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Mentorship & Paying it Forward

One of the most influential Teachers I’ve ever had taught me that great leaders take every opportunity to help their team grow professionally and personally. I was blessed for having his example. He monitored (and mentored) me constantly, evaluating my performance and providing frequent direct feedback. In doing so, he helped develop the skills I needed to be successful, while instilling confidence and reminding me that in turn I had the same obligation to those who I led. I aspire to be as enthusiastic and affective as he was for me and so many others.

In any craft or trade, historically there has been a tradition of apprenticeship. A young worker (as young as 10yrs) would learn their craft by working (for 7yrs) as assistant to someone well experienced (a master) in the trade. This was a mutually beneficial relationship where the prentice provided inexpensive labor in exchange for training and sometimes even schooling. This notion has been lost largely to a modern drive toward greater and faster production and worker’s rights; industrial and societal revolution. The primary purpose of the increased production was the development of wealth and advancement of mankind’s comforts. An arguably advantageous trade off in my opinion. Today, (in developed nations), we live longer and more comfortably than royalty of the past. That being said, to all things there is a season. And I want to suggest that we have lost a bit of the art of life and joy of mentorship in the pursuit of MORE. I think we can recapture the best parts of apprenticeship without giving up our gains.

It is a true challenge. The tradition of apprenticeship wherever it was practiced, was generally done so in a homogenous society. The values of the community were largely the same. Which reduced the variables and made it easier for the forwarding of technique and values relevant to the craft. Here in the modern melting pot of the United States, there are so many competing values and agendas that this becomes more complicated. Much less, that we are a nation of innovators and individualists who have been brought up to believe in our innate value and equality. “Who are you to tell me?” is in the way of our next step. While it is accepted truth that our essence is equal, to compete as individuals we must accept that others have valuable skills and information for us. And the true teachers and leaders among us are generally quite willing to sacrifice their time and energy for those willing to listen and learn and do.

What Green Means

Bay Area Green Business Logo

We here at Mr. Sparkle are super proud to be a Bay Area Green certified Business. Our commitment may seem like a no-brainer, but it requires real time and energy (human powered) to behave environmentaly friendly.

The first question we are usually asked is if our detergents are “Green.” They are! But with 8 guys washing 1500 houses a year, we still only use a couple gallons of soap in that time. The larger impacts of what we do are less obvious. For example, every bid we do requires a formal bid describing the work to be done. That could be done on paper, even in triplicate. But, we do the bid, review and revisions all via email. Almost no paper passes between our office and our clients. Routing the work we do efficiently goes a long way toward reducing the miles we drive. We are very deliberate about keeping our jobs in tight groupings. This is a great savings for us and the environment in fuel burned. Virtually all of our paper is used on both sides. In this way we nearly half our potential usage. Yet another example of our commitment is that all of our staff are required as part of training to become certified in storm drain water management through BASMAA. Our water contains Chloromine. Chloromine is similar to chlorine, And is part of EBMUD’s process of purifying our drinking water. Unfortunately, unlike chlorine, it does not evaporate. before it enters our creeks and bay. It will stay in the water killing micro-organisms. Simply diverting water so that it soaks into the ground and therefore goes through the water-table instead of the gutter and into the bay goes a long way toward protecting our environment.

If you are a customer or small business that is interested in using or becoming a Green Business go to http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/. You’ll find tons of waste free resources to draw on!

Mission: Small Business

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Thanks to a program sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial called “Mission: Small Business,” your support could translate into a $250,000 grant for Mr Sparkle. But we need at least 250 votes at missionsmallbusiness.com to qualify. We would be grateful for your support and forwarding that request to any friends you think would be willing to help!

If offered the opportunity of the “Mission: Small Business” grant we would use the funds to expand fully into two geographic territories we currently serve peripherally; the Hwy24 corridor, Moraga to Walnut Creek and secondly Hayward to Pleasanton. It would mean the chance to bring on a full time sales person to help develop those areas as well as focusing on the (small commercial) mid rise portion of our business.

Thanks for your support!  Mr Sparkle

 

Quotes to live by

It has been my pleasure and fortune to participate in a fair amount of training in my life. Both as trainee and trainer. Sometimes between all the blah-blah-blah that passes our ear lobes on a long day of learning a good quote will be the one thing that really resonates and is remembered. Below are some quotes and idioms I have picked up along the way that I reflect on regularly.

 

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” — I’m told the Buddha said that.

**Reflects the truth that we don’t always get what we want but it still feels good to smile.

Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield.” — Old Samurai Maxim.

**Do the hard work at the front end and build a brick house.

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” — Randy Pausch; The Last Lecture

**Possibly Puritanistic, yet an invaluable attitude. You’ll never be bored again.

…and in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make.” –The Beatles

**WORD

 

 

 

 

California Wildflowers

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Right before the first day of spring I was driving along Skyline near Redwood in Oakland. It was a warm morning and all the flowers had come out overnight, it was strikingly beautiful. I pulled over and took a picture just for a blog, but before I posted it the weather turned dark and wet, and it seemed random to write about flowers. But Spring is here and the wild flowers are out. I never tire of the California Poppy.

Insurance against poor insurance

It is always nice to find a recommended service provider at a price we can afford. But make sure to do your homework. To keep their prices competitive many business owners play a game with the status of their employees and pass the risk of employment on to their clients.

Many home service providers hold the required liability and work comp insurance, but then employ a majority of their staff as contractors, effectively making that insurance worthless. How’s that?   Read more »

Mr Sparkle goes to New Orleans

Sparkle in Orleans

It has been a great start to the new year. I have spent the last two weeks traveling and attending training by myself and with staff. Last week Wednesday thru Saturday, Fou and I attended the IWCA window cleaner’s convention in New Orleans; attending seminars, networking, checking out new industry product, and eating. Read more »