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What DO You Get To Do Today?, Part I

By Chuck Violand

July 16, 2018

When evaluating a business for sale, business brokers often consider the “intangibles” in the value of the business. Intangibles are things you can’t see or touch. For instance, your company has a certain culture, and depending on how well you’ve cultivated that culture, it can add value. You can’t see or touch the culture, but it’s there. It’s part of the company brand. The same applies on a personal level to attitude. Your attitude is a part of your personal brand. When it comes to the effect attitude has on work, I really had my eyes opened in 1976. That’s when I met a guy named Duncan Hardin.

At 21, working as a carpet layer and hardwood installer, I was in the best shape of my life. I’m not a big guy. In fact, I have seldom hit my head on anything. But, at that time, I still held the record at my former high school for the heaviest amount of weight ever bench pressed. And, like some people that age, I was just a little cocky. Granted, I wouldn’t know everything there was to know, at least in my mind, for another four years (the pinnacle of my cockiness), but my co-worker, Jim, and I could install 200 yards of carpet each day and be on our way home by 6:00 p.m. We thought we were awesome. That is, until our company experienced a surge in business and Jim and I, along with the other installers, couldn’t keep up with the workload.

My boss decided the best way to deal with this surge was to bring in some outside help. By pairing his in-house installers with outside talent, he could temporarily double the size of his installation team without sacrificing the quality our company had become known for. He had just the guy in mind to work with me. The boss claimed this guy could help us get some serious stuff done. The way my boss described him, I expected to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bigger brother.

When fifty-year-old, 5-foot 4-inch, 120-pound Duncan Hardin walked through the door, I was underwhelmed. My initial thought was that his biggest accomplishment for the day would be climbing into my 4-wheel drive work van. But I was wrong. Way wrong.

The biggest, best part of Duncan showed up almost immediately when he said, “Hi fellas! What do we GET to do today?” Duncan exuded a positive attitude and a genuine confidence unlike anything I had ever experienced. You immediately lost all sight of his diminutive physical appearance and were instantly drawn to him. This guy actually wanted to work! But I was still skeptical. A great attitude is one thing, but having a 50-year-old elf as a helper is quite another.

After being introduced to Duncan, he and I loaded up my van and began the half-hour drive to the jobsite. The half-hour went by in a heartbeat as Duncan wanted to hear all about me and my family. There was even enough time to learn a little about him. But, as soon as we got to the jobsite, it was all business. We surveyed the job, decided on a plan, got to work, and finished our 200-yard job by 2:00 p.m.—four hours earlier than it always took Jim and me to finish the same size job.

While this feat was amazing enough in itself, the real lessons I learned from Duncan were yet to come. I’ll share them with you in Part II.