My *&$%# Garmin
“You don’t run against a bloody stop watch, do you hear? A runner runs against himself, against the best that’s in him. Not against a dead thing of wheels and pulleys. That’s the way to be great, running against yourself. Against all the rotten mess in the world. Against God, if you’re good enough.” Bill Persons – fictional coach in Hugh Atkinson’s “The Games”
Most runners are obsessed with statistics. We scrupulously keep track of our time, our distances, and most of all our PR’s (personal records). In some running blogs, the authors sign off with their name and then a string of times and distances. For instance –
Speeddemon81 10 1:12:59 (2014); 13.1 1:35:55 (2013); 26.2 3:23:31 (2013).
For the uninitiated, the fictional Speeddemon81 ran 10 miles in 1 hour 12 minutes and 59 seconds in 2014. A half-marathon in 1 hour, 35 minutes and 55 seconds, and a full marathon in 3 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds in 2013. Speeddemon81 logs every single mile he or she runs, records the weather, what he or she ate before, during, and after the run, and has never, ever said “the GPS says it’s 9.8 miles, let’s round it to an even 10.”
Contrary to Coach Person’s advice, many runners track their speed, time, and distance using a GPS watch. There are quite a few brands. I use a Garmin 405. Many of those runners actually have a pet name for their watch. “Sadistic B*&$#”, “Princess Timex”, and “Bob” are a few names that I’ve heard. The name of my Garmin cannot be reprinted or even spoken in polite company – ever.
That’s because of the love/hate relationship that I have with the little *&$%#. The problem with my GPS watch is that it insists upon itself. It offers all of this real time information that tells me precisely how well or poorly my run was in relation to all of my other runs. To make matters worse, the little *&$%# uploads to my computer so that I can remind myself of my failures and successes any time that I please. I love my Garmin because it lets me keep track of my progress and my level of effort. I hate her because she doesn’t let me run for the sheer pleasure of running.
Some businessmen can become addicted to the financial aspects of their business. They can bury themselves in Excel spreadsheets and Quickbooks analyses for hours looking for the magic solution to growth and profit. They forget that their business isn’t simply numbers in columns on a page. They forget that their business didn’t start in the virtual world of Excel, but rather in their garage with 3 people and an idea. For some of those owners, their people become sources of revenue and expense rather than the muscle and sinew that drive their company forward.
Now, don’t get me wrong – numbers, spreadsheets, and critical analysis have their place in every business and are necessary for proper decision-making. I spend more than a few evenings each month running numbers, statistics, and projections for my Long Island law firm. But those numbers, by themselves, are just tools. The real business is in the people – our employees, our clients, and everyone else that touches us. Much of what they do can’t be reduced to a number on a page. So, if you’re the runner/businessman who obsesses about the numbers and gets lost in the details, do what I do.
Every once in a while, take the little *&$%# off your wrist, and go for a run without her. You might surprise yourself by getting in touch with what really matters.
SilvermanAcampora is sponsoring the 2nd annual Long Beach Music Festival this weekend, April 24th through April 26th. Come enjoy a variety of great bands including music performed by, our personal favorite, Petey Mix. We hope to see you there! Click here for the official Long Beach Music Festival website or here for more details.
On May 6, 2015, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce will honor Brian Powers, an associate of the Firm, at its “Celebrate Long Island’s Young Professionals” event as one of Long Island’s “30 Under 30.”
The 30 honorees are under the age of 30 and are being recognized for having made a notable impact on their business, industry, and community. The applicants had to have been under the age of 30 before Jan. 1, 2015 and were judged on the impact they have had on their organizations and their contributions to their communities. The honorees come from all business sectors – including public, private, government, and non-profit.
For more information about the event or the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, please click here.
(Or The Things We Don’t Talk About)
“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” – Really? You don’t know who said this?
So, one of my friends who just started running sheepishly asks me whether I know why his toenail is black, what it means, and whether I’ve ever had it happen to me.
Uh, yes? The truth is – I was damn excited when I lost my first toenail. Yes, you read that correctly. When I lost my first toenail. Over the years, I’ve lost more than a few. Run long enough and hard enough and you will too.
When I picked up my orthotics, my podiatrist noticed my black left “pointer” toe and casually commented “you’re going to lose that, you know.” I just smiled.
Yeah. I know.
Black toenails happen because your shoes are too small, or your toes jam into the front when you run and cause excessive pounding over long distances, or you run up (and then down) a lot of hills. Dropping a tree stump on your foot will also work.
Oh yeah. I know that too.
The funny thing is that black toenails are the natural consequence of running. They are disgusting to look at but they are never fatal. Run long enough and it’s going to happen. It’s so “normal” for a runner to lose a nail that we just don’t talk about it. They seem like a big deal the first couple of times but then you just get used to them.
Businesses have their own black toenails, even my own Long Island law firm. They are the problems that are caused by day-to-day operations that, like your too-tight shoes, are just not properly tuned in. Like my black left toenail, those problems are an indication that your business needs adjustment.
Maybe your black toenail is an area that is holding your business back. Focus on your marketing, sales, production, human capital, and operations so that all of them are progressing. If one is limiting your business, focus on it.
Maybe your black toenail is your refusal to pay for great talent or overpaying for mediocre talent. Hiring at a discount might seem like a good idea until a mistake costs you more than the salary differential. Overpaying for a mistake is worse. Like the right pair of running shoes, having the right personnel helps avoid the black toenail.
No matter what the cause, the black toenail is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored. It means that something needs to be fixed before it becomes much worse. Black toenails might look bad but they usually have an easy fix. For a runner, it might be as simple as wearing thinner socks. For your business, it might mean . . . well, it’s your toe; you have to figure that out.
