In a Rut? Go on a Field Trip!

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“Get out in the field!”

It’s an expression in business that could mean a few things:

  • Visiting customers
  • Looking at the competitive marketplace
  • Working in the factory/front lines
  • In the Stores

The field is really anything that gets closer to the core of where the action is.  Anyplace but the desk. And usually around people.

A recent market visit brought us to the Bronx Fish Market.  A place few know exists and it’s not for the feint of heart!

bronx fish market

After the fish market we hit a couple of local businesses in our space.  And then my Italian roots took over.  The calling of Arthur Avenue in Bronx NY.  Some call it, “NY’s REAL Little Italy.”  No argument here.

arthur ave bronx ny

 

We found a gem of a small business, Tino’s Deli.

Hustle comes in many shapes and sizes.  

Why was it a gem?

  • Food was fresher than fresh.  Rare finds, no common name brands.  But all the staples you’d expect in an Italian Deli.
  • It was spotless.  Stainless steel garbage cans.
  • All the staff was happy we were there.  How did we know?  They smiled early, often and looked us in the eye.
  • The food met my expectations, and in this kind of store they are always sky high.

The owner Giancarlo Paciullo was a throw-back to an era where personal service was the norm.  He brings a tear to the eye of a blog writer where the subtitle is “Where Old School Meets New School.”

I asked to take a picture with him after we were done with breakfast.  Little did I know our server called him at home (he lives a couple blocks away) and he walked back to his place just to take a picture.  I felt bad for inconveniencing him.  But I really wanted to remember him.  And he gave us a nice little bag for the road.

tino's deli bronx ny

After looking at his website, I almost gasped at the little < 2 minute video, set to the awesome Guns & Roses “Patience.”  There’s that Old School Meeting New School thing again…..

Small little businesses like Tino’s Deli do not spend millions on advertising.  They earn loyalty one customer interaction at a time.  They dazzle people with service from the heart.

Then their loyal customers take over and tell everyone that will listen about their experience.

Go Arthur Avenue.  Go Tino’s Deli!  Bravo.

We all get in ruts in while running our businesses. Simple solution. Get to the Field.  

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Business Mandate: Turn Air into Money.

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I get a EUPHORIC thrill out of turning air into money.  

It also creates some strange looks when I tell a story or two.

When you own property in business, every square inch is a potential asset.  Even if you don’t own your land and building, utilization of space and the costs that are tied up in space should be scrutinized.

AIR.

  • It’s invisible.  Odorless.
  • And it can cost you money.  That is money that can be re-invested in growth.

Want some examples?

  • Shipping.  Everyone in CPG knows that the cost of shipping a truck rarely changes if you can get 39k lbs on it vs. 42k lbs.  But if that shaves a couple pennies off your shipping rate that can be the difference between making 20% and 23% margins.  That matters.

How about garbage costs.  What do you see when you look at this image?

Garbage dumpster

 

A mess of course!  And litter, which is awful.

But what you also see is that the garbage is thrown in there, not compacted.  I bet if it were organized and crunched, you can free up 1/3 of the airspace.  That means fewer pickups.  Less Cost.  You know what else is there?

  • PLASTIC.
  • CARDBOARD.

Both of those should be recycled.  And sold on the open market.  That’s a revenue stream for someone, why not you?

Recycling further reduces the amount of true garbage, further reducing your cost.

I bet businesses across the country could cut there garbage expenses by 50% if they just attack it with recycling and compacting, and of course knowing what drives their cost to begin with.

So lets say you spend $400 per month without these methods.  What can you do with $2,400 in savings?  Do you need to invest some money on a compactor?  Seems like there could be a payback there.  There are countless examples in business very similar to the garbage example.

Freeing up money by turning Air into money is the low hanging fruit in a business.  It requires minimal risk.  But it does require a dose of Hustle to go after it.

When businesses turn air into money they begin to fuel the engine of growth:  INVESTMENT.

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The Most Under-Rated of All Holidays? Labor Day

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If I were to think of all the nationally recognized holidays that define the USA “idea,” Independence Day is probably number one.

A VERY close #2?

LABOR DAY.

la·bor
noun
work, especially hard physical work
verb
work hard; make great effort
Capitalism is about many things.  
  • Innovation
  • Risk Taking
  • Leadership
  • Competition
  • Teamwork

At the heart of capitalism is flat out, pain-staking, grind away, roll up your sleeves WORK.  LABOR.  I think of it as HUSTLE.

The thing about Labor that is fascinating?

It is so different person to person.  And much of it is attitude driven, with choices made daily about how it is approached.

Think of the major league ball player that busts it down the line on a routine grounder, while another guy jogs.  I’m convinced that a ball player like Robinson Cano cost himself over $100mm for one simple fact:  He had  a tendency to NOT Hustle.  But I digress.

I also believe that EVERYBODY working….

  • Has value

  • Builds their dignity, self-respect with each passing work day successfuly completed.

  • Builds wealth, both for themselves (if managed properly) and that wealth creates more wealth.  A great circle of prosperity when money gets earned, spent, invested.

  • There’s a work opportunity for all humans, regardless of skill level, education, race, gender or ethnicity.  This is a massive world.

