Negativity and the media

If you listen to the media, the world is coming to an end. Unemployment is up. The stock market gyrates like a roller coaster. Gas prices are up. Uncertainty abounds. It’s enough to make someone depressed.

While many of these things are real, we don’t seem to hear about anything good. We hear about the bad things going on, as if that is all that there is.

Some say that the media focuses on negative stories because that is what sells newspapers and attracts viewers. I disagree. I think the media focuses on negative stories because they have a very cynical view of life. They believe that success is an aberration, and life truly consists of groveling in the muck and mire to eke out a meager living.

I think that it is important to stay informed. But that does not require reliance on the mass media. The Internet provides an abundance of news sources. (But just because it is on the Internet does not mean that it is true.)

I get my information from many sources– the newspaper, radio, television, the Internet, and more. I do not accept what I read and hear uncritically– I integrate it with what I know to be true, what I observe, and with my knowledge of economics, philosophy, politics, and other subjects.

Much of what we hear in the media is motivated by an agenda. Much of what we hear is only half of the story. Keep that in mind the next time the media tells you that the world is coming to an end. Not all of it is.

Making it through tough economic times requires the same business principles as making it through good economic times– marketing, selling at the right price, cash flow management, and more. Do the right things– in good times and in bad– and good things will result.

Pursuing your passion

I have been asked why, if my systems are so successful, I bother with sharing them. Why don’t I simply keep the information to myself and build a painting dynasty? This is a legitimate question.

The implication of the question is that my systems aren’t all that great and I am just trying to make a quick buck. Given the proliferation of people on the Internet doing this, I am not offended.

I would like to emphasize that I do not advocate a particular system as much as I advocate systems. There are multiple ways to accomplish a desired result, and my way is not necessarily the best way for you. Your goals are different from mine. I use my systems as examples, which you should modify to fit your goals and circumstances.

Certainly I am trying to sell information. I have spent thousands of hours studying and developing systems. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars attending conferences, buying books and tapes, and obtaining training. The information I have is valuable.

A number of years ago I conducted several workshops for the Certified Contractors NetWork on systems development. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and realized that training/ teaching/ coaching was an unrealized passion. That experience gave birth to Out of the Bucket.com.

Over the past few years my interests have also changed. I no longer enjoy owning and operating a contracting business as much as I once did. As a result, I have scaled back my business so that it demands less of my time so that I can pursue other interests, such as consulting, writing, and real estate.

Unfortunately, many people have a passion that they never pursue. They promise that they will do so “someday” and that day never arrives. They lock themselves into a profession or career, and even if their interests change, refuse to reconsider. Life is too short to spend our working hours in a pursuit that we do not enjoy.

One of the great things about owning a business is that we can literally create a business that allows us to pursue our passion. That is what I have done, and will continue to do. You should do the same. You should pursue your passion. And just so you know, systems are the key to doing it.

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What do you want to wear?

I have heard many painting contractors chastise colleagues who wear Dockers. They perceive such owners as slick salesmen who care more about making a buck than satisfying their customers. Such aspersions are as amusing as they are wrong.

There is nothing wrong with being an “in the bucket” owner, particularly if you enjoy it. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with being “out of the bucket”. Each involves a different skill set and a different attitude.

I believe a large part of the animosity towards those who wear Dockers stems from different perceptions regarding paint contracting. Those who wear white (“in the bucket”) view paint contracting as primarily about putting paint on the wall. Those who wear Dockers (“out of the bucket”) view paint contracting primarily as a business.

Again, there is nothing wrong with either of these. But to denigrate someone for choosing one over the other is wrong.

The primary difference between those who wear whites and those who wear Dockers is attitudinal. Those who wear whites regard marketing and sales as manipulative. They regard the market place as dog eat dog, and the relationship between consumer and a business as inherently adversarial.

Those who wear Dockers view marketing and sales as an educational process, in which the business helps a consumer make wise purchasing decisions. They regard the market place as an avenue to create win- win situations.

Of course, these are generalizations and do not apply to everyone who wears whites or Dockers. Indeed, many who wear Dockers once wore whites. But they aspired to build their business, and undertook the necessary work. They wanted something better for themselves and their family. On the flip side, there are contractors who once wore Dockers who now wear whites. They did not implement sound business practices and were unable to sustain their business in that form.

What you wear is not permanent. You can move from one to the other. But in the end your business will be defined by what kind of business you want. In the end, your business will be defined by what you want to wear.

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