What’s in the Box?

Question-Mark-out-of-Box-1024x1000How’s your OOBA these days?  “Good question…what is it?”  OOBA is an acronym for “out of box audit”.  It involves a final pass that checks for quality, all components required in the product are present, correct firmware is loaded (if this is part of the product in question), the product has been packaged correctly and everything is in place, accounted for, and ready to provide your customer the best possible experience upon receipt.  Generally, this FQA (Final Quality Audit) is owned by your Quality group, or by Operations, or perhaps even some combination of both teams.  The purpose of this exercise is to help insure that the product works correctly, looks great (not good–great), and everything necessary for a successful customer experience has been done.

People who work in Operations are familiar with this terminology, and probably more so for those who have worked in companies that produce consumer goods (products that ship to end users directly).  What is your customer going to receive?  That’s certainly one question you should be able to answer confidently.  An even better question might be–What will your customer think of your product?  What will they perceive about your company when they open the product?

Earlier in the year I wrote a small piece about quality, and more specifically, about ownership of quality.  The OOBA is one tool to measure quality internally, but more than that, it is one method to constantly keep your customer’s experience in view.   It’s not only about product quality, it’s one way in which the Operations team can contribute to the customer retention level of any organization.

We’ve all been there–we’ve been pleasantly surprised when we’ve ordered a product and it showed up, pristine in quality, ready to be used, delivered as expected.  We’ve also had those less than stellar experiences when a product arrives that isn’t up to our expectations, or the hype, or what was promised by the company.  Keep the OOBA in mind.  When was the last time you really looked at your product from your customer’s perspective?  This is something important that should be a part of every organization!

Good Customer Service


I’m not a shopper.  Don’t get me wrong, sure, there are some things that I love to look at (the new Harleys, guitars and gear, stuff at the local Sports Authority, camping gear–pretty much anything you can find in the Bass Pro shop)….but I’ll pass every time if I have to compete with the masses at the local shopping mall.

My home is about a mile and a half away from one of the larger shopping malls in northern California.  It’s a beauty as far as shopping malls go (I think)–it went through a complete renovation a little more than a year ago, and has just about every retail store imaginable.   Fortunately for me, I live in an older, established neighborhood with lots of large trees, brick houses, and pretty decent surroundings.  It’s a nice residential area with many of the homes gated and nicely landscaped.  You wouldn’t know the mall was so close to home, but it is.

Recently I was forced (coerced?) into having to visit this mecca of those enticed by such sparkle and prestige.  It was my wife’s birthday, and yes, as much as I’d prefer it, I wasn’t going to shower her with gifts shipped to home from Bass Pro (which I’ve done before, but more about that some other time…lesson learned).  My wife is great at dropping hints as we near October.  As we get closer to her actual birthday, the list is published, and I spring into action.  Fortunately for me I can often count on one or two of my daughters to assist, and they do a great job of running down that particular item or two….I dole out the cash and off they go.  Usually.

But this time, there was a final item or two that I needed to pick up, and to the mall I went.  I won’t name the store or brand, but it was a women’s wallet that rhymes with “roach”.  Yeah, you get the idea.  So there I am, in the mall, at the store.

It’s a Saturday, so I’m dressed in a pair of camo shorts, a favorite T-shirt (I have a couple of those), ball cap and tennis shoes.  Not a big deal, I thought–just a quick stop.  Nope. As I entered the store, the stares I received said it all–that I really shouldn’t be there, and seriously could probably not afford to be there.  I must be lost.

Basically the net of this short story is that I was met with some disdain and a total lack of customer service.  Despite the purchase I was making (and did make), which was substantial (not crazy, but substantial)–the woman that assisted me treated me as though I was an annoyance, that I was fortunate to even have been allowed in the store to begin with.

