Seeing with ‘vision rather than sight’

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Looking for inspiration? I found it reading senior writer Jim Flannery’s piece on championship sailor, marine business operator and motivational speaker Vince Morvillo that will appear in the May issue of Soundings Trade Only.

A 31-year veteran of the boating industry, Morvillo owns one of the Gulf Coast’s largest yacht sales and brokerage businesses. He has achieved success on the racecourse, in the classroom and in business. And he’s been blind since birth.

Handicaps? What most of us consider hurdles, Morvillo views as opportunities. Hurricanes and recessions? Yup. More opportunity to reinvent and strengthen your business model, to rekindle the competitive drive and spirit at the core of entrepreneurship.

Flannery does a good job of telling Morvillo’s life story, especially how he has taught himself to see with “vision rather than sight.” He listened to Morvillo speak at the Miami International Boat Show. After editing Flannery’s story I called Morvillo to talk to him further about change, recession and current economic conditions.

Morvillo’s playbook for survival — and success — is predicated on action, not on hunkering down and waiting for someone else to come along and bail you out. He’s no fan of sitting on your hands and waiting. Think “sitting duck.”

Instead, he advocates coming up with new ideas and strategies, which he says energizes employees and collectively gives them something they can work toward.

“Keep swinging,” Morvillo told me. “Swing until you can’t swing anymore. It’s a matter of taking action. Does it work all the time? No. But if you don’t, nothing is going to happen.”

As a consultant, Morvillo encourages business owners and managers to embrace change and not let the fear of the unknown hold them back. He has written that the economic downturn is actually a “recession in entrepreneurial spirit and leadership.”

“The wonderful thing about entrepreneurs is they believe they can do anything,” says Morvillo, who is 65. “They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They drive and drive and drive.”

Mature businesses, by comparison, often lose their competitive spirit, the ability to “kick and scrape” that once helped make them successful. In an effort not to lose ground, they tend to “sit still” when they should be searching for solutions and fresh ideas. And that, Morvillo says, is a strategy for losing it all.

“Our natural tendency is to resist change,” he says. “We have to view change as an opportunity. … We need to find new ways of approaching business problems.” And, he notes, that usually means getting past the “preconceived solutions” that most of us bring to the table and coming up with ideas “previously unimagined.”

Morvillo believes the time is right for builders, dealers and lenders to hash out a new kind of business model.

“Everybody needs to get together and sit in one room and say: How do we move forward?” Morvillo says. “How do all the pieces come together? We need a model that better meets the needs of everyone.”

An industry summit? The time might be right.

Click here to visit Morvillo’s website.