Business Lessons I Learned Caddying for my Grandfather

When I was young, I used to get up very early in the morning to caddy for my Grandfather.    We used to head down to City Park in New Orleans, meet up with some of his friends, and I would get to ride in his cart and hand him whatever club he asked for.

And, my Grandfather was an EXCELLENT golfer. When he was much younger, he had been invited to be a Pro Golfer; but he chose to work in the Post Office  (he eventually had 8 children, and golfers did not quite make the money in those days that they do now.  🙂 ). In his 60’s, he could shoot in the 60’s or low 70’s.  I would watch him hit straight drives, chip in shots from bunkers, and make long putts.

So…I thought golfing was easy.  All I had to do was watch what he did, and then imitate it.   How hard can it be?

Well, when I played my first round of golf, I did score an 81..ON THE FRONT NINE.  That’s only because I got to stop at 9 shots for each hole.

And that’s where we get Lesson #1: Just because someone else makes it look simple; does not mean you can just pick it by “role modeling.”   Yet, in many businesses, both the manager and the managed tend to believe that skills are learned by osmosis.  “Just watch how I do it and learn.”  All this results in is frustration when the team member does not perform as well as expected:  the manager thinks the team member is not paying attention, unmotivated, or incompetent; while the team member feels like the manager is unrealistic.

Have YOU ever wondered why your team does not work like you think they should?  Have you ever said, “My team is not motivated” or “My boss does not listen to me”?   Maybe it is because your training process is not well structured and systematic.  There is art AND science to team building (which is why the smartest companies PAY people to help them do it right).

Back to my caddying…

I always wanted to drive my Grandfather’s cart.  After all, what could be more fun than driving a slow, electric-powered vehicle on a pebbly path?

Finally, after I had asked for months, my Grandfather gave me a chance.  And……..the first time he let me have the controls, I drove it into the mud and we had to push it out.

So comes Lesson #2:  Pay attention to where you are going.  So many people in business are just trying to go as fast as they can; but are not watching where they are going.    They have no goal, but believe that all they need to do is “press the accelerator” of marketing and everything will turn out OK.  However, in reality, they do not have an idea of where they want to go; and so get “stuck.”     Many of my clients are very smart business people who have built million dollar businesses; but have gotten stuck.  When I ask them their goals, even for the current year, many lack a specific target as well as any specific plan to move forward.

Once we help them set goals, and begin following specific success paths, the results we see are rapid and extraordinary.   It’s like their wheels were turning; but they just needed me to help them push the cart out of the mud.

As for me, once I got stuck; it was a lot harder for me to get to drive the cart again.

Which leads me to Lesson #3:  When people (your customers OR your employees) put their trust in you; it is essential that you deliver.  It took me months to get the opportunity to drive the cart, and about 30 seconds to break trust.  It’s not like my grandfather stopped loving me.  But, all he had to go on were the results I produced.  That’s like many of your businesses.  You market, you follow-up, you negotiate, and you finally get that client.  But, without a plan, flawless operational execution, and a crystal clear customer satisfaction strategy; all of your efforts can go for nothing.  They may still LIKE you; but will not do business with you easily because you have broken their trust.

Worse yet, since unhappy customers spread the word these days so easily with online reviews and social media; great marketing with poor execution can do incredible damage to the health of your business.

Unfortunately, most business owners spend a lot of effort and dollars on marketing; but very little on team training and development, strategic planning, or execution process development.     Really great companies – those that survive recessions, and provide lasting benefits for their owners, their communities, their customers, and their employees – are those who realize the importance of doing these things.

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Are you trying to just “role model” success, and driving your business “cart” without a plan?  Get your business unstuck, or avoid the “mud” in the first place.   Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

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