About Joel Quass

I started out a child just like everybody else. I did chores around the house, I mowed the lawn for my Mom and Dad and I enjoyed going to school (most of the time). At age 8 I started delivering a weekly newspaper and when I was 10, began caddying at a local golf course. I made $4 for carrying someone's clubs around the golf course, plus they would buy me a soda and a Snickers bar after the first nine holes. What a great job! Through high school I worked pumping gas and doing construction jobs. After high school I took a year off from school and managed a gas station and lived on the sailboat I purchased. The following spring I took the money I saved and sailed solo for 3 months up and down the inter-coastal waterway. I sold the boat that August and started college. I worked my way through college as the Assistant Manager and Projectionist at Cinema City Theaters in Tabb, Va. and later held paid positions in Student Government at Christopher Newport College, now CNU. One of my professors, Dr. Webb, made it possible for me to teach beginning sailing as an adjunct professor while attending college. Another great job! I have owned 5 businesses including being a professional chimney sweep. My brother Brian and I owned Quassword Cards TM, The Crossword Puzzle Greeting Card. We sold over 10,000 greeting cards in hospital gift shops around the country and were featured in the Spilsbury Puzzle Companies 1995 Holiday Gift Catalogue. My billing company in Lakewood, NJ. while not as successful, did generate some income, with only minimal expenses, over its short life. In Williamsburg, Virginia, I bought a vending business and built it from $90,000 in gross sales to over $250,000 when I sold the business two years later. I have had the good fortune to have also worked for several great companies including the now de-funct Best Products Co. Inc. The senior managers of that company, just as with my current employer, put a big emphasis on teaching. 15 years ago I put down the first notes for what would eventually become Good Management Is Not Firefighting. A year ago, I dusted off all the little pieces of paper, the notes I had been putting into my "Book Folder", and I began to write. The result has taken my career in a new direction and allows me to give back to others and to teach, just as so many took the time to teach me as I was growing up. My motto is "I love getting up in the morning, because I learn something new every day." I hope you will find useful information in my work. If you do, please share it with others.

Posts by Joel Quass:

With only 346 days left in 2013, what future are you going to create? 1

Joel Quass asks what are your goals in 2013?

What do you see this year?

I have read dozens of articles about making New Year’s resolutions, both pros and cons. Many state that the very act of writing resolutions down helps solidify them in your sub conscious, and you are more likely to achieve them. Others quote Napoleon Hill and say, loosely paraphrased, “New Year’s Resolutions made without any action towards their achievement, are merely dreams”.

This morning I read – Strategy? Gut or Intuition? on LinkedIn. The author ends stating:

THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO CREATE IT.

Without going into the debate about self-determination, I want to encourage finding that scrap of paper where you wrote your New Year’s Resolutions. If they are not on paper yet,  jot them down and tape them to the side of your computer monitor.

Sure there are only 346 days left in the year. But if you use them wisely, you can create a future that more closely mirrors your expectations.

Now, more than ever, you need focus 2

focus, Linked in Summary

Where will you focus in 2013?

This morning I updated my Summary Information on LinkedIn. Why? Because my focus this year is more targeted than last year. Going over my written goals for 2012, I realized that I hadn’t been specific enough. I hadn’t really drilled down, to understand what I wanted to accomplish.

To put it in interviewing terms, when asked about my customer service skills,  I had said “I’m a people person”.  Well my dog is a people person, but you wouldn’t hire my dog to give a keynote presentation.

A focused response to the question about customer service would be my relating the story of when I was a Store Manager for Best Products in Hopewell Virginia. It was 8PM on Christmas Eve when I got a phone call from a customer who had bought a ride-on car for his 8-year-old son. The father was putting the car together after his son went to bed when he found the battery for the car was missing from the package. The father had called me to ask what I was going to do about it?

I told the man I would meet him at the store. I called my Assistant Manager, just in case it was a set-up (it wasn’t) and I drove to the store. We found the battery he was missing and his 8 year-old son’s Christmas was saved. Now that’s a targeted response to the question of customer service skills.

In reading my Summary statement on LinkedIn, I realized that I was talking as a “people person”, without clear focus. This caused me to think more precisely about the specific, measurable goals I have for 2013. Then I took that focused information and re-wrote my Summary statement. Now, my Summary more closely reflects my focus, my goals for 2013.

