Loud Smith Media and Publishing


Business Teachings - Week Two

Business Teachings - Week Two

Hey this is Joe again and I am back to report on another week with my business friends and kind of partners – My air conditioning and heating business has been booming lately and I have been super busy, but I have decided that I am going to make this group into a priority.  I shouldn’t miss it because I think everyone there is devoted and invested in not only learning new business techniques but also meeting likeminded people they can become friends with.  I have to admit that outside of Josh (the Lubbock lawn care expert) I don’t have many close friends.  My high school buddies and college buddies have all pretty much moved away and I haven’t made the time to “replace” them with good people I can trust – even good people I can lean on to fill my mind with new ideas.  So I am in like Flynn and I am thankful I even found about this group of guys.  I heard about it from one of my workers and just showed up one time.  I was immediately welcomed and it felt great to be there in a place I could be myself.

By the way, this is not a group that sees women business owners as unwanted because I am sure that they could bring a lot of great things to the group.  But we wanted to keep it a closed male group for the sake of creating a brotherhood – they are rare these days.  Maybe we can invite a woman or two to present their good ideas to us in the future.  We will just have to see.

I sat next to Josh at the big community table in the coffee shop and before we officially began he showed me one of his new landscaping designs.  He wanted my opinion on it and I was honestly shocked to see how creative this design was going to be for somebody’s yard.  I did not know how the process worked for Lubbock landscapers who worked in the dry dirt of this city.  I told him I was very impressed and he was happy to get my opinion.

Anyway, a guy named George who was a Lubbock catering expert, gave our short talk this morning and he spoke on the topic of being a Change Agent inside and outside of your business.  He said that a change agent was a person who initiated and implemented change within an organization or culture.  We all agreed just how hard it is to introduce change correctly within our businesses and we learned how to pique the interest of people at every stage of the change continuum (from early adopters to laggards).  It was a fantastic talk that led to a ton of discussion amongst the group.  Almost all of us admitted that we had never introduced and implemented change in this way and we all had bad stories to tell about disgruntled workers who preferred the old way to the new bosses’ way.  We learned that it is a skill and an art form to bring change to culture and to our businesses.  George told us to check out a book by Everett Rogers about change agency and innovation.  I don’t know who else in the group is going to buy it, but I definitely am going to.

Well, that was week two – it was a good one.  See you next time.


Day 113 – Thursday hurries

Day 113 – Thursday hurries

Do you ever notice that some days just move faster than other days?  Do you ever feel like you are behind and cannot catch up?  For no reason at all, I felt like that today.  I didn’t sleep in on my short term furnished housing bed and I didn’t take more time than usual in the pool.  I was on target with my departure time and I walked just as quickly as I normally do.  I was on time and yet I was late everywhere I went – does that make any sense at all to you?  I could blame some long red lights if only there had been any – I pretty much hit green lights all day.  Maybe my wristwatch is just falling behind.

Anyway, my lateness led me to feel rushed and when I feel rushed I don’t interact with people as well as I normally do.  This didn’t cause mass effect with the five clients I met with today because they are usually late to our meetings as well.  But I did notice that this rushed attitude did have an impact on my time with Melissa at lunch.  As she talked, I kept checking the clock. I had a pressing meeting with my Lubbock catering client. And I think my voice must have had an abrupt tone to it.  I wanted to be there with her, but something inside of me was pressing forward faster than it needed to be.  She asked me why I wasn’t listening to her and I just said that I was having one of those odd days.  She said she had never seen me like this before – that she had always seen me as fully present when I was with her and that she didn’t like this odd version of me.  We both noted that we should bring this up at our pre-marital counseling because it caused us both problems – me because I wasn’t able to rein this in and her because she didn’t feel listened to. 

Anyway, that’s the way relationships go – this was our first rift or separation moment and I bet those are much more common once the “I Do” is spoken.  I felt bad about it, but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I wondered if I could just fake concentrated love on these odd days – would that be okay?