Here’s the thing:  whatever happened to good, old fashioned customer service?  I get that many people don’t particularly enjoy working in a retail environment.  I understand that sometimes you have a bad day, or maybe you just aren’t feeling well.  Hey, listen, if I’m a jerk, or rude, or in some way treat you wrongly, I get what I deserve.  But if I come to your establishment, I’m reasonably polite, have my money ready to spend, and just really need some help because I am not an expert in women’s fashion or accessories, what’s the big deal?  Why not be polite back?  Help me, take my money and maybe even say thank you for shopping at your fine location.

Maybe it’s just me (one of my kids suggested that I don’t get out enough) but I get the sense that we’re losing our notion of what customer service should be in our society today.  I know that sounds like a huge generalization.  But this isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened, and I get the sense it won’t likely be the last time.

Let’s have a quick reboot on this idea:  customers are needed, people.  They are a necessity, not an annoyance.  It isn’t enough to simply build a better mousetrap.  You’ve got to have customers to have a business.  That’s true for retail and commercial businesses as well.  We all need paying customers too, happy ones…the kind that tell their friends about our great product and great customer service.

Despite this recent episode, we all have had many positive experiences as well–those times we’ve bought a product, but more than that, we came away actually feeling good about the experience.  In business, we should consider the overall experience of the customer, the perception of the company, and where/how/when we can provide the best possible interaction with those that keep us doing what we do.

Handling Criticism





“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard.


How do you handle criticism?  If you’re like me, it depends on a few factors such as the topic of the criticism, the person who is providing the criticism, the value/importance of the criticism and the purpose of the criticism.  Like it or not, one thing we all have in common is that at some point in our career, we will be the recipient of criticism.  So, how do you handle it when it happens to you?  For the purpose of this short perspective, I am referring to valid criticisms.

Recently I was the recipient of some criticism directed towards me regarding the performance of some of my staff.  I listened, offered some responses regarding the particulars and made a point of agreeing with the person who provided me with the input.  I’ll admit it was difficult to absorb, and I came away from the discussion a little disheartened. The messenger was even courteous enough to suggest that I not take it too hard, which I appreciated, but inside, I did.  It felt bad, although it was reasonable and on point, and I walked from the conversation feeling pretty down.

Like a lot of guys (and some gals) in my generation, I grew up playing little league baseball.  For nine seasons I learned the fine art of hitting a curve ball, stretching for errant throws while keeping a foot on first base (my regular position), and dealing with both the triumphs of victory and the painful dismay of losses.  I was a part of teams that played in championships, as well as those that weren’t as fortunate.  But truthfully, I loved every minute of the game.  It was mostly about having fun (for me anyways).

Every season was a different season, and no two years were really ever the same.  Different teammates, different coaches, different team names and colors (my parents still have a framed photo of me, a black and white photo, beaming with pride as I show off my jersey and hat from year one, sporting the words “Lopina Orchards” on the front–our sponsor of the team shirts…yes, San Jose actually had orchards back then).

One lesson that I came away with from my early years was this:  You can’t win them all.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with having a desire to be successful, and I’m as competitive as the next guy ( I organize the fantasy football league for my company) but it’s important for all of us that we recognize there will be losses throughout our career—that’s a given.  And, when we don’t measure up on a particular objective or task, there may also be criticism.

When it does happen, be prepared.  Understand that it is likely not personal (usually it’s not…usually).  And, understand that there is probably some merit to the criticism.  Try to listen and not react immediately with a defensive response.  Take time to understand what is being said, why it’s being said to you, and how/when/where it can be corrected….the key here is to not give up!  Don’t allow the criticism to be the “end of the story” for you.  Take it as an opportunity, and truthfully, it’s okay to be a little thankful to the person that’s delivering the message–it may actually help you become better at what you do. 

In the world today many of us are zealous participants in social media, posting our latest stuff online, texting constantly, writing emails by the score, and sending out updates through Twitter and Instagram….all valid forms of communication…none of which involves active listening on our part.  It’s important for anyone’s career that they develop the ability to listen well.  Valid criticism has a role in our lives.  It can build us personally and professionally, depending on how we choose to listen and learn through it.  Always be open to hearing another person’s perspective, insight or measure of your performance.  By listening well, you will not only learn something new about yourself, but in addition you will be giving yourself an opportunity to grow.

