Monday Morning Notes
Restoration and Cleaning Business Consultant Chuck Violand offers a free weekly email series titled Monday Morning Notes that currently goes out to over 1,500 owners and professionals in restoration and cleaning small businesses. Every other week Chuck writes a small essay on a topic related to growing your restoration or cleaning business business through developing your professional abilities that is entertaining, informative, and relates directly to challenges you face every day. On the weeks in between the essays, he provides an inspirational quote from a variety of sources designed to inspire you for the week ahead. To sign up to receive the Monday Morning Notes series each week, click here. If there is a particular Monday Morning Note from years past that is not listed below but you would like us to email you a copy of it, click here and let us know the topic in the message box.
Hardball, Part I (4.22.19)
With record low unemployment causing intense competition for talented people at every level in business, from frontline workers to senior managers, it’s more important than ever to view the recruiting process in a different light. This is especially true for small businesses that have to compete within the same pool of candidates as well-funded, multi-national companies.
B-School 101, Part II (4.8.19)
When the professor stated that trust was the most important factor that leads to business success, he couldn’t help but notice the confusion on some of his students’ faces. He figured a good place to explain his reasoning was to show how trust was at the heart of each of the answers they had given when confronted with the question.
B-School 101, Part I (3.25.19)
Photographic Memory (3.11.19)
In 1880, a young banker invented dry plates, an early product used in the development of photographic images. Over the next four years, after leaving the bank to work full time on his business, changing the name of the company to the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company, buying the patents for roll film, and registering the name Kodak, George Eastman’s company was off and running.
Changing Perspective (2.25.19)
A while back, I was talking with Jim, a friend of mine who had just finished writing his second book. He shared that this one had been completed in a fraction of the time it had taken to write his first book—one that had been difficult for him to write.While attending a conference several years ago, I listened to a speaker offer interesting explanations of various types of leadership. While his talk was directed toward non-profits, he could just as easily have been speaking to small business owners.
Voluntary Leadership (2.11.19)
While attending a conference several years ago, I listened to a speaker offer interesting explanations of various types of leadership. While his talk was directed toward non-profits, he could just as easily have been speaking to small business owners.
The subject of company culture has gotten lots of attention in recent years, for good reason. Research points out the connection between a healthy company culture and its financial performance. Companies with healthy cultures also seem to be more fun places to work. As a business advisor, I can tell you they’re a lot more fun to work with.
The Three Cs, Part V – Comfort (1.14.19)
The Three Cs, Part IV – Confidence (12.31.18)
Having the Competence to drive a business forward is one thing. As discussed in Parts II and III of this series, a business leader can develop both the Emotional and Technical Competence needed to grow a successful larger business.
The Three Cs, Part III – Technical Competence (12.17.18)
The Three Cs, Part II – Emotional Competence (12.3.18)
A good place to start discussing the three Cs is with the easiest of them to address: the owner’s Competence to grow their business. And while it’s the easiest of the three, it isn’t necessarily easy.
The Three Cs, Part I (11.19.18)
With as much media coverage as the stock market gets, it’s hard to imagine that there are fewer than 4000 companies whose stocks are actively traded on it. There are another 15,000 whose stocks are traded over the counter, but not on the New York Stock Exchange. In total, this makes fewer than 20,000 publicly traded companies in the U.S.
For years, nautical vessels have been used as metaphors for business, as the parallels between ships and businesses are unmistakable. I’ve even used them in some of my previous writings and in a presentation I give titled “Sailboats, Yachts, and Tall-Masted Ships.” The presentation describes the changes a small business experiences as it grows, likening those to the changing responsibilities of a captain and his crew, depending on the size of the vessel being commanded.
The 50% Rule (10.22.18)
Shortly after The Violand Executive Summit in June, one of the Summit instructors, Jim Bagnola, stopped by our office to visit. While here, Jim relayed a story told to him by his friend—a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander and F-15 Fighter pilot.
Get Lost (10.8.18)
As children most of us learn that getting lost isn’t a good thing. It can present unseen dangers that we aren’t yet prepared to handle. We can get hurt, and in extreme cases, we can even risk losing our lives.
All In The Family (9.24.18)
My father was reasonably handy around the house. Guys of his generation had to be. There was no Google or YouTube to go to for videos on how to repair things. You had to figure stuff out on your own, and people took great pride in doing so.
Back To School(9.10.18)
For many parents of school-age children throughout North America this is the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not the Christmas holiday season where you can almost hear Andy Williams crooning about parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow. Instead, it’s the time when kids go back to school.
