Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baby on the Way

So our house is slowly starting to fill up with baby items. Our little girl isn't due until March and we've done well not to go crazy. But as we find deals owe take advantage of them. Plus, friends have started to give us items as well so those are adding up.

I accidentally started listening to a podcast about parenting.  I was actually searching for business podcasts and came across one with Andy Andrews. I wasn't familiar with him at all, but it had good reviews and I decide to try it out. I enjoyed it right away but it seemed to talk most about his kids and parenting.  After learning more about Andy Andrews, his lessons seem to revolve around his kids and parenting, and those lessons translate to business and life as well.

Either way, I really enjoy the podcast and the parenting information is great. He has mostly talked about how he interacts with his kids and lessons. He has written several books and just released a new one.  In interviews and on the podcast he has been talking about how everyone wants to raise good kids. And he makes the point that we aren't trying to raise good kids, we are trying to raise good adults.  Meaning what matters the most is who our children grow up to be, not just how they act as children.  The difference is teaching kids how to think rather than what to think.

I would imagine without my little girl coming in March, I might not appreciate the information as much. But at this point in my life, I am getting a lot out of the podcasts. I know raising a little girl is going to be quite a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Leadership Style

I read and listen to a lot of material about leadership. There is so much good advice out there is it easy to get overwhelmed or lost.  There seem to be specific leadership styles, generic leadership principles, and all kinds of information in between.  I believe the best way to use the information is really understand the principles and apply them to your personality.

I think that is where many people fail when it comes to learning and applying useful information.  Each person has a unique personality, skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  There can't possibly be a one size fits all answer for being the perfect leader.

So what does it take to successfully apply the right leadership principles? Not that I am an expert by any means, but I do have a few thoughts on the matter. I believe there is one trait absolutely essential to successful implementation.

1. Being Self-Aware.
How many times have you met someone and felt like they were completely oblivious to their own faults? Bad breath? Annoying mannerisms? Talks too loud? Too direct? Too nosy? Whatever it is, everyone has faults, just not everyone realizes they have faults.

The same is true about really knowing yourself and your personality. Too many people try to be like the wrong person. Mark Cuban is pretty well known thanks to his success and now his time on Shark Tank. His business and leadership style displayed on the show is probably admired by many people. He is very direct with people on the show and is able to form quick opinions. He can sometimes come across as rude, to the point that my wife can hardly stand watching him.  Robert Herjavec, on the other hand, has a completely different leadership and business style.  He approaches people and topics from a much gentler point of view. If your personality style matches up with Robert, but you try to emulate Mark, this would be a very bad fit.

So the key to successfully learning from leadership principles and business leaders, is knowing yourself first and adapting those principle to fit your personality.  I am not a confrontational person in any way. I will never be a boss that gets angry and yells at my employees. I'm also not the type of boss that gives commands and expects to be blindly followed or obeyed. I believe in working with my employees to get them excited about what they need to do, or at least understand the importance of what they do. If I tried to be a boss that yelled and was extremely direct, it would never work for me.

If you can develop this self-awareness. If you can really be honest with yourself, about yourself, that is the crucial step in making positive changes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I've told this story hundreds of times over the years, mostly when working with new sales reps. But I thought it was time to try and put it on paper.

After my freshman year of college I was recruited to sell door to door for a pest control company. I had never done any type of sales but for some reason I was very excited about the opportunity. My dad has always been in sales and when I told him what I was going to do, he told me it would be the hardest type of sales I could choose but I could do it.

The summer started with a 4 day training school.  We spent long days as a group learning about bugs, sales and schedule. We split our time between class room style learning, individual memorization and role playing. There was as much focus on motivation as anything else. At the end of the 4 days, we were all dying to get out 'in the field' and knock on some doors. The formula was simple, give 70 presentations per day and you will get 1-2 sales. I was so confident I just knew I was going to kill it.

Day One - I worked harder than I have ever worked before.  The day started on the doors at 10 am after a 9am sales meeting.  I worked unbelievably hard until 8:00 pm. I knocked on all the doors. I gave every presentation I could. I literally ran in between doors to make sure I was doing everything right.  I'm proud to say I hit my 70 presentations. I didn't get any sales.  No big deal, I was prepped for that.  If I do it again tomorrow, my hard work will pay off!

Day Two - I didn't think it was possible, but I worked even harder than the first day. I kept running in between the doors. I was enthusiastic and people loved me.  I gave my 70 presentations plus more.  I did everything exactly how I was supposed to.  But what didn't happen was signing any one up for pest control service.  That's okay, I was prepped for this.  My ego was deflated just a little bit, but I was good to go.

