Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

There Is A Big White Sandwich-Making Sweater-Folding Elephant In My Truck

The largely unrealized goal this year was to write more blog posts. Inside of that goal has been my deep-seated desire to make Maestro Peter happy. He’d be hog slop happy with more agronomy writing from me. “Agronomy, Wilber” is often the two word email that I get from Peter. It’s fine. I think he, like a lot of people think that every day, all day, I think about growing grass and that every conversation I have with everyone I see has to do with large bore topics like how to really deal with your LDS and the absolute best and only way to use growth regulators in a particular zip code and how organic fertilizers will eventually save the planet.

My problem is that there’s this big ass Elephant that has taken up residence in my truck and in my brain.   And because he’s there, hot agronomy topics like Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Vision From The Road, Sun City Roseville

Last Chance Meetings Lead to Educational High

California Turfheads need the education hours that our wonderful state government requires for being a Qualified Pesticide applicator. It’s not a stiff requirement, a few hours of Laws and Regs and a few more hours of “other”. I’ve just finished 3 days, in three different cities helping to put on what we call our “Last Chance” meetings. That’s right, you get it, it’s a “Last Chance” to get those continuing education hours. We build this program around giving suppliers and company representatives time slots to go over their products and provide education. It works if everyone lets it.

I like doing these meetings. I didn’t at first. It seemed like a lot of wasted time to teach people the things they should already know. But over time, we have been able to get the right balance of chemical, fert and “others” to make it fun. Yeah, sometimes it gets a little sales pitchy, but with some proper head knocking, we ask speakers to bring their A game and teach and they do just that.

After hearing the same ten talks for three days (that’s 30 talks, in case you didn’t want to grab your calculator), you might think that I would just put my fingers in my ears (or fire up the iPod) and just endure. But the truth is, I listened as much as I could and in each and every version of each and every talk, I found some new information.

I was also on the program to spench forth my limited vocabulary and I found myself looking around the room, taking stock of who was there and customizing my presentation to fit the bill. This is also forced by the fact that the 3 city tour had us speaking to supers from coastal, inland and mountain areas and I could count 5-6 different primary grass types grown, at the minimum. So my talks were all the same and all a bit different. That’s what live music should be like. You can’t play the solo the same every time. You shouldn’t.

What am I on about? Getting to the point here soon. I promise.

Without the aid of Medical Marijuana or Jack Johnson, I slipped into a kind of bliss. And it made me realize, I love to learn. I do. No matter what, no matter who, I’m like a sponge and when the input starts happening, I get all snuggy and happy, wrapped in a warm pig blanket of turfgrass love.

And I had to agree and was happy to help. It’s tough speaking when two turfheads are doing the hand jive in the back of the room. It is.

Others don’t feel the same way. I see it. They can’t sit still. They can’t stay awake. They may think they know it all. They grow Bentgrass and don’t care about how to keep Poa alive. Whatever. It’s a sickness amidst some people that whatever or however it comes to them, they can’t receive it. That’s a tough spot to be in. And in fact, I know it well. I was that guy who didn’t sit down and had other things to do and would much rather talk turf in the hallway. And I’ve come to realize, that is a mistake.

As one of the speakers on one of the days was getting started with his 30 min. of fame, he asked me if I could make a pass along the back side of the room and get some folks to sit, or at least move their conversations out of his eye line. And I had to agree and was happy to help. It’s tough speaking when two turfheads are doing the hand jive in the back of the room. It is.

I’m onto the educational high thing. I don’t care about grabasstic supers who know it all trying to harsh my buzz. I just, love learning. So my goal in setting up these events is to convert the doubters. The ticket punchers who thought they had to be there to “get those hours” might just be glad and may even learn something. They can sit and join the drum circle. Groovy!

Wouldn’t that be something.

When I Just Can’t Help Myself

It didn’t take long. I figured it was going to happen within a couple days, but indeed it was really just a couple hours.

