Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Principles of success, a work in progress.


I define success as growth.  Be it personal, intellectual, financial, or any other metric or measurement, growth is the measurement of success just as stagnation is a path to failure.  I believe success cannot happen without clear and concise goals that require opening one’s mind to other points of view allowing education to be the tool it is designed to be.  
 
When defining a goal, its rendering must begin with two questions: does it support the mission?  Is it profitable?  The mission is the prime directive that unifies the team in all its efforts, profit is the accumulation of tools which support the continued efforts of the mission, be them tangible or intangible.  

Once a goal meets the two basic criteria, a plan must be put into place that creates a path from the current status to the desired result.  The plan must take into account any and all constraints or inhibitors that the current status fosters, and education as to how to overcome these boundaries must be sought and accepted in order to lay a path to success.  Once a plan or path has been determined, honest communication throughout the team should clearly define the strengths and weaknesses of each individual to determine the action.  Once the actions have been clarified, the team must focus on the goal as one.

The most difficult part of managing a team through the execution of a plan to success is ensuring each member of the team understands their role, the expectations that are required to be in that role, as well as the profit gained when the goal is met.  This leads to accountability.
Accountability is the ability to learn from a mistake.  When one is not held accountable to the expectations of their role, be it through self-realization or outside influence, they are receiving unwarranted profit.  In order for a team to be successful, all must profit from the growth in equal measure as to their individual dedication to the success of the team.   If an individual not held accountable is rewarded equally among the rest of a team, it will create dissent.  Dissent is an incurable cancer that only creates an impenetrable wall along the path to success, and should be removed at all costs.  

Communication is the ability to speak, listen and understand each individual’s needs as well as the needs of the team as a whole.  In order to reach success, in order to grow, the individual as a single person and as a member of the team must be willing and able to learn, lead, follow, and hold one another accountable regardless of hierarchy with respect and unity through open, honest communication.  The only way to achieve open and honest communication is through trust, and this trust must reside in each individual in order for it to be a pillar in the team as a whole. 
The only way to create trust is through open and honest communication, which is the foundation of every path that leads to success.  

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Passionate people are the worst, and I know this because I am one.

Passionate people who have actually taken the time and put forth the effort to learn about the specific industry, the business of the industry, as well as staying current with trends are heroes.
The problem with passionate people (and I am one when it comes to the bicycle – which has caused me more than enough problems in life), is they need an outlet.  They need to know that what they are working so hard for, the goal they strive to meet, is actually working.  Most are not looking for financial gain, what they search for is meaning in their work: the payoff of actually succeeding with the mission they live for.

What I mean by payoff is a couple different things, and there is no clear metric to determine whether or not the work is paying forward so to speak.  The only way to know for certain if your passionate employee, business partner, owner, etc. is fulfilled is to ask them.  It is as simple as that.  Literally ask them if they feel like their efforts are making them feel like the positive difference is being made.  I for one have never been chasing big dollars, don’t get me wrong I like to get paid, which is why I have had so much difficulty working for people that need financial reward regardless of the quality of job that is completed.   I also know a bunch of people that feel that same way.  They have no problem working their asses off if they know that the end result will be seeing their passion flow into other people.

Too often passionate people are seen as moody, difficult to work with, hard lined, stubborn… insert whatever adjective you like.  The reason they are this way is because they actually care deeply about the worth that their work is creating.  Again, this is not a financial worth but a positive change in their local environment that facilitates their life and the lives of others being better for it.  This is a terribly difficult thing to understand if you are motivated only by financial gains.

What you have to do is find the balance, and this is the most difficult part of building your team.  If money is all you care about, then make sure that you align yourself with people who are passionate about making money, people who couldn’t care less about the widget or service or whatever they are selling.  If you want to have a better bicycle retail and service store, and money is not your primary motivator, then find a partner who’s passionate about making money.  Adversely, if you want to be the most profitable bicycle shop in the area and the financial gains are what motivate you to get up and work seven days a week finding ways to penny pinch here and there, you need to find someone who can balance out your lack of concern with what you sell and how your service is performed.  It is the same thing with a coffee shop, a t-shirt shop, music, rocking chairs; it truly doesn’t matter.

What you have to do is build a team that has faith in your plan while you must have the same faith in their abilities to execute your plan.

How the hell do you do this?

Expectations.   

You absolutely must make certain that each and every member of your team understands the expectations the company has in them as well as the expectations they have of the company.  One of the most important expectations is how you will achieve your goal and the process of which you will execute your plan in order to lay a path to your goal.  This is where the old adage of “cheap, quick, good; pick two” comes into play.  In anything you do, you must articulate and make certain your team can rally under whatever two you choose.

Let’s go a little more in-depth in the explanation.

Cheap: 

this is where you are able to sell your product or service at a lower than average cost to the consumer.  In order to do this you must either source lower quality materials, lower skilled craftsman, or make a much smaller profit on whatever it is you are selling.  Cheap also means you will likely have lower pay for your team members, and will require the skills to create your product or service to be entry level if you are not willing to budge on margin or materials.

Quick: 

speed kills.  Well trained craftsmen and artists can do a job far more efficiently than a beginner.  This is kind of a no brainer, but sometimes people don’t understand it.  When you decide to start your own business or buy a business and begin looking at branding, you literally get what you pay for… just like a plumber.  There is a cartoon out there somewhere that shows a suit and tie guy asking for artwork from an artist, he describes what he is looking for and the artist walks away to get to work.  The next panel shows the artist returning with a rendering of exactly what the suit and tie was looking for in his description.  The suit and tie questioned the artist as to why something he created in fifteen minutes cost $500.  The artist responding by say, “I spent five years in school studying  so I could do this in fifteen minutes.”  You absolutely must consider the time and effort the potential team member has put into their craft when making you selection as to whom you want to work with.

Good: 

this one is easy.  Are you planning to make something that will last for generations or something that will likely break the second or third time it is used?  Are you looking to have a business based on return customers or is this a one and done thing?  Deciding the quality of your business is a very difficult thing to do, but that directly affects your team.  If the expectation of a team member is that the product or service must be perfect and the business is based on a 75% failure rate after a few uses, you will create one hell of a conflict.

When building your business or adding new members to your team, you absolutely have to make certain they understand what the goals are considering these things.  The other way to put it is, would you like the job done quickly, would you like the price to be low, or would you like the quality to be high?   Meeting all three is impossible, so your job is to find the balance between the three that allows you and your team to feel good about the job they do.

The thing you must understand about passionate people is they are not in it for the money.  You need to make sure they can make a nice living, and that when they wake up in the morning or go home at night, they truly feel like they are supported in their work and that they can pay their bills without question.  But a passionate employee will give you everything they have to ensure the end customer is just as excited and happy as they are, and likely more.

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Take care of those who take care of you.

Tips.  I recently visited a takeout place and when I tried to leave a tip, they would not accept it.  I was informed that certain employees had been making food for people, and when they paid in cash they would put the money in the tip jar and not ring up the food – essentially giving it away for free and stealing the money.  The owner fired the person/people involved and decided that they would no longer allow tips to be given in an effort to curb the opportunity.

The cost associated with this is much larger than the free food that was given away.

By eliminating tips and setting a precedent as such, the owner showed they do not trust their employees, even new ones.  The owner is essentially telling the employees that were kept, as well as the new employees who learn of the story that they are on the same level of trust, or rather mistrust, that the dismissed employees were because getting rid of the bad apples was just not good enough.  This was also a punishment for those who were honest, those who followed the rules and protocol for receiving tips.  The absolutely dumbest thing you can do as an owner or manager is punishing those who did nothing wrong as if they themselves were the perpetrator.  