Day Three - My enthusiasm exceeded my abilities.  I was determined to knock on more doors and see more people.  I tried to do everything right, but I know there were some cracks in my armor.  I started to feel like I couldn't do it for the first time. But I pressed on and pressed forward.  I finished the day with my hours, my presentations, everything I was supposed to do.  No sales.  The wave of enthusiasm ended. I was halfway through the week and it didn't seem like I could sell pest control even if the homeowner was covered in bugs when they answered the door. I just didn't have what it takes. I went home and that four letter word was the only thing on my mind - QUIT.

Day Four - I drove to my area but mentally I knew I was in trouble. I was too proud to tell anyone I was struggling. Each night when I reported in I pretended to be happy. Each morning at our meeting I pretended nothing bothered me.  But when I went to my territory alone, it all caught up to me.  I spent a few hours knocking on doors and putting in less effort than I had all week. I was going through the motions and there was a voice inside my head telling me it's over.  I couldn't seem to shut that voice up no matter what I did.  This part of the story was normally left out when working with new sales reps, but the truth is I went home in the middle of the day. I reached a breaking point and I couldn't take it any more.  For anyone that has not experienced door to door sales, it may seem ridiculous. But for me I just couldn't take any more. The constant rejection takes a mental toll that cannot be explained, only experienced. I went home and my dad was there. He didn't know how much I had been struggling mentally but it was clear now.  He was extremely supportive, he told me I could quit if I wanted to, but he knew I was capable of it. He told me to take the day off and get back at it the next day.

Day Five - I woke up and the decision was made. Today I would quit officially.  I had lunch scheduled with the owner of the company and I would take that time to let him know I was done. Until then, I would go out and work the doors. I would go through the motions, knocking on doors, giving presentations, asking for the sale.  Then a funny thing happened to me, I made a sale.  I wish I could see my face or go back and experience that moment again.  I know it was pure joy as I finally succeeded with making a sale.  Then I made another sale.  It wasn't even lunch time and I had 2 sales.  Well, as a 19 year old kid, I was back on top. My enthusiasm returned and quitting was the farthest thing from my mind.  When I went to lunch, I'm sure he was prepared to give a pep talk. He knew what is was like to go all week without a sale.  He also had a name and phone number in his pocket for me.  He was holding the golden ticket, someone I had talked to early in the week had called in to get service. I had a sale just waiting for me, I just needed to go fill out the paperwork.  I finished that day with 4 sales and more confidence than any 19 year old should have.

I believe it was a combination of many things that all came together to create that day.  My hard work had been building up all week. I really had been knocking on those doors and giving those presentations, they were going to come through for me. By quitting mentally, I think I actually took some of the pressure off of myself. I finally relaxed and I know that helped. Plus, I got lucky.  That was a good day.  Had I quit back then, my life would be in a totally different place from where it is now.  I can't say for sure where that would be, but I'm pretty confident it wouldn't be as good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's A Girl

My wife and I found out last week that our first child will be a girl!  I am extremely happy and hope she is healthy and happy.  My wife thinks I will end up spoiling her because I won't be able to tell her no.  If she is anything like my wife, that is bound to happen.  I will have to learn how to practice tough love!

I've tried not to criticize parents too much over the years because I have never been in their shoes.  Sometimes you can't help but judge others or their actions, but hopefully I can learn to parent in my own way. There are many examples from my upbringing that I will try to use, but every situation and child is different so I will just do my best and try to adjust as we go.

Either way, I'm looking forward to this next adventure in our life!

Wake Surfing in November

Growing up I was always a little shy around the water. I never considered myself a strong swimmer and didn't have too much experience with water sports. But I did a lot of canoeing, swimming, kayaking, etc, just always a little tentatively.  I liked the idea of boating and watersports but I always said I just wanted to have a friend with a boat.

Well, after getting to boat a few times and learning how to water ski, my wife and I decided to purchase our first boat just before we got married. 4 years later we are on our 3rd boat and you can find me on the water most weekends.

I had the pleasure of going down to Alabama this past weekend and getting on the water with a good friend of mine.  The air temp was about 75 and the water temp was 74.  Everyone acted like we were crazy but it honestly wasn't very cold at all. It turned out to be a really nice temperature and an awesome time on the water.  We just did a little bit of wake surfing but it was a blast.

There is something about getting on the water when you think the season has ended already that is very satisfying. I spent all summer trying to successfully complete a 360 on the surf board but I just couldn't get it done. I gave it a couple more tries and came close, but it was the same old story.  It had been a few weeks since I had been on the water so it reinvigorated by excitement for boating.

My wife and I are expecting our first child in the spring, a little girl who will no doubt because a water sports addict.  I know it will be tough to get as much water time with a newborn, but I am determined to make it happen.  I get so much enjoyment from boating I want to have it as a family activity for as long as possible.