My Columbus Day

My Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus’s proposal to sail westward was supported by Queen Isabella, who hoped—albeit with very little hope—that he would succeed and Spain would gain the upper hand in the trade wars. One of history’s ultimate left of center decisions...

Left of Center Consulting: Cristoforo, paisan, what’s up?
Christopher Columbus: Giuseppe [sigh] the crown. The queen thinks the world is flat.
LOCC: It isn’t?
Columbus: No.
LOCC: Cool, so…?
Columbus: So, I need the queen to believe that
LOCC: Why?
Columbus: Because I’m going to need her money to fund my next trip. I plan to find a new trade route to India. I know we can.
LOCC: So why not tell the queen that?
Columbus: Nah, you know the queen… she’ll be all, ‘Dude, you want to take my money so you and your ships can sail right as you leave Spain instead of down Africa. You’re muy loco.’
LOCC: Are you?
Columbus: Am I what?
LOCC: Loco?
Columbus: Maybe, but I think it can work. I know it can work.
LOCC: Odds are against you.
Columbus: Yes.
LOCC: Okay, tell me, what’s the worst thing that happens?
Columbus: I get lost at sea and die.
LOCC: What’s the worst thing that happens for the queen?
Columbus: I die and take with me four ships and the crown loses all that money. It’s about money
LOCC: Cristoforo, it’s always about money. But that money and all they are doing right now isn’t getting them a new trade route is it and the advantage they need.
Columbus: Exactly my point, Giuseppe. They haven’t considered what is possible.
LOCC: So, tell me, what’s the best thing that happens for the crown?
Columbus: I find a new trade route.
LOCC: No, Cristoforo, they get a new trade route. This isn’t about you. It’s about you helping them do something big and bold. It’s their glory.
Columbus: Right
LOCC: Okay so, what’s the best thing that happens?
Columbus: Spain gets a shorter route, maybe a month or more. The crown gets the glory, the money – I mean the returns are off the charts.
LOCC: That’s it?
Columbus: That’s what I’m going for but who knows what possibilities there are?
LOCC: Then, that's what you sell the queen on: the possibilities of something they hadn’t considered.

Following our conversation, Columbus’s proposal to sail westward was supported by Queen Isabella, who hoped—albeit with very little hope—that he would succeed and Spain would gain the upper hand in the trade wars.

One of history’s ultimate left of center decisions. And it failed…and succeeded brilliantly.

Columbus “discovered” something very different than intended, which led to riches and opportunities no one could have predicted. It was a relationship built on an unconventional approach to an old problem—not an unconventional relationship.

Leader brands do leader things. They take chances. Sometimes the results are disastrous but more often than not with proper planning they are game changing. We learn more from our mistakes than our victories and failure happens when you don’t stack the cards in your favor. Was the “New World” what Spain considered? No. But that’s what left of center thinking delivers more often than not: results that are about you. Sometimes the results are not what we expected but they lead to great—even greater things.