This leads to decrease in employee retention and commitment based on the lack of trust given to them due to other’s action.  What the owner was doing, literally, was saying, “There were a couple people that I could not trust, who were stealing from the company.  I know not everyone was stealing and those who were have been fired for doing so.  However, because a couple people who have already been punished for their actions are no longer employed, I am removing a financial benefit of working here.”

Think about that.  The owner is literally telling people that have access to the register, and who have done nothing wrong, that they can no longer be trusted with taking tips, when these same people have the ability to simply give the food away for free, which I would not be surprised if they did.

It also is a decrease in pay to the employees because regardless of how much tip money was available at the end of the shift, those monies that go directly to employees are no longer available.  This can be a very big deal to those who shared large amounts of tip money on a regular basis.

When I picked up my food, I refused to take the couple dollars in change stating, “I know the rule and I don’t care.”  Yes, from many aspects this was not something that would be perceived as ok to do, and it clearly shows I disagree with the operational decisions of the owners, but what I was doing was showing that I trust the employees, I disagree with the owner’s choice to punish those not responsible for the original issue, and that they themselves are trusted by a customer.

You have to think about the breadth of what you are entrusting your employees with.  If you are an absentee owner or you have multiple locations with multiple managers, or if your business is open and operating at any time without you there, you absolutely must trust your employees to do what you want.  If one or two of them stop doing it, get rid of them as fast as you can.  However, do not, under any circumstances, punish others for what those people did.

The other part of trust is listening to your employees, especially if you hired a person who has more experience and training in one or more of the offerings of your company.

Let’s say you opened a coffee shop and hire a barista because you don’t know anything about how to operate an espresso machine.  You lucked into an individual who has years of experience and training in the operation of the machine, makes wonderful coffee, and is very good at dealing with the trials and tribulations of the job.  They are the professional you better listen to and make sure you understand them when they present an issue.  Keep in mind; they likely have a reputation and a following.  When people come into your coffee shop and see who is making their coffee, or they experience  what this person can achieve for the first time as a new customer, the barista is creating return customers for your business.

If you find they are unhappy for whatever reason, you truly have to weigh the success they bring with what it will take to replace them quickly.  You cannot operate the machine at the level they can, so when you step in to do the work after you dismiss them, whether you produce the exact same product and service or not, you are not the person with whom the customer has built the relationship, and that means your coffee will not be as good.  This is due to the perception of the customer.

When you dismiss an employee that builds relationships with customers, you not only have to replace the physical efforts they were performing, but also the camaraderie they brought to your business.
 

Monday, July 7, 2014

it's just too much

Montana and Alice had been keeping a steady half-day distance behind me for almost a week after I somehow managed to accrue small buffers over time.  Their pressure was solid, never waiving, and kept me searching for cell service more than food.  I hadn't seen Montana in days, and Alice since day one, but I knew well they are both very strong and sly, almost menacing.

Late into yesterday's evening, with three storms converging from the east and fifty miles of desert to supplies and beds, we had taken refuge in the eve of a church.  Getting wrapped up in the beginning of monsoon season in the desert is not something either of us wanted to add to the evening's tasks, so with compass in hand, wet fingers in the air, we worked trajectories for the meteorological risk assessment analysis.  The conclusion, grab a couple hours sleep and be pedaling at 3:00am for the push to Grants.

We slept until 5:30.

They were 17 miles away.

My legs still pounding after the time trial to Pie Town, a belly stuffed full of bacon burger, apple pie, coffee, and chocolate ice cream, I quickly followed David searching the food bins at the Toaster House for anything to garnish tomorrow's lunch: another bacon burger and apple pie in my bag.  Grabbing a package of crackers, exchanging thank yous, hand shakes, and smiles after the last couple days of battling this dragon together, I bolted out the door to try and push my lead a few miles more as David chose to get some R and R before the next day's one hundred and eighty mile push.

Switching on the light, the blood wrung from my leg like rope burn as the first pedal stroke plunged me into the darkness.  Up and over the top of the hill, the rattle of the cattle guard tolled the end of civilization, as well as the impending suffer fest just ahead.  I looked up at the sky, and with more stars than night, I began the search for a rhythm in my cadence. 

