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Month: November 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #059: The Trick to Doing Sucky Tasks

Crippled CEO Blog #059:

Having been born with, grown up with, and lived with cerebral palsy for my entire life, I have frequently had to do challenging, painful, and difficult things. Normal, every day tasks are all a bit tougher, but then there are the things that truly sucked. When my hip finally got bad enough, I had a surgery that chopped off the ball part of the hip bone, the part that goes into the socket. The recovery was incredibly painful, as all hip stuff is, and the process required for me to be able to straighten my leg out again (it had been stuck at a 90-degree angle for months) included grueling, torturous physical therapy. 

It sucks. You know it’s going to suck. As the time gets closer, you start thinking more and more about how it’s going to suck.

I came up with a trick to get through this easier, to overcome this mental hurdle, that I apply to everything hard and difficult that I have to do.

You show up. You put your head down. And you start effing working. 

Because some things are just going to suck. There’s no way around it. The faster you can accept it, get over it, and get to the task at hand, the better you will be. There’s no trick to make it easier. No technique to make it hurt less, to make it less tedious, to make it less terrible. You just have to bear down and get to work. Get it done.

And the ironic part is, that owning and accepting the idea that some thing is going to suck, and just going ahead and doing it anyways, acknowledging there is no easy way around it — that actually does make it better. You feel better when you’re not complaining. Eventually, you get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

So, there is no trick. But that’s the trick. Tricky.

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Crippled CEO Blog #058: Why I ❤️💙 Superman

Crippled CEO Blog #58:

When you walk into my house, the first thing you see is a framed comic book cover with Superman and Muhammad Ali squared off in a boxing ring. The cover is signed by Christopher Reeve and Ali. Beneath that, also in a frame, is a copy of the film script for the movie Superman. It is also signed, this time by the entire cast.

The next thing you notice, as you continue to enter, is that the house is filled with rather large statues of various superheroes and other beloved characters. Like… a lot of them. And even though everything from Marvel to DC to Star Wars to the Witcher is represented, you notice one particular hero is OVER represented: Superman. If you counted, you would find 13 statues wearing the famous red cape.

I love Superman.

All of the cool kids (and by kids I include my contemporaries) these days prefer Batman. He’s dark. He’s edgy. He’s flawed. He’s a bad ass. He is awesome without superpowers. He’s what every guy wishes he could be. He’s just… cooler. Definitely cooler than the hokey Superman — Mr. Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

This is why there’s been so many massively successful Batman movies, with more on the way, while Superman struggles to get a hit.

But I still love Superman. 

While Batman is “cool,” Superman represents everything that should be cool, but isn’t. While every young boy wants to BE Batman, if you had to pick one to be your best friend, you pick Superman. Batman is a jerk. But Supes is unrelenting positively. The bearer of the most recognized symbol on Earth besides the Christian cross knows unequivocally that doing the right thing is always the right thing. 

How many of us, imbued with Godlike powers, would treat the people around us perfectly, kindly, and humbly? Nobody. Literally nobody. How many times have you heard people say what they would do if they won the lottery, and that included telling certain people what’s what? And that’s just getting a bit of money. Even when emboldened just by cash in the bank, people get meaner. But Superman provides a better example of how to be. He shows us that the real strength is in restraint, that there is power in letting people think they are walking over you… when you hold all the cards. He shows us that true character is being kind, gracious, and generous even when you don’t have to be. 

When Batman takes off the suit, he’s… himself. He’s Bruce Wayne — billionaire and CEO. ALSO cool. 

Superman‘s disguise isn’t the famous red and blue suit. That’s not his costume. Those are his actual clothes. That is what an alien from Krypton would wear. His costume, his disguise, is Clark Kent — the suit, the tie… the glasses. But most importantly, the personality. 

The man of steel could have made his alter ego anything. He could have been a rockstar, a powerful lawyer, or a successful surgeon. Literally whatever he wanted. 

