This business coach post explains why you must go from me to we.
Hall of fame basketball player and successful business coach and entrepreneur Magic Johnson has said that to ever truly become a leader or to build a great organization, “You have to go from me to we.” I agreed with him on that; however, I was just now bringing in $100,000 of gross revenue for the first time, and because I was trying to pattern my life after Sam Walton, I was reinvesting every dime back into my business. I knew that I couldn’t keep doing that forever and that I would have to eventually delegate and invest in business coach, training, and hiring some people, but “HOLY COW, BATMAN,” was that tough for me.
Here is my problem: I do not understand the need for taking breaks (other than to visit the restroom) during a workday. During my time spent working construction, I learned that you don’t stop to take breaks until the job is done, and being that the job was never done, I never took breaks. Today, I don’t take lunch breaks, and I don’t take time off for “personal reasons.” No matter what job I have ever had, I have never taken days off for “personal reasons.” Since the death of my friend Mark, I view life as fleeting; so I do not have much time for employees who mess around and choose not to focus. As you can probably guess, this made it hard to hire someone.
I finally determined that I could hire someone else on a commission-only pay structure that would pay them $50 per booking (when they booked the show) and 33 percent of the profit from the show they DJ-ed. Plus the guys could keep their tips. I approached one our first disc jockeys by the name of Josh with this opportunity, and he liked the idea, but he had questions. We set up a time to meet at his apartment (located two miles from our condo and a half mile away from the ORU campus) to discuss the opportunity with his fiancé.
Josh was an ORU basketball player, and his fiance, Kristin, was, too; however, they decided to take a year off of school to get married. Like many newlyweds, Josh was highly motivated to make some good money to support his new bride. Historically, I have almost always found that people who are working to support their families work at least 50 percent harder than those who have no one dependent on them. There have been rare cases where this has not always proven true, but I would generally recommend this business coach truth to anyone out there looking to hire: Select people who have families to feed. They will work hard.
When I arrived at their apartment, I knocked on the door and was quickly greeted by Kristin who was cooking some spaghetti and sporting some ORU basketball shorts. Josh came in a second later and invited me to sit down. I discussed everything with him and laid out the pay arrangements. My concept was that I would set up the appointments and Josh would meet with the clients so I would have more time to set up more appointments. When the customer paid the deposit, he would get paid. If the customer did not pay the deposit, he would not get paid. And for every show that he worked as a DJ, he would make 33 percent of an on average $525 profit per event. After discussing the numbers for awhile, eventually we agreed that Josh would get paid 10 percent of the total sales price for each package. Thus, if he booked bigger packages, he would make more money. Josh came up with the idea, and it felt right. We shook hands and the business started booming almost immediately by at least 15 to 20 percent because Josh and I both were driven and motivated to succeed. Josh was one of those odd people who actually believed that he would book every deal. He was driven by an inner motivation to succeed that business coach cannot teach. (Great job, Josh!)
Every day I would rarely leave the condo other than to work out. I would feverishly “dial and smile” all day. Josh would arrive at the condo/office about one-half hour before his first scheduled appointments at St. Louis Bread to grab his schedule. Things were flowing smoothly on this front. Now in terms of hiring and training disc jockeys, that was a different story. I wanted to build a great team of disc jockeys, so my search first took me to the local radio stations where I figured the quality talent would appreciate consistent and extra income in a field for which they were already trained. I could not have been more wrong. Nearly every one of the FM disc jockeys that I met with, interviewed, trained, or hired, thought that they had invented the concept of the DJ and that they were God’s gift to the ears of every audience. They actually believed that they were some sort of underpaid celebrity who was gracing the audience with their presence. They were not interested in trying to take care of the bride and meeting her unique needs. They were, however, interested in talking as much as possible on the mic in their ridiculous FM-radio voices so that the audience could “enjoy” their “celebrity” talents. They were in love with themselves, and one of these geniuses actually told me that it would be okay with him if we printed his name on all of our business cards to gain more of a following. Although these fools were making $19,000 per year working the midnight shift on a local radio station playing pre-mixed and syndicated music, they were convinced that they were already the best and that I was somehow lucky to be consistently filling up our schedule with brides and grooms who had seen our work. Long story short, after about six months of trying to work with these “celebrity” (celebrity in the way that Kevin Federline is a celebrity), egomaniac, FM disc jockeys, I determined that there had to be a better way to find quality DJs.
I was tired of looking at their odd ear and nasal piercings, flowing and bleached blonde hair, and then having to explain to grown men (who were generally ten years older than I was at the time) that they cannot dress like idiots and expect to be paid like professionals. Please feel free to use that line at your office. I literally had to explain to one of these self-proclaimed “legends of radio” that it was not alright to take smoke breaks during someone’s wedding reception.
Picture it: The bride and groom are cutting their cake, and then they go over to listen to their toasts. Then the music awkwardly stops completely, and everyone begins to look for the DJ. And then after a few seconds of scanning the room with their eyes, the audience spots him through a beautiful glass window. Oh yeah, there he is. He is out there, in all his glory, taking a few quick puffs from his cancer stick before he returns to his post behind the DJ booth. Holy crap! I could have punched these guys! I should have punched these guys. For some reason, even now I am finding myself wanting to tickle their larynxes with my fabulous fist.
Nearly all of these FM “masters of the mic” and “voices of choice” (as they often called themselves) thought I was crazy ruthless for not allowing them to smoke during shows, and for insisting that they arrived on time for each and every event they worked. They could not fathom that I actually had a penalty system for those who preferred to arrive late for someone’s special day. When I introduced a $40 late fee for those who showed up even one-minute late for their setup, I think that is when I really pissed them off. They apparently thought it was okay to be a little late to someone’s wedding, and they could not believe that I would actually charge them for being late. These charges were then mailed to couples as partial refunds.