Me and the Coach….Getting Close to Greatness

photoIt was the summer of 1977.  I was between my junior and senior year of high school, just starting to work part-time to earn a little cash so I could pay for the insurance on my first car, a 1973  AMC Hornet fastback.  Outside of  school and work, basketball was probably one of the biggest things in my life.  I had just finished a basketball camp held at Santa Clara University here in northern California two weeks earlier, but now, I was on a plane headed for southern California, to join my fellow future star athletes for a week in the dorms at beautiful Point Loma College, right on the beach.  I was headed down to take part in an amazing opportunity:  I was fortunate to be able to participate in the John Wooden Basketball Camp.

Many people know the name of John Wooden.  He was one of the all time leading college coaches, leading the UCLA men’s basketball team to eight consecutive national titles.  Many players from his teams went on to tremendous professional NBA careers, including Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would later become his name), Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes and Marques Johnson. Known by many as “the Wizard of Westwood”, John Wooden built an incredible legacy of not only basketball, but of coaching, of mentoring, and of life itself both before, during and after his tenure with UCLA.  He was the first person to ever be inducted twice into the Basketball Hall of Fame, first as a player and then again as a coach.  If you follow basketball at all, you’ve probably heard of him.

I grew up with the notion that one day I’d attend UCLA, maybe even play basketball for John Wooden.  That was the plan I had, anyway.  But that just wasn’t meant to be.  Ironically, years later my oldest daughter would graduate from UCLA, first as an undergraduate with her Bachelor’s Degree, and then again a second time from their law school.  While in school at UCLA she’d send me jerseys and sweatshirts, and a John Wooden basketball T-shirt or hat…..great stuff!  But back to 1977….

At the basketball camp I had a great experience.  Each day began with exercises on an open basketball court 30 feet from the beach, looking out at the waves, and led by the coach himself, John Wooden.  After breakfast in the school cafeteria, we’d get a chalkboard lesson by Dr. Wooden on basketball fundamentals, followed by practice in our squads, and then an afternoon scrimmage or two, along with some lessons from the resident pro athletes at our camp that week (in my case it was Marques Johnson and Schwen Nader, two former UCLA players and NBA professionals).  Dr. Wooden was there at every session, involved and actively leading us.  What an experience, what an opportunity.

Each morning I looked forward to the “earlybird exercises”, as they were optional and usually had a smaller group.  I’ve always been an early riser, so for me it was a great chance to be outside, in the air, and with a basketball….and (now in hindsight), spending a few moments with one of greatest basketball figures of our modern time.  Although only 17 at the time, I can recall the importance of this time in my life, somehow knowing this was a rare opportunity.  Twice that week I was able to be out early enough to see the coach himself, exercising before the exercises….and remember, this was man already nearing 67 years of age.  Talk about preparedness…..

I put everything I had into that week at Point Loma.  Every scrimmage I was the guy diving for the loose ball, getting open for the fast break or the slam dunk whenever possible, just leaving myself out on the floor.  I wanted to learn, to excel, to win.  And I did it for one reason, really–I was inspired by my opportunity, my surroundings, and my leadership.

Do you want people to be motivated?  To perform in your business environment in the same way as described above?  There are many ways to approach this, but I’ve found over the years that people tend to be inspired by their immediate opportunity, by their surroundings (peers) and especially by the leadership they follow.  What opportunities are you creating for your team? What can you do to pull others into the opportunity?  How about peer relationships?  Are they active at all?  Do they even exist in your company–or do people run for the door every Friday afternoon, never to speak to each other again until Monday morning?  And your leadership team–do they lead?  Are they engaged in the efforts of your organization?  Or distant?

