Content, Value and Free Agency

I’ve learned from Kevin Miller that value comes from content and reliability. I think this is especially important in any service company.

In residential cleaning company Tomlinson House Cleaning, LLC I concentrate on not just dusting a piece of furniture or built in shelf, but I want the customer to see without asking that I’ve gone the extra mile by dusting areas not seen to the eyes.

I don’t think it’s enough to give a customer a burger and fries. You need to give them a burger and fries with a smile and comment to enjoy them. We’ve got plenty of order takers, but what really separates the good from the great to borrow from Jim Collins are those who are deeply grateful for the customer who makes business possible.

Now you are going to get the occasional customer who cannot be pleased, but it’s a numbers game, so keep your head up as you cross paths with these people who didn’t get enough love from their family of origin. Draw boundaries when necessary, and when you don’t see the cliff before jumping don’t charge them a penny.

I would highly encourage you if you are looking to make the jump into self-employment, and you want to swing for the fence when doing so join Free Agent Academy. Kevin Miller is the son of Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, and 48 Days to Creative Income. Kevin has earned his stripes beyond being Dan’s son, and he most definitely stands strong with the incredible value and promise he holds for people like me. You just have to go get it from him! To find out more about my business acquaintance and brother in Christ go to Free Agent Uprising, and enter your information and the good folks over there will fire you up to me a Free Agent.

There’s nothing like it.

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We’re Gonna Celebrate and Have a Good Time

Here is one my favorite artist who works her ass off, and gives back to the people who make her hard work payoff.

Here is one my favorite artist who works her ass off, and gives back to the people who make her hard work payoff.

I have just enough in checking to cover payroll and other necessities this week, but I am on  Cloud 9 as if I have a million dollars in the bank.

It’s a new chapter in the life of Tomlinson House Cleaning, LLC, and I’d be a fool if I didn’t say that new chapter is across the board of my life. I’m working as hard and smart as I possibly can, and once more I’m staying one step ahead of that damn Murphy (Murphy’s Law). I’d better knock on wood!

I said it’s great to be a UT Vol, but it’s also great to be a Nashville DT (Daniel Tomlinson).

We do not celebrate the victories as much as we should, and it’s time to stop that. We grieve till we’re blue in the face, but I say we celebrate till we’re blue in the face.

What are you celebrating today!

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Business and Story

93607I’m reading a book called The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling by Annette Simmons. I got it in the business section of Rhino Booksellers on Granny White Pike.

It’s a remarkable book, and I highly recommend it. It leans toward the business side of things, but it’s transferable skill spreads into any industry. Any time you educate yourself on story you grow as a person, and I think you become much more authentic.

I’ve only been in business for myself for 7 years, but before that I worked for others even before I graduated from college. The skills I developed were important, but the things that stand out in my mind are the stories I remember people telling me. The experiences I had also stand out more than the lists I memorized, and the obstacles I’m overcoming present themselves not as bullet points, but as life transforming stories I will tell my grandkid(s).

The fact that Jesus taught with parables is proof that mankind learns the best through stories. God has been telling stories since Genesis, so even story predates the earthly time of Jesus Christ by thousands of years.

It seems to me that even though statistics, lists and percentages have their place the most remarkable thing about language isn’t that you see the letters e-l-e-p-h-a-n-t, rather when I say elephant you see a large mammal with a long trunk and possibly tusks. You might even see a line of elephants holding each others tails with their trunks.

I think the thing I like most about this book is not that she forces you to teach with stories, but she shows you how practical story creates progress in business and personal life.

Give it a read, and come back here to let me know what you think.

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Business and Relationship

200171399-001-300x295My business plan is evolving. I have a written one, and Emily Cervenak is the wonderful writer behind it. The plethora of conversations that go on in the life of a business aren’t chronicled, and not all hours worked are billable. When I read a WSJ article I often wonder at the information that is not shared even though the writers are quite thorough.

As we also adjust to balancing our time between all the things we are engaged with we hold ourselves accountable for the investments, not just financial, we make. Relationship always trumps financial for me, and if my conscience is telling me to do something regarding a relationship in business, family or friend then relationship wins out, not the “all mighty dollar.” I wish I could write that every person in the western world thought and acted out of this desire, but all I have to do is mention one company where the CEO destroyed thousands of lives because of their greed.

What I am trying to create here is nothing new. Residential cleaning has been around a long time. I tell my Team Members it’s not rocket science, but it’s an honest living that saved me from depression, and I’ve gotten to meet some incredible people as employees and customers.

I look forward to seeing how God continues to use us.

