Leading Through Change

I sent this out for a customer email newsletter today, and I wanted to share it here too.


I hope this letter brings you some encouragement and perspective as you lead your teams.

I read a post from a guy named Ron Edmondson the other day that really struck me by how spot on it was. You can read it yourself here: http://ronedmondson.com/2017/10/7-tensions-you-can-expect-in-fast-growth.html

Ron is talking about fast growth in his post, but the same tensions come up any time our organizations are changing.

Change is inevitable. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s change we are driving, or change that that is happening around us. There is one major issue change will introduce every time if we do not lead well. That problem is negativity.

Change goes hand-in-hand with the unknown. And because we are human beings, our tendency is to fill in what we don’t know with negativity. We let fear take over and we can’t see around the gap. And when negativity creeps in, it spreads fast.

I remember reading somewhere that overcoming negative energy requires 10 times the amount in positive energy. I am not sure how scientific this is, but I still love the visualization. It begs us to ask the question, “How do we protect our teams from negativity to begin with?”

Here are my ideas.

Over-communicate. If we tend to fill in what we don’t know with negativity, we need to communicate what the gaps are. Tell your team when you don’t know, and let them know it’s ok to not know. We are human beings who have been created with an incredible ability to figure things out. It also helps to communicate that change brings about change, so everyone should be ready to adapt.

Assume the best. We should always assume the best and encourage our teams to do the same. If we fill in gaps with the benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to each other, we protect ourselves from unnecessary tension and frustration. We shouldn’t put on rose-colored glasses and pretend everything is perfect either…just don’t assume the negative when we really don’t know.

No gossiping. We define gossip as voicing frustrations to people who cannot solve the problem. When we complain to a peer we, are not actually working to solve the problem. We are only spreading negativity. We have an open door policy at Envoy. If one of our team members is frustrated, we want them to come to us or go to their boss. We want to hear them out. We want them to be able to vent. We want to fix the underlying problem. And doing this keeps the conversation focused on what can be done to improve the situation.

Understand what you cannot control. There is something freeing about being able to see a problem, to acknowledge that something just stinks, but still have the positivity, perspective, and peace of mind to know that we are in control of our decisions. Stephen Covey says this in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When we are in control of ourselves, when we are responding and not reacting, our outlook and ability to succeed under extraordinary circumstances is high.

Rest. There is only so much effective work we can do. Sometimes we have to dig deep and just get stuff done. And sometimes, we need to recognize we are too exhausted to be effective, and rest. We are more important than our work, and we have to take care of ourselves.

If you didn’t read the post I linked to earlier, you should. It will help you realize you are not alone in dealing with the tensions of growth and change.

iPad Pro After 2 Days

Can an iPad Pro with iOS 11 replace a laptop for small business CEOs. I am using one for 2 weeks to find out. Today starts day 3, and so far, I am pleased. Most of my work is easy to perform on this device, but there are a couple of things that still just don’t work. This is not a bad thing for my specific use case though. I’ll explain.

Mondays are heavy meeting days for me. I spent a lot of the day using the Pencil and taking notes. This isn’t really a new use for me since I’ve been using my iPad this way for several months. I spent the rest of Monday going back through my notes and sending memos to my team based on what we talked about. There are no limitations here, and split screen makes this really convenient.

One more thing to note. I am using the Smart Keyboard not the 10.5 model. Dependign on where you look you will will here very positive or negative opinions. It took me a little while to get used to the smaller size, but the Key travel feels very familiar since my MacBook Pro has a pretty shallow key travel. If you are sued to mechanical keyboards, this will feel very awkward. But, once I got used to it, I find myself typing much faster than I do on my full size keyboard. My fingers don’t have to travel as quickly. I also had to learn how to balance the device on my lap since I split my time working from a standing desk and a couch in my office.

On Tuesday, I spent all morning emailing customers before heading off to an industry trade show. The only problem is that I use Highrise for CRM, and the reponsive UI doesn’t scale well on the 10.5 screen. Sometimes when I would use the arrow keys to move around a text area, the cursor would move, but so would the whole page. It was pretty annoying. I left my iPad behind when I went to the trade show, and it was nice to basically have all my information and user experience on my iPhone. I didn’t feel like I was leaving anting behind. I do really wish Apple would make the pencil work on an iPhone. I am crossing my fingers.

