The battle of Little Bighorn, or the Battle of the Greasy Grass.
Here’s the story in my own words… General Custer and his 700 men were bold, cocky, and confident.
Supremely undertrained, soldiers took 6 target practice shots before being declared soldiers.
No matter, they were going to defeat the Indians once and for all.
(This blog isn’t about the Native Americans vs. the United States. That would be another perspective. For years General Custer and his men were considered war heroes. Thankfully, we now have new perspectives. Those Native Americans just fighting for their FREEDOM. Just such a horrible thing. Anywhos…)
There was a ridge, they could of went and scouted, but no, they went over it… to find 2,000 aligned, pissed and war-trained WARRIORS. They were SLAUGHTERED. It was CUSTER’S LAST STAND.
1. Train your people. Not on the fly. Formally. The best-trained people tend to win.
2. Be Humble. Never underestimate what you don’t know.
3. Have patience. In a hurry for victory, they plowed through the mountain.
4. Have perspective. If they would have looked around the ridge, they would have seen their objectives. Maybe we don’t have physical boundaries but we certainly have mental. Do you engage with your team before you make a decision? Do you try to look at things from others’ eyes? Are you empowering your team and customers to ask them what they think?
This simple quote stayed rent-free in my head for days.
3 times this week I ran into this situation.
Let me explain.
One time it was what I call “secret inventory.” It’s old, stinky, and no one really knows what’s going on with it. So we asked the specialist that ordered it. Like they know. They ordered it on monday.com. This would be like asking an operational puller why there are so many returns because they pulled the load. We all know this is a QB function. We then give the QB A WEEK TO RESPOND. Why? We are intimidated, bullied, and scared of the reaction. How incredibly sad.
Second, we made a delivery in a basement in an existing home. We don’t do that. Everyone knows that. It is not safe, we are liable for damage, we are a free delivery service and don’t build that in and don’t charge for that. Our team members are told we don’t do that. But we do. And if we ask why we did on that load it is because QB PERSON SAID SO and then we go “OH.” Bullied, scared, intimidated.
Third, a long e-mail thread in which any human knows a google meet or face-to-face is going to be way better. et, we know designers are busy, we are scared to ruffle feathers and just reply, reply, reply, reply. We know it’s wrong but we do it.
How belittling it is to do something you know is wrong because someone told you to. Shameful. Surely not supplying happiness.
Normally because we are afraid to say NO, OR because we USED TO DO IT. Just because we USED TO DO IT, doesn’t mean it was THE BEST WAY. 20 years ago, we were in many ways a shit show, don’t let history think we were so good… we do things for a reason.
It’s my fault. I let people do things outside the rules because SALES WIN. They don’t. That’s a cop out. Deep down we all know that.
If you go past a pile of trash you are ALLOWING IT. If you don’t have time to fix, just say, hey gang, that is wrong, we don’t have time to fix, but that is unacceptable.
THE HIGHEST STANDARDS. INCREDIBLY HARD ON STANDARDS. SOFT ON PEOPLE.
So now what?
Leaders, ALL OF YOU, must HOLD PEOPLE TO OUR STANDARDS AND REFUSE TO BE PRESSURED.
It what makes our company different and better.
And those that bully… must be put back in there place with great love, but with great toughness.
Do not waver.
Will you do that this week?
Lead with love. Then be tough. To protect our culture.
Saint Therese Lisieux spoke of this as well. This is hers, ours, and my story in my own words.
I’ve never seen a flower not want to be a flower.
They reach out and own exactly what they are. If they are seen by human eyes or not. If they are trampled, burned, put in a container, or used for a wedding ceremony. Each one plays a role. And loved by God.
We should accept who we are to the very best of our ability. Yes, not many of us are roses or lilies. But we are all a flower. We all can shine as bright as we can. We can all do it for Love.
In God’s love for us.
God loves every flower, even though they last only a few days. How much more he must love us.
We just must learn to just “be”. And know that role is important to God. To you. To everyone.
Amor Fati. Love of fate. A stoic term popularized by the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Now only to accept your fate but learn to embrace it. Embrace your path and the struggles that you will find in it.
Enjoy your own flower. Don’t long to be a different one. Or one that blooms earlier or later. You are your own chosen flower.
The next time you see wildflowers find the smallest ones. Adore it as if it was the only flower. They are each remarkable in their own way.
