What can Dennis Downing teach us about business

In December of 2009, in an issue of the Economist magazine (Dec 19th issue), I read an interesting story about Dennis Downing, an Englishman who in 1998 moved to America. Here is a little taste:

“Dennis Downing, an Englishman, moved to America for the fox-hunting. A professional huntsman, he cares for the hounds that hunt the fox during a traditional hunt. (Everyone else is merely there for the ride.) He has done this all his working life.

In 1997 Britain elected a government that promised a vote on banning the sport and Mr. Downing, seeing the writing on the wall, left the next year. (Fox-hunting was eventually banned in 2004.) After three years with a hunt in Alabama, he moved to Virginia, where English-style hunting has been popular since George Washington’s day. He now works with the Blue Ridge Hunt and lives in the beautiful Shenandoah valley. He likes the weather, the space and the freedom to hunt.”

Lesson #1: Divorcing ideas is about saving your assets, not destroying them. Be preoccupied with the long run. Ask yourself, “How much do I really know about trends in my industry?”

Lesson #2: Upgrade your thinking. You are leading you. Expose yourself to new stories.

Lesson #3: Remember what Yogi Bera said, “If they won’t come to the park you cannot stop them.” Align your strengths with the needs you see in the market, and if necessary, as Tony Hsieh notes, “switch tables if you discover it’s too hard to win at your table.” (To see the full list of the lessons Tony learned from playing poker that could also be applied to business, click here.)