The year was 1989 and I had just started working for Furrow Building Materials in Findlay, Ohio as a supervisor.
Our management team consisted of a Manager, Assistant Manager, 2 Supervisors, and a Yard Foreman.
Together, we managed a multi-million dollar lumberyard and home center.
Our boss was a man by the name of Ed Craig.
Ed was a tall skinny dude with short spiked hair and a mustache held over from the 1970’s. He was ex-military with a drill sergeant’s attitude.
Our Yard Foreman was a guy by the name of Gomer Withrow.
He was a thick dude with big arms and no neck. He was your typical biker dude with tatoos, a Fu Manchu and an angry disposition. Think Paul Teutel from Orange County Choppers.
Every Monday morning we would have a 6:00AM team meeting where we would discuss the week ahead and our primary objectives. Each week Ed would push the team on our sales, inventory, and expense budgets.
During one of our meetings Ed was pressing us about our sales numbers when Gomer chimed in with a line I’ll never forget– “F*ck our budget, if we give 110% everyday then the numbers will take care of themselves!”
Gomer had an endearing quality–No filter. Gomer thinks something, Gomer says something.
Most of the time it worked for him as he dealt all day with forklift operators, truck drivers, and lumber “dogs” as we called them. You know, the guys who loaded and unloaded trucks and worked in the cold and heat of a lumberyard.
Barking at lumberdogs is one thing. Barking at your boss in a team meeting at 6:00AM on Monday morning when he’s barely sipped his first cup of coffee is another.
Ed, the drill sergeant, lit into Gomer with equally colorful language and attitude. It was EPIC!
Gomer never made that mistake again.
Numbers do matter.
Giving your best without knowing how you’re doing is foolish. If you don’t know how sales are doing then how do you know what adjustments to make? How do you know when it’s time to work harder? How do you know when it’s time lower expenses?
After Ed and Gomer’s explosive confrontation, Ed shared with the team one of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard -“Sales cures all.”
His point was that if your expenses are out of line, and your inventory numbers are over budget you can still sell your way to success.
If you know the top line number and you work to achieve it, everything else will take care of itself.
It was his way to say, stay focused on the goal, but not just any goal, stay focused on what’s most important.
Sometimes the difficult thing for us to do is to understand what’s truly important. What does “Sales Cures All” look like in our daily lives? Said differently, what’s most important?
Over the years I’ve discovered that the only thing in life that truly matters is people.
My wife, kids, dad, mom, sisters, brothers, friends and business associates.
What’s my version of “Sales Cures All”?
Stay focused on PSI. Physically fit. Spiritually fit. Intellectually fit.
Once I have these in order I will have the energy, love, and wisdom to share with my friends, family, and clients.
Question of the day: What is the one thing you can do that will have the most positive impact in your life?
I resisted writing about this subject. The “pandemic” corona virus.
Instead of discussing the biology or health impact of this virus, for which I have little knowledge, I would like to direct your attention to a subject for which I have a great deal of knowledge and experience–human behavior.
My credentials? Salesperson and manager for over thirty years. Coach. Dad. Husband. Brother. Friend.
With my clear expertise established, let’s discuss Corona and human behavior.
Aside from the obvious health threat, the impact of Corona on the economy has great potential to do long lasting damage.
The NBA, MLS, multiple festivals, conferences, and college classes have already been cancelled. More will come including local schools, governments and businesses.
The immediate implications for hotels, theme parks, airlines, restaurants and bars, could be catastrophic.
The stock market this year, as of this writing, has lost over 8 trillion dollars and has lost almost 10 percentage points today alone.
Our economy is based on one very predictable and human trait–confidence.
Confidence is EVERYTHING in economics.
Consumer confidence. Business confidence.
Decisions get made when there is certainty. People buy houses, cars, and vacations when their 401K’s are flush. When they know income is flowing and will continue. No income? No confidence. No confidence? No spending.
The President of the United States is the only person who can deliver confidence in times of crisis.
Our current president is a businessman.
He is the most qualified person to ever occupy The White House.
He also happens to be the most powerful man in the history of planet Earth. (not arguable)
The biggest and most lethal military in history is at his beck and call. With one stroke of the pen, he can invoke The Stafford Act and declare a state of emergency which gives him almost total control.
That’s where this is going.
Congress won’t sign on to any idea Trump brings to them.
Despite our clear economic emergency, they want him out of office.
After repeated efforts to engage lawmakers, he will have no choice but to declare the emergency.
The world will take one month off of work, school, and unnecessary economic activity.
President Trump will provide liquidity through the US Treasury with the reluctant help of the Federal Reserve. He will cut checks to everyday Americans to pay their bills and to run their small businesses. Either in the form of direct cash or deferred tax payments.
Before any of that happens, he will address the American people and he will unveil the plan. To give confidence.
