Friday, December 30, 2011

The Power of the Internet

Technology has had an amazing effect on our country and how we are able to communicate information.  At the same time, many people talk about the huge divide between those with money and power and those without it.  It is also a little scary how large and powerful some of are corporations have become.

But there are a few incidents this year that I believe are inspiring as to the power of the people.  Examples of how we can use technology to communicate and control what corporations do and say.

1. Netflix and Flixter- We are all familiar with the rates increases and horrible plan to separate movie streaming and dvd's in the mail.  Netflix lost over 800,000 subscribers and completely scrapped the plan to create a new business for the DVD's in the mail.  Now Netflix has millions of subscribers and the rate increases probably paid for themselves and the lost customers multiple times over.  But the message was clear, people didn't want was Netflix was trying to offer, so Netflix had to adjust.

2. Bank of America and other large banks charging debit card fees - This year every large, national bank announced plans to charge for customers having debit cards.  This was very entertaining to me because my wife works at a local bank and we actually get a great interest rate with our checking account, specifically when we use a debit card!  But again, people came together and communicated the dissatisfaction with this plan.  I don't know 100% who is and who isn't charging at this point, but for the most part the banks backed off and scrapped the plan.

3. Verizon Wireless - I love Verizon's service.  I hate the stronghold they have over their customers.  When they announced a fee for $2 for online and phone payments it was ridiculous.  My friend who works at Verizon even commented on how stupid the plan was.  I don't know the exact day and time this was announced, but I do know I read about at 7am in the morning.  By 4pm of the same day, Verizon scrapped the plan because of the customer outrage.

Can this work for our government too? I hope so.

Last Friday of 2011!

It is the last Friday of 2011!  The last work day of 2011!

This year has been one of the most interesting, challenging and exciting years of my life.  I have enjoyed many successes in my short 27 years.  2011 marked the end of an era (over 7 years in a pest control related sales position) and the beginning of the rest of my life.

I own a local security company with 5 team members.
I own a local IT company with 5 team members.
I own a local web and graphic design company with 1 team member.

I'm excited about the new adventures and the new opportunities.  It has been a struggle to drastically cut my pay and develop my future earnings more than my current earnings.  I feel like I have invested so much in 12 months and it is obvious the pay off will be big.

I'm looking forward to continuing my own personal development and seeing those around me grow.  I don't know exactly where all of our companies are headed, but we have clear goals and a plan to get where we think we should be!  I just hope that everyone else enjoys the experience as much as I am.

I've sat down and made my personal goals and I have written goals for our companies.  The road is still daunting.  There is no immediate satisfaction, but there are many, many small wins and successes that keep my going everyday.  I can't wait for more!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scary Experience- Highway Spin!

A few months ago I was driving home and found myself in a scary situation.  I was on I-65 heading north and this section of the interstate is 4 lanes wide.  I was in the second lane from the left.  I was going about 75 mph.  My wife was actually in her own car just ahead of me on to our right was a tractor trailer.  The interstate was extremely busy but there was a decent amount of traffic.

Without any warning at all, the tractor trailer next to me decided to merge quickly into my lane.  This is where I made a poor decision.  I feel like I am a great driver and tend to stay very aware of my surroundings.  I should have slowed down while staying in the same lane but I decided to slow down and quickly jerk the wheel to the left as to avoid the back end of the tractor trailer.  I knew there was not a car beside me and I made a small turn of the wheel, not enough to go too far.

But unfortunately, my speed, quick turn and almost bald tires combined to create a terrible situation.  After jerking the car to the left, I straightened the wheel directly forward.  At this point, the rear end broke loose from the road and spun me around the opposite direction I had turned the wheel.  I found myself out of control on a 4 lane interstate still travelling about 65 mph!  As I spun around things seemed to happen in slow motion.  I was turned completely around facing oncoming traffic and there were cars in every lane.  My tires were screeching and I could smell burning rubber.  I felt like the car stopped while facing the opposite direction, but I know it actually continued to spin around and I completed a full circle.  Somehow, every single car was able to avoid hitting me and my sliding car stopped on the opposite shoulder from where I started the spin.  My car was now facing the correct direction again and had shut itself off.

Almost shaking, I got out of my car and checked over everything.  I was alive, my car was untouched and my tires hadn't blown out.  I couldn't believe what had happened.  I had to sit there for a minute to gain my composure and then I drove home.  I've had many adventures or scary situations, but this was by far the worst so far.

If you are headed north on I-65, at just the right spot, you can still see me tire tread spun perfectly in a circle right in the middle of the interstate!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Leadership Struggles

Myself and a business partner have 3 companies that consist of 10 team members right now.  We have ambitious plans and goals for growth but right now we are sorting out and dealing with issues that seem to never go away.

We have been trying very hard all year to create a fun culture and get the right people in place.  Last week we had an exciting day with a review of 2011, goals for 2012, catered lunch, and a Christmas party/celebration.  The day went really well.  We played a lot of games.  Everyone seemed to be involved and engaged.  I would have rated the day as a 9 out of 10.

I thought we were finishing the year on a good note and all was well.  Nope.  All of the good things that happened this year and the great end of year was wiped out by one day.  You see, we were open on Monday the 26th.  In fact, many businesses were open on the 26th.  It was a Monday.  It was a normal work day.  Could we have shut down?  Yes, we could have.  But in light of everything else going on we did not close.  Now we have learned our lesson about communication before and this decision was communicated weeks before.  But when Monday rolled around it completely demolished the morale in our company.

I am still struggling to understand the entire situation.  We have never denied someone time off when requested within a reasonable amount of time.  We have always been flexible with our team members.  We have not always but definitely did effectively communicate this decision.  But somehow we were in the wrong in the eyes of our team members.

I know we will all move on.  I know some have already forgotten it.  But as a leader, I feel it is important for me to understand the situation and to figure out how to do it better next time.  My goals far exceed my abilities and skills, so I must change for skills and abilities.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Does it make a difference?