My Two Left Socks
“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright
The technology of modern running gear is really quite astounding and my family loves to buy it for me. My closet is full of shirts, shorts, hats, and socks made from the latest and greatest sports textiles known to man. And, they all have snappy names. DryFit, ColdFit, WarmFit, BuyFit. It’s right out of a Dr. Seuss book. More importantly, every single one of those hi-tech items comes in a dizzying array of embarrassingly loud Day-Glo colors that can be seen unaided from the International Space Station.
I have almost all of them. Although my family claims that the fluorescent lime green outfits that I am doomed to wear are necessary to “protect” me when I run on dark mornings, I’m more inclined to believe that I’m the unwilling participant in a test to see just how far they can push my fashion sense. Joke’s on them – I don’t have fashion sense.
The truth is that I love new technology, but sometimes it goes too far. Take socks, for example. Did you know that running socks now come shaped for left and right feet? That’s right. Gone are the days when you can pull on a pair of socks willy-nilly and head out the door. Now, you need to check for the little L or R embroidered on the toe before you lace up your New Balance. If, you have several pairs in the same color, you might find yourself, like I did, with two left socks.
What happens when you run 5 miles wearing two left socks? Well . . . nothing, actually (I know that’s a bit anticlimactic).
The point is that expensive glow-in-the-dark socks, woven exclusively by NASA using space age polymers, won’t make you a better runner. Only running makes you a better runner.
In business, popular opinion is that only those companies with the latest and greatest technology can compete successfully. As online interactions take the place of personal interactions (phone calls or meetings), all of that great technology can actually cause more problems than it solves. Sometimes, the old-fashioned way is still the best way, especially when it comes to interacting with customers, or in the case of my Long Island law firm, clients. If you feel like it’s impossible to keep up with all of the new business technology, maybe it’s time to realize that there is no single special app that works seamlessly with how your business operates and that makes you feel good when you launch it. No single application can make a huge difference in your business because that single magical app does not exist.
For some business owners, too much technology can actually hold their business back because they are on a constant hunt for the miraculous solution to their invoicing, CRM, WordPress, or social media issues. Spending countless hours scouring the internet for the one thing that will make your business great steals time from the one thing that actually can – your undivided attention.
If you have a specific problem that costs you time or money and you have the resources to deal with it, then go for it. But, to constantly look for the next “big thing” when everything is working fine is a waste of time and resources. The truth is you don’t even need socks.
A Brand New Pair of Shoes
“The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.” Thomas à Kempis – Dutch priest, 1427
“You’re a supinator,” my podiatrist told me the other day. “You run on the outside of your feet. It puts a few things out of alignment.” I shrugged. “Have you ever had any serious injuries?” he asked. Nope. Except for the rolled ankle (which wasn’t my fault), I’ve never had any problems with my ankles, knees, calves or lower back. He looked skeptical. I’m a pretty big guy and most people, including my doctors, can’t imagine that miles and miles of road pounding don’t take their toll on my body. But … they don’t. Everyone knock on some wood for me.
Anyway, after a little convincing, my podiatrist decided that this Long Island lawyer needed orthotics. After a cool computer scan and several hundred dollars, he presented me with a brand new set of running orthotics. I slapped those puppies in my favorite kicks and took off for an “easy 6 miles.” Four miles in, they hurt a bit. Nothing bad, but enough to remind me that something was different. Not extremely different. Just different. This morning’s 4 miles, again with the ortho’s, went off without a hitch. In fact, I think everything felt a little better than usual.
Last week, we talked about how the fundamentals are crucial to running form and function. So is a proper foundation. Not too long ago, one of my partners, Steve Kuperschmid, a ‘sometimes’ runner and a serious equestrian, told me that his back hurt on his most recent Threasy. I asked him when he had last bought new running shoes, but he couldn’t remember because it had been quite a while. I suggested new shoes; that solved his problem.
All of this got me thinking about fundamentals and foundation. In running, your feet, ankles, and legs must provide a solid foundation if you are going to cover any distance at all. In fact, your pulmonary and circulatory systems adapt far quicker than your skeleton, tendons, muscles, and connective tissue. In business, unless you have a solid financial, legal, and operational foundation, your business cannot withstand the pounding of competition.
Over the last several years, more and more of our clients are mid-sized businesses that have outstanding manufacturing or other expertise but don’t have a clue about their own operations. They’ve grown from a few folks in a workshop to multimillion dollar operations with 50 or more employees, but their infrastructure hasn’t grown with them. These companies have the latest computer generated imaging technology to cut metal with water and grit, but don’t have a chief financial officer or a human resources director. Like my partner Steve’s old, worn-out running shoes, the foundation on which those companies were built has changed.
But, unlike Steve, who started to feel the twinge in his back before he got seriously injured, it’s easy for a company with a weak foundation to ignore the warning signs. If business is good and sales are booming, cash easily solves all problems. When business takes a turn, the weaknesses in the foundation begin to create a strain. Maybe a real CFO would have caught a cash management issue that your mother-in-law missed. Maybe the purchase or lease of a vital piece of equipment or property would have gone more smoothly if your corporate structure was up to date. Maybe a distracting and expensive employment issue could have been headed off by a current employee handbook and a part-time HR specialist.
Whether it’s running or business, you need to check your foundation. Personally, I keep a log of the miles on each of my three pair of running shoes and toss those that hit 500 miles. In your business, you should calendar a time at the beginning of each year to re-evaluate your business foundation and make any changes that are necessary to keep your company running healthy.