Chapter 46 - Offense and Defense

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

Voltaire

Sometimes we stumble onto ideas out of necessity. About year two in lending, I had built a solid business but was still feeling a little unorganized. I don’t consider myself to be an operations expert, but I do like things orderly, and it bothered me that things weren’t tidy. I was managing twenty to forty loans at all times, so I needed an epiphany. One day I started writing down things that I do during the day, everything. Then I wrote down the words finding deals and doing deals (hey, I’m a simple thinker). And then I looked at my task list and realized that nearly everything can go into one of those two buckets. I started breaking up my day into finding deals and doing deals. When I arrived at work, I would write down: 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. = finding deals; 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. = doing deals; and so on all the way through 3:00 p.m., at which time I would leave the office for appointments or get a workout.

This plan was working, but something was missing. The problem. By about 10:30 a.m., the phone was ringing like crazy, and by 11:30 a.m. I was completely off my schedule and just reacting to this or that. Reacting. Hmmm. That sounds like defense to me. Executing a plan, that sounds like offense to me. So I modified my game plan from finding deals and doing deals to offense and defense. From the minute that I woke until about 11:30 a.m., I could control my world—I could play offense. From that point forward, however, don’t fight it, Jim. I needed to accept the fact that I needed to play defense and react to this or that.

You can also think of offense as marketing and defense as operations.

Offense: What do we do on offense? We plan. We scheme. We dream. We attack. We anticipate. And then we ultimately execute our plan. We have an advantage because the defense doesn’t know what we are about to do. There is an element of sophistication to offense; that’s why the O-lineman in football are the smartest guys on the team! Sorry to you defensive people out there. We have an element of control when we are playing offense. We know what we are trying to accomplish. For me, it was crystal clear, this was my marketing time.

Defense: We are mostly reacting. Yes, there is an element of planning, but the planning is different. You need to “read” what the other person is doing. Read your key. React to this or that. It is a secondary reaction based on the movement of the offensive player. React to what the offensive player is doing. “But Jim, there are times when the defense runs an attack.” Yes, but rare. And think about it: If we attack when we are reacting to a customer, does that go well? Defense was the time when I did operations.

In my mind, I needed to split it up because my day was running together like a jumbled-up pudding mix with several ingredients bleeding into one another. In summary, offense = finding deals = marketing; defense = doing deals = operations. So here is an example of how I would utilize this strategy on a daily basis:

7:00 a.m. = Defense, plan for day, and give the task list to my assistants
8:00 a.m. = Offense
9:00 a.m. = Offense/defense, see if anyone needed me, and keep playing offense
10:00 a.m. = Offense
11:00 a.m. = Offense/defense, transition to defense
12:00 p.m. = Lunch
1:00 p.m. = Defense
2:00 p.m. = Defense
3:00 p.m. = Offense
4:00 p.m. = Offense
5: 00 p.m. = Go home and check in on things and turn it off by 7:00 p.m.

Aesop said, “After all is said and done, more is said than done.” Maintain control over your day and get things done!

Go get ’em!

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JAMES R. CARTER