Category Archives: Relationships

Reasons I Love Living In The South


Atlanta MapNot getting “right to the point” is a reason I love living in the South.

Southerners will get to the point, but the journey is circuitous rather than straight.  For someone from the south, getting to the point is like driving to Atlanta—you get there faster via the interstate, but you miss all the interesting stops in between.

Not, as my northern friends claim, that southerners are slowed by the hot, humid weather—it’s that we want to know the person to whom we are speaking.   We seek details that lend to understanding, thus providing insight into someone’s thinking.  We look for the fascinating stops along the way: the sharing of tales, joys and hardships that humanize a person.

Why hurry, the “point” is going to be there.

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Do “People Things” First


img_10981.jpg“Business would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with customers and employees.” A tired but true saying my father often muttered after coping with an unhappy customer.

“People Things” are the issues that arise out of dealing with people. “People Things” include daily interactions, but they are critical when dealing with customer
complaints, employee discontent or a colleague’s request for assistance.

Money concerns generate the most critical “People Thing “ issues. When someone says, “It’s not the money,” assuredly it’s the money. Pocketbook issues, such as payment disputes and payroll concerns, are “People Things” that need to be resolved promptly and discretely.

Because dealing with people is the most complex aspect of business, “People Things,” should be at the top of a to-do list. Such concerns are ones that cannot be put off—procrastination only worsens them.  However, decisions should not be made “on the fly.“  “People Things” require undisturbed time to focus on, understand and resolve issues and concerns.

Make the rest of the day easier by  placing “People Things” as the first priority on your daily to-do list.

You Didn’t Need Me then; I Don’t Need You Now


Jobs GraphA national building supply firm decided to no longer solicit business from custom homebuilders. After the collapse of the housing market, when a salesman solicited a former customer’s business he was told, “You didn’t need me during good times and I don’t need you now.”

When I told my father our sheet metal shop was too busy to take walk-in business, he invited me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Over coffee he told of the difficulties involved in opening a business in the midst of the Great Depression: the phone not ringing; no customers coming through the door. He related how he drove around the county, looking for a job to quote; how he worried about making payroll.

He commented on the loyalty of once small, walk-in customers. How a smile and a thank you for a two-dollar order can result in thousands of dollars of business. He declared, “Every customer is precious; you never know where a relationship may lead.” Needless to say, we continued to accept walk-in customers.

During the housing boom, many building material suppliers erected signs discouraging walk-in customers: “Contractors Only,” “No Cash Customers,” “Customers Must Have a Trade Account.” The advent of the “Great Recession” resulted in many of those signs being removed, but the message, “We don’t need your business.” had been delivered. Gone was the opportunity to develop new relationships; lost was the opportunity to grow with customers; and lingering was the bitterness of rejection.

As with my father and the Great Depression, the lessons of the “Great Recession” are deeply ingrained within many business leaders. They have come to understand the relationships made during the good times, will be needed when the bad times come; and, today’s small customer, may be tomorrow’s prime account.

Tweeting and Posting


My dad told me, “Fools names and fools faces, always appear in public places.”  Advice to consider prior to tweeting or posting.

The Essential Attribute Necessary To Be A Leader


When asked about leadership, one of our nation’s greatest leaders responded:

In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore is integrity and high purpose.-Dwight D Eisenhower

A lesson our current leaders need to learn and practice!

Johnny


Diminutive.  Loving, patient, kind, tough are other words that describe Johnny but diminutive is the word that comes to me.

Johnny

A small woman, no more than 5 feet tall and weighing less than one-hundred pounds, Johnny packed a wallop.  When I would talk back to her, she would grab me by the collar, spin me around and whack my rear end to remind me sassing wasn’t allowed.

From before my first birthday until I left for college, Johnny Davis worked for my parents.  Six days a week, my mother would deliver her to our house; 8 hours later—4 on saturdays—she would take her home.  I don’t know how much pay she received—I’m sure less than $10 a day plus meals—but it wasn’t enough, not for a housekeeper, cook and stand-in mother.

My mom stayed involved in the community.  Bridge Club, Garden Club, Women’s Club, the Ladies Golf Association, every afternoon was occupied.  Her activities involved more than being a social butterfly, in a small community where relationships “mattered” her connections helped to build my father’s business.  In the afternoons Johnny cared for me: snacks served, cuts bandaged and  discipline applied—she could twist an ear until it almost fell off.  She loved me as the child she never had.