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A Team Approach

Page-1-of-1.jpgThis morning in our meeting there seemed to me a good amount of talk about what differentiates my company from the competition.

Our USP (Unique Selling Proposition) may not be that different, but here goes a little more horn tooting on behalf of Tomlinson House Cleaning, LLC.

We are a very personal residential cleaning company. When we leave a house we leave a handwritten note sometimes inviting clients to leave their own handwritten note of compliments or complaints.

What we are striving to achieve is very achievable, and we enjoy cleaning. I have had pastorates, parishioners,  jobs, bosses, classes and teachers I did not like. It makes the work you’re trying to do even harder, but when you come together we a group of people the mutually respect each other then accomplishing great things is almost easy.

Part of that is not that no one wants to receive accolades for their hard work, but that no one cares who gets the credit if the team wins.

How many times have we heard stories about businesses going belly up because the CEO was only in it for himself? I dare say too many times.

As a fellow Team Member with Tomlinson Cleaning I want my other Team Members to do well. When all of us are giving our best and treating each other with respect then powerful things can happen as this multiplies in Nashville businesses and across this great land we call home.

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Residential Cleaning

93606Residential cleaning is no longer just for the rich and famous. I clean for middle class Nashville as well as Music Row, Belle Meade and Brentwood.  I won’t write for other services, but I charge by the square foot, so whether where your lovely Nashville home is like mine at 1400 square feet or 14,000 square feet the price is the same per square foot. I also offer Nashville residents a discount depending on how often you use our service. Give us a call, shoot us an email, and see how affordable it can be.

 

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Delivering Excellence

93605One of my favorite followings on Twitter is @ValaAfshar. He is a well of rich wisdom. I want to take the time here today to share some “recent” favs.

Every great team has a: 1. storyteller 2. designer 3. builder 4. magician 5. stabilizer 6. fighter 7. explorer 8. dreamer 9. mentor 10. healer

I would call that particular Mr. Afshar tweet a meta-narrative description of an entire team. This next one resonates with me because for the first time I am in a position of leadership in a business context, and well frankly it hits me between the eyes.

Language of a good manager: 1. What do you think? 2. How can I help you? 4. I am proud of you. 5. You matter 6. I was wrong, I am sorry.

This next one is the one I’ve been trying to find for several days, but as you know being a biz owner, partner and dad interruptions happen all the time. I finally found it, and I’m sure Lorilee is glad I found it because she won’t have to listen to me mutter under my breath about “that tweet.” Without further ado. 

Future of work: 1. no resumes 2. no annual performance reviews 3. gamification widely adopted 4. full salary transparency 5. flatter hierarchies

I literally love this last list. Not only does it characterize Tomlinson House Cleaning, LLC, but I think it makes it a place my Team Members want to come and work. 

We even broke bread in Brentwood during lunch recently where I outlined some of these very things to some people I hope will come on board as we make Nashville cleaner. 

As some of you know I went to college to become a youth pastor. That didn’t pan out as expected, and after a serious of detours here I am as a residential cleaning service owner. The last youth ministry I actively worked with had an incredible youth pastor who impacts my thinking to this day. One of his mantras that I think is Holy Spirit inspired is that when no one cares who gets the credit imagine what we could accomplish. 

I think this leadership skill can transfer to my business. 

I never ask a Team Member to do something I won’t do myself. I don’t sit back in my swivel office chair with my legs up on the desk barking orders at my pack. If I see a Team Member isn’t going to have the time to do a particular task I will beat them to it with no other word about it. That’s the kind of team leader I am. We cover each other’s backs and even when a worst case scenario of having to let someone go, we still have each other’s backs. 

This is part of why I hand pick my Team Members. I don’t let someone else do the hiring. Each one of us has a story to tell, and we’ve all been through tough stuff, but I think the best companies are those who trust a greater Being in bringing the people together who need to be together. That happens personally and professionally. 

As you go about your work in the marketplace try not to wring your hands in desperation because work is difficult. Bear with it, but develop an exit plan into something better, and trust that God is working out the connections that need to happen. He will also expect you to partner with Him in the pursuit of better. He never rewards a slothful approach to life. Make it appropriate, but make it, ship it and get feedback on what you shipped. 

 

 

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Starting Over

govolsCongratulations to my University of Tennessee Volunteers for beating Utah State handily at Neyland on Sunday. We got to be there, and it was a ton of fun as always. There’s nothing like football time in Tennessee, and that drive from Nashville to Knoxville is gorgeous!

Thank you to my father-in-law David for taking us all over there, and I know as a very big Vol fan and alum, David was thrilled to see the Volunteers pull out a W.

