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:

Who Should Think Big? 1

Are You Thinking Big?

Traveling to Yorktown, Virginia from New Jersey, I cross the Potomac River on Route 301. Three miles from the river, at the top of a rather steep hill, is a furniture and carpet shop. The shop has been in business for decades. I’ve been driving this road for 21 years, but the store never stood out in my mind until….

On a recent trip, I saw a giant chair in front of the store. I had a flashback to Lily Tomlin and a character she developed that sat in a humongous rocker. Now, as I cross the bridge into Virginia from Maryland, I am anticipating the chair.

I might have the radio on but I’m concentrating on the road as the two lane Potomac River Bridge is very narrow and Route 301 is a major tractor-trailer highway. Then, out of the blue, a vision of the chair flashes in my mind. I think, “is it still there”? As I drive up that steep hill from the riverbed area up onto the rolling hills, I spot the chair at the front of the parking lot.

I don’t think I will ever drive this section of highway without thinking about this chair. Thinking BIG paid off for this business. I certainly remember them.

Everyone should think big. In business, stores don’t take 75 cents off a $300 TV, they slash prices to the bone! As a candidate for a job, you don’t say you can do slightly better than the next guy, you spell out the tremendous skills you have and then share stories that highlight those skills. As a parent, you don’t encourage children to be average, but to reach for the stars, to follow their dreams. Even in our personal relationships, there’s a place for thinking big.

If you are ever on Route 301 in Virginia, between the Potomac River Bridge and where Route 3 crosses it leading into Fredericksburg, look for the chair. And when you are going to do something, choose to do it BIG. Big gets remembered!

Are You Using Your Vacation Time This Year? 1

 I met Steve when he spoke this spring at a WCBS and The Wall Street Journal sponsored Small Business Breakfast in Connecticut. He’s a fascinating guy with an interesting background. The story of how he became the spokesman for Jobs on WCBS is a story to itself.

Take a listen to Steve’s thoughts on vacations from his recent Podcast.

Then weigh in on your vacation plans.

 

In Your Business, Do You Tack On A Header? 0

A good friend of mine from college sailed in a regatta last weekend to raise money for charity. When I went on-line to make a small donation, the website, Mississippi Leukemia Cup Regatta, asked me to send a comment of encouragement. I told Cathy to “always tack on a header”.

If you are not a sailor, I offer the following paraphrased quote from Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School:

More can be gained or lost in one healthy wind shift that can usually be made up by any amount of boat speed or superior sailing. Racing skippers are often so concerned about whether their boat is sailing faster than the one next to them that they neglect to consider the effect of wind shifts.

To the layman, this means if you are being pushed off course, you need to do something to get yourself back on course.  In this case the wind is changing so the boat is forced to move further away from its goal of reaching the next marker. If the captain of the boat doesn’t do something to change the boat’s relationship to the wind, the boat will stall, the energy of the wind will just rush past the sail and not provide lift to move the boat forward. To get moving forward, closer to the next marker, the captain must tack, change the direction of her boat in order to get the most advantage out of the new wind direction.

In business, you must be constantly ready to tack, to change your approach in order to keep your business moving forward, growing and expanding in a changing sea of challenges. The changes I’m addressing here are subtle, not cataclysmic. When  you tack on a header, you are adjusting your relationship to the goal, not changing the goal. When the captain of a sailboat tacks, her goal is still to get to the next buoy. Changing the direction of the sailboat at that moment is necessary to keep it moving towards the goal.

Sometimes you can just ride out a small change in the wind. But if the header is severe enough, you are being pushed further from your goal. On top of that, those who have already tacked are being helped by the change in wind direction. In business, this means that those who saw the wind changing are already reaping the benefits because they adjusted their course first.

So keep your business growing, moving forward by staying up on the latest wind movement, and don’t be so concerned about whether your business is moving faster than another. If you stay on the right side of wind shifts, you will reach the finish line ahead of the competition.

Does Your Organization Create Bottle Necks? 6

 You never know when and where a bottle neck will occur. I had arrived in plenty of time for the new officer training class. All I wanted to do was to meet with a friend before the morning session began. But the only entrance into the meeting room was blocked by the registration table.

At the time it was a little annoying, but I finally worked my way through, registering as I passed the table. Perhaps that was the idea. But the meeting was being held in a private company’s conference room and the building was back from the road on a tree-lined campus. I don’t think they were afraid of gate crashers.

After almost three hours of presentations, we broke for lunch. Guess where the lunch table was positioned? Just outside of the only exit from the meeting room. By this time, getting out for many was very urgent.  There had been no bathroom break.

As I struggled to maintain my composure while the line slowly moved towards the exit, I made the attached sketch.

I wonder how many times this happens? Are there bottlenecks in your organization? Are they merely inconvenient or do they impact productivity and cost money?   What types of bottle necks have you seen?

 

Five Ways To Bring Your Job Search Into Focus 4

Is Your Job Search In Focus?

Yesterday I had an eye exam. I was left alone by the nurse and  I was looking at all of the equipment. I realized that together these were tools to help my Doctor understand clearly what was going on with my eyes, helping him bring my vision into focus.

