Chapter 3. Lesson 1: Start with a Mission that is Bigger Than the Business

Corey and Walt were seated at a picnic table, eating their hot dogs. A cheerful tune floated on the air, and Corey had the vague sense that throngs of people were nearby, though he couldn't see past the fog that hovered all around the two men. When he'd finished his hot dog, Walt leaned forward on his elbows and gave Corey a hard stare. "How much do you know about business history?" Walt raised his eyebrows in the manner of a teacher who clearly expected that his student would have done his homework.

"Well, I haven't made a formal study of it or anything like that, but I know enough, I suppose."

"You know enough, you suppose?"

"Okay, there's a lot more I could learn. But I'm much more interested in the here and now, and what the future can bring, than I am the past. Water that's gone over the dam never goes back into the reservoir." Corey smiled, pleased with his clever metaphor, and hoped that Walt would catch its meaning.

"The deepest water never goes over the dam at all," Walt replied. "There is great wisdom in the depths of the past. In fact, you can learn most everything you need to know about building a great organization by studying strategies that were used by leaders who have already done it."

"Or the ones who are doing it now."

"The ones who are doing it now learned from the ones who have already done it, I assure you. Tell me, Corey: What one product, more than any other, defined and shaped the first ...

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