Founder’s Focus: Oh, That’s What This Is?

Growing the business one bass at a time.

Advice, particularly for business owners and entrepreneurs is everywhere . . . as I scroll through LinkedIn, advice is coming from the influencers I follow and my connections; it graces the covers of books in the airport bookstore; and I even get daily text messages and emails.

Advice is good, but I’m not always sure what to do with it.

That’s how I’ve come to believe that advice and action may be relatively near each other in the dictionary, but they are separated by interpretation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as a particular adaption or version).

Too often the advice is missing “the how” behind my using (or not using) it in my daily practice?  In other words, the advice fails to answer a key question that can be asked a couple different ways:  How do I adapt it to work for me?  What’s the version of this I can use?

Let’s talk about a specific example I’m familiar with.  One thing that shows up in pieces of advice like “7 things successful entrepreneurs do. . .” is the notion of a quiet time or a “pause” for entrepreneurs.  Sometimes it’s referred to as meditation, but it also can be called recovery, reflection, centering, getting present, or even mindfulness (a new buzz word).

Regardless of what it’s called, the advice is the same: entrepreneurs are supposed to take “time” to be successful because that’s when the great things can be allowed to manifest.

I’m the first to admit I can be a skeptic of things like yoga, meditation, etc.  And anytime I’m faced with the notion of a pause, unfortunately all I can envision is meditation.  Thinking of me sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor of a quiet in a room by myself with no interruptions and distractions is a bit scary.  Because I’ve got three active kids, a brutal travel schedule, an internal clock no longer attached to a time zone, very few precious minutes of downtime, and some body image issues.  And since I’m getting real honest here, I’m going to even admit that I bought a book about 10 years ago called “8 Minute Meditation” and I never gave it 3 minutes of my time.

Because ‘meditation’ seems impossible and it appears that all the successful entrepreneurs are doing it, I can’t help but feel the fear of missing out (FOMO), question my motivation, and ponder whether my reluctance is holding my business back.

So how am I still here after all these years?  I finally found the answer. . . and it wasn’t what I thought it was.

I found out that I’ve been doing what other successful entrepreneurs do, but I didn’t know I was doing it.  I actually do pause to meditate, reflect, refresh, etc.

And it came to me in a total “Oh, That’s what this is?” moment.

Here’s how I figured it out.

I was sitting on a plane and listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Gary Vee) and out of nowhere it came to me that in coming through recent struggles with growing my business, I’d been fishing.  Not fishing for business, but literally casting a line fishing.

Nearly every free night and weekend day for a month my youngest and I were on the lake and I was staying far longer than normal (and not at my son’s urging).

A catch of the day. . . not long before I caught the catch of my life.

This was immediately followed by reminiscing about when I decided to start my business back in 3rd quarter of 2007 after a week on a river fishing for pink salmon . . . and when my now wife gave me the ultimatum – commit or quit – which led to two weeks on a river from which I returned with a grand (and successful!) plan.  You get the point.

I had finally discovered that when I’m out there (lake, river, pond, ocean, etc.), it’s quiet.  Not just quiet on the water, but actually quiet (relatively) in my head.

Fishing isn’t just some hobby I can list in my profile, nor an activity I do with my kids because my dad did it with me.

Fishing is “that” time for me.

So the good news is I’ve been meditating, pausing, reflection, etc. all along.  I just failed to interpret what I was doing as being my version of what other successful entrepreneurs are doing.

Note: this blog is the second in a series of blogs I’m writing on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s core services, but definitely relate to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Founder’s Focus: How I Hire Talent

Note: this blog is the first in a series of blogs I hope to write on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s services, but definitely related to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses.

Running a small business is challenging, but growing a small business is even harder.  One of the major challenges for small businesses as they grow is hiring additional staff.

Posting a position and receiving hundreds of resumes to review isn’t practical, I’ve got a business to run.  Plus, resumes are of limited insight as they really only show that person’s ability to proof read and that person’s story-telling – it’s natural instinct (even coached) to tout the performance and contributions of oneself much like my 7 year old might when we return from a day fishing at the lake.

My first significant experience hiring employees occurred in my mid-20s when I worked at a growing real estate company.  Responsible for growing a division of the company, I deliberately hired individuals fresh out of college despite their lack of experience and I made my hiring decisions based on specific talents I though each person brought to the team.  It was an incredible success and the individuals that worked for my division grew considerably and have gone on to have incredible careers.  While I’d like to say it was the result of a great strategy, at that point in my career it was born out of my arrogance and unwillingness to hire someone that had more experience than me.

The success I had in this early part of my career has been a major influence in my hiring.  From that experience, I’ve confirmed

  1. The traditional hiring process doesn’t work for a small business like mine
  2. While I’d like experience, I can succeed by hiring someone with 70% of the talent I need
  3. I have to be committed to developing any new employee regardless of their experience or skills

To make new hires (interns, or full- or part-time employees), I still look to recruit from students at colleges, universities, communities colleges and even high school (junior/seniors).  To start the hiring process I reach out to educators and ask them to pass along  to students looking for work.

And instead of having them submit a resume, I ask them to review a Candidate Opportunity Packet, and complete and return our Skills Simulator (example below).

Candidate Skills Simulator 2.1