“If you want a friend, buy a dog.” ~ Kevin O’Leary
Great advice, Mr. Wonderful! One year ago, my lovely wife and I gifted our two young boys with the present of a lifetime, an adorable 8 week old puppy! After picking up the little 4 lbs of furry pup in secret, I brought him home inside a gift wrapped box. When my boys opened the package they couldn’t believe their eyes, and their hearts instantly melted!
He was enthusiastically welcomed to our family and we all agreed to name him Toby. He has grown up so much this last 12 months, and at 16 lbs is now quite possibly at his full size. We’ve learned a great deal about puppy care this year, more than I ever thought I’d need to know. I’ve also been reminded of some valuable life and business lessons along the way. I’m sharing our story of Toby on LinkedIn to pass along a few of those tidbits of puppy wisdom. I hope you enjoy!
These first two business tips are about how we came to choose our particular puppy.
#1: Research the options before making significant purchases.
Last year, after much deliberation, my wife, Gina, and I had finally agreed that it was the perfect time for us to get a puppy, although unfortunately we didn’t see eye to eye on which breed was right for our family. For as long as I’ve known her, Gina had wished for a Teacup Pomeranian, however I’ve wanted a husky or an Alaskan Malamute since I was a teenager.
Obviously, these two breeds of doggies couldn’t be more different in size and behavior. Suffice to say, we were at a stalemate in our decision-making process. It was time that we both got clear on our specific desired outcomes. My wife and our boys were more most interested in having a cute, small and fluffy pet for them to snuggle and play with. On the other hand, I wanted a hardier, more active companion to join me on my nature hikes and daily walks. Gina and I also discussed what we didn’t want. We both invested many hours in researching and comparing all of the attributes and drawbacks of the various breeds, and we learned more than we ever had anticipated; from how they are with children to which diseases they are prone to. The deep pools of detailed information available online made it much easier for us to narrow down our search to the few breeds that best fit our family, home and lifestyle.
When preparing to procure anything that will impact your life or business, it is wise to invest some of your time into researching and comparing a few of the best viable solutions. It helps to consider the initial investment as well as weighing the recurring costs, each of their unique benefits, drawbacks and compatibility with your initiatives and existing systems.
Ask a trusted partner for guidance, and we’ll help by asking clarifying questions about your desired outcomes, your existing technology, details about your current situation, and then we’ll suggest some options based on our industry knowledge and past experience that will help you avoid common oversights. A good partner will save you time and energy by sharing a beneficial perspective that is in your blind spots and possibly showing a side by side comparison of a few different options that will work for you.
#2: Negotiate a ‘win-win’ by mixing things up to appease all.
My wife and I were discussing our stalemate over a lunch date. Our process of trying to reach an agreement on which dog breed to choose for our family was quite frustrating, and we realized that if we wanted to surprise our boys with a puppy as a holiday gift to then we’d have to make a decision soon. I joked with her that it’d be perfect for us if somebody could just find a way to breed a 5 lb Pomeranian with a 45 lb Husky, assuming that was an impossible feat to crossbreed the dynamic pair. She laughed and agreed in jest. Then, on a whim, I used my phone to search for it on Google.
Would you believe that such a breed exists?
They are called ‘Pomskies’, and they are an artificially inseminated cross breed of a Husky and Pomeranian. Basically, they are mini Huskies! I showed Gina the adorable pictures and the breed description. As it turns out, the genetic mix reduces the health risks and behavioral issues of each breed, and thus we both agreed 100% that it looked perfect for us.
When negotiating, expand your discussion and the reach of your agreements beyond what is on the table, and keep both or all party’s desired outcomes in mind. Be creative and imaginative in your search for a common ground. The best mutually beneficial deals will solve multiple conundrums simultaneously. Striving for a fair balanced compromise should get both parties what they need, however thinking outside the box will get you more of what you want.
#3: Take time to sniff around before you do your business.
When I take Toby out for our morning walk, he doesn’t get right into taking care of his business. His outdoor morning routine begins with a great big stretch, followed by lifting his head up high and sniffing the air intently to taste the breeze. Then, his ears typically perk up as he pays particular attention to the passing sounds in our neighborhood, such as a distant train. If there happens to be any movement within his sight then it’ll instantly receive his full attention. We begin our a walk around our neighborhood once he’s become fully aware of our surroundings, He always gets his business done, whether rain, shine or snow.
Make sure that your routines and habits bring you happiness and fulfillment. Be aware of your senses and take time to appreciate others. Remember, life’s not only about results and getting down to business, it’s about the journey and being present. Stop once in a while to simply breathe and take it all in.
#4: Always be a loyal companion to those who take care of you.
If puppies learn anything quickly, it would be recognition of who truly cares for them. Dedication and devotion are a dog’s second nature. Once they have a clear sense for who they can trust to regularly take care of their basic needs, such as feeding them, giving them love, taking them outside and playing with them, they will love those people forever. A loyal pup will usually have the instinct to act as your protector to the best of their ability, whether that means barking at strangers or simply sleeping comfortably by your side.
To me, dogs exemplify loyalty.
Genuine loyalty is valuable beyond measure. Make an effort to regularly earn loyalty by going above and beyond the call of duty for both your internal and external customers. The strength of our bonds will be tested. Trust that has been earned through reliability is truly priceless.
#5: Be consistent and give treats, or bad things will happen.
