This is a modified note that I sent to our i3 team. I hope that it provides some encouragement for your 2010 efforts and initiatives.

My Father is 82 years old. He’s a Plasterman – not was a Plasterman – but is a Plasterman. He’s an artist with plaster (in his hands – on his ‘hawk & trowel’) to repair or finish new construction work. He loves it. It’s part of who he is. He worked on the Grand Rapids Civic Auditorium during the Great Depression. He’s worked in almost every house in East Grand Rapids over the past 50 years. He put the Presidential seal on the ceiling of the Gerald R. Ford Museum here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s helped build hundreds of houses in West Michigan – and he did a lot of the art work at Disney’s Epcot Center!   He still does repair jobs all over West Michigan.

35 years ago I worked for my Father.  I mixed, hauled & shoveled mud – plaster. Being a laborer was tough, physical, dirty work – and my Father was demanding. Do it right, do it on time or you’ll hear about it.

The Plastermen would holler, “More mud on the board!” when they ran out of mud. That meant pick up the pace and get some plaster over here because we’re standing around losing money. Work faster, work harder, keep the Plastermen busy. Mix the mud, shovel the mud, wheelbarrow the mud. I remember hauling wheelbarrows of mud across 16' x 12" wooden planks to their destination. I remember losing - tipping - dumping entire loads on the ground. Sometimes the mud was too thick, sometimes the mud was too thin! I'd hear about that, too. "Too thick - more water! Too thin - less water!" came the short, terse, yet understanding commands.

I tried putting mud on the wall a number of times. Dad would let me put it on in the closets – ½ of the mud ended up on the floor. My Father ended up with about 1% on the floor. I was an amateur – not a pro-am – but an amateur. My Father was a pro. He still is. I learned a lot of life lessons. I learned that good old Dutch work ethic.

In my sales career over the last 30 years, and here at i3 Business Solutions, I say, “Throw some mud on the wall, some of it will stick.” By that I mean, take a risk – make a ‘cold’ phone call, schedule a tough meeting, deliver a proposal, ask for the order – but please take a risk and launch something over / at the wall! Do something. Nike – Just Do It! Get out of the closet!  The worst a customer can do is say, “No.” And ‘no’ is Ok! If we get a ‘no’, then we can move on to find a ‘yes’.  But ambiguity – no man’s land – hoping something will change accomplishes nothing!

That’s my request of each of us this year. Take a risk. Throw some mud at the wall. Suggest a new service or concept for yourself, your employer or a customer. Attempt something that stretches your abilities some. Grab a task that needs fixing , own it and haul it to the finish line. Collar yourself, your boss or significant other to push, cajole, require and implement a personal or organizational improvement.

Throw some mud at the wall.

Some of it will stick,

Michael Ritsema
i3 Business Solutions, LLC

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