This is not going to be fun.  Putting my head down and plowing out another twenty or thirty, just to wake up on the ground looking at a hundred and fifty more before resupply of any kind?  I'm packed well for this second to last day, with no issues in simply leaving at any time without warning.  There is just over three hundred miles left to cover until the border, and unless something catastrophic happened, no matter what, I'll finish day after tomorrow.  Friday, without a doubt, it will be all over, I'll be out of these clothes and eating food from a plate.  I don't have to do this.

What am I thinking?

The loud snap of clipless engagement announced the stomp back into the pedal, and the cool air began to move over me again.

As the kinetic energy of three pedal strokes began to fade, I'm standing, looking again to the sky.  I'm done racing.  The cacophony of anxiety, pressure, pain, fear, elation, every emotion you can imagine, all of it, I'm done.

Moments later, back at the Toaster House, I explained that I was going to wait for them, to thank them for their unintended gift, driving me beyond what I believe was attainable.  Every day they insured I left it all out there, some to the point my legs gave out forcing to bivy literally at the day's last pedal stroke.  It was awesome.  I had no idea of what I was capable of, and they showed me, and for that I will for ever be grateful.  My plan was to ask them to ride with me to the end, for a three way single speed tie for first place, and with Max and David, there would be five of us to celebrate our grand success in a sweeping ninth place group finish.

That's when David handed me a cold can of High Life.  Seems the fridge had two cases of beer in it, and the freezer was stuffed full of frozen pizza.

We had already won.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

jumping off the cliff.

Well, I'm finally riding, not so much racing, the Tour Divide, and the final preparations are being made...



...and with this, I am straight up asking you to support Ride for Reading with your wallet.  Yeah, books are important, volunteers are important, but there are always costs, and a little can go a long way.  To make it easier on you, and harder on me, you can make a donation per mile I ride, or just throw down a pile of money without making me do math for all 2745 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing, from Banff Alberta Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico, off road, through the Rockies.

http://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/Image/Routes_Maps/Overviews/Great_Divide_Mountain_Bike_Route.gif

...just so you know, a nickel per mile is about $130.

100% of your tax deductible donation goes to Ride for Reading.

All of it.

I'm not taking one penny.

Click here to make your donation.


If you need more persuasion, keep on reading, because you can.
 
So why the hell should you pony up your hard earned cash?

Reading is a fundamental tool of life, much like fire.  We didn't always have fire, and when we didn't, it probably wasn't an uncommon occurrence to wake up to the screams of your bed buddy being dragged from the pile o' slumber for an evening treat.  Reading is just as important.  If you don’t know how to read, then how do you decipher the hieroglyphics warning you about the beast in that cave you’re planning to move you and the Frankenbrow clan into this afternoon?  You can’t decipher them because you can't read, so you’re lunch.  But we don't have to worry about those carnivorous, Bic lighters are everywhere. 

Unfortunately illiterate children and adults are as well.

Who knows what brilliant and beautiful minds have never been unlocked from the blindness of what might as well be blank pages staring them in the face every time they crack a spine.  With only one age appropriate book for every three hundred American children, fostering the fundamentals and building the skills to digest literature, schematics, or even street signs is becoming more and more difficult every day.  The loss of potential is staggering, and education on a whole is suffering.

Ride for Reading is changing this.  Their mission is helping children in low-income areas become healthy and literate.  What started in a living room in Nashville Tennessee has grown into an energized and passionate behemoth of hundreds of cyclists literally handing a brighter future to underprivileged children.  In just the last few years, Ride for Reading, along with local volunteers, have placed more than 120,000 books into the excited hands and imaginative minds of children throughout the United States, and we’re just getting started.  During Ride for Reading week, we will have nearly 1,000 volunteers in 32 cities and 16 states donating almost 60,000 books in just a few days.

Check it out.