But instead he pretends to be human by portraying us as he sees us. Clumsy, awkward, lacking confidence, uncoordinated, a bit skittish, but still pure, still nice, still polite, and still filled with potential and possibilities. He shows there’s nothing wrong with being kind of goofy, and lets other people tease him without taking offense. Because he has no ego, and because deep down he knows who he really is, he’s not bothered by the opinions of others.

It is hard for people in the modern world to connect with Superman. He seems cheesy and unrealistic. Nothing about him seems “cool.” But maybe he should be. Maybe he’s the kind of person we should be striving toward, who isn’t corny, but instead an ideal. Maybe, one day, kindness, compassion, and always doing the right thing will be the coolest things a person can be. 

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Crippled CEO Blog #057: Growth is Always Good and Other Lies

Crippled CEO Blog #057:

There are certain ideas that are ingrained deeply into us. 

Certain truths that are irrefutable.

Freedom is good.

Moms are awesome.

Nazis are bad. 

Cancer sucks.

Old couples who have been married for a super long time are adorable.

More choices are better than less choices. 

Grilled chicken is the worst chicken.

Marvel can’t make a bad movie.

Shakira doesn’t age.

Kids do better in a stable, loving home.

Boobs are amazing. 

Abraham Lincoln was a good President. 

And so on. 

Things that we all pretty much agree on and can’t be argued. (If you have another one that I should have included, please put it in the comments.)

Another one of these is that businesses should grow. When we think of the most successful entrepreneurs, people like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk spring to mind — people who have started businesses that have grown into massive enterprises.

Because if you’re starting a business, that’s the ultimate dream goal, right? In a perfect world, it takes off and grows dramatically in revenue, employees, and profit. You become ridiculously wealthy as you continue to run this huge, sprawling company (Warren Buffett), or you retire and step out of the way, living off of the dividends and selling shares as needed (Bill Gates). And the organization you started impacts tens of thousands (or millions) of lives around the world, outliving you and becoming part of the fabric of society.

But I don’t think growth has to be the goal. It can be a necessary step toward a goal, but growth for its own sake doesn’t always make sense. 

When someone starts a business, typically their goal is to leverage that business toward a happier life for themselves and/or their family. Happiness is the goal.

And often, the goal is to create some kind of positive change in society, to improve something or solve a problem.

And many times, the goal is a combination of those two above. They are not mutually exclusive, and overlap is very common.

Depending upon what you’re doing, neither of those goals necessarily require explosive growth. The first one, being happy, definitely doesn’t. And a one person business is more than capable of having a positive impact on her environment.

You have to decide what you’re doing this for. There are so many stories of people who loved what they did when the business was small, but hated it when it got big. No matter what business you’re in, once it gets to a certain size, running that business becomes managing other people. For lots of people, that is the last thing they would like to do.

A business doesn’t have to be huge to give you a lifestyle that you enjoy, that takes care of your family, and allows you to have a happier life. You don’t HAVE to grow, despite the prevailing wisdom to the contrary. Momentum is powerful, though. Making a conscious choice to stay a certain size requires really understanding yourself and what you want. But if you can figure that out, and make the subsequent choices based on that, everything else becomes really easy.

(I know that you know someone who can use this. You should send it to them. And why not send a text message to the phone number 484848 with the word CRIP as the body of the message? It will sign you up to get a link to the latest blog as soon as it’s up every Sunday. Who doesn’t want that?)

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Crippled CEO Blog #056: Laughter is a Metric

Crippled CEO Blog #056:

There are lots of ways that companies measure success. Revenue, gross profit, net profit, growth, number of employees, working capital, brand awareness, positive reviews, and so on. And those are all valid. I certainly track them all.

But there’s another metric of success that you can’t find on a financial statement. One that I would rank higher than a lot of the items on that list.

Employee laughter; the number of times per day that I hear people laughing.

Now, if you are an actual business person, this likely seems at best silly, but more likely, it seems counterintuitive. Most managers would tell you that laughter means people are screwing around, that work isn’t being done, that they are having too much fun — especially in a workplace like mine, where the majority of the staff is in a warehouse doing manufacturing and shipping. 

There’s some truth to that. People laughing aren’t being optimally productive at that moment. They’re not pumping out widgets at maximum efficiency whilst laughter ensues. 

But that’s generally true all day long for a million reasons. And happy employees do better work. Happy employees will stay late when the chips are down and things need to get done. Happy employees are better, more creative problem solvers. Happy employees are nicer to their coworkers, which creates a domino effect of happiness. Happy employees create a happier environment, and since I spend a third of my life there, too, this is pretty important to me. And you have to be pretty damn happy to be able to laugh often. So, if happy employees are a goal, and they are, then laughter is an excellent metric to track that by. 

So, the next question is, how do I go about improving this metric? Fortunately for me, I am hilarious, so right off the bat, I just joke with people. Besides creating laughter at that time, it also sets the example that this behavior is not only acceptable but encouraged. Showing my sense of humor encourages other people to do the same. Also, we do our best to hire kind people. We are in the process of creating new employee training systems, and being nice is at the top of the list — our #1 core value, way ahead of competency or expertise or literally anything else. 

I haven’t found a way to systematize tracking the number of laughs per day, but I have thought about it. And if I could find an easy way to do it, I would. I have the Chinese character for laugh tattooed on my left thigh (probably not the best idea to tell people to laugh when they take my pants off, but so far no one who speaks Mandarin has seen it in person). More laughter makes the world a better place. I think it is our responsibility to create more of it where we can. And if you own a business, that is a culture you have control over. You have the opportunity to make more laughs happen in your small universe. So you should. It is good for your business. It is good for you as a person. But it’s also good for the world. 

(Do you know somebody that runs a business or a department that would appreciate this? You should forward it to them. Maybe share it on your Facebook page and tag them. Maybe print it out, put it in an envelope, and mail it to their house. There are infinite possibilities. But all of them make you look like a better person. If you want to make sure that you never, ever miss a post, text the word CRIP to the number 484848. I will send you one message per week with a link to the latest blog. You’re welcome.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #055: The Host Advantage

Crippled CEO Blog #55:

When I was younger, both as a kid and in early adulthood, I wasn’t nearly as cool as I am now. I know. It’s hard to believe. 

I was in a wheelchair. I was nerdy. I had terrible hair and awful acne. I also somehow had a huge superiority complex. Hardly the best recipe for social success.

But I figured something out that tipped the scales in my favor. 

I gave myself the host advantage.

The host gets immediate authority, credibility, and cool points. The host has clout. People want to befriend the host. 

When I was very young, my friends came over to my house to play. 

In early adulthood, my house was the party house. I bought my first house at age 18, and for the next few years, almost every night was a get together featuring all manners of indiscretions. 

By being the host, I was popular, well liked, respected, and even in charge, despite being rather uncool. 

This works as a teenager, but it also works in business.

You might not be very well-known in your field, but if you start a podcast and start inviting guests, you now have instant credibility, and the contacts you so desperately want to make are hitting YOU up to be on your show. 

It doesn’t have to be a podcast. It can be a monthly industry luncheon. It can be an annual banquet that gives out awards. It can be a Facebook live stream. It can be a blog where you interview key industry figures. It can be a club or Facebook group. 

What better way to connect with that dream client than to invite him on your podcast or give him an award at your banquet?

Being the host makes you a leader. It makes you an authority. You might be thinking that it sounds like a lot of work, but is it more work than slowly building your reputation over years, over calling on prospective clients over and over again the traditional way? 

No way. 

Give yourself the host advantage. It worked for me after I dropped out of high school. It works for me now. And it could definitely work for you as well.

(Was this the third coolest thing you read this week? Is there a specific person that you know you should definitely give herself the host advantage? You should send it to her. Also, if you want to make sure that you never, ever miss my next post, pick up your phone, open your favorite text messaging app, enter the phone number 484848, type just the word CRIP as the message, and hit send. That single text message will permanently make me your humble servant, and I will personally send you a link to the latest blog each and every Sunday at absolutely no charge.)

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