Meditation:  I stayed in the book of Ezekiel and was moved by this part where an angel was sent to put marks on the heads of those in Israel who grieved the sins of the culture.  Those with head markings would be spared the judgment of God, because they didn’t get involved in the idolatry of their nation and its leaders.  It was like a mini-Passover for individuals who had their whole hearts in line with God and not in line with the junk going on in their country.  This made me wonder what would happen to me in this type of situation – would I be given a mark or would I be seen as someone who had given his heart away to American culture?  I could make several arguments for both sides and that scared me.  How deeply entrenched am I in this sinful world?  Do I grieve and lament the sins of my country or do I just go along with things that I know God hates?  These are questions I need to consider as I press forward in life.  My relationship with Melissa is important but it doesn’t even come close to my relationship with God.  I better get in gear…

That’s all for this rushed day – I hope tomorrow is better.



Day 106 – Friday flip-flops

Day 106 – Friday flip-flops

 Whenever I hear the term flip-flops I usually think about both casual footwear and politicians.  Since this is the political season and our country will be voting for a new President, I mainly think of throwing my flip-flops at the heads of flip-flopping candidates.  And if I have extra flip-flops, I might toss them at the biased talking heads that make it their jobs to educate the noodle-headed public on who they should vote for – I think the whole business is based on a flawed system and since I studied Political Philosophy in college, I am right.  Right?  Two parties trying to send the lesser of ten evils to run for a position as a small part of a weak Executive Branch.  I would not want the job for sure.  I bet it has its perks but I always see those leaving office looking 30 years older than they did when they began.  As well, the job is super hard and you hardly get any credit.  Not for me – But if I did run I would promise to raise the national debt to 25 trillion dollars and I’d legalize casinos in every state – maybe even legalize marijuana for the sick everywhere.  Problem is that you have to be mega rich to even set up a campaign and run.  So, no matter what the winner is going to be a wealthy person and that is a problem for us in the middle class.  What do you think about it all?  Fox News or CNN?

Beyond those national issues, I got back to my short term furnished apartments clients and my Lubbock catering folks.  After I dropped by their offices and discussed the new strategies I would be using on their behalf, I went by my new house in Tech Terrace and called on a management company to run it as a rental for one year.  I told them that I wanted $1,500 per month as the rent and that I preferred either young professionals in the medical or legal systems or grad students that were studying interior design, engineering, or architecture.  I am quite picky about who will rent my home since Melissa and I will be living there after twelve months.  I don’t want anyone who might party every night and make our house a mess.  The management company agreed to handle everything for the next year and I felt better about it all.

Meditation:  I read about how King Nebuchadnezzar turned his wicked life around and started worshipping God after years of being humbled by God.  (He had to live like a wild animal for a long time before regaining his sanity and taking over as King again.)  I thought of what Nebuchadnezzar’s old self was like – how he was the ruler who threw people into fiery furnaces and such.  It made me think of how God can change anyone and how God wants all people to humble themselves and become wholehearted followers.  It also took me back to thoughts about the American election and made me realize that neither of the two candidates will be as bad as Nebuchadnezzar was – no fiery furnaces in the U.S.  So, I think we can all stop griping about our options, right?

You tell me…I’m open to your comments.

Day 98 – Thursday Turns

Day 98 – Thursday Turns

Back at my Corporate Housing space for a late morning swim – I am sort of tired out from doing the drive yesterday – add to that the excitement of growing closer to Melissa while getting lost in the creation that God made so special.  Melissa is dead asleep from her work and I decided to get a late start today.  Instead of 8:30, I went out to meet clients at 10.00.  But I made it up to the company by working late.  I’m so responsible, huh?  I got a call from my short term furnished apartments client and they told me that they wanted to double their budget with my company so that they could see faster results.  I put them in touch with my home office to work out the details and then I set out to pump them up.  This is such an up and down business that you have to learn to ride the waves when they come.  I’m a surfer in business.  Sometimes I get knocked off my board, but most of the time I can hold my balance.

I went by to sign some papers to settle up on my home and also to check to see if my realty clients are happy with the upward swing of their “Lubbock homes for sale” keywords.  They were very happy with the movement and told me that they could already see how the web exposure was bringing in new business.  I assured them that I would continue to focus in on their business growth and we shook on it and let it go.  I also called my company and its Human Resources Division to go ahead and put in my request to remain in Lubbock on a more permanent basis.  They seemed to think it was a good idea if I kept picking up new clients in this area.  They had been talking about setting up a new office for West Texas and I think they were just waiting for someone like me to express a desire to be the head of it.  It’s not yet set in stone, but I let them know I had already purchased a house and would love to move into it in a year or so.  They took it under consideration and would let me know sometime in the future weeks if they agreed to my request.

It’s strange that I also thought that if they didn’t approve this measure I would quit my job with them and try to find one locally that would allow me to stay.  I have always been a company man but sometimes life requires you to make relationships and personal happiness be the priorities that guide your life – my life.  A job and the money that comes with it should never be the chief determinate in decision-making.  I have to remember that.

Speaking of that, my meditation led me back to the place where I need to be seeking God’s Kingdom first – I should be moving around in the Spirit and not based on my own preferences.  I asked God to show me if I was right in seeking to live in Lubbock and I felt that He confirmed it.  Still I need to continue to seek in the big and the little things.  Who wants to be apart from God’s will?  That’s just asking for trouble.  After all the Word says that “apart from God you can do nothing meaningful.”

So there we have it – many big turns on the day make it that much more interesting. 

Day 97 – Wednesday bumps

Day 97 – Wednesday bumps

Well, we made it back from our amazing trip to Ruidoso and landed back at our corporate housing spaces much better than when we left it.  Even though Ruidoso was exceptionally fun, there is always something nice about returning to the familiar.  My pool, my bed, my bathroom – all of it was nice to see.  This short-term furnished apartment/suite has me happy to be in Lubbock.  The unknown is fun for a while but the known is best for me. 

 Anyway, we both hit the ground running.  I got back to my Lubbock catering account because I noticed some odd downward movements with it.  I know it was nothing I did or didn’t do, but I don’t want there to be any further slippage.  I need to dive deeper into the backend of their website to see if I can add some tags that will bolster this realty company’s exposure.  I don’t want to get the reputation as a slacker.  Another bit of bad news that I received in the middle of the afternoon came by way of a call from my Texas college folks – They said that they were going to have to stop their account with our company because of a large budget deficit that they were not expecting.  I was saddened by this news because I really liked working for this group of leaders – I was also quite shocked that they were down in their enrollment – all of their analytics showed that they were being seen by 13,000 people per month – most of them first time visitors.  This usually leads to a huge uptick in clients and customers (in this case, students), but I guess that strong exposure doesn’t always translate to conversion.  I told them that I was bummed that our work was not helping them to bring in more new students.  But, they insisted that it was not our fault.  They said that there were some recruiting issues that probably negated our work for them.  Nice to hear that it was not me who had caused the issue.  Still, it’s never fun to call my company heads and tell them the bad news.

Melissa was scheduled for a day and a half shift – she went in at noon and would not get off until the next morning.  I don’t know how she does it.  The job is hard enough on a normal shift much less a 1.5 day shift.  She is a superstar.  I do love her and I notice that I really respect her too.  She rarely complains and doesn’t let the work bullies win the day.

Meditation:  This one was all about how Jeremiah spoke the unwanted truth to the nation of Israel and as a result was arrested and thrown down into a cistern or a dry well where he couldn’t get free.  This got me to thinking that when God wants something done through one of His servants, it will not always be easy to complete the task.  Sometimes it hurts to serve God.  I haven’t really faced much opposition because I haven’t been called to go and speak against the nation of America.  I cannot say that I am sad that I have been mostly loved by my culture.  Maybe God will change my course after we begin that Bible study…

Day 96 – Tuesday tripping back

Day 96 – Tuesday tripping back

The last day of our trip was great (I, of course, took two official vacation days from my company – Lubbock corporate housing and the restaurants who do catering in Lubbock could give me a couple of days away – their analytics were working without me anyway.)  Melissa and I ate at an amazing local spot called Café Rio that served the best thin crust pizza I have ever had.  Melissa had done great pre-trip research.  Every meal we ate was fantastic and I could really tell that Melissa was excited about having chosen the perfect places for us – We had some buttermilk pie that was delicious – best pie I’ve ever had.  Now I’m second guessing my decision to buy my house from the collection of homes for sale in Lubbock – maybe I should have bought a really cool cabin here in Ruidoso.  Actually, I only had buyer’s remorse for a moment, because I hate the cold weather and I know that Ruidoso snows a bunch.  Me and icy roads do not get along well – I don’t want to fly off of a cliff and there are no cliffs in Lubbock – just overpasses.  I will say that Ruidoso will be a definite vacation spot for us since it is only four hours away from Lubbock – we agreed that we will be hitting it every long weekend.  I need some good poker (I won a thousand bucks by the way) and she needs a good peaceful place to let go.  As well, when we are married we can let go of our PDA rules and enjoy each other fully – probably TMI there, huh? – You probably don’t want to picture me naked.  I sometimes shudder at my own nakedness.

