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Al Writes

Office Politics and Gossip

My dad raised my brothers and sisters and me on the phrase, “If you’ve got nothing good to say, say nothing.”

Well, in corporate America and elsewhere in our society today where face-to-face and cyberbullying is rampant… that ship has sailed.

The question is should you participate in this?

In the old days (think Seinfeld TV show era… no… not the syndicated reruns or what you pull up on your phone from YouTube) there was always the water cooler topics of the day. The show itself was a catalyst for talking about a lot of things that had formally been taboo or just not thought of, or at least never expressed that way was safe or kind of safe to talk about.

The reality is that in our more politically correct era too many topics are off the table for discussion (probably should have always been the case), and we can weigh the pros and cons to that, but the reality is that there is office dynamite – that’s office gossip and office politics (different than the politics of our government but also something highly charged if pushed too far).

The truth is that we must accept that you’re never going to totally stop the Office Gossip and Politics because we, as people, love to talk and hear ourselves talk, and there’s a part of us that likes throwing others under the bus, and that for some is human nature.

What role do we as owners have in all of this?

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Write Your Game Statements

When I begin work with a new client, I seek to understand their company and how it ticks today. I also need to understand how the owner or owners function today.

That’s why I like to get to Leadership Power before I dive into Marketing Power….what?

Yep, the reason for doing Leadership Power before Marketing Power is to clarify the owner’s vision of what the company’s mission, position in the market (or how they go to market that differentiates them) and what they hope it will look like when they’re all done. Otherwise, the Marketing Power is off to work in the wrong direction vs. in synch with the goals and mandates that Leadership Power identifies.

I run them through a series of exercises that help reveal to both of us what they really want from their business and their personal life in the next 3 to 5 years. Yes, your business life is directly tied to your personal life. It’s not meant to be all consuming as it is to many contractors. Your business should be designed to serve your personal life, not the other way around.

To me, the often used phrase that speaks to Leadership Power is, “If you don’t care where you end up, any road will do!”

I don’t know about you, but I know myself and my clients, and we care an awful lot about where we end up; so, that’s why we spend time defining in WRITING the following:

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The 7-Power Contractor Testimonial by Matt Jones

“Loving the book. I had read it before, but reading it again – it’s like a totally different read in a good way.”

“As a regular guest on my podcast, The Site Shed, Al is always a wealth of information on so many topics.

When Al first came on the show a number of years ago, I read The 7 Power Contractor in digital format, and it was great. Recently, however, I have re-read the book in paperback form, and it’s like I’ve read an entirely different publication.

It’s potentially a testament to where I’m currently at in my business; however, it’s like it’s been written for me.

**I should add at this point that I am no longer a contractor either. Sure, my clients are; however, I run a digital agency and a business podcast. Regardless, this book is more relevant than ever to me, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that this book will only benefit contractors.

The key takeaways for me have been Al’s ‘Meeting Manifesto’ and his detail around Organizational Charts. Of late, I have learned how important it is for businesses to have those things in order.

On behalf of myself and my audience, I want to say a big thanks to Al for his tireless commitment to the industry and his ongoing dedication to helping individuals and businesses become the best they can be.”

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What Are You So Busy Doing?

“What are you so busy doing?”

This is what I ask contractors who reach out to me and even those I work with. It’s not that I don’t know how it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done. But, I’ve been a contractor, so I do know that you can get it all done, but only if you’re busy with the right things.

Actually, I hate it when someone keeps telling me they can’t get their projects done because they’re too busy. What’s the purpose in saying this? Pity? Sympathy? Empathy? Any other buzz words I’ve missed? Does it help get things done?…..NO!

Get over it!

We’re all busy. There’s a million and one ways to be distracted and overwhelmed. Let’s start with the miracle of technology. You can now be reached by email, text, Facetime, Slack and a whole lot more ways than that. It all seemed so great when we got our smart phones. Now, we have to live with the fact that we’re addicted to them and we are pulled away from focusing on the right things.

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Goals, Beliefs and Actions: The Foundation of Leadership

When I first moved out to Phoenix, I brought the souvenirs of my career with me – a bad back and bad knees. My wife suggested that I sign up for a Yoga class, which I did with the sole purpose of my getting some physical relief.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I now love Yoga! It has been life-altering both physically and mentally.

