A pause for reflection on the most significant month of the year so far at Straightpoint.
I was reading an article the other day about the importance of spending “quiet hours” away from the pressures of modern day life, intensified by the demands placed upon us by mobile devices and social media. The piece outlined how the author has dedicated parts of his day around lunch and dinner to putting his smart phone away and allowing his brain to relax and enjoy other things—food, a cup of coffee, fresh air, or family, for example.
The article resonated with me, not because I could apply every element of it to my own life but because, in essence, it outlined the importance of implementing a sustainable schedule that allows one to be productive, engaged and committed to long-term goals. Like a car, too many revolutions per minute over a long period of time burns lots of fuel and can see you fall short of your destination.
“Quiet hours,” as the author called them, will mean something different to everyone. At Straightpoint, we encourage our staff to be part of the culture and work extremely hard to achieve our goals and develop individual careers, yet, people are productive in different ways.
Sometimes a change of scenery can help, as my trip to Thailand earlier this month proved. It was great to spend some time with my wife and her family, while dedicating time to the tasks that it isn’t always easy to get around to while I’m in the office or at trade shows. I was able to put “quiet hours” to good effect. For me, that doesn’t necessarily mean switching off completely because I like to stay busy, but I was able to put my laptop on a table with a great view of the beautiful Chiang Rai region and focus on tasks that would have taken me much longer had I been on home soil.
Two sentences from the article referenced above are worth pondering: “Technology was built to aid our lives, not control it. We have to make sure we’re making these devices work for us, and not the other way around.” They’re facts I’ll certainly try to be mindful of when I’m engrossed in an important email and I get a message from Twitter saying @LoadCell has welcomed another follower!
I’m very comfortable leaving operations director Alfie Lee in charge of headquarters and we stay in regular contact, as I do with John Molidor, the general manager of the North American subsidiary, which is where modern technology is a help not a hinderance.
Changing of the guard
Talking of the states, it was great to have Aaron Orsak, who recently joined the Straightpoint team in the position of technical sales engineer, over from North America to meet the UK team and learn more about the culture of the company and our product range. Aaron will cover Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama but it was hugely important for him to spend a week in the UK.
Again, striking a balance was key. We only had a week at our disposal but it was important to spend some “quiet hours” getting to know Aaron better and allowing him to absorb the experience. Ok, it wasn’t too quiet in London when we went sightseeing for the day but you get my point. Aaron enjoyed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and a number of other famous sights that he had only seen before on the television.
I took the opportunity to invite Richard Howes, a director at our PR company, Bridger Howes, to join us for a traditional London lunch—pie and mash! Rich often writes articles about applications and other success stories in the states so I wanted Aaron to meet the person who will no doubt be calling on him for stories in the coming months. Aaron, Rich and I also enjoyed a “quiet hour” over a pint of ale or two!
Later in the week, I introduced Aaron to Gary Mullins, of Action Coach, a leading business coaching company who named us Business of the Year 2014. Gary works with me and a number of our staff to analyse our business practices and ensure we are properly trained to meet the challenges faced by a company growing as rapidly as ours. I know Alfie and other staff speak highly of Gary’s coaching and Aaron was equally impressed.
It was also a good opportunity for Gary to meet Aaron. Part of our discussions over a long period of time have been about achieving an even stronger global presence with a robust US-based business and a distributor network that will be the envy of our competitors. Aaron’s addition to the team only makes that more achievable.
New catalogue hits the streets
The subject of my last blog was the new catalogue, which was launched on 1 April. Over the course of the month we have received unprecedented interest in the document and the new products contained within it. We printed and sent out a thousand, which is double the amount we usually circulate, and even then there have been requests for additional copies.
Having touched upon the 24/7 demand that modern day technology can create, the response we’ve had to our catalogue demonstrates the impact a printed document still has. In fact, I think our dealers and distributors really appreciated receiving a written letter from me, introducing the new catalogue and outlining how highly we value our partnerships.
Upon my return from Thailand I visited our German partners, Pfeifer, who actually brand our products for distribution in a number of countries in mainland Europe. They were very impressed with the new catalogue and in particular the new products.
The main purpose of the visit, however, was to meet my new point of contact, Frank Buttner. My long-time associate at Pfeifer, Wolfgang Gerster, has moved up in the company so it was important to make a connection and, again, spend some “quiet hours” with Frank. I congratulated Wolfgang on his promotion in person and would like to place on record my sincere thanks for a great partnership and many years of success together. I’m sure Frank will continue where he left off.
By the time you read this I’ll be packing my bags again for another trip across the Atlantic—this time for the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. I’m looking forward to catching up with John and seeing Aaron working his new patch.
It’s been a privilege to share the highlights of another busy, challenging and exciting month at Straightpoint. Make time for those “quiet hours”!