As the talk of the presidential campaign continues to increase, I find myself asking if any of it really makes a difference.  It seems like our government has become so large that our votes don't seem to really matter.  I really don't consider myself very involved politically, but I have always exercised my right to vote.  But at the end of the day politicians are politicians.  They are a certain breed.  One of two people will win the next presidency, either the Democratic Nominee or the Republican Nominee.  If you are not the chosen one for either of these parties you have no chance at running our country.

Well, the only way to become one of those two nominees is to be a part of the big, bad machine that I believe needs changed.  What we need is fresh blood and new ideas.  Our government serves a great purpose.  We all need roads to drive on.  We need an education system.  We need a military that can protect us from those that want to harm us.  I don't believe in NO government, I believe in SMALL government.  I think it is outrageous how large and burdensome the government has become to the people.  Forget about they wealthy paying more or less taxes.  We should all work hard.  We should all pay in some way to benefit from our government.  But we should have to support waste, or support those that choose not to work.

At this point, I don't get too worked up about all of these feelings.  Maybe that is the wrong attitude.  But I'm so busy trying to make a life for myself and actually live, I don't have time to get involved with government.  My hope is that my vote (which I will always continue to exercise that right) will make a difference.  Even if it seems like it doesn't, we all need to do it.  Perhaps those of us that work hard will eventually outnumber those that want to live off of us and be able to turn the country around.

Who knows!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Asian Karaoke

I'm not the biggest karaoke fan.  I'm not a singer.  In fact, I got kicked out of the chorus in 4th grade because I'm pretty much tone deaf.  I don't know if that is official but I'm pretty sure it is (and everyone agrees).  So I do enjoy a night out to karaoke but only to see other people impress or embarass.

Well, I was treated to Asian Karaoke thanks to some friends in Atlanta that insisted on going.  Basically, you and your friends rent your own karaoke room and have the karaoke machine all to your self, rather than taking turns with a bunch of strangers.  This encouraged a lot of dancing and allowed for a much more entertaining experience!

Everyone (that wants to) gets to sing a lot more and your friends can just jump on stage and join you whever they want to.  It was really fun and I could possibly see myself even joining in the singing next time.

As a side note, our friends had also told us about a great furniture store near them.  They said the furniture was real wood, quality pieces similar to Pottery Barn pieces but at amazing prices.  I am extremely cheap and think furniture is overpriced, so I was very excited to find they were right.  We ended up driving back from Atlanta with a new coffee table in the car!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crazy Week

I think sometimes I would be better off if I learned how to say no.  As a sales oriented person, it seems like I am also accommodating to what other people want and lately I seem to be maxing out my time.  I need to be careful about not taking on more than I can handle.

But this week I was able to attend a hockey game.  I participate in the Big Brother program and one of the players donated his private suite!  I had never been in one of the suites and my Little had never been to a hockey game, so we were both surprised and pleased with the donated tickets.

It turned out to be a really good game even though the Predators lost by one goal with only 3 minutes to go.  Other than that it was a very competitive game with plenty of excitement.  It was also great because I spent a lot of time with my little between the drive to the game, at the game and the drive back.  The entire experience is very new but he seemed to be more talkative already.  I'm  looking forward to how things will turn out.  He is a really good kid.

Other than the hockey game, this week has been filled with all kinds of work issues and I will have to save that for other posts (if I ever have the time).  But for now, I'm trying to get everything wrapped up so I can enjoy a weekend visiting friends in Atlanta!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Too Much Tax - Make It Simple

tax on stores that allow you to roll you own tobacco

I recently read an article about tax issues on stores in the northeast that allow customers to use machines and roll their own cigarettes.  I am not a smoker.  I actually really dislike smoking.  But that has nothing to do with this issue.  My problem is how complicated our tax system is in the US and how we are literally taxed on everything.

The article was describing a major issue of how these stores were taxed. Currently they sell raw tobacco and the customer uses a machine to roll the cigarettes.  This is taxed significantly less than manufactured cigarettes so there is a significant savings for the customer.  I believe the state wanted to change how it was taxed because they feel like the state is being cheated out of revenue.

The company argues that the taxes should not be changed for them because the customer really is producing their own, they just provide the means to do it.  The store also argued they were a niche industry and few customers are willing to take the time it takes to make your own just to save a few bucks. By taxing the store at the rate of manufactured cigarettes, they would not be able to compete.

Regardless of the fact that I hate smoking, I also dislike taxes.  I understand we need taxes for certain things.  We do need government in order to maintain our military, maintain our roads, provide police and fire services, and many more things.  But the system is extremely flawed and out of control when it comes to taxes or the fact that our government does not have to truly operate on a balanced budget like normal people or businesses.

While reading the article, I was reminded of how difficult government can make it for small businesses to operate.  Again, I understand certain needs, but there are too many government workers and people that don't understand the choking effect government can have on business.

I don't know what it will take in the future to bring about effective changes.  Part of me thinks there isn't any hope for real change.  The machine is too big to change.  Just like our auto industry was too big to fail (that's a whole different post).  But I really do hope we can make progress in the future and create a government that helps the people rather than sucks the life out of them so that others don't have to work. 

Fondue Fun

My idea was simple.  I had a college friend coming into town with his wife and I thought it would be fun to have fondue.  My sister serves my family fondue a few times a year.  It is normally around 8 people when she does it.  So I figured we could invite a few other couples over as well.  We would all enjoy a fun evening of fondue.

I chose the day after Thanksgiving.  All of us married couples without kids need things to do because we aren't stuck at home with kids.  Well, then old friends started calling.  Everyone was coming back to Nashville for Thanksgiving and we all wanted to get together.  Well a bunch of people were already coming to our house and word spread.

