For the majority of my professional life I have run my own business. This wasn't actually part of my master plan, it just happened to work out this way.
To be quite honest, I love the control, the balancing of roles, and the freedom — although I tend to work most weekends and at least 12 hours a day during the week.
Huh! They are a sign of weakness.
Can you go and see a movie in the middle of the day?
However, you will most likely be burning the midnight oil while ‘serial employees’ are tucked snuggly in their beds.
I went to a great college, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)–but my real professional preparation came from a gentleman that I worked for, during my high school and college summers.
Bud Jenkins, was the golf pro at the Pennhills Club in my hometown of Bradford Pennsylvania. Bud was like a second father to me, and provided the ‘push’ that I needed to get out of my rural western Pennsylvania town and into a big city environment–where I could best succeed in the professional path that I had selected.
It was Bud who taught me the phrase, “If you can’t go first class, don’t go at all.”
He was a risk-taker and many times, marched to the beat of his own drum.
In his youth, unsuccessfully tried out for a catching position with the Chicago Cubs.
As a young man, Bud spent many years working as assistant pro and later pro at the New Orleans Country Club, where he enjoyed the colorful clientele that you might expect from such an establishment.
He once told me that if he could do anything that he wanted in life, he would find a job on Bourbon Street, where as a barker, he would usher people in and out of one seedy establishment or another.
As a golf professional, within a private country club, Bud supplemented his modest salary with profits from his pro shop retail sales as well as by providing one-on-one golf lessons.
As members of Bud’s pro shop team, it was our responsibility to take care of members as they entered and exited the golf course. The serious golfers kept their bags in the back room of the golf shop, where they were carefully cleaned and stowed after each round.
In addition to teaching me the general rules of business, Bud taught me was how to professionally manage my personal feelings, while conducting professional business services. In other words, how to bite your lip, and remain polite–despite whatever might be being tossed your way.
In the back room of the pro shop, where no customers were permitted, Bud had placed a small business card size sign above doorway.
We could read it. Members could not.
The sign read:
“When you're up to your neck in alligators, it's easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp."
I can be working around the clock for days on end–but when there is a sudden lull in the action, this little sign suddenly pops into my head.
This in a nutshell, is the most difficult part of running your own business. The merry-go-round never stops. But at the end of a long day–what a feeling of accomplishment!
A couple of years ago, I was able to track down Bud through his daughter, Teresa. He was still living at the time but his mind was being ravished by Alzheimer’s Disease.
In my short telephone conversation with Teresa, she said that he would often say, “I know that I had a great life, I just wish that I could remember it.” – Doug.