Why David Continues to Thrive in a World Full of Goliaths

Originally published July 11, 2021 on LinkedIn by Kemco CEO and President Tom Vanden Heuvel

Having spent my career building teams in the context of a being a smaller company in the land of giants, I am often called to the story of David and Goliath.

The story closes (spoiler alert) with the underdog, David, slaying the much stronger and better armed Goliath with a mere slingshot and stone.

Many industries are similarly segmented into the large, but few, Goliaths and small, but numerous, Davids.

David vs. Goliath Graphic

In the world of talent acquisition, with all the Goliaths dominating the airtime, why would a superstar candidate join a David?

The mega-deals among Goliaths grab the headlines with huge projects, massive consolidations and acquisitions but the smaller deals are orders of magnitude more common and more impactful. Why?

We David companies are far more innovative and closer to customers. We are the incubators of technology and are compelled to know the customer better. We can take educated risks and are far more reactive than our lumbering foes. We are the domain experts in the narrow niches that drive profitability and profoundly impact a customer’s outcome.

We are not the underdogs, but rather wildly competent and competitive companies that Goliath continues to under-estimate. Don’t tell them, but we LOVE that. While they are in meetings all day, we are loading our slings with the next rock looking to out-service our customers.

You can leave a lasting imprint on a smaller company. At a large company you can fill the seat that has just been vacated by the last employee number as you keep it warm for the next.  At a David company you get to build your own career path and are never more than a few footsteps from those who can make the most important decisions – decisions that you directly participate in. At a David you wear many hats, affording you the opportunity to learn the business and to more deeply appreciate the customer from nearly every angle.

It’s not all rosy, we don’t have ping pong tables or free snacks in the breakroom. We don’t have private jets or fancy offices. Our name is not on the stadium and our sales meetings are typically done with a pizza at the conference room table. 

David slept in the field with his flock – the same way we stay with our customers through thick and thin. We work really, really hard and reinvest our success back into the business, not the superfluous. The satisfaction of an elated customer is all it takes for us to get back at it each day.

So why join a David over a Goliath? Simply put, you can make a lasting impression. Your coworkers will know your name and the customers will feel your impact. The cause and effect is so much more apparent in a David than a Goliath. At a David you write your name with a stick in the concrete, at a Goliath you write in the sand.

In the end, simply remember that Michelangelo’s masterpiece of over 500 years is not a testament to Goliath, but rather David. 

Statue of David from the chest up

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