Looking Business-like

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Firing of an Employee

I once had an employee who worked for me for sixteen years. This employee did a very good job. He did almost everything that I could have asked of him. He was a very popular employee around the workplace also. He was all of that, at least for the first twelve years. After that, he seemed to lose his edge, his fire. I'm not really sure what the cause was. Needless to say, I spoke many times with him over the last four years to determine the cause of his drop in performance. He was given every tool he needed or wanted to help get his performance back to where it had been the previous twelve years. But to no avail. Finally, after four years of under-achieving, I let him go.

Now, many people at work chastised me for running off a man who had once been such a great employee. Others were happy with my decision to finally get rid of someone who clearly was being given every chance yet still failing to perform up to expectations. My decision was not based on emotion. If it was, this man would definitely still be under my employ. But performance in the workplace matters. We all know that. None of us get paid to tell funny jokes in the break room.

So what were my reasons for firing this guy? Well, first off, it was accountability. Since I preach performance, I had to to let a non-performer go....even though this man had been revered for the performance of his first twelve years. An employee cannot rest on their laurels of the past. Second, this man was our highest paid employee. When he first started, he was paid a certain sum of money to do a particular job. He agreed to that amount and did a great job. Every so often, I gave him a pay raise with the expectation that his great job performance would continue. His value had increased and so should his compensation. But over the last four years, his value had decreased and it becomes very hard to decrease a person's compensation once it has been given to him. I believe it sends a poor message to the rest of my employees to continue to employ and pay a man who clearly is not going to perform as he once did.

Finally, I want to remind people that this company is bigger than any employee. Great performers are welcome here. In fact, we very much desire you. You will be given every tool you need to succeed. Your achievements will be celebrated. But there will also be accountability. When your performance begins to suffer, I will want to know why. Don't worry, you will be given time to correct your course. However, like this man that I fired, if you don't correct course and your performance is still in decline I will let you go for the future good of the company.

Well, I hope I have explained this situation as clearly as I witnessed it happening. The above story is me speaking in the voice of the University of Texas and my employee was Mack Brown. Sorry folks, I know many of you loved and adored him. But for the future good of the University, it was time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How A Girl Destroyed The Twelve Year Old Me

I read a story the other day of a high school football game in Texas. You can read about it here. Anyway, it reminded me of something that happened the summer that I turned 12 years old. I had been playing Little League baseball and one of my teammates played tennis as well. In fact, his dad was a well known local tennis pro. So, my mom signs me up for his summer tennis camp at a local resort and I am given a new tennis racket for my 12th birthday.

Now, tennis camp was great. I had never played before and so I was learning the most basic to serve, how to backhand, etc. I actually thought I was getting pretty good, as far as a really bad beginner goes. Well, at the end of camp we were to have a tournament. Since I was a new player and still fairly bad, I was put into the girls bracket. There's a blow to my 12 year old ego. But I accepted it and attempted to get ready for the onslaught I didn't know was even coming. Who knew I was going to play some 13 year old girl who was a foot taller than me and had been playing for several years. Plus, I think on this day she was channeling her inner Chris Evert.

Now our match gets started and she is killing me. I can't even win a point much less a game. All the while, little Miss Priss is berating me for being so bad. Slap to my ego #2. She wins the first set 6-0. I don't even win one point. Not one time did she ever double fault or hit the ball into the net or out of bounds. A complete shutout. Now before we begin the second set, it was best 2 out of 3 sets, she walks off!! I didn't know what was happening. Turns out she went to get the instructor, my friends dad, and told him how bad I was and that she shouldn't have to waste her time finishing our match. Crazy. The instructor comes over and asks me if I was trying my best and I said yeah but she is so much better than me. He turns to her and tells her to finish the match or forfeit and she is clearly not happy with this answer.

We start the second set and she trying to finish me off as quickly as possible. This girl is killing my manhood before it even has a chance to begin. And then it happened. Finally!!! I win a point. No, she didn't make a bad shot. I hit a clear winner. I smoked that ball right past her. HA!! Time to save my future manhood so I talk some trash to her. "Take that!! Where were you on that shot!!" She pokes out her hip and places her hand on it and gives me the "You've got to be kidding me. I hate you" look. Ahhhhh, sweet victory. Well, I finish the match winning 3 points and losing to the self appointed prepubescent ball-bashing man-crusher by a score of 6-0 6-0.

