Always & Never

I believe there are some “always” and “nevers” it is important for everyone in business—and in life—to remember. I’ve been lucky, a lot of these truths I’ve learned from a lot of you.

By Heather McCune, Editor in Chief | October 31, 2000
Heather McCune


Growing up there were two words sure to get a rise from my parents - you guessed it, always and never. Truth was a very big deal in our house and no statement that began with or even included either one of those declarations qualified as truthful.

Now, with all due respect to those wonderful folks who are my mom and dad, I believe there are some "always" and "nevers" it is important for everyone in business - and in life - to remember. I’ve been lucky, a lot of these truths I’ve learned from a lot of you. Others I had to discover myself the hard way. However, no matter where or how the learning occurred, I know one thing for sure: I learn these lessons all over again every day and it’s in the relearning that progress takes place.

Always remember that the best investment you can make in your business is to train your people.

Never fear that training your employees will make them more attractive to raiders. It will, but it will also make those raiders less attractive to your employees.

Always remember that the more complex a process is the more fragile it becomes. Complexity is the breeding ground for errors and cost.

Never assume that more technology will simplify or fix an overly complex process.

Always find a reason to giggle when tension makes laughter the least anticipated reaction.

Never miss the opportunity to bring light or laughter into another’s day, and be accepting of those who want to do the same for you.

Always ask more questions than you offer answers, explanations or rationales. Practicing the former almost guarantees you won’t have to do the latter.

Never forget this. It will make your company a better builder with a more precise definition of its target market, a more thorough understanding of the needs of employees, trade partners and vendors. It will also increase your likelihood of success.

Always remember that big companies don’t eat the small; fast companies eat the slow.

Never believe for an instant assume that size has anything to do with speed. The only thing that effects fast is knowledge.

Always remember to act and not just to know. Information without action is useless.

Never forget to share what you know with those charged to do the work.

Always remember that none of us are so good at what we do that we don’t need a coach.

Never ignore the recommendations of your coach or mentor. Their job is to acknowledge the hairy beast you’re trying so desperately to ignore.

Always make decisions that are based on and supported by factual data.

Never make decisions based on anecdotal information, emotion or your perception of the reality of a situation. Everyone creates his or her own reality and it may have no basis in fact.

Always assume that those individuals in closest contact with your customers know where the biggest bottleneck exists in your organization.

Never solve small problems while the big one remains unfixed. You know what that problem is; work only on it every day until it is solved. This is the only way to make a good company great.

Always invest in the relationship that exists between you and all your customers. The cost to create it already has been spent and the investment of time and resources necessary to maintain is nominal when compared to starting over.

Never hire for skills and believe you will be able to change attitude.

Always remember to grow the next layer of leadership in your company.

Never assume that leaders are born and not made. Being a leader is a learned behavior and acquiring that skill set is a lifelong task.

Always know, that no matter what your title, position, rank or tenure, you are a leader to someone in your company.

Never forget that fact and the responsibility it entails and always be thankful that it is so.


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