“Clients do not come first. The staff come first. If you take care of your staff, they will take care of the clients.” - Richard Branson
This seems like an obvious approach to running a solid business, however it was not my vision early on. Starting out young in business, I had studied some basic economic principles and thought I had it all figured out. The fundamental idea was that you pay as little as you can for something, and then sell as much of it as you can to make a profit.
This short-sighted outlook on business led to a culture of underequipped, overworked, and underpaid employees serving a client base that perpetually wanted (and deserved) more. For me as a young entrepreneur, every day held a new equipment, client, or employee issue - and most days had all 3.
As I looked around for someone to blame - I kept coming back to one person to blame. Myself.
Just over a decade ago now, that all changed. The intersection of an opportunity to...
I was just leaving the parking lot of GRACE Marketplace (a homeless shelter near the airport), and I certainly didn't expect to see anyone I knew as a guest there. After I got my truck started, I heard, "Hey Rusty! Please roll down your window." I looked out to see a roughly-dressed man, in his mid-40s, with a dirty ball cap and a gnarly beard looking in my window at me.
As I rolled down my window, he seemed excited to see an old friend, and asked how I had been.
It took a moment, but shortly I recognized Jeff. Jeff had been my manager almost 2 decades ago when I was fresh out of college in one of my first jobs. He had recognized me walking out to my vehicle and was excited to see an old friend. Of course, more questions than I could ask raced through my mind.
Before I could ask anything, he caught me up on his story and I was literally shaken. I learned that he had lost his wife in a tragic car...
When you shop locally, you do far more than getting the items that you want quickly and conveniently. Buying local actually stimulates the economy in our community, helps benefit local schools and charities and it even helps the environment!
As we go into the shopping season for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make sure to remember Small Business Saturday (November 27th). Many local businesses have been hit hard with the trifecta of COVID shutdowns, supply chain issues and the rising use of Amazon and other large online retailers.
Small Business Saturday is an annual holiday that celebrates small businesses and encourages consumers to shop locally at the start of the holiday shopping season. This holiday aids small businesses by drawing attention to their importance in our economy. It also helps customers who want access to unique products and experiences in their community and local economies that benefit from successful small...
I once read a tale by John Maxwell of someone who came across 3 bricklayers working. The man asked the first bricklayer what he was doing. "I'm setting bricks," the worker replied.
He then asked the second bricklayer the same question. "I'm putting up a wall," he said.
The passerby then asked the question one more time, this time to the third bricklayer.
The response: "I'm building a cathedral."
As this story illustrates, 3 different workers can do the exact same task, but with widely varying reasons. The first sounds to have worked primarily for the paycheck. He saw his work as a task that needed to be completed, regardless of the outcome. When 5 pm came, he was on the way out.
The second was likely motivated by a sense of completion and was proud that his bricklaying would result in the construction of a wall. Perhaps he would add a few extra minutes here and there in order to see the goal to completion.
However, the third had a larger...
The challenge is that this tree puts out a lot of seeds and volunteer trees pop up throughout our landscape. I am not exaggerating to say that every time I work in the yard, I find several tiny elm trees in random places. It's a shame that they don't appear in an appealing location, because I know they come from good stock and I would love to have another tree of that caliber. But invariably, they sprout in a rose, or next to my foundation, or any...
Every day we tell ourselves stories - hundreds of them. Whether it's the story of why our co-worker didn't finish their project on time or why the political opposition has a certain stance.
It's probably not as clear-cut as the co-worker being lazy or the opposing party wanting to destroy our nation - but that's how we fill the gap between the facts and the unknown. It often happens without us even being aware.
While our stories help fill the void in our world to give us clarity, our stories also cloud our vision. These stories are written out by our perceptions and worldview, and unfortunately, our perceptions are sometimes off base.
The goal isn't to stop our storytelling, not that we could ever do that anyway. Our goal should be awareness of our storytelling. The more aware we are of the story, the more choice we have in whether we believe it. The more choice we have to create a new story.
Don't stop telling yourself stories. Just...
One of our core values is 'Plan Ahead,' but it really is so much more than that.
Whether it's your day, your upcoming project, your finances, or even your relationships; instilling a habit of visualizing the end result before you act on it will have an incredible impact on you.
The original idea of this core value is rooted in is Habit #2 from 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, one of my favorite books of all time.
'Begin with The End in Mind' is simply taking the time to envision the future of what you're wanting before you actually start the process of working on it. It seems like it would be pretty fundamental to any process, but I have found many times where I skipped this simple step. I would invest lots of time and effort into something only to find out what I wanted and what I ended up with were two very different things.
One of the clearest lessons I remember was in dating - I realized that the type of places I was...
We talked last month about being both a mentor and a mentee, and make sure to check it out if you missed it because this month builds on that idea. Becoming a mentee forces you to get out of your comfort zone and start a new journey. It also takes you from "Someday I will..." to "let's start today."
Trying something new is challenging. It doesn't matter if it's a business, hobby, morning routine, health regimen, job, or school. Getting a mentor, or accountability partner, to help bridge that gap will give you a much higher degree of success.
You already know what your new 'thing' should be. You have a feeling that you want your life to look different than it does today. You have a desire to create something new because a part of you believes it will change your life in some way. Maybe you’ll add more joy to your life. Maybe you’ll create more community.
There's an old adage that we should always be in the process of two things:
- Being a mentor for someone a couple steps behind us
- Being mentored by someone a couple steps ahead of us
Mentoring isn't about age, either. It's simply a person who is a couple steps ahead of you in any single area of life, that can help you avoid pitfalls that you might not otherwise be aware of. These areas could be health, career, marriage, investing, spirituality, raising kids, or even a hobby.
Personally, I find I am much more willing to look for a mentor in an area of life I want to improve in than I am seeking someone I can be a mentor for. Whether this is selfishness in wanting to focus on my own ambition or humility in not feeling I can be an effective mentor in anything, I'm not sure.
The reason being a mentee is important is that you are reminded what it's like to learn something new,...
We are over 3 months into 2021, but how are your actions aligning with your goals?
The tendency is to let motivation and actions decrease as the time since setting a goal increases.
If you are making progress, keep it up! If your traction has waned, let's look at 3 quick tips to get back on track.
Refocus On the Desired Outcome:
It’s normal to feel disappointed or even embarrassed when a goal goes unmet, but don’t let those feelings keep you from restarting. Refocus on your desired outcome of the goal, not just the actions. Get excited about reaching your goal again and create repeatable reminders of your desired outcome to consistently refocus on your why. Whether it's a vision board, writing on your bathroom mirror, or a note on your dashboard - make sure it stays front of mind.
Allow your goal to have time to develop:
'Rome wasn't built in a day' is the old saying. There are very few worthwhile goals...