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« The Power of FRIENDSHIPS | Main | New Year's Resolutions? »

Lessons from helping a friend

Story first - then the lessons learned.

New Years Day morning I got a call from my friend, we'll call him "Dave" (not necessarily his real name) who needs my help now! He says - "Bring any chains or winches you have".

I live in the country on 5 acres, he lives on about 25 acres. I don't have any chains or winches - I'm not that kind of a man, but I am certainly interested in what's going on and I'm always willing to help my friends - so I bring me, my son and my "moral support".

He had rented a Bobcat® (shown here for those who don't know what they are) for the week to do some clearing on his land. As he was driving it on damp ground, the wheels went across the top of a flat rock on an incline and the Bobcat® started to slide down the slant of the path towards a 12' drop off.

We'll call it a CLIFF for the sake of brevity & drama!

As the Bobcat® started to slide, he hit the power to try to get it to roll forward, but it just kept sliding towards the cliff. So he stopped the wheels altogether and it stopped sliding - the back left wheel propped precariously about 6 inches from the edge of the cliff supported from sliding further by only a small 6" round, 2" high cedar stump on the edge.

He slowly turned off the Bobcat®, eased his foot off of the controls, and jumped out. If the Bobcat® was going off the cliff and into the creek below... he wasn't going with it.

This is the part of the predicament where I come in - Bobcat® perched on the edge of a small cliff and everyone being smart enough to know that we didn't want to be in the driver's seat if it slipped further and off of the cliff.

Our first step was to put chains on the back of the Bobcat®  and attach them to a tree so that it couldn't slide any further and off the cliff. Safety first, safety last, safety always - that's my rule.

Next we hooked up the front of the Bobcat® to a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton pick up truck about 50 feet away, and on semi solid, flat ground and tried to pull it out. This sounds easy enough, but to do this we had to turn on the Bobcat® , put it into neutral, raise the scoop, and jump off (we didn't want to be in the thing if it fell down the 12' cliff!).

We pulled with the truck and found that the ground was too wet for the truck to get enough traction to pull the 5000lb Bobcat® out of the ruts that it was in. The pick up was just sliding around on the slick ground with all 4 wheels spinning.

We stopped, took a look around and decided that in addition to pulling it with the truck, that Dave (a big, strong and very muscular guy) and me (an overweight, out of shape and not very strong guy) would push on the back of the Bobcat® while the truck pulled it. Dave's wife stood up the hill and signaled to us and the driver when to go since we couldn't see the truck from our position behind the Bobcat®. My 16 year old son, Peter, stood by with big, wedge shaped rocks to shove under the wheels anytime we gained any forward ground.

Signal. Engine revs. Wheels spin. Men push. I unknowingly shout words that would violate the TOS of my hosting company if I were to write them here. We gain 3 inches. Peter blocks the wheels. Truck is put into park. We are panting as we all gave 100% of our physical effort for that 3 inches. 100%.


Signal. Engine. Spin. Push. Scream. Blocks. Another 2 inches - we're almost out of the rut.

One more time.

Signal. Engine. Wheels grip. We push forward and keep going. I yell adult words again - this time in victory as we keep it rolling. The further we get out the of the rut, and the more speed (momentum) it picks up, the easier it is for us to keep it going. We don't stop until it's well out of harms way and in a position that Dave can get in it and drive it.

We give each other "high fives" all the way around. Throw the chains and "come along's" in the back of the pick up and drive back up from the back of Dave's property to his house with Dave and the Bobcat®  following us.

Success! Lesson learned about Bobcat's - and for me - metaphorically - about business.

Here's what I learned.

1. Don't give up the ground you've already gained. (chains) If you're exploring a new market, don't give up the markets that you are already in until the new market can support you completely. This goes for a day job too. Until you are able to completely support yourself and your family on what you make as an entertainer - keep those chains (a double metaphor in this case) on - make your living AND do your entertainment business until the time where it HAS to be one or the other.

2. Call in the Calvary. You're not alone in anything you do. You either know people who can assist you , or you can hire people to help you if you don't know the right people.

3. Use all available tools.  For business those tools are education (this website and other), your website, your coaches and mentors, your contact list, advertising, marketing, autoresponders, e-mail, newsletters, your Back of Room sales, high quality shows and more all add up to making you anentertainment beast!

4. Avoid ruts! It happens. We all get in mental and business ruts - places that we've dug ourselves into and that are hard to get out of. If an arrangement isn't working out for you or for your client, get out of it. If you find that something is holding you back, cut your ties, attack from a different angle - but do something. Continuing on the path that you're on and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. If you want something to change, YOU are going to have to do something to cause that change.

5. Use your momentum. Once you're rolling it's much easier to keep rolling along. In the entertainment business, if you're in it long enough, and are good at what you do, then business will just seem to materialize out of nowhere. It's not really nowhere. It's the groundwork that you've laid for 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years that lays the work at your feet, but entertainment careers seem to build momentum for the truly talented people. When working colleges I tell programming boards that "there is no one more likely to attend your next event than the people who are at THIS event" and the same is true for us as entertainers. Once someone has either booked you, or raised their hand and expressed interest in booking you - you know that person is a QUALIFIED buyer of your services and it's your job to stay in touch with them.

6. Relationships. I was there to help my friend - and he'd be there to help me too.   I'll be writing an entire blog entry soon on relationships. Almost all of the big "breaks" in my career came because of someone that I knew - so I'll my talk about relationships until the next post - until then, just be sure that you build strong business relationships as well as strong personal relationships.

Epilogue - and additional lessons: Dave is a manager at a GIANT company that everyone knows and most people use every day! He used this experience during a sales meeting to stress the importance of the individual in a large company. Sometimes when you work for a company with tens of thousands of employees and products that virtually everyone uses you think "what difference can I, one person, make?"

Our project of getting the Bobcat®  off of the cliff was a big project, handled by 5 people - each of them absolutely essential to the success of our project. Without Peter there to block the wheels, the Bobcat®  would have slipped back those precious few inches that we gained. Without Dave's brute force pushing the pickup truck would have never gotten enough traction. Without Dave's wife giving the signals we wouldn't have been able to coordinate our efforts with Dan who was driving the truck. Without me there, and yelling my "encouragement" as well as pushing with all my might, the effort of pushing may have even been too much for the "man-chine" (part man, part machine) that is Dave.

We all did our part and ended up with exactly the outcome that we wanted - the Bobcat®  safely extracted from the edge of the cliff. Without any one of us the task couldn't have happened. Same goes for YOU at a large company. You are necessary. You are a part of the company's success.

I look forward to your comments below. RSS feeds are now set up to the top left of this page to make it super easy to keep up with all of my blog posts.

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Reader Comments (1)

Dear CJ, It amazes me as well as inspires me how you find "positive" and "informative" relevance in normal situations. Granted the outcome could very well have been disastrous, you devised a plan of action and executed your plan into a highly successful outcome. That's the positive portion I spoke of. The informative portion is how you chose to share this experience rather than keep it as "just a good O'l camp fire story" The lessons and information learned, in this one short blog holds priceless value, to those willing to listen and more importantly those wanting POSITIVE CHANGE in their lives.

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Rangel

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