Milk & Screws

We have all seen that one person stick out head and shoulders above the crowd. Somehow its mesmerising or other times is just a false alarm. Depends what’s on the menu and what catches the eye.

Now, we have also heard, “first impressions last” or make that “first impression count”, Once again, it depends on what side of the impression you are on.

I’ve had the privilege to work with many CEOs & MDs that have positively influenced my life. All of them had many traits in common, one of which, they actually just cared. Nothing rocket science about that. All of that care, as their primary trait; has to a large part contributed to my success: both business and personal. Success in my case is “its ok to make mistakes but soldier forward, having enough money for running shoes and never slapping stupid people.

Anyhoo, about 11 years ago I was unemployed and finally got a call from a company for an interview the following Monday. I dressed up in my best suit, 2 sizes to big (i was much thinner back then), polished my shoes and walked shoulders back and chest out. Interview must have gone well (great first impression) as I got a second interview with the MD that Friday. And that’s when things kicked off…

Now for the record, when HR called me for the second interview, i EXPRESSLY asked about dress. Not wearing a dress, but should it be suite and tie or business casual. HR responded with, go casual. Evident to say, casual was not a choice I gave HR. So, playing it safe, business casual was my choice. Nicely snug between formal and casual.

The following events happened in a split second.

Walk into the office. See MD. See MD outfit. See my outfit. See the difference. And freeze.

I started the interview with an apology and throwing HR under the bus. Way to go big guy! The MD was dressed in suite and tie and looked like a million bucks. My outfit that I thought was a million bucks was reduced to R100. Hows that for deflation! I apologised for getting my business casual attire incorrect and the MD responded, relax man. Its cool. I wear suite and tie everyday. He then offered me coffee, I said yes (sheepishly) and then he walked over to the kitchen asking about sugar & milk etc. I said yes and yes and opened the fridge and handed him the milk… and that’s how I landed the job!

Say what???

Handing someone milk got me the job!!!

Turns out that the MD had a different approach to business, people and interviews. Also turns out he owned a carpentry business on the side that did shop fitting for large multinationals. One of his interview techniques for new carpenters was brilliant. He would take them to the workshop floor and stand around a workbench. On the workbench were 20 or so wood screws and he would, with slight of hand knock them all off. If the potential carpenter kneeled down, picked up all the screws and arranged them head-to-toe and handed them back to the MD, they would get the job. If not, the MD would let him know that they didn’t pass the interview, explaining why.

His explanation for this interview technique; the milk and screws, is to verify a person’s ability too “paying attention” when it matters most. That’s it!

Reviewing the interview; the MD always wanted to see if “we” not “he” was going to make the coffee. Turns out and thankfully so, I had my head on that morning and was paying attention. I saw that the coffee job wasn’t going to be complete, unless I handed him the milk. I mean, I was standing right next to the damn fridge. Give a brother some help! And the rest is history.

First impressions are not about beautiful red dresses worn to the ball, the ripped jock and his six pack abs (although that would be awesome) or the best candidate for a job. First impressions is about paying attention on a daily basis and being responsible to the person that chooses you to do great things together.

 

If you find grammatical errors contained within, please assist & correct me to become a better writer.

Your comments and feedback is always welcome!

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Check in

Facebook sends us all kinda stats nowadays. Interestingly enough, one of the most liked posts I have received was when I “checked in” somewhere. Can’t actually remember where its was, but the most memorable “check in” experience was not when I checked in on Facebook. Its when I “checked in” to life

I have been fortunate to work with some great business leaders that actually “care” more about their staff than they do about their pockets. From my experience, their pockets take care of themselves when they focus on their staff’s growth, development and daily well being. Though this “care” is firm but fair, I have been on the receiving end of tough conversations that has assisted me with accelerated growth; in all areas in life – especially personal and work relationships. 

Just the other day, I had a “check in” experience with a rockstar CEO. I call him rockstar because of the humility that he carries himself with; regardless of his incredible business success and most certainly the humanness in how he spoke to me… genuinely wanting to guide a young man to focus on things that are responsible and have meaning.

The story goes…

With me turning 41 somehow raised a few questions about life. Not sure if it’s something in the water, or the way the earth rotates around the sun. Anyhoo, in steps Rockstar CEO and I ask for some of his time. He clears his schedule and takes me for a coffee and a toasted sandwich.

Long story short…

He summarised the past 15 years of his life with meticulous detail. But somehow the conversation seemed so short but richly dense with information. Definitely too intense for my life to truly grasp the gravity of his experiences from one sitting. I knew I would be making notes, reviewing, reflecting and then slowly with courage attempting to apply these life lessons. However, his conclusion made me realise that I didn’t have to duplicate everything he did. I just had to remember something, the most important thing while doing what I do on a daily basis. And his conclusion: life is not about what you do, it’s who you do it with?

Speechless!