To this day I keep the small,  inexpensive award I received that week at basketball camp in my office (pictured above) and I’ll always remember the congratulatory handshake and pat on the back I received.  I had an amazing opportunity at an early age to rub shoulders with greatness, even if it was a brief moment in time.  It was something that made an early impact on me and will not be forgotten.  That week, in the middle of summer, 1977, will always be cherished.  Thank you Coach Wooden, for your inspiration, your commitment, your leadership.


Are You Ready For Some Football?

levis-stadiumI had the opportunity recently to attend a pre-season football game at the newly opened Levi’s Stadium located in Santa Clara, CA.  It is the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.  While the game itself was rather uneventful (the 49ers lost to the Denver Broncos), it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and a great opportunity to see “firsthand” what so much of the excitement has been about over the last several months.  The 49ers football organization has, as you probably have heard already, relocated their franchise from San Francisco, further south in the Bay Area, to Santa Clara.  Here’s some thoughts and observations from my day at the park–


1.  It is a beautiful looking stadium, and very high tech, worthy of representing Silicon Valley and all that the Bay Area has become.  I enjoyed using the built in WiFi service on my iPhone, and no matter where I walked throughout the stadium, I never missed a play of the game, due to the more than 1100 (I think) screens and monitors that are throughout the park.  Some fans near me ordered food from their iPhone and had it delivered right to their seat, which was interesting to watch.  I prefer to get up and stretch my legs, but a brief walk from any seat in the house gets you to a nearby food or beverage stand.  I believe the two large screens at each end of the park are the largest in the NFL league, and you really can’t miss any part of the game.

2.  It wasn’t a cheap date.  Ok, new stuff can cost more, I get that.  Lots of people are complaining about the prices, not only for the tickets, but also for the stuff….the food, the jerseys, the parking….they aren’t cheap.  As much as I want to join the whining bandwagon, you have to be realistic….things cost more today than in years gone by.  Gone are the days of the double-header baseball game, when you could take the family out for a few dollars and enjoy the afternoon.  But the facilities are nice, the seating is well laid out (you can see the game from every seat really, really well), and the concessions are well stocked and well located.  If you are hungry, try one of the food trucks along the “Faithful 49 Fan Walk” out in front of the stadium before heading to your seat.  The food was good, the prices a little more reasonable, and the lines weren’t bad.  I had a BBQ Tri Tip sandwich which was one of the best I’ve had in a long while.

3.  Security was solid and well organized.  My observation is that there was plenty of security, the scanning and systems used up front (including the video cameras that I could see) kept the crowds moving smoothly and the stadium workers and local police and sheriffs were all pretty well in sync.  That’s not an easy task for handling sixty thousand fans at a time.  Even with the alcohol flowing through the concession stands, the crowd seemed to enjoy the facility and there didn’t appear to be any vandalism or criminal behavior present–well done.

4.  Parking wasn’t as bad as expected.  We were able to park in a garage adjacent to the park with our yellow parking pass.  I recommend you buy a parking pass in advance–this will only help your experience.  But there was also plenty of people using mass transit, and bicycles (they have a lot for securing your bike up close to the stadium entrance, which is thoughtful).  There were plenty of people directing traffic which helped as well.

Over all, it was a positive first time experience.  Operationally, Levi’s Stadium seems on top of their game, and certainly ready to house the Super Bowl at the end of the 2015-16 season.  If you get the opportunity to take in a game at the new stadium this year, please do so–you will not be disappointed!  

Mental Exercise

crossfitI’m not in great shape.  I’m not completely out of shape either.  I’m somewhere in the middle, you know the spot, between athlete and armchair quarterback.  I was active through most of my early life, and played sports through college.  Even after getting married and having a family, I managed to stay active in local basketball leagues for quite some time, usually playing against younger challengers and doing reasonably well.

I have what many would consider a “desk job” for the most part, but because I like to stay busy, I tend to only be in front of my computer screen during the day about 30% of the time.  The rest of the time I try to move around, working with my co-workers in the warehouse operations, or with our customer service reps, or another member of the management team.  On the weekends, I stay active, working on my own landscaping, or washing one of the cars, or organizing the garage, fixing an appliance, whatever is on the “to do” list for the weekend.

