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I Found Myself Naked!

It finally happened last Friday. I was afraid it might happen one day! I got to my office in Waco, Texas, and realized that horrors of horrors had happened. I felt naked. I looked around and saw that no one had noticed me yet. Whew.

Yes, the unthinkable had happened—I left my iPhone at home! My iPhone “holster” was empty and I started to panic when I reached down to check my e-mail.

I was without my constant companion—my link to the world—my phone, my e-mails, my contact and even my pictures. My office address and office phone are taped on the back of my iPhone. (They say Thomas Edison couldn’t remember his home telephone number so I don’t feel bad).  I thought of driving the 20 minutes back home to get it and realized I didn’t have time. In fact, I wouldn’t have time to get it all day.

Looking around my office, I couldn’t find a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into. I have a personal iPhone and realized I had left that at home, too. Aaarrgghh!

I thought back on how long it had been since I didn’t have instant contact to my e-mails. I believe I get 100 per day or so and use every precious free moment to answer them so I don’t have to do it when I get home at night. The last time I remember not having an iPhone or a Blackberry was about 12 years ago.

During the day I thought back to other innovations that had entered my life over the years. When did I first get a phone that I’d carry on my belt or in the car? Had it been nearly 15 to 20 years? When did I first start using e-mails? It must have been about 20 years ago, too.

Was life easier then? Were my nights more free? Wait—I played a lot of sports back then and didn’t worry about “missing any messages, etc.” That was nice. The world didn’t stop because I didn’t have contact with people 24/7. I had a home phone for anything that was important.

Thinking back even further I thought about the time I spent at home with family and friends without feeling guilty. Those were the days.

When I got back to reality it occurred to me that life is full of changes. What our businesses are today are very different than they were a dozen years ago. Technology has changed dramatically.

Twelve years ago I was in franchising working for Midas. The success of many Midas franchisees was simply opening the doors and hiring people who didn’t mind getting dirty and could slam on a muffler. Not much skill required. Being from the Midwest, I was one of those people who accepted the fact that I needed to change my muffler every couple of years because of rust, road salt, etc.

Our franchisees faced massive technology changes in manufacturing. In the early 1990s, stainless steel mufflers were invented and Midas’ business changed drastically. Much more than our automotive glass business has even changed in the past decade.

If a Midas franchisee didn’t completely change their model to include full service with ASA certified mechanics, they risked losing the value in their business. I saw many Midas franchisees who were desperately trying to sell their business because they chose not to change with the times.

When is the last time you had your muffler replaced? See what I mean?

Back to the future. Here we are as leaders unsure of what happens next. What other changes will we be facing? Technology is big for sure. Looking at new cars there will be manufacturing changes, too, similar to what we faced at Midas.

Leaders have to be prepared for the future—whatever it throws us. And if we forget our phones at home life isn’t over. The good news is that they will be fully charged when we get home.

But here I sit on Friday night, reading e-mails, looking at my texts and messages, and breathing a sigh of relief. What is wrong with me? Maybe I should leave that iPhone at home more days.

I could get that cool Dick Tracy watch though …

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

This week is Thanksgiving. What are your earliest Thanksgiving memories? I remember watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on a black and white Dumont TV in the late 1950s. Several years later, we watched it at a friend’s house on a brand new color TV. My mom was so excited.

I loved Thanksgiving because of the four-day weekend when I was a kid. Then, as I became a football fan when I was still young, Thanksgiving meant watching the Lions or Cowboys on TV.

Thanksgiving goes back to September of 1620 when 102 people got on the Mayflower and took a 66-day cruise to America. By the spring of 1621 only half of those people were still alive after a brutal winter. In November the survivors—the pilgrims—joined by Native Americans who befriended them, celebrated the first “unofficial” Thanksgiving. They celebrated life.

So Thanksgiving was all about overcoming and surviving adversity.

As a leader I want you to think about the automotive glass business today compared to 2007. Wouldn’t you agree that the majority of us have overcome and survived adversity in our business?

This week I reached out to a good friend of mine, Mark. Mark is the president of a non-automotive glass franchise company and we’ve served on several boards together. We are the same age and have become great friends.

He had prostate surgery 18 months ago. A post surgery cat scan revealed he had stage 4 bone cancer. As I talked to Mark I got a lesson in Thanksgiving. Mark told me that his perspective has changed so much in 18 months.

He is thankful that he can walk with his cane and that he doesn’t yet require the wheel chair in the corner. He is thankful he can go outside each morning and enjoy a cup of coffee with his wife and talk. He is thankful that his mother-in-law goes to the doctor with him each day—most days she has to drive because he is too weak.

He is thankful that he can urinate without having to use a catheter.

As I listened to him, I quickly forgot about many of the things that I thought were problems in my life.

Do me a favor. Write down all of the challenges and problems you have as a leader in your company.

Done?

Now compare that to Mark’s challenges. How are you feeling now?

Look around your office. Look at the people you have working for you. Check out your trucks. Remember when you didn’t have any of them? Remember when all of this was a dream?

Have you gone through some challenges? Are they as bad as what the original pilgrims went through? Are they as bad as what Mark is going through?

This Thanksgiving enjoy your turkey. Enjoy the games on TV. Enjoy your nap in the afternoon.

And be thankful for what you have … be thankful that those 102 people who got on the Mayflower. Be thankful for your company. Your employees. Your coworkers.

That is what great leaders do. They appreciate and are grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.