I was having a discussion with a friend the other day, and he made an interesting comment. He said that we were now in the day and age where a man could go and do what he likes to do, and what so many others had done before him, but now could wake up the following morning and have ten million people worldwide, hate him for doing it. He was referring to the hunter who killed the lion a few weeks ago in Zimbabwe, Africa. I think his name was Cecil. The lion, not the hunter.
Here is a man that has lived his life in relative anonymity, at least with respect to the ten million people worldwide that now hate him. He had gone about his business (as a dentist I think), and probably conducted and acquitted himself well. He must have, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to afford the relatively astronomical costs of flying half way around the world to pursue his desire to hunt big game.
He had been doing it for years (Big Game hunting that is). By several accounts he was very successful at it. Others have also been doing it for years. There are a lot of people around the world that do this. It is also a significant source of income for Zimbabwe in the form licenses from the state and fees for guides, and the costs associated with outfitting the trip. It is the commerce of big game hunting. There is a lot of money involved, and remember that Zimbabwe got paid all their fees well before Cecil got shot.
I also remembered (and through the wonders of Google went back and verified) seeing pictures of the famed author Ernest Hemingway on the cover of various magazines posing with various dead lions, leopards and water buffaloes that he had shot while big game hunting in Africa. He was also a big game hunter. Nobody thought Hemingway was a schmuck for shooting them. On the contrary, he had an image as a man’s man.
I suspect that none of the animals that Hemingway shot had a name though. It was probably a time where people didn’t name wild lions.
This is what happens when you shoot the wrong lion.
People also didn’t seem to mind nearly as much when Ahab went after the white whale that they named “Moby Dick”. That could possibly have been because that was an instance where the big game trophy fought back and actually won. I suspect that Moby was also probably not some country’s national pet.
Now back to the topic. Here was a man from Wisconsin, who flew half way around the world. He complied with all the legal requirements of Zimbabwe, hired a supposedly knowledgeable guide, and achieved his goal of shooting a lion. He didn’t break any laws. It appears that he was in an area where it was legal for him to shoot a lion. He had paid for all his licenses and permits. As I said, he just shot what turned out to be the wrong lion.
Now ten million people hate him. He is in hiding and can’t go back to work, which he obviously must do if he ever expects to be able to afford the now increased prices that Zimbabwe is charging for big game trophy hunts. It seems that everyone else who wants to hunt big game in Zimbabwe will also have to pay these higher fees, not just dentists from Wisconsin.
So, what does all this have to with anything?
I draw several parallels to business from all this. The hunters in business are usually called sales people. They are the ones that go out into the field, search out the opportunities and try and bag the mythical big game creature known as an “Order”. This is what they are paid to do.
As we all know, orders are the life-blood of any business. But not just any orders. It is orders for products and services that the business can actually supply that are desirable. It is also desirable that these bagged orders come with requirement of profitability. That means that by getting these orders the business can sustain itself and hopefully grow.
The guy who shot Cecil wasn’t doing anything like this. Shooting Cecil wasn’t going to enable the dentist to sustain himself or grow in any appreciable way. I don’t think that you can actually eat lion meat. At least I have never heard of it. He was shooting Cecil because for whatever reason, he wanted to be able to say he had shot a lion (in general, I think Cecil was just the unlucky individual).
What this brings up, is what should be the first law of hunting: If you don’t want someone to do something, don’t make it legal, or allow them to do it. If you don’t want the hunters to bring you undeliverable or unprofitable orders, make a rule or law that indicates this is not acceptable behavior.
If you don’t want Cecil specifically to be shot, make a law that says you cannot shoot lions. Cecil was a wild lion. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and a dentist from Wisconsin shot him. It could have easily been prevented if Zimbabwe had just said:
“We no longer allow anyone to shoot any of our lions, regardless of the foolish amount of money they are willing to spend or offer us to do so.”
The second law of hunting should then follow on or corollary and be: If something is allowed, or not specifically disallowed, don’t get mad at people when they do it. Hunters are focused on the goal. Bag the order. Bring down the target. If you are not specific about the type of orders to get and the requisite behaviors to be demonstrated during the hunt, you cannot be unhappy when improper, or undeliverable, or unprofitable orders are presented.
Zimbabwe had said in effect:
“You can hunt our lions.”
They didn’t say you could hunt every lion but Cecil. They did say you couldn’t hunt lions in certain areas, and to my understanding those areas were actually avoided by the hunters in question. I guess nobody ever thought that a wild lion in his right mind would ever leave a protected area where he couldn’t be hunted and wander into an unprotected area where Wisconsin dentists were hunting lions.
I think what we have learned from the adventures of Cecil and the dentist can probably best be described as the third law of hunting: In sales, like big game hunting, trophy hunting is probably not a good avocation.
In sales there are those that hunt orders to sustain and nourish the business. As I said, these orders are the life blood of the business. There are very few if any of these orders that are mounted and put up on the wall where people can come in and see what a ferocious order was bagged.
And like sales in this instance there are hunters who actually utilize hunting as a way to provide sustenance to their family or group. I don’t think anyone can have an issue with this type of hunter. However in the instance we are discussing, I don’t think this was the final disposition of Cecil. I believe he was destined to end up as either a rug or in a semi-ferocious mounting on the wall of some dentist’s office.
One of the best ways to tell if a sales person is trophy hunting or not is if they use the phrase “Strategic Business”. If they use this phrase, chances are that they are either looking for a lower price or trying to mount some sort of big game trophy on the wall, as opposed to actually doing the business that the business needs or may want. In that way trophy hunting doesn’t really serve a purpose in business. It may provide a nice visual for a wall but it doesn’t provide any value to the business. If it doesn’t provide a value, why do it?
If the dentist in Wisconsin knew this earlier, he probably wouldn’t have shot Cecil, and definitely wouldn’t be hated by ten million people, worldwide now.