The Genius of Paul Smith?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by [email protected], Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Shawn@PRS

    Staff Member Moderator

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    As I mentioned in another post, my wife and I recently started a business. (Shameless plug: www.fairwindswellness.com )

    So I've been trying to absorb as much information about business as I can cram into my already overloaded brain. I started listening to podcasts from Naval Ravikant, who is an investor and entrepreneur. In one of his podcasts, he discusses the aspects of "Selling" vs "Building" as they relate to creating a business. He states some people are great at building a better mousetrap, while others shine at selling that better mousetrap. He claims the real giants of any industry are great at doing both. He points to Steve Jobs (Apple), Elon Musk (Space X), Larry Ellison (Oracle) and Mark Andreessen (Netscape), as being great builders as well as great sellers. I couldn't help but think of Paul Smith. Paul may be on a smaller scale then the aforementioned folks, but nonetheless, Paul is a great builder and also great at selling. The success PRS Guitars has seen over the past 34 years is a testament to Paul's brilliance.

    If anyone cares to check out Naval's podcast, you can here it here:
     
  2. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    I certainly think Paul falls squarely into this category. Felt I needed to say that since that's what you were posting about (even though it's true).

    Really wanted to say "best of luck" on the new endeavor!
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Paul is great at what he does, both as a designer and as a guy who can hit the bricks and drum up enthusiasm for the products.

    Kinda wish I lived in your area so I could be a customer of your business!
     
  4. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    There is no doubt in my mind that Paul is a Great builder and has assembled a team of great craftsmen too. I know how Paul worked incredibly hard to build and get a Guitar in the hands of Carlos Santana and has built PRS up to be one of 'big' 3 US brands. We also hear of Paul's incredible attention to even the smallest detail, constantly searching for 'perfection' - which can mean something different to many, but it seems to me that Paul is constantly trying to get 100% out, not lose 'something' - he describes a guitar build as subtractive and I believe he would keep searching and searching for that Perfection of 100% in - 100% out. For us, Perfection could be a Private Stock, a Core model etc.

    I don't believe though that 'building' is necessarily just about the manufacture of something - like a Guitar. It can be about building up a great staff team - a team that believe in what they do, who they work for and the product they are 'selling' (it doesn't have to be a 'physical' object - it can be a service like Care Work for example). There is no way that Paul could build and sell guitars in the quantity and to the standard expected on his own. In all the tours I have watched, it seems that a LOT of staff have been employed by PRS for MANY years. It seems that Paul has a LOT of respect for the team of employees and it seems they respect him a lot too. The amount of interviews I have seen where Paul is asked about the guitars 'he' builds but will he ALWAYS makes it clear that the whole team are responsible that the whole team should be given the credit for building such high quality instruments. Again that plays in to the 'building' element here - I don't know if Paul himself actually 'builds' any instruments these days or not but what he has done is built up the company, the staff team and the reputation of EVERYONE - whether people know their names or not. The fact he never takes credit for any guitars that come out of the factory and credits the staff team as a whole, that is building up their reputation as a collective whole publicly.

    I don't know if you really need to be a great Salesman - not all the time. If the product you build/offer etc does what people want, need and either new, better and/or cheaper, It can sell itself. You don't have to be a great salesman - you can for example let the product sell itself, let the right person/people have and demo/review what ever it is you are selling, and it could sell itself. If PRS made a completely revolutionary instrument that was so far removed from the traditional, he probably wouldn't 'need' to be a salesman, just give one to John Mayer and, if he loves it, it will sell on just a photo, just a 30s Instagram clip etc. Maybe that's what Paul did all those years ago, got Carlos Santana to play his guitars which in turn led to sales. Reviews and ads in magazines leading to more sales, word of mouth, more artists seen with the guitars leading to more sales etc etc. The fact that the product is such high quality, so reliable and consistent etc leads to more sales. Maybe Paul wasn't the 'best' salesman, maybe persistent with a well built instrument that once it got into the hands of Carlos Santana, that he was the 'salesman', the Advert...
     
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  5. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    I disagree with this.

