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Alternative Sucess Path: Trade School


eddieMany of us grew up with the assumption that if you went to college, you could land a job with a corporation and  live well until retirement.   That was etched into the American landscape after WWII, when so many young men went to college on the GI Bill, and made America great.

The question is: does that paradigm still work?  My suggestion is, in many cases, “no.”

In 2011, a number of underemployed lawyers filed class action lawsuits against several law schools, alleging the schools had misrepresented employment and salary prospects.  The graduates charged the schools had knowingly painted a more rosy picture of how much money they would make than was in fact the case.

Some of those cases are still going on, although in general, the lower courts have taken a dim view of their claims.  Similar charges could be made against almost all colleges and Universities that lead students to believe a particular degree will result in a good salary.

All of us know college grads that are either unemployed, or working in fields that do not require a college degree.  Per the Huffington Post, college costs have increased 12 fold over the past 30 years, far outpacing the rest of the economy.  This is, in my opinion,  inexcusable. It has been driven by a number of factors, among them a lack of accountability, and easy access to federally backed student loans.  Loans for studies that are very unlikely to result in a successful career. It is to the shame of political leaders and educators this hasn’t been aggressively addressed.

Students that acquire loans to finance college owe an average of $27,000 upon graduation. That’s an average, many owe much more.  One in 10 will default on the loan.  That’s a huge debt load for a young person starting life, especially if they can’t find suitable employment.

Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” says that “in reality, a four year degree won’t make you successful any more than a gym membership will make you healthy.”

Rowe says that less than 12 percent of all jobs require a four year degree.  He thinks the country needs to stop selling the notion that “higher” education is superior to alternates, such as Trade Schools.

And, there is a big demand for skilled trades, and that demand is only going to increase as older tradesmen retire.   And per the research, job satisfaction among trade workers, is every bit as high, and often higher, than white collar jobs.

The economics used to strongly favor white collar jobs, but no more.  Experienced tradesmen can make six figure incomes, and they rarely graduate trade school owing any money.

As an entrepreneur, I take this a step further.  An experienced tradesman, that learns the business of his trade, as well as the skills, can open his own business and enjoy an income level comparable to a successful attorney.

This isn’t to denigrate a college education.  In fact, education is in my mind, a value unto itself, completely aside from career earnings.

I do think however, that parents and students should consider Trade Schools along with college.  And who is to say, that you can’t learn a trade skill, begin earning a good living, and THEN pursue a standard four year degree.?

In fact, that’s exactly what I did.  Wise people consider the times, and consider the options.  Be wise.





George Wendt, founder of OARS


george wendt OARSGeorge Wendt is the founder and President of Outdoor Adventure River Specialists (OARS –



Special 4th of July, Declaration of Independence


declarationindependenceListen to a  little background on the Declaration of Independence, and a discussion of the moral and economic superiority of the free market system.

Want to read a blurb about the history of the Declaration?  Click HERE


Growing Pains

Courtesy of Lumen Strategies
Courtesy of Lumen Strategies

Growing should be a decision, not a given (see Grow or Die, is that true?) but IF you choose to grow, there are pains and considerations.   To be sure, there’s pain associated with not growing, but we tend to expect that.  What’s often unexpected, are problems that accompany growth.  Many would argue these are problems they want, but they’re problems nonetheless.

Tim Keller wrote an article- The Process of Church Growth- aimed obviously at growth strategies and considerations for the growth of a church.  But, I find his ideas helpful in terms of business growth.

  • A large business is not simply a bigger version of a small company.  They are two different creatures. 

The leadership skills, communication methods, team building, and decision making processes required are very different.  This is why many businesses plateau in growth; they don’t recognize or incorporate the changes necessary.

  • Imposing a “size culture practice” on a business that does not have that size will wreak havoc, and eventually force the business back into the size with which those practices are compatible. (Keller, loosely paraphrased)

I notice this more with founders and leaders who cannot bring themselves to relinquish control.  This reticence is understandable.  Many small business founders poured everything they had into starting the business, working long hours, and pinching every penny. In fact, that micromanagement  was essential to survival.

Now, their business has grown, they have other people employed, and they still want to minutely manage every aspect of the business.  Two things happen:

  1. You cannot keep highly motivated and energized employees
  2. You overlook business opportunities. 

I managed a growing and very profitable service department for a company.  The founders of this successful company had founded it on a shoestring, and had worked hard to build it up.

