Lunch with Larry

Winning Meal18 months after starting work at Access Development (I’ve been here 10 years now) I was on a sales team that ran a month long March Madness style contest. Different categories were determined and brackets assigned with eight reps competing in various areas of sales, consulting and productivity. Our team had many talented people making the contest both fun and challenging. In the end I won the contest through hard work and honestly a lot of luck, and partially because I wanted it more. Some reps held back during the month unsure if they wanted to win the grand prize – lunch with Larry.

Who is Larry?

Larry Maxfield is the CEO and Founder of Access Development. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this story). In 1984 he almost headed off to study at MIT then decided to start a small company called Access Development in Salt Lake City, Utah. His vision, work and determination have built a strong company now 30 years later.

Back to the story: By nature I’m very competitive – that’s what drove me to win the contest. It wasn’t about the prize. Other reps were hesitant to win the contest because the idea of lunch with the CEO made them nervous.

When the day came for the lunch, Larry pulled up to the building in his FJ Cruiser and I jumped in the passenger seat. As we drove he said “Congratulations on winning. Remind me the details of the contest.” I explained the components and work that went into winning the month long competition. Larry unassumingly replied “Wow, you had to do all that and all you got out of it was lunch with me? That’s not a great prize” he laughed. “Plus, I’d go to lunch with you anytime if you just ask.”

We had a good meal that day while talking about family, hobbies, business and other topics. On the drive back to the office Larry told of an employee who shortly after coming to work at Access came to his office with a list of company problems. Larry said to me about that experience “Every company has lots of problems and challenges, ours is no difference. I know what the problems are. What I need are solutions. Solutions don’t come from me or upper management; solutions come from all the people in the trenches who do the hard work day after day. I welcome feedback, ideas and solutions from all the people who make this company great.”

Larry, the most powerful man in the company, demonstrated true leadership that day. He showed how real leadership and humility go hand-in-hand. He expressed sincere interest in being available to any employee anytime, whether for a casual lunch or to hear ideas on how to improve the company.

Of any contest, award or prize I’ve ever won, lunch with Larry was one of the most valuable!

Be a leader. Be humble. Be Sincere. Be you!

Photo courtesy of Ambros at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LIFE: A GRACEFUL SPRINT OR A GRIMY SCRAMBLE?

A couple weeks ago I took part in our company’s annual 5K run. It’s the 4th year I’ve participated which is quite impressive considering I don’t like to run – at all! This explains why I was completely content to walk most of the 3.1 miles.

Someone once tried to explain to me how running is a metaphor for life. Something about only really competing against yourself, pushing to continue when you just want to stop, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line. Not going to lie, the metaphor just didn’t sink in. Life isn’t a well groomed path where the only real obstacles are based on your own physical and mental toughness – at least not my life.

Dirty_Dash_muddyshoes_2014Last Saturday I had the chance to run another 5K with my wife and several friends. This was a different sort of race called The Dirty Dash. Participants can choose the 3.5 or 5.5 mile version (we wimped out and opted for the shorter run). The race began by running (by that I mean stumbling, slipping and sliding) up a muddy embankment with water spraying overhead. There were no smooth paths here; instead we encountered dusty, grimy and swamping trails. Obstacles are placed throughout the race including stacked hay bales to climb over, murky pools where you sink two feet deep into sucking sludge, slimy mud walls often only scalable with the help of someone on top, and a 200 foot waterslide where you get hosed down right before being jettisoned into another hazel colored pond of soot and soil.

It’s physically and mentally exhausting. It’s oddly therapeutic. It’s a blast!

No one gets through the race unscathed, scratches and scrapes are common. To say participants get dirty is an understatement. Mud cakes your shoes and clothes, weighs you down, and saps your energy with every step. It clumps in your hair, smudges your face, and obscures your vision. The occasional water break is a welcomed respite as much to quench your thirst as to be used to clean your face and hands.

Some of the obstacles feel impossible to conquer. You get through by laughing, or crying or grunting. You overcome the challenges with the help of your friends and teammates. Often you get a boost from a total stranger. In return, you turn back and lend a hand to the random guy or girl behind you as they struggle to make the climb.

You don’t always clear a hurdle on the first try, so you step back, take a deep breath and try again. Sometimes when you see an obstacle on the horizon you smile and say “bring it on!” Other times you see an obstacle and exasperatedly exclaim “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You leap over some hurdles with ease as others struggle to do the same. Then you find yourself clawing, fighting and crawling along while other people sail past.

Dirty_Dash_2014Finishing the race is great, but it’s not really the point. The joy comes in the journey, in the doing, in the accomplishing, in the overcoming. It comes through the experiences and comradery discovered along the way. It seems to me that life feels far less like a marathon sprint and far more like a dirty dash.

Running the Dirty Dash was on my 2014 Bucket List. Good job me!

5 Productive Tips

5_small__7310883864Today’s business environment is a continuous flow of high stress and high demands. Working professionals are constantly bombarded with new tasks, assignments, projects, and deadlines.

Staying busy is easy, staying productive is a challenge.

Here are 5 Tips to help you be more Productive Right Now!

  1. Stop reading articles about productivity and start doing something. Anything! Seriously, stop reading this article and go get something accomplished. Pick one thing you need to get done today and do it. Don’t stop to check email, don’t pay attention to app notifications, LinkedIn request, or Facebook messages, focus on the task at hand and give it 100% of your time and attention for at least 90 minutes. Ready… Go!
  2. Reread Tip #1 because obviously it didn’t sink in.
  3. Really, you’re still reading this!?
  4. I’m completely baffled that you’ve arrived at Tip #4. This shows a total disregard for Tip #1. Yes, this article could have just said “1 Tip to Productivity” but nobody reads an article with just a single tip. Nonetheless, the list really only has 1 tip, 2-5 are meaningless.
  5. And yet, you read on. My only conclusion is that your productivity is at such a high level that you’ve accomplished all you wanted to today and now are merely reading articles in search of a tidbit of wisdom or perhaps and splash of humor to brighten your day. In that case, hopefully these tips provided a dash of both.

That’s it. There is no more value in continuing to read this article. In fact, I’ve got a massive list of things to accomplish today as I’ve exhausted my knowledge of productivity. Therefore I will stop writing about working and actually get back to work. Oh, that would have been a good Tip #2 “Stop writing about Productivity and Start Doing”. Wish I’d have thought of that ten minutes ago.

 

photo via