Are you like Clark Griswold or Ray Lewis?

I have decided to stop being like Clark Griswold with my business development efforts and more like Ray Lewis. If that sounds like the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard just keep reading.

I have been working really hard on my business development efforts. Everyone around me knows it. I have devoted a tremendous amount of time and resources and, thankfully, have had pretty good success. But, when you compare the success I have had vis-a-vis the effort and resources expended, I must admit, I was hoping for more new business at this point.

About the best way I can think of to describe my efforts is Clark Griswold on one of my favorite movies: Christmas Vacation. Watch this clip and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’ve seen that movie as much as I have you can’t forget those memorable lines:

“He worked really hard, Grandma.”

“So do washing machines.”

I have been like Clark — like a washing machine. That is nothing to be proud of. I have been spending maximum effort on all sorts of activities, some of which were productive, some of which were not, and by doing so I have taken valuable time away from my family and my existing clients — and much of it wasn’t even necessary or productive. A great deal of it has been productive but, with a little tweaking, can be much more effective. I have been just like Clark spending the Holidays stapling lights on the roof without even knowing if they were going to work or not. Fortunately, I had someone give me some guidance — someone to turn the light switch on for me.

Yesterday afternoon I had a three hour coaching session with Cordell Parvin. Cordell is my coach. Do you have a coach? If not, why?

Like any good coach would do, the first thing Coach Cordell did was assess where I was in my development by looking at all of the different business development activities I have been doing. It had to be impressive, right? I mean heck, I have been working hard and anyone can see that. Cordell, however, wasn’t quite as impressed as I had expected. In fact, I even got a chuckle out of him when I mentioned (with pride) a few of the “opportunities” I have had develop that I thought were pretty dog-gone impressive. Cordell pointed out a lot of positive things and knows I’m willing to do what it takes to succeed but there was much work to be done.

“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.” – Vince Lombardi

Cordell’s role is not to pat me on the back and say “you’re working hard, just work a little harder and one day you may get there.” No, his comment to me was something to the effect of “ok, that’s fine, but wouldn’t you rather start making more money?”

Really Cordell? I have a wife and 5 kids at home … kids that want to go to college … of course I would!

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.” – Vince Lombardi

Lombardi is exactly right — a great coach doesn’t just tell you what to do, he makes it so that you learn the lesson so convincingly that it becomes a part of you. We were only about 15 minutes into the session and Cordell already identified a couple of big reasons my efforts had not yielded the results they should have and like a light bulb flashing in my head, it all made sense. The rest of the session was spent with Cordell showing me precisely what I needed to do to refine my efforts to make them more effective, and things I needed to cut out all together. I’m not talking about broad generalities here. Not even close. I am talking about a specific list of things to do (17 Penultimate pages on my iPad).

I was spending a great deal of time on things that I enjoy doing but things that are not the most effective and efficient use of my time and resources achieve the real objective. It’s not that I haven’t been doing the right things because, in large part, I have. It’s that I haven’t been doing the right things in the best way I could be doing them. With many of my activities this requires only a minor “tweak” or “adjustment” to make a difference.

I was only working hard, not smart.

Funny thing is, I thought I already knew this. I knew I needed to work smart. Just a month or so ago I read this post by Seth Godin who made the same point using different terms. I even made a note of it and put it on my desk to remember — I thought I had it but I guess I didn’t have it like I thought I had it. (sorry – that was fun)

I knew the concept but I did not know the finer points of how to apply it to my business development efforts. Now I do. Well, at least I do more than I did yesterday at this time. I have made progress though I still have lots to learn.

That brings me to the question I asked earlier: Why?

Why don’t you have a coach? 

Now we get to Ray Lewis. Yeah — Ray Ray — you wanna tell him that he needs a coach and you don’t?

DO YOU WANT TO BE GREAT AT WHAT YOU DO?

Then watch the video below. That’s not washing machine work out there friends! He’s a laser — focused on one thing and one thing only — getting better and better at doing his job in the most effective way possible. Willingly standing on the shoulders of giants in the process. Enough said?

WARNING: DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE GREAT.

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!