I’m a generally messy person. It’s one of the characteristics carried over from my youth. Growing up, there was never any doubt about where I sat at the dinner table. All you had to do was look to see where the most food crumbs were after the table had been cleared, and that was my spot. While I continually strive to improve in this area, it can still drive my wife and the people I work with crazy. I think it’s even possible they’ve decided I’m most comfortable in a messy environment, and this includes my thinking.
Professor Okok (8.13.18)
Okok (pronounced Oh-Coke) was the name of the 32-year-old Ethiopian Uber driver taking me back to Denver International Airport. His dreads hung below his shoulders and his broken English made it hard to follow him at times, but there was no misunderstanding his bright smile and infectious, cheerful demeaner.
What DO You Get To Do Today?, Part II (7.30.18)
What DO You Get To Do Today?, Part I (7.16.18)
When Loyalty Overrides Performance, Part III (7.2.18)
In parts I and II of this series, we discussed what to do when a loyal employee or family member is no longer able to effectively perform in their position because the company has grown and the needs of the position have changed. But what if you think this might be the case, although you’re not sure? What if you’re asking yourself whether this applies to you and your company … but don’t know the answer?
When Loyalty Overrides Performance, Part II (6.18.18)
As you can imagine, situations where a loyal employee can no longer handle their job well become even more complicated when they involve family members who are active in the business. But, as tough as it might be, you must keep in mind your loyalty and responsibility to everyone in the company.
When Loyalty Overrides Performance, Part I (6.4.18)
We all know that loyalty is an indispensable part of any relationship, whether that relationship is in our personal life or in business. In the hierarchy of values, most of us rate loyalty right alongside trust, integrity, transparency, and honesty.
Off The Leash Reprise (5.21.18)
This sentence from your Monday Morning Note, “Off The Leash,” brought a lot home to me: “Letting go involves many of the soft skills that entrepreneurs are notorious for undervaluing; things like communication, openness, trust, and accountability.”
Off The Leash (5.7.18)
As part of a presentation I give on the challenges a business owner experiences as their business grows, I use the expression “off the leash.” It’s one borrowed from a friend, and while I use it with respect to business, I’m sure many parents can relate.
An Unlikely Classroom (4.23.18)
Alan Doyle is a Canadian singer/songwriter and actor from Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, Newfoundland. He gained fame as lead singer of the band Great Big Sea and through his books Where I Belong and A Newfoundlander In Canada: Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home.
Food For Thought (4.9.18)
Many entrepreneurs struggle to transition from performing tasks to leading people. But once the goals the owner worked so hard to accomplish have been met and the company no longer requires the owner’s undivided attention, it’sRecently, I read about a retired 25-year Marine Corps and Army cook with a unique sense of mission—to boost the morale of soldiers. Floyd Lee chose to come out of retirement to run Pegasus, a mess hall in Iraq. Floyd said, “The good Lord gave me a second chance to feed soldiers. I’ve waited for this job all my life, and here I am in Baghdad.”
Unintended Consequences, Part II (3.16.18)
Many entrepreneurs struggle to transition from performing tasks to leading people. But once the goals the owner worked so hard to accomplish have been met and the company no longer requires the owner’s undivided attention, it’s a needed change.
Unintended Consequences, Part I (3.12.18)
When Helicopters Crash (2.26.18)
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video of Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who claims to have fired the shot that ended the life of Osama bin Laden, I would highly recommend doing so. While the video relates the story of a military operation, the business metaphors are impossible to ignore.
This is one of those times when I don’t believe I can improve upon a blank sheet of paper by filling it up with my own words, or add value to the musings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin by trying to relate it to business.
Hat Tricks (1.29.18)
The term “hat trick” is used in hockey and soccer to describe when three goals are scored by one player in a single game. The term is also used in cricket to describe when a bowler retires three batsmen with three consecutive balls, and generically for a series of three victories, successes, or related accomplishments.
Choice Reading, Part II (1.1.18)
Several years ago, I was given a very special Christmas gift by a dear friend of mine—a gift card to Borders Bookstore. While Borders is no longer in business, the gift was one that truly “keeps on giving” as I continue to draw on the wisdom and insights offered in the books I purchased.
Choice Reading, Part II
Choice Reading, Part I (12.15.17)
Anyone who knows me knows that reading is one of my favorite things to do, so it’s not uncommon for me to be asked to recommend a good book. Those asking are frequently interested in business topics, and since business is one of my favorite subjects to read about, I usually have a ready list of titles to offer.