This is one of those times, you just shut up and sit at the feet of wise counsel. Not his money, not his assets, not his reputation in the business world featured in the conversation. It’s who he did all those things with that matters most. The value that he places on humanity on a daily basis is what gives his live meaning and how he has become successful and maintains it. It’s about the journey with people.

So now what?

Beware of wisdom not earned – Carl Jung.

There are no shortcut strategies in life. The space between knowledge and wisdom seems self-evident; just as the difference between being clever and being real is a ‘thing’. These ‘spaces’ critically inform our thinking, speech, choices, eventual behaviours (Pershouse, 2018) and life’s outcomes 

If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business. People must come first!

Make people a priority in your life. It does matters how you speak with them and treat them. Thats were the most meaning in this life resides.

“Check in” to this life… not just into Facebook.

 

Pershouse, O. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/beware-wisdom-earned-owen-pershouse-1/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2018].

I ruined my marriage…

What is in a name?

There is a story doing the rounds, not sure how true it is, but it has an incredible moral lesson in it for us all. Let me tell it with less accuracy and more drama & humour. I’ll be sure to keep the moral compass flying high.

When Alexander the Great ruled, he was feared among nations. One day, when he was not conquering the known world and driving fear into his neighbours, he was in his castle resting. By resting, he had a drinking problem (this is fact) and probably kicking back on the couch watching Netflix – Love Island. While he just got into the series, he was interrupted by one of his guards. His guards walked into this lounge (picture that if you will) with a sentry in hand, who was caught sleeping while on the job. The sentry was thrown to the floor and visibly shaken from what his fate may be. Alexander the Great was known as a man for little time when it comes to excuses and failure.

With anger, Alexander the Great asked his guard why he would dare interrupt him watching season 1 episode 3 of Love Island? The guard responded with fear and great apology that his sentry was found sleeping at his post, while he was responsible for guarding the castle. After picking up the remote and pressing pause to ensure he missed nothing, Alexander the Great turned his attention to a man on the floor, stood up and never came close to towering over him. This is largely due to Alexander the Great being shorter than your average man (this is fact). He leaned over and asked the sentry; what is your name? The sentry with a fear filled tone answered, my name is Alexander. Your name is what? The sentry replied again, my name is Alexander. The other Alexander, the Great one was filled with rage and picked the sentry off the floor, stood him to his feet and yelled out… either change your name or change your conduct!

What is in a name?

Why do certain names have importance, while others get lost in history?

Why should people care about your name?

What in the world do names, Alexander the Great and a weeping soldier have to do with this?

Your name is linked to everything you say, think and do i.e. your behaviour & character or as Alexander the Great put it… your conduct! Hence, the “importance” is tied to some names, and “lost in history” for others.

Men with an ounce of ambition, walk through life with the purpose of leaving a legacy. This is a good thing. Legacy is broken down into various categories but you get the just of it. All of this is pointless, if you have achieved eternal riches, mega mansions, drive the fastest car’s, have the hottest blondes or brunettes as wives etc… but lost your soul along the way i.e. lost your name i.e. behaviour and character along the way!

Inheriting the world is a fool’s goal. Seek to inherit your partners heart and trust in your lifetime. Start there and the rest generally falls into place.

Be a leader of your relationship, day in and day out. Guide, nurture and make changes for the empowerment of both parties. Never give up developing good long lasting character, and behaviour that your name will live in the annals of history. Even if you are just remembered on a Facebook or twitter post for being the most incredible “NAME” someone had the blessing of spending time with.

Your name is important. Live up to it regardless of the challenge!

In conclusion, it is not as easy as it sounds, but living up to your name on a daily basis is easier than this one sentence. I ruined my marriage because I did not live up to my name!

Further watching on leadership:

Want to sound like a leader? Start by saying your name right by Laura Sicola

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02EJ1IdC6tE

Happy Birthday Tommy

Highlighting people’s shortcomings in public is bang out of order!

Let’s call him Tommy. His real name is a little cooler than that, but that is not the point.

Happy 21st Birthday son, I heard his father say through tear filled eyes. All the while Tommy’s childhood photos played in the background on PowerPoint autoplay which totally messed with my OCD. I couldn’t watch the presentation as my frustration with the layout pushed my OCD through the roof for 2 reasons. 1) the photos weren’t even resized and centered (like normal people do) & 2) Tommy was very naked in most of the photos. Guys don’t look at guys regardless of how far back these photos were taken.

Apart from looking the other way, I was paying attention to his father’s speech. Tommy’s father was holding back his tears while toilet paper was the choice to wipe away the father son highs & lows over the past 21 years. The highs were elaborated and the crowd cheered and laughed and the lows were made highlighted but no details provided. To be honest, not knowing what these lows were that Tommy’s father was alluding too, they could easily be imagined as even the guests tone & vibe changed. Upon completion of the birthday speech, Tommy father gave him a 21st key that his father gave him so many years ago and then they hugged. And this is todays issue. It ended better than it started.

