When the United States faced a war with Spain, the president was anxious for information. He realized that success meant that the soldiers of the republic must cooperate with the insurgent forces of Cuba. He understood that it was essential to obtain accurate intelligence about the opposing Spanish forces. The leader of the insurgents, Cuban General Calixto García, was somewhere in the mountains of Cuba, but no one knew where. President William McKinley asked his head of the Bureau of Military Intelligence, "Where can I find a man who will carry a message to Garcia?" The answer was in a young West Point graduate, lieutenant Andrew Summers Rowan.
When I was a plebe at the U.S. Naval Academy, the “inspirational essay” entitled “A Message to Garcia,” written in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard, was one of many items of my mandatory reading. That essay has been part of my learned “insights,” and seemed an apt source for an article under the banner of Insights.
What application does this have to the business reporting of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal? Everything!
“A Message to Garcia” is the author’s call to action for all persons who carry out an enterprise to concentrate on one thing and do it. In so doing, the author encourages independent action – to identify the goal and object, think about it, formulate a plan and execute the plan (without the delay that attends asking numerous questions about subtasks). The entire text of “A Message to Garcia” is available here.
While (in my opinion) the essay contains sound guidance that any business person may use in the hiring and firing of employees, an exception to its message of independent action comes in the need to practice proper preparation to prevent particularly poor performance in business.
Operating a general practice law firm, we have always advised our clients that they are better off engaging professional services (be they legal, accountancy or otherwise) in the planning phase of any endeavor than to seek counsel after the fact. Even if counsel are engaged early for the sole purpose of education and issue spotting, and the principals of a business then carry on without further guidance, it is better to go into that enterprise with eyes wide open than to operate on a hunch.
To be sure, it is always more expensive to litigate a dispute than to engage counsel to assist in proper prior planning. That expense is measured not only in dollars, but in stress. I humbly encourage you all to read “A Message to Garcia,” and when implementing its philosophy in your business practices, to consider the cost savings from properly counseled prior preparation.
Geoff Losee can be reached by visiting www.rountreelosee.com, by email at [email protected] or by calling (910) 763-3404. Rountree Losee LLP has provided a full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses in North Carolina for over 110 years. As well-recognized leaders in each of the areas in which they practice, the attorneys of Rountree Losee provide clients a wealth of knowledge and experience. In their commitment to provide the highest quality legal service, they handle a wide range of legal issues with creativity, sensitivity and foresight.
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