Now do that with humans. Adore each one. They are remarkable in their own way as well.
When I was 15, I helped install a horse fence. One hole every 8 feet. For as far as I could see. We worked from about 6am until 5pm with a 30-minute break for lunch. I forgot to wear a belt one day, and burnt my bum. Worked 50-hour weeks when I was 15. I still remember those lunches under a tree. My mom packed the best lunches for me. Sometimes the farmer would bring us a lemonade. The backhoe dug the hole, I had a shovel and threw the dirt aside or took out a rock if needed. I worked with a hard-working son of a gun named Dick Dornacker.
The rich horse farmer offered me a job at the end of the fence project. I took a lot of pride in that, he must have thought of me as a good worker. Told him I worked for my dad. That was the end of that.
In college, I always worked a University job, a job off-campus and I reffed flag football or basketball games. 3 jobs and I took a full-time workload.
My dad would take me to work at Campbellsport Building Supply; drive me there, we lived together. We opened the gate every morning. Closed it every night. First there, last to leave. My dad was that kind of awesome boss. Saturdays, I worked every Saturday growing up and even early into my marriage. Easy stuff 7am until noon, but sometimes until 1pm.
I have interviewed hundreds of people. Maybe more. I have had so many talks about overtime pay. Explaining you can make a ton of money here if you just look at the overtime available. If they asked about flexibility or a 40 offer work week…that was a red flag for me.
Then the pandemic hit. We went to 32-hour work weeks at Drexel, and still got shit done. I have read Tim Ferris’s book “The 4 Hour Work Week.” I went back and re-read it. I re-thought everything.
I realized a lot of the time I spent at work, the 50-60 hour work weeks, and one day a week at a work event at night “networking” was probably just burnout and a lot of downtime with not as much impact as I thought. I could still have a blast (I have always loved my job, team, and customers) but cut out the bullshit and work less, I knew that deep down. Also as a leader, I need to leave a gap for others to make good decisions. Always being there I end up being a helicopter work mom. Yikes.
We went to 40-hour weeks 2 years ago. As a company. It allowed for a lot more HAPPINESS. It worked! We stayed efficient, effective, and BALANCED. We changed people’s LIVES.
I didn’t. I couldn’t let my team down. What the hell would I do anyway? I don’t really have any hobbies.
However, I must lead by example. I must break away from old habits.
3 weeks ago, I went to a scheduled day a week off. 4/10s if you will. I still respond to texts and emails and calls on that off day no problem…I know no other way.
How has it gone? It’s been clunky. Weird. I have “off” tomorrow. That barely even makes sense to me or my family. Dad is home… Why? Is he Ok? I haven’t really told most people.
I told our CFO to take down my salary by 20% to reflect the fewer work hours. She hasn’t even done so yet… I am guessing she doesn’t believe it yet either (I’ve worked with her forever).
I have to lead by example. My good ideas come when I am off. Each day is now important at work. I make a BIGGER impact by prioritizing. I see some salesman here still working a ton…but not being EFFECTIVE. Chasing more money. Chasing. Always chasing. Hopping from fire to fire. I am hoping I can lead them to a better place by setting a good example.
The relaxed organized salesman will PROPEL our company to new heights!
I think I can actually be a better leader AND have 20% more of my LIFE away from work to make a bigger impact on the world by working 4/10s. I’ve contemplated this for years. It’s GO TIME.
I’m not scared. It’s just like a deep breath into the unknown. It’s clunky.
I don’t know what this looks like. I guess you have to start somewhere.
I don’t need more STUFF. STUFF leads to more work, more stress, and more problems. I need more TIME.
7.7 billion people on a rock just spinning in orbit. You are 1 of them.
Perfect gravity. Not too much that we can’t move. Not too little that we fly off the rock.
Atmosphere. Green things give off oxygen we need. We human things, give off carbon dioxide they need.
The Milky Way we live in is 52,850 light-years big. That is so big we can’t use miles or anything. No, we use the years it takes LIGHT to travel from one end to the other.
There are about 100 billion galaxies.
That is 1,000,000,000.
Yeah, so …
The fact that the cabinet doors were backed ordered and the client wants to sue us and that is ruining your whole week is PERSPECTIVELY comical. It’s funny. We can’t just laugh it off, and say, “we are just a speck of dust on a speck of dust…” but yet…we need to take the emotions out of it…and handle it!