On one occasion one of them came to me furious after discovering that we’d overlooked invoicing some overnight freight bills.  It amounted to about $100.  He insisted that I go through boxes of invoices to determine how many others we’d overlooked.

After spending about an hour doing this, with no results, I went to his office.  I asked him to reconsider whether  he actually wanted his national service manger spending time hunting down small amounts of overlooked freight bills?  Thankfully, he said “no, just please make sure we have systems in place to ensure they are being invoiced.”

His initial response is emblematic of the issue many founders have to face.   You can’t run a company with numbers of employees like you ran one with two.  The economies of scale simply don’t work for chasing pennies and overlooking large dollar opportunities.

Delegation is more than assigning jobs; you have to trust the people to whom you delegate.  And that means trusting them to make decisions.  If you think that’s easy, then you’ve never founded a small company and watched it grow.

Changes are necessary for growth.  Stacy Karacostas says she uses three rules of thumb to know when changes need to happen.

  1. I have months of data showing me I am not on track to meet my goals.
  2. I find myself complaining about the same problem three or more times.
  3. When presented with a better idea or system for my business.

Want to grow your company?  Great, have fun; just be aware of the issues.





Leadership: The formula for success


Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart  is famous for saying that while the definition of pornography might be vague, “I know it when I see it.” Not to equate leadership with porn, but most of us know it when we see it, whether we can define it or not.

John Maxwell, author of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” says that “everything rises and falls on leadership.”  He’s exactly right.

All of us have experienced bad leadership in some form.  Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich” many years ago, in which he interviewed the most successful men and women in America over a twenty year period.  Many people have noted the attributes that Hill detailed for being successful.

But he also listed 10 major causes of failed leadership.  They are:

  1. Inability to organize details
  2. Unwillingness to render humble service
  3. Expectations of being paid for what you know, rather than for what you do.
  4. Fear of competition from followers
  5. Lack of imagination
  6. Selfishness
  7. Intemperance
  8.  Disloyalty (to his associates, those above him, and those below him)
  9. Emphasis on the ‘authority’ of leadership
  10. Emphasis on title

I want to talk about a few of those, but add something related: Leaders that fail to lead.

It’s frustrating to attempt following a leader that refuses to lead.  Advanced Business Consulting cites a study that says 70% of employees have the feeling their leader has no idea of what they’re doing.

Leaders MUST lead.  They need to equip their followers with the tools and information they need to do their jobs efficiently.  Leadership is not a passive occupation, it’s hard work.  It’s also the key to success for any enterprise.

Leaders must be genuine.  

If you look over the list that Napoleon Hill compiled of failed leadership traits, you’ll note that many of them can be lumped under this.  The arrogant know it all,  lording it over subordinates, leaning on his title, and suspicious and jealous of his followers is precisely the person that no one wants to follow.

Many of us, including me, grew up with sort of a military philosophy of leadership.  The strong stalwart leader, standing alone, barking orders that are to be obeyed without question.

Interestingly, there are actually times when that kind of leadership works, at least temporarily.  Those times are always crisis situations. If an infantry platoon is ambushed, the leader doesn’t have time to be nice or seek consensus.  And everyone in the platoon accepts this because their lives depend upon it.

But, even in the military, that brand of leadership is not encouraged or practiced by successful officers outside of a crisis situation.  One of the reasons the soldiers obey his orders during an ambush, is that the officer has helped to prepare them. He’s trained alongside and helped them become proficient at their tasks.  He’s promoted an esprit de corps, and a shared vision.  The soldiers have come to see their platoon officer as a genuine leader whom they trust.

In Stephen Ambrose’s great book “Band of Brothers” he interviews members of Easy Company  about their beloved commander, Major Winters. One told him, “we would do anything for him, we just hated to let him down.”  That’s leadership.

Winters, a courageous tough commander, was also an humble servant, who viewed his job as helping his men be successful. This led to the organizational success he was vaunted for.  Look over the list of failing leadership traits listed by Hill again;  Winters exhibited none of them.

Be genuine

Leaders MUST communicate.  

I often joke and say that whenever I see two people in a fight, I always coach the one on the bottom, because that’s where I have the most experience!   I can coach leaders that communicate poorly, in part, because I’ve often fallen so short in this area myself.

Many people in leadership positions enjoy talking about their “vision.”  Here’s the problem, as long as it is your vision, getting it implemented is an uphill battle.   This where the dirty little work that all type A personalities hate comes into play, and that word is “process.”

