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Month: September 2021

Crippled CEO Blog #102: Acquaintances

Crippled CEO Blog #102:

I’m currently in Las Vegas (which is why this is coming a day late — my third ever late blog post!). 

It took a lot to get me here. 

Traveling for me is… a thing. Airlines destroy, damage, or lose my chair entirely on 8 out of 10 flights. The process of getting me on and off the plane is often embarrassing and degrading. The flight itself, because of the seats, my physiology, and my inability to adjust my position, is unbearably painful. The last time I flew was a same day trip to Ohio and back in 2019 to shoot a commercial with UFC Heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. Two hours in, as I’m doing Lamaze style breathing techniques to try to get through the pain, I swore off flying forever — at least like that. 

But it’s not just the flight. Once arriving, you need transportation. Wheelchair accessible Uber isn’t a thing in most places. And accessible taxis are harder to find than a vaccinated person at a kava bar. You can rent a wheelchair accessible van, but it has to be done months out, and the price would make your eyes sweat. 

And then there’s the hotel. From getting in/out of bed to the restrooms, they’re really not equipped for me. 

I haven’t been on a non-business trip for over a decade. One, because I don’t like being away from work, but also because of all the difficulties above. 

I did this one because a) I had someone I really wanted to go with, b) there was an amazing UFC card that I wanted to attend, c) Vegas is the only city I know of that has hotels that have the kind of lift I use at home installed, and d) Vegas is also the only city I know of with a plethora of accessible taxis. The roster for the trip ended up changing, and reason a) ended up going away, but I’m stubborn, and the last 8 weeks have been a bit rough for me, so I decided I was pressing ahead regardless. 

The only problem you didn’t see solved in that list above was flying. Vegas might be accessible, but I still had to get there. 

And that, finally, actually brings me to the point of this. 

Thanks for hanging in there. 

You’ve heard me repeat ad nauseam that the people you allow into your life, the people closest to you, have an incalculable impact on who you are. Who you choose to talk to/be around regularly is literally the most important decision you make and we don’t take it seriously enough. 

You’ve also heard me repeat that doing the right thing is always the right thing, and I don’t just mean that from a moral point of view — I think doing the right thing is also the correct long term strategic move for having a happy, successful life. Doing the right thing also includes the other life principle that I’m obsessed with: always do what you say you will. This sounds easy and obvious, but it gets tough when something goes wrong. In both my personal life and in business, I’ve chosen to keep promises to people who have hurt me, mistreated me, or proactively sought to cheat or screw me. This is made even more difficult because people will advise you to do otherwise, to break your word, and part of you STRONGLY agrees with them (“They don’t deserve it!”). Keeping promises in these cases goes against our human nature. You have to make the decision ahead of time that this is a rule you follow, because if you do it on a case by case basis, you’ll falter. 

But what does any of this have to do with Vegas?

The people closest to you shape the person you become, but if you’re a person who has consistently done the right thing, the word spreads, and I’ve found that acquaintances you barely know can and will go above and beyond, bending over backwards in unbelievable ways, to do even more for you than some of your closest friends and family will. Being an exceptionally good human isn’t just altruism. 

The arrangements to fly me to Vegas, get my chair to Vegas, and a ton of other details were taken care of by someone I barely knew — Joseph. It took him dozens of hours of work to coordinate and he did it for free. When I asked him why, he said, “I know the kind of person you are, and you deserve it.”

Once I arrived, a guy I had only met once, Jim Walter, the manager of Stipe Miocic, called in a favor and got us a reservation for the very next evening at a restaurant booked out months. It took him multiple phone calls and a flurry of emails — some actual work. He barely knows me. I didn’t ask. I can’t benefit his life in any way. He just offered. Why? Same kind of reason. When we had worked together previously, I did the right thing in spots other people may not have, and I consistently did what I said I would. 

We live a long time, and the word about who you are spreads. Especially with how connected we all are now, you can’t fool people for long. And you can’t be a “good person” without making these decisions about who you are and how you act before the situation arises, because the “right” choice often isn’t the natural one. And if you’re striving to be “uncommon among uncommon people,” then most are going to think you’re crazy for sticking to your principles in the situations where it matters the most. But you should. Because it’s the right thing to do. 

(Your mom is the right thing to do. Send a text to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message to get a link to this blog every week.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #101: Communication Covers a Multitude of Sins

Crippled CEO Blog #101:

The Bible says:

“Love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

And I actually believe in this strongly. If you love someone, you can overlook flaws and forgive transgressions much easier.

But I have a business version of this that I often like to preach (get it? Preach?). 

“Communication covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Lupton 4:8

Most people think that customers get upset because of mistakes.

And to a certain extent, they do. No one likes mistakes. 

But most people are reasonable, and they understand that sometimes manure occurs. Some people just want to be mad, and there’s nothing you can do about that, but most people are reasonable.

The majority of the time, when you have a very upset customer, when you have really sizzled someone’s fajita, it’s not the mistake that pisses them off, it’s the lack of communication. 

Almost without fail, whenever a customer is so particularly perturbed that they are finally talking to me, some mistake occurred, but the real mortal sin (eh?!) was the radio silence that followed. 

And this makes sense. Nobody wants to call the upset customer. When you know you’ve messed up, the last thing you want to do is dive into that situation and remind yourself of your error. And depending on the issue, there’s a chance you aren’t quite sure how to fix it. Uncertainty and procrastination go together like cheese and… literally everything. 

People hate to be ignored — especially when they feel like they’ve been wronged. Lack of communication takes a level 2 problem and quickly ratchets it up to 11.

