Grandpaw’s Lessons: Be a Craftsman

 

I have been hearing the word “craftsman” my whole life. Grandpaw taught me about it decades ago when I was just a kid. So, while this is his lesson, the truth is that I was reminded of recently when reading Seth Godin’s blog on The new craftsmanship and it had such a profound impact on me that I decided to blog about it myself. (p.s. and hint hint …if you read Grandpaw’s Lessons: My New Blog Series you would already know that!) Anyway …

What is a Craftsman?

There’s always been a bright line around the craftsperson, someone who takes real care and produces work for the ages.”

Amen Seth, I like the way you put it … work for the ages! Grandpaw would have liked that though, in his simple way, he always said

if you are going to do something, take your time and do it the best that it can be done.”

At other times he would simply say

take pride in your work.”

Amen Grandpaw! To me, a craftsman is someone who truly cares about their work and, because of that, does work of exceptional quality.

Who Can Be A Craftsman?

Anyone can be a craftsman, right Seth? Exactly—and he is right. It is not about the title of your job, what type of trade or profession you are in; rather, it is about how you whatever it is that you do. And when I say “whatever it is that you do”, this does not only apply to things you do for work but should apply equally to things you do for fun. If something matters enough to you do it, why not do it the very best that you can? (Please use your brain here folks, as I will discuss below) Why in the heck else do you think that I would be spending so much time learning about social media? I’m a lawyer for crying out loud! I am not trying to make a career out of blogging. However, if I am going to spend my precious time doing it, I want to learn to do it right and do it the best that I can within my own abilities.

As for Grandpaw, he was an automobile body repairman and, though not the most glamorous of trades, he took a tremendous amount of pride in his work. He described himself as a craftsman and he certainly was. He could take whatever materials he had at his disposal and, using whatever tools were available, through patience and care, craft a way of making something work. And when he did, he so in a way that always produced a finished product that was not only functional but “polished” as well. Grandpaw distinguished the way he worked from that of the “jack-leg”, as he called them, which was who was someone who took no pride in their work and merely tried to get it done in quickest and easiest way possible. The jack-leg’s “work” was characterized by rushed, sloppy final product that in many cases was not even functional and, therefore, had to be redone. Grandpaw was a firm believer in doing things right the first time. How about you, do you want to be a craftsman or a jack-leg? If it’s the former, then read on …

How Can You Be A Craftsman?

  1. You need a worthy purpose. The first thing you should do is make a wise choice in deciding on whatever it is that you are going to spend your time doing. This is what I mean when I said to use your brain. Taking out the trash or using your dog pooper scooper does not merit a craftsman worthy effort! In fact, all that nonsense will do is get you a spot on the new television series My Strange Addictions http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/my-strange-addiction/ with all those other, um, people, who spend their lives collecting rocks, eating toilette paper, or sucking their thumbs. If this just so happens to be you, please stop reading and use your time looking up a good psychiatrist. Aside from any strange psychosis from which you the reader may be suffering, there really are times when being a craftsman is not always the right approach for other reasons. I’ll explain this further in the next post in this series when we can talk about Grandpaw’s lesson about cold showers! (You really don’t want to miss this one)
  2. You have to make a choice. It is a conscious choice that you must make to decide that you will care enough about whatever it is you decide to do so that you will take great pride in how you do it.
  3. You should think. No, really, I am being serious. Do you have any idea how many people go off and do things without even thinking about what they are doing? If you are going to be a craftsman, you have to think through what you are doing if you really want to produce work for the ages. Ask yourself a few questions: What are you trying to accomplish? What is the final product you are trying to create? How should it look? How should it work? There are many things you should figure out and, if at all possible, figure them out before you get started lest you find yourself rushing into making a whole bunch of mistakes. If you do that, you have to start over. Wouldn’t it have been a little better to spend some time thinking in the first place? I thought you would agree.
  4. You must prepare. If you are going to do top-quality work, you have to prepare accordingly. First you must have developed the necessary skills. Then you must gather the necessary materials to use and tools that it will take to do the job right.
  5. You must use patience. Patience is a must! Rarely do you see a craftsman who hurries through his work. I’m sure there are some, but I would bet not too many. You have to take your time to think about your project, plan how you’re going to complete it, make all of the necessary preparations, and then allocate plenty of time to actually work on the project in a careful yet deliberate manner. Then you must do it.
  6. Don’t forget the polish. The polished product is the mark of a true craftsman. This is the part that most people fail to complete whether because of lack of time, motivation, experience, or desire. For whatever reason, people often times become so anxious to move on to another project as soon as they reach a point of completion that they rarely take the time to go back and raise the level of quality of that product to a point where it is truly polished. That is, truly finished.

