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Month: April 2011

The Drive That Gets Lost

A few years ago, when I was in the construction industry, at one point, the company I worked for had over twenty field employees. We were constantly hiring, trying to keep up with attrition and the manpower needed on larger and larger jobs we took on. Because of this, I got to know hundreds of workers who quickly went from prospective hire, to employee, and then (sometimes quickly) to ex-employee. I recall one of our workers in particular—I’ll call him Steve. Steve was a very big man, and by all accounts was very tough and strong. He was the biker type, and had a huge, scruffy beard. He had just moved to Colorado from the South, and we hired him right away because he had the promise of being a strong, capable worker. After a few days we were pleased to see that it seemed we were right: our superintendents sang his praises, he worked hard, showed up early, had a great attitude, and hustled all day. So, naturally, when it came time to give him a performance review on his three-month anniversary, the boss decided it was time for a raise in pay to reward his excellent work. In fact, Steve’s performance had been so great that the boss gave him the biggest raise in the company’s history: a 27% increase. So what happened next? Did Steve start...

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My Best (and Worst) Marketing Story Ever

Here’s a true story about a little company that had one of the most brilliant campaigns I’ve ever personally responded to. Background: I used to work in the building industry. We were a small company that was capable of some amazing work, but we were not very sophisticated as a company. When I first started there, I helped assist in the payroll duties (i.e. collecting timesheets, keeping track of the hours each employee worked and reporting that to the accountant, delivering paychecks on payday, etc). Depending on the job and the time of year, we generally had between ten and twenty employees. We used the industry-standard for time tracking: hand-written, paper timesheets. These were the bane of our existence. The Problem: Paper is a horrible way to keep track of time; there is a massive margin for error. Employees would fill out their timesheets incorrectly (sometimes innocently, sometimes intentionally). They would claim more hours than they actually worked, or simply forget to fill out entire days that they actually had worked, shorting themselves. At the end of the week, sometimes our superintendents would drop timesheets off at the office. Sometimes, they would fax them in. Sometimes, we would go pick them up from the jobsites. Timesheets would often come in late, they’d have coffee spilled on them, or they would be illegible because the workers would fill them out...

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