You can not just “tell” your vision, you must move the ownership from you to your team.  The way this happens is that you open yourself up to input from others, and allow changes so that it becomes a shared vision.  Once that happens, great things can occur.

You must communicate, communicate, and communicate again to your team members and employees, and don’t overlook the less obvious team members.

Many years ago, I planned and promoted a significant  church event which involved considerable advertising.  I did a great job of assembling a team to help, went through a process, got buy in from everyone, and thought I had it nailed.

But.. I forgot to tell the people in the office that would be answering the phones.  People began calling in response to our considerable promotional activities, and the people answering the phone knew nothing whatsoever about. Very embarrassing.

We live in an age where people are bombarded with messages all day every day.  The idea that you can issue a memo, or an email and think you’ve adequately communicated anything, is a huge mistake.

Empower People

Empowerment is an amazing leadership tool.   Your legacy as a leader is not so much in what you accomplish, as it is what the people you lead accomplish.   Employees will gladly assume ownership once empowered.  It adds meaning and significance to their lives.

And finally..  learn to be humble.   

Renowned author and researcher Jim Collins says that the number one attribute of great leaders is humility.  In fact, in his book “How the Mighty Fall” he says the number one step to failure, is “hubris born of success.”  In other words, arrogance.

Arrogant people don’t learn, because in their minds, they already know everything.  The leaders most susceptible to this are those that have experienced some degree of success.  Because of their accomplishments, they assume they now know it all, and therein lay the seeds of failure.  The old Testament says that “pride goes before a fall,” and many leaders have learned that lesson the hard way.

Be successful, let your organization rise, not fall, on your leadership.  View yourself as an humble servant, work hard, and measure success by the accomplishments of those under you.

Famed Alabama coach Bear Bryant would always give his team players the credit when they won.   But when they lost, he always shouldered the blame. That’s the mark of a great leader.



Business Decline.. how to stop it


decline“I’ve come to see institutional decline like a staged disease.  Harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages.  Easier to detect, but harder to cure in the later.” Jim Collins When I first founded EMA, I would panic if we had a bad month. The panic wasn’t  completely unfounded, I had limited resources and  wouldn’t have survived too many bad ones.  Conversely, I would be almost giddy when we had a good month.  What I learned over time, was to control my emotions a bit, and keep a more even keel. Almost every organization, even very healthy ones, experience downturns.  On the other hand, very unhealthy ones can have a temporary upturn.  The wisdom is knowing the difference between a blip and trend. Author and business researcher Jim Collins wrote “How the Mighty Fall” in which he chronicled stages of business decline. Collins suggests there are five stages to decline:

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
  3. Denial of risk and peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death

Honestly, the one that frightens me the most is number one, hubris (or arrogance) born of success.  “I/We are great because we do/know certain things,” as opposed to understanding WHY these things we do or know work for us. I see this all the time in others, and to be honest, have seen it in myself.  All of us like to think highly of ourselves, and if we’ve experienced career or business success, it confirms our opinion. It’s a recipe for disaster.  Arrogant people don’t learn, and the moment you stop paying attention to what’s going on in your organization, the market, and within yourself- you’ve taken the first step to failure. I don’t accept president Obama’s “you didn’t build that” statement.  But, neither is it true that any of us achieve success entirely on our own. I was fortunate early in my career to work for two incredible entrepreneurs that taught me not only the technicals of the electronic motor drive business, but allowed me to take a leadership role in a growing company.  They also put up with a lot of mistakes, and I’m forever grateful to them. The undisciplined pursuit of more is another big problem.  Growth has ruined companies and the people that led them.  (See Grow or Die, is that true?) Denial of risk and peril goes along with hubris.  “We’re a great company; our customers love us; our competition is inferior to us.”  Often said, without a shred of objective data to back that opinion up. A number of years ago we landed a big job, in fact at that time, the biggest job we’d ever gotten.  It took a lot of our resources, but it was very profitable.  When that project ended about a year later, I began to have some nagging unease about our company.   We seemed to have lost our edge, but everyone was telling me different. I hired an outside consultant to help, and an indepth and unemotional analysis confirmed my suspicions. We were losing ground in every area.  The large project had distracted me and allowed a number of unresolved issues to fester. We were in denial.  Fortunately, we got out of it. When you find yourself blaming external forces for your problems, you’re in trouble. It’s empowering to take personal responsibility, and its the first step to resolution.   IF I am the problem, then I am the solution. Many companies that find themselves in decline start grabbing at straws.  Hire a superstar, go after another market, begin supplying more products and services, can all be desperate attempts. And, the research indicates they rarely work. Here’s some hints on avoiding decline: First of all, stay humble and pay attention to your business. Never assume you deserve success; it has to be constantly  earned.  You MUST provide excellent services and products, and you must be friendly and accessible. Be sure you have the right people in the right seats in your company.  This is a primary leadership responsibility.  Building a success culture, and instilling it in your people is your job. Rather than trying new things, the path out of a decline is often returning to good leadership and business practices.  There’s a great story of a fast food company CEO who was hired to pull the company out of a terrible decline.  Prior to beginning his job he visited many of their stores. At his first meeting, people were telling him the reasons for decline, ranging from changing consumer tastes to increased competition. He interrupted them and said, “the problem with this company is dirty bathrooms and surly employees, and we are going to fix that starting right now.”  The company did indeed turn around.  Never ignore the basics of your business; it’s easy to stray from them. In a decline..  here’s a few steps to consider:

  1. Put all emotion aside and deal with the scary truth.  This may mean getting some outside help. Don’t underestimate your own hubris.
  2. Avoid the temptation to blame external factors. Accept responsibility.
  3. Be diligent in rectifying systemic failures in your customer service or operations.
  4. Do not grab at straws.  Hiring the competition’s best salesperson usually does not work.
  5. Back to basics.  Why do customers use you? What’s an ideal customer look like?
  6. Fight!  Most companies can,  in fact,  be turned around.

Eddie Mayfield


Curiosity: A Business and Life Advantage


curiosityEinstein famously said, “I have no special talent, I’m just passionately curious.”   Children are incredibly curious, and adults that are great learners retain this childhood trait.   Einstein said a number of times, that he had a childlike passion to know how things work.

Erika Anderson wrote “Learning to Learn” in the March 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review.   She lists four traits that lifelong learners exhibit.

  1. Aspiration
  2. Self Awareness
  3. Curiosity
  4. Vulnerability

Aspiration simply means to aspire, or want to learn.  First step to learning guitar?  You must aspire to play.  The good news is, you can raise your aspiration level.

Think of the last time you were asked to adapt to something new.  Were you happy about it?  For most of us, the answer is “no.”  That’s because, according to Anderson, we focus on the negative.  When we do want to learn something, we focus on the positive, and therein is the key to raising your aspiration level.

Focus on the benefits, and envision the rewards that will come once you’ve mastered the change.  Picturing yourself as successful at this will go a long  way toward motivating your aspiration for it.

Self Awareness is something that most of us understand.   We get the value of soliciting feedback and understanding how others view us.  But the majority of us are woefully poor at it.

A Cornell University study found that 94% of professors reported doing “above average” work.   At least half of them, by any reasonable assessment; were wrong.

Let’s face it, all of us have a hard time seeing our own weaknesses, and it takes effort and commitment to overcome.

The New Testament admonishes to “let a man examine himself.”  That ancient advice remains relevant.  Arrogant people do not learn, it’s only when we are able to see ourselves truly, that we become teachable.

How to improve?  First of all, start talking to yourself.  My wife often kids me about doing this, but start by admitting- to yourself – that your opinion of yourself is biased.  Jim Collins says the first step to failure of an organization or its leader is “hubris born of success.”  In other words, arrogance.. even arrogance that comes from being successful.   I once heard Zig Ziglar say that while “we judge others by their actions, we judge ourselves by our intentions.”

Strive to become more self aware.

Curiosity:  I got interested in electronics as a kid, and was eager to learn everything about it.  I remember after reading a book about how television worked, laying in my bed that night thinking what genius it took to come up with that circuitry.

We should never lose the wonder of all  that’s around us.

Want to get old?  Stop being curious.

People that retain a passionate curiosity not only tend to be more successful, they tend to be happier.

And finally, the trait of vulnerability.  Everyone knows the discomfort of not being good at something.  I remember learning to fly.  I was a reasonably successful businessman at the time and it seemed everything I did was wrong and awkward.  That wasn’t true in many other aspects of my life, but in that area, I was not good.

Eventually, I learned the skills, and even had the chance of coaching some others as they learned.

But here’s the point;  anything you begin to learn requires that you become vulnerable.  Refusing to be vulnerable just means you can’t learn.

