This week I received a letter from a business owner who had attended my Destination Business BootCamp in 2011. Normally, I just keep these letters for myself, but this one, I’m going to share. When you read it, you’ll see why. There are parts of it that hit the emotions that every business owner in the world has ever felt.
By the way, I asked the owner who wrote this letter if sharing it was OK with him. He gave me permission to do so.
Our Destination BootCamp is a two and one-half day workshop. It takes me that long to cover my 14-step strategy for making a business a Consumer Destination. It’s not like when I speak at a conference for an hour. In the days I have with the owners in attendance, I can show them a different way to position their businesses to be successful.
Here’s a photo of the class. The business owner who wrote the letter was Louie Colosimo, owner of Red Glass Oak in Central Point, Oregon. To see Louie’s amazing business, go to his website here: http://RedOakGlass.com. His creations are amazing!
Louie had come to our Destination BootCamp with five other business owners from Central Point and with Tom Humphrey, the Director of their city’s Community Development Program. Tom had organized the group and Louie was one of the participants he had asked to make the trip to Colorado, as part of our Community Reinvention Program.
That’s all I’m going to say. Here’s Louie’s letter to me, in its entirety. I haven’t done any editing.
Thanks, Louie, for letting me share your letter. I hope it helps other owners realize that they can make changes to their businesses and turn a poor situation around.
Here’s Louie’s letter:
Short version: I want to thank you for all you’ve taught me.
Longer version: Last year, when Tom Humphrey asked me if I wanted to attend your Businessman’s Boot Camp, I was about a week away from quitting my business and throwing in the towel. Deep in debt, out of energy, and my best sales person was seriously drifting away, the future looked bleak at best. I’d even begun to ask around if anyone knew of a good bankruptcy lawyer. It was either quit or try one more time. Finally, I decided to go see you and give it one more shot. The least that would happen would be that I’d get a free trip to Colorado and escape the shop for a few days. I’m so glad that I did. You absolutely turned my life around. Not just my business life but my regular life (?) too.
But not at first.
On the first day of Boot Camp, or rather in the first two hours of the first day, my ass hurt from sitting. I kept shifting from side to side… left bun, right bun and back again. And you were so indefatigably cherry and positive. I kept thinking, “Christ, I should’a quit. At least with bankruptcy it’d be over and I won’t have to think about it.” But then, you showed “problem/solutions” and order began to creep in. My butt began to hurt less, then I forgot about it.
By the end of the first day, I was mostly a convert. I did my homework that night and woke to face the second day. You got better and so did I. By the end of the last day, I wanted to stay and stay and listen. You never wore down. You kept believing that we all could do it. And finally, so did I. Not only were you telling me how to market better, but what I finally realized was that you were demonstrating how to do it in real time. I was your customer. You took care to treat me special, give me all the information I needed to understand your product, and see how many others managed marketing. You were able to define your business (on an elevator ride between the 3rd and 4th floor); you had your monument-al achievements, and best of all, you were proud of your accomplishments.
I knew that to stay in business, I had to market my product. But knowing that it isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. To me, marketing was like trying to grab a hold of a sand storm. There was no handle. No place to start. What do I do first, second, etc? And what you told us wasn’t the answers I wanted to hear.
Instead, you asked questions. Being asked a good question was so much more valuable than being told a general something, a fortune cookie solution. Right off the bat, you asked the hardest thing of all, for me to define my business in one sentence. I always thought that I had done that, until I really thought about it. Now that I think about it more, what you did wasn’t asking for a definition, but more like you challenged me to look at myself and my business the way the world does, from the outside looking in. I always looked at myself and what I did from the inside out. I was a glass blower! Now, I want the world to see me as a glass artist that creates hand blow art glass pendant lighting and inspiring standing chandeliers. So that’s how I define myself and it fits how I see myself. It was and is such a small shift in perception. Such a big change! I understood what I needed to do to keep on going. I’m still slipping and sliding, but now it’s in the general direction of where I want to go.
One last thought about trying organize a sand storm: I’ll be shoveling with the Taj Mahal in mind and realize that all I’ve got is a mud hut and it’ll come to me again that I can’t do it all at once no matter how I try. But, I can do something every day. And I do. Plus, I could bring some hot dogs, beer, a kite and enjoy the beauty and flow of it all.
The other day, I was talking to Tom Humphrey about you and I said that I’d like to hear Jon talk about stress relief, when business gets scary. Without a blink, he immediately gave me a “Jon” answer. He said, “Market better.” Dorothy had a yellow bricks to guide her, but we’ve got Jon, which is a different kind of brick. When in doubt of the direction to City of “ahhs”, all I have to do is ask myself (or the Central Point team) what would Jon do to get there? When I left Colorado, I felt like all three of the clunks from the wizard of Oz all rolled into one: I needed to get a brainy plan, the heart to keep on going and the courage to stick it out. And I can. After all, Jon believes I can.
With the utmost sincerity and thanks,
Art glass pendant manufacturer
Red Oak Glass.com
234 N. Front St.
Central Point, Or. 97502
541- 326- 8836