Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Brief but Busy Update!

A couple of great things going on at the moment!

First, the WEFTEC conference in New Orleans was an incredible success!  I spoke 4 times there this year (that is certainly a record for me… it may be a WEFTEC record as well.)   It kept me hopping but it was a great show with a lot of great feedback.  If you attended and wanted copies of my presentations, they can be downloaded at the following links:

The New Business Model for Today’s Successful Utility - Elected Officials Briefing

You’ve Got a Financial Plan… Now What – Financial Workshop Presentation

Winning Team Onboarding

Will You Survive The Night of The Boomer Exodus?

Tomorrow (October 15, 2012), I am presenting the keynote address at the AL/MS Section of AWWA Annual Conference in Mobile, Alabama. If you are attending this great conference, please stop by the opening general session and give me a listen! I am also presenting on Tuesday on the need to deliver WOW service to our captive audience of customers here in the utilities industry. It's a message more people in the public sector need to take heed of so please stop by if you can. It really can make a big difference in your operation.

Finally, the October issue of MSW (Municipal Sewer and Water) Magazine just came out and features my company, Daphne Utilities, and the efforts we have gone through to both protect the environment and build a great, positive relationship with our customers.  You can read the article at the following link:

 Wow!  Talking about staying busy! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cape Cod in the Fall… New Orleans Just Ahead

It was my distinct honor to keynote the New England Water Works Association Annual Conference in Cape Cod, Mass this past week.  It was a truly uplifting and great experience from start to finish!  By far one of the best conferences I have ever attended!  Thank you to everyone up there who made me feel so welcome.  I know that most of them could barely understand my southern dialect but all were extremely friendly and made the trip a quite memorable experience… surely something I needed after the recent loss of my mother. 

Next week, I am in New Orleans speaking multiple times at the Water Environment Federation’s WEFTEC conference.  WEFTEC is the largest utilities trade show on the planet and, somehow, I managed to volunteer for more activities there than there are hours in the conference!  I’m speaking at a financial planning workshop, two technical sessions on HR subjects, an elected officials workshop, three committee meetings and at least two dinners out.  As much as I love giving away information, somewhere in all of that, I need to find time to gather information to help me and my utility out, too!  I hate to be short here, but I have a lot to do yet to be fully prepared. 

In my next post, I’ll explain why most utility companies and Lindsey Lohan have a lot in common… and that is NOT meant as a compliment!  Stay tuned!!

Tragedy... and an Unwelcome Metamorphosis

I apologize for taking some time off of my blog.  My mother recently passed away and that has literally consumed me for several weeks.  I survived as we all must but the whole reality of it all has yet to fully sink in.  A friend once told me that you never truly become an adult until you lose both of your parents and have no one left with whom you can become a child again.  In that sense, I guess I am now an adult.  Yay.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to WOW in Your Interview Now!

I interviewed candidates to fill a management position with my company last week and... wow, was I underwhelmed at some of the performances. Really? You're telling me that this was the best "sales pitch" you could offer? If you won’t prepare ahead of time for an important meeting to benefit you, what makes me think you’d prepare for a meeting to benefit my company?

As a manager, it’s my job to hold the line and hire only theright candidate every time (not the "least worst"). It’s not my problem if most candidates are unprepared for the interview (in fact, it saves me time because those interviews are very short). At the end of the day, I am only hiring the one who is prepared and delivers a great performance.

On a personal level, however, I would like to see more candidates delivering better interviews. To help them prepare to do this, I have been giving presentations in colleges and at job fairs across my area on interviewing skills. I have also been contributing lately to the “Job-Hunt Help” group in LinkedIn. As a result of that, I have been contacted by people from across the country asking questions about this subject.

To broaden the reach of this information, I am offering my slideshow for download freely at the link below. If you ever envision yourself interviewing for another job anytime during your life (and that should include just about all of us), you will benefit from reviewing this PowerPoint Slideshow.

Just follow the link below to download the slideshow. It’s about 17MB in size so give it a minute to download. There are notes in the notes section of every slide for you to follow so it is sort of like reading a book with pictures (…okay, reading a book with pictures that can help you land a job making a whole lot of money). Good luck and good hunting!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pew! It's Time To Change The Baby!

I recently took my family out to eat following my son’s high school graduation. It would have been a perfect day…except for the screaming baby in the booth right behind us. The parents hardly seemed to notice their baby, however. They ate and talked while their baby screamed and threw food all around him. (From the smell, I am fairly certain it needed to be changed, too!) How could these people not notice how smelly and disturbing their baby was being to everyone in that restaurant?

The truth is that they cannot see, hear or smell the baby because it is THEIR baby. They see it every day. They smell it every day. They have seen it throw much worse tantrums in the past. They are so close to the baby that what it is doing right now doesn’t even seem that bad to them. The baby has become “invisible”.

