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Monday, July 26, 2021

    When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

    John A. Wojtecki
    Doctor John A. Wojtecki has 45 years of experience in Human Resources, Safety, and Training serving the toy, food, plastics, steel, and office furniture industries. John operates his own consulting business and is a Certified Facilitator in Real Colors. He is a volunteer with the Quad Cities Mediation Service. He posts monthly on his LinkedIn account.

    Muscatine Living

    I stumbled across a 2019 book by Zack Friedman called “The Lemonade Life.” I was not sure if this was another variation of a theme of success and a personal approach to business and life. There are plenty of those type books. After reading the book in its entirety and thinking about writing this article, I am still undecided.

    There is a good message on how to approach business and life. Zack’s message in the book is that there are five switches. He maintains everyone has these five switches. They are as follows: 1. Perspective, 2. Risk, 3. Independence, 4. Self-Awareness, and 5. Motion. He cleverly boils the message down to PRISM.

    Each of the switches has merit. On page 5, Zack maintains that if you change your perspective, you change your opportunities. If you change your risk, you change your decision-making. When you change your independence, you change your freedom. If you change your self-awareness, you change your self-understanding. Lastly, if you change your motion, you change your circumstances.

    The primary message of the book is about change in perspective. In one of the later chapters, Zack challenges the reader on back-up plans. He maintains that if you have a back-up plan, you are not committed to your original strategy. My “lean thinking” tells me I see his point. Yet, flexibility is an important trait where original intentions are not what is the final product in a business. There are many a business that started out with one product and ended up being successful with another.

    Case in point, HNI began operations trying to manufacture farm implements. I remember Stan Howe talking about taking a corn picker into a field and it didn’t work. Fortunately, they found office furniture and those infamous 3 X 5 index card holders. The 3M company has a wonderful story about the finding of the Post-It Note. Creativity in both these instances is to be applauded. The original plan had to be revised due to business circumstances.

    Zack cites Bette Nesmith Graham as an example to support his contention about sticking to the original plan. Bette was a high school dropout. She did rise to a position of Executive Secretary to Chair of the Board at Texas Bank and Trust. In 1956, and the onset of electric typewriters, she and her fellow secretaries found themselves making considerable typing mistakes.

    She was an artist. She knew that artists simply painted over their mistakes. Her thought was, “why not just paint over her and her fellow secretaries’ mistakes?” She ended making up her own concoction of tempera-based paint, which she made in her kitchen with her kitchen blender.

    She was dedicated to this thing called Liquid Paper. Unwisely, she was terminated from the bank, which allowed her to dedicate herself fully to this new product. The Gillette company ended up buying the company from her for $47.5 million.

    More on lemons and lemonade in two weeks.

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