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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Biggest Blogging News Ever

After making you wait for 15 days, I will finally unveil my big announcement.

August 24th, 2004 was my first post on Grin and Barrett. I was naive and unsure about where my blogging journey would take me, but when I started it was with the intention of becoming a better writer and thought what better way than to write something as often as possible to accomplish that goal.

At some point I switched from self improvement, via telling stories about my personal life, to telling people about my work, which at the time was a pastor. Then when my job switched to small business, I switched my writing to the topic business issues. I absolutely love business, it is what I do every day and I still like spending my personal time writing about it. But, unfortunately the base readership of my blog enjoys reading personal stories more than business rhetoric, so for the last 2 years I've been torn between writing about what I love and alienating my readership.

Unable to figure out the balance between readership and material, and having more than accomplished my "become a better writer" goal, over 572 posts in 3 years, 4 months and 10 days, this my 573rd post will be my last.

Throughout my journey, I've had 25,521 visits with November 2007 being my biggest month ever at 1,518 visits according to my Sitemeter statistics. I've had readers from many countries across 6 continents (I never could find a reader in Antarctica). You left me 1,164 comments, which to the dismay of my wife was a continual source of self esteem, or lack there of as the case may be.

As a result of my writing, I received email from many people. Some were close friends, some became good friends and one was the District Attorney of Arizona as a result of a story I blogged about. A quick word of caution, be careful that the people you are blogging about aren't wanted by multiple states and by federal agencies. I wasn't aware, and perhaps you aren't either, that a common way to conduct an investigation is by doing a Google search and reading blogs. My apologies to the DA's office, I quickly read, deleted and never responded to your email. Avoidance seemed to be the best prudence at that time.

A quick side note of typical Grin and Barrett humor. After more than a year of unsuccessful persuasion that I should have my own domain name for my blog, my wife did the unsuspected by visiting Go Daddy to buy me my very own domain name as a Christmas present this year. What would have been the best gift ever, quickly became what she described as "a lame gift" when I told her the week before Christmas that after about a month of deep and serious contemplation I was going to quit blogging.

Anyone want to buy a domain name cheap?
Probably not.
What might have been.

I'll still be involved in the blogosphere as the occasional commenter, and may even resurface one day as a writer. For Barrett family updates, you'll have to rely on my lovely wife, the Rocky Mountain Mom, Deann. But from me, for now, it's farewell.

Thanks for reading and an even bigger thanks for commenting.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas: A Video Christmas Card

Last year I got this great idea to send out a Christmas video card to my friends. So after a few days of shooting and a few more of editing, here is our first Christmas Video Card.

You should already have this delivered to your inbox, but just in case I missed you, I thought I'd post it here as well.

Merry Christmas to all from the Barretts!

Hope you enjoyed it. The singing wasn't my idea, but I made way for a greater creative genius. You know me... All about the team effort.

Also, closer to the first of the year, I've got some BIG news about blogging here at Grin and Barrett. (My attempt at a teaser)


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Elf Yourself

Christmas is arriving soon, my posts lately haven't been very humorous, and it's almost the weekend. So, if you're looking for something funny, check out this Barrett Christmas dance routine. Brought to you by Office Max, we "Elfed Ourselves"
If you like, you can Elf Yourself too!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Walking the Halls

Today was the last day of one of the classes I'm teaching. During the time where the students fill out the teacher evaluation forms, I left the room and walked the halls a little. While meandering around, I overheard this girl talking on her cell phone make the following statement.

"...that's when I changed my major to Sociology. Then my advisor said I was too smart for that and I should switch to Psychology..."

To the normal person, that might sound like typical girl talk, or even a girl explaining to her parents why she has switched majors twice this semester. However, to me I took it as a great opportunity to make myself feel better about myself.