So to recap what Erika Anderson’s HBR article says..  in order to learn to learn, you must aspire, be self aware, be curious, and be vulnerable.

Here’s the good news, you CAN improve in every area.  In my experience, people that exhibit those traits are the kind of people others enjoy being around.

Most success in business and life flows from relationships.  People that cannot learn, tend to be poor at building deep relationships.

Back to the curiosity trait for a moment. (After all, it is the title of this blog)

Columbia Professor Tomas Chamorrow-Premuzic makes the startling claim that curiosity is as important as intelligence as a determinant of success.

He talks about IQ (intelligence quotient) of which all of us are aware.  IQ is essentially the brain you were born with.  There are some things you can do to boost IQ, but in general, you have what you have.  IQ alone doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.  All of us know intelligent losers.

EQ (emotional quotient) is the ability to perceive, control, and express emotions. EQ is key to the interpersonal skills that are so important in success.  You CAN improve your EQ.

Then he talks about CQ or curiosity quotient.  Basically,  people with high CQ have a hungry mind.  I’ve been in the electronic motor drive business for decades.  I got hired into the field following a period of unemployment.  In the first place I was so thrilled to have a job, that I was “hungry” to learn the skills necessary to ensure my success.  But, along the way, I became fascinated with the technology and my CQ (although I never used that term) went through the roof as I became passionate about learning everything I could.

Want to increase your CQ ? (you should, its a great way to keep your mind viable)..

Start by looking at the world around through the eyes of a child.  How does water get to my kitchen sink?  How does a refrigerator work?  How did that company know I was interested in that product?

Try it..  life is a lot more fun for the curious.






Focus: The Key to Success


eddiealaskaYou’ve heard the saying that men don’t really care what’s on TV, they just want to know what else is on TV.  Most of us have developed the skill where we channel surf like there was a reward for it.

Unfortunately, many of us bring that mentality into our business life.   Per University of San Francisco professor Dr. Jim Taylor, research shows that those who claim they are great at multitasking (which applies to most business people) are in fact, worse than others at it.

Per Taylor, there is in fact no such thing as multitasking, at least when it comes to work.  The best thing to do when you need something done, is turn off everything else, and work on the job in front of you.

Think about this for a moment, since when is starting anything an accomplishment?  It’s fairly easy to start anything.  I could get up from my chair right now and start a marathon, never leaving  the room.  It’s finishing that matters, not starting. And finishing requires focus.

There’s an old saying that the hunter trying to shoot two rabbits at once will get neither.

Country music star and record producer Vince Gill said that the title “producer” should really be “reducer,” because his job is to determine what will NOT be on the album.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the hardest decision in business was what NOT to work on.

It’s the same with us.  Who are your customers and prospects?  If you say “everyone” you are dooming yourself to frustration and failure.

Focusing is hard work.  Bain and Company published a white paper in 2012 called “The Focused Company.”  They contend that complexity is a natural trait of any large organization, and requires concentrated efforts to combat.   A focused company does not invest to win in every element of its business; rather it invests primarily in its core, the business in which it can outperform everyone else.

How does one go about this?  First, identify your core.  I find that many business leaders cannot do this.  If it takes more than a few sentences to describe what your company does, then YOU don’t really understand what you’re about.

Once you do identify it, focus on it like there’s no tomorrow.  When deciding how to spend your time, just ask, does this help strengthen our core business?  If the answer is “no.”  Then don’t do it.

I love what the character Dwight from the television series “The Office” said:  “I just ask myself, ‘would an idiot do this?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then I do not do that thing.”

Here’s other hard part, your core may need to adjust and change over time.  If you’re selling sliderules, maybe it’s time you changed your core competency.

Focus.. and be successful.




Opportunities: It’s a mindset


1edlostWhere do business ideas come from? My observation is they often come from what you already know. At least in my experience, the genesis of the opportunity rarely comes from a disciplined search process, rather it emerges from experience, background, and attitude.

The most successful ideas come from recognizing an opportunity while it’s in the process of forming.  Entrepreneurship University notes that this often springs from an observation of:

  • A process that can be more efficiently performed
  • An attractive new service or improvement in an existing service
  • A business or geographic niche that is presently underserved

Opportunities can even spring from failure.  Perhaps the most famous example of this is from 1968 when 3M chemist Spencer Silver was attempting to develop a better, stronger  adhesive.

During his experimentation, he came up with microspheres, which allowed attached surfaces to be separated easily without tearing either surface.  Hardly the new strong adhesive he was searching for.

