Winning in business is like winning at parenting.
You do it and hope like hell you’re not a buffering buffoon.
You’re smart but also lucky.
Getting into business is easy.
Staying in business is a combination of your wits and the will of the gods.
Just like good parenting, your business decides who it becomes.
Hopefully, you’ve done enough “right” things to build the path.
Others decide if they take the path.
Although you think you might be in control, pandemics, government regulations, and changing customer sentiment can demonstrate that even a great captain can’t avoid all icebergs.
Talk to most business owners and the humble ones will give credit back to their employees.
“We wouldn’t be here without the great team”,
“Our employees are second to none”,
“We’ve been fortunate to hire great people”.
There’s no doubt that great businesses have equally great employees.
But they also have their share of Bubba’s, Jim-Bob’s, and Tina-Marie’s.
We never talk about those guys.
We try to avoid hiring them, but they’re like little snakes.
They slither through your hiring process, get past the probationary period, and then shed their happy exterior to reveal their rotten innards.
If you ever lost sleep over a dumbass thing an employee did, you probably have a Bubba on your team.
If you’ve never had a Jim-Bob, you’re either lying to yourself or extremely lucky.
Be careful, luck has to fade at some point.
Building effective teams is hard.
Employees leave for more money.
They follow their baby momma to a different city.
They go back to school to pursue a new direction.
They have personal problems like drugs, gambling, or women.
And their problems become your problems.
Despite all of this, you show up every day to fight off the challenges of another storm.
You straighten your furrowed brow and iron out the worry lines around your eyes.
And when you succeed, you give all the credit to them.
Because let’s be honest, you couldn’t do it without the good ones.
And when you fail, you take all the responsibility.
Again, let’s be straight, you got the biggest shoulders, so you’re the only one who can take it anyways. Plus, you can’t blame anyone. You need the good ones to help you out of the mess.
This post is not something I read in a book.
That’s for human resources consultants.
I don’t belong with them.
I owned and built my own teams for 15 years.
I didn’t know what I was doing.
I probably still don’t.
But I’ll share what I think was the secret to my greatest success.
It’s not complicated.
In hiring people, I didn’t do any fancy onboarding questionnaires and surveys.
I talked to them. I wanted to know them.
Bubba is good at bullshitting.
I couldn’t always pick him out of the lineup to eliminate him.
I hired a lot of Bubbas. But I found a lot of Valerie’s too.
Valerie was studying at university to become a teacher.
Her friend Melanie had recommended her.
Valerie brought Veronica who brought Eve.
Jenna recommended Nathalie and Lisa.
Jean-Luc gave me Matt and Seb.
Matt met Lisa while working together.
They’re now married with 2 kids.
Within a year, the team was plastered with friends of friends of friends.
Each one of them as good as the last.
The average age of the team was 25. That’s because Lucille, Keith, and Trent were over 50.
There’s a risk in hiring so many friends.
But they weren’t friends before working together.
They became friends.
They became family.
And when Jean-Luc didn’t show up to work because of too much beer the night before, I didn’t have to call him. Jenna drove to his house to pull him out of bed.
Jean-Luc wasn’t letting me down.
He was letting HER down.
Jean-Luc could’ve been a Bubba, but Jenna wouldn’t let him.
Jenna wasn’t a manager. She was working in a team.
Without Jean-Luc, her job was harder.
My job became easier.
When Jenna moved away to follow love, there was a list of replacements waiting on the sidelines wanting to work with one of their friends.
In analyzing where hiring success came from, there was one other thing I noticed.
The best student employees were studying to become teachers and nurses.
Not doctors, or social workers.
Jean-Luc is a doctor today.
I believe people who choose teaching or nursing want to help others.
They care about something bigger than themselves.
In hiring only students who wanted to be nurses and teachers, it changed my life.
The clouds pulled back, the sky was blue and the oxygen was pure
The team worked like a Honda engine.
The team fired them before the customers fired us.
If you measure winning by sales, I think we won.
Our comp sales grew 43% in 2008.
I heard, there was a housing and mortgage crisis that year.
Someone called it the Great Recession.
We never felt it.