December 2019 Te Contractor’s Advantage
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Reflection, Rest, and Renewal
If you’re interested, I’m currently reading a few books: a biography on Stalin, a book on planning called "The 12 Week Year," a book about client service and retention, Viktor Frankl’s "Man’s Search for Meaning," Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451," a book on effective negotiations called "Never Split the Difference," and a novel by Terry Pratchett. I try to read a variety of books, from business books to biographies, with literature and fiction mixed in. This year, one of the standout books was “The Sabbath” by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. “The Sabbath” was originally published in 1951. I’m not Jewish, or even religious, but this book spoke directly to my core because of the message delivered by Heschel. First and foremost, Heschel writes in such effective prose. He doesn’t waste a single word. In fact, I had to read it a couple of times to really absorb Heschel’s writing (and no, I don’t track books I read a second time in the same year). The book discusses humans’ need for a day of rest and renewal. Though this book was written in the '50s, it’s just as relevant today with our ultra- connected society. The beautiful thing about Heschel’s Jewish Sabbath, unlike our modern concepts of time off and the weekend, is that this day of rest is not a rest from work for the sake of preparing for more work — but rest for the sake of the soul, for our humanity. It’s this idea that I find beautiful.
The end of the year is a good time to reflect. You can think about what went well this year, and if you met the personal and professional goals you set for yourself. You can also think about how you improved, and what challenges you overcame. As I reflect, I can say business has been going well. Like any business, we’ve set goals as a firm, and I also have my own set of goals. Many of them revolve around serving my clients and cases — and I actually met my annual goals in October, far ahead of schedule. At the end of every year, I set aside one or two eight-hour days to sit and reflect. I take a close look at both the goals I accomplished and those I didn’t. I also begin to set new goals for the coming year and look for new ways to challenge myself and grow. One of my big personal goals for the past several years has been to read roughly one book a week. There is no greater way to expand your horizons and learn about new (or new-to-you) ideas than to read. And there’s no better way to stay on track with reading than to track it on a spreadsheet! I keep a spreadsheet detailing every book I’ve read this year — with an overall goal of reading a total of 50 books. I update the spreadsheet at the end of every week. With the spreadsheet, I can calculate my pace to see if I’m on target, or if I’m falling behind. As I write this, I’m right on target to meet my goal.
The holidays, from Hanukkah to Christmas, are the perfect time to rest for the sake of the soul. While many people are running around taking care of various errands in preparation for the holidays, it’s important to focus on what really matters. This is the time to spend with family and friends. During the holidays we often see people we don’t see throughout the rest of the year. It’s a time to reconnect, and through that reconnection and rest we achieve renewal. So, as this year comes to a close, I hope you have time to reflect, rest, and find renewal for the new year ahead.
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DELEGATE TO ELEVATE
Poor delegation is the Achilles’ heel of most leaders, who often confuse being “involved” with being “essential.” To determine if you’re holding on to work you should delegate out, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends asking this simple question: “If you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your initiatives and priorities advance in your absence?” If your answer is no or you aren’t sure, then you’re probably too involved. No one person should be the cog that keeps everything in motion, no matter their position in the company. Luckily, HBR has created an audit using the following six T’s to identify which tasks can be delegated. Tiny: Small tasks that stack up can undermine the flow of your work. Registering for a conference, putting it on the calendar, and booking the flight are all small tasks someone else can handle. Tedious: These tasks are straightforward but not the best use of your time. Someone else can input lists into spreadsheets or update key performance indicators for a presentation. Time-Consuming: These important, complex tasks don’t require you to do the first 80% of the work. Identify what they are, pass them to someone else, and step in for the final 20% to give approval. Teachable: Is there a task only you know how to do? If so, teach someone else to do it, and step in for the last quality check when it’s done. Terrible At: It’s okay to be bad at some things. Great leaders know when to pass tasks off to someone who is more skilled than they are. The task will get done faster and at a much higher quality. Time-Sensitive: These tasks need to get done right now but are competing with tasks of a higher priority. Just because it has to get done immediately doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do it. Sure, some tasks only you can accomplish, but these are extremely rare. As the Virgin Group founder Richard Branson warns, needlessly resisting delegation is the path to disaster. “You need to learn to delegate so that you can focus on the big picture,” Branson says. “It’s vital to the success of your business that you learn to hand off those things that you aren’t able to do well.” The Secret to Being a Great Leader
