Managing Like A Master Or At Least A Sensei

First let me state that I am not an expert at Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu or any other martial art, so I don’t need the Kobra Kai dojo at my door threatening to beat me up.

As the story goes; the student says to his master, “I know everything,” the master says “then you know nothing.”

If most of you have watched any one of the 42 karate kid movies, you are familiar with the DOJO, or school or place where you do “business.”

I have been to a few Dojo ’s; some are in the scariest part of town in an old rundown building that you probably should already have your black belt. As you enter any good Dojo, the one thing you will notice is the cleanliness and organization.  Everything in its place, clean mirrors, clean mats, it is just organized.  The interesting part is that there is no cleaning crew that spruces the place up for you, it is the students of the Dojo that take pride in the place of learning.  It is those-that-learn that clean.

Your Dojo is a reflection of Your Sensei.  Your Dojo is where you practice your trade, hone your skills and become a Student of the Art.  It is a place of learning, a place of pride, a place of belonging; it is a reflection of you!

So keep your Dojo (place of business) clean and organized 

A Sensei is Humble.  A Sensei knows the amount of work it takes at each level. He has respect for anyone who is going to get on the mat and hammer out the process.  A Sensei knows that no matter how much they know, no matter how much they learn there is always someone smarter and better than they are.  A Sensei appreciates the work, the time and the effort it takes to put mind, body, and spirit together to achieve your goals.  A Sensei has a great amount of respect for those that have handed down the ART  and by being humble they show the respect to those that have come before.

Stay humble.

A Sensei is quick to correct errors.  The Sensei wants to correct errors before their student develops bad habits.  He owes it to the student to not let them develop bad habits that will hurt them later.  It is the Sensei’s responsibility to his master and the master before that to make sure the student is a reflection of his work.  If the student fails the Sensei fails.

So be quick to correct problems. 

A Sensei is hard working.  Working with his students, working on himself.  Ever improving, ever learning.  The Sensei understands that he too is a student of the art and he must learn to teach.

So work hard on improving yourself.

A Sensei is there to push you, push you out of your comfort zone, beyond what you think your limits are.  To help you discover what your maximum potential is.  A Sensei Is not there to cause injury to you but to make sure you are pushed every day, so you grow.

So push your people to grow.

A Sensei wants to promote you.  A Sensei wants to promote you, he works on your skills and improves your ability to get you to the next rank.  His job is to make you better them himself so that you too can pass on the Art.

So work to promote your people, make them better than yourself.

A Sensei Is respectful and demands respect.  Respect keeps everyone working in a common direction.  If you disrespect your students how can they have respect for you or anyone else in the Dojo?  While you are at the Dojo, the goal is to learn and work, to stay focused and not get caught up in horseplay.  It is an Art, and it must be treated as such.

So be respectful and businesslike.

A Sensei is responsible for anyone that enters the Dojo.  To be part of a good Dojo there is an interview process to assure you are of a good character to be a member.  If you are a good member of the Dojo, you make everyone better and you are responsible for that.

Don’t let bad character into your Dojo.

Keep your rank to yourself in public. A good Dojo does not allow you to wear your rank outside of the Dojo.  What you are in the Dojo and your depth of knowledge is only for the Dojo.  The only thing others need to know is that you are a member just like everyone else is.  It’s about the Dojo, the members, and the Art, not your rank.

Remember it’s about your Dojo, not you.

Lastly, those that don’t understand the Art and are not willing to practice the Art do not need to know about the Art.  Those outside the Dojo will not understand what it takes, how much work it is and the sacrifices you give for the art.

Therefore you cannot explain it to them.  So you keep your skills to yourself.

So keep confidential stuff confidential.

In closing, I will tell you that much of my day to day activities are influenced by my martial arts training – stay humble, have respect, don’t allow bad behavior, push and grow your students, be quick to correct errors, promote your people, and never stop working on yourself.  It’s all about your Dojo and the people in it, in the end, it will be about the craft and how the individual respects it, use it for good and handing it down to well deserving students.



