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Month: March 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #024: The Fastest Way to a Happier Life

Someone cancels plans with me at the last minute, one of my biggest pet peeves. 

An employee doesn’t clock out for lunch. Again.

A customer places a big order and, for the first time ever, chooses to pay by check. After the order ships, the check bounces. 

The salad I had delivered doesn’t have the ranch I requested. 

A new employee shows up 2 hours late. 

I texted her a question 4 hours ago and she hasn’t responded. 

My lady is grumpy and short. 

In my less than humble opinion, there are only three big keys to being happy. 

I’m going to talk about the easiest of the three today. 

At least, it’s the easiest for me. 

It makes such a huge difference in life, in business, in relationships, and your enjoyment whilst getting food delivered. 

I think it’s one of the two big reasons I live a drama free existence. 

It’s this simple: go out of your way to give people the benefit of the doubt; don’t assume bad intentions. 

This seemingly small thing will immediately transform the way you interact with other people. 

In all of the above examples, I could have chosen to take personal offense, to get mad, to assume I was being taken advantage of, deliberately ignored, sabotaged, or wasn’t important to somebody. 

But in all those examples, I gave the benefit of the doubt, and it paid off each time.

The person who canceled had just found out her  close family member passed away.

The employee wasn’t trying to steal time. He was in a rush trying to get everything done and just forgot. 

The customer wasn’t trying to cheat me. His identity was stolen and he had to empty that account.

The people at Delivery Dudes don’t hate me. Everybody is overwhelmed with everything going on, the restaurant forgot to put it in.

The late employee’s son had to be taken to the ER at 4 AM. He came to work directly from the hospital. 

She was sleeping, not deliberately ignoring my message. 

And my lady had just gotten in a fight with her mom. She wasn’t mad at me / trying to treat me poorly at all. 

If your default mode is to always give the benefit of the doubt, right off the bat, at the micro level, during an interaction with someone, things will go better. Your reactions will be happier, more positive. And that, in turn, will cause the person to whom you are giving the benefit of the doubt to respond in kind. You will improve the outcome of that individual event tenfold, avoiding what could have escalated into an angry confrontation. 

But even more importantly, at the macro level, if you can train yourself to become the type of person who automatically gives the benefit of the doubt all the time, that perspective is going to make you a much happier person. Your perspective, the way that you look at the world, will improve dramatically. You will realize that the universe isn’t a malevolent force plotting your demise and that most people aren’t trying to hurt you. In fact, most people aren’t even thinking about you at all.

With everything going on, tensions are high, but we need each other more than ever. Try and give the benefit of the doubt. Not for them (though they will benefit, as well). Be selfish. Do it for you. Live a happier, reduced stress life.

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Crippled CEO Blog #023: Use Rules to Automate Your Life & Business

I was driving — scratch that. I wasn’t driving anywhere. I can’t drive. Or do jumping jacks.

My dear friend, the amazing Kate Whitten Mottram neé Manuel, was driving her and me in my definitely-blue-not-black Escalade north on Congress Avenue on Friday; away from the corporate headquarters of Life Saver Pool Fence and toward my humble abode.

There were less cars on the road, but still way too many given the global pandemic.

And that pandemic, of course, was what we were discussing.

She was struggling, like many of you likely are, with the cognitive albatross of the never-ending decision making. What outing is essential? What is safe? What is responsible? How can this be made safer? How can this risk be mitigated? What do I do, case after case after case?

I gave her a piece of advice that has helped me tremendously over the years: make a rule. Spend some time, think it through, and make a rule. Decide one time what to do and then apply that rule ruthlessly whenever it arises, saving yourself from having to be constantly weighed down by making a decision on a case by case basis every time this thing, whatever it is, comes up.

For instance, for COVID-19, I’ve decided I leave the house to go to work. And that’s it. Nothing else. That’s the rule. When things pop up that seem tempting / important, I follow the rule.

On a more trivial note, I have a rule about showers. I don’t do them. Baby showers, bridal showers, golden showers, regular showers… none of the above. I hate them (we all do), and I used to agonize over whose baby / bridal shower was important enough for me to go to. Now, it’s real simple. I don’t go to any.

Same goes for small children’s birthday parties. If your 1 year old is throwing a rager, save your money and don’t send me an invite. I’m not going.

Go ahead and add weddings that require me getting on a plane to that list, too.

I also, automatically, get tickets to see every comedian I am familiar with who comes to the Palm Beach Improv. I got tired of trying to decide who to see and who not to see. So, I made a rule. And now I see them all.

