Beached Whale: Learning to Swim in the New Ocean – Dr. Daren Martin

Check out my interview with Dr. Martin:

How do you know if a company is headed for failure, i.e. a beached whale? In his graphic book Dr. Daren Martin, Ph. D. in psychology, marketing and management podcaster, blogger, and consultant of Fortune 500 companies, humorously gives a comparison between failing businesses (beached whales) and thriving businesses (unbeached whales). Despite the book being a short read, it is very content rich and the messages are very clear of the differences between failing and thriving companies. In the interview with Dr. Martin, he states that the number one red flag to watch out for are Dilbert comics in the employees’ workspace as this represents certain underlying feelings towards management. For those of you who are interested in learning about whether or not your business is headed in the right direction of success, this is a great book to read as Dr. Martin outlines a plethora of red flags to watch out for all from his experience working with various businesses. Here are some of the points to the book:


1. Watch out for the language used at your business/company. If your company uses language of separation (they, the ____ department) as opposed to language of inclusion (we, us), your company just might become a beached whale. In the book Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini, he addresses the same point on how language affects/influences our thoughts and this is especially true in a work environment. In Beached Whale companies, other departments and parts of the company are referred to as “The,” and management is referred to as “They.” Customers, vendors, and consultants are viewed as outside entities instead of as partners and important parts of the team. This indicates a total disconnect. ‘THE IT department…’, ‘THEY don’t want us to do it that way.’, ‘THE audit group told us we couldn’t…’, ‘THE customers don’t…'” He later states, Words become the culture individuals and teams revolve around. What words are you using? Insist on using the words ‘Our’ instead of ‘The’ when referring to other parts of the company including customers and vendors. ‘OUR IT department.’, ‘OUR management team doesn’t want us to do it that way.’, ‘OUR audit partners told us we couldn’t.’, ‘OUR customers don’t…’


2. Know your numbers as numbers don’t lie. The only way to really evaluate your progress and whether or not you’re doing better is by looking at the numbers. The KPIs (key performance indicators) of a business are the only objective indicators of success. Compare the numbers you’re getting with your past results and you’ll see how you’re really doing. Whether you’re a business or not, this principle applies to individuals as well. Want to lose/gain weight? The scale is your best friend for that. Want to increase your net worth? Look at your bottom line between income and expenses.  Compete with analytics. Today’s world is all about the numbers. Big data, little data, it doesn’t matter. You need it to know what is really going on. The only thing worse than no data is bad data. Watch the movie Money Ball. If data can help a Major League Baseball team win a World Series, it can help business win more business. Stop guessing at what is going on. Capture and examine data for the real story. Develop a quality system for capturing and analyzing meaningful data and information.


3. Listen actively and attentively. This is a key ingredient to building successful relationships that translates in to a successful business. Set time aside to get feedback from everyone of all positions as they may have insight on certain angles you’ve missed. Many people “know” that they should be actively listening yet, not many people actually do it. Just because you know it, doesn’t mean you do it. We all know that we should exercise daily yet not that many people do it. We all know that we should save our money yet a lot of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. We all know that we should sleep roughly 8 hours per day yet people are only sleeping 6 hours. Successful people aren’t special; they just do the things that everyone knows they should do but don’t. Encourage communication. Take input seriously – particularly from those ‘closest to the valve.’ The people in the trenches have a perspective that needs to be heard and understood. One of the best communication outlets I have implemented at companies are informal happy hours. It is amazing what everyone learns when you get a VP sitting across from an hourly worker over a beer, talking about the way things really are. Solicit and reward honest feedback that makes the company better.


4. Be a person of your word. Deliver whatever you say. Trust is the most crucial element needed in a relationship. Without trust, developing a long lasting relationship is difficult. If your customers don’t trust you, they’re not going to do business with you.When you say something, mean it. Promises should be money in the bank. You are as good as your word, and you want your word to be trusted, counted on, and dependable. Rather than saying, ‘I will look into it,’ describe how you will look into it. For example, ‘I will call our accounting department and find out what the status is. I will have a specific answer for you by Friday. Does that work for you?’ Do what you say and say what you do-always. This theory applies to your individual life as well. Watch personal credibility grow by adopting this one trait. Be reliable. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Over deliver.


5. Keep growing. In order to thrive, let alone survive, in this new economy, you need to keep adapting to the environment by learning new skills and knowledge. Don’t ever think or believe that you know it all because a lack of humility will leave you stranded behind and becoming a beached whale. Obliterate comfort zones. Understand that the comfort zone is the death zone. You don’t accomplish amazing things by playing it safe. Inspire, encourage, and reward innovative and ‘out of the comfort zone’ thinking! ‘Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.’ – Tom Peters. MAKE SURE YOUR COMFORT ZONE IS NOT SMALLER THAN THE ACTUAL SAFETY ZONE. The brilliant Seth Godin points out the difference between your COMFORT ZONE and your SAFETY ZONE. ‘Many things people view as outside of their comfort zone including public speaking, speaking up in a meeting, asking for what you want, and taking the lead are not the LEAST bit dangerous.’


By Ryan Timothy Lee


Thank you for reading! Please share this post with someone who you think will benefit from it. Also, join my Facebook group here, to receive exclusive content and updates on posts. If you have any book requests or recommendations, I’d love to hear them out so please let me know through an e-mail at


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Check out the book here:
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK


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