My wife recently signed me up for a free class at a local “crossfit” gym.  She really wanted me to try it out, and reluctantly I agreed to go.  Wow….I’m still feeling it today even as I write this post.  Crossfit training is a fairly recent trend in exercise that combines some traditional equipment (balance bars and medicine balls) with everyday types of exercise (squats, push ups, running, sit ups, etc.), paced in such a way to work up your cardio and get you moving and sweating.

It was painful….in many ways.  Sure, it was painful on a purely physical level, and I was challenged to really move my body in ways it hadn’t been challenged in quite some time.  But even more importantly, I was challenged mentally and emotionally, in a way I hadn’t expected.  As I moved into the routine for the evening, I could sense my body fighting to get through the exercises and keep up with the rest of the group (who, by the way, were all closer to my kids ages than my own).  But mentally, in my head there was an all out war being waged.  It was as you’d expect, thoughts of “you can’t do this” battling with “keep going, you can do this”…back and forth.  Equally at odds were thoughts of “this isn’t so tough” and “you’re almost there” versus “your knee is going to give out” and “why are you killing yourself with this stuff”.

I came away with thoughts at the end of the night that stayed with me the next morning.  I realized that the mental challenge was way more difficult to get through than the physical challenge.  Sure, I need to exercise, and the benefits of such a program seemed pretty obvious–improved flexibility, weight control, improved overall strength and conditioning–but what was really interesting to me was the mental aspect of pushing myself through the physical activity.

Mental toughness is a key ingredient found in nearly every successful venture. It’s a necessary component of anything worth doing right, whether in life, business, relationships, all of the above.  Physical challenges will vary from person to person, and to be sure, I was probably more challenged than most in my class that evening.  But more importantly, we all shared a common ground–the battle within, the mental game.

As you face your day, be aware that overcoming the mental blocks, the mental “what if’s”, the fears of failure, the self-doubting at times, these are worth focusing on and finding strength to overcome.  If you can get past the mental challenge to the work you face, the obstacles blocking your success will be much easier to overcome.  Remind yourself whatever the challenge you face that you aren’t alone, that others have gone through your particular challenge, or are facing a similar task, and know that “it” can be done, whatever the “it” is.  Pushing through the negative thoughts is half the battle.  Getting the job done is other half, but really, when you consider it all, actually doing the job is the downhill portion of the trip.  If you can set your mind on your challenge with the view that you can and will accomplish the task, you’re likely to be that much more successful in whatever the challenge you face.

Lessons from a Retaining Wall.

build-retaining-wall-heroI recently had the opportunity to take a few days off from my “regular job” to travel to Idaho, visiting my wife’s aunt and uncle.  They live on a very scenic lake north of Boise, surrounded by pine trees, mountain ranges and lots of clean air.

While there I set out to help them in any way that I could.  They are aging, and so there were some pretty obvious projects that needed to be moved along or completed.  One such project was a small retaining wall near their circular driveway.  It had been started nearly five years earlier, but had stopped when my wife’s uncle became ill.  I noticed the four pallets of blocks still parked, with what appeared to be the start of a base that lined the driveway curve.

Thinking it was an obvious choice, I awoke early one morning to surprise everyone by building out the wall.  For me, the visual of seeing the blocks moved off their pallets and into a newly formed retaining wall would be truly welcomed.  Alas, “not so much”.

About half way through the building process, my wife’s aunt stepped outside to the front porch, and noticing what I had done, quickly asked me to hold up.  Apparently Uncle Tommy had envisioned a different way to build the wall.  I found my wife’s uncle, asked him about it, and after hearing of the plan, determined I would need to undo all the work I had done.  What a bummer.

Lots of sweat, and a sore back later….I had some thoughts.  Here they are, in no particular order…maybe something useful for you in your life, in managing your business operations, or maybe even with your role as a parent:

1.  Good intentions are….good intentions.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that good intentions alone make for a successful business operation.  They don’t.  They aren’t a bad way to get started, but in the end, really, they don’t amount to much at all.  They are only intentions.  Same truth applies to work, to parenting, to just about everything in life.  Intentions are a great starting point, but not enough to be successful at anything really.

