Job Satisfaction

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Do You Have the Heart For It?

Do you have the heart for it?If you were an artist, which would you choose: To create your own unique and inspired works of art (even if it meant scratching a meager living) or bring others’ inspiration to life as a well-paid, commissioned painter? In world of business, each of us makes this choice. The real question is whether you know it or not.

In high school, I was perfectly prepared to launch into a career as a starving artist. I could weave wonderfully twisted stories through oil pastels and water colors, but sadly discovered the business-side of “starving” wasn’t quite as glamourous as I’d expected. While some aspiring young artists make it in the big city, I had a change of heart. I knew it would be a long road to success (if at all), and most artists who could afford to put food on the table were commissioned. In other words, I’d have to paint others dreams to make a decent living.

While youthfully noble, I quickly inventoried my other skills and determined I would fair better in the world of technology — and actually enjoy it. So I pursued another of my goals in tandem and joined the United States Marine Corps. I became expert at  two things:

  1. Expert Rifleman: I was an expert marksman with an M-16 assault rifle, and could put a bullet in a man-size target 500 yards away in a 30 knot wind 9 out of 10 times. (Thankfully, I never had to use this skill in real life).
  2. Expert Technologist: I became expert with all manner of computer technologies, and got to work in some of the most challenging technology environments on the planet. (Thankfully, I got to use this skill a lot in real life).

Over the years, I’ve made my trade as a commissioned painter of sorts, painting beautifully intricate designs with technology for employers and clients alike. I’m especially proud of some of the things I’ve accomplished individually and as part of a larger team. My heart is always beating, leading me to new adventures.

Are You Lost?

I recently heard a speaker say, “The surest way to attract others is with a smile. Why? Because deep down, that lets others know you are passionate about what you do!”

Neither being your own artist nor being a commissioned painter is wrong. But as I look around, I see a world filled with people who want to be artists but are living off of the commission. They are desperately seeking fulfillment in a mismatched existence, falsely living the life of the other sapping their passion and joy. This ultimately leaves them impotent and dissatisfied.

Which choice have you made? Do you have the heart for it?

Are You the Boss?

Every one of your team members wants do good work. Most may not think of themselves as artists or commissioned painters, but that won’t stop you from seeing them this way. Take some time to look at yourself and your team. Seek out your hidden artists who want to be set free to create beautiful things for you and your customers. You may find that you’ve chained some too tightly, while others have unwittingly allowed themselves to become chained as a commissioned painter.

It takes a confident leader to recognize the signs, but it takes a true visionary to help others see the “right choice” in themselves. Do you have the heart for it?


The Owner and the Manager: A Lesson in Perspective.

500428557_548a2b06df I decided I wanted to upgrade the tiny desk in our upstairs bedroom in early January, so my wife and I went shopping. We visited many different furniture stores trying to find a desk that was a good value and that fit our particular style.

After many unfruitful visits, we decided to try a store specializing in all wood furniture that could be custom stained to your liking. I quickly landed on a desk I was comfortable with, and my wife decided to add a bed frame to go in the room as well, for our scattered guests that stay over from time to time.

We were informed the desk was in high demand, and combined with the staining process would push us out 3-4 weeks for delivery. We accepted the arrangement, and were very pleased with our purchase after it arrived.

I had not been using the desk more than about two weeks when I came into the home office / bedroom a few nights ago to find the desktop had simply split open – creating large crack about a foot long that could not be repaired.

The Owner:

The next day I called the store, and was warmly greeted by the owner of the store. He was a wonderful man, that you could tell was smiling on the other end of the phone. He explained it might take a little time due to the high demand of the desk causing stocking shortages, but he would most certainly take care of us.

Extremely pleased at the service I was receiving, I inquired if he would be willing to allow us to extend a sizeable discount offer for my wife who had her eye on a new entertainment center. With everyone so skittish about the economy, I figured any sale was better than now sale at all.

He gladly agreed and asked that I call back and speak with his store manager to arrange everything.

The Manager:

Two days later, I called the store manager to discuss our arrangements, and was instantly hit with a brick wall of almost frustration. I was curtly informed that the desk was on backorder and that she would call me when the desk came in. I politely asked how long she expected the delay to be, and she replied that if she did not call me in three to four weeks to call her back.

Really? Curious. I decided to sidestep this.

Next, I informed her that I had spoken with the owner and he had indicated I could extend the discount for a few weeks. She immediately became defensive and informed me the offer expired yesterday – BUT, if the owner had extended it for me, she would simply have to live with it.

She asked if there was anyway I could come in Saturday to purchase the piece – and I was, quite frankly, a little taken aback.

Let me get this straight, I thought to myself, “You won’t repair my desk for three or four weeks (at least) which I already paid for and you want me to rearrange my schedule to buy something from else from you?”

Sales 101:

I have been given to believe that in sales customers will buy what they feel they need, and will generally buy from sources they trust as opposed to sources they do not.

  1. My need to purchase this unit is not high enough to accept poor customer service.
  2. You have lost my trust, Mrs. Manager, by showing me you do not care about my problem.

When I was speaking to the owner, even though the situation of repair was very much the same, I was ready and willing to buy from him because I knew I could trust him. However, when I spoke with the manager, I came away with a feeling of being cheated – and of not really wanting to do business with this store again.

What happened? Simple – the manager cared more about herself and her issues than about mine. My requests were not unreasonable, in my humble opinion, but I was made to feel as if I was inconveniencing her.

Can you afford to tell your clients that they are a burden to you? Are you clients a burden to you? Perhaps you should stop and ask yourself if you are in the right line of work.

Image courtesy of Filmore Photography

Ken Stewart’s blog,, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology. To connect with Ken, you may visit him at DandyID.