You see, my wife, who is way smarter than I ever could be and had a much higher GPA than I ever dreamed of, majored in Sociology. I, on the other hand, majored in Psychology (business too). So, I now have definitive proof that the reason my GPA wasn't as good as my wife's wasn't because she was smarter than I was, but rather because my major was a much harder major. Ahhh - my self-esteem has risen 2% thanks to some ditsy girl in the hallway.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kiss and Make-Up

I just finished two books. Well actually one and a half. Kiss and Make-Up, the one I finished, is one of my new favorite biographical accounts. Gene Simmons of rock legends KISS , is best known for breathing fire and spitting blood on stage. But what I found fascinating were the typical stereo types of a hard rocker being a drugged, drunk ignorant fool, were quickly dispelled when I began to realize that Gene has not only never drank, smoked or done drugs, well except for the time he ate a brownie that he didn't know was a "special" brownie, but he is also a very intelligent business person. According to his account, he was one of the driving forces behind the branding (though it wasn't called branding back then) that KISS became known for. The book was a little rough in content at times, so be prepared for that. Nothing vulgar, but I wouldn't read it to my kids a bed time story either.

Though I haven't been a big fan of it for some time, I'm actually planning on tuning in to Season 7 of the Apprentice, the celebrity edition because Gene Simmons will be one of the cast members. I'm excited to watch, because I'm curious to find out if he's a good businessman in his own mind, or if he's good enough to stand up to Donald.

The half a book I read was Kingdomality. Looked interesting on the cover. The overview said something to the effect of "new way to manage your business" so I thought why not?

The reality was it was the same management dribble that consultants have been peddling since the late 90's when First Break all the Rules came out. It took the same tired concept of figuring out the personalities of your staff, determining what their strengths are and then what yours are and labeling them all so you know who should be doing what job withing your organization. Only, it would have been too close to plagiarism of about a hundred other books, so they gave everyone cute little names like White Knight, Black Knight, Minstrel, etc. Essentially what the whole Otter, Golden Retriever, Choleric, Sanguine, fad did to Meyers Briggs. Cute names, but cute names only go so far.

I admit I only made it about half way through before yawning and returning the book to the library, but I'm sure I can guess at the ending. The book told in story form, also a rip off from the "Who Moved My Cheese" format probably sounded something like, "The now much wiser king returned to his kingdom to improve things with his much better understanding of how to be a good manager of people. Blah, Blah, Blah."

My ratings:
Kiss and Make-Up - 4 stars
Kingdomality - the 1 and 1/2 stars


Thursday, November 29, 2007

10 Perfectly Good Reasons to NOT Grow Your Business (Part 2)

Continuing on with part two of reasons not to grow your business; reasons 6-10:

  1. You don't want to risk going through the growth stage again - Once upon a time, when you were a younger person, you had time to make and lose a fortune. However, if you now find yourself approaching retirement or making plans that require financial security, growing your business may not be such a great idea. Though the risk is less than when you started your business, there is still a risk that you may fail, and thereby lose everything you've worked to obtain so far. Just like your investment strategy with stocks and bonds, if you don't need the money for years, then you put your money in high-growth, high-risk investments. But if you need the money sooner than later, you begin to invest in bonds, T-Bills and other less risky ventures so you can be sure your money is still there when you need it. Your business is your investment, don't get risky with it if you need your money soon.

  2. You have personal health issues (you're not as young as you once were) - Added stress impairs the body's immune system. So, it makes perfect sense that if you are having personal health issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, ulcers, depression or one of hundreds of other issues, adding additional stress to your life is going to limit your body's ability to fend off additional problems. Use some common sense before adding what might be unnecessary stress to your life. Having a heart attack, sitting behind your desk while facing the pressures of growth is no way to die.

  3. Your family needs you more - Allow me to climb on my soapbox... America today is more concerned with the balance of their bank account than they are with the balance in their life. Workaholics, in part, work so much because they feel that if they provide financially for their family, they will be viewed as a better spouse, father or mother. In reality, your kids and your spouse aren't going to stand by your hospital bed while you breathe your last few breaths and say, "Gee I'm so glad you put in all those 80 hour weeks while you were growing your business because I really value the brand name clothes you bought me more than I would have ever valued spending time with you. Look, I brought those really cool shoes you got me when you were feeling guilty about missing my third grade school play to show you I still have them." - Okay enough said.

  4. You like status quo - If you're happy with how things are going, why mess up what's not broke? Some half-cocked business consultant may try telling you that "water that isn't flowing is stagnant and stagnant water stinks" To that I say, "Whatever!" Our culture is against status quo, and screams that there must always be a better way, a more efficient way, a bigger way of doing things. Sometimes the answer is simply, "I just like it the way it is." and that's okay.