A sales representative working in an outbound sales role makes his daily calls—talking to his trusted customers and potential new clients.  He reaches a familiar client, a client with whom he has done much business with in the past.  The client urgently orders from the sales rep, suggesting he forgot to order the product the previous week.  The sales rep hesitates, however, he expedites the sales process because he is all but certain his company can help; the order can be filled, processed, and shipped in time to help his client, the sales representative makes the sale for $10,000 and profits $3000.

In the sales reps decision to expedite the process, he has implicitly considered and effectively discounted the possibility that another sales representative may have a deal already working, or that management may have a desired markup on the product.  A mistake was made because the owner had promised this material to another vendor– the sales rep did not ask the necessary questions and now another company may not receive the needed product on time, although they had called promptly.

Let’s consider the accountant, working long hours inputting and calculating, following policies, procedures, and attending continuing education classes.  She looks at one data entry point, and a question emerges.  She says to herself, “that number does not look right.” After looking deeper at the spreadsheet, she realizes her mistake—she has been entering data and the calculation she programmed months ago is incorrect.  Every report driving from that report has been inaccurate, has been wrong.

Mistakes.  The human condition.  Everyone makes them, yet how we react and rebound is incredibly different.  How we react and rebound is, yes, partially a construct of our upbringing, emotional intelligence, our level of resiliency.

But to you Mr. or Mrs. Leader, I ask this question:  Have you done your job in creating a psychologically safe environment for your employees to be human and to make mistakes?  I think most of us will agree, we learn from failure; yet, we also punish failure with real or perceived consequences.

To you Mr. or Mrs. Mistake Maker, I ask this question:  Have you considered how valuable your mistake may be when considering the opportunity you are providing for training, dialogue, team learning, and personal growth?

There are theories to help explain reactions to mistakes by both the mistake maker and the authority figures involved.  Some of the theories you may find interesting and related to this topic include the social justice theory, procedural justice theory, and the interactional justice theory.

So, how do you create the environment to push creativity, new thought, innovation, and change?  Well, talk to your people.  Here is what we have done.  We conducted several small meetings to pass the message that we are a termination free zone for associates who make mistakes.  The exception to the rule includes deception, fraud, and dishonesty.  Beyond this short list of exceptions what would make you compelled to terminate a world-class employee who made a mistake?  The dollar amount?

Let’s talk about the dollar amount for a moment.  If you have no protections in place to safeguard poor decisions from costing you, let’s say $10,000 or more, then the mistake is yours.  Yes—you read that right.  The mistake is yours for not safeguarding your assets from human error.  Let it be a lesson for both you and your associate who made the $10,000 error—oh, and the entirety of the organization.

So, how should you handle making a mistake at work?  My answer is quite simple.  Fess up to the mistake, and then take the role of training others how not to repeat the same mistake.  And, should you face an environment where learning is not the reaction, then maybe the mistake actually started when you accepted a position there and the fix might be looking for new work.


Best of luck!

Dr. Scott

Where Have All the Good Flatbed Truckers Gone?

Trucking is one of the hardest battles we are fighting in the industry.  Who, will go where for what amount? We have all heard the discussion, 20,000 drivers short, Electronic logs, new regulations, large companies consuming small ones etc. On top of all of that, only a small percentage of those trucks are flatbeds.

So If I am a freight hauler what is my advantage to a flatbed if it isn’t revenue?

In reality, I have to tarp, strap, over width, over length, shift loads and the list goes on.  To the D.O.T hauling, the flatbed has to be like walking in the mall with only your underwear on… Your junk is kinda of exposed for inspection. 😊

Yet, as a shipper, high freight rates can affect sales, but NOT having a truck is worse than paying too much for a truck… Right? Wrong?

