Listen Up

I will be listening and then writing on this conversation. I can tell you now though, I am biased.  I believe we do have a chance – a darn good one.  As good a chance as anyone has had in this country’s history?  Maybe I’m not THAT biased.


NOT knowing IS the Battle

In a new job or a new role, not knowing is the battle.  I have been a part of two very different companies since graduate school (see previous posts) and both proved to be difficult at the beginning because of what I didn’t know.  At my current job, the small office team has done well to bring me up to speed.  However, learning the industry and learning my responsibilities has come largely in response to needs or issues.  The opposite approach would be acting proactively or anticipating needs.

With my previous job and employer, I had the same kind of challenge.   It was and is a young company, growing quickly, and plowed through any unforeseen issue with enthusiasm and energy.  To put it another way, many problems were solved by “out working” them.  My wife is currently employed by a company with characteristics similar to the ones I just described.  I hear her frustrations and think, “I’ve heard that complaint before.  From me! Or a previous co-worker!”

My experience so far shows me that the biggest frustrations and the largest mistakes in my career have come from simply, not knowingExperience is just that, and everyone has their own.  I’ll choose not to bore you with mine and just ask a question I think needs answering.  In light feeling unequipped at the start of two very different jobs:

Do employers owe their employees training for the job they’ve been hired to do?

I won’t be attempting to answer that question today (maybe I will in 20-30 years when I have some more “experience“).  I will give a little more context to the questions as it starts to swim around your business mind.  Lack of training has made me hungry for training.  Most of my mistakes have come from simply not knowing what is best or what is out there.  Feeling unequipped is crappy feeling when you fail.  Asking questions is a strategy to curb mistakes from not knowing.  Yet, a constant stream of questions can begin to wear down on the relationship between who’s asking and who’s answering.  Such as thoughts like, “Am I starting to annoy this person?” or “Should I know this already?” or “Why doesn’t they know this already?”  Training can aid in preventing these possible internal battles.

Ready for some cliches?  When I think about it, being “thrown into the fire” or “jumping in and learning how to swim” is not a horrendous approach.  It can cause people to grow, learn more rapidly, and expand their capacity.  I can vouch for that.  It may also cause someone to take ownership of their role instead of “just turning the wheel” within the parameters of their job description.  Training doesn’t solve all mistakes from happening.  Even with a plethora of training, when it comes time to take on the task, it’s time to “grab the bull by the horns.” Yee-haw.

Whatever the answer to the question above may be, without training, a new employee will discover that NOT knowing IS the battle.  Consider yourselves warned Gen Y’s!   Ask questions despite the feeling like your a nuisance.


inspiration for the title of this post brought to you by:

Impact Maker

Around this time of year, being the football junkie that I am, I take in as much NFL Draft talk as I can handle.  Without a doubt, there is more talk about the Draft than I can handle.  Here are some ways a great pick or picks can IMPACT a football team and the organization:

  • Increased ticket sales
  • Increased merchandise sales
  • Feeling of excitement in the fan base
  • Good press (or just press in general)
  • Hope for the future
  • More wins
  • Better talent where there was lack (or none)
  • Stability
  • A new weapon for the coach’s game plan
  • etc…

Teddy Bridgewater is a football player who has been critiqued and analyzed way too much leading up to the draft.  Many people don’t believe he can IMPACT a team in the ways listed above.  That’s just fine, I think.  He is a favorite mine, but that’s because we are both Louisville Cardinals.  So, I’m biased.  I’m also realistic.  I do not think Bridgewater will be a star player in the NFL.  I think among his peers in the draft he has as good a chance as any to contribute to an NFL team.  Since he is one of my favorites, I wish him a long career and all the success he wants from his career.

But, check this out!  If he doesn’t become an amazing Hall of Fame QB in the NFL aiding a franchise by increasing their revenue and prestige, he can have an IMPACT on his family and others.  And he’s proven to do just that:

Not Laughable

Recently, I wrote a quick post about how it is good for millennials to laugh-off their frustrations with older co-workers.  I still stand behind that advise as it is can be helpful in handling the day-to-day of the business world.  There is one addendum to make, however.  It comes in light of comments made by older (dare I say elderly) people in politics and business.  Let’s face it – there is nothing laughable about recent statements made by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling.  Racism is not a laughing matter.

As milllenials enter the work place, they must be able to wade through the peripherals of work.  Gossip and inappropriateness exists at some level in all companies.  It is a fact of the professional world.  Whether you want to see or not, racism is still found among issues of unprofessional behavior.  But why does it still exist after Americans have done so much to increase awareness, protect victims, and expose offenders?  Well, I believe it is because people are still involved.  Sparing the theology of my point of view, I know we are all capable of doing wrong.  We choose wrong more often than we acknowledge.  Even me!  I have an example of my own to share.  Let’s level on this.

Last Friday, I was at a dinner party with my wife, friends, and acquaintances. My wife and I had our best friends and the hosts sitting next to us, but everyone else we had maybe met once before.  The conversation was great!  People were laughing and telling stories.  Then I, feeling the adrenaline rush from great community and fun conversation, said something not so cool.  It offended one of the guys at the table and he graciously told me as much.  I felt horrible immediately and was relieved when someone with more social awareness than me quickly changed the subject as the blood of embarrassment rushed to my face.  My comment was not racist.  It was not directed at him.  Yet, if I had been more aware of who was at the table, I would not have said what I did.

