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:

As a Manager, why you should expect the unexpected 1

I never expected a Blue Bird

I was sitting on the deck, enjoying the sun and having a little lunch. When I finished, I picked up my plate, opened the screen door and walked into the kitchen. I was thinking about getting back to my writing when, looking to my left through the kitchen window, there it was. Sitting on the fence near my bird feeder was a blue bird.

I have lived in New Jersey for over 20 years and never seen a blue bird here. In fact, the only blue bird I have ever seen was at Gettysburg, Pa while we were on a horseback tour of the battlefields.  So to have one sitting on my fence for several minutes was completely out of the blue (no pun intended). This got me thinking about the unexpected and why we should be expecting it.

I should have expected to see a bird I hadn’t seen before. Several years ago I was in the living room when I heard a loud “bang” against that same kitchen window. Running into the kitchen I saw a somewhat dazed immature Bald Eagle sitting on the fence. It turns out he was hunting for lunch at my bird feeder and had swooped down on a sparrow, over shot the feeder and slammed into my window. I’m pretty sure the eagle was just as surprised about the situation as I was.

In business, managers need to anticipate and plan. This includes expecting the unexpected. It may be a power outage that closes your business unexpectedly. It could be a typo in your email advertising link that sends your potential customers to a less-than wholesome website instead of your landing page. Sometimes it’s an employee who doesn’t check that the projector is working before your presentation.

The more we expect the unexpected and check for the unexpected, the less unexpected we will have as managers.

After you do what everyone else is doing – try this to land a job 1

 

What Associations have you researched?

So you have subscribed to the weekend edition of the NY Times, you are reading the job listings on jobs boards and you went to a job fair. You have contacted Aunt Millie who knows a guy who knows a guy at a company you want to work for. Your resume is out there and you’re sitting pretty waiting for the offers to roll in.

If this strategy isn’t producing the desired results yet, you may want to include this in your  job search tool bag. Do some research on Associations and trade groups relevant to your industry, or the industry you hope to break into. These publications can  help in your job search. Many companies advertise in industry publications to attract talent that is already skilled in the field.

You can also use these industry publications to network. By scanning each issue, you can quickly see who is being recognized for their work, who has landed a new position and even who is retiring. This sets up a great reason to contact these people. You might send: a personal note from you congratulating someone on a promotion, a note recognizing the value of the research someone published or a card thanking someone for their years of service. Done the right way, you have created a personal connection. This would not be the time to discuss you and your job prospects. It needs to be about them.  A follow-up down the road can begin a more specific conversation.

For my jobs board One Stop Jobs Online I belong to the International Association of Employment Websites. One of the resources offered is a Directory of Associations by category. This would be a good place to start if you are not currently researching Associations  in your job search.

Another benefit of Associations is to  see what is going on in your industry. This gives you great talking points when you interview.

So do the traditional job search activities and then look for the not so obvious. It may be the lead that lands you in your new hire orientation!

 

Seven ways to take charge of your To Do List 9

So you want to be more organized and have a list of things to accomplish. Now what?

  1. Create your list at the end of your workday, before leaving the office (give yourself permission to plan your next day, you’ll sleep better and will arrive at work feeling organized)
  2. Budget 10 – 15 minutes for planning and solitude (make this a daily priority on your list; Without a plan, you are just busy, not effective)
  3. Rank your list (deadlines for projects, client calls to return, you know what’s most important)
  4. Do the task you ranked #1 first (this is soooo… hard when there is e-mail to look at, YouTube video to share The Tickle Me Plant and co-workers to talk with)
  5. Check your tasks off as you complete them (there is a certain satisfaction in completing a task and the act of checking it off causes the body to release positive endorphins. Occasionally, I will write something I did on the list, just so I can cross it off)
  6. As new items come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list. You will rank them at the end of the day (KEEP ONE LIST. If I write a note on a little slip of paper, I carry it in my hand until I can write it on my list. When I put a note in my pocket, the odds of it ending up on my to-do list decrease exponentially)
  7. “Do first things first and second things not at all” – Peter Drucker (The point of a list is to focus your attention on the most important aspects of your job. When you cross off your number 1 item, number 2 becomes your new number one.)

Apply these seven techniques and you will find you have taken charge of your To Do List.

Pencil Whipping? Are you insane? 0

Are You Pencil Whipping Your Checklist?