I am sure I have left off quite a few steps and my hope is that,if there are any you think of, you will help improve the quality of this blog post by including them in the comments. At any rate, based solely upon the six steps I listed above, you can see that it is not easy to be a craftsman. It takes hard work. It takes dedication. If, however, you are properly motivated, it is something that anyone can all attain with enough effort. My motivation is not too difficult to explain: In my professional career, each and every day I aspire to be the very best that I can be, within the limits of my own God-given abilities. That is my motivation to be a craftsman. (have you read my two “life quotes”?)

Motivation is crucial. Perhaps the most important question is, “what motivates you to be a craftsman?” How about you leave a comment to help inspire me and others who read this post–let’s all motivate each other to be craftsmen!

Grandpaw’s Lessons: My New Blog Series

I have decided to start a blog series called “Grandpaw’s Lessons”. The general purpose of this series will be to share many of the lessons that my grandfather taught me as well as how, throughout my life, I always seem to be getting reminded of them—sometimes in a good way, sometimes not! (depending upon whether I learned the lesson)

In an odd sort of way this series has been in the works for many years though I have only thought about writing it for the last week or so. How’s that for nonsense? What I mean is that I remember sitting in the pew at Grandpaw’s funeral and fondly reminiscing about the wonderful life he lived, how he had such a powerful impact on my life, and the many lessons he taught me about life even though I had no idea (or appreciation) that he was doing so at the time. Sitting in that pew I thought it would be a really nice tribute to my grandfather’s life, as well as a benefit to others with whom I shared those lessons, and I began thinking about writing a book with the daily lesson from Grandpaw. Well, that was a few years ago. Given how busy my life is and how many books I have planned to write … but haven’t … guess what? The book remains unwritten though it is the seed of this series. This is for you Grandpaw (Edward Tuma, Sr.).

A few weeks ago I tip-toed into the world of blogging. In my first blog, What I Learned In My First Week Using Social Media, I said:

And I know there is still lots more to learn but if there is one thing that I can say sticks out more than anything else it is this: if you want to effectively use social media for business, do your best to try and be a good genuine person who is honest, uses good old fashioned manners, and shows basic respect for others.”

When I wrote those words I was reminded of the source of what I was saying as I said it: Grandpaw. That was the way Grandpaw lived every aspect of his life, including how he managed his business. Grandpaw had an automobile body shop and never became a rich man though he helped quite a few people when they found themselves in a position of needing help and there were no others around the help. Everyone around Grandpaw always told him he was being foolish because others were taking advantage of him and cheating him but Grandpaw didn’t care because his was a life governed by core principle—true core principles. One that I’ll always remember him saying over and over in response to such criticism from others was, “at least I can sleep at night”. That was Grandpaw’s way of saying “I’m doing what is right regardless of the outcome.” Just imagine if most in our world lived by that standard today …

To those observing (and critiquing) Grandpaw’s life, they would have told you that he could have made more money but when people couldn’t afford to pay, were down on their luck, or just had a really good good sob story for him (and he could see through it), he let them pay whatever they could. Even if it was nothing. That is, Grandpaw gave away a lot for free. If you saw my most recent blog, “I’m a No0b” you know this is one of the things I’ve recently learned about successful social media marketing. Funny thing is, Grandpaw taught me this lesson through example many decades ago. That is how this process has gone. Time and time again over the past few weeks I have these “new” strategies for social media marketing only to sit back and think for a moment and realize that this “new” strategy is no different than the “old way” that Grandpaw taught me. That was the fertilizer.

Last week I read Seth Godin’s blog entitled The New Craftsmanship and that one hit me square in the face—that was even the word that Grandpaw always used to describe himself—craftsman. That moved me so much that I started a draft blog about it that will be forthcoming, perhaps, in a day or two (depending on how much family time I am willing to sacrifice for this project!). That was the soil.

Yesterday, I was reading Ingrid Abboud’s Bring IT! series on her nittyGriddyBlog and really like the way that she uses that and the SuperPost Sunday series in her work. It seems pretty effective to have a themed series. That pushed me a little closer; I continued to think through the idea of doing a series about the lessons that Grandpaw taught me. That was the water.

