Representor Winter 2021 - From the Top

Hope is not a strategy

by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR
The Fusion Sourcing Group Inc.
ERA President

It’s a new year — time for new resolutions. As we turn the calendar page, there seems to be a universal determination to put 2020 behind us; an aspirational hope that life will return to normal in 2021; and a renewed realization based on the start of the new year that hope is not a strategy.

So, as my term as president of ERA moves toward its natural conclusion, recognizing the fatigue of talking about COVID-19, and at the risk of “waxing philosophical,” with my last From the Top column, I’d like to leave you with four thoughts from various sources that have served me well as the basis of a life strategy. I hope they do the same for you.

1. Put yourself on the other side of the table. At various times over my business career, I have been in the position of having to evaluate if the deal I am working on is fair — is it reasonable? The best advice I was given was to answer the question, “If you were sitting on the other side of the table, and positions were reversed, would you sign the deal?” This can apply to contracts between reps and manufacturers, deals between a rep and a distributor partner, or a distributor and manufacturer. (On a larger scale, I think this applies to the current, caustic political environment in our country today.) Relationships and being connected make it much easier to accomplish this. That’s why the theme of the upcoming ERA Virtual Conference — “Stronger Together: Reconnecting & Reinventing for Success” — is so appropriate.

2. If you think you’ve done it well enough, do it a little more. This is a lesson from a father to his son. The son was given the task of sanding some wood to be applied in the remodeling of a dinghy; and as 10-year-olds are prone to do, after a quick, minimal sanding, the son pronounced the job done to his father. With the wisdom of a father, the wood was returned to the son with the instruction, “If you think you’ve done it well enough, do it a little more.” Again, and again, and again the process repeated … can you say infinite loop? While this may simply have been a strategy to keep the son occupied and out of the father’s way during the remodeling project, it also conveyed a drive for excellence from the father to the son. As a note, I regularly see examples of this drive for excellence in our industry. One such being the production of the annual ERA Conference. (Yes, this is a second shameless plug for the upcoming, first-ever, virtual ERA Conference scheduled for March 1 – 3.) On a personal note, this has been perhaps the most influential lesson in my life – thanks, Dad! I’ve tried to pass it along to my son (again, and again, and again …).

3. Of those to whom much is given, much is expected in return. I first heard this statement, attributed to Sir Edmund Burke, from my high school Political Theory teacher, Dr. Vincent Buscareno. Initially, I interpreted this through the filter of an over-confident, brash 18-year-old; believing that the “much is given” part of the statement was referring to some extra special ability inherent in students in advanced placement classes (which Dr. B’s class was). As I’ve been humbled over the years, I have since come to the realization and belief that I have received far more than I have deserved from those around me — I’ve been given much. Either way, this statement has always led me to feel a responsibility to give back. I suspect that same feeling is inherent in the 50-plus volunteers that have been working so diligently to put together the upcoming ERA Virtual Conference (March 1– 3). Yes, that’s yet another shameless plug, but also a shout out to the entire conference committee and especially the Conference Chair Craig Anderson and Co-Chair Bryan White, who are devoting extensive hours to giving back. Thanks, guys!

4. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. This lesson (based on Ecclesiastes 4:12) became a personal goal as a result of a Promise Keepers event I attended several years ago. I have been fortunate to have many mentors that came before me who have “taught me the ropes.” At the event, I was challenged by the speaker to recognize the need for those who build into my life; as well as being willing to build into the lives of those who come after. It is something I try to do regularly. The cord of three strands principle not only applies generationally but across our industry as well. We are much stronger together! You will recognize that theme of the upcoming ERA Virtual Conference (March 1– 3). Okay, that’s my fourth, and final (probably not) shameless plug. I encourage each of you to build your three-strand cord. It is important Now – More Than Ever! (By the way, that’s the theme for the EDS Summit and my first shameless plug for that event, scheduled for Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 in Las Vegas. Does it strike anyone as ironic that what might be the first in-person event of the year would be held at the Mirage?)

As I bring this article to a close, two thoughts came to mind: 1) In the future, Neda Simeonova, who edits The Representor, will have a better chance of getting this article submitted on-time (thanks for your continued patience Neda!); and 2) I look forward to seeing you virtually in early March and in-person in Las Vegas in late August, and I hope 2021 fulfills all your aspirations!

By the way, have I mentioned the upcoming ERA Virtual Conference yet? More importantly, have you registered? As always, I can be reached at and welcome your comments and feedback.