INSANITY – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different” Wikiquote

I’ve said more than once that Managers need to be organized, to have checklists for their day-to-day activities. Used properly, checklists allow a manager to inspect many different areas they oversee and then check off that they have looked at a specific task, project, deadline, etc.

Yet the danger of checklists is they can become routine. Managers can get busy with an employee, a customer, a supplier and spend vast amounts of time on one task.  Now it’s getting near quitting time, so out comes the checklist and; check, check, check and done. The checklist may be completed, but the tasks have not. If you are doing this day after day, you may be wondering why the checklist isn’t working and why the same results occur.

Make today the day you stop Pencil Whipping your checklist. Take the time to actually review each item you have listed. Stop making excuses for not doing the really important (and perhaps uncomfortable) parts of your job. Remember, you set up a checklist to remind (force) yourself to review certain things. They are on the list in the first place because of their importance to your success and the success of your company.

Join me as I renew my commitment to not pencil whipping my daily checklist. The outcome will be different, you’ll feel better and so will your employees.

Can driving sales be like hunting for natural resources on asteroids? 1

Are You Mining Asteroids?

Planetary Resources Inc – this new company backed by two Google billionaires, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources—with mining asteroids the possible target.

While the announcement may cause some people to snicker at what could be a page out of a sci-fi novel or a Hollywood movie scene, Planetary Resources is making its debut just as scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other groups are embracing the notion of mining “near-Earth asteroids” and providing blueprints for how such a feat would be accomplished.

Closer to home, sometimes you can get into a rut. If sales are good and you have no major problems, it’s easy to get into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it routine”. That’s how I felt all week. Then this morning I read that James Cameron wants to mine asteroids. OMG. All I wanted to do was increase comp sales by 5% over LY and increase net profit 2.5%.

Can you find a way to challenge yourself and your employees to think big?

So now I’m thinking  what can I do to create HUGE excitement in my business? How can I get my employees to be excited about driving sales, to be creative in their thinking, to want to “hunt for natural resources on asteroids”!

Thinking big is critical to a manager success.   Daniel H. Burnham -US architect & city planner (1846 – 1912) said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood

What asteroid hunting plans can you create for yourself, your team and your company?

You’ll never believe the tool I found to prepare for an interview 0

One of the keys to success in the job market is to research the companies you are interested in. This has been made almost child’s play with Google Alerts.

If you have not set up an alert for each company you are seeking a job with, then you are missing out on an easy to use tool. You can search just the company, you can add the names of individuals you will be interviewing with or the CEO  of the company. Another search might be the industry you are in.

Google alerts can be sent to your email as they happen, so you have up to the minute information. Or if your inbox is very crowded, they can be sent daily.

Don’t skip the research step in your job search. Information is power. The more information you have, the better you will feel during the interview.  Try this out and let me know what you think.

 

Five Questions to ask yourself before the interview 1

How do you handle the unexpected? That is one of the things you may be judged on during the interview.

As you can see from this cartoon about  IKEA, you may need to think on your feet.  Most interviews stick to established questions about work history and what you can bring to the table. Then there are those who like to see beyond the ordinary. You may remember in the 1990′s, Microsoft was famous for asking “why manhole covers are typically round”?

Review these questions and  make notes for yourself to be ready for the expected and the unexpected:

  1. Have I researched the company I want to work for?
  2. Have I thought about what they might ask me in a phone interview?
  3. Have I thought about what they will ask me during a first interview?
  4. Have I thought about salary and when to talk about it (and when not to talk about it)?
  5. Have I thought about that off the wall question I might get asked and how I would handle it?

After you write down your answers, then review them daily. You never know when the phone will ring.

And how can you tell if you got the right answer to that off the wall question?  The answer is –  you are sitting in your New Hire Orientation!

Do you make these four mistakes that cost you the job interview? 6

Has this every happened to you? You have applied to 17 companies over the past 3 weeks. You know some of the companies have gotten your resume because you have gotten a couple of form letter post cards thanking you for applying and informing you they are reviewing all applications. Then the phone rings!

When you answer, it is company number 7, which is similar to companies 6 and 12. So you are not sure which company is calling you. To make things worse, you answered the phone while driving and now you are distracted because you are trying to pull over as you just saw a cop and you are still trying to figure out which company this is because the few notes you do have are at home.

If you do not handle the telephone interview correctly, you will never get to sit down face to face with an employer . You need a plan to make sure you aren’t missing key details that will help you get hired.  You need a way to keep track of each job listing and be able to put your fingers on the information when  the phone rings.

