5 Things I Learned About Running a Business

I woke up at a rest stop on the outskirts of Barstow lying in the front seat of a beat to death Jeep Liberty wondering how in the hell I got here. Just 4 days earlier, I was picking up some kind of commercial generator in Staten Island. It was the first time this Michigan boy has ever been to New York. I had to drop this beastly machine off just north of Napa Valley. Hepatitis invaded my body while using the bathroom at some beaten down gas station just north of town. I don’t have any good memories about Barstow. A really good friend of mine is from there. I wish we could have met then, maybe I would have better memories of this place. This was what running a shipping business looked like for me. Here are the 5 things I learned while running a business.

1: I Thought I Knew Everything

Some of us pretend to be experts. I was an expert at thinking if any idea was good enough to make money then I should start doing it. Being a know it all is a disease that you should eliminate immediately. I believed that unless my customers had confidence that I knew everything about shipping goods across the US then they wouldn’t use me. Truth was, they just wanted somebody to move their goods at dirt cheap prices. You may have heard of uShip and the show Shipping Wars. Yes, I was one of those people. We would bid on shipments and the business would go to the lowest bidder. I had no clue what I was doing. At the time I thought I knew everything and I was going to become a millionaire shipping generators and sailboats across the county. Within 5 months I was broke and destroyed my Jeep Liberty.

2: I Started This Business to Avoid My Ex-Wife

It’s crazy some of the things people do to avoid people they don’t like. Somebody reading this post is interested in starting a business because they want to be their own boss. My Ex-Wife loved to boss me around and control my life. I saw getting into the shipping business as an excuse to leave town and get away from her trying to control me. Being in a life sucking relationship is extremely bad for you. I can assure you that doing something as stupid as starting a business to get away from somebody is a terrible plan. When you hold on to bad relationships you will look to escape that relationship in other areas of your life. I found my escape in finding a reason to be on the road for 2-3 weeks straight. Others may find it in their cubicle job. Maybe you go to the bar to escape. I don’t know. I just know that if you’re currently in a bad relationship you will escape and go somewhere.

3: Honesty Hurts

I was dropping off the generator, it weighed over 5,000 lbs, to my customer and I made an effort to show him that the generator caused excess wear on my tires. He felt guilty and gave me an extra $300 to replace the tires. I felt dirty. The truth was I wasn’t making enough money to pay for the wear and tear on my vehicle. He never called me back to do business again. If you deceive your customers, and even though you may not get caught, they will not call you back. I work in sales and sales people lie to customers all the time. You will not get their business again. Honesty is hard. When your honest, life changes drastically for you and the sun shines on you in special way. When customers trust you, they’re your customer for life.

4: I Hated the Work

Backing trailers up, changing tires, and untangling tie down straps was horrible for me. What in the hell was I thinking. I would go 3-4 days between taking a shower. You’re always tired because you don’t get enough rest living on the road. You’re definitely not staying in hotels every night. I thought it was a brilliant idea to save money by sleeping in my vehicle at rest stops. If you hate the work you’re doing then you need to ditch the enterprise as soon as possible. Some people stay for the money. Some may stay for the security. Others will continue on the path they are in because the fear of change is greater than their fear of being stuck in neutral. If you hate the work you’re in it will eventually eat at your soul. You need to prepare your escape plan right now.

And finally….

5: I Wanted to Make a lot of Money

I was running on the proverbial hamster wheel of success. The harder I ran or worked then it only seemed logical the more money I would make. Growing up broke taught me a terrible lesson in money management. The more I had, meant the happier I would be. In my mind, starting a business in a line of work that I didn’t enjoy was ok as long as I made a lot of money. Where did this terrible idea come from anyways. I hear parents telling their kids to go to college and study a profession that will make you a lot of money. Who cares if you will like the work or not. I understand we’ve still got to pay the bills. But your need to pay the bills shouldn’t come at the price of your soul. I remember getting my first pay day from the first shipment. Once you subtract the gas, vehicle maintenance, and travel expenses, I was left wanting more for my time. That’s another expense you and I forget about, our time. Time is expensive. Philosophically speaking, time is your greatest single resource. Once you spend it, it’s gone forever. Wasting time only trying to make money or doing work that’s not enjoyable is excruciatingly expensive.

There you go, the five things I learned while running a business. As you can see, I was not very successful in the shipping business. But the lessons I learned from the experience are forever priceless and have guided me to what’s really important in business.

I’m learning Spanish, but I can’t pronounce “la mujer”

I’m using this new app Duolingo and it’s scientifically proven to have me speaking fluent Spanish in 90 days or less or I get my money back. Actually, it’s a free app so I don’t know how valid Duolingo’s offer is. I’m sure I’m making up the part about getting my money back. There is a voice recognition component where you have to speak the words into your microphone. It takes me and my computer 5-6 attempts before I say the words right. There are times I know for sure I’m saying the word right but the voice recognition software keeps making me say the word over and over again. The unintended consequences are that I’m having to pronounce sentences in Spanish over and over just to ensure my computer hears me correctly. Both me and and the apps voice recognition software are especially having trouble with translating “a woman” which is “la mujer”. Apparently the left side of my brain and the computer voice recognition software have both decided to give up on my pronouncing Spanish J’s accurately.

I recently read Scott Adams’s book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and one of my biggest take aways was to learn Spanish. I’m sure Scott would be dumbfounded to know that he inspired a middle aged white guy to take up Spanish. The truth is, I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. I once bought a book to learn spanish and I think I read two pages before I gave up. When I was 12 there was this beautiful latino girl who lived in the same apartment complex as I did but she didn’t speak any English. I believed that she was in love with me. I was always staring at her, and she was always looking away awkwardly. I felt like Colin Firth in Love Actually when he fell in love with a woman he couldn’t communicate with. It truly was a match made in heaven. That was the clear and distinct moment when I wanted to learn Spanish. Then one day her little brother got some sort of ring stuck on his finger. His finger was turning blue. At this time in my Dad’s life, he was more than a recreational drug user. Nevertheless, my Dad was able to muster up enough comprehension to pry that ring of the boy’s hand. Afterwards, the boy’s mom made us a plate of tamales. I don’t ever remember seeing his beautiful sister again. It was my second remembrance of being in love.

During the holidays, I volunteered at the Salvation Army. My job was to help bring Angel Tree gifts out to the cars. Many of the people spoke Spanish, but I was unable to communicate with them. The conversation was a mix of me using the wordsninos, poquito, and taco. I was even guilty of racial profiling. There was one young lady I was showing off the 7 words in spanish I knew, when she looked at me like I was completely nuts. Then in broken english she told me that she was Indian.

It’s a good thing I didn’t call her a la mujer since she wouldn’t have understood nor do I even know how to pronounce it.

Why being OCD & ADD helps me as a Recruiter?

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I have this innate ability to carry on a conversation with a person, check my email, and watch for text messages on my phone all at the same time. The only problem is, I’m the only person who thinks this is an ability at all. Most people get ticked off when they get the sense that you’re not paying attention to them.

As a Recruiter I have the most sensational OCD tendencies. I will spend over 10 minutes trying to figure out the composition of my subject line in an email to a candidate. All of my form emails have to include the same nomenclature. I have even more OCD tendencies that I can’t think of off the top of my head because I’m also ADD. I thought I might be ADHD, but I’m refusing to accept that I’m hyperactive. I was most likely hyperactive as a child. You can check with my Mom and I’m sure she would support the claim. I have not been formally diagnosed. I’ve learned to cope with these disorders over time. It took me 15 minutes to find a decent image to upload for this post. It was mostly because I couldn’t find an image that was at least 640 x 400 pixels. While I was searching for the perfect image, I read a few hilarious comics about ADD. That’s being ADD at its finest.

Being a recruiter has to be one of the most insane jobs on the planet. Recruiters come in all different shapes and sizes. I’m not meaning that in a body shape type of way, but more figuratively about our different characteristics and temperaments. What specifically makes our job insane is the amount of people you have to ignore because they’re not a fit for the requisition you’re filling. Now that I’m a recruiter, I jumped to the other side of the pursuit spectrum. For most of my life, I’ve been the one trying to pursue everyone and wishing I was good enough to be accepted. Now I have hundreds, thousands of people pursuing me. Those deep seated feelings always surface when I’m reviewing a candidate resume of someone who clearly isn’t interested in actually finding a job. Or the candidate who sends you their resume for a requisition but has no idea what they just applied for.

What does this post have to do with me being ADD? Being a recruiter has everything to do with being ADD. Ask any recruiter how much time they spend reviewing a resume, and if its longer than 5 minutes, they are either lying or they only have one requisition to fill this year. You have to be ADD to get through the mass of resumes a Recruiter sees in the course of month. I hate to say this, we don’t even read the entire thing. Why you ask, because our job requires us to skip around on your resume making sure that you have the appropriate education, skills, and experience. My first recruiting boss, Glen Smith, told me in my interview that I will have made it once I’ve been able to look at a resume and in an instant can tell if they are a fit for the position or not. How long is an instant? Heck if I know, I guess it’s relative to the person.

To all my recruiting comrades may your ADD skills serve you well today as you source through and endless stream of resumes. If your applicant tracking system does it for you then I hope your keyword filter and boolean search string capabilities serve you the same. If your a candidate interested in making your LinkedIn profile and resume Recruiter ADD proof please feel free to comment!