2.  There is wisdom in seeking the counsel of others.  My wife told me not to pursue this particular dream, but I didn’t listen to her.  She was right…I was wrong.  Sometimes we really think we know best, that we have a great idea, that we’ll show everyone around us once it’s done, etc…but it’s a wise person who bounces their ideas off of those around themselves, if only as a sanity check.  This is a great practice.  And of course, it works well if you take others advice into consideration when making your decision (honey, you were right, again).

3.  Sometimes our differences aren’t really that different.  Uncle Tommy had a vision in his mind of how the wall would be built, the steps involved in it, etc.  So did I, and really, we were on the same page (sort of).  We both wanted the wall built but our approach was different.  Same is often true in business operations–stay focused on the goal, even if the approach isn’t exactly the same way for each team member.  A great manager understands this truth.  Work with the end result in mind, and ultimately you should end up there.  Most issues within a team stem from not having the same goal, a clear vision, etc.  This is where leadership comes into play, too.  Good leaders communicate clear goals to their teams.

4.  Retaining wall blocks get heavier when you have to move them twice.  Okay, I had to say it.  It was hot, I was sweaty, and they were heavy to start with, and mysteriously became heavier when I had to undo my progress.  Doing the job over to correct your mistakes (which does happen at times) is never fun, so taking the time to plan out our intentions, to engage those around us, to really understand the goal….these are great steps that can help us avoid having to do things twice.  Efficiency balanced with accuracy is what’s needed in most cases, both in Operations, in parenting, in life.  Now get outside and build something!


Mirror Conversations


The art of communication is slowly dying within our society.  At least, that’s the way it appears to me.

I was riding in to my job last week (on my Harley) when I noticed the woman in the car next to me.  She was talking but it appeared no one was listening.  I was wrong.  Someone was listening…in fact two people were listening.  They were small children, sometimes referred to by my father as “pre-people”…little kids, strapped in firmly to their booster seats.  The woman (I’ll presume that she was their mom) was having a conversation with her children through the rear view mirror in her car.

I remember doing that very thing.  I drove a truck for many years (still do on occasion), and when my girls were younger I’d strap them into their seats in the back (it had an extended cab, and then later a full crew cab) whenever we were out and about.  On the way to the store, or the park, or the movies (I don’t think we missed a single Disney film during a 10 year run) or to school, we would have “mirror conversations” constantly.  I miss those days.  At the time they didn’t seem like they were all that important, but looking back now with the benefit of hindsight…oh yes they were very important.  As the kids grew, so did the conversations.  They became more animated, more give and take and more important each time.

The “kids” are all now young adults, and it’s difficult to get them to slow down long enough to have a conversation with them.  There are weeks that sometimes go by, and all I can hope for is that I’ll get a decently quick response to my voicemail soon enough.  And I understand how it is–they all have their priorities, they all are busy, and they all love their dad.  But when we do get the chance to talk, I am amazed at how much more meaningful and valuable the conversations have become.

We live in an age when the technology and tools we have can truly benefit our lives.  But I fear we are entering a time when the art of good conversation may be suffering a bit from the overabundance of technology (if that’s possible).  Texting is common place, the “twittersphere” is active, and why talk when a quick video or “snapchat” photo will do? I use all of these too, so I understand the simplicity and availability of the tools, but we need to remember to talk.  And listen.  And talk some more.  And listen some more.  Even picking up the telephone has at least a little more depth than a simple text message or email.

