Your Brand Is Important, Even If You Drive a Tow Truck

Most of my work is done with medium to large businesses, so my perspective of “Branding” tends to skew in that direction despite the fact that I do have a few small business clients as well. Small Biz is often maligned by advertising and marketing folks as hard to work with because of perceptions that they are cheap or don’t care about the “important things” that branding folks care about.

I’ve been guilty of the same and this afternoon I was punched in the face by reality.

On the way home from work on Wednesday, my vehicle decided it didn’t want to cooperate with me any more and blew a gasket. I’m still waiting on the final diagnosis. But suffice it say, I was pretty pissed at the matter. Mainly at the car, but at also at the other vehicle problems I’ve had in the last few months. I’ve got a good mechanic, Victor at Fine Line Autoworks, who has taken care of me on a past occasions. But this time around, I needed a tow from my house to his shop – a 14 mile trip.

When I search for things on the web, I often dip past the top results and dismess them as artificially inflated. I do SEO work, and I can read the signatures of SEO work from a mile away. I was actually trying to find the guy who helped me out back in October, but his name was lost on me, so I settled on a highly amateur website to get a quote. I was happy with the number she gave me and we set an appointment.

The woman who originally answered the phone called me later to apologize that one of their trucks broke a winch and they’d be a bit late. She called me again later 20 minutes before she arrived at my house. On the phone, she had a bubbly personality. She apologized and laughed. I thought I was dealing with a dispatch operator who was probably a college student…until the truck showed up at my house.

A woman jumps out of the truck, and sounds just like the person I’d been talking to on the phone. She manhandled my SUV to get it up on the flatbed. She’s smiling the entire time and apologizing about my predicament. I tell her I’m meeting her at the shop, and rather than a gruff “okay,” she asks me if her GPS if giving her the best directions. They weren’t, and I told her my usual path. She was agreeable and I followed her until the last mile, at which she let me lead the way.

While she was unloading my vehicle, I asked her how she ended up driving a tow truck (still not knowing she was the owner). She tells me she was from California, and kind of ended up in Omaha. But she was working as a waitress a while back and had her car break down late one night after a shift and she needed a tow. She was extremely put off by the sterotypical burley tow truck driver that showed up, and decided right then and there that night she could do better. And from that point on, she saved every dime until she could buy her own tow-truck and her mission was “to be as happy and friendly as she could be to her clients. People who need a tow truck deserve to be served with a smile and cheered up.” She now has several drivers as well as an ACA certified repair facility. I happily handed over my money.

If you ever need a tow truck in or around Omaha, I can’t recommend Deb Hansen of Hansen Towing enough. Give her a call at 402-515-5196.

The Year in Places 2013 Edition

For the last few years I’ve been keeping track of my days away from home. The qualification is an overnight stay and David Burn coined the terms, “The Year in Place.” I add the S, because I’m funny like that.

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
― Rumi

2013 was an odd year travel wise. We had several weekend trips lined up, but for one reason or another, a few of them were cancelled. It was also the first year in recent memory that I did’t have a single business-related overnight trip. I need to find some out-of-town clients this year, book a conference or two, or some long road trips staring out the window at sights like this:

Road Trips

In 2013 I spent at least one night in:

Omaha, NE (Home)
Carroll, IA*
Breckenridge, CO
Denver, CO
Kansas City, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Des Moines, IA

*indicates more than one visit

2014 is already looking to be a better year for travel. My sister, Carrie, is getting married in Sacramento in June. We’ve already decided on a roadtrip, so that trip alone should add at least 6 entries to the list. I’ll leave you with this:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

3 Words for 2014: Health. Adventure. Us.

Like many people, I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions. I find that they tend to result in false starts, and more importantly, if one wants to make a big change in their life, why wait for the first day of the year. I’d much rather find something to improve about myself and tackle it head on.

The following picture is of Quandry Peak in Colorado from our vacation this summer. I thought it was aptly named for what 2013 was to me.

Quandry Peak

After reading C.C. Chapman’s Amazing Things Will Happen last January and was struck by his three word exercise in finding three words to focus myself on for the new year. The concept has been pretty popular in the blogspace for the last few years as I’ve come to find out. If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a quick 2 minute video overview.

I’ve been mulling over my 3 words for the last few weeks on a couple sheets of paper and had things pretty well narrowed down. When my wife was talking with our kids the other night at dinner about New Year’s resolutions, I brought up the concept to all of them and shared two of my words and explained what the meaning was behind them (my third word wasn’t final yet at that time).

Needless to say, she liked the concept and her and the kids set out to form their own words for the new year. We’re also going a step further and will be decorating a hallway wall with our words – either by stencil in paint, or vinyl decals.

I’ll let them share their own words in their own ways, but I’m more than happy to share my 3 words for 2014.

Health

I choose Health as my first word because it is something that I need to focus on in my life. Most recently, I’ve had a chronic cough and head cold, which my doc is convinced is due to a weakened immune system from stress, travel & burning the candle at both ends; resulting in back-to-back-to-back viral infections. But that is just the tip of ice berg. I had a heart scare in 2009, but have still managed to put on a few pounds since then. Couple those with mild asthma and GERD, I do need to focus on getting my physical health back in order.

But Health also includes my mental health. I need to do a better job at cleaning out mind. Outwardly, I usually appear cool as cucumber, even in my relatively stressful work position. But inwardly, I’m just very good at internalizing and compartmentalizing that stress. That can only go on for so long before I need to find an outlet to burn off some steam and usually those outlets aren’t that healthy – stress eating and/or tipping a few cocktails primarily. 2013 was also more stressful than usual due to a couple things at the office outside the bounds of my public discussion. But needless to say, a lot of things fell on my shoulders. I also need to work on my frustrations in response to expectations in others, especially when I could provide my leadership and knowledge to help others grow, rather than expect them to find their own way.

Adventure

Adventure was actually my fourth word, but it replaced my second word after I had told my family about the words. Originally, it was going to be uncomfortable, as I have often had my best motivation and produced my best work in times where I was uncomfortable, like a forced job change, or getting in over my head on a project. But I changed it to Adventure because I didn’t want it to be tied too much to work. I used to be more adventurous in other areas of my life, but I’ve become a creature of habit and routines – something more than “just-at-work.” Adventures can be good, Adventures can be bad, but regardless of the outcome one learns from the journey. I’m going work on getting back to the adventurer I once was. The one who spent time in the great outdoors. The one who would think nothing of dropping everything for a road trip. The one who push his own desire to learn and explore. The one who crafted a career out of learning web development before it even became a “thing.”

Adventure also ties in well with Health because it will require changes. Conquering fears, getting back in shape, dealing with stress, motivation and procrastination. One of my favorite quotes is by the ski film guru, Warren Miller: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll just be one year older when you do.

Us

My third word is Us. I have an awesome wife. We’ve been married for almost 12 years and I’m in love with her more today than I was when we were married. We’re raising two awesome kids and we have a rock solid marriage. While things are great with Us. We both tend to put the family first, so the kids are often our focus. The result is that we often lose track of “our time.” I chose Us because I want to focus on carving out some more time to spend with each other without the kids. Whether it be a regular date night (which we don’t regularly do) or weekend getaways I want to make sure that we continue to do the things with each other that keep our relationship strong.

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There you go. My Three Words for 2014: Health. Adventure. Us. Today is only the first day of a new month, but I wish you nothing but the best in 2014. I also expect that you’ll be seeing me around my blog more often this year as well.