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?