I work in a building that isn’t all that large.  Email communication is pretty standard fare here, which is fine as a business tool and sometimes required to assist with tracking/remembering details and following up on particular items.  But I still enjoy getting out of my chair, out from behind my desk, and walking the hall to have a conversation, even if it’s only for a few minutes.  As you approach your next week, give some thought towards how you are communicating with those around you.  And put a little renewed effort into having a good conversation every now and then.  You might be surprised by how it makes you feel and think, as well as what it can do to stimulate the other person to communicate better.  Let’s keep our ability to talk, listen and interact with those around us as strong as ever.  It can make a positive difference in our work lives, our family lives and our own personal life.

Thinking Time.






I love riding my Harley.  I’m not a biker per se, but I enjoy riding a 2005 Road King on my relatively short commute between home and the office.  It allows me time to think while focusing on the ride, with very few interruptions.  I agree that motorcycle riding is more dangerous than driving a car.  I also see lots of fearless souls weaving in and out of traffic and “lane splitting”, which is legal here in California,  although not something I choose to participate in.  So I ride conservatively, treating my vehicle as if it were a car, and do what I can to be as safe as possible while riding.

But the focus of this brief discourse isn’t riding, it’s about having some “thinking time”.  I’m old enough to remember the days when you called home before leaving the office, to check on plans, or the grocery list, or whatever else you might want to know–there were no cell phones, so you called.  But it was understood that once the call was finished, you would be out of touch during the commute time.  It was a peaceful experience.  You could opt to listen to the radio or a favorite CD or cassette (note that I did not include 8 track tapes), or you could simply drive, but you had some uninterrupted “me” time…time to think, time to plan in your head, time to unwind from the office or work stresses.

With the onset of the smart phone, we’ve basically lost this precious window of solitude.  Emails, calls and text messages can and do come through at all hours of the day and night, whether we want them or not.  It is up to us to consciously choose how we manage the inbound flow of communication.  I’m a big believer that we all need some quiet time, time that we can spend in reflection, inside ourselves, just to reset our balance and sort out all that life throws our way.

How do you maintain a balance?  Are you living with a constant connection to your smart phone or tablet or PC?  It can be challenging to turn off the device (or at least turn it to silent mode) for fear that something, some tidbit of information, might be missed.  But what are we missing when we live our lives focused on our devices first?

Carve out some “me” time.  Take time to think….not to do, but just to think.  Enjoy the peace that comes with it, and build it into your lifestyle in some way.  For me, riding the Road King provides me with much more than just transportation.  I get a chance to “breathe mentally”, to escape the stresses of the day, if only for a few moments.  Find your method and stick with it.  You’ll be glad you did (thanking me is optional).

Know Your Team – Know Your Strengths.

I love working on older trucks and cars.  I’m no mechanic, by anybody’s standards, but over the years, and through lots of trial and error, I’ve picked up a few pieces of information about how carburetors work, troubleshooting small electrical issues with lights, replacing a starter motor, removing skid plates from a Hummer (that’s a fun one) and so on.

I’m currently in the middle of a small restoration, reviving a 1963 Ford F100 pickup truck.  It’s definitely a family effort, primarily involving my wife and my stepson as well as any time I can squeeze out of my own schedule.  It’s slow but coming along and ultimately I will be the beneficiary of a daily driver when finished.


Thank goodness for the team.  My wife knows upholstery, carpeting and paint and body work pretty well (she’s done her share of projects over the years and started life spending time around race cars with her father who sponsored a few way back in the day).  My stepson is pretty handy with a wrench, can troubleshoot most mechanical issues, and pretty handy to have around for small, tight spaces that even a Russian gymnast might find challenging.  Between the three of us, we make a pretty good team and our strengths can augment and compliment one another.

When building or developing a team in business, it’s always good to step back and look at the overall landscape, rather than focusing too much on individuals.  As managers part of our role is to know the strengths of our team members, and then capitalize on those strengths.  They won’t all be exactly alike one another, but if we do our jobs correctly, they can compliment one another and ultimately enjoy success.  Any solid operational plan will involve this concept along the way.  The same goes for your supply chain, your logistics partners, and your service providers.

I’m looking forward to driving the F100 soon, and will likely brag (as I do) about how talented my team members were with the project.  Now…where did I leave that wrench?