I even have a rule about which watch to wear each day.

As much as this helps streamline a personal life, it’s even more important in business. I see so many businesses constantly wrestling over the same issues again and again on a case by case basis. Don’t do this. If something comes up more than once, make a rule.

When a customer calls and is interested in getting a pool fence, we do the same thing every time. When someone inquires about becoming a dealer, we do the same thing every time. When we get a warranty email, we do the same thing every time. I even have a 10 page Word document filled with email responses, ready to be copied and pasted, because I respond to a myriad of different scenarios the same way every time.

When you make a rule, not only do you save yourself the bandwidth of having to solve the same problem over and over again, you also make better decisions. You make the rule when you’re not currently in the situation, when you are removed from it a little bit, and thinking pragmatically. When you spend some real-time making the right decision once, then stick to it, you are much better off than quickly trying to make a choice on the spot when you’re in the thick of it.

No one likes following the rules imposed on us by others. Those rules are never fun. But if you make and live by your own rules, life gets a lot less stressful and your business gets a lot more automated.


Crippled CEO Blog #022: Why? Says who?

When I was 12 months old, “they” said I would never be able to talk or swallow food.

My biggest problem speaking is that I talk way TOO FAST. Videos of me speaking have been seen by tens of thousands of people.

“They” said I would have to live with my parents until they were too old to care for me, then move to a nursing home where I’d need round-the-clock care.

I bought my first house and moved out on my own when I was 18. I had no nurses or structured care. I still don’t.

“They” said I should be careful about my income because I would be dependent on Medicaid, social security, and disability.

I’ve never received any government assistance of any kind for anything.

“They” said I had to go to college and get a degree to be successful.

I dropped out of high school in 11th grade. I’m the CEO of multiple companies with (combined) 8-digit annual revenue with locations in 16 countries.

“They” said I’d kill Life Saver when my dad retired.

It’s grown 10 times.

“They” said no one is going to have sex with a guy in a wheelchair.


“They” said to stay in your lane – “stick to fences, fence guy.”

We’ve gone from selling pool fence only to dealers to also having a fully thriving e-commerce operation doing 7-figure revenue. I have another company that’s invented the solution to children dying in hot cars. I’m about to start a pool service and a lawn care company. I’ve hosted and put out over 70 podcast episodes. I’m 22 weeks into writing a weekly blog (thank you for reading!). I’m a pretty well-respected member of the horology community. And I’ll eventually do sit-down comedy.

“They” say if you’re an almost-40 year old business owner, your house needs to look a certain way. Like an “adult.”

My 50+ superhero statues and signed art pieces disagree. My house is AWESOME.

In my notes in my phone, I have a list of all the things I want to write a blog about; not titles, per se, just enough to remember what the idea was.

The reminder for this one is: “Why? Why not? Says who?”

My parents had an entire room in their very normal 3 bedroom house turned into an aviary for dozens of exotic finches.

My mom bred long-haired miniature dachshunds. At one point, we had 28 dogs living in the house.

Before I ever bought my first superhero statue, I went to a birthday party for a friend of a friend’s dad. This gentleman is a married father to grown children who has been rather successful in the finance industry. He has a large house in a fancy neighborhood. And each year, for his birthday, he throws an Uno tournament – like a legit Uno competition with bad ass prizes, like iPads and stuff. And his house is COVERED in comic book memorabilia – statues, action figures, props, weapons, filing cabinets full of comics, and so on. His living room walls are covered in musical instruments, mostly ukuleles. And then he has another room setup for video games, with a big projector screen on the wall and every console system you can buy.

Why not? Says who?

Why are you holding back from designing your life the way you want it? “They” don’t know anything about you, they’re usually wrong, and you don’t even like most of them. So, why are you listening to them?

You can be a plumber AND the lead singer in a rock band (I’ve seen it). You can be a porn star, a video editor, AND write a novel (I’ve seen that one up close). You can teach karate, drive a school bus, and be a painter (seen that, too). Joe Rogan is a comedian, a taekwando champion, a black belt in jiu-jitsu, a commentator for the UFC, and hosts the most popular podcast on Earth (I think). Don’t let people put you in boxes. Don’t just think outside the box. Live outside the box. The most successful, most interesting, HAPPIEST people are doing things their way. You don’t have to only be what you’ve done before. You get to decide the story of your life. You only get one. Write it the way you want – at all costs, whatever it takes.

Why not? Says who?

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Crippled CEO Blog #021: I’m Lucky I Have Cerebral Palsy

I’m better for having cerebral palsy, being confined to a wheelchair, and needing help with myriad daily tasks (despite the picture I painted in this prior post here:

I’m more patient from having to wait for help to get out of bed, drink a glass of milk, go to the bathroom, cut up food, and so on.

I’m better at handling discomfort. Cooper May has said that she often thinks about how, because I have no other option, I just ignore an itch anywhere I can’t reach, like my legs… forever. In fact, I have gotten so good at enduring discomforts and annoyances that it’s occasionally become detrimental, where I don’t realize I’m putting up with something that really should be addressed.

I’m more empathetic. I know people can’t comprehend what I have to do to get through a day, so I assume that’s true for others, as well.

I have more perseverance. I’m used to failing, used to unforeseen challenges, and used to things being harder than they should be. I’m used to things not being fair and succeeding anyway.

I’m less embarrassed. Countless strangers have seen me naked. I’ve had plenty of occasions where everyone is staring at me – I get it pretty much everywhere I go. I have no problem speaking up, talking in front of a group, or doing something bold that will bring attention if necessary.

And I’m a ridiculously damn good problem solver. I routinely conquer dilemmas no one else has seen, custom-tailored by my unique circumstances. Big problems, little problems, complex problems, simple problems, I’ve had them all. Because I’m lucky enough to have cerebral palsy, my problem-solving muscle is thoroughly developed.

My mom died in 2011. Today, March 8, 2020, is the 3 year anniversary of my dad passing away – my father, my business partner, my mentor, my confidant, a best friend, a physical caretaker, my drive to work companion. I miss them both like crazy, and I’d do anything to have them back, but I know I’m better because they died. I’m more independent. I’m more resourceful. I’m more responsible. Losing their safety net, their advice, their support, their reminders, and everything else they provided has forced me to improve.

When will you start to realize that the worst things that happen TO you are also the best things FOR you? Because once you start to realize that your weaknesses are really your strengths, life changes. Once you decide that growing up poor, being bullied, being abused, being disabled, losing loved ones, being an immigrant, being bad at school, etc., and surviving, has forced you to have capabilities other people simply don’t have. There’s a reason why Navy SEAL training resembles torture. Being able to do the impossible requires enduring the impossible. But you have to realize this reality to fully harness it.

And this doesn’t mean you have to be happy about what happened. I’m not happy that I’m all out of parents. I’d go back in time and change it if I could. I’m not happy I need help using the restroom and bathing. That sucks. But even though I’m not happy about this stuff, I can look at it and see the man it’s turned me into. I can see where pressure has created diamonds. I have more in me than people who have had it easy.

And since these terrible things HAVE happened to me, and since they’ve happened to you, it’s our RESPONSIBILITY to make the most of them. Don’t let your suffering be in vain. Honor the memory of the loved one(s) you have lost. Don’t waste the training you’ve been through. That stuff isn’t what’s holding you back. It’s the reason you can’t be stopped.

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Crippled CEO Blog #20: How to Hire Your First Employee in 5 Steps

In this blog, I’m going to explain, step-by-step, how to hire an employee.

Hiring an employee might be the biggest leap in the evolution of a business. It’s the first step toward being a business owner instead of “self-employed” (see my last blog for more info on that).

It’s essential to growing.

If you are one of the many “business owners” who I’ve spoken to over the years who says they’ve tried hiring an employee, but “it’s not worth it” because they don’t care enough, do crap work, are more trouble than they’re worth, cause more harm than good, and so on, you’re wrong. Millions of businesses are successfully employing billions of people right at this very moment. The concept of employment is not flawed. You’re just bad at it.

The steps I’m going to go through below are geared toward a full-time of part-time person. If you’re not ready for a full-time person yet, but need help, part-time is a great option, but it’s not your only one. If you are just starting off and need a salesperson, try and find someone who can work part-time and will work for just commission. If you need labor, consider paying by the piece/task. In both these cases, you get the security of a fixed expense. You’ll probably sacrifice some margins this way, but it reduces your risk.

I’m also a big fan of what I call “micro-hiring,” where you are hiring to get a specific task done, not hiring a person then giving them roles. These micro-hires are typically small weekly expenses — $25, $50, $100, maybe $200 a week. For instance, we have someone whose only job is to thank every person who shares one of our posts on Facebook. We have someone else whose only job is responding to every comment/message on Facebook and Instagram. We have another person whose only job is to call every lead that comes in as fast as humanly possible. Sometimes, it’s not another person you need, it’s just one or two critical but time-consuming tasks. Micro-hires are great for that. Fiverr is a tremendous resource for this. So are friends who are not working, who work from home, or work part-time.

Without further ado, how to hire an employee.

Step 0: Hire a payroll service

If you’re just starting, using a service like ADP or Paychex takes the stress and learning curve out of payroll taxes, running payroll, worker’s comp, direct deposit, and so on. They’re fairly inexpensive and a great way to go.

Step 1: Advertise

Start by letting the friends and family you trust and respect know that you’re hiring, and to send viable candidates your way. I’m a big fan of hiring friends and family. You may not be. This is a decision you need to make for yourself. But even if hiring people close to you isn’t for you, there’s a good chance they know quality humans.

If you can spend a little money, run an employment ad on your company’s Facebook page or LinkedIn. Facebook is better for general and skilled labor, sales jobs, customer service, and other non-executive type roles – probably what you’re seeking if this is your first employee. The Facebook job platform is really great, too. It’s a tremendous way to find lots of options quickly, which is what you want.

How you write your ad MATTERS. If you want a superstar, you need to write an ad a superstar will respond to. Be honest, but make it sound exciting, and be clear that you’re only hiring the best.

Here are two ads for a shipping manager.

Ad #1: Shipping clerk wanted. $17 an hour. Lots of growth potential. Overtime available. No experience necessary, but preferred. A/C warehouse.

Ad #2: Are you almost unhealthily obsessed with organization and attention to detail? Do you get oddly satisfied checking goals off a list? Do people ever accuse you of “caring too much” about getting things perfect? If all this sounds like you, you may be perfect for our shipping clerk position. $17 an hour, and with all of the overtime at time and a half you can handle. If you can handle 12+ hours a day, the opportunity is there for you to take. Only apply if you’re a superstar willing to be rewarded for your potential and earn promotions – workers hired in this position today will be the company’s leaders in the future. You don’t need any experience, just determination and a willingness to do what it takes.

Which one of those do you think will entice the best candidates? Specifically ask for the best of the best in your ad. Set the bar ridiculously high. Offer compensation worthy of the best. And that’s what you’ll get.

Step 2: Interview

Lots of people get interviews wrong. They think the purpose of an interview is to assess someone’s competency / their ability to execute the job. They think that by “interviewing” the candidate, asking questions about their skills and work history, they’ll be able to successfully discern how well they will perform.

This is malarkey.

It’s impossible to tell from an interview how well or how poorly someone will do the job.

And if you think you have some special trick or magic question to suss out the truth – hogwash.

The purpose of an interview is to gauge personality. Certain roles have certain personality prerequisites, and this conversation gives you a small determining if their personality is the right fit, and vice versa.

My advice for the interview is to just have a conversation. Preface the interview by saying that a conversation is your goal, and that their answers to any personal questions have no impact on getting the job. And then just chat. Do you like them? Can you spend 8+ hours a day with this person? If it’s a sales / customer service job, are they friendly and personable?

You can train someone to do most jobs. You can’t train personality or work ethic. As long as they meet any minimum technical requirements, ignore the resume. Ignore the references (who supplies a bad reference?). Choose for personality.

Step 3: Try them out

When you hire someone, let them know it is very tentative and probationary. As I said before, it is IMPOSSIBLE to successfully predict how well someone will perform. You have to try people out. And when – not if, WHEN – your first choice isn’t totally awesome, when you see a red flag on day 1 or 2, do yourself a favor, and more importantly, do THEM a favor, and fire them immediately. Fire fast. This is why getting lots of options via Facebook is good, because you are planning on hiring and firing a few, maybe a bunch, until you find someone perfect.

Step 4: Treat them like gold

You’ve gone through a lot of trouble to find a great employee; now, treat them that way. Great employees get support. Great employees are paid well. Great employees get raises, bonuses, and promotions. Great employees have autonomy and don’t need to be micromanaged.

Step 5: Have reasonable expectations

Do you want to know the secret to getting an employee to care about the business as much as you do? Give them half the company. That’s the only way. There’s no way you can expect an employee to care as much or work as hard in YOUR business as YOU do.

Congratulations. You now have an amazing employee, hopefully for years to come. With hard work, talent, and a bit of luck, the first of many. Short of childbirth, you are doing the most creative endeavor mankind is capable of. You are building a business – a living, breathing, evolving enterprise that impacts the world, has a personality, and affects people’s lives. And it is built, piece by piece, by the people you hire to be a part of it. Pick great people, allow them to be great, and then your company, inevitably, will be great as well.  

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