Some nights after training these morons, I would just lie there in bed thinking about how horrible these guys were. It seemed like I would never find quality experienced disc jockeys. And then it hit me: I was never going to find quality experienced disc jockeys. I can’t remember what I was reading when it hit me, but I remember I was reading a book that had a quote from John D. Rockefeller (the oil tycoon) where he said, “I would rather hire a man with enthusiasm than a man who knows everything.” This quote was all the affirmation I needed. I didn’t need to spend my precious time (time is our biggest asset) herding cats and negotiating with self-proclaimed celebrity wedding terrorists. I needed to spend my time looking for enthusiastic people. I needed to spend my time looking for quality humans whom I could train to become quality disc jockeys. I needed to spend my time with people who were willing to learn new skills that they could use to wow customers. I did not need to become another one of those companies that does not hire people unless they have previous experience. I needed DJ Connection to become one of those rare companies like QuikTrip (THE best-run convenience store in the country), where top people are developed over a period of time because the company is willing to hire great people regardless of their previous experience. I was beginning to realize that you can train great people with new skills, but you can’t train very skilled people to be great. I needed DJ Connection to become a vehicle that quality people could use to pursue their own passions through earning a great paycheck by delivering great service to wonderful clients. The only problem was that I was not entirely sure what good people looked like or where I could find them. So I went with the shotgun approach.
Once I discovered that I was after quality people, everything began to change. I started seeing great potential disc jockeys everywhere. I sincerely began to feel that working for DJ Connection was the best job in the world, and one of the best financial vehicles out there to earn a lot of money in a short period of time. At DJ Connection, enthusiastic, honest, and hardworking people would learn the art of public speaking. They would learn the skill of working as a professional Master of Ceremony and disc jockey, and they would earn $25 to $40 per hour for nearly every event they worked (and with bonuses they could earn up to $50 per hour). I felt strongly that a job at DJ Connection was the best thing out there, and so it was easy for me to sincerely and passionately recruit nearly any quality human that I saw.
When I was out to eat with Vanessa, I would offer every great waiter a job. When I was at the bank making deposits, I would try to recruit the bank tellers who worked quickly and who seemed to be doing a coherent job. At this point, I was telling nearly everyone that had a pulse about the job. I was excited about the opportunity, and I believe that many people were attracted to the business because of the excitement that I had for it and for their lives. After a few months, new recruits just started pouring in. Everyone knew that I didn’t care if they knew anything about sound or music, so my new recruits were not limited to those people who were obsessed with music (basically, I was not just hiring Guitar Center’s staff). The new recruits knew that I was passionate about helping them achieve their goals, and they knew that I was passionate about achieving my goals too.
As I began recruiting more and more quality humans, I started to see some patterns emerging in those that turned in to great DJs and those that turned out to be needy, whiny, weak, frequently late, and otherwise useless DJs. The new guys that had goals and saw DJ Connection as just a means to their end always did great. The guys that did not have goals and who just saw DJ Connection as another paycheck were always worthless. Black, White, Asian, rich, or poor, it did not matter. The guys who knew where they were going in life always worked out the best. Thus, my encouragement to anyone looking to hire new employees is this: look for enthusiastic and honest people who are passionate about achieving their dreams, and hire them. During your interviews, ask potential new hires what their five-year goals are. If they do not know, probe deep to see if they really do know what their dreams are. If you can’t find a dream pulse somewhere, let them go. Do not hire them because you will spend nearly 80 percent of your time reprimanding them for showing up late and life-coaching them on various issues such as hygiene and why they have to wear a tie to work (or to a wedding, in my case). My reader friends, beware of bottom feeders. I can honestly say that every great DJ that we have ever had has been passionate about their personal success, and that nearly all 150 people that I have had to fire were just drifting through life unaware of where they were going or where they wanted to go. DJ Jason, DJ Josh, DJ Willi, DJ JayB, DJ Marquess, DJ Eric, DJ Derek, and the other great disc jockeys were all great for their season because they were passionate about their goals and about using DJ Connection in a mutually beneficial way to help them get there.
The more time I have spent with the people who work for me, the more I have discovered that you cannot just have their respect because you are their boss. You have to earn it. I have found that as the boss, you always have to be learning so that you can stay fresh, interesting, and inspiring to your employees. I have found that you always have to arrive at work early if you expect your team to arrive on time. I have found that you must over-deliver and follow through on all your commitments if you expect your team to deliver on half of their commitments. I have found you have to be willing to work overtime if you want your team to put in their time. I have found that you have to be willing to accept that with leadership comes much responsibility. What I have found is that Napoleon Hill was correct when he wrote, “One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness upon the part of the leader to do more than he requires of his followers.”
Thus, my business coach and hiring philosophy is this: FIND PASSIONATE, TRAINABLE, ENERGETIC, ORGANIZED, DEPENDABLE, AND HONEST PEOPLE. TRAIN THEM TO DO THE TASKS REQUIRED AT THEIR SPECIFIC JOBS BECAUSE YOU CAN TEACH A GREAT PERSON TO DJ, BUT YOU CAN’T TEACH A DJ TO BECOME A GREAT PERSON (at least I cannot).
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – Thomas Edison
Help this business coach blog post have slightly more meaning than Paris Hilton’s opinions on anything by answering the following self-examining questions: