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Month: April 2022

Crippled CEO Blog #132: I Fantasize About Employees

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.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #131: Better Sorry Than Safe

Crippled CEO Blog #131:

Once upon a time, on one of our e-commerce sites, we had a couple instances where people were using stolen credit cards to place orders and ship them to wherever.

After the third or so time this happened, the manager in charge of that department decided it was a serious problem and serious measures had to be taken.

He installed a top-of-the-line, bulletproof, expensive security service that monitored the website for fraudulent activities.

He changed a setting on the website so that customers couldn’t have a different billing address from their shipping address. If they wanted to do this, they had to call the office and go through this complicated ordeal to place their order.

He implemented a policy that orders over a certain dollar amount needed to be called, checked, and verified.

The result: no more counterfeit orders. 

Also, all kinds of problems and expenses, not to mention the lost sales from people who couldn’t be bothered to jump through the hoops to place their legitimate order.

When I hired my first ever office manager, whenever she printed out a work order to go out into the warehouse, I made her give me the work order and the email so I could double check it. The order wasn’t allowed to move on until I literally signed off on it. I started doing this after she made her first mistake.

The result? I occasionally caught some little errors, but most of the time, everything was perfect, and not only was I spending a lot of time checking these every day, the bottleneck of orders waiting on me caused delays.

Sometimes, the cost of preventing problems or mistakes is more than the cost of just fixing them. It feels smarter and more responsible to implement all of these safeguards, but it is easy to go to far. As my company continues to grow, I’m often on the lookout for these types of things that build unnecessary bureaucracy, done with good intentions in the name of prudence.

The twin brother of this is bosses who won’t let employees do things because they want to make sure they don’t get screwed up. And again, this sounds like it might be smart, but it is also very possible that the cost of fixing the mistake, if it even occurs, is less than the boss’s time doing that particular task, combined with the lost opportunity cost — what thing would he have done with that time instead?

I don’t have homeowner’s insurance because I believe that the cost of insurance is more than the cost of whatever repairs I might have to make if something happens. I am currently in the middle of paying to remodel a bathroom that got destroyed due to a flood from a broken waterline, so I might be wrong about this one, but I do think, long-term, I will end up coming out ahead. We will see. 

Wearing a condom is a reasonable precaution if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy. Chopping off your lance of love — your womb raider, your bald-header-sailor, your tonsil tickler, your tan banana, your lap rocket, Russell the one-eyed muscle, Rumpleforeskin, Prince Everhard of the Netherlands, your heat seeking moisture missile, the membrum virile! (Ahem — sorry about that) — that might be a smidge excessive. 

Sometimes being safe is worse than being sorry. And then you’ll be sorry for being safe. It takes some skill to figure out where the line is, but it is easier to spot if you’re actively looking for it.

PS: I have a YouTube channel now! This is the link to my first YouTube video:

If you could go like that video and subscribe, I would be the happiest cripple on the planet. You will also be the first to know about the new, life-changing video that I will be posting every week.

(Do you know who wasn’t worried about safety at al last night? Your mom. She is so crazy. I had to get stitches in my wedding wrecker. 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.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #130: No More To-Do Lists

Crippled CEO Blog #130:

I don’t make to-do lists. 

In fact, I think they are a bad idea.

And, I promise, it isn’t because I have a superhuman memory and I don’t need to track the things I have to do.

I don’t make to-do lists because they lack a very necessary component: when?

When am I going to do these things?

That’s why, instead of making a list of things I need to do, I put them in my calendar. 

From doing projects to checking email, if it’s a  that I need to do, I block it out on my calendar. And then I treat that time like it’s an appointment. 

Most of us fill our calendars with all of the things that keep us from working — meetings, phone calls, appointments, etc. (things other people want from us, usually) — and if there’s room in the calendar, there must be time for more of that stuff, so we fill it. But then when do we actually do the work that matters? 

And if the actual work is the most important thing we do, then why aren’t we putting that on the calendar? Why aren’t we fitting all these other things around the top priority instead of the other way around? 

As far as I can tell, there is no real good reason. So, let’s start doing it. Let’s start blocking out uninterrupted time where we get done the real work that’s going to have the biggest impact, and let’s try to squeeze in everything else around that, instead of the other way around.

That’s what I’m going to do. Let me know if you want to do it, too. I want to hear your results.

(Do you know who I blocked out a large amount of time with 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.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #129: We are Life Savers

Crippled CEO Blog #129:

We are Life Savers. 

The product that we manufacture and sell literally saves lives. That is its primary purpose.

When we bend over backwards to help a customer when they need us, in just the way they need us, when we go above and beyond, the response we are hoping for is either akin to or literally: “You’re such a Life Saver!”

When they tell their friends the story about how well they were treated, we hope they say, “They were a real Life Saver.”

This is why we are always available, why we answer the phone, why we are shockingly responsive. Life Savers are there when you need them. 

This is why we fix things at no charge and replace things for free even when they aren’t covered under warranty — because Life Savers help even when they don’t have to, even when the person doesn’t deserve it. 

And we aren’t just Life Savers to our end users. We strive to be Life Savers to our Life Saver dealers. Through remarkable customer service and exceptional quality, yes, but more importantly, by providing them with this business that really changes and saves their lives. There’s a reason Life Saver dealers and their employees leave whatever they were doing before and choose to keep being Life Saver Pool Fence dealers. The business allows them to provide security and prosperity for themselves and their family in a way that provides fulfillment and purpose. They have the opportunity to become pillars of support for their community, to reach out and help others who are struggling like they possibly struggled before — to save lives, to be Life Savers. To our dealers, we aren’t just a supplier they get their materials from. We are constantly doing everything we can to help them grow and be successful. To our dealers, we strive to be Life Savers. 

We apply the same idea to our employees. Right from the start, we often select good people who have had a rough time and need a second chance — good people who might be rejected by other employers or parts of society. Then we try to create a special kind of environment, so that regardless of what is happening everywhere else in their lives, when they come here, they are in a place with kind, happy people, that is filled with compassion, understanding, humor, and grace — a place where they’re not only safe, physically and emotionally, but where they have the opportunity to do great work that they can be proud of, to make a difference, to have a positive impact, and to challenge the ideas of what they thought they were capable of. We try to make their time at work as rewarding as possible, while paying them enough and giving them the resources to make their lives outside work better, as well. Through words, example, and action, we try to be Life Savers to the people we work with, encourage them to be Life Savers to each other, and hopefully carry that same mentality out into the world. 

When we answer the phone, send an email, tape up a box, stretch mesh over a section of fence, give an employee review, or anything else we do, we try to always ask the question, “Am I being a Life Saver?”

That’s the guiding light that governs our actions.

Not money, not profit — being a Life Saver. 

Not because those other things aren’t important, because they are, but because we know that if we are Life Savers first, the rest is guaranteed to come.

We aren’t just a company that sells pool fence. We save lives, in every way we can. 

What is the bigger thing that your company does? Whether you’re a restaurant or a software company, there has to be more you offer besides food and computer programs. Once you figure that out, the rest of your decisions become much easier. You put every choice up against the idea of who you really are and what your purpose is, and your options get fewer.

We are striving to be Life Savers. Who are you trying to be?

(Do you know who I was a real life saver to 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.)

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Join the fam and make sure you never miss a post. Send a text with the word CRIP to 484848. I'll send you the link each week to the newest blog as soon as it's released.

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