This is a story well-known in management circles. It illustrates the importance of attitudes and how a positive attitude can convert problems into opportunities.
In a multinational firm manufacturing footwear two executives were competing for the top marketing director’s post which had fallen vacant. Both of them were equally competent, experienced and qualified professionals. The CEO of the firm had to take a decision soon.
The CEO decided to give the executives a test-assignment. Each executive was sent alone to the remote rural areas of Africa to assess the market potential for chappals there.
After an extensive market survey of the rural areas of Africa, the competing candidates submitted their reports to the CEO. The first executive wrote in his conclusive remark, “The area is thickly populated. But the problem is that people there are accustomed to walk barefooted. Very few wear chappals. So there is very little market potential. There is nothing for us here.” But the second executive wrote, “People here don’t have the habit of wearing chappals. But the area is thickly populated. So there is a tremendous market potential. If we can somehow convince the people here to use footwear through appropriate sales and advertising strategy, we have a money-spinner here.”
Needless to say who was selected for the top post. The important point to note here is that what the first executive saw as a problem, the second executive perceived an opportunity. It is a matter of attitude or “mind-set”.