My local team (Rangers) is on a slide lately, and it’s not about offense, but the long time lament of many in North Texas. It’s pitching – or lack thereof.
The season started great because the starting pitchers were going deep in games and the relievers were outstanding. That’s not the story over the last 20 games where the Rangers are playing sub .500 ball, but “that’s the way baseball go,” to quote Ranger’s manager Ron Washington. Here’s hoping that the Maddox boys can find a way to get into their young pitcher’s minds and get them re-focused.
Which brings me back to business. In your company are you coaching, or are you telling? If there is anything we have discovered about the Rangers the past few years is that they have played as a team – and give Washington kudos on that. He may not have Bobby V’s articulation, but he understands his players and knows how to give them the right kind of leadership. More importantly he understands the fundamentals of the game. As Wash says, “we take what the game gives us.” If the team needs to go yard, that’s their play, and sometimes it’s small ball that gets the desired results.
So, what are you doing to lead your team? It’s no longer about doing one thing well – but doing many things well. As the two-time AL champions have demonstrated, it’s defense, pitching, and hitting. In the old days, it was always about hitting – but the wins never really came. So, look at your team and find the ways to “take what the game gives you.”
The printing community in Central Texas lost two special people in May. Faye Edwards passed away from a prolonged bout with cancer several weeks ago, and San Antonio lost a real champion of print this past week when Bill Huddleston succumbed from the same disease.
Faye and Barkley Edwards were the long-time owners of Capital Printing in Austin and were extremely active in our Association. Faye had served as a local chapter president and a member of the board of directors. She was a gracious lady who was known for her heart of gold as well as her ability to handle tough business situations; thus the moniker “The Iron Duke” which she proudly wore. At a remembrance service held earlier in the month, it was obvious that she was well-loved by many in Austin, and her passion for the Longhorns was unsurpassed.
Bill Huddleston was the executive secretary for the Printing Industries of San Antonio, a chapter of PIA Texas, the predecessor of today’s PIA MidAmerica. He was one of the “greatest generation” having served in the US Army during WWII and was in three major battle campaigns as a member of Patton’s 3rd Army. Subsequently he joined the Civil Service with the Army Corp of Engineers and was also a member of the Texas State Guard ultimately reaching the rank of Brigadier General.
The “General” as I used to call him joined PIA as a “part-time” employee after he retired from the Civil Service. That was in 1986 if I recall correctly. He quickly became the champion of the printing industry and was constantly involved with shepherding “the printer’s outfit” as he referred to the San Antonio chapter. He was always a source of energy and had a true “can do” attitude. Any visiting dignitary or speaker always got a tour and a history lesson about the Alamo City from Bill. Although he “fully” retired in the late 1990’s from PIA MidAmerica, he still served on several graphic arts committees and was very involved with the high school programs teaching printing until 2010.
Although both Faye and Bill will be missed, their legacy and commitment to the industry, their community, and their families will always live on. Vaya con Dios amigos.
Everyone is talking about social media. John Foley, the guru of social media, has been on the bandwagon for years – and John understands its power better than many. But the question remains is it really right for your business?
Just because you create a Facebook page or have a Twitter account doesn’t automatically make you “cool” in your customer’s eyes. The question remains, why are you doing it? In a conversation I had the other night with marketing consultant Ryan Sauers, it’s clear that many in our industry are just following along because the guy down the street is doing it. It reminds me of the days when the first six color 40” was installed in town. All of a sudden everyone had to have one – regardless of whether it brought value or not to their customers – or made financial sense for their company.
One has to remember that Social Media is a channel of communication – it’s a mean to an end. As Sauers suggested, it’s crucial for management to develop a solid marketing plan (and remember sales is not marketing) and determine if Social Media should be part of it (it’s just one of many channels). If Social Media is to be part of the channel, get some help (contact your local trade association). Just because your estimator or CSR loves to use Twitter or Facebook, doesn’t mean they’re the person to execute your SM strategy.
OK, we’re upset by the latest pronouncements from Washington D.C. Our customers have less loyalty. Our employees are overworked and getting stressed. We don’t like click charges and having the digital equipment guy knowing everyone by first name. And we no longer just have the guy across the street competing with us. Get over it. It’s time to get moving.
Too many companies are waiting to see if November’s election is going to solve their problems, or if Benny Landa has developed the silver bullet. The result is a bunch of folks looking like the proverbial deer in the middle of I-35. So, let them stay in the road and become a buzzard’s next meal, while you scamper across and find that rich field of corn. In today’s market, the companies who are strategically planning their moves – and moving – rather than waiting around are going to be the winners.
Here’s a few ideas to kick around with your management team. What is it we do well? What is our company’s weaknesses? What’s the message we want to send to our customers and potential customers? How do we integrate technology (mobile, social media, websites) to help us spread the message? How do we train our sales/support teams to think of ourselves as solution providers rather than job shop order takers. Once you’ve done this, put a plan together and stick to it! Oh, and you can’t use the phrases service, quality or price. The majority of buyers have heard that before, and you become just another black cat yowling in the alley at midnight.
So, what are you waiting for? Get over it and get out there and kick some butt.
This week EPA administrator for Region 6, Al Armendariz, resigned. For many in the regulated community, seeing Mr. Armendariz leave is good news. Although that is not the opinion of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in Texas, who saw Armendariz as a savior. “He brought a breath of fresh air — literally and figuratively — to Texas in his vigorous enforcement of the federal Clean Air Act,” was a comment made by Ken Kramer, executive director of the Sierra Club.
Needless to say, those of us on the other side of the fence saw an individual who was extremely aggressive in attempting to interpret regulations which often did not have solid science behind them and often created solutions which were detrimental to the state’s economy and everyone involved with regulations – including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Armendariz grew up in El Paso in neighborhoods which were environmentally unprotected; thus his passion for the environment. And if you’ve seen those neighborhoods (or parts of West Dallas), you can understand his passion. Yet, as an appointed official he should have been finding ways to use that passion to make meaningful changes. Issuing statements such as, “Find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and make examples of them,” or making an analogy to how Romans once conquered villages, “They’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them,” is not a way to build bridges.
Personally, I don’t want to see an individual who is in the back pocket of the regulated community. That is not good for us, or our children. I hope that Mr. Armendariz’s replacement will have the same passion for the environment, but be willing to find ways to have the regulated community participate in improving the environment. Crucifixion is not an option.