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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2 Month 50th B-day Celebration winds down

It was the Hanukkah of birthdays, a series of connected days and celebration, but all good things have to come to an end, and the end came with our 7th annual sojourn to Stowe, with the same cast of characters and hanger-oners.  It's a good mountain, about 6 hours away, always easier to get there on Friday (skipping school and work) than on the way back where Thruway 87 starts to get heavy around Albany and is a parking lot by the Woodstock exit.  It really goes to show how many people are upstate, making their way back home, that an interstate can move that slow.  Flip side is the opportunity that upstate has, and always will, provide our little company.

The ladies of the office, Breanna and Amanda, decorated my office space for my birthday, and last year helped clear my car during a storm.

Some people would be shy about posting such equal-opportunity car clearing, but that wouldn't be me.  Amanda started with me in the summers and holidays while she was Fashion Institute of Tech (I was going to write 'in Manhattan', but that just makes me seem show-offy, since everyone who I want to impress already knows where it's at), then came to work full-time after.  Her best friend Breanna came to work with us nearly 2 years ago.  Amanda is getting married to her long-time Beau this May and Breanna and her sit around planning at lunch (Bre's her best woman).  My one wedding gift was buying an office building 10 minutes up the road from Amanda so that shortens her commute to work by 30+ minutes each way.

As a pretty savvy small business employer who is a pretty good talent scout who takes chances on people as well as a veteran of making a lot of bets on people who don't work out, the risks of hiring a friend of possibly my most valued employee were clear, but outweighed by our never-quenched thirst for talent, especially professional/office talent.

Whenever I see a new idea in the Catskills, perfectly branded, optimistic with a fine game plan that may even on occasion identify a real opportunity niche, I just pity the fool, since I know the first and primary obstacle this person or couple will face is the inability to staff up to meet the demand of a growing business - it's a tremendous skill, the challenge never fades, and unless you were brought up speaking the language of the average Hudson Valley employee, all the cajoling, incentivizing, motivating benefits come to naught, held against you, used against you.  My ability to team build, against the odds, is one of the secrets of the success.  We just keep growing, and we keep finding people who meet our criteria, or can learn or be trained.

I like an underdog, so my best guys are guys I've found when life wasn't working out perfectly, gave them a shot, rewarded them without coodling or cuddling them, and tried to find real ways to make their lives better, mostly through  work they can be proud of, organized job sites and pay/benefit packages that can't be matched, pay packages derived not from the highest priced homes in the area, but homes that have easy to see value to people for 2 decades now.

Speaking of UnderDogs, here's Lulu.  She's so smart she knows when to get off the chair - UPS no treats, stay on chair, Fed Ex, treats, meet them at the door and follow into truck.  I think there's even a story where she forgot to get out of the truck and Fed Ex redelivered her 30 minutes later.

Back to the point of the story, hiring Amanda's friend Breanna - the real risk would be that Breanna wouldn't work out, and it would somehow impact Amanda's desire to work for us, or that the balance of power would change and the employer-employee relationship would be altered for the worst.

A big gamble, just the way I like them, comfortable with expecting and counting on unexpected outcomes.  Rolling the die, spinning the wheel, matching wits and scrambling out of pickles of my own and others making.  A writer's ability to evaluate a situation, meaning from a unique viewpoint, with blindspots for sure, but the unique vantage providing unique and untried paths to problem-solving.

Anyway, I guess this is tangent Tuesday, cause I keep going off on them. It all worked out - 2 of the smartest hardest working people I know - Amanda and Breanna - and since they are doing real jobs for a real busy business, with real financial and project management complexity, put in a position to test their intelligence and ability to learn in real time with real consequences.  And that's a big difference than most bright young people, where you have to put in a ton of time just to get the shot at having real responsibility.  Not at Catskill Farms.  You have to be awesome, or the day of your departure is already cast.  Problem is, most people don't know when they aren't awesome, but no worries, I do.

And obligatory house construction photos, since this isn't an 'eat my shorts I'm in Stowe and work with cool young women' blog.

One of our favorite farmhouse designs, 73.46 % finished, in Kerhonkson NY.

And another fav, in Narrowsburg NY.  Both houses under contract, spoken for, reserved, don't bother calling about them type of situation.

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