While the year is still young, I encourage you to focus.

Start by reviewing your LinkedIn Summary statement.

Is it focused? Is the information current? Does it really identify your value?

While you are on LinkedIn, take a moment and  Customize your public profile URL . It only takes a moment to get rid of all of those letters and numbers behind your name.

If you really focus, 2013 will be your best year yet. I, for one, can’t wait!

Do you really want a better job in 2013? 0

 

The more I hear from recruiters, the more I believe some people really don’t want a new job. Sure they say they want a better job, they say they are looking, they say they are serious, but… they do not want to do the work required to land a new job.

It reminds me of the verse in Choo Choo Ch’Boogie by Asleep At the Wheel

I need some compensation to get back in the black,

I take the morning paper from the top of the stack,

I read the situation from the front to the back,

the only job that’s open needs a man with a knack,

so I put it right back in the stack.”

In 2013, if you really want a better job, resolve to do the work to get it.

Managers – Are you paying enough attention? 4

Lessons from the Worst-Performing Companies in America
What’s caused U.S. firms to lose the most shareholder value in the last 10 years? A new Booz study — actually, a repeat of one it did in 2004 — once again came up with the same result

As I read this article, my mind flashed back to my years with Best Products Co. Inc. I had joined them right out of college. I was hired as an entry level Department Manager, but within a year I was a Store Manager for the company. I managed seven stores in as many years, moving frequently for the company.

After arriving in Hampton, Virginia, there was talk among our Senior VP’s of my taking on a District Manager role. Life was great and the possibilities limit-less. Then we bought Modern Merchandising.

We went from a one billion dollar company to a two billion dollar company over night. Everyone was very excited. In fact, we even had T-shirts made.  And our Senior Management spent the next twelve months assimilating the acquisition into the company.

We changed the names on our buildings; out with Dolgins, Miller Sales and the rest, in with the Best Products logo’s. We consolidated distribution centers, creating new efficiencies and re-aligned regional support offices.

The entire process took 12 months. And then we were ready.

But in the past twelve months, retail customers had gone off in a new direction. We had been so busy focusing on the acquisition and re-structuring that no one noticed our customer base was  leaving.

When I saw the hand writing on the wall, I left , purchasing the vending company I would sell two years later.

Every time I think things are running really well in my business I have a  flash back to my Best Products days. The lesson I learned then has stuck with me for over 25 years. So please, pay attention to your business.  

Did you go far enough? 3

Will you go far enough to find the gold?Have you ever had trouble locating something or have a problem you couldn’t solve?

When this happens: 1. You can try to figure it out or locate it yourself 2. You can ask someone else to find it or solve the problem for you or 3. You can just give up.

Yesterday I overheard a man talking to his wife in the supermarket. He couldn’t find the brussel sprouts. She took him further down the aisle and there they were. I heard him say to her, “I didn’t go far enough”.

If you are looking for brussel sprouts at the supermarket, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t find them. Not going far enough only means you may have creamed corn for dinner instead. But what if it’s your business we are talking about?

What if you have invested your life savings along with the savings of your relatives. What if you have purchased drilling and mining equipment valued at a million dollars to excavate a gold mine? Now what if you can’t find gold?

During the 1848 California Gold Rush, this happened many times. One claim in particular was talked about by Napoleon Hill. The story was of a man who had purchased a claim and had found a very large seam of gold. He had mortgaged everything and borrowed from his relatives to mine the claim. After a few weeks, the “mother lode” went dry. No more gold. What did he do? He sold his equipment to a junk dealer for 10 cents on the dollar and went home. He didn’t go far enough.

The junk dealer hired a surveyor. The surveyor went to the mine and told the junk dealer, “dig ahead a few more feet and you will find the seam again”. The junk dealer did that and found one of the richest gold mines in California.

Whether shopping for vegetables for dinner or running a business, make sure you go far enough. Don’t settle for creamed corn when you have your heart set on brussel sprouts. And never, ever give up your business or your dreams before you have gone far enough. Because, during the act of going far enough, you will almost always find your answer.

The junk dealer learned that in 1848. And because his wife went a little farther, the man I saw in the supermarket yesterday learned it too.

Job Seeker Tip #32 – Never Chew Gum During An Interview 1

Recently I was asked for tips on acing a job interview. After giving the matter some thought, I came up with 101 Job Seeker Tips.

