Business Pin Action: Seeking Serendipity

October 6, 2023 - 2:37pm -- Selcuk Gulboy

In college, one of my favorite elective classes was bowling—I took it twice. Maybe you poo poo the idea of taking bowling at an expensive institution like the University of Wisconsin, but that was the class where I learned about the powerful science of “pin action.”

To the bowling novices out there, do you ever wonder why the good bowlers throw those huge curve balls down the lane, rather than just throwing it straight down the middle? Pin action.

When the ball comes in with that sidespin from the perfect angle into the pocket you get the best potential for the most pins to knock each other down. One pin hits the other, and they hopefully all go down in a strike. 

On today’s show I’m talk about utilizing the science of pin action in your business. It’s constantly present all around us, and if you’re conscious of it, it can be a very powerful tool to reach your goals.

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Lately, Graff-Pinkert’s used machinery business and our budding M&A business are generating some real pin action. Our podcast and blog are getting pin action too. In fact, all four entities are generating pin action off one another.

We closed a deal last week, selling a small CNC Swiss shop in Arizona. Some of you may remember the ads we sent about it on our email blasts. 

I have to say that closing that deal was extra sweet because the seller of the company told me that he asked Graff-Pinkert to represent him because he heard our ad on this podcast 

It was serendipity, and it was also pin action. The podcast pin hit the company-for-sale pin in just the right way, and it produced a successful deal.

This week, we were contacted by a company we had never heard of that was interested in the Arizona Swiss shop that I just talked about. They were tipped off to the opportunity by one of Graff-Pinkert’s oldest customers who wasn’t interested in the company for sale but who had seen the ad for the shop in one of our email blasts. 

The caller told me he wanted to buy a shop in Arizona or Oregon. So I called an old customer who came to mind in one those locations. What do you know, they said they might be interested in selling.

More pin action.

Last week, I went to the Precision Machined Products Association’s annual meeting on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida. The lovely weather, the gorgeous beaches, the interesting speakers, they were all good. But I wasn’t there for that. I went there to make connections—find new pins and then knock them down. 

I’ve found at these conferences one of the most important times to network is during the breakfast buffets. It’s the only time during the day when everyone is together and it’s possible to sit next to whoever you want. After breakfast, everybody separates, and good conversations are harder to come by.

Sunday was my last day at the conference. And unfortunately, I got to breakfast late, with only 15 minutes left.

But 15 minutes was all I needed for some beautiful pin action. Right now, Graff-Pinkert is working on selling small Swiss company right across the boarder. We told one conference attendee about the company the night before, but he wasn’t really interested. 

But that morning, as a courtesy, he introduced me to the owner of a machining company located one hour from the one we’re selling. The guy had been sitting at the table right next to mine! We had a nice conversation. He told me he knew the company well and that it had some valuable customers. But for him, it wasn’t a good fit. Then, he pointed to a guy at another table and suggested I talk to him. This guy I actually knew quite well. He told us to call him this week about the opportunity.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the last guy, but that PMPA conference was a perfect bowling lane, all waxed up, with a whole bunch of pins. One customer led to another and then another. Dots connected. One pin hit the next pin, which hit the next pin.

You might be thinking, I know this concept already. 

Get a good network, advertise. Go to conferences and meet people in person. Make LinkedIn posts. Get interviewed on a podcast.

Maybe you see pin action happening around you all the time. But to make the pin action occur often, it helps to be mindful while it’s happening. That will make you do the right things to create it repeatedly.

Which brings me to the other kind of pin action. There’s a pin action that is going on your mind, and that is probably the most important kind.

When you have your mojo you get pin action.

You ever notice that when you’re selling something, if you have success with one customer it leads to you having success with someone else? The customers feel your confidence. They feel your positive energy. They feel your non-neediness.

I found this was true when I was single and introducing myself to women. When I was having success, it seemed easy talking to most people. One success brought on another success. Pin action.

But then in everything—business, sports, relationships—suddenly you can hit a dry spell. Negative pin action happens. One bad thing causes more bad things. Sure, there are external factors you have no control of, but there are things you can to change the momentum.

So how do you get back from the wrong pin action to the right pin action? It’s hard for me like everyone. I don’t have all the answers. But my suggestion is to continue throwing the ball down the lane. If you know you’re doing it right, there’s a good chance a new streak will start. 

If that doesn’t work, alter your approach. Go Brooklyn style.

Go George Constanza—do the exact opposite of what you were doing before. Come up with a totally new introduction when you talk to people. 

Or, go to a different bowling alley with different pins. They might be even better than the ones you were trying to knock over before.

If you really need an internal jumpstart, perhaps you hire someone to coach you or work along side you as a team. I’ve done that. Perhaps new pin action can be generated between the two of you.

 So the next time you’re trying to build something—professionally or personally—think about how you can generate pin action, both in your external environment and in your head. And when you notice it happening, be mindful as you watch the pins fall, so you can do it again.

Questions: Where do you see pin action in your business?

What’s the greatest game you’ve ever bowled?

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