ECP Entrepreneurs: Are You Really the Underdog You Think You Are?

underdog

You might assume your independent optical can’t compete with retail giants like Luxottica, which counts LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, and Target among its legions. After all, they’re Goliaths and you’re just a little, local David.

You may just have an edge you don’t realize you have, suggests Malcolm Gladwell, author of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, a 2013 book which many small businesses and entrepreneurs admire.

“I thought I understood [the story], and then I went back over it and I realized that I didn’t understand it at all,” Gladwell has said in a TED talk.

“So David, in that story, is supposed to be the underdog, right?” says Gladwell. He’s a teenage shepherd boy armed only with a sling and five smooth stones, and Goliath is a hulking Philistine giant armed with cutting-edge tactical weapons for the time. He’s got an entourage J-Lo would envy, and even an “attendant” to lead him onto the battlefield.

But the ancient people who originally heard this story would have understood that David’s unassuming looking sling can propel a stone 35 meters per second, and that the Valley of Elah stones David is using are twice the density of rocks elsewhere.

David is highly accurate artillery. In contrast, Goliath is “heavy infantry.”

And certain textual clues have suggested to modern scholars that Goliath may well have acromegaly—a pituitary tumor that causes overproduction of human growth hormone. “The pituitary tumor, as it grows, often starts to compress the visual nerves in your brain, with the result that people with acromegaly have either double vision or they are profoundly nearsighted,” Gladwell explains. So what looks to be Goliath’s strength—gigantism—is related to his greatest weakness.

Lesson Learned:

“Giants are not as strong and powerful as they seem,” Gladwell concludes, “And sometimes the shepherd boy has a sling in his pocket.”

So, ECP entrepreneurs, what are your slings?

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