What does this have to do with the football story? Well, not once did I whine about the beating I was taking. I just played as well as I could. I knew I was completely outclassed. I hung in there the entire match, looking for small victories like winning a single point. I learned some things that day. One, I was never going to be a very good tennis player. Two, sometimes you're going to be in a situation where you are a complete underdog. And three, when you're taking a beatdown, whether in tennis or in life, just buckle down, suck it up and focus on one small victory at a time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If You Could Not Fail

Have you ever heard this question......What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Maybe you have heard some motivational speaker ask that question. Or maybe you have seen it on Facebook or some other social networking site. Have you thought of what your answer would be? Do you salivate over all the things that come to your mind? Do you see endless possibilities?

Maybe you would cure some disease or eradicate world hunger. Or possibly, you might become a professional athlete.....or musician.....or artist. Maybe you would solve the mysteries of the Universe. Maybe you go for that big promotion at your job. Whatever it is you would do, the question implies that you are removing  fears, removing boundaries that stand between you and your deepest desires. But there is something else that I take from the question.

When I see or hear this question, I think of.....boredom. Yeah, I said it. Boredom. How boring would life be if you went around knowing you could do anything? Where is the challenge? Where is the thrill and adrenaline surge that fear and possible failure bring? It reminds me of a story I heard a pastor tell. There is a fish....the name escapes me....that is caught on the east coast of the USA and then is transported by truck to the west coast. The fish are kept in a large storage tank with salt water to keep them fresh. but when the fish would arrive on the west coast they would be soft and mushy. They had lost their firmness. No one could figure out why. The water and salt combination was experimented with. That wasn't the problem. Other things were investigated but nothing could keep the fish from turning to mush.

Finally, someone solved it. These fish had a natural predator. So, the predator fish was put into the tanker truck along with the rest of the fish. Lo and behold, the fish arrived firm and fresh. How did this happen? With the fear the predator brought, the other fish were forced to be more active. With the potential failure resulting from being eaten, the fish swam for their lives. To the relief of the fishing industry, the problem was resolved. Want another example?

Have you heard of Michael Jordan? Arguably, he is the greatest basketball player ever. At the apex of his career, he quit. Yeah, he stopped playing basketball and went to play professional baseball. Now, he was ok at baseball. But he was the greatest at basketball. So why would he quit doing what he knew he could not fail at doing? Because he was bored. There was no challenge left for him in basketball. So he took the lure of fear...of failure...and played baseball. After a year and a half away from basketball, he returned and became the greatest player all over again. He was challenged by the comeback, by the naysayers, by the opponents who wished for his demise. When he knew he couldn't fail, he longer inspired.

And so, back to answering the original question. What would I do if I knew I could not fail? Nothing. That's right. Nothing. Not a thing. Zip, zilch, nada. I would be bored to death. I would be as uninspired as Jordan was. I love the feeling I get when I think of the fear in doing something. I like knowing that I might fail because it makes me strive all the more. So while the rest of you are effortlessly ending violence or constructing world peace, I'll be searching out something risky. Something that will make you shake your heads and laugh at me. Something that scares me a little. But in those somethings, I will find inspiration, exhilaration. I'll find the zest of life. And if I can't find that, then I'll find a nice body of water to lay beside and enjoy knowing that I won't fail at relaxing and enjoying myself.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trouble at the University of Texas

These are crazy times at the University of Texas. I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I will begin with the women's track coach, Bev Kearney. Ms. Kearney was recently forced to resign due to her admission of an affair with a student athlete on her team. This affair took place more than ten years ago and lasted almost two years. I cannot condone the actions of Ms. Kearney and fully agree with her resignation. However, there appears to be a double standard in place. Just a few days ago, a story broke of assistant football coach and former UT football player, Major Applewhite, had sexual relations with a student during a trip to a bowl game.

The student was also a part of the football team in the role of student trainer. But officials at UT say Applewhite's case is different because the trainer did not report directly to him. Well, of course she didn't. Applewhite coaches the entire offense for the Texas football team. Only those players who are on the offense and the other offense coaches report to him. But she is still a part of the team and a line was crossed by their affair. Even Athletic Director, Deloss Doods agreed when he froze Applewhite's salary for eleven months and required him to get counseling. However, why the disparity in punishments between Kearney and Applewhite? Is it just a football bias? Is it a male/female bias? Or is it a racial bias? Kearney is African-American, Applewhite is white. The University of Texas does have a history of racism, as does many schools throughout the South.

Let's move on to the baseball coach, Augie Garrido. About two weeks after the Applewhite affair, Garrido is pulled over in downtown Austin and arrested for DWI. In this case, an actual law was broken. His punishment? Garrido received a four game suspension....with pay. Yes, folks, that's all he received. A head coach can break laws and receive what amounts to no punishment but another head coach is forced to resign while not breaking any laws. For the record, Garrido is a white man.