You do understand, right?  Free books, personally delivered to children from people in their community, and it is all done on bicycles. 

Don't forget the bicycle advocacy element.

You see, every time a volunteer helps a child choose their book, this child is having a healthy, positive interaction with a local cyclist.  They are sharing this experience with a volunteer that is investing in their community through these children, and this person is showing them that we, as a collective group of cyclists, truly care and believe in them and in their potential.  We know that this one book can be the first steps toward a path that leads to great success, not only as a real, tangible investment into the future of the local community, it is also the most astounding and beautiful cycling advocacy I have ever witnessed in my life...

because one day they will be the one behind the wheel of the car passing you.

Here again is the link where you can make a donation to Ride for Reading.

Thanks in advance, that is unless you do nothing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

happy monday you heathens

this has been one mother fucker of a trip.  almost every night was spent sleeping under the stars, seeing some of America i never knew existed, and meeting awesome people everywhere i go.  falling face first into the love that is cycling's heart.  ...and rediscovering mountain biking on a cruiser frame (thank you again Ralph) rolling rigid on big balloon ass 26'ers.  and i've been lucky to always hook up with a local or crew.

meet this kid.

he's been riding his dad's Marin, just shredding on, well, you know... what you ride when yer riding in california.  something designed by people who live there.  when i noticed the pedals as willing to work with my cleats, i almost asked.


so he decided just a couple weeks ago, after getting his masters and before his kick ass internship, at 22 years old, mountain biking is more fun than the years of road riding.  yeah.  well i ran into him while lost at La Costa outside of Carlsbad.  the trail is just a couple miles from the beach, or just a little farther if you can't afford to sleep on the beach.  basically you should ride there, and look for the dude handing out asses on his dad's old sled, eating shit, and jumping right back in.

i was also afforded the opportunity at trying not to die chasing some dude on a 6" travel 29'er, which almost looked something almost like this... never mind trying to get a shot off.



Randy brought another opportunity on the way north.  the Inland Empire.  bring yer dual slalom bike.


i can not remember all the people's names because i'm an ass, plus we spent more time chatting about rides and drinking beer than anything else.  i know they did a 24 minute race, and it's in their second year.  but all the locals smiled and chatted it up on the climb all the way to the top.  then back to the truck in a quarter of that time.

all i can say is its out there people, all of it.  go get it.  turn off your nightlight babysitter and go do cool shit, not matter what your kind of fun is.  now

in other news, $50 a night to camp on the beach, or in any park in california whether it's on the beach or not, never mind they all get booked up months in advance, or random roads get closed whenever because of whatever.  gunna need to invest in some paper BLM maps here shortly, the ones with marked roads.  this is getting stupid.  thanks internet.  do you not go outside?

other than that, buncha driving the last couple days, i took a bunch of pics from the truck, as that was the majority of today.  but they're from the truck, and i ain't into trucks, i just drive one.  so enjoy this pic i took at Pacific Coast Cycles.  it's softer on the eyes.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Van Halen sounds better in California

so much has happened in the last 72 hours that i can not even begin to unwind the tentacles of memory enough to put them together into a constant stream of thought.  the final night in phoenix started innocently enough...


and ended looking exactly like this...


i would like to give Dirty and crew a heartfelt thank you for the wonderful tuesday night that allowed me to wake up drunk, sober up packing, and eating a 4000 calorie, heart clogging breakfast to keep me full and soak up what needed to be sponged out of my gut in order to allow me to drive to our next destination.

as we had no plan other than no plan, a quick pull off the interstate to jump behind a bush to take a piss brought us to the fact that between us and the Salton Sea was National Wilderness.  which means camping bliss.  basically leave it the way you found it and all is good.  so not only is it free, it is as primitive as it gets, and as far as i am concerned one couldn't ask for more.


