Hello again. It’s been a bit…About eight months ago, I wrote about my excitement taking on a new opportunity.
My goal was to get more experience … and I’m grateful I did. That’s all over now and I’m back on my own. Here’s what’s on my mind as I try to figure out what is next. It’s in line with the whole, “not hiding behind anything good or bad” so if you’re not looking for TMI, stop right here!
The soundtrack for this go around is, “Crockett’s Theme,” by Jan Hammer.
1 – Disgust, Alcohol and Lunacy
I recently had lunch with the CEO of one of the former companies I worked for and he told me a great story. One of the companies they acquired over the years stated that the reason they went into business was because of Disgust, Alcohol and Lunacy. In other words, they were so disgusted with their current employers that they thought they would be able to do it better themselves. Finding themselves at a pub, one of them said they either needed to put up or shut up with their complaints. The other slammed his drink and said, “okay let’s do it, ” but not before some additional liquid courage. Finally, they had to mortgage their houses and tighten their belts in order to finance their operations, something even they admitted was complete lunacy, given that they had young families and were leaving good paying jobs.
It resonated with me, as I ponder if I have what it takes to restart a small company and scale it.
2 – Approach is everything
I spent a week with my family in Orange Beach, Alabama taking some much needed time off. It was nice to remember that the beach cures all. More importantly, I was able to spend some time with my sibling’s young children and it was fascinating to watch them experience everything. Things are so new and joyous for them all! I started thinking about all the scars and disappointment we carry with us and this led to some introspection on what I had become … a person that at times, is unapproachable. It wasn’t always the case. At various times in middle and high school, college and my early career I was perceived as a very outgoing person and I did, indeed, enjoy being around people. As time went on, though, disappointments with women, sales/marketing endeavors and just people in general led to frustration and withdrawing from various scenes. Over time, I became equally known for my scowl and reservations…neither of which I attempted to hide.
I’ve been back on track for the better part of two years, but my goal is for people to continue to feel I am someone they can reach out to, be comfortable around and generally enjoy being with. The best part about the last entrepreneurial stint was that I felt I got back in touch with who I always was. I’m looking forward to continue working on all of this.
3 – It’s time to change the conversation
I’ve always been one to take on more than what was asked of me…and while that needs to be tapered off, it won’t likely completely change. I’ve found that it creates the same scenario over and over again. I get hired to do 1 or 2 things and before I know it I’m responsible for 10 things. 8 out of 10 of those usually go great, but the two remaining usually need some help (okay a lot of help) or added horsepower, but that’s never how the conversation goes. If 1 thing is bad, it must mean all things are bad! I still am at a loss for words on how you launch businesses or practices if you can get to this point, but not hire resources to then help manage the load.
I admit I need to do a better job of saying no, but at the same time I’m still interested in putting a spotlight on all the really good things that are going on and happening. I’m prepared to go to battle over it, too, as I find simply saying it or writing an email doesn’t get any traction. You need a sledgehammer to get people’s attention or shake them out of stale, comfortable ways of thinking.
4 – WOMEN
A good friend of mine once said, “If you’re successful in your career, decent looking and single at age 30…there is something wrong with you.” I’m 32 and I agree!
In some cases, it was assumed I was a ladies man, when in reality I was always more of a hopeless romantic (which needs to be managed in itself). If I perfect this whole approach thing, that can be applied to more than one area of life … and I’d welcome that lightning bolt feeling of meeting someone intriguing. If it happens again, I have a better idea of how to handle myself ;-).
… and I’m not taking it all so serious anymore, which has naturally added an element of fun to all of this that was previously absent.
5 – Culture eats strategy for lunch
I’ve known the saying for ten years, but I never appreciated it until now. I’ve worked for companies who put a huge emphasis on it’s people and let them shine. I’ve also worked for companies where it was one or two people calling the shots. They say they understand people, they say they are looking out for them and that the success of the company is because of them…but no one actually believes they believe that. I need to do a better job of managing ego’s (mine included).
Whatever I do next, whether it’s my own company or working for another company, the emphasis MUST be on the people and how they feel. We spend the majority of our lives working…and I want to in some way foster (or help foster) an environment that people love being in and feel they are truly part of.
6 – I wish people would stop talking about Steve Jobs. Be you for God’s sake.
Steve Jobs was an asshole. He really was. Apple was built by a huge collection of people, not one man. If I come across anymore dorky, unapproachable Steve Jobs wannabes who think they are better and smarter than everyone else (and that’s the reason they are unrelatable), I’m running as fast as I can the other way. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t have role models or people they want to be like (see below), I’m just emphasizing that this particular person is not one that I am looking to emulate.
I love the saying, “You do you,” compliments of a good friend of mine. Come on people. More of this!
It might not get you everyone’s approval and kinship, but it will get the right ones and weed out the wrong ones.
7 – It’s time for people to stop pretending they are so mystical
Empathy is such a buzz word these days. For the record, I’m a huge fan of it and am in the business of pleasing people. The only way I’ve ever known how to do that is by wondering what it is they want or what (and why) they are experiencing something (and I’m not suggesting I’m good at it, either!). These days, though, I come across so many people that are so eager to tell you how empathetic they are and how, “Yeah yeah, they get it.” I’ve always found that interesting, because the people who I always felt got it never had to say so…and the ones that cut me or others off always made me feel skeptical. People shouldn’t be empathetic for attention, as it defeats the whole purpose..they should do so because it’s usually in the direction of the right thing to do.
8 – Sonny Crockett
For the record, I know Don Johnson in his mid 30’s was better looking than me..and no, I will never be a Vice Cop…but I really like what the character stands for. He’s not a lone wolf by design, but his integrity, drive to do what is right, fight against corrupt forces even when he’s outnumbered and keep a sense of humor even when things are bad.. are just things I really love. He always has his team’s back…and they have his and there are times where both truly need each other. I find myself at ease whenever I’m watching the early seasons of Miami Vice and I can’t wait to revisit some of my favorite scenes with my newfound time off.
9 – David Bowie
I’m in the process of unveiling a refreshed brand for my LLC while I figure out what’s next and it’s inspired by David Bowie. “Cat People,” has failed to get old and makes it on every playlist I put together and every cell in my body is on fire when I listen to it. I love his ability to recreate himself and act out multiple personas. I feel the best marketers have those same abilities…and it sure does make the work fun. A good colleague of mine talks about how certain people are aliens because of how legendary and out there they become. I loved it and totally agree.
10 – The Devil’s Playground
This is a big concern of mine at the moment. I didn’t realize it the last time I was on my own, but it was the first time in ten years that I wasn’t working somewhere between 40-60 hours a week. Any time off that I had was welcomed and I enjoyed recombobulating myself. Once I was on my own, though, I had all the time in the world. This initially sounded nice, but I didn’t take into account that my brain would still look for something to analyze or solve and without a steady stream of work, it found all sorts of irrational things to wonder about…and let me tell you…that was another problem all in itself.
Luckily this time around I’ve rented a small workspace and have some rules I’ve set to keep me on a new routine. Either that or maybe I will head down to Miami and buy a go fast boat (see?!)
Stay tuned for that brand refresh. I’ll be looking to keep you updated on my progress, but will be shifting gears to post about best practices for various Digital Marketing activities. Sign up here if you want them delivered to your inbox!