The first real limitation I came across was QuickBooks Online. They will not allow me to export an Excel file from a report. I can export a PDF, but that does not help. Also, if the report renders wider than the screen, scrolling is virtually impossible. I almost pulled out my laptop to quickly get the file before realizing this was an opportunity to delegate. I pulled up Slack and asked my AP/AR clerk to pull the report and send it to me. Then I asked her to send that same report to me each week at the same time. While it is incredibly inconvenient to not be able to access something the moment I need it, being forced to delegate and systemize has the potential to save me time and keep me focused in the end.

To wrap up, here are the things I  like so far.

  • Portability. My backpack is so light, and I only carry one charging cable.
  • The keyboard. I am really getting used to it, and I love the short travel between keys.
  • Screenshot mark up. It’s so much faster than trying to describe changes I need to documents and images.
  • Drag and drop. This is the thing that made using an iPad too slow to use before iOS 11.
  • Pencil!
  • Being able to comfortably walk around my office with my main device. It’s so light and comfortable to use.
  • iOS 11 control center.

And dislikes so far.

  • Battery life. I am getting less battery life than I was getting before iOS 11. Granted it’s better than my MacBook Pro, but the MacBook charges faster. Plus, the portability of the iPad makes me not want to have it plugged in constantly like I do with my MacBook. I end up using a 29w charging block to kick it back to 100% during lunch. One more thing to note, if my device is in the 60% range, I feel like it is almost dead. Always be charging.
  • QuickBooks Online. This is not an Apple or iPad thing. They are just so slow to make updates and their native apps are so limited. Just serve me a desktop experience, and I will be happy!
  • Searching through handwritten notes in Apple Notes. It’s ok, but they still have some work to do. I am still using Nebo to hand write notes and then export the text to Notes.

That’s it for now. I am going to keep coming with periodic updates before doing a full write up at the end. Also, if you are in the facilities maintenance industry, I will have a separate review up over on my company blog, http://envoyfm.com/blog about the iPad Pro as a main device for Facilities Maintenance Managers.

iOS 11 on the iPad Pro

Apple released the GM build of iOS 11 last Thursday which I promptly installed on my iPad Pro. I have never been as excited about a new iOS release as I am for this one because of the productivity advancements it brings to the iPad. I have given myself some time to get acclimated to the changes, and now I am ready to do a couple experiments.

First…is the iPad Pro the perfect device for a small business CEO?

Second…is the iPad Pro the perfect device for a mobile facilities manager?

My computer is going away for 2 weeks while I make this happen.

I am obsessed with the idea of having one device to do everything. My dream device is a phone that connects to peripheral devices and is the central access point to all of my work, data, media, entertainment…everything. Yes, I know Microsoft and Samsung have this capability. All of the Microsoft devices are getting poor reviews as phones. The Samsung Galaxy devices seem great, but their are not enough apps for my workflow. I am keeping an eye on the Note 8 and Dex to see how that ecosystem evolves.

Back to iOS 11 and the iPad Pro. While this does not get be down to one device, it does reduce what I have to keep in my bag. Leaving my Mac, the power brick, and adapters behind means I have less to carry around.

I’ll go from this…


…to this…


Some other reasons I believe the iPad Pro can work as a primary device are:

  • The iPad Pro is super fast. It literally switches around from app to app as fast as my MacBook Pro does.
  • Charging from a portable charger.
  • LTE…internet everywhere without teathering.
  • There are apps for everything in my workflow. And the request Desktop version of websites feature will make the rest possible.
  • I am already used to and plugged into the Apple ecosystem so it’s comfortable and learning curve is low.
  • While I stil have 2 devices, iCloud and Dropbox keep everything synced up. Most of the Mac keyboard shortcuts work on an iPad.
  • The pencil. I take a ton of notes. I love handwriting, but hate it when something I need to remember is back at the office on a notepad.
  • While there is multitasking, working on an iPad forces me to focus on a single task because on app fills the whole screen.

The features of iOS 11 I am most excited about are:

  • Drag and drop files and photos. This is a game changer for the iPad.
  • Apple notes searches through handwritten notes.
  • Tap the Pencil on the screen to start a new note.
  • Document scanning…I love Scannable, but hate how it has to sync to Evernote. Now I can scan and sign inside of Apple Notes.
  • Marking up screenshots with the pencil.

Finally, my apprehensions upfront are:

  • QuickBooks Online. I tried this experiment with the 12.9” iPad Pro came out. That was the main thing that forced me to quit the experiment last time and return it.
  • Working in spreadsheets (Excel) when I have multiple documents to reference.
  • The small screen size. I am using the 10.5 for usability sake. The 12.9” is way too big to comfortably hold as a tablet, but the extra screen  area is nice.