One day as I was stretching out in class, the teacher was talking about some different philosophies. One of the things she mentioned is that if you set goals and you have actions attached to them – but you never seem to reach those goals – the step you might be missing is belief.

An illustration would be you’re a heavy person, like I’ve been most of my life, and you have the goal of losing weight. You know all of the actions – eat right, eat smaller portions, and exercise more often. But if you don’t believe that you’re a thin person – if you believe that you’ll always be a heavy person – it’s never going to change. So what we need to tie together are our goals (what we want to achieve) and what we really believe. And make sure that what we believe is in sync with our goals. And then take the appropriate actions that will make those goals a reality.

This applies to running a business every bit as much as it applies to your life.

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Making It Okay for Your Employees to Ask for Help

Is it okay for your Employees to ask for help at your company?

You might say yes. But, I wonder if that’s true.

The reason I wonder if that’s true is because at my shop it wasn’t. We had a typical New York shop full of “know it all” mentalities. That meant it was dangerous to expose what you didn’t know because at the very least it was cause for your boss and co-workers to unleash a ton of ridicule.

The other reason I know that your staff is probably highly unwilling to show you what they don’t really know is because I, myself, the boss’s kid (as someone who had risen to be the 2ndbest Tech at our shop of 25 Techs) would spend time talking Customers out of repairs that I wasn’t fully confident I could do.

Yes, that’s right I, the boss’s kid, would do that.

Also, the reason I believe that your staff won’t show you what they can and can’t do is because they probably oversold what they actually can do when you first hired them. Now they’ve become overly protective at exposing these weaknesses they have to you or any other management team members at your company.

Here’s what I know. All your employees have holes in their knowledge, and until you make it safe for them to share what they do and don’t know you’re going to be at risk. There will be lost productivity, mistakes or worse things like insurance claims or a sting operation that makes the news and makes you look bad.

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A 5-Step Process to Gain Control at Your Contracting Business

If we met on an elevator ride, could you tell me in that short amount of time what key numbers you need to know to run your business effectively?

Probably not.

And that’s okay for today but not for the long-term health and prosperity of your business and you.

I, along with my brothers and dad, kind of ran our company without knowing the key numbers too. So, know that there’s no preaching here but rather a desire to share what we learned as we went along. Know that we had always believed if you worked incredibly hard and kept expenses down the money would follow.

The answer is sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. What I mean is the accountants would walk into our office in December and say, “You had a great year. Go buy yourself some tools and trucks and pay yourselves a bonus.” We liked that visit very much!

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The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

What’s the difference between a Leader and a Manager?

I get asked this question a lot when I do seminars and workshops. And even when I do 1-to-1 consulting. It’s a great question because this can be a confusing distinction between the two roles.

To me, a Leader has a vision and they share that vision with others as they try to move the company where they see it should be, so they end up where they want to go.

A Manager is busy getting the day to day stuff handled so the Leader can focus on the direction and the vision.

Leaders and Managers are both critical to the long-term success of any business.

But, there’s an issue that tends to pop up a lot when I work with clients. That issue is where there are Leaders and Managers and they are not sharing the same vision and they’re busy plotting separate courses for the company. It would be akin to have a car barreling down the highway with four people wrestling to grab the steering wheel and drive. Nothing good is going to happen in this scenario.

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Being Home Service Experts | The Home Service Expert

As plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical contractors, we are also home service experts. We have to be! Now, thanks to serial entrepreneur and $30 million home service business owner Tommy Mello, there’s a podcast for us, and he invited me to be on it to talk business.

Tommy’s guests include many $100M+ home service company CEOs and other top entrepreneurs. His mission is to get the information out there that people need to run a more successful home service business.

You can check out the episode here. It’s now live!

P.S. If you like the episode, remember to leave Tommy a review on the iTunes show page. Thanks!

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The Importance of Getting Away from Your Business

I grew up working in my family’s heating business. And my dad’s coaching to his very young sons was, “We don’t do winter sports or take winter vacations.”

Basically, it meant every living breathing moment from Labor Day till April 1st was to be spent working in the business.

That made for a crazy time that could wear us and our employees down.

But, the nice thing was my wife saying to me in summer, “You home again?” or, “You’re going out to play golf again?”

That all changed when we branched out into the plumbing and cooling trades. Then, we had to be available 24/7/365. And my wife then began to say, “Are you ever coming home?”. Or, “When are we ever going to have time for a vacation?”.

The answer, for a pretty long time, was “never”.

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