Here are four mistakes people make during the phone interview and simple ways to avoid them:

  1. Not answering the phone in a positive manner- Each time your phone rings, smile before answering it. You will be surprised how positive and engaging you will sound.
  2. Sounding nervous during the phone interview - Stand up as you speak. This will allow you to breathe deeper and will help calm your nerves . Remember, it’s ok to be nervous and to have butterflies, you just need to get the butterflies to fly in formation.
  3.  Not being organized – Invest in a small binder or accordion file and put all the information you have gathered about each company in one place. This would include the research you have done about the company, the information detailing the job they are advertising and a copy of your  cover letter  for that company.
  4. Not  being prepared- This is the hardest mistake to recover from.  Carry the information with you or have access to it at all times. You never know when the phone will ring and you will need to flip to company 7.

Have a plan to correct these mistakes and you will significantly improve your chances of getting the face to face interview and ultimately, the job.

If you have things that are working for you and want to share them with my readers, please leave a comment. Your success just might land someone else a job, too!

The most dangerous threat to your job search 2

What are you telling yourself?

You probably guessed it before you began reading. The most dangerous threat to your job search isn’t the competition, the out of the blue interview questions or even the lack of jobs in your field. The most dangerous threat to your job search is you. This threat shows up in many ways, but negative self-talk can keep you on the sidelines. Alleydog defines Self Talk as:

Self Talk: Self Talk refers to the ongoing internal conversation with ourselves, which influences how we feel and behave.

For example, you find yourself in a traffic jam while rushing to work one morning. You self-talk could be pessimistic and you might think, “My whole day is ruined. If I don’t get to work on time, I’ll never hear the end of it. My boss will think that I’m no good and will surely pass me up for that promotion I’ve been working all year for.” You will then start your day in a bad mood and feel demotivated thinking that there’s no point in working hard since you already ruined your chances for a promotion.

On the other hand, you could have a more positive self-talk and think, “I’ll probably be no more than ten minutes late. I guess I’ll just have to take a quick lunch instead of going out to eat. If I can turn in my report before the end of the day and make sure that it’s error-free, I might still have a chance to get that promotion.”

I know it is hard to be objective when you are focusing on yourself, but that’s when you must.  Self talk can either work in your favor  and fuel your success or it can undermine your actions and keep you from landing your dream job. As you go through the job seeking process, you almost need to think of yourself as the job coach for yourself.

If you were advising a sibling, a close friend or your own children about a job, what advice would you give them? As you think of your own situation, is the advice you are giving yourself what you would tell them? If not, then you are not thinking clearly about the job prospect or yourself.

And don’t over think. The interview today may lead to a job offer, but you must remain focused. Talking yourself out of continuing the job search because you have a possible opportunity that sounds promising sets yourself up for disappointment.

So talk to yourself about how you are talking to yourself. It may just be what you need to  change negative thought into positive energy. The end result will be that warm fuzzy feeling that comes when you are sitting in your new hire orientation!

Four lessons any manager can learn from the Masters Golf Tournament – Part 4 0

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa helps Bubba Watson put on the ceremonial Green Jacket during Sunday's fourth round at the 2012 Masters Tournament

At Augusta, it is often said that the tournament is not won on Thursday (the first day), but that’s when it can be lost. Bubba Watson was on the hunt all four days and made  a solid showing on Thursday. He put himself in contention to win.

As a manager, your success is often directly related to the amount of planning you do. You can lose the sale, profit or even a  promotion by not being fully prepared. And like the Masters, you can’t win on the opening day. You must play through the different parts of the project, adjust as needed and stay focused on managing the pieces according to your plan.

On day two, Bubba was the leader.  On day three, he was not. But he was still able to win. He had left himself a chance.  By the end of regulation play on Sunday, Bubba was tied with Oosthuizen and a Sudden Death Playoff began. On the second sudden death  hole, Bubba hit his drive left in to the gallery. He hit an amazing second shot onto the green and two putted. Oosthuizen made a 5 and the tournament had a new champion.

Right up until the last stroke of the last hole, Bubba had to remain vigilant. To be a successful  manager, you must do the same. Regardless of the project, it’s all about the planning and then the execution.

Charles Degaulle  said “Victory often goes to the army that makes the fewest mistakes, not the most brilliant plans”. I think Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters Champion, would agree.