I will try to post daily on thoughts about this experiment, so follow along or consider subscribing. There is a box in the sidebar that will make that easy.

Also, be on the look out for the final review about using the device as a small business CEO on this blog and using the device as a mobile facilties manager at my company’s blog, http://envoyfm.com/blog.

I’m Not Excited About The New iPhone

Seriously. The iPhone X seems like a completely pointless upgrade over the 7 Plus that is in my pocket right now. It’s beautiful, and neat, but…my tech goals are about getting work done.

Apple is doing what they think will sell stuff to the masses. I can see my kids freaking out over animoji and all of the other stuff that comes along with the new format, but for me?

I just can’t see where these updates make me more effective and efficient. I can’t justify it…even the lie to myself type justification that I usually use to make myself feel better bout spending unnecessary money on new tech.

I’m not going to switch to something else though. iOS with macOS is the best integration for productivity. Copy and paste across platforms. iCloud storage. Apple notes. It all makes me more effective and efficient. I am bought-in on the ecosystem, and I believe it is worlds ahead of using Mac with Android or Windows with Android.

I am also very excited about iOS 11. It’s going to be a game changer for the iPad. Being able to do most of what I do from a small, ultra-portable device? I’m excited.

Now what the LTE Apple watch? All day. That thing is awesome and opens up doors. I am super excited about it. That’s going to be awesome. It’s going to open up doors. I can’t wait to leave my phone behind without missing something absolutely important or urgent from family or employees.

Finally, I think Apple needs to breathe some youth into their leadership. The dad jokes and cheesiness has grown to the point of caricature. It’s going to open the door to companies who take tech a little more seriously.

The way this always works is a company attracts the artists and trend setters. Then come the builders and developers. Then the masses swing.

Don’t forget about the artists, Apple.

Moving

I am inspired by people who are not caught up in what people think.

I am not one of those people. I try to be, but I can’t help it. So much of what I do is done through the lens of, “Will people think I am awesome if I do this?”

If I think the answer is yes, I am probably wrong…and vice versa.

Yet, some of the most rewarding experiences of my life are the ones where I forgot about my desire to be admired and just lived. Still, I fall back into old habits.

I tell my kids all of the time that the people they think are cool on YouTube and TV and everywhere else, were most likely not thought of that way as kids. They were the “weird” ones. They didn’t fit in. They had interests that others did not have. They didn’t act the way everyone was supposed to act according to the current version of adolescent culture.

And yet they are admired, and probably not because they strive to be.

I don’t know. Maybe I am wrong about this, but I just want my life to be more about what is good instead of what gets me admiration.

Another area this kills me is taking risk. I have this feeling that if I can’t be great at something…if it’s not the best, I don’t want to even try it.

Take podcasting for example. I started a podcast through the Anchor app, and stopped when I got busy and missed one day. I have not picked it up since.

Why? Because I felt like a failure and starting again makes me come to terms with that.

But here is the deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s consistent. I should just create an episode when I feel like it and don’t do it when I don’t. It’s simple.

What’s more we would not even have a company podcast if one of my employees didn’t keep pushing for it. Why did I not want to do it? I was worried it wouldn’t be good enough. Is it good enough? Not yet. But it will be good in the future.

I fail. All the time. But I have to get over the fact that it doesn’t mean I can’t pick up and start again.

P.S. Hat tip to my wife who picked up Jon Acuff’s latest book, Finish, for me today the Orange Conference. It’s the inspiration of this post. Chapter 1 is about this exact topic.

Learning Is Part of the Process, Not An Obstacle

playing guitar

I know very little compared the amount I should know in order to be the CEO of a company, a husband, a father, etc. It’s my first time around for most of the decisions I have to make and projects I have to complete. So, I have a choice to make in each of these situations.

I can choose to learn everything before I start.

Or…

I can learn enough to start.

The first option means I will never start. I won’t try. I won’t make a decision. I won’t do anything because I will use my lack of knowledge as a crutch and an excuse. Besides, there is always more to know.

The second option is better and scarier. Learning enough to start means learning enough to take the next step. It’s scarier because it’s an adventure. I only know enough for one step which is not much. I only need to know the step, not the series of steps.

This second option  means learning is part of the process…not an obstacle. It happens along the way…not first.

You can do anything you want in life…you just have to figure it out.

