Business Coach & Life Lesson via flashback:
Once we moved in to our new place, life began to change immediately. Almost instantly, we started to notice a lot of respect being issued to us from peers (in the wedding industry) who had previously written our team off as a bunch of happy-go-lucky, glass-half-full DJ jokesters (which we were). In addition to the lovefest that we were receiving in the way of congratulatory cards, encouraging e-mails, voicemails from our past clients, vendor friends, and business associates, we also started to receive yet another round of animosity steered toward us from our DJ competition, who competed with us in the way that the Kansas City Royals compete with the New York Yankees. It was hilarious. We would run in to bitter DJs at bridal shows, and they would just look at us with hatred in their DJ eyes. Our DJs would come back from shows saying, “Such-and-such really hates us. Man, what did we do to those guys?” or “Yelame us for their lack of success, which I was okay with. My theory was that as long as they blamed us, they would never fix their systems that were producing crappy results. And thus, I sort of liked being viewed as the Yankees of the DJ industry because as long as the customers loved us, the world was well. Every once in a while I would run into a hotel director, a photographer, or a previous client who would comment something to the effect of, “Man, you all have really grown. I wish I would have gotten into DJ-ing!”
These kind comments and attitudes just kept rolling in. Amidst the praise from our peers and the hate from our competition, I started to notice that something else was changing dramatically as well. All of the relationships that the DJ Connection DJs and I had been developing over the years were now growing to fruition. It was almost as if the purchase of this DJ megaplex had stamped us with a big approval sticker that read, “YEP FOLKS, THESE GUYS ARE REAL!” Bank of America, Bank of Commerce, Arkansas Valley Bank, Bama Pie, Grand Bank, Nordam, Broken Arrow (one of the largest high schools in the country), Bixby Schools, St. Pius, the Vintage on Yale Luxury Apartments, Holiday Inn Select, and QuikTrip were all booking or rebooking us with conviction for all of their events. Josh and Jerry Jones (not his real name) were now giving more confident sales presentations. This positive pressure we had created for ourselves by building a foundation based on a solid reputation now backed us. Many people in Tulsa were finally starting to talk about DJ Connection as if we were a legitimate, real-deal company. This recognition meant that we were now a company to be taken seriously. DJ Connection was no longer just a dream on a piece of paper, a business coach idea, or a statement of faith on my five-year goal. It was a reality.
During this time, we received recognition in Modern Bride magazine as “Tulsa’s number-one disc jockey service,” and the American Wedding Association as “Tulsa’s Best Wedding Vendor.” The point was being hammered home to potential customers: DJ Connection was the real deal. Our hard work was finally paying off, and more and more quality people were hearing about us and wanting to become part of our team or use us for their upcoming event. Finally after five years of toiling in the never-ending sea of mediocrity, we were rising to the top; and we were now being pushed by our own momentum. To quote the entertainment mogul and entrepreneur P. Diddy (Sean Combs), “We won’t stop. Because we can’t stop.” With momentum, a business can do anything, except overcome a lack of quality leadership.
My old micromanagement philosophy of if-you-want-something-done-right-you-have-to-do-it-yourself was now proving to be ineffective when tested against the might of thirty disorganized DJs. Up to this point in time, I would assign a list of tasks for our guys to do on a daily basis, and then I would relentlessly follow-up on them to make sure that they were done. Upon discovering that it had been done 80 percent of the way, I would then put the remaining 20 percent of their work on my plate, and I would do it myself. For example, I would tell our guys to call through the entire bridal list by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., I would discover that they would only be 80 percent of the way through the list. Then I would begin making cold calls from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. by myself, neglecting my wife and compensating for a lack of others’ performances with my own efforts. I would ask a certain DJ to take out the trash, and he would take out 40 percent of it, and then at night after I had finished making my cold calls until 9:00 p.m., I would then take out all the office trash until 10:30 p.m. I would ask the DJs to arrive at 12:00 p.m. for a 12:30 Sunday appointment, and when I would return from church at 12:30 to discover that no one had shown up to cover the appointment, I would do it myself. And so on… I pretty much did 20 percent of everyone’s job, in addition to my own (already overwhelming) responsibilities, while paying them as if they had actually completed 100 percent of the work on their own. Each week I was becoming more and more familiar with the employee code-talk phrases and their translations, such as:
I was completely unaware of the importance of creating a business coach system that rewards positive behavior through quality pay, and penalizes lack of performance by withholding pay. Thus, those first few months in our new place were a little interesting. If not for the insight I gained from reading and applying the principles found within the pages of John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I am convinced that the time we spent at the Lynn Lane house would have resulted in my premature stress-induced death.