Oh, then add in TIME… Men and Women have covered this planet for thousands of years in historical data (thousands and thousands) and we MIGHT live for 100 years.
I got an e-mail from a long-lost high school friend this weekend. It didn’t take long for him to start bragging. Fleisch, you won’t believe my life!
I make love at LEAST once a day.
I read 2-3 books a week.
Work out daily.
Go to church often.
Prison isn’t all bad….
So this week… let’s take everything that comes in, and comes out of our thoughts and actions with PERSPECTIVE.
LIFE IS SO WILD YO.
THIS ALSO PROVES TO ME GOD EXISTS. THIS ISN’T RANDOM.
You have a party planned. You organized all the lawn furniture and manicured the lawn. You even planned out the bonfire for later. All you have to do is light a match.
Then you see it. Far away at first. Maybe it’s not even a thing. You try to ignore it. It’s a storm cloud. You are sure. You can “feel it.” Well, you tell your positive self, sometimes these things just blow over. Sometimes they never reach your house. Sometimes they head a different direction.
What next, as I see it you have 3 choices:
Cancel the party. Seems logical. Party gonna suck without that bag toss game you set up.
Carry on as if it might pass. And it might. Just ignore it.
Don’t cancel the party, but be prepared. Have a plan if that rain does come. Takedown the umbrellas before anyone even arrives.
Think of the party as Drexel. We are excited about the future. Where we are going. Where we are headed. We have done lots of planning. Spent a lot on decorations and improvements.
Think of the storm as the economy.
As you are working on orders, loads, building trusses, and focused on how can I handle my Monday…
I am the old uncle on the porch… hey a storm is coming, I can feel it.
Slow down in manufacturing.
Instability of everything.
It looks like it could be a doozer of a storm.
Tornado watches have been issued.
So, the party still goes on! We do not CANCEL. There will still be a party!
But we need to re-shift our FOCUS. We need to put the pre-drink beers down and tarp down the boat. Put the umbrellas away.
This doesn’t mean we sit in the basement scared. It does mean, we prepare!
What if we knew a WAR was looming, or a big fight?
WE WOULD TRAIN WITH PURPOSE AND INTENTION to be the best version of ourselves when it arrives.
We would finalize our plans, but not add more party ideas.
We would scale back the food, knowing less guests will arrive.
We will make sure it is amazing for the guests that do come with what we have.
And if the storm doesn’t come? Well, then rock and roll, we can always get the bag toss back out.
But if it comes… we won’t have to be frantic, panic, and lose our minds… we can keep going.
It’s a mind-shift. Most of you working here have never seen a STORM.
What should we discontinue that is “just the balloons” …
Most companies will be shocked when the storm hits. Lots of wet people. Lots of ruined party favors.
The veterans of Drexel job is to teach you that. To calm the waters. To be ready. To use history as our guide.
How much food (inventory) is now needed compared to what the RSVP said.
What is our core that we need to TRAIN ON. How can we be more prepared?
What incentives are actually Vanity > Quality
What incentives are having the opposite effect we want them to have? (Cobra effect)
What metrics are we using that are either not the correct ones, or are no longer worth it?
And lastly, how do we still have the party? What plans are not scrapped?
Remember the party is still happening. Do not worry or have fear.
We have always GROWN in a storm.
Hey grab me a beer by the way… we can still have fun while we prepare.
I did a post about my 12-year-old son, struggling to recover from a knee injury back in early February. His story is below.
I owe an update, and praise to GOD.
A little back story.
On October 9th, my son who is passionate about sports, broke his tibia in a complicated injury playing football.
A 3-5 month recovery we were told. He had complications. On February 2nd, we were told by a specialist he needed up to 3 more surgeries (making it 5) and would not say in a virtual meeting that he would ever run again.
We booked a trip to Colorado that would last 30 days with surgery and rehab. And that was just the start we were told.
Then God came in. Hundreds of people praying. Including our family. TRUST THE LORD. TRUST THE LORD.
He slowly… started healing. Slowly.
I had a dream. Yes, I am not a prophet or anything. And I am as skeptical of the dream as anyone, but it did happen. So it IS part of the story.
