Inspiration | Philosophy | Motivation | Marketing | Business

Month: December 2015

Watch Out for your Brian’s!

I’ve come to learn people don’t think like me. Something tells me that puts me in good company on this page. Afterall we are entrepreneurs for a reason. The problem is all of us must learn how others think or feel in order to help ourselves. Does that make sense?

We also need to own EVERYTHING we can own when it comes to how our way of thinking, believing and behaving is perceived by the rest of the world. In my case, that means saying I’m sorry…A LOT!!!

Last night I posted a long overdue blog titled “The Only Way To Quit A Job” If you didn’t read it, its on my personal FB page as well as, like all my blogs, our website (just search blogs) Anyway, as usual when it comes to my communication much was lost in translation (anyone else suffer from this syndrome?!) One of the ways what I wrote was misperceived was the thought process many, including some people on my own team had regarding the validity of even attempting to resolve a seemingly untenable situation with an employer. Why bother trying to resolve something when you’re burned out and wanting to leave? Furthermore, it’s ridiculous to have to turn in a letter of resignation to get the desired changes you feel you would need to stay. In some cases that my thinking may prove to be correct. In some cases, it may not, though. Nothing wagered, nothing earned in my book. Most people don’t feel that way and simply resign. <sigh>

In every company, I have ever dealt with or even know a little about the top reoccurring issue is either people or sales. Agreed? Aquascape is no exception but the thing that makes Aquascape exceptional is not our products, not our marketing but rather our PEOPLE. The same people that is that are the biggest pain in my a**!!!

Case in point being everyone’s favorite red head Brian Helfrich. How many of you would kill to have a Brian on your team? That is of course if you didn’t kill him first!


Brian started working at Aquascape fresh out of high school. Do I need to go any further?! Ok I will because it’s fun (now!) Brian was ARRESTED on his very first day of work (and it was only a half day at that!!!) I survived Brian and he survived me (jail cells not only keep people in they keep pissed off bosses out too) Hah! Brian has grown into an invaluable member of our team but it took years of grooming and mutual maturation to get to the place we are today.

I love Brian. He’s the kid brother I never had. But I haven’t always showed him the extent I loved and respected him. Why? Because I’m an idiot that’s why. In other words I’m just as human as almost everyone else.

Brian, as most people eventually do, got fed up with what he was doing and in particular how he was being made to feel doing it for Aquascape.

So Brian did what virtually everyone who feels like they’ve had more than they want to handle and he quit. He didn’t just quit though he quit, bought a truck, had business cards printed up and incorporated as a business.

Gut punch!

We’ve ALL been there. We ALL will be there again. It’s what happens when you own a business. It’s what happens when you are an idiot, or just another flawed human trying to figure life out.

My favorite poet, the esteemed Rocky Balboa says it best “It’s not how hard you get hit that matters, it’s how hard you get hit and keep moving forward that counts!”

Brian and I did just that going toe to toe hurling punches and full bore roundhouse swings for an entire weekend! I even pulled in the big guns,Carla Gulisano Wittstock and Ed Beaulieu to trade jabs with Brian. In the end, Brian won. He got a big pay raise and the well-earned respect and admiration he deserved. But I won too. That was 4 years ago and today Brian is performing at a stratospheric level for Aquascape.

Quite literally Brian “Is Da Man”

We’ve all had a Brian or ten that never became a Brian because we burned em out far too early in their development stages. Can you, like me, own that? If you can’t you will never get a Brian or an Ed, a Colleen Heitzleror Jeffrey PaytonScott Rhodes Aquascape or or or… to stay on your TEAM.

But if you can own your own crap the skies the limit for your people and your organization by default.

Most organizations fail because most organizations fail their people. Ouch!

Why it took Brian “leaving” to get what he deserved out of me was obvious in retrospect. While Brian was performing miracles by growing construction sales and profits year over year, Aquascape was hemorrhaging cash as our manufacturing and supply business was drying up with the rest of the economy.

Brian’s performance was the least of my concerns right up until he chose to leave. Immediately upon Brian’s “resignation” he became my highest concern!

What’s my point with all of this? It’s of course that I love Brian! But I did a piss poor job, as I so often do, of showing it. I suspect in that regard you and I might be the same.

Can you own that? If not, you might be getting a resignation letter from your “Brian’s. Unless they do the near- impossible…and talk to you first!

With love,

The Pond Idiot


The Only Way to Quit A Job

In my book there is only one way to quit a job. In my experience as an employer going on a quarter century however, I can frustratingly tell you ALMOST NOBODY DOES IT how they should! Either I’m wrong or most of the world is wrong. Please tell me where you personally land on this subject.

The only way to quit a job (assuming it is not over an ethical situation or retirement) is to go to your boss or all the way up to the owner and ask for a meeting. The only thing you should NOT bring to that meeting is a letter of resignation. If you enter that meeting with a letter of resignation, like most people do, you are not handling the situation the way that you should. If you are wondering how in the world I could have the audacity to know how YOU, should or shouldn’t handle a situation that I know nothing about, I’d answer this way.

Simply put by choosing to walk into a meeting with a letter of resignation in hand it means that you are choosing an option you have nothing to gain from and quite possibly everything to lose by doing. Period.

Instead of arbitrarily possibly limiting your options unnecessarily, here is the approach I think that everyone should try first. (I suggest doing it in-person but I am going to articulate what you should say in letter form here)


Dear Mr. Wittstock,

                I have enjoyed working for your company for the last ten years and appreciate the opportunity you have given me to do so. I have been offered a position with an excellent company that has me considering my options with your company. The offer for employment at Company X comes with a substantial pay raise, is closer to my home, has better benefits than I currently am receiving and happens to be in my college major which would allow me to pursue my lifelong passion. Based on these factors, I am considering accepting the position at Company X. However, before I make any significant life decisions regarding my career, I’d like your perspective and feedback regarding not just this opportunity but also whatever opportunities exist for me here. 

Ultimately, my goal is to be successful and happy with my career wherever I work. Any help as my current employer that you can provide me to achieve my goals would be greatly appreciated.



John (outside the box thinking) Doe


As an owner if I received this sort of communication I might hear angels singing from above I’d be so happy! Angels don’t normally sing above my office. If this interaction occurred I would have one of three reactions.

Congratulations! Never has a better thing happened for a more deserving person! Please help me plan your going away party! Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla frosting?
Interesting . In the last year three other people have left here to work for that company. I’m not exactly sure what happened but all three of them are no longer there. Would you like me to put you in touch with them so you can find out what their experiences were there?!

You know, I almost never do this but this is for your own damn good. Would you consider staying here if we gave you a promotion to your bosses’ bosses’ job? It would also entail a doubling of your current salary and a company Mercedes. Of course you would drive it only on the days of the week you choose to come to the office. As a manager you can choose where, when and how you best need to work to get the job done.

You have nothing to lose and everything to potentially gain (a higher level of respect, a new found awareness, a raise and promotion) handling it this way. Almost nobody handles it this way! They instead choose to just turn in a resignation letter, not just at Aquascape, but to almost every business owner I know.

Who’s wrong…me or the world?!

Quitting a job

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