Crippled CEO Blog #132:
I fantasize about acquiring specific dream coworkers.
I know. That’s a weird kink. But this is a judgment free zone, okay?
Plus, it’s worked out pretty dang well for me.
I think this unique fantasy is a big part of Life Saver’s success, because time after time, I’ve managed to turn these fantasies into reality — but the dream had to come first. The fantasizing was a critical first step.
Mostly, these fantasy people are friends of mine — specific friends. I have friends who I like to hang out with a lot, but who I wouldn’t hire even if you threatened to put a scotch bonnet in my mouth.
Other times, they are colleagues.
This has happened so many times now that I have to recognize it as a key part of the process for making my businesses successful.
Kate Mottram will celebrate her 10th year at Life Saver in September. She started out as an office assistant making $14 an hour, moved up to Logistics Manager, and is now the Vice President of Wholesale Distribution. And even though this September will be her 10 year anniversary, I was envisioning her path 11 years ago.
Now, I’m not going to say that I fully predicted how far she’d come and exactly how she’d get there, but Kate and I were friends for several years before her first day at Life Saver HQ. And at some point, I started thinking how amazing she would be, and the limitless potential for her growth. I knew how great it could be for us, but also for her. And so, when she started expressing some dissatisfaction with her employer at the time, because I’d already been having this fantasy, I was immediately ready to suggest she switch to saving lives. Because I had played it through in my mind so many times, I was confident when I told her that I thought she could be happy and do well. And 10 years later, here we are.
I’ve known Casey Buckley since we were three or four years old. And while he was running his commercial plumbing business, I often had the thought that he would make the perfect Life Saver Pool Fence dealer. It was so obvious to me. He had all the right traits and skills. So, when he sold that plumbing business and was deciding what to do next, I already knew what he should do. And because I had been thinking about it for so long, I acted quickly, before he went too far down another path. 6 or so years later, and Casey sells more Life Saver Pool Fence than any other dealer in the world — more than the other 90 dealers in most of the major cities in the United States and in 15 other countries spanning five continents.
When Mike and Molly McGahee lived in Chicago, I would imagine that we would be big enough one day that I could hire Mike as my right hand man, acting as a springboard for ideas and helping me execute on all of the things I wanted to do, while simultaneously tackling his own projects, and Molly as our accountant, a role we never officially had before. I literally played out this fantasy for YEARS. One day, Mike calls and tells me that they are moving back to Florida and when I asked him what he was going to do for work, he wasn’t sure — I, however, was very sure. Just like with Casey and Kate, I laid out my vision for him, and for the last 3.5 years, Mike has sat next to me in my office every day. And his wife, Molly, did eventually come on board to be our first full-time accountant, just like I’d envisioned.
I met Michael Doscher when he was referred to me because I needed someone to hang up a TV in my living room. After that, I contracted him to start doing projects around my house. I knew right away that he would be a great addition. And just like with Mike and Kate, I wasn’t quite sure what exactly he would do. I just knew, that like them, if I brought him on, good things would happen. Unlike the rest, though, Doscher was really happy with his job, but you can’t fight destiny or a dream. Michael Doscher is currently killing it as our Operations Manager.
All of this leads to the most recent one, which is what gave me the idea to write this. He starts next Monday, and I don’t know who he has told yet, so I will maintain his privacy, but there has been an exemplary gentleman who has been my account manager for years. He was so good there that when he switched to a competing company, I immediately switched as well, without hesitation. I’ve never encountered someone so amazing at high-level customer service. For ages, Mike and I have discussed how incredible it would be to somehow have him work at Life Saver in some capacity one day. A few weeks ago, when he told me that he was leaving his job and hadn’t lined up his next one yet, I immediately suggested that he should join our team, even though it is a totally different industry and I wasn’t 100% sure what his job would be — and he agreed. Just like before, I just know that if you bring on great people then great things happen. Since then, I have a clearer picture of what I imagine he’ll be doing, but I have no doubt that will evolve.
A cool thing has happened, also — this practice has begun to spread. Kate was able to recruit two amazing people she knew would do incredible work, in a really similar fashion to how I did the others.
But there are two lessons here. One is having crazy dreams and fantasies about what you want has a purpose, and that purpose is that you don’t hesitate to grab the opportunity to make it come true when it presents itself. You don’t have to stop and think about it because you’ve been thinking about it for a long, long time. You just get to act, and there’s an advantage to being first, or at least being fast. Things are a lot easier when you’re at the front of the line.
The other lesson is that having a great team creates greatness. It is better to have a mediocre idea with a great team than a great idea with a mediocre team. My friend in a rock band once said, “if Jimi Hendrix wants to join your band, you find a place for him.“ If you have the chance to get a superstar, even if you don’t exactly have a specific role for her to fill, just hire her. Superstars will help you figure it out. It’ll work out, I promise.
(Do you know who was a star player on my team last night? Your mom. Your mom also gets a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog post. Send a text to 561-726-1567 with the word CRIP as the message to get a link to the blog as soon as it’s up.)