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Harry's View

‘No pain, no gain’ on path to business success

By Harry Maragh*


climbWhy tackle things most folk can barely wrap their brains around when you can make millions pushing the penny?

We are living in a time when, if you build a platform or a great product or a service such as we have, you can touch all our clients and the competitors’ clients as well. If we can achieve that, why would we want to do anything less?

Ambitious goals are going to force us to strengthen our skills by swimming against the tides of disbelief and discomfort. Our organisation will become tougher and toned.

The year 2013 has flown by and was certainly event–filled, with challenges to overcome, disappointments, victories, losses and new developments. We were very fortunate as 2013 is, thankfully, the only year in recent memory where there was no real threat of a hurricane. The only hurricane we had was a government that still seems to be having difficulties in attaining growth and, of course, the devaluation of the dollar NDX which affected us all, especially those of us in the shipping industry.

The International Monetary Fund agreement is now in full swing and perhaps this is a good thing as our leaders in the past have not told us the truth on more than one occasion. We have not exhibited sufficient discipline and so we have a ‘watchdog’ ensuring that we stick to the plan we agreed on as we have already taken their money. For Jamaica, the IMF agreement is painful, but it is unreasonable to expect that the road to recovery will be easy, given the bad decisions and poor execution of plans over the years that were supposed to put Jamaica on a path towards what we know is so possible: greatness.


In business and in life, there is no single path to greatness, yet it cannot be achieved without paying the required price, as has been demonstrated by Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price and Tessanne Chin, just to mention a few. These are Jamaica’s current examples of excellence. Yet we do not see their consistent discipline, their commitment, their focus and their acceptance of pain and what they have gone through personally to achieve their goals and emerge as wonderful examples for our generation.

If we are to shine as an industry, we all must now go through a pain-shedding fast, reducing inefficiency, focusing on making timely decisions on what is important, communicating and executing good plans, so that we emerge stronger and are better able to compete, not just on the track and on the entertainment stage, but where it matters most of all: our people and, of course, our company; producing jobs; growing the economy so that our staff are able to feed and send their children to school and tuck them in bed safely at nights, dreaming of their own greatness in a crime-free environment.

Like Usain, Shelly-Ann, Tessanne and others, we at Lannaman & Morris, Seafreight Jamaica and Metro Investments Ltd and the industry in general must also dream of greatness for our country. We should also know that we will not realise our true potential and growth unless we are disciplined in seeking to take exceptional care of our customers. However, greatness takes time and will not happen overnight. It requires significant will and commitment, consistency, deep desire to excel, optimism, genuineness and care. Our team at LNM, SF and MIL believes in these values and we believe that we must live them every day, so that we serve our customers well and increase their confidence in us.


We as leaders leading people and working in our own companies will experience time differently from those engaged in less ambitious pursuits. On the one hand, the horizon stretches to where you are no longer managing for the next year but for the next decade. On the other hand, paradoxically, a sense of urgency prevails. If we are going to succeed, increasing our tonnage, reducing costs, ensuring that all equipment is returned in good order, collect all our freight and demurrage/detention, then we have got to get to work today with a level of intensity that is unrelenting. The only way you can achieve something that big is with overwhelming intensity and a focus that starts today and goes on tomorrow and the next day.


We are leaders in our industry armed with certain advantages: experience, relationships, track records; and, perhaps most fascinating, we know that we can make this work and we are uniquely positioned to make it work. Audacity underlies our companies; the belief that, from nothing, you will bring forth something that makes someone’s life better. Take that audacity and kick it up a notch or a hundred notches. If we fail, it won’t be for lack of courage or imagination; and if we succeed, those successes will be felt around and in our companies.

*Harry Maragh is President and CEO, Lannaman & Morris (Shipping) Limited