I don’t dream much, but in the middle of the night, I heard a voice, as clear as day, as if I was awake, “Your son does not need surgery. The healing has begun. Thanks to faith in God the healing has started.” (I know the words because I wrote them down after my dream.) I arose straight up, with a strength and calmness and adrenaline rush I have barely ever felt. My anxiety was gone. And I was mopped in sweat from head to toe as if I had just broken a fever. Again, it’s not the whole story, but it is a part. Was it God talking to me? I have no idea, and again, remain cautious that the Lord, Angel, Saint, etc.. spoke to me, but it did happen.
We switched the therapist and the therapy method. She had a completely different method.
We went to turmeric juice, fish oil pills, acupuncture, and kept praying.
Slowly… he started to heal.
We called off surgery. We called off the 3rd opinion we had scheduled. We didn’t go back to our original surgeon.
And week by week, every week without fail, he improved.
My friend, Father Mark Jones, says he has observed God sometimes works slowly with those that do not have patience. And boy does our family lack patience.
And we hung out. Ate every meal together. Bonded like we never have before. Grew out of basketball as our core activity, and became better people and a better family. My son has grown mentally stronger in so many ways.
AND YES HE IS WALKING. No crutch. He has a limp, but that is fading as well. We played basketball for 30 minutes last night. He is playing at recess (all-time pitcher in kickball for now he says). He is closer. Every week closer.
Here’s the crazy thing. We do believe it is a miracle. My 12-year-old short-sighted (as most 12 years old are) son, believes it is the opposite of a miracle, since 1) the injury wasn’t a miracle, and 2) the speed it healed is much slower than he was told. I believe it was a miracle. He got better. We learned a lot. Now we have to remember to GIVE THANKS at least to the intensity we prayed for healing!
I think often we ask for miracles and then receive it, or even something better, and then move on and forget to THANK THE LORD. It’s human nature I suppose, but what a great reminder! How sad that must make Him.
It will be a scar on his knee, but also a scar in his life. A reminder of what it is to be in a wheelchair, to be on crutches, to have bad news, to work for things much harder than most people have to. And like scars, I assume the memory will slowly fade.
A few things. We will never let sports run our life again. We won’t miss Grandma’s birthday because we are in a tournament. Things like that. You can be balanced.
Thank you God. Thank you to all those that prayed and continue to pray for us.
Is he “out of the woods” and back to “normal”? No. But he is CLOSE. Are we ever perfect? I didn’t know when to write this since he still has a bad limp… but it is time to write it. If not know, when?
Life doesn’t work in a perfect sequence.
That is why we must TRUST THE LORD in all things and ALL TIME.
At Drexel, we have ventured deep into the heart of the world of Sales as it relates to Building Supply dealers like us.
What’s the best Salesperson (we call QB) what’s the best approach?
Our industry has primarily in the Midwest taught us, that great salespeople are entrepreneurs (white males over 40 years old) with 10 plus years of construction experience with as many accounts as possible, making as much money as possible with assistants around them to make their stressful life somewhat easier.
The entire organization is on edge because you never know what they will demand next… because DAMMIT, THEY ARE THE SALESMAN!
We have gone a 180 on that path.
Where QBs have a clear team mindset, with a select few true building partners, they are relaxed and lead from the back AND front and truly help the entire organization get better on a daily basis.
What do I mean exactly?
I am still learning and re-learning as I go, even after 25 years. But I can see what we call a model 1 salesperson (wild west, set their own prices, products procedures, and services) if they portray the following behaviors:s
Use the words: I, me a lot. Use phrases, my accounts, my book of business, my customer. They want to be left alone, unless they come to ask for help. And when they come for help, they really just mean, I want someone else to fix it.
They hate tracking tools, and performance metrics outside of sales/gross margin dollars. They believe gross margin dollars are king. If that is good, leave me alone.
They reference the good old days a lot.
They refuse to believe in less is more. Any sale is a good sale.
They work at least 50 hours a week.
They are really stressed.
They like to believe they have a DIRECT TEAM THAT ONLY REPORTS TO THEM.
They actually have teammates that also believe that.
Their priorities are EVERYONE’S priorities, instantly.
They always want everyone else to be trained, but personally have no time for training.
They refuse to believe they have too many accounts and believe all accounts buy from THEM, not Drexel.
E-mails are constant. Texts are endless.
Skeptical of new products.
Hate refined procedures.
Dislike price tiers.
HAVE NO TIME.
