Anything I Can Do, You Can Do Better!

In Annie Get Your Gun, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler show their competitive sides as they sing the now well-known song Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.

With all due respect to Irving Berlin, the great writer of this song, we’re putting our own twist on it … anything I can do, you can do better!

A blooming mistake
Jim McCann was a social worker. He got a part-time job in a flower shop to make ends meet. A few years later, he started his own flower business. He made some money, but not that much. So he opened another shop. And then another.

Over ten years, he ended up with fourteen flower shops. One morning, he was listening to the radio as he got ready for work. He had a fresh idea – a nationwide flower service.

He found a bankrupt company which had stopped doing business several years earlier. Its only asset was a toll-free phone number – 1-800-FLOWERS. Now this was before the internet when ordering via telephone was huge.

He really wanted this phone number. So he agreed to buy the company and assume the debt. He figured their liabilities had to be pretty insignificant, since they hadn’t done any business for years.

After buying the company, he found out how wrong he was. It turned out they were $7 million in debt. His friends advised him to declare bankruptcy, but he pressed on. It took about five years to pay off the debt, but he did. And last year his little business sold over $750 million of flowers!

Learn from Your (and Our) Mistakes
So Jim McCann learned a valuable lesson about due diligence. But anyone who wants to buy a business can learn this lesson without having to go through a similar experience.

You can do anything better than me by learning from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself. Learning from your mistakes is good; learning from mine is better. You’ll succeed faster!

Shared Success
With information so prevalent today, there’s another way our title applies. In many cases, it doesn’t make sense to hoard information, you’re better off sharing it.

The final step of mastering any craft is the desire and ability to mentor others. And an interesting thing happens as you do that … the people you’re mentoring may, at some point, start doing better than you.

Then the teacher begins to learn from the student. So the teacher performs better. And the student learns and performs better.

Anything we can do, we can do better! You both help each other grow.  

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Our bigg quote today is by the great Will Rogers, who said,

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading,
and the other by association with smarter people.”

It’s the smart thing to do!

Next time, we’ll discuss how to have the discipline to invest even if you don’t have the discipline to invest. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Related posts 

Jungle Love – Living With Coopetition

It’s Safest To Stick To What You Know

Leadership Lessons From Fallen Leaders

Lessons Learned From A Bankrupt Business Owner 

(Image by andresfib,CC 2.0)

5 replies
  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    I’m a high school teacher and I’m amazed by what I learn from my students! Like George said, after they graduate, they keep in touch and share what it’s like for a young person just starting out today. I’ve taken courses to improve my knowledge in certain subjects based on some of the information I’ve received from them.

    Reply
  2. ken laing
    ken laing says:

    I put in the quote “anything I can do, you can do better” because I was testing Google’s ability to correctly attribute this quote. It failed! The quote was in a message to Cole Porter from Irving Berlin.
    When Berlin saw Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, he sent that message to Porter.

    Reply
    • George & Mary-Lynn
      George & Mary-Lynn says:

      Ken – Thanks for the tidbit. We’re familiar with the song from Annie Get Your Gun – Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better. And we thought we were being original by reversing it. Just goes to show, there is nothing new in the world. Wait, who said that first? LOL

      Reply

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