Having some insights of the family setup; parents are divorced, father has a new missus and the mom a new husband; while Tommy’s sister turned out to be a sweet 14 year old-ish and so what! This is an all too common occurrence and sadly a family’s journey ends different to how it all got started. Welcome to life.

The other issue is one of misquoting these lows. Far to often we all take lows out of context and make it seem that that was the turning point in everyone’s life and why things went wrong. Really? 

Talking about misquoting. I heard an incredible quote by Ernest Hemingway the other day. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Very powerful hey! Turns out that this has been horribly misquoted over the years. Key paragraphs before and after were left out. Go check out https://whatwouldbaledo.com/2015/07/10/six-things-hemingway-never-said/ Which is typical of famous quotes or father son speeches.

So lets get on with it and set the scene; a crowd of people sitting and standing all over a banquet hall while listening to the speaker and looking at the object. While the object sits in the most exposed area of the hall, the object is praised for past achievements, while the lows that are spewed out and steal away from their successes. So defeatist! Imagine if your life’s low’s (failures) were published on the front page of every major newspaper?

I personally don’t agree with family or friends highlighting or alluding to anyone’s past lows; with or without context. Providing or not providing detail. As if your or their life is so superior and without flaw? Logically I cannot deduce why people do that? It’s just foreign to me? Why use the one opportunity to lift up a son, daughter or partner and then allude to their lows and past failures? Flying fruitcakes people. Have we lost our minds. How is that going to allow them to enjoy the rest of the evening? Is this our best thinking when we have a speech to prepare for?

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Thanks for this Ernest. I personally think that “the world” Ernest was talking of is “us”. In other words, “we break everyone”.

If we are not using every opportunity to be kind in word to those around us, especially on special occasions… “we break everyone”. Life is hard enough as it is. Children need to hear their parents say that they are always proud of them, not excusing past mistakes, but not highlighting them either. Here is a life lesson. Discipline, but discipline with love. This is true for anyone, even those in a relationship.

Enough ranting.

Back to Tommy.

In context, I do believe that Tommy’s father never meant any malice or public rebuke of his sons lows. It was just an unprepared speech and the words: right or wrong rolled off his tongue. Personally, Tommy was fed several shooters before his father started his speech. Several during and many more after that. If Tommy heard anything that anyone said, his 21st was the first sober one in history.

Coldplay produced a great song called “Fix You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4V3Mo61fJM&list=RDMMdfnCAmr569k&index=7). Sometimes people don’t need to be fixed. People just need a hug that engages the “autofix” function within ourselves. What could possibly be better than to know that we are cared for, supported and loved, regardless of the past!

Lean over and hug someone today. You’ll be blown away by the power, comfort and healing of a loving hug.

Being right… then being wrong

Don’t be a “dick” about being right when your partner makes a mistake!

All of us has gotten ourselves into a situation that deservedly required a scolding from a friend or loved one.

For guys its generally coming home at an ungodly hour, looking unsightly at that same time while placing the blame on their best mate. At this point, woman have erupted & gone supernova with a raging temper, taking off with new heights; making a Mars landing seem possible.

For girls, it generally (but not always) leans towards spending money on a item of clothing or shoes with the justification that the R2000 spent was all on sale. Men at this point, are left breathless with confusion as how many pairs of shoes can a woman wear? Right now all of us are smiling because we have all done this at one stage or another.

The response from our partners would generally be a negative to say the least. Both men & women tend to highlight the obvious wrongful behaviour and slowly start character assassinating their partners. This would carry on for the reminder of the day; screaming & shouting and lip syncing the most horrible words to the person we say we love. Once both parties reconnect, so much was said, that neither of them remember what the argument was about, while the damage remains.

And that… is why being right can make you wrong!

Let me explain…

Fundamentally, people forget that the only things we can take responsibility for is: 1) for what we say, 2) and for what we do. Far too often I hear people say; “yeah but they made me do so and so” or “because he/she said that, what else could I respond with”. These responses seem plausible but utterly misguided and have ruined many relationships.

Consider this… a sober person was arguing with a drunk. Who is the fool?

When we as humans start considering more about how we speak to one another than how we deliver a justified message, the world will be a better place. Far too often partners are justified in their message but they make themselves wrong through the delivery of that same message!

Is it really necessary to state the obvious through screaming and shouting and then  we character assassinate our partners when they are wrong? Of course it isn’t! But then why do we keep doing it? Our partners are just as prone to mistakes as ourselves. Making a mistake for anyone is hard enough, so why keep piling on the pressure? Im not saying to gloss over your partner’s poor behaviour, but don’t be a “dick” about it!

I live by the value of forgiveness. When anyone, regardless of fault, says “I am sorry”, I forgive them. It releases me from any anger & helps them back onto their feet to try again. Basically, reaching out a hand to help them get up, while touching their hearts to keep standing!

Next time our partners let us down, be kind in word, be sensitive in the tone and remember the purpose is to lift them up afterwards! The delivery of the message is always more important than how justified the message you is to you!