Several years later, one of his colleagues. Art Fry approached him about a possible use.  Fry sang in his church choir, and found it frustrating that the pieces of paper upon which he made notations about the songs fell out of his music folder.  He’d heard Silver talk about his microsphere adhesive and wanted to see if it would make his notes stick a little better.

postitnotesFrom that came the now ubiquitous Post It Notes.  One of the most profitable and well known products ever developed by 3M. And it came from a failure.


Seeing opportunity in a field: Some years ago my good friend and colleague Larry was driving through North Georgia when he noticed a number of mobile homes parked in a field.  Most people would have just driven by, but Larry pulled over and determined who owned them and why.  Turned out they were left over from a government relief project.  Larry bought them at a great price, put them in a mobile home park, and began renting them.  Larry, who had a background in property management, saw opportunity where others just saw abandoned mobile homes.

John D. Rockefeller grew up in poverty, and never forgot his roots, even after acquiring great wealth.  He had a lifelong aversion to waste, and one of the things he hated wasting was a noxious by product of his kerosene refinery, known as gasoline.

Most refiners simply dumped the volatile and highly flammable liquid, some into rivers.  It is said that at one time, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted with gasoline, that coals dumped from a passing steamship could set the river on fire.

Rockefeller began using gasoline to provide heat for his refining process, and developed methods of storage and processing.  When the automobile era began, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was there to provide the fuel.  As the worldwide market for Kerosene declined, Standard Oil developed even more products such as paraffin and plastics from oil, as additions to his now burgeoning gasoline business.  A great example of spotting an opportunity all of his competitors missed.

We’ve seen this time and time again at our company, EMA Inc.  Where noticing opportunities to provide better service, led to new business opportunities, and in some cases, a completely new revenue stream.

What about you?  As Zig Ziglar used to say, “no one stumbles over anything sitting down.”  So, first of all, be engaged, and pay attention to the world around you.

When you see an inefficiency in your market, ask yourself “is there any way I can resolve that?”  Is there some niche that’s under served in your business category?

Be alert, stay positive, and seize opportunities.   If you don’t, your competitors will.







The Business Strategy of Serving Others


The first sales school I ever attended was in Nashville, Tn, and the job was selling Bibles door to door.  That’s a great way to learn humility by the way.

They taught us a technique called “the Friendly Act.”  It went like this; when a person answered the door and was rude, you’d turn to leave, and then ask “is there anyway I can get a drink of water from you?”

IF they got you the water, a remarkable change took place in their attitude.  They became noticeably more friendly.

It’s how God wired us up as humans; it’s almost impossible to do something kind for a person and not feel kinder toward them.

Try it.  The next time you are angry with someone, do something physically nice (it must be an action, not just a thought).  You’ll note a change in your attitude.

Joshua Becker writes that  many people view life as a pyramid with those at the bottom serving those on top.  The ones on bottom assume that joy and happiness is obtained by being served. But  life is actually more fulfilling down below.

Becker says that real joy is found not in being served, but in choosing to serve.  Is he right?

I have a friend who runs a ministry to homeless people in Atlanta.  Often when feeding them meals, he has the homeless serving food to each other.  He explained to me that many of these guys had never learned the art and joy of serving others.  My observation was that those serving did in fact gain satisfaction from the act of service.

So, how does that apply to us in business?

John Maxwell in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership talks about positional leadership.  This is the leadership role that happens when you are given a supervisory job or position.  It does indeed come with leadership responsibilities, but many wrongly assume that simply having the title makes them a great leader.  All of us have seen examples of this.

Maxwell suggests that while the title may be a starting place, its nowhere near the desired finish. Almost all of his suggestions about becoming a great leader have to do with serving and caring about others.

Jim Collins in “Good to Great” says the common characteristic of leaders that took their organizations from being good to great, was humility.  Yep, that’s right, humility.

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of relationships in business.  In fact, sans meaningful relationships, business success is almost impossible.

Meaningful relationships are never built on a “what can I get out of this” attitude.  No one likes being used.

Want better employees in your company? Build good relationships  by serving them.  Want to improve your company’s brand?  Serve the market.

Build meaningful relationships, not by seeing what you can get out of it, but by what you put into them.  Zig Ziglar said that you can have almost everything you want in this life, IF, you’ll help enough other people get what they want.

Try it and see, success will follow.


Eddie Mayfield