Today I want to tell you about tip #32 – Never chew gum during an interview.

I’m sure you will see why.

Six Reasons You Don’t Need To Know How To Do the Job To Land The Job 4

When I interview, one of the first things I look for is common sense. If the candidate does not possess a basic understanding of how things work, I have a very hard time visualizing them working for me. I always feel I can teach someone to say, sell diamonds or drive a forklift, but I can’t teach them common sense.

Today, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) published its 2013 Outlook Ranking Candidate Skills. These were ranked in the order of importance to the interviewer. Guess where Technical knowledge of the position came in?

So here are the TOP SIX Skills/Qualities employers are looking for:

  1. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  2. Ability to work in a team structure
  3. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

Seven was technical knowledge related to the job. So the first six skills employers are looking for sound to me like NACE Qualities and Skills Employers are looking for in JOB searchescommon sense. In fact, if you look at the definition of common sense:  sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts (Merriam-Webster dictionary) these first six skills are all about common sense.

I’m not saying a solid technical foundation won’t land the job, but remember there are many applicants who have the technical skills. This survey, and my years of interviewing experience, suggest that there is more to the interview than just presenting your skills. If your future employer can’t see that you have common sense, they will have a hard time seeing you as a part of their team.

“this job” vs. “I’ll take whatever” – Three ways to focus 1

Resume must match Job listing, management position

Is your resume specific enough?

As the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, it is easy to say “I’ll take whatever job comes along”. This then changes the tone of your cover letter and resume. You start to show yourself as a jack-of-all- trades. The downside to this is you may be perceived as a master-of -none.

The more you tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job listing, the more likely someone reviewing your information will see a connection. Being one of several hundred generic applicants, you will not stand out. Some recruiters would say that the more generic the résumé, the more desperate the job seeker. So stay the course and focus on the following:

1. Take the time to read the entire job listing

2. Craft your cover letter and resume to specific, measurable requirements for this job

3. Do this for each listing you apply for; never just copy and paste your resume

Doing this you may feel you are limiting your possibilities for employment. But how many generic resumes and cover letters have you sent out? How many have resulted in a call for a first interview?

Focus on the key requirements for the position and highlight them in your cover letter and resume. Then be ready to talk about them because the phone will be ringing soon.

Have You Given Yourself Permission To Succeed? 0

The Atlantic

Are you uncomfortable bringing up salary during an interview? Do you assume that the employer will let you know when to talk about compensation? During the hiring process, did you negotiate your starting salary?  Do men and women approach this differently?

Take a look at today’s article, Negotiate,  in The Atlantic by Eleanor Barkhorn.  In it she documents work done on salary negotiation by men and women . One of the key requirements is permission.

In March I wrote a blog post  about successful job applicants. 1.3 million jobs created – Five reasons why you did not get one In it, I talked about permission.

I give you permission to re-read this entry and be successful in your salary negotiations.

Sandy was here. What a week! 3

In my lifetime, I have ridden out many storms including Camille in 1969 and  Agnes in 1972. Living in Virginia, I remember pictures of farm animals floating down the James River. More recently, my Mother’s house had four feet of water in it when Hurricane Isabel came ashore in 2003 near the Hampton Roads. But none of those experiences prepared me for the devastation I have seen here in New Jersey since Monday afternoon, October 29th,2012 at 4:15 PM.

For 22 years, I have driven over the Mantoloking bridge to go surf fishing. For 22 years, I have sailed under this bridge. For 22 years, I assumed I would always be able to do this. And then Sandy struck.

Having friends in the Fire and Police Departments, I have heard first hand of their personal experiences rescuing people and pulling out the bodies of those who did not evacuate. Many of my employee’s have been without power for 6 days. In communities near the ocean, it could be another week or more before power is restored. Several of my employee’s lost everything, while others have evacuated to friends and relatives further inland.

The positive in all of this is the level of teamwork and community that has developed. Yes, there is looting and price gouging, but this is offset by the random acts of kindness. Almost everyone I have spoken with since Monday night when Sandy came ashore right down the street has a “how can I help” attitude. Many of those I have spoken with who are helping others are without power themselves, but they still feel fortunate and are out helping those who lost everything.

So I may not be able to travel over or under the bridge for quite a while. But there is plenty to do putting things back together and many new friends to do it with.