THE BLOG

Winners and Their Sex Lives

06/06/2013 09:59 am ET | Updated Aug 06, 2013

Businesses and leaders who are big winners should breed prolifically. The theory of evolution by natural selection demands it! If the market proclaims a new initiative a stunning success, get the bandwagon going as fast and as far as possible. This means reproduction. It means new generations of improved versions of whatever is available. It means backing the winners with cash and the best skills available from anywhere.

Too many winners sit in monasteries and nunneries, or opt for vasectomy. They while away their days pleasantly enough, meeting existing customers' needs in the same way they first stumbled across, enjoying easy orders and fat margins. Until, that is, someone else invents something new, or an improved version of your own product or service. Winners who don't have sex will die out. Winners who have a normal sex life with horribly underperform relative to their potential. Winners have an evolutionary duty to have a superabundant sex life, spawning a large number of well-equipped offspring.

What does this mean in business? It means taking the winning product, service or business system as far afield geographically as you possibly can -- so long as it is still a winner in the new environment. It means introducing new generations of product that is as simple and sophisticated as possible. It means introducing them faster, and more extensively than firms with less successful products do. It means attracting the very best talent to make the products better and market and sell them around the globe. It means forming spinoff teams and companies that can take what is best and apply it to new products, new customers, and new geographies. It means squeezing the last particle of possible expansion out of what you have. It means taking a few risks - the risk you should worry about is the risk of not taking risks. If a fizzy drink can drive the expansion of The Coca-Cola Company at a rate of more than 10 percent a year for more than a century, why shouldn't your product grow faster and longer?

This is all counterintuitive. Surely, those who are less successful should be trying harder to improve what they have? That is normal business reasoning. Yet economic selection implies that when we have something good and successful, it must be improved and spread, and new generations themselves improved and spread, as fast and as far as possible. Selection puts enormous pressure for improvement and reproduction on the organisms that are the most successful to start with. Selection also gives the winners the inbuilt mechanisms necessary to keep winning. Use them.

I know several people who have been a huge hit in their chosen careers. But not all of them make good use, in my opinion, of the privileged position in which their success has placed them. For example, one of my good friends is ... well, let us call him Fred. He was stunningly successful in leading a buy-out and earning a very high return for himself and his colleagues before he was 40. He made a deliberate decision not to reinvest most of his time and money in a new venture. Instead, he dabbles in politics and philanthropy, he has taken a few outside director positions, and he spends a lot of time travelling. For sure, he has a positive impact in all these activities -- they are all worthwhile. Yet he does not set the world alight, because he has stopped doing what he does best. He is one of the world's most talented entrepreneurs, so why isn't he starting a great new business? To my way of thinking, he's retired to a rather pleasant monastery.

If you have a success, please don't think about yourself. By all means take a break and recharge your batteries. But, please, do what you do best, and do it on a massive scale. If winners do not breed prolifically, the gene pool will degrade, and we will all wallow in mediocrity.