Iraq's Sunny Awaking Applied To Awaken Growth In Your Business

By: Alex Shattuck

Fallujah was a pivotal battleground during the Iraq War. The sacrifices and accomplishments in this city played a key role in the Sunni Awakening. Now, the Sunni Awakening was the movement in which Sunni tribesmen who had formerly fought against us eventually realigned themselves to help counter other insurgents, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda. This movement lead to the decrease in violence and the stability we saw in the years following the deadliest year of the war in 2007. To put this success into perspective the US lost over 900 troops in Iraq in 2007 and approximately 60 in 2010, which was the last full year we were there before the withdrawal. 

One reason the Sunni Awakening was able to happen was because of the U.S. taking massive action. This awakening followed the “Surge” in Iraq. The Surge is referred to as the 20,000 additional US troops sent to Iraq in 2007. This is worth mentioning because without taking massive action in that situation the years of sacrifice that came before it would have, most likely, not have had a favorable outcome to show for it. Taking massive action and going all in on the mission put us in a position to win. (I understand the word “win” in this context is subjective but that’s not the point I’m trying to make so stay with me!)

Massive action didn’t create overnight success in Iraq. The Surge was the final push needed to compliment the YEARS of hard work and sacrifice. It also was the consistent activity that had been taking place prior to the awakening that brought peace to the region. The Marines, complimented by other US military personnel, consistently and strategically operated in ways that fall into two categories. 

One category is trackable results. Examples of these are number of enemy killed, number of enemy captured, and the number of weapons removed from the hands of those that wished to do us and others harm. 

The second category is much harder to track. It wasn’t what you see in the movies but it was proven to be a critical element to mission success- and that was building relationships. “Winning hearts and minds”, remember? It sounded like bullshit at the time for many of us but building relationships and trust with the tribal leaders is what was needed to bring the violence in this area in Iraq to almost a screeching halt. These tribal leaders were the decision makers that had the influence to create the change needed. 

You don’t need to look any further when looking for success here at home. This same 2 step approach will get you where you need need to be, and also your team. 

  1. Put yourself in a situation to win by taking MASSIVE ACTION.
  2. Focus efforts into trackable activities needed to drive success everyday and build relationships with your team and customers.

Let’s look at how we can use this approach to specifically grow our business. There are two ways we grow our businesses. The one we often focus on the most is production, or output. We should start by focusing on how to drive production without having to increase the marketing budget. We want production because we want growth, and we want growth because we want additional revenue and ultimately larger profit margins.

The second way we grow our business is by increasing retention with the customers, clients or accounts we already have on the books. Either of those two will do the job but if you can do BOTH you really start to see growth accelerate. Increasing retention will also delay any need for more marketing dollars to be invested back into the business, increasing your profits.


Increase Production + Decrease Cancellation Rate = GROWTH

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You probably started your business with dreams of having a high income and freedom. You may have found that you sacrificed one, if not both, of these objectives. In this book Alex masterfully applies the brutal lessons he learned in Iraq to business here at home.