Back to the topic at hand – racism.  Are we all capable of it?  Yes.  Does that make it acceptable?  No.  In contrast to my dinner party snafu of words,  Bundy and Sterling were intentional with their comments which is even more unacceptable.  Plus, I don’t even know that they are embarrassed!

As clear as water, they chose the wrong things to say (even if it was meant to be a private conversation as in Sterling’s case).  Now, let’s make the waters murky and acknowledge that in this country they possess freedom to have opinions and voice them.  With such freedom, could and should, come consequences of legal and social weight.  Still, they are allowed to have an opinion.  I’m currently voicing my own.

Millienials are not immune to such opinions, but in general, we have been raised with parents and teachers who taught us to be tolerant.  We are to see people of other races and creeds in a lens of “they are no different than you or me.”  Man, this topic could get complicated real quickly.  So, I will attempt to keep it simple for today.  It seems where there is a generational gap, there may also be a gap in level of tolerance.  I’ve got no research to back that up, and I am sure there’s hundreds of examples that could prove me wrong.  However, I am confident enough to assert that views on race will differ from generation to generation based on the way they were “brought up.”  The status of higher education in America reinforces this.  Since young people of today are being taught tolerance, they are becoming more tolerant of racial differences.

Wow.  That last sentence sounds really great.  It is not a 100% truth, though.  It is more like a trend.  When people like Sterling and Bundy make racist statements, it goes against the trend and becomes a story.  I personally hope the trend of tolerance continues and becomes more and more true.  I choose to be optimistic.  I choose also to be realistic:  people are still involved.

Job Numero Dos

Now, onward to job numero dos – my current employer.

I broke down the basics of my previous employer in a retrospective fashion.  I will provide my perspective with my current employer out of my early observations (it has only been 6 months).  This is a great small business to work for as a newly-married man at age almost 27.  I am currently content with compensation, growth opportunities, work-life balance and industry factors.

I have become 1 cog of a 4 person office employing up to 7 plumbers and 2 contractors in the field.   My three coworkers are all roughly twice my age.  Though I am content with the current situation, to be honest, I am still figuring out this job.  Where do I fit?  What’s my future?  Do I see this as long term?  Not knowing fully the answers to these questions turns me to my faith a Loving God; thus, I find my contentment.

Here’s what I know so far:

  • The office environment hasn’t changed in years.  Turnover is low.  The work flow is steady.
  • The business relationships are deep and very professional – based in respect toward our results.
  • The business model is solid, tested, and (fingers-crossed) sustainable.
  • It is a service driven company.
  • Reputation and customer base has been built almost entirely by word-of-mouth.
  • There’s one real significant moment where the business reinvented itself.
  • Straight forward, uber-professional execution of quality work leads relationship building, but the relationships are still important.
  • Profit is a good thing because it keeps the doors open and families fed.
  • Business decisions here are well thought through and mistakes should not be made in haste.
  • Niche.  The hedgehog has been identified, nurtured, and polished.

Having covered the introductions on previous and current employers, we will be moving to topic posts in the future.  I’d like to start off in direction of covering the following: mentoring, organizational philosophy, simple lessons, business principles, and leadership styles. Don’t run off yet!  I won’t be approaching these as if you were in Business Class.  We’ll have slightly more fun than that.

Until then…

New job! Synopsis of the Old

Since November 2013, I have taken a new job with a Houston area investigative plumbing company.  So far, it has been an invaluable experience.  The reasons are many.  I hope to outline those reasons in this and upcoming contributions.  The reason for relating my experience to anyone reading are also many.  At its origin, I find myself inclined to share my experience for the benefit of others.

I am almost 27 years old, and to date, I have been employed by two companies since graduating with a Masters in Sports Management from the University of Louisville.  The first was an energetic elementary school fundraising company based around a fitness and character program.  The company was young in average age of employee  and in life of a business.  Six months removed for employment there,  that seems to still be the case.  Outside of its core values (leadership, enthusiasm, integrity, results) I would also choose to describe it as: personal development focused, fast-moving, ever-evolving organization structure, visionary, intensely relational and initiative-driven.

It was a great company to work for as an immediate college graduate.  It was fun!  And exhausting!  The energy they have as a company is appealing and exciting.  The energy they require from their roughly 180 people is extremely high, and a 20-something should and can handle the heavy work load.  The learning curve is steep.  In my opinion the curve is due to two main factors.

First, the culture of the company practically requires an employee to be a quick learner and quick to spring into action.  There is nothing apparently wrong with this from the outside looking in. Further, the culture is created and sustained by its President who is the pinnacle of quick.

Second, the company has a unique business model when analyzing cash flow and revenue generation.  The business producing a vast portion of its revenue only 8-9 months of the year.  Upon schools being out for the summer, revenue effectively halts.  In other words, to succeed in this company you are required to be quick in learning and in action – even if you aren’t fortunate enough to be told that by a recruiter or direct leader.  At a later date, I will conjure up my graduate school business knowledge and look at the company through a SWOT analysis.

It is necessary for me to lay out the facade of my previous employer because my new one is drastically different in almost every respect.  The differences do not necessarily point out pros or cons of either company.  Admittedly, I miss much of the pros  and became  frustrated with the cons surrounding my previous employment.  However, the main factor in pursuing other work was getting married.  Let it be said here that the perspectives of a young, ambitious, Christian, and single man changed once he got hitched.  Imagine that!  And hey, that’s just me.  Others may not have the same experience I did – that is just fine.

This concludes the entry for today.  Next time, I’ll dive into what it looks like at my current employer.  My hope is someone reading this, and the following posts, will relate to my journey.  Even more, I hope they uncover some value for their own career path.