Choice Reading, Part I
Go Big, Part II
Go Big, Part I
Shopping Carts, Business, and Life, Part II (11.6.17)
As a business owner, it’s common to question ourselves about the number of hours we work, the family sacrifices our business demands, and the physical and emotional toll our business takes. This usually happens when we’re struggling through a tough time in our business, when we’re exhausted, or, as in my case, when we get older.
Shopping Carts, Business, and Life, Part II
Shopping Carts, Business, and Life, Part I (10.23.17)
There’s a lot about business that can be learned from shopping carts. That’s right, I’m talking about lowly, supermarket shopping carts. The carts that sometimes don’t make it into the shopping cart corral or surprise us when we turn into a parking spot we thought was unoccupied.
Shopping Carts, Business, and Life, Part I
Remedies For Checking Out, Part II (10.9.17)
Growing a business is a lot like raising a first child. Despite all the advice people give us (some appreciated, some not), the classes we attend, and the books we read, we still make a lot of stuff up on the fly. But there are occasions when the challenges go beyond our skills as parents. In these times, we do ourselves a huge favor by seeking outside advice or professional council. The same is true with our businesses.
Remedies For Checking Out, Part III
Remedies For Checking Out, Part II
Remedies For Checking Out, Part I (9.11.17)
A few years ago, I wrote a booklet about a condition I call Stage 2 StallTM. This is where a Stage 2 company, defined as $1M-$50M in annual revenue, experiences growth that either stops or declines for two or more consecutive years. In the booklet, I highlight four of the leading causes of this condition: Loss of Focus, Checking Out, Arrested Professional Growth, and Swollen Ego and offer remedies to correct them.
Remedies For Checking Out, Part I
My increasingly graying hair may play a part in me being invited to give motivating or inspiring talks to audiences from time to time. While I’m always flattered by these requests, I’ll admit to being a bit perplexed by them, as I’ve never considered myself a particularly inspiring person.
Requiem For A Family Business (8.14.17)
The email I received was short and to the point, just like all the other emails I had received from him over the years. “Wanted to let you know that, effective today, we are shutting down the business and will be liquidating the assets.” This news hit me like a ton of bricks. What a tragedy. This was a sixteen-year-old company that was shutting its doors. At one time, it employed over 30 people. Six of them were family members.
Requiem For A Family Business
Driving Blind (7.31.17)
A friend of mine told me a story about his days as a resident advisor in his college dorm. The story involved his roommate, also a resident advisor, who was totally blind and had managed to train himself to navigate the college campus with little to no help from other students.
Life Changing (7.3.17)
Two hundred forty-one years ago, fifty-six men pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors to a cause they deeply believed in when signing their names to the Declaration of Independence. In doing so, they also signed away the futures they had been planning. They knew their lives would never be the same following the conflict that accompanied the Declaration, regardless of the outcome. And they were right.
Discharging Your Loyal Soldiers Part II (6.19.17)
In situations that involve warring countries, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it must be to discharge loyal soldiers once the peace treaty has been signed. Buildings and infrastructures can be rebuilt, just like in a business. But it’s the emotional scars—the anger, mistrust, and fears that can carry on for decades.
Discharging Your Loyal Soldiers Part II
Discharging Your Loyal Soldiers Part I (6.5.17)
Animas Valley Institute is a non-profit organization, founded by Dr. Bill Plotkin, that is dedicated to helping people discover a “soul centric” worldview. As part of his work, Dr. Plotkin tells the story of how, after World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
Discharging Your Loyal Soldiers Part I
Basic Courtesy, Part II
Basic Courtesy, Part I
The Tyranny Of Having To Be Right (4.10.17)
The other night I was having a discussion with my 17-year-old son about a class he’s taking in school. Before I knew it, the conversation had shifted from the original discussion about the content of the class to which one of us was right about the content.
The Tyranny Of Having To Be Right
Dancing At The Mailbox
Alpha Talk, 2017 (2.27.17)
With political climates in the U.S. and around the globe moving toward “straight talk,” or saying what’s on your mind, I thought now would be a good time to pen another edition of Alpha Talk—my ongoing effort to remove confusing terms from the English language. I recently discovered the examples below on a trip to the west coast.
Alpha Talk, 2017
Your Biggest Competitor, Part III (2.13.17)
Your Biggest Competitor, Part III
Your Biggest Competitor, Part II
Your Biggest Competitor, Part I (1.16.17)
When we think of competitors we tend to think of other companies that perform work similar to ours. Sometimes we even get personal with our competitors by assigning names and faces to them. We think about the guy who took that job away from us after we thought we had it; after we had already spent the money we planned to make on it.
Your Biggest Competitor, Part I
Move The Needle
Take The Bat Off Your Shoulder (12.19.16)
In business, this is the time of year to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the past twelve months, and to set goals for what we want to achieve in the coming year. Just as in baseball, where you can’t get to the World Series by standing in the batter’s box with the bat resting on your shoulder, you can’t win in business by watching opportunities pass you by.
Take The Bat Off Your Shoulder
Webster’s defines “crossroad” as a place where two or more roads intersect. It’s also defined as a point where one must choose between different courses of action. Naturally, I think this definition has several applications as it relates to business and a special application when it comes to hiring younger workers.
On Second Thought (11.21.16)
There’s a framed quote in my office that reads “Remember, every time you open your mouth to talk, your mind walks out and parades up and down your words.” The quote is by Edwin H. Stuart, and oh, how often I’ve wished that I’d taken the time to consider those words before I spoke … or wrote!
On Second Thought
Flinching, Part III (11.7.16)
One of the toughest teachers I ever had was my high school Latin teacher, Sam Rametta. Mr. Rametta would hold pop quizzes throughout his class. He’d call out your name, ask a question, and give you a score based on your answer. Heaven help you if you didn’t have an answer, or if you hesitated even for a nanosecond before responding. If so, he’d say “Hesitation is a miss” and give you a zero for that day’s score.
Flinching, Part III
Flinching, Part II
Flinching, Part I
Money Troubles, Part II
Money Troubles, Part I
It’s Not All About You
Audio: Hardball, Part II
Audio: Hardball, Part I
Audio: Shouters and Screamers
Audio: Self-Evident Truths
Audio: Follow Through
The Happiness of Pursuit (4.25.16)
Many years ago Tommy and the boys (that would be Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman) were asked to write a declaration explaining why thirteen colonies felt justified in separating themselves from the British Crown. Justified enough, in fact, to put their lives and fortunes on the line.
Audio: The Happiness of Pursuit
Who Am I Now? Part VII (3.28.16)
Who Am I Now? Part VI (3.14.16)
Who Am I Now? Part V (2.29.16)
Who Am I Now? Part IV (2.15.16)
Who Am I Now? Part III (2.1.16)
Who Am I Now? Part II (1.18.16)
Who Am I Now? Part I (1.4.16)
Staying Thirsty (12.21.15)
Head Start (12.7.15)
Too Many Wrong Mistakes, Part II (11.23.15)
Too Many Wrong Mistakes, Part I (11.9.15)
Finishing Second, Part II (10.26.15)
Finishing Second, Part I (10.12.15)
Competing, Part II (9.28.15)
Competing, Part I (9.14.15)
Hiding Out, Part VI (8.31.15)
Hiding Out, Part V (8.17.15)
Hiding Out, Part IV (8.3.15)
Hiding Out, Part III (7.20.15)
Hiding Out, Part II (7.6.15)
Hiding Out, Part I (6.22.15)
The Oracle, Part II (6.8.15)
The Oracle, Part I (5.25.15)
Shut Up and Listen ( 5.11.15)
Internal Contradictions (4.27.15)
Being Right (4.13.15)
Nice Guys (3.30.15)
The Reluctant Leader, Part VI (3.16.15)
The Reluctant Leader, Part V (3.2.15)
The Reluctant Leader, Part IV (2.16.15)
The next aspect of my series involves a fear that many of us may never have heard of and can hardly recognize. It just goes to show that some of the most debilitating characteristics of a leader are not necessarily the most obvious.
The Reluctant Leader, Part III (2.2.15)
Intentionally choosing to keep our businesses small is the right choice for a lot of business owners. But if we make the decision to try to grow them, we may be held back because of our subconscious fears, not just reasonable caution. Today I explore another common fear that gets in the way of growing our companies and some possible reasons behind this fear.
The Reluctant Leader, Part II (1.19.15)
The Reluctant Leader, Part I (1.5.15)
All businesses aren’t destined to be big, but they can all be great. The single most important factor influencing these outcomes are the people who launch and run the businesses. This is why I found the question I was asked a short time ago so intriguing.
It Is All About You (12.22.14)
With the end of the year quickly approaching, we typically spend time reflecting on the accomplishments and shortcomings of the last 12 months as well as our “New Year’s Resolutions” for the coming year.
If you’ve ever been to a party or family function, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, that is so loud you can’t hear the person sitting next to you, then you’ll appreciate today’s Note. It’s about people with loud voices, and I’m one of them.
