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What Memories Are Giving and Some Day Leaving?

This week’s message is to me. I think I need to frame it or laminate it to remind me of what I need to do. Maybe it will help you, too. About 18 months ago I found out one of my very good friends, Mark Johnson, president of Granite Transformations (an international franchise company), had stage-four cancer. He died a couple weeks ago and I’ll attend a memorial service for him in California on April 4.

Here are some excerpts of a note he sent to me shortly after he learned of his situation:

I love my job, love who I work with and love the people I serve with on committees. I love my family, my friends and even my enemies because they teach me something as well. I even love cancer because it has helped me realign my thought process.

I love everything that influences me or crosses my path. I enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, the clouds in the sky and the peace of the chirping birds. I appreciate a simple conversation, a moment alone, completing a task or clearing my desk before I leave in the evening. I appreciate every single simple moment in life and recognize that I am fortunate to have this life. God is teaching me to focus on the moment. 

In December I flew to Florida to say my last goodbyes—knowing the end was near. He said that he finally took the time to have a coffee each morning with his wife on the lanai. He didn’t have time before then to do it. Cancer forced him to take the time.

Since his death I’ve tried to be more cognizant of contact family and friends—every day I try to get better.

My wife, Mary Kay, was registering us for an online banking site and one of the questions was “Who is your hero?” I thought about Abraham Lincoln … but knew it was really my dad—who had a sudden heart attack and died when I was only 13. Sadly, not long enough to create many treasured memories, but I remember racing him to read “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss. Must have been about 1959, two years after the book was published, and I was learning to read in kindergarten

While combing the local newspaper, I saw this week’s Associated Press’s Best Hardcover Fiction Book sellers:

1). “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (No. 3 is “Allegiant” and by her also.)

2). “Green Eggs and Ham” (first published 1960)

5). “One Fish Two Fish” (first published 1960)

7). “The Cat in the Hat” (first published 1957)

9). “Fox in Socks” (first published 1965)

10). “Hop on Pop” (first published 1963)

Does this amaze you as it does me? Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Geisel, had an amazing talent that is still influencing kids decades later. Mary Kay and I are still buying his books for our grandkids.

When Mary Kay was vice president of ad sales for Comcast in Los Angeles, she had five offices and 70 sales representatives reporting to her. She bought “Green Eggs and Ham” for every new sales rep. She still believes this book, with only 50 words (49 of them one-syllable words), is the best sales book ever written.

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is “The Places You Will Go.” I think it is a must for every high school and college graduate. Looking for great idea for graduation present? Bring the book to each of your child’s teachers from pre-school through high school and have them inscribe a message to your child. Present that to your child upon high school graduation and you will have a home run!

My question this week is to think about yourself as a leader—who are you leaving great memories with? Kids? Grandkids? Other family? Friends? Your technicians or customer service representatives?

Who will talk about you 50 years from now? What about five years from now? The reason I say this is I believe leaders do something memorable. It might be your particular style. It might be what you wear to the office every day or your kindness. Perhaps it will be your management, your vision or your ability hire and train. There is always something leaders do to leave memories.

The next time you are having the absolute worst day you’ve had for the month remember these words: I love my family, my friends and even my enemies because they teach me something as well. I even love cancer because it has helped me realign my thought process. 

Create a memorable week. Leaders are able to do this because they choose to do it!

Who Are Your Peeps?

Another very interesting business week … as I’m sure it has been for us all. If you didn’t have an interesting week I hope you had a great vacation!

I spent time with some extremely successful people in the automotive glass business. When I’m with a group like this two things happen:

1) I’m humbled; and

2) I learn why they are such good leaders.

The older I get the more I am reminded of how important it is to surround yourself with people you aspire to emulate. If you want to be a great speaker, hang with great speakers. If you want to learn the best way to install a windshield, spend time with great installers.

If you want to be a great leader—hang out with great leaders. You’ll find yourself thinking like a great leader. You’ll find yourself talking about stuff they talk about. You’ll learn their best practices. If you are with a group of five great leaders in our industry, you’ll see that the five great leaders all walk away learning more than what they shared. Why? They have this incredible thirst to become better in every phase of the business!

I visited the retail operation of one of these leaders. They have been in the glass business for several decades. I walked around trying to drink in all that I saw. It became obvious why this company is very successful. They pay attention to the little things—all the little things.

You see this in every phase of the business. They keep score—on everything. Yet, they don’t have an ego. They are more concerned about results than telling others how good they are. In fact, they are very humble.

Earlier in the week I had breakfast with a very successful high school basketball coach. He, too, pays attention to all of the little things.

As I got back in my hotel room and thought about both of these gentlemen I realized they had something very much in common—the ability to build a team. Because of how they run their respective operation, employees want to work for one person, while ballplayers want to play for that coach. Again, the marks of great leaders.

I hear all the time about how tough it is to recruit technicians and office people. Employees in our industry want to work for a great leader. Sure, money is important. But having an environment where techs and customer service reps enjoy coming to work every day is extremely important. They want to have jobs all year around. They don’t want to worry about the winter layoffs, do they?

A few weeks ago on another trip I heard Greg Reid. He is a motivational/business speaker and I found myself taking massive notes from while he spoke. Two of his points really hit home with me:

—Too many people focus on what they can’t do.

—We have two voices in our life. One is a cheering section and the other is a jeering section. We choose which voice to listen to.

This week I hung with people who focus on what is possible—not what is impossible. Many of the accomplishments the people in the room have achieved others would think can’t be done. This group isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions. This group keeps listening to the cheering section—not those jeering.

Your challenge this week—find the people who are great leaders in their respective professions and build your own support network. They don’t have to be in our business. It might be your banker. Or your neighbor. You’ll easily spot them. They are positive and look for solutions—not problems. Then, think about all of the little things you can start paying more attention to. Don’t pick ten things—just a couple.

Our business isn’t easy. We all know that. But there are things that we can do to make it much simpler.