a quick jaunt through the Wilderness Area brought us to a vast body of water that could easily be mistaken for a "real" sea.  that was until the doors of the truck opened and the familiar aroma of Atlantic City filled my olfactory glands.  "The Sea was created by a flood in 1905, in which water from the Colorado River flowed into the area."  and it is as salty as Quint.  as beautiful and stunning it is to the eyes, the flavor permeates to the point you can taste it.  a shoreline riddled with the mummified remains of fish bathing atop large swaths of sand made of scales and bones.




i have to admit it was an amazing thing to behold, and with every reason to never visit in the first place, i am glad i did.  and as always, when you visit any natural wonder be sure to leave it better than you found it.


with the sun beginning it's drop below the horizon, it was time to motor back up to find a place to camp, eat dinner, and relax before the final push west to the point the adventure begins moving north.





one rested and rehibilitated from the last night in Phoenix (yes, it took two nights sleep), it was back on to not the interstate for the final leg of following the sun.

the climb up this mountain pass was so amazing, and every single person on a bicycle working their way up the thousand plus foot ascent had no idea how jealous i was watching them grind out the climb while my big toe gently nestled the accelerator keeping the truck at around 35mph with literally zero effort.  this is the type of climb where you earn the descent, and it is worth every ounce of strength.



once over the pass and through the southern California desert and pines,the road lumbered along thin lanes and over small passes until the final drop down until my feet planted a few inches into negative elevation gain.  the ocean air is one of the most cleansing things i have ever enjoyed, and with the theme music of the mountain pass still ringing in my head, i engulfed it as heavy as i could.



Friday, March 29, 2013

if you wanna screw a goat, and the goat is into it, i support that

it's good friday.  but every friday is a good friday.  i like tuesdays as well.  in fact, tuesday seems to be THE pivotal day for me for some stupid reason.  maybe it's the fact that for so long, like years and years, my day off was tuesday.  so going out on a monday night to party like it's 1994 seemed to make sense to me, however many of my drink.ride. buds that went along seemed to suffer much more greatly at the hand of doom than i.


1994.  fuck.  that was some shit.  that was my own personal heyday year of hedonism, drinking nothing but coffee and booze for days on end, and sometimes waking up somewhere strange missing a shoe and walking back to where ever i happened to be hoarding up that week fuzzy and half blind.  seems no matter how hard i try, 1994 is who i am.  guess maybe that was the pinnacle of reckless abandon in my life and i've tried as hard as i can to hold onto it like a cop after a doughnut.

and that's why these things happen less than two hours after i show up for the party...  almost every time.


but my life phee-lo-soffee (which is much like Cee Lo Green without the marketing) is simple:

if everyone is cool about it, then everyone will be cool about it.


see, nobody got hurt.  sure, this dude was only doing his job, and the fact that we kinda launched off the curb right in front of him is why he did his job. if i was riding my motorbike and some punk fuck pulled some shit like that, i'd probably get in their face and offer an ass whipping, which is much differnt that a warning ticket and a laugh at his expense.  there were others breaking laws right in front of us, and we were pointing it out, but The Man does, and the Dude Abides.

and i'll tell you what, being cool about gives great opportunities like one bud in Pittsburgh telling you that you need to know someone that lives in Tucsony and it turns into this.


 
apparently here in the desert there is only one way to pose for a picture, especially when the dude hauling your slow and out of shape ass around his home trail has convinced you to ride flat pedals on a single speed when he's pushing gears and clickity pedals.  there was no fuckin' way i could have even thought about getting a pic on the move considering the knives spires spears shivs and bayonets lining the trail.  then again, maybe that was punishment for not being ready at all in any way shape or form when it was time to go.

some more people being cool about is the High School Mountain Bike Association.  and wouldn't you know it, they were having a shin dig here that coincided coincidentally with my visit.  as always, we rolled in to the premiere just in time for the credits.


be certain to watch this movie when you can and tell me about it cuz i missed it, and support these people being cool about it.

so there you go on yer good friday, with a little inspirational speech from yer unkle dan.  go out into the world and be cool about it. and get drunk and others drunk, cuz i'm gunna and maybe we can do that together...