It’s been a rough decade for the Volunteers, and in some ways their struggle has mirrored the tough seasons we all go through personally and professionally.

I continue to thank my friend Paul Fox, who works for UPS in Miami, and taught me that we can’t always hit a home run, and in fact many times we strike out multiple times.

We don’t give up whatever the circumstance, and even when it’s the darkest, and we have no hope we keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Life is hard, and no one is exempt, but when we resolve never to give up we have a power that cannot be bought.

Waiting for things we want is hard. Sickness is hard. Getting defeated is hard, but many times those times define who we are more than the wins. We can lose and suffer year after year, but we never resolve to keep losing. God put within us the desire for hope, and that drive is what keeps us going.

There is no point of no return, and even when we do reach rock bottom we climb back up.

We identify we the likes of Cinderella. We love movies like The Blind Side, Hoosiers and A League Of Their Own because they show us people who faced the music and won.

When we weren’t allowed to sit at the cool kids table in high school we made a point to remember how that rejection felt, and we sought to fight through it.

We’ve lost those we love. We’ve been fired, and we quit jobs we hated. We’ve worked 12 hour days to build a business, and we’ve sat next to friends near death in the hospital. We wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because this is what life is about. It’s about working hard, loving our families and spending time with them.

Life is about acknowledging our short-comings, moving on and creating a better present and future than the past.

This is what Tomlinson Cleaning is built on.

I hope it’s what you’re building on in your life and work.

Go Vols!

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In The Moment

imagesPowerful things happen when you live fully in the moment. I’ve had many jobs I hated, so I  wonder sometimes had I done that in the work I hated what could have happened.

I’m fond of saying hindsight is 20/20, and it is, but when you can intelligently look back at your failures you can learn a lot about fully embracing the moment.

I try to do too many things at once. I’m not telling you not to multi-task, but when I do I don’t perform well. Part of the reason is that as a proud member of the male gender it is in my DNA to focus on one thing. God made us that way. It makes me a good leader. I can get things done where others might still be talking about how to do it.

I love the fact that I am in a predominately female industry, and when Lorilee and I are batting ideas back and forth I love the connection we make in talking. My network group on Tuesday mornings is also very refreshing because I love the connections I make with Kimberly, Liz and Holly. My mom modeled for me an incredible sense of awe for what women are able to do. Carey and I still have the problems married people have, but I’d like to think I’m above average because of my industry and the deep respect I have for the training my mom gave me. She actually still gives me knowledge and wisdom. Her frugal ways remind of one the most affluent families in Nashville whose legendary “cheapness” is mentioned every week. Dave Ramsey would be proud. Actually, this family is on first name basis with Ramsey. Birds of a feather flock together.

Who you associate with in business says a tremendous amount about who you are. Sure, there are bridges that burn, and that’s just business, it’s not personal, but as we dust off the dust of failure or personality issues then we can move on to bigger and better things.

I think we do this by engaging fully in the moment.

I am doing this this weekend by unplugging from the grid. No Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Website, Pinterest or Instagram.

It’s hard, and especially when that phone is vibrating to let you know that the latest tweet has come through.

Give it a try and see if it doesn’t make a difference. I guarantee it will.

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Mercy

The Well is a perfect example of this as well. Every cup of coffee they sell goes toward building water wells in third world nations.

The Well is a perfect example of this as well. Every cup of coffee they sell goes toward building water wells in third world nations.

I want more comments than I’m getting here on my biz blog. I have the same problem on my other blog, but since I’ve been doing that one a whole lot longer, of course I get more comments than I do here.

I got a tweet yesterday that asked me what some of my best qualities are. I replied with candid, determined and second chance. The asker (@billyepperhart) asked me to clarify second chance. I tweeted merciful because of mercy.

That doesn’t sound like a good competitive business attribute, but I would argue differently. Being merciful means you will be shown mercy when you fail. My friend Keri is good at this. We have a heart and compassion for people who have reached rock bottom, and they can only climb out if we show them mercy. If you haven’t watch Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt in Pay It Forward. I think this movie is a perfect example of that. No doubt, there are real life stories out there that you have lived that have shown this care and concern for others who have epic failures in their lives.

I guess there’s a fine line between empowering someone in their addiction and behavior versus empowering them with mercy, but as we walk in a power that is greater than ourselves let’s ask ourselves what others did for us when we were at rock bottom.

I’ll start. I let people over in traffic when it’s safe to do so.

What do you do to exercise mercy at home, church and in the marketplace? Go.

 

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