How to Be a Fierce Competitor: A book review by Bob Morris

How to Be a Fierce Competitor: What Winning Companies and Great Managers Do in Tough Times
Jeffrey J. Fox
Jossey-Bass/a Wiley Imprint (2010)

According to Fox, fierce organizations are defined by key people – at all levels and in all areas — who enable their companies to compete fiercely but with principles for sales, profits, market share, and especially talent at a time when competition for them is greater than ever before. Competitive companies “are ethical, honest, compliant with regulations, and model citizens. They are sometimes feared and always watched by their competitors. They are loved by their customers. They are easy to do business with, but they never take it easy…The savvy, smart, well-led companies see bad times as a good time to gain market share, to out-fox the competition…aggressively pursue underserved customers, market to brand-indifferent customers and work mightily to make them brand-loyal, go after other companies’ dissatisfied, angry customers, buy under-priced hard assets, build capacity, hire newly available human talent, and acquire product licenses, anxious good suppliers, undermarketed products, new wholesalers and distributors, and core relevant acquisitions.”

Those who aspire to be fierce competitors must never let anyone else outwork them. “It is noteworthy that he or she who is in the proverbial ‘right place at the right time’ is the hardest worker.” They also believe that everyone is a possible customer. “Don’t be biased against a possible customer by the way they talk, what they wear, or where they live.” Here in Texas, many people “wear a big hat but have no “cattle.” Fierce competitors work hard and smart to know who are the “cattle owners.” Then they make the sale and get the business. “Figure out how and when to deliver later. Getting the sale is the hard part.” And finally, they “always answer the phone” whenever it rings and are then well-prepared to provide the information requested or the solution needed.

I think this Fox’s best, his most important book…thus far. I cannot think of a better gift to give to those who will soon graduate from schools, colleges, and universities as well as to those who have only recently embarked upon a career. In fact, I highly recommend this book to all others who share Jeffrey Fox’s compelling faith in the power of passionate and principled competition. As his riveting narrative clearly indicates, the most valuable “business principles” are also the most valuable “life principles.”


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