Competitive Landscapes & Collaborative (Team-based) Environments

Donovan Vogel
7 min readNov 17, 2017
Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau and’s advancing collaboration pledge

The old concept of put another individual out of business, or even feed them to the sharks, worked in the past. But now, in an ever evolving digital, technological, and connected global economy/age, it will not survive. For the first time the masses can collaborate and work together for a common cause in order to win together. It’s simply a new way and has only been a matter of time. Allow me to highlight the old model, some of its fatal flaws, and turn to our newer model, which involves much more synergy, collaboration and teamwork.

Competition (noun) is defined as the act of competing; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I realize the United States economy was built off of competitive edges and advantages. That, in itself, is capitalism. I enjoy a contest for a prize, honor, or advantage as much as the man or woman to my left or right. However, how long can this prosper for?

We all know there are two types of negotiations. The competitive (win-lose) negotiation is characterized by a one-time interaction. On the other side of the coin is a collaborative (win-win) negotiation, and is characterized by a long-term partnership, where the goal is to maximize joint gains. i.e. collaborate (intransitive verb) is the action of working jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

The most basic competitive edge or systems we can take a look at is our schools and workplace. Whether this is K-12 or prestigious colleges or universities, the goal for students ultimately is to outwork the man or woman to their left or right. That’s what I was taught, weren’t you?. Do your very best to have over a 3.0, 3.5 or even a 4.0 GPA and you’re set, right? Not precisely. We’re all aware, or at least have seen or heard, of students graduating with honors, awards and at the top of their classes only to battle their peers and the same people they were once friends with for corporate jobs in the marketplace.

Currently, with the amount of students graduating from schools, there are only so many positions to fill. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs is all we ever hear from politicians. The supply (colleges & universities) and demand (graduates looking for jobs) are either increasing or decreasing. The demand of college graduates in the workforce has definitely increased. Employers (consumers) want graduates with greater technical skills, while colleges (suppliers) have remained unchanged, producing graduates in all the same traditional disciplines. The result is a consumer demand that is not being met by suppliers and suppliers that are producing something in quantities that consumers no longer need. Tell me how that landscape has bode well for some people?

Moving forward, even upon entering the work-field, how many of us have been sold or preached the mantra of working together as a team? I certainly have in financial services and I’m confident I cannot be the only one, regardless of career field. Real estate, insurance, medical professions and other corporate jobs certainly have told us this. But how many of those employers, businesses or organizations actually pay you as a team? Not many, which needs to change.

As an example, when working as a financial advisor in 2015 and 2016, I was paid roughly 70% based off of a product or service I personally sold, my manager was awarded 20% and our Vice President was given 10%. Tell me how that logic or compensation plan works in everyone’s favor. It doesn’t. Also, more times than not, employers place a cap of the amount of income or salary you receive. That’s why a lot of people feel that in their fields or professions they work incredibly hard but that’s not always reflected in their weekly, biweekly or monthly pay. Imagine working very smart and hard while also being rewarded for your results, effort and worth.

Trust me, I am not saying this to vent simply impress upon everyone that horizontal marketing businesses and organizations have flaws. That has already been proven, I suggest doing your very own research.

has preached it before to salesmen, saleswomen and marketers, “Stop building wide (horizontally) and do this instead (build vertically).” Long term relationships and a loyal/valuable following of team members and customers beats short-term profitability 24/7/365.

These competitive landscapes and ladders can be climbed, have been and were a model of the past hundred years. However, the amount of work, time, commitment, training of employees and teammates practically landed you another full-time job. No one here is looking for another one of those, most of us already have one. Hence the fact these individuals worked anywhere from 40–60 hours, even 80–100 hours every single week. Ask any family member or friend how that commitment worked when having children of their own, a house to keep up with, or even family members or friends to maintain a relationship with. It’s doable but at what cost?

With that being said, what if I told you that teamwork-based environments will dominate the technological, economic and organizational businesses of the future? Do you agree? If so, great, I’ll elaborate. If not, great! No problem at all. Continue down the path that got you exactly where you are.

Collaborative systems are a kind of cooperation that exists between the distribution channels that are available in multiple levels with different members working together for the promotion of the efficiency, as well as the economies of scale in a way that the products or services can be promoted towards customers, and credit can be provided to the customers, while timely deliveries are made to them too.

Yes that was a mouthful so allow me to clarify with four main components. 1) Producer, 2) Wholesaler, 3) Retailer and 4) Customer. A producer is considered as the manufacturer who is involved in the making of the product or service. The wholesaler usually purchases these products from the manufacturer and then manages the distribution to the retailers. The retailers are the people who markup the price of the products or services depending on the wholesaler and also sell these goods to the final users or the customers. Customers are self explanatory as they’re spending their hard-earned money on products, goods and services.

- Steve Jobs

If there could be collaboration between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and happy customers that would be a win-win-win-win situation, wouldn’t it exist? As I said before, for the first time the masses can collaborate and work for a common cause in order to win together. First, it’s clear that producers and advertisers are mass-marketing their products and services far too much. So much so that they’re spending millions and billions of dollars for all of their messages.

In hindsight, not all of those sales are guaranteed, which means these companies, businesses and organizations are losing and hemorrhaging a lot of money. Customers are far more educated and aware than ever before. No longer are we falling for advertisers deceptive tricks. Why spend so much on advertising when that money can be funneled into R&D. Tesla Motors and many more companies are doing the same exact thing.

With wholesalers purchasing directly from manufacturers and wanting the lowest prices possible now, what do you think happens next? If I can buy a camera (or Product X) for $300 from one store when the other 2 stores are selling it for $100 more, eventually they’ll have to lower their prices in order to compete. Margins are becoming smaller and smaller no matter which way you look. That being said, self-awareness has been recognized enough to where more wholesalers and retailers are collaborating to work smarter together, not harder.

Have you ever heard the terminology people hate to be sold but they love to buy? When was the last time you went shopping for clothes or furniture, car shopping, TV shopping or watch shopping and specifically told the representative, salesman or saleswoman, “Sell me that right now!” Often times you emotionally responded, “Nope just looking around.” Until you were willing and ready to check out and fulfill the sales process were you finished. Direct sales and traditional marketing doesn’t work as effectively as it once did. We’re starting, and have already seen, the emergence of one-to-one marketing and more word-of-mouth advertising. That’s the model of the future 1) because word-of-mouth advertising is free and 2) people genuinely like and trust their family members and friends opinions on products, goods, services, restaurants, movies, etc.

Finally, customers have the majority of the say in all of these steps as we’re becoming more and more aware. They control social media, the mediums of exchange, and have more say and buying power than ever before. Thank you Internet! So, what does this all mean?

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they want well before they realize it themselves.” — Steve Jobs

Producers, wholesalers and retailers should be, and are, rewarding more of their loyal customers. Not only with great products, goods and services but with more incentives, free shipping, rebates, and cash back. Find a business or company that can service all of those fulfillment's and wishes, and you have yourself a winning formula. At the end of the day, the customers always right. Time spent with great customers is time and money well spent.

The collaborative efforts of these distribution channels are only getting started and I believe we’re in for a big surprise in the many years to come. The old model’s broken and competition (win-lose) is flawed. It’s safe to say businesses and individuals want to work together if it’s worth their time and a win-win for all parties involved. Teamwork, synergistic environments and collaboration can make up the global economy and business opportunities of the 21st century. Thanks for reading!

My Very Best,

Donovan Vogel



Donovan Vogel

Philadelphia based teaching financial literacy | Prospering all other hours | Writer | Lifter | Reader | Traveler | Freedom & Wellness