Basically we ended up with 16 people at our house Friday night.  It turned out great.  We still served cheese fondue with all kinds of items to dip.  Bread, apples, chips, etc.  And we had chicken marsala served with salad made by my beautiful wife.  But dessert was the highlight.  In full fondue fashion, we served a fondue pot of milk chocolate and another of dark chocolate.  We had a ridiculous amount of items to dip in the chocolate, rice krispy treats, pound cake, cheesecake, apples, pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, etc.

It really was a great night and I was happy we could host everyone at our house.  It's always fun to get friends together and enjoy good food!

Thanks to everyone that made it out!  It was the start to what will be a busy, party-filled December.  I believe we have a party or holiday event every weekend for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant

Just finished reading The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant.  It reminded me of Og Mandino and his scrolls.  The author is Terry Febler and has a great message in the book.  I try to be objective with each book I read and make sure I get the most out of it.  Personally, most of this book was too religious for me.  I do believe in giving back but I don't think it revolves around giving money to a church.

What I didn't like was that I felt like I was being preached to for most of the book.  If I was going to write a book for a church congregation that encouraged them to give to the church, it would be similar to this book.

What I DID like was some of the messages related to business. I'll mention two that I especially liked.

1. Take responsibility for problems that are the result of your own bad decisions.  Don't displace the blame.

This message was appropriate to me because I have made some mistakes over the years. Specifically, I have made many mistakes in the past year and have lived by this principle.  My business has grown and overcome obstacles because we always take accountability when we cause problems.  Sometimes we lost money.  Sometimes we lose a customer.  But many times I have found that we develop a stronger relationship with the customer and they appreciate us not trying to displace blame.  A powerful message and a task that is often times harder than it sounds to actually do.

2. See challenges at stepping stone, not as obstacles.

I feel like I have faced more challenges in the past year than in the other 26 of my life!  I'm sure that is perception but it has been exciting for me, because it means I have a lot going on.  If I wasn't working hard and trying to grow a business.  If I wasn't working hard to develop myself.  If..... I wouldn't have many challenges at all.  And I would be in the same place 5, 10, 15 years down the road.  And I know that's not what I want!

So for those of you with more of a traditional church or religious belief, this is a great book and you will really enjoy it.  For an agnostic business owner like myself, you will appreciate the principle taught in the book!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Zipline Time

My parents so kindly gave me a birthday gift- tickets for my wife and I to go ziplining!!!  We had done this before while on a trip in Mexico, so both of us were pretty excited about it.  With my knee injury and going into winter we didn't know if there would be a good opportunity to use it.  But this weekend the temperatures were in the mid to high 60's and we headed out to Adventureworks!

Two friends decided to join us and we had a great time.  Advetureworks has apparently been around for a while in TN and has mainly done team building and leadership activities.  They have low ropes courses, high ropes courses, and other team building activities.  They have also added a course of 9 zip lines and we went on one twice, so it was a total of 10 zips!


After two short 'warm up' ziplines we moved on to some really good zips.  I think the 4th or 5th was a good distance but also had a max height of 85 feet in the middle.  You are just wearing a harness and clip onto the zipline with one rope.  It feels amazing to soar throught the sky!

One of the ziplines was actually two side by side, so you could race or battle another person.  Happy to say I won my race/battle.  Yes, you are close enough to hit and kick each other the entire time. Yes, we did hit and kick each other the entire time.

One zipline allowed me to get pushed off the platform backwards.  The rope attaching you is long enough that this was a scary/fun experience.  I'm sure bungee jumping or skydiving is much better though.

The longest zip was 450 ft and we supposedly got up to 40 miles per hour.  Awesome!!

The only negative was that my wife rolled her ankle about halfway threw while walking on the trails in between.  She had to sit down for a minute but was able to finish and enjoy the last few ziplines.

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better day to go.   Thanks to my parents!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Networking. Some people love it, some people hate it.  I know it can be very powerful if you do it correctly.  I also know it takes time to do it correctly.  And when you run you own business sometimes networking isn't at the top of your list.  But should it?

I'm officially joining a local BNI group to represent our technology services company and I'm excited about getting the most out of it.  I'm not really excited about a meeting every week, but I do know it can expand my circle of influence pretty significantly.  I wanted to share quickly how networking can be beneficial.

Our technology company has been in downtown Franklin for close to 5 years.  We get plenty of solicitors and you cannot talk to all of them.  Standard protocol is to take their information but most of the time it doesn't get farther than the garbage can.  Lot's of people call us.  We politely take their information and that doesn't normally make it farther than the garbage can.  After attending the BNI group, I connected with two people.

They both wanted to try and work with us.  They had both tried to get in our door. They had called.  It just didn't work.  It wasn't anything personal.  We didn't know too much about them and we didn't have the time find out.  But now, it's a priority to start networking.  And by learning more about these individuals at BNI, they were able to teach me about themselves and get in our door.

Now I'm not saying both will end up selling us something, but they were able to make a contact that they had been completely unable to make before.

As I get back into networking (I have done it before), I am going with an unselfish attitude.  I want to serve others and help them be successful.  Because I have learned over and over that the more I help others, the more I will gain.  It is difficult as an ambitious salesperson to always put other peoples needs first, but I will do my best!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Personal Development

For most of us, personal development starts around the age of 5 when we enter school.  Then we spend all of our childhood and into early adulthood learning and developing ourselves.  Then, for some reason, many people just stop developing.  We get jobs and decide that we've learned about all we need to.  We slowly progress as our bosses allow/force us to and we spend all of our freetime on meaningless things.

Personally, I want to continue to develop and learn throughout my entire life.  I believe that I will always have room for improvement or growth, no matter how successful I become.  The truth is that this is much harder than it seems.  I tend to go in cycles, part of the time I am very motivated and devote time to learning while the other part of the time all I want to do is sit down on the couch and watch tv.  I have not completely learned the secret to always motivating myself, but I have learned that you have to form the habits of doing the activities you don't always want to do.

A few weeks ago I re-dedicated myself to reading books that help me develop.  My business partner loves listening to books, and while I think it is a great way to be exposed to more books, I am still partial to sitting down and reading a physical book.  I believe I absorb a lot more then when I listen.  So I have set aside time to read each morning and try to make sure it happens at least 3-4 times per week. So far so good!  But I know I will start to slack off and it will be up to me to stay with it.  To make myself spend the time even when I really, really don't want to.  If I can do that, I know I will continue to be successful and continue to develop.

I don't want to be stagnant.  I don't want to peak before 30.  I believe the best is still to come.  And it has been pretty good already!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Plunge

For a little over a month, I have been contemplating purchasing a new car.  Not just any new car, but a base model Toyota Prius.  The Prius is rated to get an average of 50 mpg and I drive between 25-30k miles per year.  So compared to my economical Saturn Ion, I would save $1200-1500 per year on gas.  I could only imagine if I was using our Grand Cherokee on a daily basis.  My savings would almost double.

I have always been a car guy, in fact I have posted the ridiculous list of cars that I have owned and I am only 27.  I think 1 for every year at this point.  And I have always said that I would never buy a new car.  As soon as you drive that car off the lot you immediately lose value.  So how in the world did I convince myself to go against everything I have ever believed in and buy a new car?

Let's start with the Saturn first-

1. It would randomly not start.  Wait 10-15 minutes and then it would start.  You can search online and this is a common 'quirk' from these cars.  People have replaced batteries, starters, etc without any improvement.

2. It needed new tires.

3. It needed windshield wipers.

4. It had a bad strut or struts that needed to be replaced.

5. The mileage was 131k miles, plenty of life left, but with more issues.

The Prius-

1. No maintenance for 2 years or 25k miles.

2. Everything is already new.

3. I negotiated such an amazing deal that I couldn't have bought a used Prius for the same price.

The Prius is also a business expense because 95% of all driving I do is work related.  And I don't intend to sell or trade the car within a couple of years.  I will keep the car until it just won't go anymore or at least 150k miles.  In other words, I am definitely going to get my moneys worth.

I do like the look of the new Prius, but I wouldn't exactly say it is an amazing looking car.  I'm more of a Cadillac CTS guy if this was just about having a nice car.  But for me it really was a practical decision.  I finally got over driving a 'nice' car and thought about what I really need.  I need a car with amazing gas mileage that is dependable.  Yes, I could have gotten a cheaper car and picked from a dozen other options.  But now I have a great warranty, the highest mpg you can currently find in any car, and no maintenance for the next 25k miles.  Plus, with the business deductions the car will pay for itself.

Last night, I bought the Prius.  I went with silver because I happen to think that is the best color in the world.  150k miles later, I'm not sure what I will do.  But mark another notch on my experience belt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Joys of Renting

No, I don't mean renting from someone, I mean renting to someone.  Rewind about 13 months and I was looking to rent out a townhouse I own a few blocks from a local college.  I happened to be really busy and didn't want to go long without having a tenant in the property.  I ended up renting it to a family that deep down I knew wouldn't take good care of it.

I have paid the price.  They moved out without notice and left my place in pieces.  It was completely filthy, horribly stained carpet, every surface was nasty, holes in the carpet, all the blinds ruined, and full of garbage.  I wasn't looking forward to it but I rolled up my sleeves and spent all day Saturday cleaning it up. 

I used all the resources I could.  I hired someone to do the cleaning while I moved junk out and worked on shampooing the carpets.  It was an extremely long day and I will never, ever rush into renting to someone again.  I now have about 6 years of renting experience under my belt and I am still learning lessons.  It never pays to make exceptions or take short cuts when it comes to being a landlord.  Here is what I dealt with.

I also used the power of craigslist in order to get everything hauled off.  It really is true that one mans garbage is another mans treaure.  Thanks to the high price of metals and being to able to recycle it and get paid, some nice family hauled off all of the junk for me. They were going to sort through everything that came out, use some of it, sell some of it, and recycle some of it.  Thank you random craigslist family!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

2 cents on Groupon

There are 2 reasons I have followed and been interested in Groupon since its early introduction.  First, I am a business owner and interested in how it benefits/hurts its participants.  Second, I love getting a good deal and half off of something I want definitely interests me.  But as I see it, Groupon just can't last forever.  I think it is extremely important for the business owner to understand exactly what they are getting into and how it will effect them.  The horror stories I have heard about businesses being overwhelmed and not being able to honor their Groupon probably stems from inexperienced or uneducated business owners.

I have debated with many people about the benefits or downsides of Groupon.  On one side, Groupon can offer your business a tremendous amount of exposure and by paying for it with your owns goods or services, you can leverage the margin you have in those goods or services.  On the other side, Groupon de-values your goods or services to the consumer.  It can make it even more difficult to receive your real pricing from the consumer if all they ever want is 50% off.

Today I saw a Groupon that I believe is a great fit for the business.  It is a local wine bar and restaurant.  The deal is $10 for $20 worth of wine.  First of all, thats a good deal for the customer.  It is something that will draw people in but if you have ever been to a wine bar, you know that won't really go too far.  That is why this is such a great fit for the business.  The key to Groupon is getting people in your door with the offer SO THAT you can sell them other goods or services.  If you are really successful, they will come back later without having a groupon.  This business was also able to promote their restaurant at the same time, and I would bet with a good plan for serving these Groupon users the business can really capitalize on the increased traffic they receive.  Plus, wine is a high margin item, so the significant discount they are giving when participating doesn't completely kill them.  Bravo to this business for making the right deal and using Groupon appropriately.

Now, there is also a restaurant that I have seen participate with Groupon multiple times, as well as a number of other similar sites.  They may be doing really well but personally, they didn't win me over.  I have been to their place twice, but both times with a Groupon.  In fact, I think there food is worth what I pay for the groupon.  So they have completely lost with me, I hardly ever spend more than the certificate amount and I haven't been back since using them.  I'm sure they won others over but I'd be curious to know the real details/success/failure of their experience.

So I love Groupon.  I love getting half price.  And as a business owner I try to keep in mind they are trying to make money as well.  But I have to be impressed.  I have to enjoy my experience.  I have to value the goods or services.

We shall see how long businesses can afford to advertise this way and if the business model works long term.  For now I'll continue snatching the deals that catch my interest!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Go-Getter

Peter Kyne wrote a book a long time ago called The Go-Getter. I just finished reading it and I must say it motivated me.  It was written in 1921 so the style of writing is a little old fashioned.  But it's the story of an extremely persistent and determined salesman working for a large logging company.  In fact, he had to work extremely hard just to get the job and then prove himself by starting with the worst responsibilities and working his way up.

I love reading stories about successful people and this book does a great job of teaching you lessons while also entertaining you.  One take away from the book was when the salesman had to sell the worst product the company offered, and rather than selling at the lowest price possible just to move it, he actually sold it at a price higher than the company requested.

I don't have an exact amount but I'm confident I have sold over $1 million worth of services or products in my short lifetime.  Many of those $300-500 annual service contracts, so that is a lot of service!  One thing I always try to avoid is selling strictly on price.  I've found that the price you sell your products or service at (within reason of course) come from your personal confidence and your value of the product.  If you are a lazy or negative person and don't see the true value, neither will your customers.  Any good sales rep knows that they must first sell themselves on their product and believe in the value.  Otherwise you won't last long.  And what you do sell will be at the lowest possible price!

I could go on and on about takeaways from the book and relate them to my own experiences, but unfortunately this isn't a paying gig and other items are calling my name right now.

Remember, believe in your own product and service, be so excited about what you are offering and how beneficial it will be for your customer, and they won't be able to live without it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ACL Surgery

I've mentioned already that I tore my ACL.  It happened months ago at this point.  Right in the middle of a soccer season and during the last available months to boating season.  It really put a damper on my weekly activities.  I never realized how important a stable knee was until I didn't have one anymore.

This is my knee right after surgery.

Here is a picture of my knee a couple of weeks after surgery.  They removed the stitches right after I took this picture. The angle is a little weird but look at the difference between my two legs.  The one that has been sliced open was so much larger!


I need to take another now but it has been 6 weeks since surgery.  I have no limp.  I have great range of motion. And my PT gave me a 5 out of 5 for strength.  I still have a long way to go before I can start running, skiing, playing soccer, and all that good stuff.  But I believe I am past the worst part of the recovery.  Now I have to make sure I continue to do PT and work out.  I'm still hopeful all will be well for skiing next season.  I intend to hone my slalom skills!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful Fall Weekend

Friday-  Stayed in after what seemed like so many busy weekends these past few weeks.  The wife and I decided to rent a movie relax at home. The rental selection didn't seem very good but we settled on Bridesmaids.  I wasn't exactly thrilled but I had heard it was really funny.  I don't know where I heard it.  In fact, it might have just been great marketing and advertising for the movie.  Because it wasn't funny.  There were possibly 4 humorous parts to the movie.  Maybe it is one of those that you have to watch a few times before you really enjoy.  Either way, I won't be making it past the first viewing.  But it was a great evening without stress!

Saturday turned out to be just a fantastic day.  We kicked it off with a trip to the Y and got in some good exercise.  It was the first time since surgery that I really broke a sweat and felt like I had burned some calories.  It felt good to be productive and since we hadn't partied the night before we got out early.

Most of the rest of the day was spent with some friends at their BBQ.  It was great!  He has become quite the talented Boston Butt cook.  I think this was the 3rd or 4th time we have sampled his homemade BBQ and it was by far the best attempt yet.  It was cooked perfectly with lots of flavor and juices.  Add to that perfect fall weather, some horse racing, a few rounds of cornhole (I love that game), and the LSU v. Alabama game and you couldn't ask for too much more.

Sunday weather turned out just as nice as Saturday.  We headed off in the middle of the day for the wife's soccer game.  It was the start of the tournament and when you lose your season is over.  This was extremely difficult for me because I would be playing if I didn't have a hurt knee.  Turns out, most of the team has been injured this season and there were barely enough players to even play the game.  And that included 2 subs that are only for emergencies!  Needless to say, the season ended on Sunday with just one game.  It was exciting to see everyone fight to the very end and make the game as respectable as possible.  Despite an enormous lead the other team did not let up at all and we were still able to hold off more goals and score a few more to make it closer.

Overall it was just one of those really good fall weekends in TN.  I know they are going to sneak out of here pretty quick and cold, bitter weather (for TN anyways) will start to move in before we know it.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Spotted in Smyrna.  Hard to tell, but he's wearing an awesome cut T as well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I changed my own oil!

I was taught in my early teens how to change to oil on my vehicle and have pretty much always done it myself.  As I get older and busier there is more temptation to pay someone to do it.  In fact, I have done that on multiple occasions but only if I find a good deal on it.  It is just too easy of a task for me not to do it on my own.  Many times I build it up in my head as a difficult task until that point that I almost take it somewhere.  But then my cheap side comes out and forces me to do it.  Afterwards, I know it was worth it.

Some of my critics say it's not worth the time.  I'm not sure if they aren't as handy as I am, but unless you change vehicles for every oil change and have to re-learn how to do it, it shouldn't take much time at all.  I changed mine one night this week after getting home from work.  It was probably a total of 20 minutes to complete the entire job.  I know it was done right and I felt a sense of accomplishment.  It was easy and took my mind off of the other hundreds of items I deal with on a daily basis.

I've been to other places for an oil change, and not many of them would have done it in any less time that I did.  And I always seem to second guess what they are up to.  Did they really put in the right oil?  Did the put in enough oil?  Did they tighten everything up correctly?  It's just not the same as doing it myself.

So the point it, right now it makes sense for me to change my own oil sometimes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Medical Musical Chairs

I'm not a fan of our current healthcare system.  I heard or read recently that a major problem is the disconnect between the provider and the customer.  It is not a direct relationship where the customer shops around, finds the best value, and the provider must live up to a high quality of service.  In fact, in my experience, many medical facilities treat customers almost as if they are a nuisance.  I will insert here that I have had very few interactions with medical facilities and my opinions are based on these limited interactions.

But here are 2 recent experiences that I had-

1. I tore my ACL and was trying to decide between paying for all of the related medical expenses out of pocket and filing it with insurance.  I know that sounds crazy and stupid, but I found very interesting results.  As I 'shopped around' and looked for high quality service at and affordable price I worked with multiple facilities in order to get as an exact estimate on my cost as possible.  As a self pay individual, I ended up at one the top medical facilities in town with a surgeon that had great references and experience.  The total out of pocket for the surgery was roughly $8800.  Add to this a couple of doctors visits and an MRI, we were talking about just under $10,000.  Then physical therapy would start right after surgery.  Now my brother-in-law is a PT that works about 1 hour from where I live. While it would have been inconvenient, I could have worked with him in order to save the $80-100 per session PT.

This was of course a lot of money, and I had a health insurance plan with a $1500 deductible that I could use instead. So my total out of pocket through insurance (which I needed to do) was just $1500 but I have now seen most of the bills go through my insurance.  The visits, x-rays, surgery and follow up visits have well exceeded $30,000 paid by my insurance!  Over $20,000 more than my negotiated self pay!  And I am doing PT with a local provider that is also covered by insurance. No idea the exact cost yet.

2.  My most recent follow up visit to the doctor was another frustrating experience.  I personally like my doctor, but by the time I ever get to see him, I am so annoyed I can't stand talking to him!  Here's how the visit went.

Arrive 15 minutes early to check in.  There are literally 4 people in the waiting room, I'm thinking this could be a very quick visit.  I'm only hear for a quick check because my surgery was 5 weeks prior.

The waiting room begins to fill in the next 15 minutes with patients arriving.  That's okay, I'm coming up on my appt time and I was here first, obviously my appt is first.

There's the nurse for my doctor, I've seen her multiple times before.  She'll be calling my name now, we are 5 minutes past my appt time now.  What?  That guy?  He came in after me?

About 15 minutes past my appt time I'm finally called back to see the doctor. YES!  Just follow the nurse down the hall and to the room, wait, not the room?  Another chair in the hallway for waiting?  Is this a game, are you trying to trick me into thinking I'm making progress?

15 minutes later, I'm annoyed.  The nurse calls my name again and walks my 10 feet into one of the individual rooms. YES!  Finally!  "We'll take you for your x-rays in just a moment sir.  WHAT!!!  If I needed an xray, why didn't I go straight to the xray?  Now I'm sitting in the 3rd chair of the day, still waiting.

10 minutes later, I'm really not happy.  Another gentleman I've seen before arrives, his sole purpose seems to be walking people from the small rooms to the xray room, it might be 30 feet maximum from any room in the place.  I sigh and at least try to be happy the xray is happening.  As we turn the corner, I'm told to sit in another hallway waiting room chair!!

5 minutes later, I hate this place.  I finally get in to get xrays, this takes all of 2 minutes.  I am escorted back to my small room.  Another chair.

I don't know how long I waited, but I was on the verge of leaving.  I had things to do and had not planned on such a long visit.  Why can't they be more effective with their scheduling?

The doctor finally comes in and we spend about 4-5 minutes together.  I am fine.  Everything is great.  I can go now.  He's a great guy and wants to joke around with me.  IF there had been about 3 less chairs, maybe I could.  But I just can't do it.  Your office provides terrible customer service.  I wasn't fooled!  I wasn't really making progress, I was just wearing out as many chairs as possible so that you can charge me more so that you can buy more chairs.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Pigeon Forge in the Fall

We headed to a beautiful cabin in Pigeon Forge this weekend with about half the team members from our company.  A client owns an 8 bedroom cabin and we volunteered to do some work in exchange for a weekend at his place.  It was a great opportunity to show our appreciation for the team, as we just completed a major project and everyone was feeling a little worn out.  Although, with all the partying I saw, I'm not sure anyone will be very rested after the trip!  But I'm confident everyone had fun.

My wife and I tried very hard to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves, but we also took time for ourselves and made sure to enjoy the opportunity.  We made a family dish called chicken roll ups for eveyone on Friday night.  They were delicious!

Saturday we hiked to Grotto Falls.  We chose an easy hike, as I am still recovering from recosntructive ACL surgery.  It was about 3 miles roundtrip but had more elevation change than we thought.  Plus it was muddy so the steep parts of the trail were pretty slick.  We barely made it without spilling and covering our clothes in mud!

We knew it would be cold but I had gambled we wouldn't see snow.  I was wrong.  No wonder I got some crazy looks from people, I was wearing shorts.

We also spent time at the outlet stores.  Surprisingly, we made a few purchases for me but none for my wife.  I was in desperate need of some new items but we just couldn't find any good deals for her.

One of the highlights of trip was the view from the balcony of the cabin.  I neglected to take a picture, but it was the perfect time of year with all the leaves changing colors and clear skies for miles.

A great weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saving a Team Member

I run a local security company in Middle Tennessee with a business partner and we have a team of 5 people working with us.  We have 2 great ladies working in our office that handle all phone calls, service schedules, billing, and day to day activity that I just don't have the patience for.  They allow us to provide an extremely high level of service and keep in touch with our customers.

Our other 3 team members are Technicians that we rely heavily upon in order to deliver the items we provide, whether that is a new security system, camera system, fire system, or service on any of these items.  At the beginning of the year we were fortunate enough to win a bid on the largest project ever taken on by the business.  We purchased an existing company with a 25 year history and we inherited 2 of these technicians when we did that.  So this project we took on was a learning experience for everyone involved, but especially so for our lead technician.  He did a great job and I'm proud to say we completed the project without any major failures or hiccups just a couple of weeks ago.

