“Man quit, hire another; mule die, buy another; zip bam by damn let’s go!” That was my dad’s response whenever someone would relate a job problem to him. His point: “don’t be detoured by events; handle them.”
Early in the morning, I was in my office when I received a call from one of my foremen telling me that he was quitting to work for my roofing superintendent. The call was a double shock: the foreman quitting and discovering that my superintendent was now my competitor. As I changed clothes and shoes and prepared to take the crew leader’s place, the roofing department manager made sure the trucks were loaded and the other foremen were properly instructed.
We never missed a beat: the job was completed on time and within budget. The only casualty was a brand new watch I had accidentally dropped into a bucket of hot asphalt and is still probably a part of the roof. The next week, promising never to stray again, the prodigal foreman returned and I resumed my regular duties.
Years later, as the Executive Director of a trade association, I was responsible for a large convention and trade show . Two weeks before the show, the meeting planner suddenly and unexplainably resigned. At the time, I thought it was due to a personal situation; now, however, I know that when someone quits before a major event, job, etcetera, it’s an indication of major problems.
There were two luncheons planned during the convention: at one we had booked the musical group Up With People to appear and a fashion show was set for the other. The morning of the day the musical group was scheduled, I was visiting the convention registration desk when I noticed a beautiful woman carrying a garment bag; a minute later, I saw two more women and then another arrive. A slender gorgeous blonde then caught my eye, walked over and asked the question that ruined my morning: “Where is the dressing room so we can change for the fashion show?” Suddenly, it was apparent why the meeting planner had resigned: she had booked the music group and the fashion show for the same luncheon!
So, we had a fashion show while Up With People sang inspirational songs and the next day we had an idea fair where judges awarded money for the best ideas. Those attending loved the “musical fashion show” and we garnered a number of ideas that helped people in their businesses.
When things go wrong—as they are bound to do—you can’t walk away, or rely upon someone to bail you out, you have to play the hand you are dealt. Keeping a cool head; surveying alternatives; seeking ideas and solutions; making a decision and moving forward are the best steps to handling unexpected hurdles. Zip bam by damn let’s go!
“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” -Theodore Rubin