And as a human monkey (and a turfhead to boot), I’m prone to mistakes and even, yes… failure. So when a young (and amazing) superintendent whom I did some soil tests for early in the year wrote me an email today it made for a really good moment of introspective guilt. I don’t want to violate the confidence of personal email communication, but I think he might not mind if I post a couple of sentences.

“I found your comments interesting and it must be very disconcerting to not have clients or people you’ve spent time helping return calls or emails.  I have had the same general experience in my dealings with you this spring and summer.”

Ouch. And I quickly responded with my admission of guilt and my utter cluelessness that I had somehow missed the boat with this particular super. In my mind, I had given someone I perceived to be a good thinker some space to think. And if I missed a call or an email, I honestly can’t remember. That’s really no excuse. And all I can do is offer to make it better.

In my mind, I had given someone I perceived to be a good thinker some space to think…

I knew, when I wrote my previous Zealot post, that I was sticking my neck out. I also knew that a lot of people who know me might be trying to figure out which one of the A, B or C  Supers that they are. And for sure, I never would want to write something like that to be spiteful. After all, Turfheads, above many other forms of life, have the ability to choose. And I respect that. Very much.

Along those same lines, I don’t think that anyone, in any part of any business really should have a sense of entitlement when it comes to respect. Respect is earned and it is a fire that must have fuel added to it by virtue of doing the right thing. So saying to a client, “I do and I do and I do for you and this is all I get”, probably is a way right out of having clients.

I don’t think that anyone, in any part of any business really should have a sense of entitlement when it comes to respect. Respect is earned and it is a fire that must have fuel added to it by virtue of doing the right thing…

Looking inside (way inside), whether I want to believe it or not, I’ve dropped the ball. A bunch. I have this habit of getting my head down, thundering away and keeping all the squeaky wheels oiled.  No matter how hard I work, or think I am working, now and then and sometimes more often, something gets by me. Never happens to you? Please. Sure, I could blame, my ADHD or my other multiple ailments, but in the end, good pitches sometimes get by me.

The email that I got today made me look inside and that’s good. And then I took a look at my rantings for yesterday and it made me understand that maybe I didn’t have the real story or (shudder) know everything.

In the case of Superintendent A, perhaps I did all I could do and that my work was appreciated. I’d like to hear that, but maybe I should trust that his net value is indeed figuring it all out.

Superintendent B may actually like me. And maybe what I should be doing is not really listening or even participating in the gossip.

Superintendent C, indeed has the right to seek out answers and again, it would do me well to remember that a friend is way more important than a client.

I also had to look at why all the angst and upset. Clearly things had been getting to me. And for me it comes from the fact that every day I get up and I want to help. I want to be a part of things. I want to be involved. It’s in my DNA. But I also had to look at the fact that I perhaps had let some opportunities to help slip by. I hope that by being vulnerable to put this out here, you might see the same. And I’m sure I might hear from some others saying “are you kidding… what about you?” or “were you talking about me?” I ‘m honored and thankful for anyone who would care enough to write.

My email reminder today definitely helped me see that maybe I might spend some time looking at what I have and maybe less about what I have not.

When You Just Can’t Help Yourself

Today, this week and really… all month, I’ve been angry. No, actually, I’ve been pissed off. I usually have what I have come to call “Red October”, where at some point I have a meltdown of some sort of a series of Chernobyl like events that last until about Christmas.

Last week, I had a conversation with TurfNet’s Maestro (that’s Herr McCormick to you…) about the plusses and minuses of blogging a little more from my heart and soul and getting my daily experience into words. Great. So here you go. I’m going to cut loose a bit and actually, as upset as I am today, I really don’t care if you get pissed off too. In fact, maybe if you get a little mad, you might just help yourself. Because it’s clear, for a good number of people reading this, I can’t help them. And that just pisses me off. Because every last one of them could use a little help. We all can.