“You have the power to change your behaviors,” says Susan Fowler, “but to be successful in changing, you need an evidenced-based framework for motivation and techniques for applying it.” In her new book, “Master Your Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals,” Fowler synthesizes her decades of research into a guide that provides such a framework. In the process, she overturns countless widely held myths about what motivates us. Fowler believes the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivation (a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior) results from our perception of motivation as being either intrinsic or extrinsic. “Simplifying motivations into two types presents a conundrum when you aren’t intrinsically motivated,” she writes. “Your only fallback position is extrinsic motivation.” In other words, just by thinking about motivation as intrinsic versus extrinsic, you’ve already set yourself up to fail. To really motivate yourself and others, she argues, you need to think about motivation in different terms. Thankfully for the reader, Fowler defines an alternative framework for motivation. In what amounts to the book’s thesis, she states, “To master your motivation, create choice, connection, and competence.” When you measure motivation across these three factors, which are the result of rigorous academic research rather than folksy conventional wisdom, you unlock the power of motivation. It’s not hard to see how Fowler’s framework is much more actionable than traditional motivational techniques. Creating intrinsic motivation, especially for others, is a mug’s game, but defining choice, connection, and competence is much less ambiguous. If you have team members who you feel lack motivation, ask yourself if their jobs have these three essential traits. Do they have agency (choice) in their work? Do they generate meaning (connection) from what they do? Do they get a sense of accomplishment (competence) from doing something well? If you can’t answer all three of these in the affirmative, you can create a plan for increasing motivation that doesn’t involve empty metrics or meaningless rewards. If you or your team could use a proverbial kick in the pants, the solution might be to ignore those proverbs entirely. “Master Your Motivation” takes a refreshing look at what makes us strive for more. It’s a great addition to any leadership library. A Science-Based Approach to Achieving More SUSAN FOWLER’S ‘MASTER YOUR MOTIVATION’
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No More Spam Emails! 3 Tips to Make Emailing a Breeze
words or short phrases. This is helpful when you need to send someone a quick answer to keep things moving but you’re not interested in getting into the details then and there. In other words, you can buy yourself time until you can focus on a more thought-out response. Leo Laporte, host of the “This Week in Tech” (“TWiT”) podcast, has another suggestion: Tell people you don’t read emails. Of course, you do read emails, but the world doesn’t need to know it. This is a great way to cut down on the number of emails waiting in your inbox. Finally, set aside time to do an email purge. Look at the people and businesses that are sending you emails, decide which ones you don’t read anymore, and unsubscribe. Depending on the size of your inbox, this can take time, but it’s worth it. You’ll receive fewer emails, which means you won’t spend hours scrolling through your inbox, and that can save you time and money in the long run.
Emails are a time suck. As you read through the subject lines, you wonder how your time can be better spent. Kevin Rose, entrepreneur and founder of Digg.com, discovered an interesting way to limit the time he spends replying to emails, and it’s extremely simple. All you have to do is end all emails with “Sent from my smartphone.” Why does this make a difference? According to Rose, he found that people have different expectations based on whether emails are sent from mobile devices or computers. Presumably, any email that doesn’t include the tag “Sent from my smartphone” is sent from a computer with a full keyboard and your full attention. As it turns out, people don’t mind short, to-the-point emails if you reply on the go. The best part is that you can add the “Sent from my smartphone” from any device. You can add the signoff manually when you need a quick fix or add it to your signature.
You no longer have to waste time writing paragraphs in response. Instead, you can limit your responses to single
HAVE A Laugh
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Jeremy Wyatt email@example.com www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000
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Inside This Edition
Rest for the Soul
A Better Way to Think About Motivation
What Great Leaders Have in Common
3 Tips to Make Emailing a Breeze
Have a Laugh
Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas
Level with Me: Chilly Change Orders
Don’t Get Lost in the Bustle 3 Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas
unexpected holiday greeting could keep your business in mind as they go about their holiday shopping.
Decorate your website for the season. Your customers are already in the holiday spirit, so why not indulge them with some seasonal trappings on your website? Festive holiday touches to your company logo or new webpages recommending holiday gift ideas can go a long way to attract customer attention. You don’t have to be the flashiest display on the block, but showing off your holiday spirit will spread cheer and goodwill. Create gift card giveaways or incentives. Gift cards, even digital ones, are more popular than ever around the holiday season. In one survey, 43% of respondents said they planned on giving gift cards or certificates in lieu of other holiday presents. With 1 in 4 gift cards sold in the last four days leading up to Christmas, these ideal presents make the perfect last-minute marketing tool. Offer gift card incentives or giveaways for your loyal customers. They can make the perfect present for them and, in turn, your business.
If you haven’t capitalized on the holiday season for your business’s marketing campaign yet,
don’t worry, because you still have time! Even if you’re still a long sleigh ride away from finishing your own holiday to-do list, you can ensure your business flourishes this season with a few last-minute marketing ideas for the holidays. Send season’s greetings to loyal customers. Even if your Christmas or holiday-themed cards don’t mail on time, you can still send personalized emails or social media messages to let your customers know you’re thinking of them this holiday season. Established customers can be responsible for up to 40% of a business’s sales, and your
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Level With Me By JeremyWyatt
Chilly Change Orders: When Does Winter Weather Become a Compensable Change on Your Project?
What to Look For in Your Contract The most appropriate clause to zero in on if present in your construction contract is the limit on weather-related float days. Many modern contracts have a set number of days, whether two, five, 10, or whatever it may be, that you must calculate into your schedule as “expected” weather delays. This is the amount of time you have promised to accept as weather delays and still complete work on time. The next time you review a contract, take a look closely in the sections related to timing and substantial completion and chances are, you will see a clause like this. The straightforward “no damages for delay” clause comes in to play in almost every weather-related delay claim. That clause typically states that, even though you may have been delayed or impacted from cold weather, you are not entitled to recover money damages for those delays except under specific circumstances. Essentially, this clause shifts to you the risk that weather will delay your work. Another clause that can affect winter weather claims is “force majeure,” which is French for “oh boy, this is really, really bad!” In essence, a force majeure clause typically says that, in unforeseen circumstances that make performance commercially impracticable – such as the Storm of the Century – the parties can avoid or renegotiate their contract duties. Any of those clauses (and others) could trip you up and cut off your recovery for winter-related costs, so here are a few tips to place yourself in a good position to recover any additional costs.
This winter, construction companies are going to lose millions of dollars reacting to delays and impacts to their work caused by cold and inclement weather. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you if you know how to protect your right to compensation for project changes. How It Happens The imagination conjures up the most extreme possibility – the Storm of the Century. Certainly, a major weather event will delay and impact your project work. And it may even cause serious damage to your work. Moreover, someone has to clear the snow from your construction project, and if that someone is you, those costs can mount quickly. The most common weather-related change, however, is the schedule shift. Often, a project is delayed for one reason or another unrelated to you, which means that your work is shifted to a later timeframe. When that work is shifted into winter months, it can result in all sorts of impacts and additional costs. Concrete, for example, requires mix additives, tenting, heaters, and blankets (among other things) to cure properly in winter months. If you were expecting a summer concrete pour, you would not have budgeted for all of that. Winter weather brings all kinds of risks for delays, damages, and disputes. It’s important to know how to effectively combat these issues.
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Protecting Yourself and Your Profit
contracts for your construction project. Modern construction contracts typically have notice requirements that can cause you to completely waive your claim for weather-related changes if you don’t give timely notice. Check your change order clause to see what kind of notice you may need to give.
Return to Baseline
For winter-damaged equipment or work, it may be enough to simply claim the replacement cost as damages. When delays or impacts are involved, however, you need to go see what you were entitled to before making your claim. That is, did the “baseline” schedule (as amended) entitle you to do your work in the summer or fall, but now you are forced to work in the winter because of delays? Or was your work sequenced after building close-in so that you were entitled to install your project work in a conditioned space, but now you must work in the freezing cold? Your contract will have the answer to what you were entitled to, and thus what you may recover as an impact or delay to your work.
Don’t Forget the Eichleay
When you are seeking delay damages for cold-weather changes, remember to add a claim for home office overhead. That is, under the Eichleay line of cases, you can be entitled to recover the loss to your home office caused by delays on a project. When you have a project ongoing in the field, the income from that project goes in part to fund all of your home office expenses like insurance, rent, salaries, etc. When you are delayed on a project, that income is no longer funding your home office expenses, and you may be entitled to recover for that loss.
The Pen is Mightier Than the ‘S’ Word
You may have a strong urge to drop an expletive or 12 when a cold-weather change occurs. But the best first step is to give written notice to whoever is upstream from you in the chain of
If you want to learn more skills and tips about avoiding construction claim pitfalls, you can receive a free copy of my book “The Subcontractor’s Roadmap to Getting Paid for Extra Work” by emailing me at email@example.com.
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