Inspiration | Philosophy | Motivation | Marketing | Business

Month: February 2016

Leading the Change (Not Giving Into Distractions)

Last night we went to the movies as a family to see the new movie RACE. It was inspired by the true story of how Jesse Owens overcame domestic racism, poverty and even politics to represent his country in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

It was awesome!

The reoccurring theme throughout the movie was the struggle his coach, Ohio State legend Larry Snyder, had in keeping his prized pupil focused on the task at hand.

“Keep your eye on the prize; don’t give in to outside distractions. TUNE OUT THE NOISE!” Snyder proclaimed again and again in the movie.

The rest is history. Jesse Owens ran to four gold medals effectively running all over Hitler’s bogus Arian supremacy ideology in the process.


I couldn’t help but think while watching the movie, about the recent distractions on our Certified Aquascape Contractor page.

Not too long ago distractions like the ones we were facing, would have easily derailed this group and kept us from doing the only thing we should all be focused on, running our race to success with our businesses.

Not anymore!

After much spirited conversation, the group basically got back to the goal at hand and is moving forward. We didn’t give in to the bogus outside distractions and we are now back on course.


Our competitors don’t want us to be focused on the prize. They win if they can distract us. There are even people even on this page that want to distract us from running our race.

So goes life

But they lose and we win when we don’t give in to their distractions!

Undoubtedly, there will be even more bogus distractions and hurdles that as a Tribe we will have to overcome to keep moving forward. Success is a journey not a destination after all.

After facing down this latest adversity and coming out ahead, I couldn’t be more confident in our ability as a Tribe to stay together as we stay the course!


Go for the Gold!


Leading the Change (New CAC Coordinator)

Tribe, please give a very warm welcome to our new CAC Coordinator, Irene Johnson. A former Environmental Engineer who just retired after 36 years working for a national electrical utility company (she started in grade school).


Aquascape is now officially Irene’s second job!


Irene is replacing the very respected Mrs. Linda Rodriguez (whose service to Aquascape and our customers will always be deeply appreciated) We hired Irene with one primary goal in mind…to take the Certified Aquascape Contractor network to the next level!


Irene is, for all intents and purposes, a true Aquascape groupie! She discovered Aquascape after reading the infamous Chicago Tribune article that transformed my part-time job of building ponds into my full-time career. In 1995, I designed and installed her pond, working alongside Ed and Brian.


Irene’s pond is pure vintage!


Every pond tour, every sale we had… at EVERY event, Irene would come out to support us! In fact, she’s been telling me for years that someday she would come and work for me.


That day has finally arrived!


To say I’m excited to have a professional of Irene’s caliber in charge of our signature customer group would be an understatement!


Folks, you haven’t seen nothing yet! Big plans, baby!!! B-I-G plans!!!


Irene has a heart for ponds and a mind that’s used to dealing with nuclear engineers! (Take it easy on her, fellas… She doesn’t dig goats!!!)


So, from the bottom of my heart I say, “Welcome to the TEAM, Irene!!!”


Scott airport




How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

This is hard for me to say as a Buckeye fan…I love Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh!

There I said it.

He was a winner as a player, a winner as a coach, and he’s shaking up how things get done with his unconventional approach to keep his winning streak alive. Whatever it takes to succeed, is certainly the motto he has always lived by. If you’re standing in between him and his objective consider yourself warned!


Maybe that’s why he’s worn out his welcome at most places he’s been.

I have news for all his critics and in particular his former bosses in San Francisco who ran him out of town after multiple playoff births and even a Super Bowl appearance after handing him a team that hadn’t posted a winning record in ten years!

Don’t enjoy the fruits of his labor and then criticize his methods. That’s not the way life works. Beggars can’t be choosers. And if you wanted mediocrity than don’t have the lack of foresight to hire a damn winner!!!

Hope you start enjoying the “Jim Harbaugh” show as much I have. I for one am finding myself motivated by seeing him perform.

Go Bucks (he’s gunning for us!)


5 Ways Jim Harbaugh Is Disrupting College Football

Success Grubbing Contractor

I want to make one thing perfectly clear…I don’t make one dollar more if you sell an iongen for 1200 bucks or 400!

I also don’t make any money if you join the Contractors Sales Academy (CSA)

And if you believe that Steven Shinholser cares if you sell an iongen or whatever else for more or less money you would only be half correct.

Steve Shinholser, the “money grubbing contractor” who started the CSA cares way less about money, and way more about success, and in particular your success, than about money!

That’s right, you read that correctly.

In that regard, he and I are two peas in a pod.

“Our first goal as business is to help our customers succeed at building, selling and retailing water features”

Steve plays perfectly into that equation by encouraging people to charge what their worth and hence have more success doing what they do!

Does it make sense to you than why I would promote what Steve is saying?!

What Steve isn’t saying is gouge the customer. That’s what head trash says!

Do you have head trash that’s keeping you from succeeding? If so you should join the CSA and banish that stinking thinking from your brain!

I have a higher purpose for Aquascape. Money ain’t it! If it was only about the Benjamin’s I would have cashed out a long time ago.

Simply put the aggravation alone wouldn’t be worth the money Aquascape has made me (you can start the justification of that statement with losing the relationship with my father, a man I love dearly, for 8 years!!!)

Nope it ain’t about the money for me or frankly even Steve. For us both it’s about the same thing…helping others succeed!

Steve started CSA out of his PURE and UTTER FRUSTRATION seeing people in this group spinning their wheels and not getting ahead! That’s right, the “money grubbing contractor” didn’t start CSA as a money making venture! In fact, he only started charging for the advice he so FREELY GAVE AWAY after getting even more frustrated seeing people staying stuck in their own “head trash” filled ways and not doing anything with the gold he was giving them!!!

Steve’s first “charged” event was in Cabo last year. 500 bucks a head and he promptly donated it all to the Aquascape Foundation!

Does that sound like the move of a “money grubbing contractor” to you?!

In total, Steve raised a whopping 43k for the Aquascape Foundation and its mission to provide clean drinking water to people who would quite literally die without it.


The CSA is simply the evolution of Steve’s heart. Steve’s heart for people to succeed that is.

In that regard the Contractor Sales Academy and Aquascape’s mission are the same. Which is why on this “affiliate Sunday” I’m once again endorsing what Steve and my 30 year friend Tom Reber are doing with the CSA.

The CSA isn’t for everyone. Not everyone needs or wants what the CSA or for that matter what Aquascape offers. But make no mistake whether or not you decide to join the CSA or follow the principles Aquascape has created to help you build, sell and retail water features, both organizations have a greater purpose for which they stand.

It’s not about what you sell things for.

It is about you finding the success you’ve worked so hard for and deserve!

Carpe CSA…Carpe Success!



Leading the Change (Tribal Power)

I just came home from two exciting days in beautiful York PA at Splash Supplies Pondeminium. What a rare treat indeed it was for me to just attend an event rather than host it. If you were there please join me in thanking Mark and Becky Willoughby for once again hosting this unique, rag tag Tribe of passionate pond peeps!

One thing was abundantly clear to me throughout this event. The status quo is not an option for anyone that wants to continue to hang with this Tribe! With or without you, the bar is being raised. To keep up, you gotta keep jumping higher, or by definition you’ll be left behind.

But the biggest change that I see occurring right before my eyes isn’t limited to just the individuals of this Tribe. Our Tribe is experiencing yet another complete metamorphosis.

My baby is growing up!

I’m excited to say we are truly moving into a stage 5 Tribe!

By Pondemonium next August the effects of our evolution as a Tribe will be fully evident to everyone who is engaged. It isn’t as much what you will see, but rather something much, much more powerful.

You will feel it!

I feel it now and it’s a feeling I know that’s about to explode!

If you want to see for yourself what I’m eluding to with what it looks and feels like when a Tribe fully develops, watch this oldie but goodie. Maybe a short video will be easier for you than reading the short book, Tribes, I’ve professed the merits of repeatedly? Hah!…

Everything is indeed Changing!

Strap on your seat belts. It’s going be a wild ride my friends!




Life’s 10% About What Happens To You, And 90% About The Team You Have Around You

Five years ago today I faced my biggest adversity ever as a business owner when Aqualand’s roof collapsed under a near record snow fall. It was also at this time that any doubt that might have ever existed on the power of a team was forever banished from my mind!

Facing the seemingly insurmountable challenge of relocating our entire operations at the very start of our seasonal business was beyond overwhelming to me.

That’s when the cream and my team rose to the top.

We pulled together and not only pulled one another up we pulled ourselves out of one large crippled location into three smaller ones, each in a different city.

It was, as the insurance adjuster commented at the time, the most incredible operational feat they had ever witnessed a company pull off! The secret on how we did it than, and how any high performing organization accomplishes anything now, is the same.

Success is a team endeavor. Always and forever.

Eleven long months, and 13,000,000 dollars later, we moved back into our rebuilt home. A 747 could land up there without a problem they claim (I’m good never testing it though!)

All of us at one time or another will have our own version of a roof collapse that’s a certainty of life for sure.

My prayer for everyone is they have a team around them like I did to get them through it.

Carpe Diem


Roof Collapse Team Roof Collapse

Will A Rising Tide Lift All Ships?!

On February 22nd 2016 it all begins…

Lurvey’s, a four location, 50 million dollar Chicagoland landscape supplier and an Authorized Aquascape Pro Distributor, will officially launch our Learn Build Earn campaign to all their 6,000 wholesale customers.

This is no small investment for them or for us.

Two things are certain to come from this. First, you all, through this page, will have front row seats throughout 2016 to see exactly what it looks like when a fully committed supplier meets a totally passionate manufacturer.

Second, we are all about to learn, for once and for all, if “Ponds Done Right, Customers Served Right” grows the pie for everyone! We already know of course Lurvey and Aquascape are going sell more products with this renewed focus in our relationship. The multi-million dollar question, and one I think you should all be very interested in, is how will heavily promoting the business opportunity with water features to 6,000 local landscape contractors impact our current local CAC’s?

On Tuesday I presented this very scenario, for the first time, to all our local CAC’s.

Can you guess how they responded? How would you respond if your local Distributor decided to take an aggressive approach with their existing customers promoting the business opportunity with water features?

Would you welcome it and the increased COOPETITION as an opportunity to grow your business?

…or would you fear the increased COMPETITION would decrease opportunities for you to sell water features?

As you can only imagine there were two very different rules of thought in the room from the local CAC’s regarding what could occur for them, with what will be occurring at Lurvey’s.

Welcome to my life!

One thing is for certain though; By Pondemonium we will all know either way who’s right…the pond is half empty CAC’s or the pond is half full ones.

It begins in earnest February 22nd when I conduct my first seminar, ever, at Lurveys for their contractors. Wish them luck because I’m bringing the fastball! (The fastball in this case is the opportunity for them with small water features, primarily Fountainscapes, to add a water element as a standard part of their design services)

Our efforts will only expand from there including the installation of multiple water feature displays at the cutting edge Lurvey Connect Center. The brand new state of the art Lurvey Connect Center opening this spring, is their version of a modern day Garden Center. Not only can consumers choose do it yourselfer projects there just like a traditional Garden Center, but it will also serve as a way for contractors to connect with consumers for Do-It-For-Me installations.

If that sounds exciting and this concept is as intriguing to you as it is to us, not only will you get to follow the updates on this page but also in person at Pondemonium.

We will be offering an afternoon Lurvey Field Trip Saturday August 27th to see this business model in action!

The only question now will be if our local CAC’s will be giving the tour or boycotting it! Hah!

You know for me I will be there as my pond is always half full. Whether or not I’m all wet though is yet to be determined!

Carpe Diem

Lurvey's Learn  Earn Build

I Like to Read but I LOVE to Write!

When I read I learn things about stuff but when I write I learn things about myself.

Writing slows my brain down and forces me to think. For a man who speaks the first thing that comes to his mind that’s important. As funny as that might sound, it really isn’t. My whole life my mouth has gotten me into trouble. Things sometimes come out in a way I didn’t mean them to in my ready-fire-aim brain. That never happens when I write.

Writing is like exercise for my brain. I ALWAYS feel better when I lift weights or write my thoughts down. It doesn’t matter what the topic is and certainly not if anyone else reads it (though I like composing things that people can hopefully relate with) Articulating my thoughts or feelings on a subject through writing forces me to examine my own thoughts and feelings cementing my perspective on whatever it is I’m writing about.

My brain is EXPLODING with thoughts regarding this year’s Cabomonium. If I don’t push myself to do something I know is good for me (weird huh?!) and pack my gym bag I won’t lift weights tomorrow…or do what I should and compose my thoughts regarding Cabo.


Something tells me I’m not alone in feeling better and learning more when I have the discipline to write out my thoughts.

Is that true for you too???

It’s still January so how about joining me with a New Year’s resolution to express yourself more by writing more in 2016?!

If you’re bold enough to post what you write on social media I don’t think it would hurt you either. Just do your best to project positive versus negative thoughts when you do (since when has projecting negative thoughts helped you anyway?!)

Just write from the heart and you will find it softening and your resolve strengthening in the process. If you want your biceps to look good though, you will still have to do “Reber’s!” Hah!



Love to Write Blog


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