I tell you all of that to explain our recent experience with this lead technician and important team member.  While on this project, he made connections in our industry that he had never made before.  In fact, he ended up with a job offer from a competing company and decided to put in his 2 weeks notice with us.  Our first reaction was surprise and hurt, because we had poured so much time and energy into the business and each team member over the past 12 months and we felt betrayed.  It was a major struggle for a number of reasons-

1. We depend heavily on this technician for service.
2. The technicians wife works in our office.
3. The technician has some faults, that we aren't 100% sure we can help him overcome.

So our dilemma was a question of whether we wanted to convince him to stay (which we know would cost us more money) or allow him to move on (which would put us in a major bind short term, but allow us to bring on new team members based on the qualities we look for).  Plus, with him working for a competitor, we did not feel like it would be a smart decision to employ his wife in our office, with access to all of our client information. So for us we would be losing 2 team members at once.

I could write all day about the various issues we worked through in order to make our decision, but I'll skip to the point.  We decided we did want him to stay and we would do what we could AFFORD to do in order to make that happen.

We look for 3 things with new team members and believe we can teach and train on the skills necessary for our industry.  The are Desire, Commitment, and Integrity.  We knew at this point that this team member has all 3 of those qualities and that was our decision.  The problem was that we could not afford to match his other offer.  But I believed we had something much bigger and better going for us- CULTURE.  We are big believers in the type of culture a company has and serving our team members.  While we are limited financially we do everything we can in order to create a fun, enjoyable culture.

I also believed the move for this technician would only be a temporary gain.  The company did not have our culture, would not have the room for advancement that we will have, and had many other unknowns.  We already have a proven track record giving him the opportunity to grow and develop and investing in him.

We sat down with him and laid out our entire case.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  And parts of the conversation were very ugly because he hadn't considered the conflict of interest with his wife.  Fortunately, we worked through all of the issues and laid out a game plan for the future that everyone was excited about.  While we could not afford to match the offer, we knew he could prosper with us long term.  He decided to stay.  Only time will tell how intelligent that decision was for him and us.

I learned a great deal from the entire experience and because of past experiences, I feel like we handled the situation better than most would have.  I believe in always working to develop yourself, and you should surround yourself with people who have your same desires, ethics, and values.  It's exciting to lead our organization and help other people grow and develop.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Date Night

During the week it can be hard to get much personal time with my wife.  I leave the house before she wakes up most days and by the time I get home, we are both too tired to do much.  But lately I have been trying to make more of an effort to do things during the week.  I don't want to live for the weekend all the time.

So last night the wife and I went out to see Our Idiot Brother.  I have to say no movie is worth the outrageous $10-15 per ticket price from most theaters, we went to the $1.50 theater!  I'm a big fan of Paul Rudd and he definitely delivered a great performance in this movie.

It was a little more heart-felt than I anticipated, but my wife enjoyed that part.  We compared it to having Michael Scott as a part of your family.  I would say the movie was worth the $3 and I enjoyed the night out.

As a side note, the $1.50 theater on the weekends is full of unseemly characters, but on a Tuesday night it's actually a pretty good group of people.  We were pleasantly surprised with this fact.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Recap- End of Boating and Football Blues

I'm going to include Thursday night on my weekend recap because we flipped Friday and Thursday.  Friday was spent at home, watching a movie and catching up on sleep.  I may or may not have fallen asleep at 8:48 on a Friday night.

BUT!  Thursday night we ventured out with another couple to Zanie's!  My friend had purchased some tickets from a door to door salesman (yep, door to door Zanie's tickets) and they were about to expire.  We were privy to 3/4 comedians.  The first was the emcee and the first comedian.  Let's just say he probably still has a day job.  And he probably shouldn't quit that day job.  His jokes weren't clever, his delivery wasn't great, and his jokes weren't funny.  Mostly negatives if you consider what he was supposed to be doing.

The second comedian was Al Jackson.  He has apparently earned some fame lately on TV and is able to do comedy full time. You can tell why, he's funny.  He's not amazing.  He's a little crude.  But he is funny.

The third and fourth comedians, the Sklar Brothers!  Two twins that have pieced together a fantastic show that is full of clever, well written, well delivered jokes.  I actually laughed out load multiple times and a couple of their jokes were repeated all weekend by my wife and I.  I think that is the real sign of whether or not a comedian is good.

Saturday was a beautiful day and perhaps our last chance to winterize the boat in comfort.  So the wife and I used the better part of Saturday (and a little time on Sunday) to clean up and winterize the boat.  It is now safely tucked away under its cover and a massive tarp we are trying out this year.  It kills us not to put it in storage, but the cost isn't worth it to us.   I make sure to winterize it correctly and cover every inch that we can.  When spring rolls around we hope for the best!

Saturday we watched UT play a great half of football.  Then we watched them play a terrible second half.  They were playing Alabama, who is ranked #2, so we weren't expecting anything different.

Some very kind friends gave us tickets to the Titans game on Sunday- they were demolished by the Texans.  But it was amazing weather and a fun time.  More entertaining was the fact that I parked our car next to the projects.  And I literally mean the public housing projects.  It was free.  I was planning on paying for parking but we ended up seeing a spot and decided to go for it.  As we walked away from the car, two young guys that some might judge as untrustworthy eyed us and asked if we were going to the Titans game.  I thought it was pretty obvious already so I was friendly and said yes.  They asked who was playing and I told them the Texans.  Then we walked away and discussed the likely-hood of these two guys breaking into our car now that they knew we would be gone for the next 3 hours at least.  My wife suggest I go back and find another spot.  I said no, I have faith in people.  I always hope for the best.  But I also prepare for the worst.  So 3 hours later I was prepared to see broken glass and a missing tablet (the only thing of value in the car).  You'll be happy to know those two young guys didn't touch our car!  Score one of mankind.