Hail To The Losers (11.24.14)
At a recent VMA event, I was reminded of the complicated effects emotionally-charged memories from our childhoods, like being chosen last for a team, have on our lives. These effects don’t only apply to childhood failures, either. Professional setbacks also have a profound effect on our lives and future decision-making.
Uncommon Courtesy (11.10.14)What would happen if we added life’s magic words to our business jargon repertoire when speaking to our customers? In this week’s Note, I discuss just how much this can impact how we conduct our businesses.
In Spite of our Complaints, Part II (10.27.14)Poor performance is not some boogey man we have to hide from under the covers of our complaints. It’s not a nuisance we have to learn to tolerate, either.
In this week’s Note, I discuss how we can face our fears of holding others accountable, despite having our never-ending complaints to hide behind.
In Spite of our Complaints, Part I (10.13.14)It seems like people are complaining all the time: the weather, politics, sports. You name it, somebody’s going to have a complaint about it. It makes you wonder if complaining is our real national pastime!
If the time spent complaining was redirected into productive activities, I’ve got to believe it would have a significant impact on our businesses.
Today I begin a two-part series on how complaining may actually be covering up our underlying beliefs and fears.
Basics, Part III (9.15.14)To wrap up this three-part series, I close with four final suggestions to keep your businesses simple and focused.
Basics, Part II (9.15.14)Sometimes the most important things we have to do to as the leaders of our companies are also the most simple-although not necessarily the easiest. These things usually involve gaining a better understanding of ourselves as leaders and how we can apply this knowledge to better manage our businesses. Often times it is the “soft” side of business-relationships, behaviors, people skills-that is the hardest to work on.
In Part II of this three-part series, I discuss the additional steps to take when trying to develop the people aspect of your company, especially yourself.
Basics, Part I (9.1.14)Sometimes the most important things we have to do to as the leaders of our companies are also the most simple-although not necessarily the easiest. These things usually involve gaining a better understanding of ourselves as leaders and how we can apply this knowledge to better manage our businesses.
The Monday Morning Notes series I start today is an effort to help you avoid over-complicating things that can otherwise be simple.
Capture The Flag, Part II (8.18.14)
Today’s Note references research that was conducted at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada on the value play has in our daily lives. Apparently in countries where they have more recess time in school, they enjoy higher academic scores than in countries with less recess time.
Capture The Flag, Part I (8.04.14)
Freedom, Liberty (7.07.14)
238 years ago, a group of 56 men who were gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors in the pursuit of fundamental concepts that, today, much of the world takes for granted.
A Close Second (6.23.14)
Keep Running (6.09.14)
Make A Difference (5.26.14)
Political commentators Cokie and Steve Roberts wrote an article about a survey Gallup and Purdue University conducted to determine what things have the most influence on successful college graduates who are engaged at work and experiencing high well-being after graduation.
Alpha Talk, 2014 (5.12.14)
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, Part II (3.31.14)
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, Part I (3.17.14)
At some point in our lives, I would expect all of us have been exposed to the story of Peter Pan, either through books, stage plays, or films like the 1991 movie Hook starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts.
Residue Epilogue – Sabanizing (3.03.14)
Residue, Part II (1.20.14)
Residue, Part I (1.20.14)
What Happens Next (1.06.14)
Holding On Too Tight (12.23.13)
Money Maturity (12.09.13)
Playing Together in the Sandbox (11.25.13)
The Four Ds, Part III (11.11.13)
The Four Ds, Part II (10.28.13)
Holly Bognar and Tom Cline weigh in with strategies they’ve found effective in addressing disagreements in the businesses with whom they work. As you might have guessed, while the suggestions are pretty simple in nature, they’re not necessarily easy to execute.
The Four Ds, Part I (10.14.13)
Letting Go (9.16.13)
The Sport Of Business (8.19.13)
Plain Vanilla (8.05.13)
Living “As if” (7.22.13)
The Entrepreneurial Paradox Part II™ (8.19.13)
The Entrepreneurial Paradox Part I™ (6.24.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part X (6.10.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part IX (5.27.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part VIII (5.13.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part VII (4.29.13)
Be the Person You Can Be (4.15.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part VI (4.01.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part V (3.18.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part IV (3.04.13)
>Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part III (2.18.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ Part II (2.04.13)
Overcoming Stage II Stall™ (1.21.13)
Monsters in the Closet (1.07.13)
Explosive Growth (12.10.12)
Who Owns It (10.29.12)
In Praise of Janitors (10.15.12)
Even if you are the head of a very large company, it is important for you to take the time to still be a janitor.
Hitting the Pause Button (10.01.12)
When running a business, if we don’t learn how to get out of our own way, we might be our own worst enemy.