Confidence is EVERYTHING in economics.
And in life.
Say what you want about Trump, but he’s a leader.
He understands what good leaders understand–success begins with confidence.
My weekend was filled with faces I hadn’t seen in a while.
Wednesday night was coffee with my good friend Nick. Thursday night Theresa and I had dinner with my son Scott and his wife Shelbi. Friday morning was coffee with my dad. Saturday evening found me at The Rusty Bucket having dinner with two of my brothers and my sister.
Unfortunately, one of my brothers couldn’t be at dinner Saturday night. Instead, he’s in prison.
My visit with him rounded out the weekend as we drove to Columbus on Saturday morning.
The first few times I saw him, it was unsettling.
He’s there because of a drug offense. He was a functioning drug addict. When I first visited him, he was depressed, dark. He readily admitted he’ll use again when he gets out.
Each month I show up with no preconceived plan. No goal. I just want to see him. I just want to hear him. I just want to be his big brother.
When he comes out of his cell, I’m always there waiting in the visitor area at the table. The chess board pieces are in place, along with a few of his favorite snacks including a tall, cold, Mountain Dew.
Our meetings lately are noticeably different.
Saturday, over a year later, his chess game has dramatically improved, he’s lost at least 30 pounds and he’s bench pressing over 400 pounds. What’s most remarkable is the change in his mindset. No longer does he talk about doing drugs.
Instead, he’s talking about starting his own business, buying a plot of land, and building his own house.
I see hope in his eyes.
In his body language.
In his voice.
For over two hours we laughed, and laughed, and laughed. So much so, the other visitors must have thought we were crazy.
When I got into my truck to head back to Mason, Theresa asked “how’d it go?”
“We laughed and laughed and laughed!” I replied.
Looking back on the week, I’m struck by how much I learned from each of those visits. Not just from my brother in Columbus but from my coffee with Nick and Dad. Dinners with my son and my brothers and sisters.
Conversation, laughter, and precious time spent together.
I learned more about them. Insights. Each conversation drew us closer.
All of those relationships grew.
More and more I’m convinced, there’s no substitution for the physical presence of a loved one.
Now, I’ve got to get to Texas and see my baby girl.
Theresa looks at me inquisitively. “Can’t do what?”
“Oh, nothing.” I replied.
“Did I say that out loud?”, I thought to myself.
There’s no way I’m telling her what I’m thinking.
You see, the wife of an entrepreneur is the worst, and over the years I’ve made her life a living hell.
There’s no way I’m going to lay my next idea on her. It’s not her burden to bear.
I am an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are creatives. They build things. They tinker. They explore. They dream. They take risks.
To most people, it’s madness.
But, I can’t help it. My mindset is continually looking forward. Continually growing. Continually experimenting.
One of my favorite sayings is “I’m speaking it into existence.” Which I still believe is true.
However, there come’s a time when an entrepreneur has to stop talking and start doing.
Recently, I decided to stop talking about the future of the business with my wife. Instead, I’ve decided to start doing and more importantly, start producing.
Producing in my world is sales. Which means more clients and more real estate agents.
Once I decided to go full hustle mode, I looked at changing my website to make it more “lead” friendly.
Leads. You know, people interested in buying and selling real estate. That’s how real estate business is done by most agents. More leads.
So, I spoke with a company who specializes in real estate websites. He showed me what they’re doing to get more business and all of the tricks of the trade.
Guess what he revealed?
Big teams “who are killing it”, are using RoboDialers. Open Houses. Email Spam. Drip campaigns. Call and Text Capture. Guaranteed Sale Programs. Property Valuation Ads.
All of these activities require you to drop everything you learned in kindergarten about being human and toss it out the window. Tricking people into giving you their cell number. Getting their contact info so you can endlessly spam them. Holding open houses, not for the client, but for “the leads”.
I can’t do it.
Annoying people to get business. Becoming a telemarketer. Begging for business. Bait and switch techniques. Selling my soul. For what? Leads? So I can “kill it?”
I can’t do it.
I can’t teach my agents to do it.
Leads are like crack cocaine. (not that I have any personal experience)
Once you begin to collect leads, you must nurture them, and follow up, follow up, follow up.
It becomes a full time job.
Calling strangers, begging for business. Every. Single. Day.
Once you’ve mastered this practice, congratulations, you have officially become a telemarketer. Is that why real estate agents get into this business?
So, no. I can’t do it. I can’t teach my agents to do it.
Instead, I will teach my agents to be humans. To be storytellers. To be solid members of their communities. To ensure that their clients interests come before theirs.
Yesterday, I met with a friend and he asked me how I plan to grow.
“I’m going back to 1955”, I said.
I mean it.
Before squeeze pages, sales funnels, telemarketers, and jackass real estate agents.