Once upon a time, in the long long ago, I was a broke college student. After series of tables that you would see broken in half during WWF fights, I actually sublet a furnished room in an apartment from a guy that took the summer off from school. This guy had a desk which would make most NOCs cry for – 8 feet wide, 10 feet tall with enough shelf room for at least 10 monitors. It was an incredible productivity tool.
I had a rather good summer (back then it meant I had a bank account with 4 digits in it) so I embarked on building a desk on my own. It was my first lesson as a business owner: stick to software. However, I managed to build it with a few friends and possibly spent more on polyurethane high gloss spray paint than I would if I just bought a table from the store.
That was about 10 years ago. And to this day, every little project at Own Web Now was in some shape, way or form designed or built on this desk. It is perhaps the biggest eyesore I own, and the only piece of furniture that I refuse to get rid of. Because no matter how ugly it may be to others, or how much better I could do, I’ve built nearly everything I have using this thing. To me, it’s the most valuable thing I own.
Now, I’ll give you a moment to wipe off that tear, call me a fag and send me an extra-large package of Midol to soothe my menstrual cramps.
Done? Great. Because there is more to this. It has to do with the attitude we take in life towards everything, personal and impersonal, tangible and invisible, relationships and contracts. Do you have any pride and sense of accomplishment in what you do?
Over the past two years I have failed in maintaining an executive office or doing business in Central Florida. Not only have I packed what was supposed to be just my place, but we also have an office a few towns over that I’m consolidating into the new OWN HQ for the purpose of executing the next stage in our business plan and a look beyond cloud services and the things we do today.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s also not going to be done in 8 hours a day. If we are to survive and thrive over the next 5 years we need to honestly look at ourselves and take some more pride in what we do. We need to do things that we haven’t done before.
So taking my desk as an example, there is pride in making something. This past week I took nearly everyone on my Orlando staff and we worked on the new office. Could we have hired half a dozen Mexicans and let them loose on it for a week? Absolutely. And we’d still have a ton of things that we were not happy with.
But you know what… everyone got to pick out their office color. Everything from Beige to Purple to Navel to yes, Jolly Green. When folks come in to work they aren’t sitting in a soul crushing cubicle, they are sitting in their office with a solid door so they can be comfortable and continue to build this great company.
And for what it’s worth, the doors were prepped, mounted and drilled by our own Hank Newman, guy that wrote among other things the ExchangeDefender Client Software Suite, Shockey Monkey Mobile and a few dozen things for the two products. On Tuesday I told him to go to hgtv.com and learn how to mount a door, on Wednesday the doors were up.
Next, we worked on the common area / conference room. I hope University of Florida College of Engineering doesn’t ask for our diplomas back.
So.. what had happened was…
The people that were in this suite before us were much like any other commercial space tenant. They did stuff on their own. Without regard for any engineering concepts whatsoever. There was apparently flood damage, and whatever surface they used to create a slanted wall had turned into a wet cardboard by the time we got there. Stripping paint and applying drywall compound on a slanted piece of dry cardboard is a recipe for disaster.
So at one point Carlos and I decided we needed to go for the whole new wall.
Ever seen Beautiful Mind? Ever taken a college calculus or physics course? Yep. We went to Home Depot and got ourselves 26’ of whiteboard space. We glued it to the carboard, nailed it in, fastened it with series of what is best described as creative construction.
And everyone was in on this.
Even the girls.
Even on the 3,285,239 “caulk” jokes that were shared during the sealing of crown moulding and associated boards.
And that’s what 26 feet of doodling dry-eraser surface space amounts to. 😉 And yes, the paint you see (blue) is the same shade as ownwebnow.com 😉
Stupid? Probably. Financially unsound? You bet, we make far more than Handy Manny’s. Waste of money and time? Not at all.
I count on the people around me to build the best damn software and solutions out there. That’s how I get to keep my fat ass… fat. And I want them to take some pride in what we do and figure out what drive them and how they deal with problems and how much vision they have to build the invisible – which is our job.
As a result, I have a better idea how to better utilize my folks. Unfortunately, I also have an idea of who I need to let go of and who gets less capacity.
I firmly believe that people are who they are most of the time. You don’t have assholes that take weekends off to feed the hungry, nor do you have nice people passing out after fights in bars. You can’t run from yourself. How we work, what we expect from ourselves, personally and professionally, is our character and what we project to everyone we work with.
If you own a business, you can probably relate to people doing business with you on the account of a relationship. As that relationship transcends beyond just you, the HR decisions you make – good or bad – reflect your commitment to your promise and your corporate mission. Without it all, on all levels, it’s just a bunch of insincere web page fodder and people eventually catch on.