Crash and Learn

I’m not great with Linux. I know just enough to know that there are a lot of things I don’t know. On a windows file system, I can look at the folders and tell you what is supposed to be there and what is not, but when it comes to Linux I get lost. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it or that I don’t like to play with it, but it does mean that I’m slightly out of my comfort zone when making changes on a Linux server.  So when I crashed our web server this morning, you can imagine how quickly my normal unease moved to outright panic.

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Work as a Relationship

It’s important to love what you do. Your career is such a large part of your life that committing to anything less than love for it means that you’re going to be spending a lot of time wondering “what-if” and daydreaming about the job across the hall. I don’t mean that everything has to go well with your job all the time and it always has to make you happy, that’s not how love works outside of the movies. It just means that when you’re at work, you should be giving it your everything, your attention, and you should enjoy it most of the time. In fact, I propose that your work life should mirror a healthy relationship.

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Outgrowing Employees

In a growing organization, it is possible to outgrow a member or multiple members of your staff. It’s never an easy decision on how to proceed and managers fret over how they’re going to move forward no matter what the options available may be. Most often, it is a case that the employee was there when the company needed that resource, but the employee has not continued to evolve with the organization.

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The Importance of Gratitude

There are few people in the world who do not feel good when receiving a “thank you” from another. Even the consummate philanthropist who asks for no recognition and only that the world accept his work does not react poorly when gratitude comes his way.

However, it is often hard for us to thank those around us for the things they do. We fall back to thoughts of “they’re just doing their job” or “it’s all in their day’s work.” We’ll still thank those around us for exceptional work, but rarely do we express gratitude for the things we’re used to them doing.

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Mission: Statement

I’ve often poked fun at mission statements. When I read a company’s mission statement, it’s very rare that I have a “wow” moment. More often, I look at a long paragraph that means nothing to anyone but the one who wrote it and wonder if I’ll remember it by the time I finish reading it.

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Keys to Customer Service

I don’t believe in the adage “the customer is always right.” If the customer was always right, they wouldn’t need me because they could just make something up and it would be correct. I realize that’s taking the adage a bit too literally, but when you train customer service employees to make the customer always right then there is little room for your employees to do anything other than what the customer is asking. I believe the customer always knows what they want, but we have to help them find what they need. My keys to this follow.

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The Chain of Command

In business, the chain of command is not “the chain I go get and beat you with ’til ya understand who’s in ruttin’ command here.” Although, not following that chain of command can often make your employees feel like it is.

The higher you go in an organization as a manager, and more often as an owner, the more likely it becomes that you’ll run into a situation where you’re going to be looking down the length of your own chain of command and deciding to go around it. The best advice that I can give to you is: don’t.

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Employee’s First Steps

My wife and I are expecting our first child in October and one of the things that people give you when you’re expecting is a “Baby’s First” book. It notes the accomplishments of your child, when they occurred, and how. For a newborn, these are things like “took her first step” and “walked across the room.” As the child gets older it’s “rode a bike without training wheels.” All of these, in retrospect, are small accomplishments to those of us who do them daily. I can’t remember the last time I took note of myself moving from place to place. But when your baby is learning these things, they’re huge accomplishments.

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My Secret to Public Speaking

It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy networking events. I think they’re a great way to meet prospective clients and, in the service industry, the quality of clients that you get from networking far outweighs any other form of marketing. However, as I’ve told many people over the years: being that person for that long is exhausting to me. On the other hand, public speaking is something that has always come easily to me. In college I took a public speaking course, as I’m sure many people did, but the course did not help me at all. The preparation methods — prepare an outline first, put your notes on cards, rehearse the speech — these were all things that only served to make my speeches seem boring and lackluster. The only thing we were required to turn after giving the speech was the outline so toward the end of the semester my method became “give the speech, and then write the outline.”

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