Archive for February, 2007

On Holidays

I missed my annual Groundhog Day post, which saddens me, but honestly, I’m in the saddle from 8am to 9 or 10 every night the last couple weeks. I hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging. It has been very educational, however.

Today, though, I’m in my second day of meetings with Realtor committees for the Utah Association of Realtors and (today) Utah County Association, and since someone has an open wireless network nearby, I can take a second and check in.

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite holidays, mostly – okay, exclusively – because of the movie, which is a badly underrated classic. The transformation of a self-centered, unhappy, complaining jerk into a selfless, talented, giving, kind, and gracious individual is always heartwarming to me, as, of course, that’s the transformation we’re all trying to make as well. There are hundreds of lessons to be learned from the movie; I get a new one every year. This year was the realization that the improvements Phil makes are all spiritual. He loses any physical improvements (or degradations) every morning, and the only thing he gets to take with him, so to speak, are talents and knowledge, spiritual improvements. That’s exactly what will happen with us one day. I’m not a reincarnationist, but I firmly believe that we’re going to get to keep repeating this “day”, in some fashion, until we get it right.

The good news is, we can get it right, and we’re going to get all the time we need to become what we need to.

But let’s talk about St. Valentine’s Day, since that was yesterday. I’m not a fan. Jane Galt blogged about it yesterday and said essentially what I would say, so I’ll not repeat it except to say that the entire holiday feels very artificial to me, and has since I was about 15. For a teenager, any holiday that encourages romance is a good one, but as an adult, I really don’t like it much. I don’t think I require an excuse to do something nice for my wife, and it’s unlikely that whatever I choose to do on that day will feel natural and like a true expression of my affection for the greatest woman I know.

But I guess I ought not to get too hoity-toity about it. It’s a great holiday for my good friends over at Pioneer Party and Copy and Flowers on Main. My kids love it. I got a lovely valentine from my little Charlotte and a wonderful note from my lover girl that will stay taped to my steering wheel for a good while. Today a rather unusual and creative surprise will arrive at my door (one day late), and that’s likely to be met with joy and gladness. So I’ll get off my high horse and just let things be.

Lincoln’s birthday was Monday, and wasn’t celebrated by anyone, which is a shame. I’m reading Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin, and it’s excellent. I had way too little an appreciation of Lincoln, and am happy to remedy that sad situation.

And Monday is Presidents’ Day for both Lincoln and Washington, so I guess it’s fitting that I just finished reading 1776, by the brilliant David McCulloch. What amazing men were those that went before us.

We Now Return You to Our Regularly-Scheduled Program, Already in Progress

It’s been two weeks since I blogged, my longest hiatus in some time. I would like to tell the things that have happened to make that pause necessary, but somehow this isn’t the time. Perhaps it will dribble out over the next while.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table feeding Life cereal to my 10-month-old, Nathaniel, and it’s 6:30am. He’s been up for an hour, torturing his mother, who has gotten sick from lack of sleep and a massive onslaught of kid germs, so she’s back in bed and it’s my turn. This suits me, as I’ve been awake for half an hour thinking about the potential ramifications of a 67-point drop in the credit score of one of our clients. Maybe the deal will still work. Maybe not. Should I care that much?

Nevertheless, I do.

We’ll be making some changes here at the Group over the next few weeks. There will be new faces, old faces in new places; the Group is growing and changing, going after new markets and altering our approach to old ones. We’ve never done any advertising, and that might change this year. We’ve decided to double our business in 2007, which is going to require new methods and systems, a new image, and especially new ways of thinking and acting on the part of Chris Jones.

I’m not a good businessman. I never have been. My father before me was not, neither was his father. Businessmen have to care more about the success of the business than they do about the feelings of the people that work there, including themselves. That’s a hurdle I haven’t successfully jumped. I try to collaborate where I should be leading. I put off execution where I know feathers will get ruffled. I have come to realize this to be profoundly selfish – it does my employees, my partners and my friends no good to allow bad decisions to stand just because changing them will cause short-term headaches. The wound has to be washed out and bandaged. Hurts like crazy. Still has to be done, or the long-term effects will be greatly worse.

I have killed businesses that way, through inaction.

Not this one.

We’ve built something here, and I do mean WE have built something, everyone who has participated in the journey so far. The Group has become more than a mortgage operation, more than a place to find money for a house. We’ve become moderately successful. It’s time to drop the “moderately”.

We’ll be expanding our line of seminars to include credit and investment. We’ll be purchasing a building in Lehi to serve as our permanent base of operations. We’ll start showing up at trade shows and other events of that nature. Heck, we might even have a logo or something, although that seems pretty radical to me.

The Chris Jones Group has always been about having conversations with our clients, doing for them whatever it takes to help them reach their dreams. I was interviewing someone the other day and he asked me what I get out of this business, as in, why this instead of selling widgets or whatever? I hadn’t thought about it, at least not for some while. But my answer was this – I am a gardener by nature. I love to help things grow. I love to take bare soil, add water and sunshine and seeds and see living things come up. A gardener is a creator, and like all gardeners, I love to create beautiful things. With this business, through the creation of beautiful things for our clients, we also can create something beautiful and lasting for ourselves.

We’ve done pretty well. We will do better.

Watch this space, as they say, for more.