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Key Idea: Enjoy the Hard Parts

David Arnold expects things to go wrong and believes it is his job to deal with the difficult problems.    More...

Key Question:


David says you have to be an optimist.  If you are not you will break under the stress of dealing with all of the difficult problems that come everyday.

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Think about it

What problem are you work on right now?  How do you feel about it?  Do you believe you will find a solution?  Do you try to stay optimistic?  Do you think it would help you if you were more optimistic?  How does your attitude impact your employees?

Clip from: The King Company with David Arnold

Austin, Texas:  He was a high school coach that loved watches.  It all began with a stop watch and became a love for any kind of watch.  The trunk of the family car was always filled with samples. And, he and his wife would go just about anywhere in Texas to find a new drugstore to carry his brand of time. When this story was taped, David had 65 employees and $50 million in annual sales. To create this American dream story, David did a lot of things right.

Look at ways he applied the most sophisticated technologies to the business of ordering, warehousing, selling, shipping and financial transaction processing (collecting on accounts receivable within minutes not 30-60 days).

The watch industry is one of the oldest, but here we learn about some of the newest business practices to create profits and a foundation for the future.

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The King Company, now SMI Direct

David Arnold, founder

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Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Enjoy the Hard Parts

HATTIE: Success means deliver for the customer?

DAVID: Success means deliver...

HATTIE: Success means do it right?

DAVID: Success means do it right.

HATTIE: Success means quality? Success means...

DAVID: Success means all of those things.

HATTIE: What jazzes you up? Why did you want to have your own thing? What is it?

DAVID: Well, I very much love a challenge, I guess, number one. I love to--somebody tells me I can't climb that hill, to show them that I can climb that hill.

HATTIE: What's the hardest part about being a leader?

DAVID: Being optimistic every day. I mean, there are so many things that drag you down on a day-to-day basis. But, you know, you've got to put all that behind you and say, `I can overcome that challenge.' Being a business owner where you're your own boss is not fun all the time. My wife will even tell you that it hasn't been all that, you know, much fun to her sometimes. But when you look at it from a big picture and you say, `Man, I grew this much and went this far,' and when we have a company picnic and all the employees bring their families, and you say, `All these are here--these people are here and all of them are enjoying their life, and a lot of it I'm responsible for,' it makes you feel good. When there's a mistake happens, it's my fault.And I--sometimes, you know, it is my fault even though I might not have had a lot to do with it. When sales aren't up to speed like I want it to, I'm the one that has to answers to my financial people or to the bankers. I'm the one that has to tell Seiko that things weren't as good as maybe we had expected them to be. And so, yes, the buck stops here. It's my responsibility. That's hard. That's tough. And I think maybe that's one of the reasons we've been successful. I've been willing to own up to every mistake that we've made. I'm very fast to say, you know, `Yeah, that's what happened. I'll own up to it. But you know what? I'm not gonna let it happen again.' And very rarely does it ever happen again. I have never, in my relationship with Seiko, not been totally honest with them, not been willing to lay out--open the things up and say, `Here's what it is, here's, you know...'

HATTIE: But don't fake it.

DAVID:'s the story.' Don't fake it.

HATTIE: Don't pretend.

DAVID: Don't pretend. You know, you can tell them them problem, but show them how you're gonna fix it.

HATTIE: David, what about the future?

DAVID: Well, the future, I can assure you, will be just as rocky as the last 15 years. You know, I am not so much an optimist...

HATTIE: You're not looking for a smooth road?

DAVID: I'm not looking for a smooth road. Whenever you reach the next level, the next level's sitting there in front of you. I don't think there is an end. The most exciting thing for me is that I can look back and remember that first day in 1981 when I put the watches in the trunk of my car and I took out to go sell watches, and then today when I walk into this building, and I look out and I see all these watches that would no longer fit in the trunk of my station wagon. That's been fun. That's been exciting. But when you look at it from the big picture, and you say, `How--have I been successful?' you can say, `This has really worked.' You know, what I built is something that's really big and very solid and very strong, and hopefully will be for many, many years to come.

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