I didn’t start the fire … well, actually, maybe I did

Craig Hall

In other words, maybe it’s it about time to have fewer irons in the fire — and a whole lot fewer fires. If you’re anything like me, you understand the analogy. I mean, it’s OK to have a few varying fires — after all, I’ve heard for decades variety is the spice of life — but it’s unhealthy to have myriad wildfires with Santa Ana winds. You can’t sharpen a sword if the iron is never forged into what can become a sword. Otherwise, it’s just piles of smoldering metal.

Allow me to expand with what might be the oddest television analogy ever.

When Major Charles Emerson Winchester joined the 4077th MASH Unit with Hawkeye Pierce and the gang, he made a statement about how he goes about his business. “ I do one thing at a time, I do it very well and then I move on.”

Well, I don’t. Not that I don’t do many things well. But I don’t do one thing at a time for sure. And this leads me to doing some other things not as well, or hurriedly or outside of deadlines and commitments. And it’s burning me out.

My business approach tends to be more like Hawkeye Pierce’s “meatball surgery” approach where you patch things up as they hit to hopefully be fully repaired later in the process. Even in doing that, much like Hawkeye’s jerry-rigged still, there are things I do very, very well. Among those would be ideas for the paper, new advertising products and selling. The problem is, I’m not always doing them and tend only to do them when I’m in the middle of a wildfire.

And since this seems to be a confessional, among the things I don’t do as well are marketing, finding new prospects, getting out in the public, being the persona of the paper (I realize few believe I don’t OVERDO my persona) and sticking to deadlines — the things that usually cause the firestorms. Oh, there’s some personal stuff in there, too.

Time to make this column more about resolutions. I might as well since my next column will be thanking everyone for another year. The good news is I’ve already identified many of the areas I do well and not so well.

In some areas, good things are already being put into place. The special cover advertising we created for the paper is a great success and has sold out well into 2020. That’s a hint if you want on board for next year, better hit me up. Advertising renewals are at a near 100 percent rate, which is a testament to the quality of the paper we produce. The small seminars I’ve been doing with Fran Tarkington’s One More Customer series have been well-received, and I’ve been pretty darned good at attending them. I’ve also got my business books up to date, a rarity, indeed, if you ever find me right before tax time each fall.

I’m even adding some things to the finishing the job list. I’m happy to add to the Tarkington seminars with a larger, special training on identity theft on Dec. 13 because it’s really going to hit just about everyone. Send me a note if you’d like to attend since space is limited. On that same day I’m sitting in on a panel at Tope Elementary listening to student presentations on how to mitigate the effects of energy production on our communities. Those are two new commitments outside the normal meatball days of my life. I also have a great idea for more ad revenue to promote in the first quarter of next year — but I need to really shore up my commitment before I introduce it. Nice, warming fires all.

How about the things I don’t do as well? With the paper, two things come to mind: staying in closer touch with clients (meaning more than just renewal time) and getting ad copy in timely which would make my editor beyond grateful. Both of these areas at work would lead to more productive and less tense communications with my great advertisers. I’d love to make this more of a controlled burn.

I also need to recommit to some healthier social connections. Sure, I sell a boat load of Lions tickets and help renew previous coupon advertisers, but I’m lax at getting the final coupon sold, have delayed in selling the booth sponsors and wheel advertisers as promised (from my great idea) and I need to get to more meetings — if not all of them — when I can. I’ll say the same with church. No not the one at the Warehouse on Wednesdays during football season, the main one on Sundays. I’d get into using my health club, but I never seem to get there. Burning some calories would not be the worst idea.

I guess that makes my resolutions more about getting rid of old habits and putting better ones into their place. In other words, maintaining the small fires in my life. There’s no sense in not doing it now because if I wait until after Christmas and New Year’s,  I’ll simply reinforce the old bad ones, add some new bad ones and meatball along with all the ones seared into my way of life. Experience tells me I don’t need any more storms fanning the heat and the flames.

Time for more of a controlled burn in my life. Nothing wrong with stoking the good fires and extinguishing the bad.

Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at 424-5133 or publisher@thebusinesstimes.