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Success story: The hunt for Osama Bin Laden

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When President Barrack Obama stood outside the Oval Office on the evening of May 1, 2011, to announce the death of Osama bin Laden, nearly a decade had elapsed since the events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that fateful day, then President George W. Bush and his team began devising a plan to get Bin Laden.

The Plan

According to Bin Laden’s obituary in The New York Times, a week after 9/11 a reporter asked Bush if he wanted Bin Laden dead. “I want him — I want justice,” the president answered. “And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’”

That was the plan in its simplest form, harkening back to old western motifs — there’s a wanted man on the loose and we aim to get ‘em. But the plan in reality was an incredibly complex operation.

The Platform

In many of the interviews I’ve heard in the 36 hours since the death of Bin Laden was announced, I’ve heard a recurring theme: There were thousands of people responsible for this mission to storm the compound 35 miles outside of Islamabad and to get the Al Qaeda leader. While the Navy SEALS were doing the heavy lifting, it was also the web of clandestine government agencies gathering information as well as military personnel and high-ranking government officials all connected, all working together to bring this plan to fruition.


No one thought it would take almost a decade to get to Bin Laden. Early on, Bush administrators planned for air attacks to wipe him out, quickly, decisively. But Bin Laden proved more elusive than expected and the search for him dragged on and on. In the interim, the names of those chasing him changed, but the general plan stayed in place: Get Bin Laden — dead or alive.


But all of the planning, platform and persistence would have gone for naught had the mission not succeeded. That’s where the performance comes in to play — can we execute this mission? Can we pull this thing off? A 40-minute firefight later, culminating in the death of Osama Bin Laden, and it was “mission accomplished.”


These are good models for advisors to follow in your own practice. So you have to ask yourself these questions: Do you have a plan put in place? Have you really mapped out a strategy, something you want to achieve in your practice?

Do you a platform you can rely on? Do you seek and receive advice from your carrier, from your marketing organization? Have you built alliances with CPAs, with attorneys, with peers? Do you have a network of financial experts that you lean on, that you talk shop with?

Do you have persistence? Are you willing to see your plan through? When you set your goal, maybe you don’t reach it in that time allotted. If so, do you pack it in and call it a day, or do you come back stronger and more persistent?

When the time comes, will you be able to execute your plan? Have you honed your craft to the point that no obstacle will stand in your way?

These are the tenants for success. Good luck to you.