What am I on about? It’s pretty simple actually. As an agronomist, I am sick to death of offering up advice that could change people’s turf, careers and even lives and having it be ignored or worse yet, being treated like an outsider because I don’t grow grass. I did once, but I guess that doesn’t count. And I’m asking myself, why? Why do people actually care so little?Sound a little arrogant? Maybe. But there’s got to be a point where people start to use their coconuts. Let me paint a picture for you:

Friday afternoon in early summer, late friday afternoon, I get a call. The sky is falling for Superintendent A. His world is going to be over. Armageddon is upon him and if I don’t get to his course right away, he might just spill his own blood in a sand bin. To him, it’s that bad. So I go. Cancel everything. Disappoint everyone (nothing new in my life for the sake of turfheads) and get there.

It’s not over for Super A, but he’s jacked some things up. Badly. And what I want to say is, “How can you be this stupid?”. I don’t say that. There’s no reason to handle it that way and it’s not my style.

I listen, try to speak positive words and to offer encouragement. And I’m blunt about a couple things I see that must change. By the end of our time together, Super A feels better. I’m declared “the greatest”.  And I’ve done 2000 miles this week and I’m exhausted. He asks me when I can write a report and so, because I’m getting older and subject to memory loss, I stay up most of the night working on his stuff and get some good ideas going and talk about why he could be doing Turfgrass 101 and winning instead of worrying about the wrong things and pretty much crashing the plane. The report goes out. It’s technical. It’s not hard stuff, it’s simple.

I stay up most of the night working on his stuff and get some good ideas going and talk about why he could be doing Turfgrass 101 and winning instead of worrying about the wrong things and pretty much crashing the plane…

And what do I hear? Crickets. Nothing. All damn summer, nothing. Not a word. My phone calls, not returned. Ok, things must be good. But they aren’t. I hear through the “grapevine” that Super A is calling everyone. The USGA is out, local supers are out, everyone says, they are “Helping Out”. Not me. But I come to understand that really no one’s advice is taken. He’s doing it on his own. Super A calls me last week, declares his current job a place where he can never win and wants me to help him find a job because I have “contacts”. Have I heard of anything? Buddy, you don’t want to know what I decided not to say. Seriously? Contacts?

Let’s move on to Super B. Super B is better than me. He knows it and thinks I should know it too, or does he? He doesn’t miss an opportunity to bitch about me behind my back (it’s a small small world, sir), he doesn’t do any business with the company I work for, having declared us the evil empire. But when he sees me, I’m like an old lost friend. Warm words, nice handshake, “How’s it going?” and all the rest. And I get a glimmer of hope. Perhaps maybe I’m wrong about B. Maybe he’s actually a nice guy. Return my calls? Never. Tell everyone how much I don’t know? Always. Say it to my face? Never.

Superintendent C is someone I’ve known forever. Always a friend. Always a good person. When he was a young assistant, he cornered me for drinks and meals when I was on the road and asked me endless questions about my world and because I was lonely, I guess, I answered, gladly. As he moved up the career ladder, my number, always handy and used often. Sure, we did “business” together, but it was always more than that. And when the Peter Principle came into play and Super C got in over his head, no problem. I was there to teach, work the angles, take arrows, research answers and provide (which I gladly did) career counsel.

And when the Peter Principle came into play and Super C got in over his head, no problem. I was there to teach, work the angles, take arrows, research answers and provide (which I gladly did) career counsel…”

But you see, that was 15 years ago when we met. We aren’t so young now and my ideas? Well they must be old like me. And just like the old draft horse, I was put out to pasture. Oh, but there’s no problem “inviting” me to lunch and declaring my company credit card the thing to use. Use. The keyword. And when in trouble…call your old friend Dave. He might have an idea. Really?

Look, I don’t ever (and I mean ever) think I have all the answers. I’ve been wrong plenty. And certainly, I’m not perfect in any way. It happens when you are brave enough to stick your neck out. But I’m growing tired of situations like those above and I’m just idealistic enough to speak up about it, so that it might change. Even a little.


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