As he was very busy, I had a few minutes to ponder how job seekers could bring their search into focus. Before he came into the examining room, I came up with five:

  1. Know What Your Greatest Strengths Are – If you really understand what you do best, you can match that to specific job postings, not wasting your time “spraying and praying”.
  2. Include Key Words on Your Resume – If you are applying online and you are not doing this, you are probably wondering why you haven’t heard from anyone. LinkedIn offers help with Key Words. Click on Your Profile, go into “more” and you will see Skills and Expertise. Enter key words from the job posting and you will see additional ideas
  3. Do Your Homework – If you need to ask the interviewer “what they do”, you are wasting their time. Set up Google alerts for every company you are considering. Search the companies websites for interesting facts. Read up on regulations that may affect the industry.
  4. Practice – The more you practice interviewing, the more comfortable you will be. Enlist a friend or family member and conduct mock interviews. Or put sample questions on cards, stand in front of a mirror and practice answering them,
  5. Stay The Course – It’s easy to get very excited when the phone rings. Landing an interview could mean you are one meeting away from a job. But you need to treat your job search as an on-going process. Your focus needs to be on the big picture, which means continuing to research companies, continuing to send out resumes and continuing to follow up on applications you have submitted.

My Doctor, when he finally got to see me, corrected my vision and brought things into focus. You can bring  your job search into focus by doing these five things.

Boss or Leader? 0

Thank’s to www.PMCampus.com for posting this on FaceBook. Has anyone found this to be true?

Managers, Do You Work With Heroes? 2

I was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday afternoon. I had gotten on at exit 7A and was heading south to exit 6 to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike west to Route 81. The view on the turnpike in South Jersey is decidedly different from the urban, industrial view many associate with “the turnpike”. Through the trees you can see homes, shopping centers, even the occasional pond or stream. But what caught my eye on this trip was a large sign in front of a building.

It said:

HERO’S WORK HERE

The sign belongs to a company that specializes in Forklift, Construction equipment, Crane, Standby Power, and Material Handling Sales Servicing the Mid-Atlantic. If I were ever in the market for any of those services, I would give my business to a company that felt that way about their employees.

I was still thinking about the sign minutes later as I was forced to slow down due to the heavy volume of traffic ( 4th of July vacationers heading home?). I flashed back to when I owned Strawcastle Snax, a vending company in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had the good fortune of landing the vending machine account for the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. My machines were in the employee lounge, so I entered through the employee door on the side of the Brewery.

Over the door, in large bold letters was this sign:

THROUGH THESE DOORS PASS THE WORLD”S BEST BREW TEAM

Ok, it’s been over 20 years since I’ve seen the sign. The sign may have said “Greatest”. But the point is the same. Management considered their employees to be a very valuable asset. While servicing the account, I remember asking employees about the sign and how they were treated. They confirmed that the sentiment was real, just like the beer foam that washed across the production floor when they bottled Budweiser.

As a consumer, I would want to do business with companies that had this type of attitude towards employees. As a manager, there are so many advantages to this type of philosophy. Besides the obvious “golden rule” ideas, there are productivity gains from creating a work environment where employees feel valued.

Managers, I encourage you to look at how you view your employees. If you don’t work with “Heroes”, then you may have some work to do.

3 Reasons The Jobs Report Is Good News 0

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1. There are still jobs being created

2. If you are consistently doing the right thing, you can still land a job     

3. You will be successful if you give yourself permission to get the job  

Management and Labor – Is there common Ground? 0

The IBEW sign usually says “Boycott so and so”. I generally don’t pay attention to their sign, we don’t have much common ground. I grew up management, not labor. Yet this morning’s message made me stop and look. After reading it, I found myself in full agreement with the IBEW

Coming from a Right-to-Work state over 20 years ago, my first encounter with labor unions was during the construction of a new building. As part of the management team that would occupy and use the building after its completion, I was on-site during the entire building process.  While the building did open on time, many differences of opinion threatened to delay the project.

The one I found most interesting had to do with the installation of the alarm system. Each individual fire door had its own contact point. The contacts had a battery backup. The electricians complained that the local alarm company, which was not represented by a union, should not be allowed to connect the batteries because it was “electricity” and electricity was their job.

The issue was finally resolved and the alarm company completed the job themselves. I admit I did find an opportunity to let the BA know my thoughts on the matter. The next day my pager battery went dead. Remember when pagers were a high-tech business tool? I brought my pager and a new battery to the BA and asked him to change it for me, as it was “electricity”.

Ok, so I shouldn’t have done that, it wasn’t professional. But as Forest Gump once said, “stupid is as stupid does”.

So why would I stop and take a picture of the IBEW’s sign? Because some things are just bigger than individual differences. Our country was founded on these differences and the right to express them freely. And our men and women in uniform defend that right on a daily basis. To them we both say “thank you”.

The IBEW’s sign made me see past the small to the big picture. It made me see that we have common ground.

Have You Thanked A Teacher Today? 4

I have a new Twitter follower named Marilyn. I clicked on the link to view her website and found this. The sign is tucked in the top right corner of her blog. I think it speaks volumes to the spirit and dedication of those who are shaping our future leaders.

Your job as an educator is many times thankless. I wanted to personally say thank you on behalf of parents everywhere for teaching our children.

You can see the sign and read more about her program’s at Advanced Educational Consultants, LLC. You can follow Marilyn at http://twitter.com/mkoppelman