The irony about me reading John Maxwell’s book is that I would have never stopped to read a book on leadership had my attempt to go on a one-week vacation not so blatantly exposed my lack of leadership skills. Havana was around one-month old, and Vanessa and I were in desperate need of some quality one-on-one time. I was working seven days a week until 9:00 p.m. every night. I was going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and waking up to work again at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. each day. I had no time to work out. Vanessa and I had no time to talk about anything. I was DJ-ing every Sunday, so I wasn’t going to church, which didn’t bother me too much at the time since I wasn’t too sure how I felt about God anyway. I never had downtime to see my daughter, and I had no time to sit and plan our business’ future.
After I bought the tickets from Karen, our Tulsa travel planner of choice, I found it to be nearly impossible to carve out the seven-day window of time needed to even go on vacation. Thus, I was resorting to giving each member of our team a huge laundry list of things to do that I knew in the back of my mind they were not going to get done. I knew that they would show up to work every day at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. while I was gone, and I knew that they were not going to return voicemails promptly. I just knew that they were going to crash the DJ Mother Ship into the side of a Bridal Mountain while I was gone, thus I booked our cruise during the smallest projected wedding weekend of the year to limit the potential for disaster.
As we finished packing our bags and loading Havana into her car seat for the long journey down to the Port of Houston, where our cruise was set to depart, I was having a panic attack. I kept calling the office guys telling them things like, “Hey, there is one more thing that I need you to do!” or “Seriously, if you do not remember anything else, make sure that you check the voicemails!” or “Josh, brother . . . I am trusting you with the Millennium Falcon here, don’t wreck it, baby. I trust you. But, I don’t trust you. Please tell me you won’t crash the mother ship. Josh are you there?” Meanwhile, my wife was coming to the conclusion that I was going to be running the office remotely via my cell phone during our vacation. As we boarded the cruise ship, I am sure that she was delighted when I was informed by one of the crew members that it was only possible to contact land in case of an emergency via the ship’s satellite phone for an astronomical fee; thus, my cheapness would prevent me from calling the office once the ship departed.
And once the ship departed, I was forced to come to grips with the fact that I was not going to be able to call home again. I attempted to have a good time in a distracted-mentally-not-present kind of way for the first day or so. Somewhere around day three of our seven-day cruise, I started to calm down a little to the point where I was no longer focused on what apocalyptic business coach scenarios might be unfolding at the DJ Connection office. I then allowed myself to have a good time. During the evenings after Vanessa and Havana had gone to bed, I would religiously go out on the deck to listen to the sound of the ocean, consume a large $8 raspberry-flavored adult beverage, and take in the fresh smells of the sea as I read John Maxwell’s leadership and business coach bible. As I read his book, I started seeing myself through the perspective of the various leadership examples provided. I started realizing his theory on the “law of the lid” directly applied to me.
His law states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead; the lower the lid of his or her potential; the higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness. To give you an example, if your leadership rate is at an eight, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a seven. If your leadership is only a four, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a three. Your leadership ability, for better or worse, always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization. To reach the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise the lid of leadership ability.”
Essentially, John Maxwell’s leadership book called me out and said, “Hey Clayvis, you have a leadership rating of three. You can inspire people, but you can’t provide continued direction without having to micromanage them, and you are only attracting people that like to be micromanaged because you are a micromanager.” Oh this truth was tough to take from my lawn chair amidst the princess cruise boat, but because I was half-drunk, I think I was able to take the harsh criticism that this moment of self-analysis was forcing me to endure. And thus, I encourage you to do the same thing right now. Ask yourself, “Self, how high is my leadership ability? Honestly, how would I rate myself? Would I enjoy working for me? What is my leadership number? With 10 being Abraham Lincoln or Vince Lombardi, and a 1 being that Dude Who Can’t Manage His Own Snow-Cone Stand, where do I stand? What is my leadership number?”
Long story short, our sea cruise vacation was everything it was supposed to be and more. Our cruise director was awesome. The entertainment was great. The food was legendary, and I learned about leadership while out at sea. Thus, I returned home re-energized and fired up with a renewed focus on the next important step that DJ Connection had to take if it was going to grow to the next level. This step involved a need for dramatically improved leadership from yours truly.
Listed below is a list of the business coach and leadership qualities that I determined to develop within myself and our team as a direct result of reading John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and revisiting Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich while on the cruise. Review this list of leadership qualities, and then candidly grade yourself (with a letter grade from A-F) on how well your leadership style exemplifies these leadership qualities:
Now that you have graded yourself in each area, go back and decide what action steps you can take to begin practically improving your business coach and leadership abilities in these areas. If you need help developing leadership skills for yourself or your team, contact us We help our clients develop profitable, successful businesses every single day.