News & Research Archive

You Can't Bring a Horse to Water... or Can You?

Jan 30, 2014

I was visiting an old client of mine, an angel investor who had just invested in another company who would eventually need help with their office space. We were discussing various options when his business partner throws out the famous line, "You can't bring a horse to water." I found that very interesting since this techie was less than 30 years old and old adages like this were rarely used by anyone these days. What was more interesting was the response from my client who argued, "Yes, you can if you feed him salt."

Old adages are great because they are based upon an understanding of human faults over generations. I don't know when this adage was created, but can only guess it was a time when horses were part of our daily lives.

So what does it mean and how does it relate to salespeople? In my opinion, it is related to procrastination, the ultimate challenge to any salesperson. However, my client's response could mean something different. No one will change unless they feel pain.

Procrastination and pain do in fact cross each other. Procrastination is the unwilliness to tackle a project or do list item. It's to delay the inevitable.

WikipediaWikipedia's definition of procrastination is:

The practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the "last minute".

Wikipedia's definition of pain:

An unpleasant feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations.

In other words, you could procrastinate to avoid a painful experience. As we start a new year, the biggest drawback to our success will be procrastination. We typically get excited about the prospects of the New Year. If we had a bad year previously, or a "so so" year, we want to change things to do better. We create business plans and goals and enter the New Year optimistically, believing that we will follow our plan. Until, procrastination settles in and we decide to take the easy route during our busy day. We may choose to work on the easy deals rather than sort out the complicated ones. Some of us may not reach out for the bigger deals in fear of rejection.

Pain can help change and force us to more forward. It can be our "salt" or it can be the reason for our postponement. As we start the New Year, my message to salespeople is to think of yourself as the horse that needs water. Are you going to drink or are you going to wait to make things happen? Or, perhaps you need a little salt to get yourself to advance.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 29 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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