We all hear a lot about the 1%, usually associated with wealth or earning potential.
Last week, Chris Joyce of Joyce Racing called me and asked me to go to lunch with him. He had something to discuss and needed an open minded set of ears to vet a new idea.
My relationship with Chris is like many these days. He is a customer, he is a friend, and he is an investment partner. The joy of that is being savvy enough to make all that work. It works because he is a great person. Many of our modern relationships follow these paths. You start out as A, then life gets in the middle and then you wind up at B and then perhaps C and D. Good people make those multi-level, multi-faceted relationships work. Period.
Yesterday we were finally able to align our calendars. As lunch progressed Chris explained what the new venture looked like. The concept is a new way of mentoring not only up and coming racers, but also their families. To help all involved see the real potential of their young driver and help steer them so that Mom and Dad don’t go broke trying to develop the next Jimmie Johnson, when in reality Little Caleb might not have the proper talent to go forward with his driving. Connect with Chris on Twitter and watch that idea blossom.
Anyway, that is how the 1%’ers got mentioned. Those 1%’ers are one thing, but my mind quickly went to a whole different group of 1%’ers.
Who is the group of people that I was quickly thrust into thinking about?
The people in life that are not satisfied with, “Good Enough”. The folks that will do that last 1% to make everything the best they can make it. Having just moved into a new house, I suppose I am hyper-sensitive to that concept right now. None the less, I love to see it in action and I seek out those who operate at this unique level.
My first recollection of this degree of high-end work was demonstrated to me by a pipe-fitter and welder named Ken Schall. I was “working” one summer, sweeping the fabrication shop floor at McKenney’s, Inc. in Atlanta and Ken was welding together and really fabricating 18, 30” diameter “Wye” fittings for a big job at the Atlanta airport, within the Delta Airlines jet-fuel base. These fittings were unique, not off-the-shelf, therefore custom fabrication was required. Ken meticulously welded and ground, then welded and ground until he thought they were good to go. If memory serves me well, I believe that the X-ray machine that inspected the integrity of the weld passed 17 of Ken’s 18 fittings on the first inspection. I knew, even at the goof-ball age of 14, that Ken Schall was The Man. I had no clue then how big of a feat that truly was, but I knew for darn sure I liked that type of precision and detail.
We all hear a lot about the 1%. But, do we take time to understand what it took to push so hard within one company for the iPhone to be born? The hard work, late nights, and brain-drain required to develop a usable form of AC power, (Thank You Nikola Tesla), only to have a multi-billionaire squelch your work? The efforts of a young sales-lady, named Rachel Daschler, that worked for a local printer, up early, in the rain, to deliver a small box of business cards, allowing me to recognize a newly promoted technician in front of his peers? (Yes, we (www.atftservices.com) subsequently hired her as one of our customer care representatives.)
Personally, I work hard to hit this lofty goal, The challenge coins I carry say, “Striving for excellence”. Thank you Tom Peters for teaching me and explaining the motivation of excellence. The back of the coin says, “Dedicated – Determined – Disciplined”, for which thanks goes to my parents, John & Jackie. These two showed me how to work hard, get after it and never give up.
Do I hit the mark every day?
Not even close.
Do I work at it 99% of the days?
Please take some time when you are out and about to seek out and find those doing the extra (top-shelf) work. Tell them, "Thank you." For that excellent Café Mocha that you have been thinking about all day. For the lowered rate plan you didn't even know you were eligible for. For finding that small issue inside your body during your yearly physical, so that you can handle it while it’s easy.
And please... Say "WOW" to the awesome piece of art-work that was just hand-delivered and that you know exactly where on the refrigerator door it is going to find a home.
Stay curious, stay wide-eyed. See you out there.