Then, just this morning, I got up and read a few of the comments on my Facebook status from yesterday:

planting flowers with the family! i love spring! (and it is to me so hush up — don’t care if its still feb!)”

To this, Rob Wieters mentioned that, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it was still too early to plant. To which I responded that my grandfather had always read the Almanac and, more often than not, it was right. That comment prompted Carol Watts, a family friend who knew my grandfather, to say what a good man he was. That was it—the sunlight that made me say “I’m going to do it, I’m going to begin blogging a series of lessons from Grandpaw!”

I hope you will enjoy reading the blog posts as much as I will enjoy writing them. Oh, by the way, in case you’re wondering about the coffee cup, well, many of my favorite conversations with Grandpaw took place early in the morning before anyone else was awake, sitting at the kitchen table while enjoying a cup of coffee. The cup in the picture was the cup I always used at Grandpaw’s house. Because it is very special to me, I now only use it on special occasions … such as this morning. I miss you Grandpaw but I sure appreciate all of the wisdom you shared with me over the years and know you too would have enjoyed sharing it with others as well. Welcome to the world of blogging Gramps!

Dear Clients: How About We Find Some Self Confidence For You?

We all know the scenario: super hot girl with a heart of gold who would be any man’s dream girl but for one little problem. She’s hung up on a real dirt bag who treats her like trash, comes home drunk (if he comes home at all), lies, cheats, and even smacks her around here and there despite the fact that it was she who has paid his rent for the last three months and loaned him money that he spent on other women! People scratch their heads in amazement. Why does she put up with it because surely she could do better, right? Of course she could! But she won’t because she has no self confidence and is so comfortable with the misery she knows that she won’t even consider trying to make a change. It’s pathetic, isn’t it?

Of course it’s pathetic unless you happen to be one of those clients out there who has a little more in common with Ms. Super Hot than you may at first realize. Think about it. You, the client, are paying your lawyer hundreds of dollars per hour and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to serve you. What that means is, in reality, it is you who is paying for the fancy office, custom suits, and even the sporty Mercedes! You do it because you’ve used him for years and do not know any other lawyers. Plus, according to him, he has forgotten more about the law than most people ever knew and really knows his way around the courtroom. He’ll gladly tell you that you just won’t find another lawyer who can do what he does … and you’ve believed it for years. However, despite all that you, and those like you, have provided for him by way of business, how are you often times treated?

It’s ok, I’m not asking you to answer out loud here. Just think about it because I already know the answer … your phone calls aren’t returned? No response to your emails either, huh? Scheduled meetings and appointments always leave you sitting there waiting … waiting for Mr. Important to make time in his busy schedule for you? You ask about the status of your case but the most he will tell you is “I’ve got it covered, what else do you need?” You try and dig a little deeper into the substantive and strategic issues but are told, with a sneer and voice of disdain, “look, this is what I do and I’m the best there is — I’m the lawyer here, just let me handle it – what? Do you want to handle this problem yourself?”

Hmmm … what was it you were saying about Ms. Super Hot when you were reading the first paragraph? :)  It’s ok … like I said, I already knew the answer. But what about you? What do you think about this?

Do we need to sit you down for a little counseling with R. Lee Ermey? I can hear it now:

That’s interesting. You know what makes me sad. You Do! Maybe we should chug on over to mamby pamby land and maybe we can find some self confidence for you – you jack wagon!  http://lybio.net/ronald-lee-ermey-geico/commercials/

Is that what you need, a little self confidence? Seriously, why do you put up with this kind of treatment? Is this the best service you buy for the thousands of dollars you are paying? Is he really that good? I mean, just as Ms. Super Hot eventually starts to believe her dirt bag when he tells her that he is the best she can ever do, do you really believe that about Mr. Important? Do you really believe there are not other lawyers out there who can do just as good of a job, but do it in a manner that truly serves you the client?

Or is it that you have just become so comfortable with the inconsideration you know and aren’t willing to take the risk of finding someone new because they may end up being even worse than Mr. Important? Is it something else? Who knows!

But whatever it is, do yourself a favor and get a handle on it. Don’t continue to go on like Ms. Super Hot–no client deserves to be treated that way. Let me offer you a little tip: It is without question that when it comes to your lawyer, the results he or she delivers is of the utmost importance. There are, however, plenty of lawyers out there who are very competent and capable of delivering the same kind of results you can get from Mr. Important–maybe even better. Moreover, of those lawyers, many will truly appreciate you and your business and put as much effort into serving you during the relationship as they put into wooing you to first get your business.

