Last month I described how Dallas, Texas remodeler Alex Dahlgren identified himself and what he does as a profession, much as a lawyer or accountant might identify what they do. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to Murray from Toronto.
Recently my wife and I had the pleasure and opportunity to take a 15-day cruise to Hawaii. The balmy nights at sea and the endless cuisine were, well, in a word, fantastic, but that’s not what ultimately made the trip so very special for me. While out on our balcony taking in an evening sunset, we met our neighbors and joined them for dinner that evening. The couple were retired and from Toronto. As it turned out, Murray had been a custom builder during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. He was a veritable wealth of experience and knowledge. Suffice to say we spent many hours and dinners over the ensuing days discussing the business and “process” of building. I learned many things from listening to this gentleman as he told me everything about his first custom home to how his company marketed to their past customers. He also allowed me to use him as a sounding board about some new ideas and concepts I would like to try. Our Pacific crossing came to an end much too quickly. I can’t express my good fortune at spending my vacation sharing my “passion” with someone that understood.
It was obvious Murray received great joy sharing the insights he had gained during his 30 years in the industry. He explained, in detail, those practices and procedures he developed pretty much on his own, that the industry now takes for granted. I was initially surprised at his willingness to share so much with me. I thought perhaps he detested shuffleboard or deck tennis, or it was probably because we were virtual prisoners on a motorized steel log in the middle of an ocean. That turned out to not be the case. He was genuinely enjoying our interaction. Then I reflected on the opportunities where I’ve been in the mentor position. I found, and still find, these interactions to be nothing short of wonderful. I also find, as I’m sure Murray did, that these interactions also solidify my thoughts and ideas.
There is a multitude of experienced, professionals out there who are perfectly willing to share all that they know with anyone who is willing to listen. I share a friendship in common with an individual in Ann Arbor, Mich. by the name of Paul LaRoe. Our mutual friend says of him, “He’s a walking text book about the industry. He’d help the new kid just opening up his business even if the kid were going to compete with him head to head. He knows that what’s good for even the newest and smallest of us is good for the industry as a whole”
Over the miles that separate us, Murray and I remain friends. I know with surety I can call him and engage his advice when, and as often I might have the need. As I mentioned in my last column, the terms “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” come to mind when I have experiences like these. I implore you to take the time to mentor your competition, and drink from the cup of experience when it’s offered. Know that every time each of us helps another toward the attainable goal of “professionalism,” our place in the hearts and minds of our current and future clients just gets better and better.
“We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment, it is the moment that lends significance to things.” ? The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel.