On Purpose

Repacking Bags- Richard LeiderRepacking Your Bags

Lighten your load for the rest of your life.

Simply put, this book is about considering the choices you’ve made in life, and making decisions based on this idea: “Live in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.”

In a recent meeting, I heard a comment from two younger member of the group….something to the effect….”I really don’t like what I do.” 

Over the years, this seems to be quite common among those in the work place. I often wonder why? Our work takes up a great deal of time….we should like what we do. If not change.

Repacking Your Bags was written several years ago as a look at doing what you really like to do. Sure it’s a motivational book….however, we need to learn from a multitude of resources and this a good resource.

The same principles apply to business:

  • Do business where your business belongs
  • Gather the right people together who like the business
  • Have a clear purpose on why you are in business

Simple yes….difficult to execute….unless you really understand that the intangibles provide the foundation for a great business.

My advice to the folks in the group: Be clear on your purpose for work.




“You can’t shrink your way to greatness.”  (T. Peters)

ShrinkIt’s the middle of the summer, it seems the summer doldrums are in place. I remember in our business, while summer was a great time to enjoy the outdoors, everyday had to be a new and better day.

What could we do to grow the business? Even when the economy was difficult in Michigan….we could not shrink our way to the future. We couldn’t hunker down and wait for times to get better.

So instead of shrinking….Seek out new: 

  • products/services
  • customers
  • ways of doing business
  • markets

That’s just what Harley-Davidson is doing. Today, Harley announced nine new motorcycle models for 2010. While the company expects to ship about 25-30% less fewer motorcycles in 2009….and is eliminating production for several weeks….it is not shrinking  its way to a better future.



Be Professional

Perhaps I have gotten a little demanding over the years. Especially in today’s world, businesses must present an outstanding product or service. And not just outstanding….excellent!

ScribbleLast week, I received a nine page fax regarding a real estate transaction. Everything seemed OK, except the last page. The last page was a work sheet. Some numbers were crossed out, odd numbers were scribbled along the bottom…the work sheet itself was incomplete.

This product wasn’t done professionally. Why would I take this person on as an agent, if even a simple worksheet was not done properly? At the most it would have taken a few minutes to recopy the material.

This agent, because he sent out a product less than excellent (and unprofessional), incurred the loss of at least $3,000 and possibly $6,000.

In a challenging marketplace, it is absolutely necessary to –

Be Professional

Don’t Coast

100 years

We’re not getting to 100 years and stopping,” Vredeveld said. “We can’t just coast.”

KSM Vredeveld Shoes 4Remember Buster Brown Shoes?

Vredeveld Shoes in Fremont, MI in business since 19o9. Fremont is a lovely small semi-farm town in Western Michigan….know for Gerber Baby Foods and less known for Fremont Airport (where I learned to fly small aircraft….maybe a future story on that.)

As with most small businesses, it’s difficult to compete with Wal-Mart and there is a Super Center in Fremont, pop. 4300.

I don’t know if Mr. Vredeveld has a business degree or even went to college. However, he did say two things are significant for any business:

  • We just can’t coast” (even if we have been in existence for 100 years)
  • “You are not just a customer, you are a person.”

Sinking Fast

Recognize Reality

Sinking Fast Business/organizations seem to overlook realty. As long as the door is open….things are OK. When an enterprise is :

+ Losing customers

+ Depleting funds

it’s time get real. Often the difficulty is a failure to act….make decisions….move in a new direction.

Jim Collins wrote in How The Mighty Fall, be willing to:

  • Change tactics, but never give up on your core purpose.
  • Kill failed business ideas, but never give up on the idea to build a great company.
  • Evolve into activities, but never give up on the principles that define your culture.
  • Form alliances, but never give up on your core values.

I’ll admit in my early business life, these ideas were fuzzy. While, I would like to think they were explicit….I suspect that we did the above and really don’t know it.

Now there is another side to this story, if change doesn’t happen, if leadership is unresponsive than it is time to move. Often people get stuck and can’t act.

These folks are Sinking Fast

Staying on the Titanic isn’t going to save the ship.

Oil Change

Customer Options

Oil ChangeWe have an older Honda….it’s used now for trips to the customer convenience center (dump) and to Lowes to haul stuff. It needs an oil change. In the past I would do it myself. Four quarts of oil, a $2 filter and it was done. Of course this required squirming under the car to get the filter off. It could get a little messy.

So being a little older, I called around to get a basic oil change….oil and filter. No need to vacuum, fill the washer fluid….just an oil change. Well at Fast Lube Plus, the price was $38.99, with a $6 coupon- $32.99.

Four quarts of oil, a filter, 10 minutes labor….perhaps $12 –double that for profit and overhead $24. A fair price for a basic oil change.

In todays business world….give the customer an option….don’t lose business simply because there is one price.

While driving past Fast Lube Plus, the bays are seldom full with cars and customers waiting.


Tell the Story

Bath RemodelI’ve written that we are planning to upgrade our home of the past 20 years. So we said, “lets redo the bathroom.” There are several firms in the Raleigh-Durham area that specialize in bathroom remodels. A couple that are franchises and a local independent.

These remodels are fairly standardized. The primary components are acrylic panels that are glued onto the walls and acrylic floor pan if you are converting a tub to shower. As in any remodel,  it’s the quality of work that makes the difference.

I chose the local fellow to come over and take a look at our project. He was likable, explained the product and process.  Barry also owned the company.

Barry told his story.

Now, we need to evaluate the offer and make our decision. This was an excellent sales presentation….doing everything that I believe must be done.

After all everything we do is selling in one form or another.

I will have to admit….that the conversation drifted after the presentation into what I did….I hope that what I said in relating to my business ideas was well taken….as it was, Barry was a good listener, too! (or was that also part of the sales process?)