Some past generations would call someone with a big personality a real ham. Not Certified EOS Implementer® Dan Zawacki, though. They’d call him a real lobster. Why? Who else could grow a successful company selling Lobstergrams and not be a little crustacean in the head?
Hatching the Lobstermania
As business ideas go, it doesn’t get much more unusual than sending live lobsters as gifts to valued clients.
“I wanted to find memorable gifts,” Dan said. “Boxes of pears or Omaha steaks were easy. I wanted to deliver a great dinner with two live lobsters with butter and lemon. I had a friend send me the Yellow Pages for places on the East Coast. It was 1987 and we didn’t have the internet yet.”
When Dan called around to fishermen throughout Maine and Boston, he couldn’t get any takers. No one wanted to ship live lobsters to his clients in Peoria, Illinois. But he loved the concept so much that he decided to do it himself.
He had around 70 live lobsters delivered to him in landlocked Illinois. He picked them up at the airport, put them in his car, and delivered them to his clients personally. And he had so much fun doing it.
18 Important Things
Dan didn’t have a business plan, but he did have a list of 18 important things to do. His list included answering questions like 1) where to get lobsters and 2) how a credit card works. He figured once he’d checked off each of his important things, he could start a business selling Lobstergrams.
Without the business language to describe what he needed, Dan still managed to create a scorecard to measure KPIs. And he had a marketing plan, which mainly consisted of putting flyers on car windshields at the mall. Within the first month, he had five “mercy sales” to friends and family.
After the first few bumpy years, which included moving back in with his parents, the Lobster Man’s vision took off. He had interviews in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and more than 500 appearances on QVC. Wheel of Fortune even featured a special Lobstergram prize once.
Finding EOS® During Business Misery
As Dan’s business became more successful, he learned to really love making processes. But he hated following them and he hated schedules, especially the more he got stuck managing day-to-day business stuff — so much so that he started to hate owning his company.
At one point, while totally disillusioned with his business, Dan heard Expert EOS Implementer™ René Boer speak at his entrepreneurial group meeting. He immediately thought, “There’s a system? You mean I don’t have to make things up as I go?”
Then Dan read Traction and got excited. He brought it back to his leadership team and was met with eye rolls. They figured they’d give him 30 days and he’d lose interest. He tried to implement EOS in his business by himself, admittedly not doing the best job of it.
“I didn’t follow the process. I picked out the easy parts and avoided doing the hard parts,” Dan said. “It was a total failure, but I loved EOS.”
When Dan finally sold his business, he looked into becoming an Implementer instead.
Becoming an Implementer
After graduating from the Professional Implementer Boot Camp™, Dan figured he came ready-made with a list of clients from his years of business interactions. Unfortunately, all those contacts knew him only as “Dan the Lobster Man” and didn’t understand this new chapter.
“I thought I had gold, but all the prospects turned into zero clients,” he said. “I started thinking, ‘Did I make the right decision?’ It was very discouraging.”
After months of trying, he met his first client … in his front yard. A local history buff out trolling with a metal detector asked if he could sweep Dan’s yard for metallic relics. Something made him stick around to talk to the guy.
“Turned out he owned a multimillion-dollar herbal supplement company,” he said. “I talked to him while he found some neat stuff buried in my yard. But I wouldn’t let him leave until I’d booked a 90 Minute Meeting with him!”
Sharing The EOS Life®
When Dan joined the EOS Implementer Community™, he saw just how gratifying helping others succeed was to more established Implementers. As he became more established, he started to pay it forward by going out of his way to help others.
And he reminds new Implementers to always be on the lookout for prospective clients.
“You never know who you’re going to talk to that may need your help,” he said. “It might be a friend of a friend or a random person on LinkedIn that reaches out to you. Or it might even be some guy on your front lawn.”