Sam Said:

I was at a client’s office today reviewing proofs and the subject came up about turn-around demands and how fast everybody wants everything. Sam jokingly said it was all McDonald’s fault, more specifically their introduction of super fast service and the drive through window. Today, if we have to wait four or five minutes we’re rolling our eyes and tapping our toes wondering if management has lost control. Where’s our burger and fries?

Maybe that’s why John and I like going to Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize. For a few days the islanders have to remind us…hey, you’re on island time. Translation: We don’t do anything fast. It’s not that they’re lazy or unconcerned, it’s their technology or lack of what we would consider high-end efficiencies that make their world slower than ours.

So, what’s going to happen when we just can’t do anything faster or we can’t multi-task ourselves into higher efficiencies? Have we gotten to that point yet? I sure hope we’re close. Between tweets and FB friends, e-mails, LinkedIn and too many telephones to count, I’m longing for a place in-between island time and just plain crazy time.

Changes ~

Word is out on the street; things are changing at Ussery Printing.

Change makes most of us uncomfortable, even when it’s for the best. The discomfort arises out of not knowing what will happen next. New people are coming on board from the recent closing of Padgett Printing and we’re full of anticipation to see how we will all work together.

I don’t know a whole lot about the football draft but I can see a correlation when you are talking about recruiting talent. Ussery already has great talent, but the addition of some new people will give us greater depth in our abilities as a team. Isn’t that how it works in sports? If a valuable player gets side-lined or isn’t performing up to par, the other team members pick up the slack?

Over the years we’ve watched many great printers close their doors, from the traditional Heritage Press to the new-age Buchanan Visual Communications, and those are just two of many. Every time a printer fails we have a choice in how we react to the news. I’ve been involved in my share of plant closures and thankfully have always rebounded. Some people have been fortunate to never endure a closing, but the people who can claim that are getting harder to find. It’s humbling when it happens and all the employees deserve our respect knowing how hard they fought, even if their shop closed. Some have spent a life-time in an industry we’re all still struggling to maintain. It’s important to support our own teams, but also let’s unite to support the game.

Winning the Lottery ~

Yesterday afternoon I bought a lottery ticket for a good friend here at work, and I was shocked at my emotions when surprising her with the ticket. I’d considered the possibilities, but what are the real odds anyway of it being “the winning ticket?” But everything screamed in my head…what if THAT ticket, somehow, miraculously, held the winning numbers and I was amazed at how hard it was to give it away. What if my mind kept saying. How do you let go of something that has the capacity to be life changing?

It was, I think, a normal response. Of course I want good things for my friend, but the possibility of that kind of money made me pause and think about this. How would I feel if the ticket held the winning numbers? Would I be crazy mad? Would I be thrilled for her? Would I be considered an idiot by my friends and/or enemies? Enemies you say? We all have them so lets not be naive. What would they say?

That got me to thinking…that there is an imaginary line in the sand for all of us. What you do for a friend is completely different from what you would do for those folks you don’t like. But what if your job is to support people you don’t necessarily like. Would you withhold support that is crucial to their success? It’s a common problem in business that most people won’t admit to, let alone talk about.

Try it. Buy a ticket and give it to a friend. Better yet, buy a ticket and see if you can give it to someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Simplicity ~

At the beginning of every year I buy a new spiral bound calendar. It sits on my desk during working hours where I use it to schedule appointments, lunch dates and make note of things to do. I use it to remember anniversaries, birthdays and party plans. I schedule my doctor and dentist appointments and even keep track of when I practice yoga or how much I walk every week. I am also the keeper of our social calendar, as John likes to say. I can project months into the future with the flip of a few pages. I know how quickly the summer weekends go by just by jotting down dinner dates, vacation dates and time spent with family and friends at the lake.

Every year when I work on my taxes I use my calendar to confirm mileage and client lunches. It’s helpful to page through and match up receipts to journal entries. Once my taxes are complete, my calendar gets filed away with the paperwork for that year. If I ever need to review something or prove an expense from years ago, I don’t have any problems or even any effort to do that…it’s all there. Sure, there’s no argument that you can use any number of digital applications for storing information and scheduling dates on an electronic calendar or smart phone. It might be new, cool technology, but it doesn’t mean that it’s better.

Rusty Nails…

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Our lack of rain means the water levels at our area lakes are pretty low this year. Since the water is so low, we’ve been able to place our chairs further out on the beach that would normally be covered with water. We couldn’t help but notice an area on the beach that was darker than the rest with an old dock post sticking up out of the sand. As we speculated how the old post with cement at its base could have made its way to shore, an older gentleman strolling by overheard our conversation, stopped, and told us a story. He said many years ago when a local builder rebuilt a nearby dock, he buried the old dock right there and that was probably why the old post was there now. Somehow, as the years went by and the sands and water ebbed and flowed, it no longer held the remains of that old dock.

It wasn’t very long after that conversation when the nails started showing up. Big, thick, rusty, old nails. It seemed like every time the waves rolled in and out we would find one, two, sometimes three more. I don’t know what else they threw in the hole that day thinking…what? That the old dock remains would stay buried under the sand and the water forever? Those rusty nails reminded me that generations ago, a lot of people didn’t contemplate the possibility that decades later their garbage would seep back up through the earth, exposed by the tides of time.

Wood, like paper, can be recycled or will eventually be broken down by the elements. Cement and nails? Not so much. This generation should be mindful of what’s being buried and/or shipped to underdeveloped countries to be buried…and, what could possibly seep back up from the earth twenty or thirty years from now.

You Never Know ~ part 2

After my post yesterday a friend shared this story.

She was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and had just finished her second round of the potent drugs. She was just beginning to feel better when her husband asked if she wanted to attend a business dinner. He and another couple were to have dinner with a prospective new hire and her husband. Since my friend hadn’t been out of the house in nearly two weeks she agreed to go.

She got herself ready, carefully applying her makeup to hide her pale face and lack of eyebrows. She combed out her perfect hair…her wig, and placed it on her head. She was a bit thin because of the weight loss from her last treatment, but all in all she looked pretty good. She’d been thinking of her grandma lately, who had passed away recently and had left her a gorgeous cashmere coat with a fur collar. Knowing the weather was frigid and she’d be out after dark, she choose to wear the coat. All put together she looked fantastic, but underneath she felt vulnerable, sick and just a little afraid.

The drive to the restaurant made her stomach churn and walking in a little late added to her already fragile condition. The reason this story remains in her mind is what happened next. The dinner became the worst dinner experience of her life. There were six people total ~ three couples. Every time my friend tried to interject something into the conversation, the husband of the potential new hire who sat across the table from her looked at her with such disdain and without apology ignored her. She figured that he didn’t like her, but why? She didn’t know…they had just met. He refused to have a conversation with her.

Occasionally she recognizes the man at printing functions but she is certain that he doesn’t recognize her. She looks nothing like the lady who walked into the restaurant that evening. She will never be that person again, but more than likely he will always be that guy.