Business Development Newsletter #234: Freedom, Downsizing, Sprinklers

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Heading into the USA’s Independence Day holiday weekend, it’s a good time to consider freedom and what it means to you. Not in the governmental politics sense, but in your daily life. What are you free to do? What are you not free to do?
  • Early in my sales career my manager used to say, focus on what you can control because you don’t have agency over the rest. Then he’d add, if you come up with something other than attitude, effort, and actions try again.
  • Doing what you want, when you want. Earning the right to self-determined time should be our work/life goal.
  • If you aren’t feeling in control these days, I understand. Do your best and don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help if you need it. It’s a weird time.

Being Human – Downsizing plans

“Never discard anything without saying thank you and good-bye.” – Marie Kondo


The jobs report is picking up, but permanent job losses are happening too. It reminds me of one of the books I read. “The Firm: The story of McKinsey and its secret influence on American business.” Early in that book, James O. McKinsey takes over as CEO of Marshall Fields in Chicago, making hard decisions to get the retailer on firm financial footing. He noted, however, that while laying off 1,200 people, Marshall Fields “lost the hearts and minds of employees” for a time.

It’s that last sentence that I want to focus on right now. If you have to downsize, rightsize, or have a reduction in force, know that for every person you let go, even in pandemic, you risk losing the productivity of four. It’s the hidden cost of downsizing.

Pre-pandemic, everyone in your company had too much to do. That work will now be spread among your remaining staff, adding to their busy schedules. You’ve probably planned for that because it’s obvious. But what about the person who develops productivity issues arising from guilt because they weren’t fired? What about the confident employee that takes this time as a sign to shop her talents elsewhere? What about the person who gets scared and goes stops taking risks, like speaking up, to protect their job?


They all contribute to a loss of productivity beyond the removed employee. And all are the hidden costs of downsizing. You need to plan for them. McKinsey’s actions in the mid-1930’s set up Marshall Fields for decades of independence. Similar cost-cutting actions will shore up the long term prospects of your organization, but only if you’re planning for the hidden costs.

Good stuff.

Random stuff

Can – you – dig it?!?


I know, I tell too many tales about my adventures in handy-man-ness, but these days I’m not alone in pretending to be self-sufficient. Many of us are ticking off a decades old list of projects. My latest: the sprinkler system.

A few years ago I watched some talented landscapers fix a sprinkler line damaged while planting our peach tree. (Side note: when the tree was planted my bride said we’d have 50+ peaches in a few years. I scoffed. The tree was skinny, and we’ve had exactly one edible peach in the last two years. I made a comment and she said, just wait. Sure enough, there are easily 80 small fruits out there. I am humbled, yet again.) Anyway, I watched the landscapers, asked a few questions, thinking, “I could do that.”

Last fall I bought a bunch of new sprinkler heads for the front yard, fixed some, and it kind of worked. Confident, last weekend I went to work on the backyard. Eight holes, eight new sprinkler heads. Water everywhere. It’s amazing.

The only problem I had was with hole #7. It’s near one of the big trees and I met a little resistance under the grass. “Root,” I thought and stomped the shovel a little harder to break through. So as not to damage the sprinkler, I finished the hole by hand with my trowel and fingers. This is when I notice the resistance was not a root, but a newly severed orange wire. A single copper strand. Coming from who knows where, going to goodness knows where. It’s near the back of my yard, a mystery. I waited to hear a neighbor complain. Checked that night to see if lights were out. Nothing.

Mid-week, Wilson the ABC is yelling a lot and I see some guys working on a telephone pole opposite the cut wire side of the yard. I walk out, get the dog, and casually ask what they’re up to.

“Just upgrading your neighbor’s cable,” he said. “Do you need anything from us?”

“No,” I say. “Just making sure the dog’s not bothering you or anything.”

He takes a look at me and Wilson from his post on the ladder. I think he knows we’re up to something.


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