  5. You haven't reached optimal efficiency with your current size - If you're set and determined to grow your business and the previous nine reasons didn't fit you, then please make sure you are currently running your business at its optimal efficiency. As your business begins to grow, you will be forced to let go of the little details and delegate to someone else those responsibilities. However, if there is waste, mistakes and bumps in the road that are causing even the smallest level of problems in your business now, growth isn't going to fix this. It's going to magnify it. Your 4% inaccuracy problem now is going to grow to 6% or 8% while you grow because you are no longer there to monitor everything that happens. Before you start the growth, prepare for it and tighten things up.

Understand a few things here, I am not saying you should never try to grow your business, nor am I saying you will fail if you try. I am giving strong caution to someone who feels the need to grow your business despite qualifying for one of these reasons.

Perhaps Alice Walker sums up my final thoughts best when she said, "No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow."


Monday, November 26, 2007

10 Perfectly Good Reasons to NOT Grow Your Business (Part 1)

I continually hear people talk about how to grow your business. 7 steps to successful growth or 15 reasons why your business isn't growing. I have nothing wrong with most of what these people say, accept the assumption behind what they are saying is that everyone should want to grow their business.

The mentality behind the notion that growing your business is the only acceptable way of life is very American. We super size everything, we grow bigger cattle and corn with more ears on the stalk, and we push ourselves to do everything we do in some kind of bigger than life Americanized way. It is assumed that it is our patriotic duty to make everything bigger.

I've had several conversations with everyone from business owners to pastors of churches about growth. While I might get run out of town by my business coaching friends, I'm serious when I say "Not everyone should grow their business".

So, here is my rebuttal to those other lists. My 10 Perfectly Good Reasons to NOT Grow Your Business

  1. You don't want to spend the time required - 12 years ago last month I ran the Omaha marathon. I trained 6 months solid for it and ran countless miles to prepare. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Do I ever want to do it again? Absolutely not! I don't have the time, nor am I willing to make the time to train for another one. Similarly, it took a lot of blood sweat and tears to get your business going. There's nothing wrong with saying I'd rather not go through that again. If you have priorities that are more important than growing your business, then you are wrong to neglect them and grow your business anyway. There are only so many hours in a day. Spending them foolishly, out of priority, is not the way to live.

  2. You don't have the resources available to grow - Yes, we're the richest nation in the world and yes, our government still helps small business owners get started with some wonderful loan programs, but money really doesn't grow on trees... I just checked. If you don't have the money, people, space, etc to effectively grow your business, don't start the growth with some half hearted and half funded attempt. Underfunding is one of the main reasons that start up businesses fail. The same is true for business growth failures. Growing your business without the resources needed will guarantee your failure.

  3. You like the size of your small staff - How many times have you heard the phrase "The next Bill Gates"? It's what every American dreams of isn't it? We are all supposed to want to be Billionaire Bill. But there is nothing wrong with admitting that you like to drive into your office and seeing the same 5 to 10 employees that you know well. You even attend their kid's soccer games on the weekends and vacation together in the summer. Maybe in the beginning, Bill Gates went to a few soccer games, but at this point I doubt he knows more than 10% of his employees by name, much less knows their kid's name. If you like your small staff, you don't have to give it up. Just don't grow your business.

  4. You're happy with your current financial situation - I know it's hard to believe, but there might actually be someone out there that can honestly say, "I really don't need to make any more money. Actually, I'm quite happy with my current income and have the things I want." It doesn't make exciting news, so we hear more about the athlete renegotiating their contract or the CEO's massive pay raise, than we do the ones saying I don't need more money, let the rookie have it. But, somewhere out there I believe it exists.

  5. You don't have an ego - This is what most people fall under. They want to grow their business because they have some kind of self worth wrapped up in the size of their business. "Well Johnathon at the country club has 40 employees... I want 40 employees". Unfortunately, this is by far the worst reason to grow your business, but perhaps the most common reason. If you are able to get over yourself you may find the desire to grow your business goes away. If not, they now make a little blue pill that may help with your self esteem issues.

Part 2 (reasons 6-10) will be tomorrow.