The good news is that the flipside is also true. If something goes wrong, but you go out of your way to be ridiculously communicative, and explain what’s going on, and keep them in the loop step by step as you resolve the problem, 987 times out of 1,000, you’ll still have a happy customer. In fact, they might like you MORE because of how well you handled things. How many 5 star reviews have you read that say something like: “They initially double booked my vagazzle appointment, but they let me know the day before, really worked with me to reschedule, gave me a free glitter upgrade, and were terrific when I finally went in. My hoo-ha now sparkles like a diamond. Highly recommend.”

If handled correctly, if you communicate, customers you screw up on  can be transformed into your most enthusiastic evangelists. (You see how I used “evangelists” to tie it back into the Bible quote in the beginning? Does anyone appreciate the level of artistry happening in these things?!)

(You know who never wants to cover my sins? Your mom, that’s who. She also gets a text message from me each week with a link to the latest blog. You can also have this incredible luxury if you send a message to the phone number 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You’re welcome.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #100: Alone in the Hospital

Crippled CEO Blog #100:

I was 6. I was in a hospital bed with surgery scheduled for the next morning. 

I had been at the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children for a few days while they ran tests and prepared me for the rather serious orthopedic operation I’d be going under in just a few hours. 

My mom was there with me. The hospital was four hours away from our house, and she had made the trip while my dad stayed back with my younger brother and the business. 

I was scared.

It was about 9:30 PM and a nurse rolled in a television.

My mom turns to me and says, “I have to run out. I’m going to be back in an hour. I’m going to put a movie in for you. I’ll be back before it’s over. Okay?”

I nodded tentatively. 

She then looked to the nurse. “I know the cut off time for TV is ten o’clock, but would you mind…?”

“No problem,” the nurse smiled understandingly. They slid the Little Mermaid VHS tape into the VCR. 

“I’ll be right back.” My mom patted my foot, stood up, and walked out of the room. 

And I was alone. But I had the TV. 

(For some reason, I am crying as I write this right now. I clearly need therapy.)

At about 10:03, a different nurse walked in. “Alright, time for bed. Let’s turn off this TV.”

I looked at her in terror, my eyes huge, and watched as she crossed the room and turned off the television. 

It was not only my distraction that was allowing me to hold it together as I watched the clock tick one moment at a time, counting down the seconds until 10:30 when my mom would return, but it was also the token of her existence, the tool she left me with to accompany me in her absence, in this strange place, the surgery looming like the shadow of a monster. 

My world immediately collapsed and I lost it. Total meltdown. Sobbing uncontrollably, I blubberingly tried to explain how she’d be back at 10:30, how the other nurse said it was okay. I recalled witnessing another instance where this particular nurse had no patience for a spoiled, crying, entitled brat, and scared she’d conflate my authentic emotional breakdown with THAT, I cried even harder, my words lost in sobs and and snot. 

“It’s alright,” she said. “We will put it back on until your mom comes back.”

There are a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons that woman could have left the TV off. It was the policy of the hospital. It wasn’t fair to the other children. If they let me do it, how could they say no to somebody else? It was what her boss told her to do. And so on and so forth.

All companies have policies that exist for excellent reasons. We create rules and procedures for people to follow, for the good of everyone — employees, customers, the company. 

But you have to leave some room for a bit of humanity when it is necessary. Hiding behind a policy when you’re doing the wrong thing is still the wrong thing. And if you’re the boss, you need to not only grant these exceptions yourself, you need to give your people the autonomy to do so as well. 

My uncontrollable sobbing immediately switched to sniffles and trying to catch my breath as she turned the Little Mermaid back on. She broke the rule, but I was able to survive the remaining 26 minutes until my mom came back because of her, and I still appreciate it 33 years later. 

Because we need more people like that nurse. If you’re in the position to be her, then be her. And if you’re in the position to let other people be her, then please do that, as well. It can make all the difference for somebody.

Hey. This is #100. Crazy, right? Whether you’ve been here since the beginning, or you hopped on recently, thanks. It means a lot.

(I don’t even want to tell you what YOUR mom puts on my TV, though there are mermaids involved. She also gets a link to my blog every single week because she sent a text to the number 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You should, too.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #099: Done is better than perfect

Crippled CEO Blog #099:

It was pointed out to me this week that I somehow have not written a blog yet about a phrase people often associate with me. 

It’s a mantra that my mother bestowed upon me and I have repeated to myself and others countless times. 

Done is better than perfect. 

I was a wee bit of a perfectionist growing up, which often meant that school projects and other tasks wouldn’t get completed — because they weren’t yet perfect. 

I still have a bit of that in me, and certain things do drive me nuts, but I’ve largely been able to cure myself of this affliction by constantly hammering myself with the phrase “done is better than perfect.”

And it’s so useful because it applies to seriously everything.

So often, we leave things incomplete, or even worse, don’t even start, because it’s just not perfect. We go back-and-forth over details that probably don’t really matter for ages, when we should just ship the thing.

This gets even worse in a group setting, where you can have lots of people debating tiny minutiae that can seem critically important. Meanwhile, your competition just sent out what they had, and it’s not perfect, but it’s out there, it’s done, and it’s better than the nothing that you released. 

Have you not sent that résumé because it’s not just right yet? Send it. Done is better than perfect.

Tweaking that text message to the boy you like? Send it. Done is better than perfect.

Going over the proposal for the 60th time? Done is better than perfect.

Trying to make just one more change to the logo? Done is better than perfect.

If it wasn’t for “done is better than perfect“, I would never publish a blog each week. Seriously. There are things I dislike about every single one.

But I just put it up anyways and move on.

Because done is better than perfect.

(Do you know who is perfect and always makes sure that I’m done? Your mom, that’s who. She also gets a text message from me with a link to the latest blog every Sunday. She signed up by texting the phone number 484848 with the word CRIP as the message.)

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