Earlier this year, our management team at Evans Electric sat down to create our annual goals. We knew that growth in our organization would come from a few different areas including selling high quality LED Lights at a fraction of the cost currently available. This new division is e2green, and our team is building quickly to meet the demand.
About a week ago, one of our apprentices (Josh Jordan), came to me with a cool idea. To grow in his area of focus, he wanted to research LEDs and share what he learned through our blog. An apprentice taking initiatives like this is a dream come true for us! We are very proud to have Josh on our team!
This is what Josh Jordan had to say:
LED is an acronym that stands for light-emitting diode. Some of you reading this might be thinking, “What in the world does that mean?”
LED technology produces its light from diodes. A diode is simply a semiconductor device that allows the flow of a current in one direction. So LEDs are just another form of a light. I have learned that LEDs are more than just lights to a business.
What makes LEDs so different from fluorescent or other types of lighting? Why do light bulbs really matter to your business?
Here are the 3 key reasons to choose LED lights:
LEDs are compact and versatile. In the earlier years of LED technology, they required lots of wiring and soldering. Today, we have plug and play systems. Modular systems are available as well. In other words, LEDs look better and are easy to install.
At e2green we offer you this technology at a more affordable rate than our competitors. Prior to even selling you one LED though, we like to perform an audit. This audit is an evaluation of your current lighting system and the energy those lights produce. We walk through your building and use your energy bill to determine this information. Once we have gathered what we need, we provide you with a side by side comparison of your current system to LED technology. You then receive an estimate for cost and your return on investment. It is just that simple!
A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
"Do you ever get anywhere?" he asked with a mocking laugh.
"Yes," replied the Tortoise, "and I get there sooner than you think. I'll run you a race and prove it."
And so, the story goes. The great and fast hare with obvious talents, challenged by the much slower tortoise to a race, and loses. The moral: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Interestingly, many of us have grown up hearing this story; know the moral of the story; probably even agree with the moral in the story; but naturally compare success in today’s world to speed. If business were the race, we would assume the hare would win. Why? Technology pushes us to be faster and more automated. Competition demands efficiencies. Marketing shouts, “YOU NEED THIS NOW.”
This year I learned something about myself. “My name is Dave, and I am addicted to speed.” It almost sounds like a drug, doesn’t it? I graduated from college, married my sweetheart, became a Director in a company, bought two new cars, and loaded up on all the new furnishings for my new house all by the age twenty-five. People would tell me I was a success, and I truly believed it. It was my bragging right. The problem was that nothing was ever good enough. I remember setting a goal for myself in my early twenties, “Once I hit a certain threshold in my salary by a specific age, I will be happy.” I also remember hitting that target much sooner than expected, just to find myself wanting more. My focus was distorted.
You probably admit that peace and happiness are more valuable than money and fame, but so many of us spend our energy pursuing money and fame instead. As someone trained to run a race like the hare, I find myself slowing down to converse with people winning the race like the tortoise. Three people (Who have no idea I was watching or listening to them) have taught me a new kind of success.
I had a boss who built a skillset that made her very successful. She was promoted into a new position as Vice President after the company parted ways with her predecessor. As with any change in leadership, questions about the new leader’s abilities naturally rise. Since I was a hare racing to the next glamorous promotion, I found myself challenging her abilities every time a problem surfaced. I could do it better. I would do it differently. I let people know.
Now, I regret it. It is easy to shoot arrows at a target. It is not easy to be the target. Anyone on that team could voice an opinion without effort. The skillset she had built with incredible strength is a phrase I now call Fearless Consistency. She knew there were problems and knew she did not have all the answers. Things could have been done differently, maybe even better. But, she did not quit. She took one step at a time, led a team out of fear and into the future. Problems will always be everywhere. Arrows will fly. Fast resolutions will always be demanded. The tortoise did not grow tired. He just took one step at a time and never quit.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Last week, I was meeting with someone about a potential business opportunity. This would be a new venture that I know nothing about. The individual sitting across the table from me, had thirty-plus years of experience doing it. He is no rookie, but he is not someone I know too well yet. I had my doubts.
As we sat at a table drinking coffee and discussing the cool new potential initiatives, all my insecurities in the matter bubbled to the surface. Anything he spoke about, I questioned. I was not capable to do this for many reasons. At one point in the conversation, he, in all his experience doing this, stopped me in my tracks to say something so simple, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
In the famous fable, both the Tortoise and the Hare knew who was faster. After all, turtles are slow without skillsets to win races. But, they did not know what they did not know. Since the tortoise could understand this concept, he was able to take on a challenge most turtles would have passed up.
You Already Matter
In 1981, a movie called Chariots of Fire was released. The story is about two Olympic runners, Harrold Abraham and Eric Liddell. Each of them approaches their passions from different perspectives. During one scene after losing a couple races, Harrold is getting a massage to prepare for his final race. His famous line states, “I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?” Eric Liddell also has a moment before his race, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run I feel His pleasure.”
I heard a speaker recently simplify both messages. You can either run in order to matter OR you matter already, therefore, you run. Confidence breeds when you already know you matter. And if you already matter, you can be fearlessly consistent. You don’t even have to know all the answers yet.
At Evans Electric and E2Green, we have set some goals for our company that will be a stretch. Not because we justify our existence, but because we love doing what we do. We believe that with our team we can continue to accomplish great challenges. We admit that we don’t know what we don’t know, but we will take one step at a time, do what it takes to find the answers and implement consistent solutions that last for our customers.
One year ago today marks the start of an adventure that changed my life. As a career focused HR executive making a great salary and living in Atlanta, GA, I did something crazy. I somehow convinced my wife, toddler, and new born baby that we needed a bit more excitement in our lives… As if we didn’t have enough stress already. Once my wife was onboard with me, I called up her dad in Dayton, OH to ask him a question that would change us all forever.
ME: “Tom, what would you think about selling your company to me? We will move from Atlanta to Dayton as soon as possible.”
TOM: “I like the idea. Why don’t you come up here next week, check things out, and see if you are still interested.”
Road trip! My daughter and I set off on an 8 hour drive. How exciting? We are buying a business. Of course, to anyone who has ever started or purchased a business, you probably have a good idea of what the next year truly entailed. The blog posts to follow will tell the stories of some of our challenges, victories, emotions, insecurities, peace and flat out grace periods. But, for today’s post I want to rewind an additional 25 years to a moment in life that I will never forget.
At 8 years old, standing on an elementary school football field during recess, a friend leaned over to me and asked, “What is your favorite football team?” I had nothing. I didn’t even know much about football. He confidently told me the Dallas Cowboys were his team. Keep in mind, these were their glory years with Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin. That year I became obsessed with the team of superstars. I remember thinking that I could build a team of football superstars. All I needed was people. Without much effort, I gathered all the neighborhood kids together, divided us into five teams of two, created playbooks, organized practices, launched a season, playoffs, and a Super Bowl. We played every day. In the sun. In the rain. In the snow. With broken legs and skinned up knees. It was so fun, and we were only eight years old. My childhood has taught me and continues to teach me quite a bit.
Your natural childhood self tells a lot about who you were designed to be.
At 8 years old, I built teams to do cool things and have fun doing it. Guess what? It did not stop at eight. From starting bands in high school, organizing entrepreneur groups in college, managing HR teams in corporations, to now purchasing a business in 2017, building teams is in my blood. It’s what makes me happy. Think back to what you did as a kid so naturally. It is probably what makes you happy too. “Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’” – Marianne Williamson.
Your job does not define you.
I was not a football player playing with football superstars. I was just a kid bringing other kids together to play a game. About 5 years ago I tried starting a different business. It was a consulting business consisting of one employee, me. It failed. Miserably. Not one customer paid. Looking back on that stressful year, many things went wrong. One lesson stands out the most though. I thought what would make me successful at business was the product/service offered by my business. The problem is that I am not much of a sales person when I do not have a team to sell. Take a guy that likes to naturally build teams, place him in a room all by himself, and tell him to sell. Failure was inevitable. My dad came to visit me at one of my lowest points. We sat at a restaurant table enjoying the breeze and wings while I explained to him all the great things I could do for organizations if they would just buy my service.
His response: “You're arrogant. You think that what you are good is something you are just okay at doing.”
Wow. Brutal. Knife to the heart. How could a father say that to a son? He continued though, reminding me of my childhood and the countless times I didn’t even have to try to bring people together, it just naturally happened. The specific task I knew how to perform so well in that business was not what defined me. I bet if you evaluate your job today too, what makes you a success is not the job itself. And, if you are unhappy at work, it might be that you are not doing what you naturally know how to do so well.
Pass it on.
The picture above was taken on the initial road trip to buy the businesses I own today. My daughter was three. I was thirty-three. We are two different people at two very different points in our life, but we have one thing in common. We were both designed to play a part in a story bigger than anything we could ever imagine. Our designs are great. No job title or salary will ever be greater. Now that I know that, it is my job to teach her the same thing, just like my dad taught me five years ago at a restaurant while I was failing at business. When you can pinpoint the natural thing you have always been good at in life, you will find happiness that can never be taken away from you. It is in you. I can confidently say that.
As a business owner, my job is clearer now than ever before. I bring people together to do cool things and have fun doing it. At Evans Electric and E2Green, we do more than just electricity and lighting. Every day each team member serves our customer through their unique designs and talents. And, we have fun doing it!