Trades and History Narrative by Mike LaFave

Family – Many business owners would tell you, “never work with your family.” For me, working with the ones I love and appreciate has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. When I began working with my father in 1995, I developed a deeper understanding not only for business but also for the importance of relationships. Watching my father interact with his “regulars,” I picked up some very important advantages for achievement, many of which could be used in business and in life in general. A few of these essential business practices have really shaped who I am today, not to mention the culture that I try to adopt through my business practices. I have listed a few of the most critical essentials below:

    1. Measure what matters
    Don’t exacerbate your weaknesses
    Surround yourself with people better than you

When you take time to measure how you do things in business it illustrates the things that you do well, but also highlights the things that you need to improve upon.  When my son first started playing basketball, we took time to measure how many free throws in a row that he could make.  When we first started keeping track he struggled even getting only two in a row.  However, as time went on and as he labored in his craft he began to develop a skill for shooting free throws, a muscle memory of sort that would allow him to be very consistent in hitting those important shots at the stripe.  Muscle memory in business translates into taking time to intensify what your good at all while strengthening what you need to work on.  By measuring what matters you’ll better define what your good at well as single out deficiencies that you might need to work on.  Keep track of and measure the things that are important, it will serve you well!

Stop focusing on the negative.  My father would never convey a “woe is me” attitude, nor would you ever hear him say “I can’t” or “I give up.”  It just wasn’t in him to throw in the towel, probably speaks to his life of being a warrior, fighting out of the projects, barely a high school graduate, a two tour Vietnam vet, he just didn’t know how to exacerbate his weaknesses.  It’s one thing to recognize flaws or areas in our lives that need strengthened, it’s a completely different thing to live from those flaws.  Have you ever been around someone who constantly speaks to how their glass is always half empty, it’s an emotional wear out!  Not that it’s always easy, make it a daily, conscious priority to speak and live life from a position of strength and positivity.

I’m so thankful my dad took a chance on me.  I really love my company and more importantly, I love my co-workers.  I have the best staff that I have ever worked with… ever, anywhere.  We really are the epitome of TEAM.  We all have different gifts and different skillsets that we bring to the table.  It wasn’t always like that; in fact, early on in my business life I would never consider hiring a better salesperson, sharper estimator or a more creative designer.  Frankly it scared me, I was afraid of being marginalized by my own staff.  I was the visionary, the bar-setter, the envelope pusher.  There’s no way I’d allow another to take over those key responsibilities…  That was until I landed a big job, I mean a game changer big job, I mean a career altering, “OH Shit” how am I gonna get this done type of life changing project.  I instantly knew that I’d have to hire better people than me, which I did and it certainly was one of the most vital turning points in my life both personally and professionally.  I haven’t shied away from that commitment, I want to be better because of my people, I want US to be better, better than ME!