As usual, Sunday night was a great meal with all my family at my parents house.  mmm mmm good.

Fresh Start

I'm a big believer in organization and time management.  I learned a lot of principles regarding hard work and time management just watching how hard my dad worked as I grew up.  But I was told around the age of 19 that "I could learn to manage myself, or someone else would always get paid to manage me."  Being the ambitious and motivated individual that I am, I decided I would much rather learn to manage myself and keep any management pay for myself!  That explains why I run my own business.

With that in mind, I am adding Blogging to my daily to do list.  Every morning (during the week, maybe I should add this to my weekend) I take the first 15-20 minutes of my day to create a To Do List on my computer.  I don't physically prioritize them on paper anymore but I am able to rate their level of importance in my head and what time frame they need to be completed in.  This helps me complete all of my important tasks on time and to make sure my day is very effective.  It has done wonders for my productivity and I am normally able to accomplish more in one 2 hour period than some complete all day.

My neglect comes with those tasks that are important to me personally but not urgent.  I tend to keep them on a mental list but not a physical list.  These items include reading books (fiction and non-fiction), blogging, and keeping up with friendships.  I go through periods of time where I read a lot, and then periods where I neglect to read much at all.  Right now I am in a rut.  I'm lazy.  I'd rather turn the tv on than pick up a book, because I am so exhausted at the end of the day that I don't want to think.  So guess what I am going to do?

I'm adding my reading to a Daily To Do List.  I'm going to carve out a minimum of 15 mintes each morning in order to read.  I'm also adding blogging to that list, but I don't anticipate that as a daily item, hopefully 3-4 times per week.

I like starting my days early and I can accomplish many things prior to our team members arriving at the office.  I also feel like putting this down on a blog is a more solid committment than if I just tell myself.

How do you manage your time well?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Recap

Had an eventful and exhausting weekend. My wife and I try to stay very active and tend to squeeze a lot into our weekends if we can. This one was no different.

Friday night was a relaxing evening at home after an extremely long week of work. We had been looking forward to getting on the boat but around 5 o-clock we found out my sister and her family needed help moving from their current place to their new home an hour away. So rather than hitting the lake Saturday morning, I put on my knee brace (messed up my knee playing soccer) and spent the morning loading the truck. We had a few extra helpers at the old house and headed off to the new one with only 4 guys to help unload. Thankfully, when we arrived, there were a couple church members there to help unload. Then within 10 minutes about 7 or 8 more volunteers showed up. So we were able to unload the truck in less than hour. Good thing too, because I was already tired and we were running late for our Saturday night plans.

We didn't make it on the boat, but we had plans for dinner and the Opry with a couple friends. Even though I grew up in Nashville I have never been to the Opry. Apparently, it was a special night celebrating 20 years of Vince Gill being a member, so the place was packed. We had a blast because we were backstage.  I'm hardly a music fan but my wife absolutely loved it and it was enjoyable for both of to experience something new.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I like Cars

Kind of in order, but not really

Dodge Crand Caravan- went on my first date in this vehicle
Pontiac Grand Prix- my dad's car that I got to drive
**1994 Mustang v6**- MY first car
1993 Honda Civic- my first flip, I think I made about $1500 on that car
~1999 Honda Civic HX- first 5-speed. my prom date didn't appreciate this being purchased and driven the day of prom.
1998 Ford Mustand v6- this is when I fell for silver cars
1998 Mustang GT- silver again, what a great car
1998 Eclipse GST- lightweight, 210 hp. very fun
~1999 Eclipse GS- almost lost money on that one
1991 Jeep Wrangler- wish I had never sold it. I gave that Jeep many hours and thousands of dollars but it gave me a lot in return
~2000 Honda Civic- replaced the engine
1998 Audi A4- European? Yes, I think I will
~1991 Honda Civic- bought it smashed, fixed it, actually smashed it again (only wreck I've been in)
1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ- black and stock, never got around to building it
Jeep Wrangler TJ- Christmas Jeep, risky purchase but still made a little money
~1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ- red, couldn't get Dawn to drive it because it was stick
2000 Honda Civic- now my little sisters car!
2003 Cadillac CTS- silver, comfortable, I loved it. Can I get it back please?
~2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ- no A/C, too much rust
~2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ- bought it from a liar, bad purchase
2006 Mazda 3- fun little car, Dawn drove it for over a year and we still sold for a couple thousand more than we paid
2002 Grand Cherokee Limited- Dawn's car now, never thought I would like an SUV but I love this one
2004 Saturn Ion- GM's make funny noises

I really think I'm leaving something out. I thought I was up to 24 or 25 cars. But it really is getting hard to keep track.

Don't forget my first motorcycle- Honda CBRF4i. My second motorcycle- Yamaha R6.
My first boat- 2000 Regal 1800LSR

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Living Sensibly

What does living sensibly mean? I imagine if I ask 10 people that same question, I would get 10 different results. To me, living sensibly means that I try to have a balanced life and balance within all the different aspects of that life. Financial, social, career, spiritual, and family.

For example, financially I strongly believe in living below my means. I completely understand why so many people can't do that. There is too much temptation and "keeping up with the Jones" attitude in the world. But I learned at a young age to spend less than what I make. It's the most simple philisophy you can have for financial success, but it ALWAYS works. Don't spend more than you earn, don't spend more than you have, DON'T buy things if you can't pay cash.

This blog will be a very random collection of my thoughts. At the ripe old age of 26 (dangerously close to 27) I believe I have great experiences, but also have some of the most exciting and interesting experiences still ahead of me. I'm married with no kids, I am self employed, I have a HUGE family, and currently my younger brother lives with my wife and I (Yikes!).

That's my introduction- short and sweet. This blogging thing might just catch on with me, but I wouldn't place any bets just yet.