6 Business Resources I Wish I Knew About Before I Did

The hardest part of learning how to run a company is getting the questions right. In the early days it was easy because someone else had the questions. It was the work…the to do list…all of the things coming at me every day that begged for attention.

As we grew and have brought on incredible people who take on the responsibility getting the work done, the hard part became figuring out what I was supposed to do.

The answer to this problem has always came from learning. When I go read, or watch, or shadow, or listen, I discover the things that I should be paying attention to.

Here are some great resources I wish I would have had before I started by business that have helped me answer these questions.

If you are running a business that makes money but is driving you crazy, check these out. I don’t know what question they will inspire you to answer, but I know they will help you.

Good luck!

The Lie That is Hurting the Maintenance Industry (and the HUGE Opportunity)


I sat in on an HVAC education session at a facility maintenance industry conference a couple of years ago. The man leading the course took the last 10 minutes to ask the audience a question.

“By a show of hands, who in this room wants their kids to grow up to be an HVAC technician?”

I looked around to see my hand was one of only several hands in the air out of a couple hundred in the room.

The point this man was made was that it’s hard to find good people in the HVAC industry, and that the expectations of the technicians who show up to make repairs at these retail and restaurant locations should be lowered because they simply can’t attract good help.

I was appalled.

There is a lie we have told my entire generation of millenials. The lie is that you only have value in society if you go to college and get a desk job. Working with our hands is beneath us. As a result, we have people with degrees chasing jobs that have will continue to be automated and outsourced.

I run a facilities maintenance company. When I ask our vendors what their biggest threat to their business is, it’s finding people to do the work. Their best technicians are approaching retirement, and young people aren’t entering the industry.

We are approaching one of the biggest deficits of plumbers, electricians, HVAC and refrigeration technicians, kitchen equipment technians, carpenters, etc. that we have ever seen. This is going to lead to the skyrocketing costs in the maintenance industry over the next 3 to 15  years. I have watched it happen steadily over the last decade, and it’s about to happen even faster than before.

This is going to lead to the skyrocketing costs in the maintenance industry over the next 3 to 15 years.

We have to stop this lie, and change the message.

First, human value does not come from the work we do. We have intrinsic value.

Second, this workforce deficit creates a huge opportunity for our children. I am calling it right now. Journeyman level licensed technicians will demand 6 figure annual incomes within the next 7 years because scarcity drives prices up. What an opportunity? Why not stop the cycle  of devaluing the maintenance industry? Fixing things…maintenance…is one of the most important functions of society? Would you really want to live in a state of disrepair?

I hope I am in a room one day when someone asks who wants their kid to grow up to be an HVAC technician and those with their hands down are the minority.

Reverse Engineering


I have a secret…my business…it’s all made up. All of it.

Seriously, it used to be nothing…then it was an idea…and now it’s a business that makes money and provides jobs and helps people.

But it used to be nothing.

And basically, everything you interact with in life that is man made has the same story. It was made up from nothing into something.

I talk to a lot of people who get paralyzed in the idea state of their dreams. I used to be there. The gap between nothing and something is deep and long and scary.

So here is a little advice if you have dream that you want to make happen…reverse engineer it.

Define what your dream looks like in 5 years. Imagine it in every little detail. I like to write it out. I tell myself the story of what it feels like to wake up 5 years from today. What do I see when I open my eyes. What time is it? What do my feet feel when they hit the floor. Where am I? What does my house look like? What do I eat? What do I see? Where do I go to work and how do I get there? Who works there? How many people? How do I spend my day? You get the idea.

Next, write down the 10 things that need to happen in 3 years to realize the dream. Got it?

Now, write down 9 things that need to happen in 1 year to realize the dream.

Now, 6 things in 6 months (repeat each 6 months until you hit your 1year goal).

Now, 3 things in 3 months (repeat each quarter until you hit your 6 month goal).

Now 1 thing in 1 month (repeat each month until you hit your 3 month goal).

Now 2-3 three things this week (repeat each week until you hit your 1 month goal).

Every morning, look at your 3 month goal and figure out the 1 thing you need to get done that day. Schedule it and do it.

Repeat this every day, week, month, 6 months, and year.

By reverse engineering down to today you turn a wild goal into make a manageable task. The gap becomes less scary, and when you look back you can feel great what you have accomplished every single day.

It’s simple, but it’s hard work.

If you want a great tool to manage this process, check out the Best Self Journal (not a paid sponsorship…I just love the product). It’s the best tool I have found to build consistence execution agains a goal.