Playing with Byron McClellan, who lived close by, I fell hand first on a broken bottle.  Clutching my hand to my stomach I ran home.  Johnny hearing my cries, opened the back door and found me with what appeared to be a pierced stomach.  Dr. Hartley Davis–who delivered me, set bones and sewed me up until I was a young adult—closed the cut with stitches; I was fine.  Johnny wasn’t.  Years later, my father related how the shock of my seeming to be severely injured affected her for months.

I was sixteen, when my parents attended a weekend long meeting and left me  home alone.  Saturday night I hosted an unauthorized and ill-advised party: girls, music, dancing and alcohol—lots of alcohol.  I awoke Sunday morning to a wrecked home and an inability to do anything about it.  I felt as if someone was hammering a nail into my brain and my stomach heaved when I moved.

Staring out the window, contemplating running away, I saw Johnny climbing the back stairs.  I remember her words as she opened the door, “Look at you; you’re a mess.  Your momma and daddy are going to send you to military school, and you deserve to go—you hear me!  I knew you were going to get in trouble.” Then lifting me by my ear she growled,  “Get up and get going, we have a mess to clean up.”  To keep her “baby” out of trouble she sacrificed her day off.

When I left for college, my parents purchased a smaller home and let Johnny go.  After college, I would visit Johnny only infrequently: sometimes by choice but more often because she would need something.  The woman who loved me enough to bandage my wounds, smack my butt and clean up my mess, to my sorrow, became an object of my charity.

I cannot think about Johnny without reflecting on the culture in which I was raised.  The business and professional communities my father belonged to participated in a racism that in ways proved to be more harmful than the hate-filled dark side of the South.   Their’s reflected a patronizing duty to care for what they believed to be inferior people.  They couldn’t abide the race haters—but they treated as children, the people who tilled their fields, labored on their jobs, cooked their food and cared for their infants.

Aspects of the old south are reflected in the attitudes of some of today’s leaders.  The patronizing conviction that “we know what is good for you” leads  the condescending Mayor Bloombergs of this world to try and dictate people’s lives. Elitist thought—whether based on race, education or wealth—is bigoted, anti democratic and limits freedom and opportunity.

Free people are allowed to make their own decisions—even bad ones; they are rewarded for taking risks and allowed to fail.  Free people create prosperity that lifts all and provides the means to help others.

Don’t Patronize Me!


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After a stray dog—who my dad named Brown Dog— adopted our family it became my job to make sure he was fed.  The first evening I fed the dog, I spooned the contents of a can into his dish and watched as he devoured his meal.  He appeared to still be hungry, so I refilled the bowl and again the food rapidly disappeared.  Thirty minutes later an overstuffed Brown Dog loudly deposited the undigested remains of his dinner at my dad’s feet.

My experience with Brown Dog taught me that dogs don’t possess good sense: put food in front of them and they will eat until they are ill.  There are politicians who believe the same is true of us—we are not blessed with the intelligence to recognize what is good for us.  Even worse, is the belief we are not endowed with self control to avoid unhealthy alternatives.  In other words, there are politicians who are convinced, like dogs, we need to be cared for.

During a preteen birthday party at a friend’s home, several of us snuck off into an adjacent orange grove.  When we were out of sight, the birthday boy lit a cigarette and dared us to take a “drag.”  I didn’t want to appear to be a sissy, but I was frightened—I knew “smokes” were addictive and bad for you.  I took a puff, manfully blew the smoke out and spent the rest of the day worried about becoming addicted to cigarettes.

In college I, like almost everyone, smoked—even during classes.  Several years later after completing army basic training I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.  I was aware they were bad for me—heck we called them “coffin nails—it didn’t matter, I liked smoking.  On my son’s six-month birthday, deciding I wanted to be with him as he grew up, I quit smoking.

Even though cigarette packs didn’t carry a warning and public service announcement and obnoxious anti-smoking television ads didn’t exist, we recognized smoking was bad for you.  Why then the necessity to spend millions of dollars telling people what they already know?  Because it enforces the appearance that politicians really care about their constituents and it satisfies a patronizing need to take care of people.

Supposedly, the cost to society of caring for those who persist in continuing bad habits is the reason behind regulating behavior.  Actually, this is the rationalization for busybodies sticking their noses into other people’s business.  Give me a break—unhealthy people die young; society will care for healthy people for many more years.  I haven’t seen the studies but I have read that societal cost even up.

To avoid future generations becoming automatons looked after by a benevolent and elitist dictatorships, people, of every political stripe, should respond to attempts to limit personal freedom with“I’m not and I refuse to be treated like a dog.”