The same thing can happen in our businesses. We work in the same building every day so we do not see the carpet getting dirtier over time. We eat lunch in the same break room every day and so we don’t even notice that the counters are getting stained and stickier each day. We ride in the same trucks every day and so we do not see the drink cans and candy wrappers that accumulate in them. In the course of our jobs, we have all experienced a major crisis or two in the past and worked in some pretty horrible conditions to fix a problem. As a public utility, we’ve seen things that were vile and smelled things that would make you gag…so a small sewer spill in someone’s yard doesn’t seem to be anything important. We are so close to what we do every day that much of it, like that baby in the restaurant, has become invisible to us.

To be great at what we do, we cannot allow our “baby” to become invisible. We must force ourselves to open our eyes fresh and new every day. We must look at our facilities, trucks, uniforms and worksites the same way a customer does when they see them for the first time. To run the kind of business we must be, we need to remember that the “baby” is ours. It smells worse than we think it does. It’s louder and more obnoxious than we think it is. If we try to ignore it, it’s only going to get worse. Our “baby”…our company… needs to be changed… for the better. It’s OUR job to change OUR baby.

When was the last time you checked on your “baby”?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blown Away by the Reception at ACE2012 Conference!

The presentation at the AWWA ACE2012 Conference went far better than I ever imagined! Thank you to everyone who attended. The reception was simply stunning! Standing room only and mobbed afterwards for copies of my "recipe card" hand-outs and business cards. I will have the slideshow posted on my share point site as soon as I return home and will be sending links to all those who left cards with me. If you did not leave me a card and want a copy, please drop me an email at and I will get it out to you as well ASAP! If you need a dynamic speaker for your next conference, please drop me a line as well. I am trying to change our entire industry and spreading the word that "good enough" isn't good enough anymore is very much a crusade for me. I would love to help your conference be more successful and willing to help you if at all possible. I'll also be posting a quick synopsis of the ACE2012 conference presentation "How FoodTV Helped Transform My Utility From Kitchen Nightmare to Top Chef" here on my blog in the coming days. Looking ahead, please make plans to attend any of the multiple presentations I will be making at this year's WEFTEC coming up in New Orleans this October. Again, thank you so much for the warm reception! It was truly my honor to present to you. Now, go out and DO something with the lessons you learned!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Great Conference in Indiana!

Things have been very busy and I am sorry for the lag in my postings!  Last week, I traveled to Bloomington, Indiana to speak at the Alliance Indiana Rural Water Conference.  While I was there, I provided three different addresses:
-          The keynote address at the opening ceremony:  This was a short talk I love giving about the things my father passed on to me over the years and how they have helped me build a steady and prosperous career over time.  My dad was hilarious in the stories he would tell me and in the things he would say.  Some day, I am going to write a book just about that.  He always knew exactly what to say to me to get my attention so that I would actually hear his point rather than blowing him off as not nearly as smart an me in my youth.  I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote about his father.  When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”  Priceless!

-          An hour-long presentation on my "Good Enough Isn't" Method:  Again, great participation and a lot of follow-up requests for additional information.  That is always great feedback to a speaker!

-          The Guest Speaker at the Operator’s Awards Luncheon:  I spoke about the powerful return on investment from having a great customer service program and again used my father’s words as illustration of the points.  Special thanks to “Duke” who helped me through one of my illustrations.  I had no idea that this person was quiet and shy when I picked him from the crowd.  It turns out that he was the perfect volunteer!  Thanks again!

Thank you to AIRW Executive Director Connie Stevens and her entire staff for putting on such a great conference.  It was truly a first class event from start to finish!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thanks for a GREAT Conference!

Thanks to everyone who attended my sessions at the Utility Management Conference this week in Miami!  It was a truly great conference and probably the best I have ever attended.

I spoke twice at this conference.  On Monday, my business partner Danny Lyndall and I conducted a half-day workshop on our "Good Enough Isn't" method of running a successful company and the feedback was extraordinary. It was a big group and we covered a lot of ground in a short time but, from the feedback forms I've read, everyone took something significant away and that was, of course, the purpose.  If any of you have additional questions or need any assistance going forward, just call or email me. I am more than happy to help!

On Wednesday, I spoke on "Communicating Value to the Customer: The Incredible ROI of Great Customer Service", a subject in which I am very passionate!  I had more than 30 people leave me their cards for additional info and materials from this training session!  I'll ship it out as soon as possible... most likely Friday of this week.  If I did not get your card and you would still like the Customer Service training booklet I offered the attendees, don't worry... just drop me an email at or and I'll send it to you as well!

A number of you also asked about my availability to speak at your business or conference.  I do engage in public speaking and workshop training and would be happy to discuss with you your specific needs and how I might be able to support you in this area.  I speak at many  conferences across the country on a variety
of subjects...from hour long presentations to full day workshops as well as keynote addresses. Just drop me a line.  I am sure we can work something out.

Again, thank you to everyone who attended my presentations in Miami.  Please call on me if I can support you in any way.