The Best Executives Think Long Term


Are you a short-term or long-term planner?

I recently met a really wise commodities trader at a bar in Tanjong Pagar. He comes from a small town in Britain called Exeter.

In Exeter, everyone buys their second-hand cars from a dealer named Honest Joe (I can’t recall the exact name)

Honest Joe, as the name suggests, is a trustworthy guy. If Honest Joe ever sold you a car that turned out to be bad, he’d buy it back from you at the full price you paid for it.

He’s a man of his word. His customers love him.

When sons turn legal age to drive, their fathers bring them to Honest Joe to buy their first, second-hand car.

And when it’s time to upgrade, these sons almost always come back to Honest Joe.

In fact, once you’ve bought a car from Honest Joe, you’ll probably buy 5 more from him over the course of your life.

This commodities trader I met once asked Honest Joe about the secret to his success.

Honest Joe said that when he’s selling you a car, he’s already thinking about the NEXT car he’s going to sell you.

Not every deal needs to be profitable. He thinks long term.

That makes a lot of sense.

It’s hard to win a new customer over. It’s much easier to make your existing customers, repeat customers.


It applies to all companies. I’ve seen it first hand myself.

When I was 14, I walked into a bicycle shop called Cycle Craft, along east coast road.

My bicycle’s pedal arm was broken, and unfortunately, there was no way to fix it.

It would have costed me over 200 SGD to change the entire pedal and arm set.

Being 14, I didn’t have much cash.

Recognising this, Louis, the owner of CycleCraft gave me a second hand pedal and arm set, and charged me just 30 SGD. (the labour cost alone was more than that)

He probably recognised that I was a kid, and had little money. He was a kind hearted person, and gave me a great deal.

I’ll never forget his kindness. 

I’ve been riding for 20 years now. I still go back to Louis every time I need repairs done.

There are other bicycle shops closer to my house, but I still cycle an extra 30 minutes just so I can give my business to Louis.

He was loyal to me. And now, I’m loyal to him, forever.

So many people think short term today. Everyone is fighting for a quick buck.

But the best things in life take years to build. This includes great working relationships.

Don’t think about the fact that your boss is asking you to stay late this week. Think long term. When you need time off, he’ll remember your loyalty.

Similarly for that sales deal you’re closing. Don’t squeeze your customer dry. Leave them a bit of room to make money. Think about the next 10 deals you’d like to do together.

Restrain your greed. Think long term. That’s where the best rewards are.

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