VideoBlog: Transparency, Vulnerability and Networking – Thoughts about #GIC2011 and #GIEEXPO

Last week, I attended PLANET’s Green Industry Conference and GIE+EXPO. Having attended this amazing educational conference and trade show for many years, I was thinking earlier today about some observations – and changes that the attendees amplified – mostly related to being transparent and vulnerable in their networking opportunities that led to some amazing sharing best practices among non-competing companies.

What did you observe at this years trade show? What are you planning to “do differently” in your business as we head into the last stretch of 2011 and begin to prepare for 2012?

Think Different: Steve Jobs on Leadership, Hiring

If you’ve ever met me, or even read blog entires or Twitter posts from time to time, you know I call myself an “Apple Addict” – a lover of all things made by Apple.  Several weeks ago, I was visiting my aunt Dawn and uncle Daniel in Lawrence, I got the AP News pop up on my iPhone that innovation legend Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, had died.  My uncle is also a lover of Apple and we immediately ran to the television to turn on CNN and see if the news was true.  It was.  Honestly, I felt like I had lost a close friend.  In a sentence, Steve Jobs, and his vision for innovation, makes my life easier and more enjoyable.

This week, I’m attending PLANET’s Green Industry Conference in Louisville and was asked by PLANET to present and lead one of their ticketed workshops in Human Resources.  The workshop, Your Biggest Asset:  Your People and How to Create Maximum Efficiency with your Existing Team, was focused on team building, profitability, efficiency, leadership and how to hire the right person.  As I was flying to Louisville on Tuesday morning, I was thinking about Steve Jobs, and wondered if I could dig up any quotes or information on him that would be relevant to my audience.  I did, and I was amazed at what I found.

Let me say this – I believe that monumental things can happen in any business if you focus on your team.  It did in my company, it has in many of my clients companies, and I suspected the same to be true at Apple.  Now, recent reports show a more in-depth view of Steve Jobs leadership characteristics, but I found three things that I found to be incredibly relevant.

First, check out this video – which has its own Wikipedia entry.

Here is a link to the video in case the embedded version does not work.

The text from the video:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.  About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.  They push the human race forward.  While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

When I showed the video yesterday, I asked the audience what that made them “feel” – and a guy in the first few rows said, “It tells me I have to be out of the box in my business, Jason” – He was completely right.  The last slide of the video also said, “Think Different”…  In my opinion, not only do you need to think outside of the box, you have to be open to thinking differently as well.  Steve Jobs, in this Apple Commercial from 1997, hit the nail on the head, and the message is still overly relevant in todays market.

I found two other quotes from Jobs that I found compelling.  This one, touches on his global thought process about his team, culture and company:

“The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.”

And finally, Jobs thoughts on hiring:

“Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview.

So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.”

Now, Steve Jobs is not a saint, but his business was amazingly successful – and I’m to think it has to do a lot more about the people at Apple than about Steve Jobs.  With that, I’m confident the innovation and progressive nature of their products will continue.  (At least I’m hopeful!)

Steve Jobs, Godspeed.

The Value of Relationships in Business: How LandCare Inc. focuses on Service, Clients and their Product @landcareinc


Several years ago, I was at a PLANET event at one of the many networking receptions – and I met Rob Diaz.  Soon thereafter, I met his amazing better half, Joy.  Rob and Joy have become friends over the last many years – and that friendship has turned into more than a friendship… one that is based on a similar view of business, relationships, family, trust and respect.

LandCare Inc. – based in Las Vegas, NV – is a forward thinking company that is focused on the key principals of amazing Customer Service, loyalty via Incredible Relationships and delivering a Phenomenal Product.   Their clients rave about who they are, what they do, and more importantly – how they do it.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry about an impromptu dinner and brainstorming session – mostly about life, and secondarily about business – that I had with Rob and Joy in Vegas while I was there speaking to a Green Industry Group.  In a sentence – I’m energized by this Green Industry power couple.  I’m encouraged by them.  I learn from them.

Let me be honest – LandCare Inc. and Rob and Joy are not a clients of mine.  They are friends in the industry that I love bouncing ideas off of, and I enjoy hearing some of the cutting edge things they are doing in their business.  One such initiative has been to redo their company website – with one thing in mind – the client.  Check out their awesome new online presence here.  I think you’ll be impressed.

One thing I’ve learned over the years of being in business is that healthy, productive and two-way relationships are a key tenant to a healthy business and life.  Rob and Joy are true examples of that principle I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way, mind you) in my life and business.   If you know Rob and Joy, or people like them, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I get very passionate and excited, especially in this weird economy we are in, when I stumble across someone that is making a difference in the lives of their team, in their clients lives, as well as their own.  And, when they do it in that order, the magnitude is unquantifiable.

The question is – are you a relationship magnet?  Do you put as much into the people around you as they do?  Do you encourage those around you before you focus on yourself?  I believe these traits are part of the difference between those who are swimming downstream easily or upstream difficultly.

Oh, and if you don’t know Rob and Joy, say hi.  If you do, say thank you.  If you know someone like them, pick up the phone, shoot an email or text, hit them up on Twitter, and tell them how much they encourage you.

Rob and Joy, you are an encouragement to me.  Thanks for the life that you breathe into me every time I see you.  You guys rock!  :)

New Job Posting: Connecticut Based Landscape Management Company Hiring Vice President of Operations


Are you an internal systems thinker for the benefit of the external company?

Do you find satisfaction in creation of systems and completion of tasks?

Do you have a background in grounds management and the green industry?

Are you looking for a position in a growing, stable landscape firm?

Are you a natural team builder and trainer?


If so, you might be the perfect fit for our firm, a Connecticut based landscape management company that serves commercial clients in the greater NY metro suburban market.

A Vice President of Operations must have excellent communication and people skills. Systems-based, process-oriented thinking is paramount for success.

This is a full-time, salaried position.  Success in this position requires a long-term commitment.  This is an Internal Operations position.

Characteristics:  Must be detail oriented, ability to dig for information, possess the ability to deal with lots of different people, and have a focus on creating efficient policies and procedures to create a culture and environment focused on clients and our team members.

Responsibilities:  Manage and Mentor Managers, Employee Development, Create and Implement Training Programs, Provide Accountability to Operations Team, Oversee Proposals, Scheduling, Quality Control, Ensure Total Client Satisfaction, Manage All Operations Personnel, Deliver and Maintain Operations Budget.

Requirements:  Previous Operations Management experiences in the landscape, green industry or grounds maintenance industry.  Four Year Degree in Landscape Management or Business Management (Or related degree).  Minimum 10 Years Experience in Operations/ Management.  Verifiable Success in Team Management and Building.  Financial/Budget Management, Knowledge of OSHA and DOT Safety Standards.  Computer, Phone and Communication Skills.

Company Specific Training Provided.  We are currently looking to hire one Vice President of Operations.

If interested, please provide the following information via email:

  • Cover Letter/Email
  • One-Page Resume
  • MS Word Document:  In 500 Words or less, tell us of a recent problem you encountered and how you created internal systems to solve it.  Include measurable metrics for success.

Within Seven Days of receiving your complete application information, we will contact you via email to inform you of the next step of the interview process.  Please email your resume and supporting docs here.

Building Client Loyalty at The Palm Restaurant, Las Vegas @PalmStkMan

About a month ago, I was in Las Vegas to speak at the PIA Conference.  I love Vegas for many reasons, and when I was in the Design/Build business, we had a client there, so I was able to travel frequently there for work.  One thing I absolutely love about Vegas is the amazing places that you can grab a meal.  Some of the best meals I’ve had in my life were in Vegas.

I love reaching out to friends and clients when I’m traveling – even if its not to see them.  When I knew I was going to be in Vegas, I quickly shot out a text to my great friends Rob and Joy Diaz.  Rob and Joy have been friends in the landscape business for years, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with them on some marketing initiatives over the years as well.  I’ve loved watching their business grow over the years, and watching how committed they are to delivering amazing service and products to their clients.  Their dedication and commitment, bar-none, has invested in their company growing in this weird economy – and growing with the right clientele.  More on their business in an upcoming blog entry.  Stay tuned to hear all about them.

Rob and Joy wanted to grab a meal, and I said, “Let’s enjoy some awesome Vegas cuisine”…  They picked me up at my hotel, and we went to Caesars Palace.  And, ended up at The Palm Restaurant in the Forum Shops there.

Before I go into any more detail:  If you’ve never been to The Palm Restaurant, go.  You can stop reading this post and go and have an incredible experience, trust me.

This restaurant is intuitive.  Our waitress (Anna) knew Rob and Joy from their previous visit.  She even knew that Joy liked sparkling water, and Rob liked tap water.  That was amazing in itself, but The 837 Club is what sealed the deal for me.

Some restaurants have punch cards, or loyalty cards, or programs to help bring clients back over and over.  Some even coupon.  Not The Palm Restaurant.  They deliver real value in their establishments by creating community.  The 837 Club is the way they do it.  For a mere $25 (and you get a $25 gift card for your next visit when you join), you are part of their “family”.  Their website says:

“We often say that The Palm isn’t a chain – it’s a family. This is true for our staff members, our customers, and for the extended family of loyal patrons who participate in The Palm’s 837 Club.”

It’s more than true.  You get special entrees that no one else can order.  There was even a bottle of wine that was on special only for club members.  But that is only the tip of the iceberg for how they build loyalty.  For each $1 you spend, you earn a point.  When you get 15,000 points (yeah, yeah, that is a lot of points, but…), you earn this:

15,000 points – Private party and caricature, which includes:
•    Private party at a Palm restaurant
•    Caricature placement at a Palm restaurant
•    $1,500 gift certificate for food and beverage

Uhm, your own caricature on the WALL of the restaurant.  And, let me tell you, there were hundreds upon hundreds of them.  Famous people, commoners, foodies, couples – you name it, they were everywhere.  And, it was viral.  To see how many people have gotten 15,000 points was amazing.  And the fact they could come into the restaurant and SEE their own caricature is it.  It’s it.  It was awesome.

Oh, I can’t forget.  The food was awesome.  If you know me, you know I’m nearly a food critic.  And, it was a stellar meal, an amazing atmosphere, great service – and even better company.  I’ll not soon forget that meal, The Palm Restaurant, but mostly – the conversation and relationship that we had together in that experience with Rob and Joy.

What do you do to build client loyalty in your business?  Do you have a way your clients feel like “family”?  Does a community feel inspire you at businesses you frequent?

The Palm Restaurant has it figured out.  Do you?

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Jason Cupp: Know your Team

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