the Market - We have a deep understanding of the outdoor gear space, ranging from sourcing to manufacturing to distribution to retail. It helps us make good decisions regarding the styles and quantities of products we offer, as well as be able to push the envelope in terms of what is possible. We continually try to balance building great products that people want TODAY with designing products for where we think (or hope) the market is headed. An example of this balance is the introduction this year of two new boards – one for today’s market and one for tomorrow’s. Our 10’8” Coast – a model that hits the sweet spot in terms of looks, price, and durability quickly became one of our best selling boards. Our Quetico model, with our patent-pending portage system, is a board that is pressing the envelope in terms of how remotely you can travel with a performance touring board.
- Focus – We build SUP boards. It is not an accident that we don’t have an extensive offering of accessories, soft goods, and products that aren’t SUPs. We could offer a wider variety of products outside of SUP, but it would impact our ability to focus on boards and take our eye off the ball. We just don’t think it’s worth it. All the accessory and soft goods we offer are built to support our growth as a premium SUP brand, not because these items are intended to be a profit center for the business on their own.
By bringing our strengths together, we have a compelling story for why we should be considered by anyone searching for a new SUP.
Now it’s your turn. What are your strengths, and how are you pulling them together to offer the world something no one else can? Start a list and remember it’s not a single strength that makes you unique, but the way that you bring them together that is your secret sauce. Like a great chef, it is not about the raw ingredients you use (everyone has access to those), but how you bring it together that is the difference-maker.