When Companies Go Out of Business No One Wins.

I was driving home and because of bad traffic on the interstate I took another route that I had not been on for a while.  As I drove along, I noticed a business that had been around for years had closed.  Then I saw another and another.  All closed.  As I kept driving down this path of road I passed at least 6 businesses that were open a year ago, that are now closed.  The gates are locked.  The day before Thanksgiving, this is a good reminder and a painful burden.

As  business owners, we fully understand our responsibility to our employees and to our clients.  I think employers get a bad rap.  Perhaps once a corporation is a mega sized company, people become just numbers, but I have met many people that lead these big companies that hurt when they have to lay off people.  I think it is easy to believe that “employers” are after the all powerful dollar and don’t even think of the trouble they will cause in an individual’s life but I know that in our company that is not true.

We are blessed to have jobs.  So many people don’t.  Seeing all those buildings vacant hurt my heart not only for the employees who lost their jobs, but for the employers who have lost everything.  Small business is the heart of America.

As this Thanksgiving rolls around, I am thankful for my employees and my MLM, party plan and Direct Sales clients.  I am thankful we have made it through another tough year in this economy.  I am thankful that even when things get tough, we pull together as a team and create “wins” for our clients.

I am Thankful.  What are you thankful for?

Are you passionate?

I am probably a little different from most owners.  I am the one who attends Career fairs. I don’t like sending my HR person, I like to go myself. I like to meet people and look in their eyes as they tell me why they are a good candidate.

One thing I have been disappointed about is the passion that seems to be lacking in American youth to be the best. Don’t misunderstand me, there are some out there. I scoop them up when I find them, but I find that foreign students are serious about their studies and about getting a job. For many of these students, the opportunity to work in America means the ability to provide a better life for their families. They are desperate to talk to me. They get my card, they email me, they call me. (sometimes too much, but I appreciate their passion). This is very unlike American kids who were able to secure a scholarship with good grades and have lived with parents who have provided a nice life for them. They assume, if they don’t get a job with me, they will find one elsewhere. I find that Americans have lost their hunger. When you are the greatest country in the world, you can become complacent and I am afraid that has happened in our educational system, but even more in our general lives.

My children whine when they have to get off the computer after an hour. They don’t know what it is like to be hungry. They get plenty of gifts for Christmas. Americans are spoiled. Unfortunately, even those on government assistance can be spoiled. Many times I have stood in the grocery store line and watched people buy junk food, beer and cigarettes with their money and then use their food stamps to buy the government approved food. I am a generous person and I know there are people that really need the help, but many of us need to help ourselves.

My son told me that he is worried that he will not be great because he has not had to overcome great odds, like Martin Luther King Jr. I explained to him that overcoming is an attitude connected with action. Every day, we are faced with challenges and it is our job to not only overcome, but to soar. We all are called to bigger things, we just need to believe it. Michael Jordon, perhaps one of the greatest basketball players ever was cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game. He stated “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

As Americans, we must understand that failure is a stepping stone to success. We must push on, we must continue to want to be the greatest country on the planet. Elections for our President are now over.  Whether you agree that Barack Obama should be president or not, you still have a choice and a voice.  That is what we should be thankful for.  Those are the things that keep people flooding into our country.  We are a great nation made up of great people.  We need to believe in ourselves.

Our President

As executives, we can get caught up in numbers.  The pressure to keep all of our people employed, happy and productive can become overwhelming at times.  When the business is growing, things are changing faster than you can enact policies.  How do we create an environment that allows us to encourage our people to excel but still allows them the freedom to have some fun?

At ByDesign, we love employee initiated events.  Our President, Jeff, has agree to putting some money aside for events that allow everyone to get out of the office and have some fun together.  We have done all kinds of things, some have even become annual events.  Paintball, Deep Sea Fishing, Monster Truck Rally, Musicals, Family Fun Days, Manager Cookouts…the list continues on and on.

What I have realized as a leader is that these events are great opportunities to get to know my team better and for them to see me not quite so “buttoned up.”  Last week was Halloween and we had a big office event.  We had a pumpkin carving contest and a best costume contest.  Everyone brought in “scary” foods and we had a potluck.

It is more comfortable for me to not dress up and while I would prefer to take my plate of food back to my desk and work than to celebrate and visit; I recognize that it is important for my team to see me participate and have fun. If I did not dress up, terrible things would not happen, but I might have missed an opportunity and that is something I never want to miss!

As leaders, sometimes we take ourselves way to seriously.  Take time to laugh at yourself.  Enjoy your team.  They will appreciate you more and I promise, a few hours more at your desk won’t change the world, but spending time with your team, in a fun way, just might!!

So excited this week to be featured on the DSWA website!  Check out my latest article, What Are You Working For???  http://www.mydswa.org/time-management/what-are-you-working-for