Best April Fools Day Ever

On April 1, 1988, I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp.  To this day, the sights and sounds of MCRD San Diego are still vividly fresh in my head.  I joined the Marines on November 24, 1987.  One month into training, I broke my foot and was sequentially diagnosed with pneumonia (nobody said boot camp was easy).  I found myself with the decision of being discharged from the Marines or continue training after my injuries had healed.  It wasn't an easy decision. After being discharged from the hospital, I could go back to my old life (leave the Marines).  The other choice was to be sent to a medical rehabilitation platoon (MRP).  MRP is a kind of Purgatory for Marine Corps recruits.  In boot camp, your world revolves around a 12-week countdown calendar.  Every day you'd look to your fellow recruits and say "n days to a wake up".  That meant waking up from the living hell of boot camp.  If you go to MRP, you don't get any closer to day 0, until you're back in a training platoon.  I chose to go to MRP.  There I waited for almost 2 months.

I cycled back to a training platoon and my countdown restarted.  My new day 0 was set for April 1.  The day April 1 arrived, I actually thought graduating was going to be a big April Fools joke on me.  There were so many psychological games, anything was possible.   I thought for certain the Drill Instructors were going to swarm me, while in formation, and send me back to "the classroom" (a place of figurative mental and physical torture).  OK, maybe a little physical torture but that's the way the Marines were back then.  Well, they didn't swarm on me.  I graduated from Boot Camp.  I entered the Fleet as a "boot" private.

So, what's the moral of this story?  Sometime in your life, you may reach a fork in the road.  The easier path, though very attractive tactically, may not be your best decision strategically.  This critical event in my life made me the pain-in-the-ass person I am today.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, has come remotely close to the physical and psychological challenges of Marine Corps Boot Camp.  It doesn't matter if you're a project manager, an entrepreneur, or just trying to reach a personal goal.  Anything is possible if you're focused enough on the outcome.  Anything is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill.

Graphic courtesy of Leatherneck

Provide Value To Your Customer And Thank Them

Gary Vaynerchuk Thank YouBack in November (2009) I was watching Episode #24 of This Week in Startups featuring Jason Calacanis.  His guest that week was Gary Vaynerchuk, of Wine Library TV fame and countless appearances on TV.  Sometimes I arrive a little late to the game.  I Don't watch a lot of television so I hadn't seen Gary before.  While on the show, he promoted his new book Crush It! and I was absolutely intrigued by his level of passion and drive.  My motto is anything is possible through passion, commitment, and skill.  It doesn't matter if you're a project manager, developer, or entrepreneur.  You can and SHOULD have all three, regardless of your trade.

I've been itching to get this book.  Because I have a lengthy commute, I waited until it was available in audio version.  I downloaded it last night and started listening to it this morning.  After my commute today, I arrived to the office not wanting to turn it off.  The book is inspiring, motivating, and I identify with several things Gary has experienced and promotes.  I am a firm believer if something is bad, you can say something about it.  But, if something is good, you need to stand on the tallest hill and yell at the top of your lungs.

The hill, in this case, is Twitter.  I wrote just a single tweet:

Started listening to Crushit! by @garyvee on my drive in today. Get the audio version (extras), even if you have the actual book.

Within a few minutes, Gary tweeted back

thank u !

Now that, people, is commitment to customer service!  With almost 850,000 people following him on Twitter, he took the time to thank me.  Though it was something so simple, it's a level of customer service everyone should and WILL come to expect in the coming years.

When I deal with my customer(s), I get excited, optimistic, and passionate.  I work HARD.  Why?  I love it!  Sure, I get paid for providing value but I make sure I thank them from time to time.  There must be a commitment to customer service.  The interesting thing is, it can be contagious.

So, work hard and be passionate about what you do.  Be committed to deliver value to your customers.  And don't forget to be skilled at how your implement your solutions.

Disclaimer:  I will not financially benefit from the positive review of Gary's book (but I hope he does).

Passion + Commitment + Skill = Success

I just read an intriguing post on Dan Schawbel's blog.  It was titled The Excellence Equation: Passion and Commitment. For several years, I’ve been promoting a similar “success” equation. The only component not listed in his blog post was skill. I think ANYTHING is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill. Passion Commitment SkillIf you’re short in one area, you can make up for it in another. I’ve worked with people that lacked a specific skill, but were so passionate and so committed, there was no way they were not going to succeed. When building teams for a project, I like to find individuals who excel in each area. I don’t want an overly-skilled team as much as I don’t want an overly-passionate team. But, when there is balance in all three areas, I’ve seen magic happen.