We. Team. Us.
Responsible for their work.
Time to train. Time to coach.
Like tools to track like closing tools. Like performance reviews. See ways to get better.
Like to be PART of the solution, not simply defining the problem and walking away.
Embrace anything that makes their life easier, like processes and procedures.
Have time to read company information, and develop relationships outside their department.
Sell all categories to our accounts.
We want people that are developed with each account and spend TIME with them and our team. Those team members embrace this and understand a less stressed life is better for them, their family, their team, and their customer!
If this offends you… you are firmly model 1. We should all be inspired to be moving to a model 2 company!
Early indicators, black clouds on the horizon, a change in the wind direction, things you have seen before.
I think we are about to go into a recession in the housing market, I call it the Great Reset. I don’t know how long or how deep, the country is still short of homes, we must build more. But the wind is changing.
While the orders on new homes are deep and massive, most builders are booked for a year, and the quote file is at record levels… things are a miss.
BREAKING TODAY: Consumer prices rose 8.5% in March — the highest since 1981. We are paying 8.5% more for things now. 8.5%! A new house costs over 20% from just last year.
Interest rates are at 5%… with 6% just about guaranteed.
The BIGGEST PROBLEM is the media spin on this (Why do we listen to them?!)
The Federal Reserve is “selling” a fix.. higher interest rates… that they say will help surging prices and a tight labor market. And the media is shaking their head yes, higher interest are good and needed.
Let me translate.
The U.S. Government and supported by the major media (including google)
wants the interest rates to rise sharply.
What will this do to housing?
A 1% increase adds about 300 dollars plus a month to a $350,000 home mortage.
at 4%…. where we were at for a monthly payment on a $350,000:
at 6% (where we are quickly headed)
This will take a lot of people out of the house of their dreams.
A simple Google Search “will higher interest rates help”…shows that yes indeed it helps! It hurts short term, but long term by golly we will be better off.
This will help the labor shortage. Translation, fewer jobs. This will help demand. Meaning no one is buying anything.
Lumber is TANKING. That’s another key indicator. Mills are working 3 days a week to stop the supply. That isn’t working either. Remember mills make lumber every day. It’s a product in the forests that must be used. Tanking lumber means people aren’t buying it. 40% DOWN in a month.
LUMBER SALESMAN: DO NOT EVER USE WEIGHTED AVERAGE OR COST TO SET THE PRICE. USE A TIER THAT WE ESTABLISHED. TRUST ME… YOU DO NOT KNOW THE MARKET!
We are often in a recession LONG before we feel it.
We are there.
What is Drexel doing?
Get ready to acquire more market share (get more builders that are left). We are training new qbs, new cabinetry, and new flooring salespeople. We are driving consistency + stability = clarity. Taking on good business with good business partners for the future.
We do think the building will continue, just slowing.
Our robotic future and offsite construction will help builders that are left!
Over $8 trillion … 800,000,000,000,000 has been printed by the US government, flooding us with “more money, worth less”… the consequences have been brutal, but we are ready.
Our New Berlin yard is offsetting the cost of higher transportation costs.
We are low on new hiring positions, with only 6 full time in our entire supply company (we are growing our manufacturing division.) And really diving into WHY we need a new person in that department.
We have turned products into paid services (residential design, offsite is a process, not a product)…. all to prepare for the great reset.
If new home buyers can’t afford homes, they will rent. We have many fantastic builders that are preparing to build 8-12 units projects and rentable condos. If you can’t afford to buy new.. or think about this… locked into a 3% loan, why would you ever build for a 6% loan?… we do anticipate remodeling will soar…
Remodelers and remodeling projects require KNOWLEDGE, ORGANIZATION, AND INTRICITATE PROCESSES WITH COMPLICATED PRODUCTS… this is why our training is so critical. And in all departments why are sales people are required to have fewer accounts to be poised to help builders remodel.
Could I be wrong?
Of course. I have been in Vilas County, wetting a worm on a lake, and seeing what I believe is a storm brewing. We take in the boat. Put the water toys away. Put the tarp on the boat, and wait for the storm. Sometimes it blows over, misses us, or is very minor. At least we were prepared. No harm done. Sun comes back out.
Prepare now. But keep going.
The fun will be there. Supplying happiness is possible. We just must be prepared.
A HORRIBLE RECESSION IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.