Forged in Fire

First a confession – I am mechanically declined. I can do some things but I need time and no supervisor (dear). There are other areas of business and life where I have been able to apply my talents, such as they are.

My Dad was an incredibly handy and talented person. Woodwork, fix-it projects, MacGyver work-arounds, and a phenomenal artist. That gene went to my sisters (sorry bro, missed you too). I never applied myself to try and get better at handyman activities because it wasn’t as much of an interest growing up. I still only draw stick figures or worse 🙂


I am fascinated by the TV show “Forged in Fire” and usually watch an episode every week. The bladesmiths are tasked with creating a specific style of knife in the first two rounds that must meet certain physical dimensions and then work through various tests of strength and cutting ability. The judges are skilled in bladesmithing or weapons so it is also a history lesson. These tests are completed in the forge of the show and one smith is sent home after each of the first two rounds. For the final test, the two competitors must make a unique blade from history and they do it in their home forge, usually with 4 or 5 days to complete. They return for three final tests and the winner is crowned.

The skill and ingenuity displayed by these smiths (men and women) is amazing. Timed rounds, with sometimes challenging ingredients to craft a unique blade with a handle that meets specs. Very impressive.

I believe we need to be like these bladesmiths now as we assess what our businesses must do post-COVID 19. Our personal and company winning game plan needs to:

  • be clear about our objectives and make a plan – what is the knife we are making? Plan (or draw) your blade and handle and build from that plan
  • be confident in our skill and knowledge and expertise – stay in our wheel-house to start
  • be adaptable if what we do now is not needed or is needed in a different way. If a blade is warped, the smith must make a decision on what to do with time constraints and material factors impacting success or failure
  • be creative – if every smith makes the same blade you will not stand out. What can you do with materials, style and personalization that can help you achieve the objectives in a unique way
  • be respectful and pay attention – the judges are the experts and they provide feedback and direction as they see fit after each round. Your customers are giving clues about what they want to achieve an opportunity or what problem they are needing resolved
  • know the advantages and disadvantages of the materials you select. Your 4P’s of marketing (product, place, price, promotion) can provide the direction you need when applied properly and with discipline
  • be proud of your work, even if you don’t win the $10K and title of Forged in Fire champion. There are exceptional pieces of work that do not win each week. The smiths are very proud of their work and in other circumstances their piece might win. You might not win every customer, and you should keep trying to get better each time out. This aspect of kaizen (small, continuous improvement) can help you in the long term

Your customers are the judge of the quality of their interaction with you at every step of the buying (forging) process. You need to sharpen your skills and get ready to do damage to the competition.


OK, that was a bit too dramatic – but this is my blog 🙂

Over my career, I continued to hone my game planning skills. I have been fortunate to lead teams and companies to success because of a good plan and terrifically skilled people that did wonderful work. Each of us can be our own bladesmith and focus where our talents are needed now and tomorrow so we can keep moving forward in this new and strange environment.

Forge ahead!


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