    I’ve worked with a number of startups, and no product sells itself. Some can build momentum quickly, but it takes a ton of salesmanship to get it seen enough for that to happen. Even if the originator isn’t the full time sales person, they have to have been able to sell the idea to some else who represents the product for them. And they have to have sold their idea to the people who work with them (investors and/or employees).

    Paul executed exceptionally well on both the building side and on the selling side. He still does.
     
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  6. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    Years ago, when my father talked to me about entering our family business, I initially reacted negatively because I told him I didn’t want to sell. I’ll never forget him explaining to me that “selling” is really simply explaining your product to the prospect, and if you have a good product that is good for others and you are enthusiastic about it, it will sell itself. I think PRSh and his products are a perfect example. His company makes the best and coupled with his enthusiasm is a winning combination.
     
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  7. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Back to the Salt Mines you go!
     
  8. WA Paul

    WA Paul It’s ok...I’m with Manny dog

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    Just looking through your website (looks great BTW) - dang, I really need your services out here in the PNW! I like how a client can integrate nutrition with the massage and therapy and strength/stretch with the yoga classes. Out here most places are a la cart or a few that are integrated are through PT practices which get expensive in a hurry.

    Location looks terrific too!
     
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 New Member

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    .

    Sales is key. There are also two types of sales, Conquest of new sales or Maintenance of current customers, a company cannot survive without someone generating both types of sales constantly.



    .
     
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  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Words of wisdom that say it all.
     
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  11. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    This is a critical lesson that I was lucky enough to learn early in my career. I would add that, at least in the commercial world, the salesperson still has to ask for the money. Even after you’ve made a believer of the prospect, there is a bit of an art to closing the deal.
     
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  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I never learned the art of sales, something that I shall always regret.
     
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  13. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    Neither did I really, but I learned how to recognize who did and how to work with them. I wouldn't work with someone who wanted to oversell - I felt my/the company's long term reputation was better served by only making commitments we could deliver on. And it let me sleep better. I like my sleep.
     
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  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    That’s smart.
     
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  15. Shawn@PRS

    Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for the support guys, I appreciate it! I've certainly learned a lot from Paul, but this is the first time I've been at the helm, so it's a learning experience. Anyone have recommendations for good podcasts on the subject?
     
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  16. jb_abides

    jb_abides New Member

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    Good luck with the new venture. I agree Paul is adept at both.

    For more on Naval, here's a good discussion with him, on Rogan.

     
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  17. Shawn@PRS

    Staff Member Moderator

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    This video was my first introduction to Naval. He's a bright guy!
     
  18. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    Dont get all hot and bothered by this everyone because I really want to know being newer to following PRS guitars. I appreciate the higher level of quality control but other than that, and the TCI pups/ wiring , what has PRS introduced into electric guitars that is original to them and hasn't already been done by someone else?
     
  19. Herr Squid

    Herr Squid I was severely impressed

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    Fair question, asked fairly.

    I don't think PRS has ever introduced a single massive innovation that has changed everything. Their build quality did change the electric guitar market considerably, it forced companies like Fender and Gibson to up their game, and that benefited everybody. The TCI pickups are a perfect example of the way PRS does things: pick one aspect of the guitar, study the daylights out of it, improve it past what other companies have managed before, and put it into a product. They've done that with tuners, pickups, the bridge, nuts, knobs, finishes, colors, woods, controls, and other things I'm probably not thinking of. The cumulative effect of all those tweaks has added up to a whole that's greater than the sum of the parts.
     
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  20. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Showing my ignorance, but what about the floating trem? Knife edge screws? Narrowfield pickups? Rotary switch?

    I’m asking because I don’t know, so hopefully someone will wade in and tell me the Hamish McBeth invented the narrowfield in nineteen-oatcake in a little cobblers shop in Pitlochry ! Or not as the case may be.

    Something I do find amusing. I play trumpet and I’ve never heard a group of brass players berate the likes of Boosey & Hawkes or Getzen for not being innovative.

    But we (myself included) really geek out over guitars! Strange?
     
    #20 Alnus Rubra, Jun 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
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