So what is the answer?  None of us want to or feel we can afford higher rates. The big brokerages are telling us to align with them or we won’t get trucks. Yet they want regular loads to regular locations (Repeat)?  Many of our small haulers have given into the big box truckers or simply tapped out due to the changes.

Yet with all the changes to make the driver’s life safer, more efficient and wealthier, they still arrive to our door step, exhausted, frustrated and without information.

Communication between, shipper, broker and receiver is awful. Everybody is trying to operate in a hush hush environment.  Perhaps we have done it to ourselves? As Brene’ brown put it, “Everyone wants to know why customer service has gone to hell in a handbasket. I want to know why customer behavior has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

What is going to fix it? I am not an expert so this is just my point of view but it’s going to have to be a joint effort between the consigners, brokers, and haulers.  This segment of the industry is specialized and should be handled as such.

It is far different from the Box Truck industry and requires a special set of skills that is taught by who? Should these special service folks be recognized and handled separately?  Flatbed hauling has to be like the special forces or something right??   Brokers are going to have to work in networks and hand off trucks, truckers are going to have to work with shippers to assure Quick and equitable loading. Receivers need to get products off the trucks and get them on their way.

And lastly, We all need to show each other the respect that we all deserve to be in the flatbed business…Just as special forces folks respect all other special forces.

You are all a special breed and we should all start acting like it.

That’s how we are going to get everyone what they need…

We will all have to be NICE to each other!.


How Many Sales Associates Do You Need?

How many sales people do I need? Well, that’s easy, take your total sales for the last five years, no…the last 10 years…well maybe we can use the last 7 years… anyway, take that number, ( NO not what you paid taxes on, the REAL number) get the average of that time period. ( if you can’t do that, then go back to sales).   Anyway take the average sales for the time period, figure out your gross sales, take that number multiply it by 20%.  Divide that number by half the days in 6 years.   Multiply that number by Pi and then carry the X… hell I have no idea how many you NEED.  I don’t think they taught me that in school.

Continue reading How Many Sales Associates Do You Need?

The Leadership Factor of Kindness

I’ve noticed a trend in posts and articles on social media explaining why being kind is a sure-fire way to be taken advantage of.  The subtext is that leaders are too kind when they are agreeable, or when they ignore poor performance, or are becoming too deluded and diluted with busy schedules.  These texts lead one towards thinking the act of being kind is a weakness, with the outcome of kindness pre-destined to be problematic.

Continue reading The Leadership Factor of Kindness

Why Hire a Millennial?

Well, first you can’t spell it.. secondly I have been up all night thinking about it… Lastly, I am an 80’s kid farm boy from Idaho who never finished college and got to the top the hard way, so I really struggled with them, so what the hell, here we go…

Continue reading Why Hire a Millennial?

Choosing the Right Leaders For the Job.

In our current business environments, many managers find themselves scratching their head at the dozens of leadership articles crossing their desks in magazines or emails.  Even social media now seems to target those of us in management positions with the latest leadership tactics in attempts to gain our “click.”  Yes, there are dozens of leadership theories—each with valid points and weak points.  No, we as leaders will never perfect each of these theories in practice and ride away in a blaze of leadership glory. Continue reading Choosing the Right Leaders For the Job.

For Simple Structural Should You Use Reject??

Through the years Reject pipe has been called everything from Reject, commercial grade, Prime secondary and the like.  The truth is “Reject is just that, Reject.” At some point in the inspection process, the pipe did not meet the requirements. Not to be confused with Downgraded (different topic) . Continue reading For Simple Structural Should You Use Reject??

Should We Buy Structural Pipe Inventory in This Market?

Good question… We all know we can afford to buy small quantity inventories on A, B, and C items at higher prices and not get caught with overpriced inventory if the market recoils.

So the question is, will prices back off? Based on the price increases we received this week it doesn’t look that way.  As we all wait on pins and needles to see the final 232 decisions,  we can make a plan that we still need to move pipe. Continue reading Should We Buy Structural Pipe Inventory in This Market?