Izzy Green

Know-how vs Do-how

In business there are 2 types of people, there are the ones that are the know-hows, and then there are the ones that are the do-how’s.

I’ve had this many times in the past when I spoke to people, whether in a business setting or when interviewing for a job, and I was extremely impressed by the person’s knowledge. Let me take sales for an example.
Most people you talk to with the minimum business knowledge know that in order to be successful in sales, you have to be able to accept rejection, make a 100 calls to get one sale, be persistent, etc. You can sit at an interview, and the candidate tells everything he know about sales. You’re impressed, you hire the guy, first week looks okay, but then as time passes on, the new guy is not producing and you wonder what happened.

Very simple, the guy is know-how, not a do-how.

It’s very easy to get blinded by someone’s knowledge, but just because he knows how it needs to get done, doesn’t mean that he could get it done. It’s just like taking someone who has never stepped foot in a pool, but he has read all the books that are out there on swimming, he studied the topic thoroughly, and you ask him to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Knowing how to swim, and actually being able to swim across the Atlantic are complete separate things.

When you hire someone, don’t get fooled by their know-how, make sure that they also have the do-how. There are many different ways to accomplish this, in our example, sales, one of the things I do is a personality test I give. 2 main parts of the report are: ‘can the candidate do the job’, and ‘will the candidate do the job’.

Same goes for business consultants, there’s this story about a guy who planned to start a business, when someone asked him what he will do if it doesn’t work out. He said “I’ll become a consultant”.

Business consultants today have the answer to everything, but the one question they can’t answer is “if you’re so good and you could help a business owner take his business from zero to a million dollars in revenue in one year, why aren’t you doing it for yourself?”

It is very easy to sit on a comfortable leather chair and give solutions (and when you don’t remember what you’ve read you do a quick Google search). But guess what, “an entrepreneurs best tool is being able to improvise and take risk” an entrepreneur is someone who solves problems, overcomes obstacles and thinks on his feet. There is no book or Google for that, you have to be in it or gone through it to understand the problems and give solution.

Someone once asked me what is the best business advice I ever received. Before my partner Sol Eisenberg and myself started Evergreen Insurance we had many different business ideas, most of them were pretty dumb ideas. When I was discussing them with my father he always told me “do yourself a favor, discuss it with a businessman” he never said that I should go to a consultant, pay thousands of dollars, he said ‘discuss it with a businessman’ somebody that has been there and he has the do-how, not just the know-how. And thank God we didn’t lock ourselves into any stupid business ventures.

A friend who owns a business once asked me to come along with him to a business consultant to discuss some issues he was having with his business. I went along with him, all I was hearing from that business consultant is how he screwed up in business, and how many millions he lost already. I guess he didn’t get to the paragraph in the book titled ‘never let people know how unsuccessful you are’.

3 Responses

  1. Lenard
    Lenard December 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

    Right on Izzy,

    Taking business advise from a ‘business consultant’ who never built a business from the ground up with his own hands, and is not a successful millionaire, is like taking marriage council from someone who got divorced 15 times claiming experience as his motto.
    What you do is, you look up for this 90 year old couple and sit down with them and listen to their advise, same goes for business, you found these really successful people who have actually done something and you take notes of whatever they have to say.

    They are the ‘Do-how’s’.

  2. Aron J
    Aron J December 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

    Very well put Izzy.

    I wonder if there are those who are only do-how’s without the know-how’s. Perhaps those are the ones we call ‘have Mazal’. Just thinking.

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