Maybe it is finally time for both you and Ms. Super Hot to realize that you have had it with being taken for granted and are ready to move on. All you need to do is get the self confidence to do it. So do it!!! (you jack wagon!)

What I Learned In My First Week Using Social Media For Business

Last week I began a self-study crash course in using social media for businesses. I had to, right? I mean we are now fully engaged in this “New Economy” that is often said to be changing the way the world does business. I hope this really is the future because I have spent a week studying this stuff and let me tell you, it is fun! During this week I have learned a lot—as though I have been drinking water through a fire hose! And I know there is still lots more to learn but if there is one thing that I can say sticks out more than anything else it is this: if you want to effectively use social media for business, do your best to try and be a good genuine person who is honest, uses good old fashioned manners, and shows basic respect for others. Is this over simplifying it? Of course, but here’s the way I see it …

Out are the days of puffery, disingenuous promises, and outrageous claims that strain the bounds of credulity. In the old economy, marketers of goods and services would often perform focus groups to find out what people thought was most appealing about the goods and services they were peddling, prepare a few talking points of information they wanted the consumers to know about the product, then feed it to the consumers through advertisements with a catchy slogan that would make those findings stick into their brains (conscious or subconscious, it didn’t matter). That was it. It was a one way street where the marketers controlled the message so that the consumers heard only that which they wanted them to hear. That is, the consumers had no alternative to the hype they pushed which, most of the times led to disappointment when what was promised was not delivered.

The “Information Age” of the last decade or so enabled the free flow of information available on the Internet and that helped make the one way street into a four lane highway for consumers. Consumers were no longer limited to only the information the marketers wished to feed to them. Consumers who were motivated to do so became empowered to research goods and products and learn vastly more about them than they ever could before. This allowed those consumers to begin seeing through all of the hype and discover the truth about that which they were seeking. They no longer had to believe the controlled message that was being fed to them. This was a huge step in equalizing the playing field between the buyers and sellers of goods and services.

In the “New Economy”, social media has taken a step further the empowerment of the Information Age. Consumers are now armed with information and, by golly they are willing to use it! They are no longer willing to conduct business based upon the puffery, disingenuous promises, and outrageous claims that was forced on them so many times before. What they want now is no different than what all of us have always wanted, it is just that now they have the means to obtain it (or more of it, anyway). They want TRUTH.

Social media has now turned the four lane highway of the Information Age into an interstate highway. That is, consumers are no longer satisfied with simply having access to good and bad information. Other than arming themselves with that information, they have found that by using social media to engage in dialogues with prospective peddlers of goods and services, they have a much better chance of getting to know them, developing relationships with them, and ascertaining whether they find them to be honest and trustworthy based upon that dialogue. This is somewhat akin to asking to speak to the proverbial owner and “looking the man in the eye” like back in the old “brick and mortar days” in that it allows people to judge the character for themselves based upon their own instincts and perception. Moreover, by establishing this type of dialogue and relationship, those who are peddling their wares know full well that if they do not deliver as promised, the reviews will be scathing and many other prospective consumers will certainly hear about it. In other words, social media seems to have brought us back to the balance that consumers had before the era of one-way mass marketing, back to a time resembling that of face to face communications. This is powerful stuff.

Now, I must caveat everything I say in this blog with this caveat: at this point this is all academic for me. I am a true neophyte who has accomplished absolutely nothing through using social media for business! I have no first-hand knowledge on the issue and can only say what I have learned through the writings of others during this crash course. Well that plus a little common sense. Nonetheless, now that I am safely all caveated up, it seems to me that the main way to succeed in this type of business marketing is by forming relationships with and truly serving your customers. Real genuine service seems to be the key here, not just feigned interest until you can make the sale and, as a word of warning if that is how you do business, you had better stay away from social media all together! People know how to smell a rat and you can bet, when they do, they will let the whole world know about it!

So, in summary, what has this crash course taught me after just one week? How about this: (1) use social media to dialogue with your prospective customers and try to form sincere relationships with them; (2) treat your prospective customers (and others) with dignity and respect (i.e., like real people for goodness sakes!); (3) be honest with them; and (4) do not make promises that you can’t keep. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pray that these rules will catch on with politicians!