Rarely do things come easy.  Labor, could also be known as Labor “Pains.”  Some think work is a 4-letter word.
Some LOVE to work, and take it to extremes.  I personally have always struggled with striking a work-life balance, especially with young kids.  But I’d be lying to say I don’t get a massive adrenaline rush from being exhausted after a long hard days work.  Old-school pleasure in its rawest form.  

Some people are blessed to not only work in jobs that support themselves and their families, but that they actually would do for FREE they love it so much.  Those are probably few and far between, but they are out there.

Regardless of where you stand in life:  Labor Day is worth celebrating.  It’s worth exhaling, sitting back and appreciating how food makes its way to your table.  And it’s also worth taking a moment and recognizing that all Jobs, and the people that work them have value.

Happy Labor Day.

And if you happen to be in the NY/NJ area for Labor Day weekend, consider visiting one of NJ’s best kept secrets, the St. Bart’s 40th annual Italian Festival.  Mangia!

http://www.sbuitalianfestival.com/

 

American Flag

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Organizational Culture: Not the First 90 Days, But EVERYDAY

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It has been about 3 weeks since taking over as CEO of LM Foods.  It has been an absolute blast learning the business and developing a strategy for the future.  

What was the most important factor leading up to the acquisition that leaves me in a position of optimism vs. feeling overwhelmed? 

Ditching the Data Room.  Learning from the lions by going to the jungle, not the zoo is always the best crash course. 

In the first 90 days, I have 2 core objectives:

  1. Gain a baseline for where the business is at (“Learning”)
  2. Start the process of building a Strategy.

Strategy can be fancy, complicated and many times…..academic.

Businesses don’t compete in academia, they compete in the real world, so keep it simple.  Strategy is about building a plan to WIN.  In sports, they call it a playbook.

The right Strategy/playbook is important.

Executing the Strategy/playbook is MORE important.

Something that brings Strategy AND Execution to its knees? Culture.

A toxic culture will suck the oxygen out of the business.  A vibrant one will inject it. Cultures don’t happen by chance, they are intentional, whether you pay attention or not.

I’ve always believed in Culture.  After 3 weeks, that belief is put on steroids.  I will expand on the great Peter Drucker’s thought:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast
So while the 2 objectives (Learn & Build a Strategy)……don’t have the word “Culture” in it, there is a reason:

Building a Culture is an everyday, on-going effort, not a point in time “dive in then dive out.”

The life of an Entrepreneur, and a Leader can feel like a roller coaster.

It’s a bit ironic, I personally never liked roller coasters, with a fear of heights, the lack of control and the “whiff” of danger.

I never understood why people pay money for it!  But I love the roller coaster of business.

Business is the driver of this great country.  And when you REALLY get into a business, most would agree that CULTURE is the driver behind any great company.

Building a great culture is not easy.  Nothing great ever is.

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Life’s Decision Scale: Time to Chase Your Entrepreneurial Dreams?

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Is there anything that personifies America & Capitalism more than owning your own business?

It is the epitome of the American Dream.  Yet so many people dream of it, so few will pursue it.  I bet the % of people that become entrepreneurs dwindle as people get more established in their careers.  Here’s a few reasons that could drive the in-action:

  1. Lifestyle is really OK!:  Paycheck, benefits & perks that may be growing and there are plenty of future demands on the way (college for kids, retirement).
  2. I like my job!: Great people, a culture that’s strong, rewarding results that you help drive.  It’s comfortable by golly and I love what I do!
  3. Overall state of predictability.  You know in 6 months, if you continue to work hard and generate results, your job will likely be there and things will be a bit better overall.  Nice steady improvement.  

I’ve focused on 1-3 myself, and they are all nice benefits.

Stay put, and do NOT pursue your Entrepreneurial dreams IF:

  1. Not doing so will produce the future you desire

  2. Not doing so will not yield one of life’s biggest regrets:

Never Taking That One Big Shot 

People can have a “dream” to own their own business all they want.  But until they envision conflict with #1 & #2 and if their current job will yield what they want, they probably won’t take action to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

There comes a time when regret or wanting a brighter future won’t be attained by “doing nothing.”  When that happens, inertia gets agitated and massive action begins.*

*Warning Sign:  I’ve witnessed people “lower the bar” on a future that is desired, dialing back expectations that can be met with the classic 9-5.  Chances are, if you follow a blog called “Hustle or Bust.” that is not an option, but I have witnessed this.  Let’s call it a “Hustle cheat.” 

What’s instructive is asking WHY those reasons for IN-action exist?  Force yourself to give 1 word that explains why you won’t take that leap:

  • Risk?
  • Uncertainty?
  • Un-knowns?
  • Insecurities?
  • Capabilities?

All valid concerns, fear-based adjectives.  They are real and powerful motivators for in-action that can’t be denied.

If you’ve gone through your acid test test and your scales have tipped towards PURSUING your entrepreneurial dreams, CONGRATS!  Now you’ve entered the stage where you need to figure out the how’s…..and build a roadmap against a solid understanding of the process.

What’s first needed to create action is often just a recognition that the scales have tipped in one direction.  Once you recognize they’ve tipped, the rest becomes about learning, planning and execution.  But the scales need to tip first.  Be honest with yourself and start weighing the scales. 

Stay tuned for what that the entrepreneurial process looks like in months ahead.  Make sure you subscribe to HustleOrBust (top right box) so you get those posts delivered to your inbox. 

Make it a great day & I look forward to your comments on “Life’s Decision Scale!”

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