The Killer Application

Last week, Sierra Pacific had our Spring Symposium. Just over 100 people showed up for a couple days of education and perhaps a little golf. The weather controlled the golf down to about 4-5 holes. The education was the real show.

I can hear it now, the collective mass groan of the TurfHeads as they brace themselves for more of my Californiacated Spench of Touch and Feel.

In planning this event, my friend, colleague, mentor and crime partner Dean Kinney and I made sure that we didn’t fill the schedule with so much that it would be too much. Why? Simple. Love. That’s right, Love. I can hear it now, the collective mass groan of the TurfHeads as they brace themselves for more of my Californiacated Spench of Touch and Feel.

But I’m serious. Because in the case of leaving time for people to get to interact with people, you know–Network, we are upholding the intangible. We can’t charge for it. We can’t bottle it in a 2.5 gallon container, we can’t print it out as data. Networking is an intangible thing. Any yet, we all know it brings amazing value. So in planning our event, networking time was just as important as having myself or one of the invited PhDs banging out zillions of Powerpoint slides.

I don’t always do well reading “business” books. You know, the whole genre of books designed to make me a better business person. It’s laughable. I simply get bored with the content and wonder, as I read, if the writer would ever last in my business. But someone gave me an audio book of Tim Sanders’ “Love is the Killer App” and it became my favorite listen and later, my favorite read and still makes my Top 10 list.

Sanders, had or has some crazy title at Yahoo. Chief Solutions Officer. Nice. Sounds like something along the lines of Chief of Mayonaise to the Sandwich Maker. But once I got past the Yahooisms….it became clear to me that Sanders was onto something. In Sanders’ mind, we all need to practice “love business” – the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing what he calls our “Intangibles” (our knowledge, our network and our compassion) with our business partners.

Our Intangibles? Wilber…please. Keep smoking the Labrador Sativa, you must be saying. But the truth is, this little bit of info turns out to be one of the greatest concepts of growing grass that I have ever tripped across. It fits us so well. It explains why so many of us do what we do. And it turn, it explains why so many of us hate it so much when down to the knuckles spreadsheet grinding business takes over our world of…that’s right… Intangibles. Even though Sanders was once a Reggae musician, The Feather Bed Bubba Kush has not gone all wrong to make him all monkey brain. This book and his explanation of the concept is spot on.

Think about it… to we TurfHeads, the network is of supreme importance. I see it on the road every day. Even the grass growers who don’t get out, don’t go to meetings, don’t talk to others, want to know what’s going on and they ask me for news. The network is alive and well. We thrive on hearing from each other and what others are doing. It’s intangible, alright. But priceless as well.

Were my ideas, that I once charged for, the product or is the product now the stuff in the bag? I didn’t understand what had come of my world and it showed. But it also meant that I didn’t understand what my product really was in the past, either.

So let me ask…when was the last time you gave some Love? When? When was the last time you did something for someone, helped someone, gave info to someone or just plain said a good word to someone and didn’t expect a single thing in return? I know for me, as I first read this book, I was making the transition from independent consultant to technical agronomist. It was a time when I was unsure of what my real value was. Were my ideas, that I once charged for, the product or is the product now the stuff in the bag? I didn’t understand what had come of my world and it showed. But it also meant that I didn’t understand what my product really was in the past, either.

Sanders lays out a critical path of making sure that you understand that the overarching theme is that open sharing of your knowledge with your coworkers, superiors and other firms (or people) you are partnered with and working to help them to improve, works out for you much more than hoarding what you know and trodding others down on the way up the ladder. This is “love” in the workplace, and I was glad to have it defined for me.

I just got done reading (listening to, actually) this book again. I’ve done it every spring, just as I have read a couple other key books that serve as compass headings for me. I’m astounded at the way that our world economy has even made this into more of a guiding principle. At our Spring Symposium, there was some buzz about this blog and about my blogging. A few people who were either close to me or just plain stupid (kidding…not really) asked me how much I was being paid for the work put in. And imagine their faces when I said, that I didn’t know and that I’m not sure it will pay anything and if it does it doesn’t matter. I often get looks of disbelief, so this isn’t new and I just laughed. See, it’s not important. My intangible here is that anyone would even talk to me about reading something I had written. I never in a million years dreamed I’d write for fun or for a living and I’ll explain why in a future blog post.

Love is the Killer App. I am sure that in our crazy world, this is more than just a small truth. It’s a Goodyear Blimp of a fact.

4 Responses to “The Killer Application”

  • Peter McCormick:

    Dave – The most valuable business book I’ve read is “Growing Your Business” by Paul Hawken of Smith & Hawken fame. Prior to that he founded and grew a crunchy grocery chain somewhere in the northwest. I read it as I was embarking on launching TurfNet, so it’s old. But I also consider it like Ross Perot’s first flipchart lesson on TV: good plain old common sense, so plain and so good that it is anything but common. Wonderful stuff for anybody in business (or considering it, or embarking upon it), and very readable.

    Now, the topic of your compensation. Kids, Dave is correct. We did this on a handshake with the gut feeling that it would be good for all of you TurfNetter/Turfheads out there, good for Dave and good for TurfNet. It was not premeditated. I had nothing in the budget for it. We swirled it around in the glass and gulped, knowing we’d figure it out and strong arm a sponsor (EarthWorks and Logan Labs — both of which had nothing in the budget for it either, but we’ll work that out too) to appease everyone’s interests.

    Sometimes things are done this way. No contracts, no lawyers, just a gut feeling, run with it and work out the fine print as we go. It’s like Butch and Sundance standing at the edge of the cliff: a leap of faith.

  • Bob Marshall:

    “When was the last time you did something for someone, helped someone, gave info to someone or just plain said a good word to someone and didn’t expect a single thing in return?”

    Isn’t this one of the intangibles that most of us enjoy within our profession? I can’t count the number of times people have helped me or that I have helped others with no expectations of “What’s in it for me?” From advice and support to equipment swapping to sending your crew to help with a big project to just being friends…It’s what we do!

  • Joe Wachter:

    Wow! Thanks Dave for stepping back in the ring. I think back on all that I’ve learned by associating with this group called “TurfNet”.

    The willingness of people to not only share their work experiences but also life experiences has been an invaluable daily lesson for me.

    A couple recent examples for me.
    Walking and talking shop after leaving the B&P in San Diego with Jerry Coldiron for a few minutes, or a surprise 15 minute phone call from Gordon Witteven this past weekend mean a great deal to me. I value the experiences of these individuals and the perspectives that they are so willing to share.

    Our staff has a lot to offer us as well. It’s only smart business to give them more information because you never know when they will come up with a great idea for you or that extra effort that will save your arse.

    In the end, we would be up shtttttt’sss creek without our guys that perform the work we ask of them on a daily basis. When they screw up, they usually know it, when they do well, they need to be told it.

  • Dave- As I happily read Thru The Green this morning, I realized why it is that I know so many of those mentioned or pictured. One word: Wilber. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked, “Have you heard from Dave?” or someone has asked me the same. Its about time I checked in. Hope all is great with you.

    As Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”


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