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Sean Luce

Who Is Your Rowan?

By Sean Luce

Do you know anybody who would do this without asking you a single question of who, what, or why? Their mission is to find the leader of the Iranian insurgents deep in the heart of Iran that could tip the scales of the nuclear enrichment negotiations between the United States and Iran. If the message was relayed over the Internet, the message would certainly be blocked and intercepted by the Iranian government cyber networks. The person who has to find the leader of the insurgents -- if possible -- has to also come back alive with the schematics of the exact placement and enrichment capabilities of the Iran government's secret nuclear program.

As many know, if Iran can create nuclear weapons, it would tip the balance of power in the Middle East and could be the decisive spark in the powder keg that could result in World War III. The person who does this will not know exactly what they are bringing back other than knowing they will be able to carry it on themselves -- though it has to be with them at all times once they have picked up the vital documents or coded messages. Timeline: Immediate. Whos your choice to carry out this mission? More importantly, who do you know that would not ask you a single question, other than carry out their mission?

A couple weeks ago, one of my sales managers, Crystal Cook sent me an email with an attached PDF that stated: Be Like Rowan. I had never read the 1,500-word essay written by Elbert Hubbard in 1899. Yes, the essay is over a hundred years old and had over 40 million copies printed during the authors lifetime. It was from I read it and was compelled to ask myself the question: Who do I know that would take on an assignment -- no matter how dangerous, or in business -- maybe against impossible odds, and not ask a single question other than to just take on the task and get it done?

That scenario actually presented itself to me this summer and the person responded with, I will do whatever you want, whatever you need. I had found my Rowan, though at the time, since I had not read the essay, I didnt know the person was my Rowan. I just realized how unusual it was for somebody to say something like that with an assigned task and not ask any questions. Your Rowan might be there for one mission or might be there for many missions in the future. Your Rowan might come from unlikely places. Your Rowan might be someone you have known for a long time or maybe somebody you have barely known for any length of time. In your professional world, do you have any Rowans? Maybe you have more than a handful of them, and if you do you are extremely fortunate.

The real Message to Garcia was the story of President William McKinley in 1898 who had to have an important message delivered to the leader of the Cuban insurgents during the Spanish American War that could turn the tide of that conflict. Yes, for those of you that arent up on your American history, there was a war between Spain and America and America helped free Cuba of Spanish dominance before the turn of the 20th century. President McKinley asked Colonel Arthur Wagner for someone who could make contact with the Cuban rebel leader Calixto Garcia. Wagner thought of only one man -- Andrew Rowan -- to take McKinleys important message to Garcia. McKinley wanted the help of the rebels to aid the Americans in the fight against the Spanish. That message had to be delivered or, without the help of the rebels, the American cause might have been lost.

What I loved about Arthur Rowan was his sense of duty. He didnt ask Is there anybody else you can get for this mission? or "Why do I have to do it?" or "Where do I find Garcia in Cuba? The parallels with business and sales are obvious. There are many times in sales we look for the path of least resistance, especially when it comes to prospecting. How come I dont get more call ins? Why doesnt the company provide me with more leads? If Rowan was on your sales team, he would simply go out and do his job and hit his sales goal. Thats what we do in sales.

There are many stories inside the Message to Garcia essay. I hope you can share it with your team or organization.

Heres my message to Garcia: Py! Bugvw qdl ieg! Cgm pim Eqasf. Vfwq ysjc. X nqyn www nfc bp xzw cvfg vsmj hkwc.

Only one person has the passphrase. Its in Vigenere Cipher, which was the coding system the Confederate forces used in the Civil War. Maybe it wont take another 150 years to decrypt this one.

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor at Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at or

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