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I’m in the people business

  • SIMA
- Posted: September 28, 2018
By Jon Crandall, CSP

What do you tell people when they ask what you do for a living or what business you are in? I could offer myriad answers: 
  • I am in the grounds management business with a snow focus.
  • I manage large commercial sites that value safety and the ability to stay open during any weather condition.
  • I manage real estate for owners who care to keep their holdings attractive and from depreciating.
  • I am in the real estate business.
  • I am in the heavy equipment business.
  • I am in the repair business since we operate one of the largest heavy equipment repair and fabrication facilities in our surrounding area servicing our own equipment. 
Any one of these answers would be correct. However, the common link that has made all of those business segments become successful is the people that are on this journey with me. 

Selecting relationships
As I have matured, the most significant change I have made is with whom I surround myself. As the owner, I have the ultimate decision of who joins our team, for whom we work, and from whom we purchase. Of course, those people must decide if they want to enter into a relationship with us. Like a great marriage, it takes an intentional effort on both sides to maintain and strengthen those relationships. When core values and common interests align with those I surround myself with, it makes for a much happier life. 

I use this same methodology in seeking out and maintaining personal and family relationships. Why would we want to struggle trying to make relationships work that frankly just don’t? In our careers, we sometimes do this because we feel we must to earn a wage. I challenge you to lessen time with those relationships that don’t create as much happiness. Lessening volatile relationships creates opportunity for a new relationship that adds value. This is the theory behind the old adage of “hire slow, fire fast.”

Looking in the mirror
Before you do this, I suggest doing some work around personal self-awareness. I love psychology, and each year I learn more about myself. I have taken courses and read many books on effective listening, personality profiling, learning styles, leadership, etc. I’ve had a personal life coach and engaged in peer-to-peer reviews. Even after all of this I am still learning more about how I appear to the world. 

The effects we have on those around us and the perspectives created from our experiences create amazing ripples in our lives. Why would we want to consider creating or taking in negative ripples that could significantly impact our quality of life? 

Emotional intelligence
I have found the more self-aware or emotionally intelligent a person is, the less likely they are to be argumentative. I believe the reason for this is the ability to understand or at least create the possibility that the other person’s perspective was coming from a past experience that led them to a certain conclusion. If that person is self-aware and emotionally intelligent, many times they will respect your perspective in the same way you respect theirs. This mutual respect and self-awareness also can open the mind and create a new possibility for both parties. 

If conversations are one sided and closed minded, and core values and interests are not aligned, then I would suggest it doesn’t make much sense to pursue the relationship. People often say to take emotion out of business. But in my experience, emotion is one of the most important things we have to offer in negotiations, loyalty, and establishing trust and happiness with our relationships. My closest clients, employees, vendors, family and friends are not transactional but rather are strong, earned and intentional relationships. 

Final mind shift
Early in my career I thought I needed to learn what software to use or equipment to purchase, how to do things quicker and better than my competition, what line of service to become an expert in, etc. What I learned was the biggest needle movers in my business came from great relationships. Great vendor relationships give you leverage and priority. Great employee relationships create people who will always have your back and go the extra mile. Great client relationships give you loyalty, preference and leverage. Most importantly, great family relationships give you support, pride, purpose and love. So...what business are you in? 

Jon Crandall, CSP, is chief visionary for JC Grounds and a member of SIMA’s board of directors. Contact him at
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