In the global, consolidated and highly competitive market place we live and trade in today, the need for unequivocal market share strategies is no longer a “good suggestion” but rather the singular determinant as to an entities very survival and profitability. Stopping up any outflow of potential profit is the most critical piece of business one can attend to today. Whether you are a hospital, bank association, furniture manufacturer or engineering firm you know in your “management gut” that doing repeat business with existing clients and holding market share, is about getting your true “you” to your clients. We so often and mistakenly, think it’s about product or price or service – it’s not! It is about the essence of who and what you are as an organization. The very essence of your service, your product, your corporation, your association. Particularly in a tough market, accesing on-the-books clients and members, is so much easier than wooing new ones! Taking who you are to your market – is client retention and brand recognition! It is also how the market place will notice you above the competition! But how do we do this and how do we do so with consistency?
It was at the end of 1999, two years after having set up my wholesale loose diamond business, when I found myself attempting to develop and bring on board a prospective client located in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was a substantial, free standing, independent retail jeweler, who certainly had not been waiting for me to arrive from Johannesburg, South Africa. Three generations old, with vendor relationships that were twice my age, this business clearly had no apparent “need” that was waiting for me to address. Initially, I simply walked in the door in an unabashed and ruthless attempt to compete with my competitor vendors. Whatever my competition can do, so can I… Whatever they provide you, however they service you, how well they price you, so can I. The door was simply slamming, and I was unable to even get in front of the diamond buyer.
It was on the cold, dark drive back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we were living at the time, that the “penny dropped” and “Positive Predatory Pillar # 1” hit me. The built-in movie theatre in my head started to play back scenes of the African savannah and its predators, of which I had such fondness – that majestic leopard that I had been privileged to see deep in the African bush-land so many times; its non-negotiable insistence on grooming itself and continually taking inventory of its personal resources and apparatus; that unique and evident “knowledge-of-self” that it communicates with those penetrating eyes; an unexcused awareness that it is perhaps the most successful and dangerous feline predator on earth – no apologies offered.
“Of course!” I blurted out to myself, as the fundamental mistake I was making became crystal clear. As I unpacked my thoughts, I realized that I was not giving my prospective client anything which this client did not already have, and it had not occurred to me to give this client the one thing that only “I” can. In that moment, I acutely understood that what I can bring to my prospect’s business, that my competitors cannot, is “ME,” the element of which I had taken the least inventory and upon which I had placed the least significance.
My single biggest advantage, asset, and “value-add” had been left in the car outside and had not at all been offered to my prospective client. Immediately, I acknowledged that I needed to do what I had seen the leopard instinctively do. I had to embark on a deep, introspective study of who and what I am with implacable intellectual honesty. I had to get hold of exactly what my specific tooling is and what my particular apparatus includes, bank it to memory and become inseparable from this knowledge. This would allow me to clearly know what defines “ME” from the person next to me, package this information and take it with me “on my hunt” to the marketplace.
Two months later, with a completely revamped business card, dress code and aura that accurately reflected me, I went back to Cincinnati. As part of a “positive predatory” strategy, I chose not to make an appointment with the buyer and walked into the store unexpectedly. Fortuitously, the buyer was in. I asked the receptionist to please tell the buyer that I was in the store, and that I had absolutely no merchandise with me at all.
After 10 minutes or so, the buyer came down with that “oh, bleep…it’s a diamond salesman” look on her face. Quickly she learned that I really had no diamonds to sell her. She was now confused and amused and said “…you traveled here without a single diamond to show me?” In my thickest South African accent, I responded as follows: “…I made a 600 mile round trip to share with you that diamonds are what we transact, but it is a business relationship with me, Kivi Bernhard, that I sell…” Having now gained her visceral attention, I went on to articulate to her “who and what” I am, touching on core fundamentals of what makes me “ME.” I was able to communicate that my contribution to their corporation would far exceed product, price and service. Rather, it would be ME that they would be buying and the things I aspire to stand for, namely: honesty, integrity, faith based practices, family values and, yes, gemological expertise. We soon began doing business together and continue to grow from strength to strength to this day.
It was this encounter that helped me create our most successful business slogan: “A diamond is easily obtained – An honest dealer however, is indeed a rare gem.” TM
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About Kivi Bernhard
Taking the professional speakers circuit by storm, Kivi Bernhard has been requested to keynote audiences from the Bahamas to Bangkok. Described by a leading international speaker bureau as “one of the most promising and talented speakers in the world today” Kivi is a riveting and captivating speaker and is renowned for his platform excellence.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Kivi was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. After relocating to the USA in 1997 with his wife and family and a total net worth of $860.22, Kivi went on to build a multimillion dollar international wholesale diamond business. With the aid of award winning footage, Kivi uses the hunting habits and techniques of the African leopard, perhaps the most successful feline predator on earth, to draw metaphors of personal and corporate leadership, trust and success that will simply leave you spellbound. Now the author of the internationally acclaimed business book Leopardology ™ – The Hunt For Profit In A Tough Global Economy, (Morgan James 2009) Kivi Bernhard has received accolade from top CEO’s and bestselling authors. Kivi is proud to share that Leopardology ™, was in fact incorporated into the MBA program of Kennesaw State University, Coles School Of Business for 2007.
Kivi Bernhard is one of those amazing people you meet every once in a while and never forget. With an unusual synthesis, he is an orthodox Jew, passionate family man, adventurer, accomplished business entrepreneur, author and renowned speaker. CEO and founder of Kivi International LLC, an internationally known wholesale loose diamond distributor, Kivi’s business network reads like a current edition of “Who’s Who?” Tapping into this asset has allowed him access to the minds and spirit of some of the most accomplished names in the local and global business arena. A keen student of life with a huge appetite for laughter and love, Kivi is an accomplished and published musician, Judo medalist and gemological consultant.
Kivi’s “other love,” the African bush, has become part and parcel of his fiber as a human being and is what inspired the development of Leopardology ™. He has an amazing ability to synthesize his lifelong passion and study of Africa’s predators with timeless life lessons across the spectrum of human experience. Often described as an amalgamation of “Crocodile Dundee” and “Jerry McGuire with a yarmulke,” Kivi is a riveting and captivating orator. Equally at home tracking lion deep in the African bush as he is in the executive suites of a Fortune 500, he will regale you with enthralling stories of both. A consummate professional, Kivi Bernhard is a fountain of positive energy and human potential. His personal journey, including his victories and his losses, have given him a unique laboratory in which to study the DNA of this thing we call “success.”