This past December, two players were accused of sexual assault while at a bowl game in San Antonio. The two players were suspended for the game. The police decided there was not enough evidence to charge the players and both have been reinstated to the team. One player was white, Case McCoy. McCoy is the brother of former UT quarterback and football hero, Colt McCoy. The other player is African-American, Jordan Hicks. I can only wonder what the outcome would have been if both players had been African-American? Especially since the woman involved was white, drunk and passed out. Oh, and who did McCoy have his wrist slapped by? Well, most likely it would have been the coach he reported directly to.....the above-mentioned Mr. Applewhite. It appears Mr. Applewhite is doing a fantastic job of leading by example. No wonder he recently received a promotion. The promotion also came at the exact same time Ms. Kearney was being shown the door.

Have I mentioned Cleve Bryant? Mr Bryant was the right hand man to the head football coach, Mack Brown. His title was Associate Athletics Director for Football Operations. Wow. Big title. Who do you think is THE director of football operations? It's the head coach, Mack Brown. Mr. Bryant was fired in 2011 for sexually harassing a female employee of the athletic department. Silly Cleve. If only he had sex with her all would have been well. Or maybe not, since Mr. Bryant is African-American.

And that brings us to the most recent arrest. Connor Brewer is a backup quarterback at UT. His coach is Applewhite. Brewer was charged with public intoxication and possessing a fake ID. Now, some will say this is standard college stuff. Actually, it is probably unlikely that the majority of the 50,000 students at the University of Texas all have public intoxication charges. Now, I Brewer's charge is very minor and I bring it up only because it shows the lack of leadership being given by Applewhite as well as the head coach, Mack Brown. Throw in Brown's boss, the Athletic Director Deloss Doods as well.

So we have two African-Americans in the athletic department either fired or forced out due to sexual indiscretions while a white football coach commits sexual indiscretions and is allowed to keep his job and is eventually promoted. We have a white head coach who breaks laws and keeps his job and only receives a four game paid vacation. Players are running amuck. And why not? They are only emulating the leaders of this athletic department. There needs to be a complete overhaul of leadership in UT athletics. Mack Brown and Deloss Dodds are the two who must go immediately.

PS    I didn't even mention Joe Jamail. Mr. Jamail is one of the most generous donors in school history. The football field is named in his honor. He is also an attorney in Houston who just happens to be currently consulting Mr. Applewhite during this firestorm. Mr. Jamail said that Mr. Applewhite had broken no University policy. Really? Then why would Dodds have frozen his salary or required him to get counseling? I didn't mention how at the time of Mr. Applewhite's indiscretions, his wife was within days of giving birth to their first child. I did mention, and it bears mentioning again, the possible racial implications of what is going on within the athletic department of UT. Now that head coach of the women's track team, Bev Kearney has been forced out how many head coaches of color does UT currently have? Well unofficially, one. Rose Brimmer is currently the interim head coach of the women's track team. All this from the rich, powerful, flagship university of the state of Texas. Sad.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm A Pecker

Whoa!!! What kind of a title is that?? Well, let me explain. I'm not a pecker in the sense that I am some profane name....ok, maybe some of you think that I am. *wink*. But that's not what I am referring to here. What I mean is that I am a PECK-er. PECK is an acronym that stands for


Positioning is defined as making something arrive at a certain point. In business, a person attempts to position their product by marketing it to the target audience. If the product is not in the right position then you will not target the right demographic and your venture will fail. Same with people. We position ourselves so that we can be seen by our target audience. Are you looking to marry a Christian man? Then you would want to position yourself in areas that give you the best opportunity for that success. We are constantly positioning ourselves. Make sure that you are putting yourself in the right places so the people and experiences you desire will more readily manifest themselves in your life.

Execution means to perform. To produce. To accomplish. When you have placed yourself in position you must now take action. You must execute your plans to create an accomplishment. To produce a result. Now, to do this you are going to need a plan. So make out your plan and start executing it.

Courage is the ability to face fear and danger. It is also the ability to act rightly in the face of opposition. If you are taking on something new then you probably have some fears about whether it will work out or not. Maybe you are facing opposition from friends and family. It takes courage to stand your ground and push forward. To help you have courage, this next step is essential.

Knowledge is familiarity with someone or something such as facts, skills or information. You may have attained this knowledge through experience or education. When you have a lot of knowledge on a subject, you will be perceived as an expert. Now, you can know how to do something (education). But can you do it (experience)? Both have their importance.

