do you know when the window will close?

Listening

I was hiking down the trail when I came across a woman heading up the hill with her dog. I had never seen her before and haven’t since. She started talking about her job, her kids and her whole life story. She was at a crossroad and had some big decisions to make. She wasn’t looking for advice, just an ear.

People have had a lot on their plates and just need to share. It’s hard with so many things competing for our time to just stop and listen. But as leaders, it is one of the most important things we can do.

picture this!

What do you see?

A long time store announced it was closing. The owner just needs a break to recharge and come back with a different focus. So, a few friends and I went to have a glass of champagne on the patio. And while we were sitting there enjoying the day, a non-stop line of people bought pastries, deserts, chocolates, cheese and a variety of other items from the vending machine. For the people sitting on the patio with champagne, it was a champagne bar. But for people at the vending machines, it was a high end pastry and tapas shop.

That’s the thing about business. Depending upon what you do, some customers may view you entirely differently than others.

learnings from being the first

Learnings that come with being first

With the heat in the area, everyone is getting out early to exercise. Today, though, I was clearly the first one on some of the trails. As I passed through areas, I had the pleasure of walking through those fine spider webs that cross the trail. Just one strand, but you can feel it on your arms. And they stick until you find a way to get them off.

That’s the thing about blazing a trail. Being first means clearing the way for others. It also means dealing with issues that others won’t have to experience. And that knowledge is gold, because others won’t have it. And it prepares you for getting ahead next time.

are you ready to accelerate when conditions change?

When conditions change, are you ready to accelerate?

Things can change fast. The Pacific Northwest was cool and wet through mid-June. Trails were muddy and required care to navigate through muddy spots to avoiding slipping. Then, all of a sudden, the weather changed and the mud gave way to dusty, dry trails. The slow going gave way to a rapid pace.

Business is the same too.  There are times when conditions require a slower pace and more care. The trick is to know when conditions are changing to accelerate.

When conditions change, are you ready to accelerate?

do you know what is going on when you are not around?

The importance of people in the background

As I rounded the corner of the trail, a coyote pup was standing at the railing of a horse farm. We stood there staring at each other for a few minutes and I wondered where its mom was. She never appeared, but surely she was there watching over her pup.

In business, we have lots of things that are out of sight, but keep us safe and focused. There are people who keep systems secure through cybersecurity. Or keep buildings clean and maintained. Or those that keep the roads safe and in working order. And people who make sure others get paid. And many others who are in the background, watching to make sure everything stays on track.

getting the chemistry right

Finding the right chemistry

After trying out my new air fryer by roasting vegetables and chicken, it was time to clean it. But how? The internet had the solution: baking soda and vinegar. Both stable substances when stored alone. When you mix the two, the result is a chemical a bubbling, overflowing reaction. And results in a  better cleaner than either on their own.

You can find those relationships in business too. Sometimes it is the combination of people. Other times it is the combination of a product and a delivery method that gets the product to you vs. you having to go get it. Or maybe it is technology added to the mix that makes life easier. Those combinations make it astronomically better than any one piece on its own.

4th of July

Happy Independence Day

Today we celebrate the date the Declaration of Independence was ratified, paving the way for the United States of America. The resolution was actually approved two days before. And in just four more years, we will celebrate 250 years. Happy Independence Day!

building and changing directions

Building and changing directions

The county has started developing a community park. The plot of land had a house and a barn. To my surprise, it only took a day to completely demolish the house and another day to remove the slab and haul away the debris. In contrast, right next to what will be the park, a house is being built. Based on the pace, it will probably be at least two months to complete.

Two months to build. Two days to remove.

There is nothing like physically watching things being built and torn down to remind us of how long it takes to create something new. And how fast a decision to change direction can happen.

are your competitors more clever than you?

You have to want it more

It’s strawberry season once again. Which means a fight with the birds to see who gets the berries first. The birds win more often than not, even with measures to keep them out. They want it more. And they don’t stop until they get what they want.

The same is true in business. The people and businesses that gain the advantage keep working all the angles until they get what they want. They want it more.

right people in right place

Experience makes all the difference

The home improvement store was fantastic when it first started. People that worked there knew all of the projects people work on and could help you with all of the tools and tips you’d need. Then eventually, those experienced people left and were replaced with people who knew where stock was located, but that’s it. So, I was delighted on a recent visit when an employee walked up and asked me if he could help. I explained what I was doing and he gave me several tips I hadn’t even considered. Then grabbed another product for me that I needed. I walked away delighted. And with everything I needed.

Experience in any business makes a huge difference in how well problems get solved. And it makes a big difference in customer service when people come with problems they are looking for the business to solve.

How are you thinking about experience when you hire?