Contender…or Just a Pretender?


Taylor Hicks was going to be the next big thing…or so it seemed when he won American Idol in 2006. Yet, so far, he’s merely been a pretender as his career has limped along in the years since his rapid rise to Idol fame. Sure, Hicks has put out a few CD’s and achieved a modest following, however, when compared to Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, his results are dispiriting at best. Even some of the top five finalists, Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson for example, have succeeded where the season winners have not.

Hicks and numerous companies have much in common — lots of promise, tons of potential, and consistently average results. This is not just limited to small firms as thousands of regional, national, and international organizations are the equivalent of the one-hit wonders in the record industry. While making many of their owners or stockholders a decent return on their investment, the bottom-line results are a far cry from the outcomes achieved by contenders.

Here are a few of the differences between contenders and pretenders:

Pretenders aspire to something bigger, but never quite make it. They are composed of people with raw talent who often work very hard to achieve the desired level of success, and still, the ultimate growth they desire just doesn’t come. What makes matters worse, leaders in full-blown pretender firms regularly rollout the new “flavor of the month” strategy, thinking it will be their ticket to prosperity. Unfortunately, this tactic only admits them to the theater of the absurd as they become known for their lack of follow-through. Pretenders dream big, talk a good game, and that’s all it is…just talk.

Contenders make big things happen and don’t have to spend much time talking about it. They know talent isn’t enough and that winning requires discipline, opportunism, and resilience.  Contenders convert raw abilities into consistent best practices that reduce labor intensity. Leaders in these firms spend more time on strategy instead of tactics, knowing that the flavor of the month is best left to ice cream. Contenders dream big, act bigger, and reap the financial rewards as they are grateful, yet, never fully satisfied that this is as good as it gets.

Is your firm consistently acting like a contender or exhibiting traits of a pretender? You may already have a sense from what you’ve read here today. To learn more, owners, leaders, and managers are invited to join me for a complimentary TeleClass where you’ll gain additional insights and have the opportunity to take the Contender Test. In addition, you’ll discover how contenders maintain their competitive status and grab more market share as a result.

Scott WintripContender…or Just a Pretender?


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  • dearoe - October 21, 2010 reply

    I don’t know why you decided to pick on Hicks for your example but it was a very bad choice. It is very wrong to write about people or things when you only know half the story and all you know about Hicks is a few things you have read and heard. You know nothing about the obstacles that may have been thrown in his way. And heres one thing maybe you don’t know. Hes making a good living, and he is the only idol winner that owns his own life and soul. That counts for a good deal. He has the freedom to create what he wants without the suits input and the freedom to call every dime he makes his own. When he sells an album or any other item the profit is his not the labels. Hes a smart and very talented man, and he will be around when many of the others have disappeared. There is more than one path to what you want.

    Scott Wintrip, PCC - October 22, 2010 reply

    Thanks for your comment. And we seem to agree more than disagree. Yes, he has amazing talent and is his own man. Has he come anywhere near his potential? I suspect we’d might even agree that he has not…yet. People have the opportunity to become contenders and this does not mean they have to sell their soul or even play by the rules. It does mean require breaking out of patterns that are holding them where they are right now.

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