Be Like Mike
“When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore,
that means they’ve given up on you.” ― Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)
In loving memory of someone who made me try harder…
We continue to enjoy good fortune in the marketplace. As I wrote yesterday, happy clients and perfect quality work create a virtuous cycle that needs attention and care. I wanted to take a moment and remind all of you about the priorities for the business we discussed at the all-hands meeting.
• Great customer service – no balls dropped, no phones left unreturned, no emails unanswered. We are always either building or tearing down our client relationships.
• Perfect quality work – Every deliverable is reviewed for excellence before it sees a customer. We systematically review the work of our teams and our teammates, so we KNOW the work is good. We are all the avenging angels and teachers of perfect work.
• Focused on profitability – Eliminate unnecessary expenses, be mindful of T&E spend, review your expense reports, ensure everyone has billable work, hire accurately and don’t give away hours by spreading people across the project. Maximize our margins.
• Resolve differences quickly – Get real with one another, don’t leave things left unsaid, agree on priorities and adjudicate or resolve issues expeditiously. Make decisions quickly quickly quickly.
Everyone needs a coach; everyone needs a mentor, and everyone needs to be focused on perfect quality work. Not close, not good, not even great but perfect. Perfect happens when teams collaborate and review one another’s work. When you’ve done your best and you take the time to put it before others for critique, you have a shot at perfect quality work. It’s the only way anyone of us can get better.
As some of you know, I swam competitively for many years. In a very big swim meet, I lost a race by one one hundredth of a second. That is less time than it takes you to blink and less time than it takes to say faster. I was devastated, to say the least, I hate losing! I went to talk with my coach, a gentleman named Mike Troy. He was an Olympic goal medalist and a world record holder and a decorated Navy Seal. I thought he would comfort me and tell me that I did a good job because I tried hard. Quite the opposite, he laid into me … calling out the mistake I made at during the start, how I handled my turn and not the least which was not stretching my fingertips out to touch the wall … it just went on and on. He was mad at me because he knew I should have won that race, he knew I could do better, and he was right.
I was a young boy at the time, it took me a couple of weeks to recover emotionally from the loss, it would have been longer, but Mike was unrelenting. We practiced starts, turns and finishes for what seemed like weeks. You know someone cares for you when they expect the best of you and won’t let you get away with anything but your best work.
So, go out and be a Mike Troy in someone’s life, push your teammates and be open to criticism, it’s the only way to get better. We are a company that wins first place not second with a “nice try”.
Mike recently passed away, but not before imprinting himself on my life, and this DOB is dedicated in loving memory to a man who loved me enough to never accept anything but the best from me. It would honor me for you to read more about this amazing man who helped shaped my life here.
Let’s go be great, and I love each of you enough to never accept anything but the best from you.