A puppy will be a puppy, which means that everything in your home is potential chew toy, including you. They may be adorable and energetic however they can quickly become a relentless destructive force. We’ve learned that we need to be ever vigilant in our care and absolutely consistent in our training because as soon as we stop paying attention Toby is quick to pull the fuzz out of our couch cushions or attempt to dig a hole in our rug. If one of us drops something on the floor, anything at all, the race is on to pick it up before Toby snatches it up and eats it. To properly train our pup to follow directions and behave appropriately, we learned that our whole family should aligned in this effort by using the same command words for specific actions. Enthusiastic words of praise followed by a tasty treat should also be given consistently when the puppy exhibits the desired behavior.
Just like a puppy’s destructive tendencies, client relationships can be highly volatile. Competition is fierce and the competitors are always ready to pounce, hungrily searching or any weaknesses to exploit. If we rest on our laurels once we’ve achieved our goals then we make our relationships vulnerable.
Be ever consistent in providing the same excellent service that earned you the connection’s business in the first place. Make yourself readily available, quick to respond and very helpful regarding any issue that pops up.
#6: C’mon, let’s play! Have some furry style fun!
Toby wants to play constantly, and I am an active playmate when I can be. Even though I work from home, my pup still needs to be in his crate for a good part of the day. While I’d love to play with my doggy and kids all day long, I enjoy taking care of my clients and I am extremely focused when I am working. Therefore, during breaks and when I am off the clock I will spread my time and attention between my dog, my boys and my wife…and probably in that order. If I don’t play tug-o-war with Toby’s favorite blanket than he’ll most likely play tug-o-war with my furniture. Toby wants my constant attention, so I’ve learned to balance playing fetch while simultaneously playing with my boys or talking with my wife.
Simply having fun while you work is a great way to add value to customers, so long as it’s safe, productive and not at anyone else’s expense. Playfulness is a joyfully contagious attitude, especially potent when focused on achieving results.
Don’t be a robot! Enjoy taking small risks such as telling a joke at the beginning of a meeting to lighten the mood, and you’ll get more rewards. Make it a daily habit to smile often, laugh a lot, and not take life too seriously.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” ~ Dale Carnegie
#7: Bury your treasures for later.
Most dogs have the instinct to dig holes, bury some of their toys or bones, and cover them up for later use. While inside our house, we’ll sometimes give Toby a stick of Himalayan yak cheese, and although it sounds disgusting he gets so excited he can hardly contain himself. His stockpiling nature emerges as he immediately buries the solid block in between our couch cushions and then stands guards over it and howls like a proud wolf. Outside, in our yard, we have several holes in the grass that he’s dug, I assume for the similar purpose of storing and hiding his goods for the future.
As humans living in the 21st century, saving our money for a rainy day or investing in a retirement fund should be as second nature to us as storing nuts for the winter is for squirrels, or burying bones is for dogs. If you aren’t saving than you’re stealing from your future self.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend that you speak with a trusted financial planner to create a long term savings and investment plan that you then stick with. Treat your savings as a regular expense, paying yourself a minimum of 10% of each paycheck before you spend your hard earned money on frivolous things.
#8: Mark your territory, and it’s all your territory.
“Even the smallest dog can lift it’s leg on the tallest building’ ~ Jim Hightower
How do dogs choose where to do their business? Well, there are times when the adage ‘when you gotta go, you gotta go’ applies. Most other times, as I’ve observed, dogs will first aggressively sniff out the competition, sensing other dog’s unique brands of markings, and then they’ll proceed to stake their claim on that very spot. It’s in most male dogs’ primitive nature to plant their flag on that every tree or fire hydrant they pass by writing their brand name in gold.
Be bold, think big and take massive action until you get what you desire! These days everyone has a brand and is selling something. We brand ourselves with every interaction, every word. When we choose which stories, pictures, videos and articles to like, comment on or share we are branding ourselves on social media. Be crystal clear on who you are, what you have to offer, and what you are trying to achieve.
In account management, we want our clients to email or call us every time they need to buy some ink and toner cartridges, labels, printers, computers, firewalls, network equipment, servers and more. How do we do that? Work hard every day to reach as many people as possible, via email, phone or in person. We must ask and truly care about their needs. We ought to choose content that’s related to our specialties.
I believe that everyone is in some form of sales, whatever their role is. We certainly don’t want to over sell ourselves, as that may piss off your buyers…but it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on!
#9: Be clear on what you want and go for it, now!
My pup sees what he wants and immediately goes for it. Once his target is set, he goes straight for it, and often gets it before anyone can stop him. If that doesn’t work, then he looks for an open path to his goal. My family and I regularly chase Toby around our couch in order to get something out of his mouth, and he often wins the race.
It may sound crazy to use a dog picking up fallen items as an example for goal setting and achieving, however it’s the perfect analogy when you think about it. All of the books and motivational speakers who focus on achieving success and fulfillment in life share something in common. They all repeat one theme; the importance of getting clear and passionate about what it is you want.
My puppy exemplifies that attitude daily, and it keeps us on our toes. His tenacious behavior often drives me nuts. The important common theme is fixating on a singular point of interest of desire and then being as persistent, creative and energetic as necessary to seize it. Take a moment to imagine how your life would be different today if you hadn’t ever given up on any of your goals, but rather pursued them with the determination of a puppy.