Friday, January 23, 2015


Time to talk little trees. With a snowy, or rainy weekend in front of me during which D3 will be taking SAT's and D1 will be on the couch recovering from nasal surgery which took place yesterday, I will likely have lots of quiet time on my hands. At this time of year that means it's time to repot some bonsai trees.

Several of my "inside" trees are root bound in their pots having flourished over the last year or two. With some new supplies just arrived Saturday and Sunday, no football this weekend, should both represent opportunities for micro gardening.

The little trees, as they are called in our house are a very diverse collection of very mediocre attempts at the art of bonsai. I am proud of two of my dozen or so trees given their age and the transformation I have been able to achieve. Both have severe issues though compared to classic examples of the art and likely these issues are beyond the scope of my acquired talent having moved through novice into semi novice territory. (That's my own judgement rather than any real designation ). With my oldest tree, I started with a skinny little trunk and have been very good at creating an intricate canopy of ratified branches. Over some eight or nine years it has developed quite well except for that skinny trunk. Now I would be faced with starting over should I want to pull the tree and perform any of the trunk thickening techniques bonsai masters describe. I just don't know if I could pull this off. The second tree is my chinese elm. It has the best (smallest) leaves of any in my collection and and I dramatically changed it from a little undeveloped mass of leaves when I bought it to a very pretty formal upright style. Again though I have trouble at the bottom. Whoever originally potted this tree hacked the roots horribly leaving a massive blunt edge on one of the leading nebari. In addition there are literally no roots coming out of the back of the tree making it a pretty much one sided viewing experience. The solution here would be grafting but I feel this too is beyond my skill and besides I have no available root stock were I even to attempt this kind of surgery. Instead I will have to try to carve the roots at some point and hope for some good growth at the back by promoting the surface root growth during repotting. Which brings me back to this weekend.

I have four trees to work on and each has some potential to be a nice example of the style I've chosen. Keeping in mind all of my earlier mistakes I will attempt to improve with each opportunity. Art, like life requires evolution and evolution requires practice and drive to improve. Now where have I heard those qualities before?

Looking forward to some time in the little forest as it snows outside.

And that makes me happy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Be Honest, Be Direct, Be Decisive

I know the answer. I've known it for a while, but have been hoping for a turn around. It isn't coming, I know that, but it still stinks.

When you hire a new employee you have great hopes. Depending on how good a job you did on your due diligence you generally get what you paid for and there aren't any major surprises. There are always a few quirks that you didn't see in the interview process but if you have focused on the important stuff during your discussions the work related activity should not be in question. Putting those quirks aside you watch as your new resource goes to work and digs into the new task. There is energy and enthusiasm. There is a lot of activity and questions. They have thoughts on how to approach the market and old contacts they want to reach out to. How do you pitch? What works best for you? What are the major objections?

Yes, this is the fire in a new sales person. I know this because I see it all the time. But what if it just isn't there? How could this have happened? I have been hiring sales people for a long time and I think I'm pretty good at it. But I got fooled. Or perhaps I thought I had uncovered a diamond in the rough and was so anxious to see it shine that I ignored some of my due diligence depth and breadth. Either way, I now have a person unsuited for their role and I need to fix it. Unfortunately for this person that means telling them the truth, in full detail including my view of their future aptitude for sales, and being decisive about ending their time with us.

I have been hoping and giving the benefit of the doubt. I have been waiting for signs of life, and I have been questioning. A month ago I raised the alarm suggesting that this person really needed to get cranking. I asked for updates and input into our CRM. I suggested a game plan and offered ways to approach it. And nothing. I don't mean tried and failed, I mean nothing. Not a single outbound message, not a single piece of work that would suggest any effort towards selling. There is literally no sign of this person doing anything. I can't say I'm actually surprised.

Ultimately it doesn't matter why they are not doing their job. I'm sorry if the reason is that they are scared or unsure of how to start but those excuses went out the window a month ago. What I need to do now is correct my course. I need that position to perform and so I need to change. That's it. Feel bad all you want but be honest, with yourself and them. Be direct as you describe why you are acting. And, be decisive ending this mistake as quickly as possible so we can get on with the task and the person gets on with their life. In the end a person not suited to a job will be happier once relieved of it and our success depends on my action. Do it now, get it done and start over. A tough issue but now resolved.

And that makes me happy.