Oh, I totally forgot to mention that I was able to keep up my swimming routine on the trip – both the pool (perfectly warm) and the hot tub (perfectly hot with a sweet fountain) were indoor and allowed for Melissa and me to play around in there.  I love indoor pools and indoor hot tubs – just in case you ever book a trip for me in the future, you can make sure I have those amenities.  As well, Melissa gave both slots and roulette a chance – she really liked both but she hated to lose her money so fast.  (I don’t know how you other Christians view our mini-gambling – is it a sin?  I don’t think so if it is done as a game to be played rather than as a compulsion that kills – but I’m open to your ideas – feel free to comment.)

On the way home from Ruidoso, Melissa and I finished listening to that book on cd and had some deep talks about how we both want to be loved – how we both feel loved – how we can be a team of encouragement that makes a difference in this world.  Married people don’t have to just make it through a grind – married people can be really used by God in so many ways.  We both look forward to seeing how that plays out in our lives.  Anyway, God was great to us on the trip and we showed respect to one another and Him.  We didn’t push back on our boundaries and we prayed together a lot – much of it in silence as we listened for God to teach us through this new view of creation.  I was kind of dreading getting back to the real world after being able to see God so clearly in this space.  But, life must go on and I must look for God more carefully in Lubbock. 

Meditation:  God’s nature can display His power and His nature – no doubt…

Day 93.5 – Saturday Church and church architects

Day 93.5 – Saturday Church and church architects

Before I get into everything else with church and my church architects,  I want to start reviewing this day by saying I almost caused a complete technological disaster for myself and my neighbor.  At a table in the coffeehouse at church (I got there early) I let my hands go flying around as if nothing was near them and I knocked a very hot cup of coffee an inch away from my computer keyboard and about three feet from my partner in caffeination.  Hot coffee spillage sucks the most because you want to grab it as soon as you realize it is going to be a huge mess, but it is so freaking hot that if you do grab it, you are going to first burn yourself, shriek to the heavens as a result, scare everyone around you as you shriek and still the coffee will go down.  Anyway, this was worse than a normal coffee spill because the coffee threatened to land on top of my keyboard and splash onto the keyboard of the person next to me.  It’s one horrible thing to screw up your own laptop and quite another to screw up someone else’s.  Thankfully, I didn’t reach for the coffee this time.  This time I swung my body in between my table and my neighbor’s table while simultaneously lifting my computer up in the air so that no liquid could slip into the inner workings of my laptop.  There is a lot of important material on my computer and so I was relieved to only have coffee on my shirt.  So, besides looking a mess and feeling like a moron for spilling my coffee, everything turned out okay.  I say all of this to remind my readers to be super careful with computers and nearby coffee.  Sometimes we all need a reminder to be careful. 

I called Melissa and asked her to use the key I gave her to grab me another shirt to go with my khakis (she hadn’t left the corporate housing space yet).  I explained the story and she was happy to help me clean up a bit.  When she got to church I changed and all was right with the world.  When we got into the sanctuary, we found our seats and talked about our upcoming premarital counseling sessions.  I could tell she was nervous about it because she said she hoped that the guy wouldn’t be too hard on us because we had only known each other for a few months.  I assured her that if he focused on that as a reason we should back off of each other we would just find another person to counsel us.  But her fear really got me to thinking about that whole issue again.

Does it matter that we have only known each other for a little over two months?  Will this come back to bite us and leave us frustrated that we didn’t take it seriously enough?  I think if we didn’t have almost a year to go before we actually got married this would be a bigger deal.  As long as we have given our relationship a chance to grow for a total of a year (pre-sending out invitations), we can always back out and end up as just friends.  What do you think?  Do you believe in our sort of love and marriage or do you think we are making huge mistakes?

Church service was good – there was a new presentation of the next stage of church design that was to follow the church stage design.  Ah, the wonders of 3D animation…I also saw the head of Pre-K in Lubbock (a friend) and even recognized someone from my corporate housing space.  It's cool to see people you don't expect.  I made sure to go over and greet them and introduce them to Melissa.  Great day at church...