All four of these tie into one another. Having knowledge will give you more courage and will position you better. You cannot execute without knowledge of the plan. If you execute from the wrong position you will get the wrong result. So use these four traits and become a PECK-er.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Commitment and Sacrifice

I am running on fumes this Monday morning. My best friend asked me to accompany her to Oklahoma City for a meeting to help build her business and I said yes. So, I woke up at 4 AM Sunday so I could take care of some things before we left. We didn't get on the road until noon after she picked me up and then picked up the 2 people she signed up under. We stopped a couple of times so it took 6 hours for us to drive from Austin, Texas to Oklahoma City. We got there at 6 PM and the event started at 7. We were back on the road a little after 9 and I arrived home at 4 AM again. Hey, just in time to wake up. So, I have had no sleep.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, my friend just started this business on Thursday and already she is driving for hours in order to get her business off the ground. That shows a high level of commitment and sacrifice on her part. Now, she is experienced at building businesses like this one and she knows what it takes. But her actions set a great example for all who see. Also, I am telling you this story because of my own actions. You see, I am not a part of this business. But when a friend asks you to come and support something that is important to them, then you step up and support your friend. I'm committed to my friend and to helping her however I can. I committed to those actions when I became a friend just as she committed to her actions when she launched this business venture. Likewise, I sacrificed my day to drive with her and to have her back just as she sacrificed her Sunday away from her family.

So again, what does this have to do with you? Well, I want you to have that same type of commitment and sacrifice. Do you want to be a great parent? Then be committed to that and be willing to sacrifice something to achieve it. Maybe you want to finish school. Or get a promotion. Or stop smoking. Or lose weight. Or be a great friend. Whatever it is, it will take a high level of commitment and sacrifice. So today, stop doing things half-assed. Raise your level of commitment to the things that are important to you and look for ways to sacrifice that which holds you back or stands in your way of achieving your best life.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Your Value to the World

I had the most amazing conversation yesterday. Someone that I am connected with on Facebook contacted me and what I thought was an hour conversation was actually 2 hours. The time just flowed by so easily. The first thing that was said was a compliment on how much she enjoyed my Facebook page. Now this person is very successful. Some people would even consider her to have some celebrity status. So, for that reason I felt a little shocked at first. Someone of her stature? Taking time to compliment me? Spending 2 hours in conversation with ME?

But over those 2 hours, I learned some things. First, behind every "celebrity" is a real person. Someone who likes the same things that everyone else likes. Or dislikes. Food, music, experiences, desires, fears....they are as human as anyone else. It took virtually no time at all for me to feel very comfortable with this person. We spoke about different things, getting to know one another. We seemed to be resonating on the same wavelength. And why shouldn't we?

The second thing I learned was that not all people who have some level of celebrity actually want that kind of attention. They didn't originally set out to be famous. They set out to be the best they could be. The best pianist, the best football player, the best singer. Sometimes, people become celebrities just from doing a simple act. They set out to make a statement or do a good deed. When I was in high school, I was very much into running. At that time, there was a man in Canada who became famous for running. No, he didn't win an Olympic gold medal. This man had gotten cancer and one of his legs had been amputated. He wore a prosthesis. Yet, he decided to run all the way across Canada to raise money and awareness to fight cancer. The man's name was Terry Fox. He even had a movie made about his journey. Point is, all that fame was not what he desired. Making an impact within his world was what he was after.

The third thing I learned is that we all have value. This person yesterday valued me. She didn't see me as a minion or a fan or a lesser person. We were just 2 humans appreciating each other's value. Without her contacting me, though, I never would have known how she she viewed me. You have value as well, friends. Some days people let you know how wonderful you are and how something you said or did affected them in a positive way. Other days no one communicates with you. However, that doesn't mean your message fell on deaf ears. It doesn't mean that your kind act in the grocery store went unappreciated. It doesn't mean your kind words or sound advice went unheeded. Someone is always watching you, always listening to you, always looking up to you. Believe that!! You are having a profoundly positive effect on someone that you don't even know right now. Just keep putting out the value of who you are. The people who don't deserve your value, won't get it. The people who deserve it but aren't ready to receive it yet, won't get it. But the people who are ready for you, whether they realize they need it or not, are going to be led to you. And if you are withholding your value because you don't believe you have anything to offer the world, then you are cheating someone of something they needed. You are cheating our world out of positive actions that are so desperately needed. And you are cheating yourself out of the beautiful feeling you will have knowing that you are a light to someone in need. Not to mention that you will cheat yourself from being your authentic self. Today, be you. Be valuable!!