The Susan Boyle effect

Columns - Industry Voices

July 15, 2013
Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

It’s a Monday night and I am sitting in my office at home. I was just passing the time surfing the web when I came across Susan Boyle’s video on YouTube. I must admit, I had heard her name but I had never watched her sing and really didn’t know the whole story. For those of you who don’t know, she’s a fairly unattractive, heavyset woman who participated in “Britain’s Got Talent.”

I watched the first time she came on stage and said she was 47 and was there to show what she could do and hopefully get a chance. Well, the rest, as they say, is history as Susan became a global phenomenon who has inspired and will continue to inspire people to keep trying.

I hate to play Mr. Motivator but, this month, I’m going to because I feel a need to. There are way too many people reading this column right now who are capable of doing so much more. There are people reading this column right now who aren’t making money with their businesses and should be.

There are people reading this column right now that are being held back by themselves and their lack of courage and confidence to try new and different things, and it is my hope in the short time we have to spend together now that you will try harder to be successful.

If I had a dollar for every person that told me I could not make any money in the landscaping business, I’d have a lot of dollars. But so would a lot of my friends.

© Sarah Cheriton-Jones |

Joe Chiellini comes to mind. He’s the full-time firefighter and full-time landscaper who started a landscaping company 15 years ago so he had something to do with his days off and has turned it into one of Tampa, Fla.’s most successful small businesses. He put his mind to growing this business and by staying focused on the customer, his team and his plan, he’s going to surpass $6 million in sales this year.

Then there’s Chris DiSabatino from Wilmington, Del., who had twins with his wife when he was 18 years old and, despite the pressures of being a young father, went to work. Today, his company DiSabatino Landscaping, will do more than $6 million in business and his boys are about ready to go off to college.

These men never took “no” for an answer and just went to work.

Benton and Ryan Foret are in Thibodaux, La., which is about an hour west of New Orleans. Their business continues to thrive. They had their best year two years ago when everyone else was struggling. Turns out being prepared is a good thing when there’s an oil spill. Oops, I just gave you a clue as, to what the above have in common. Hope you caught it.

I’ll keep going. Lee Buffington runs a business out of the thriving town of Fort Payne, Ala. I’m being sarcastic. Fort Payne really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the country with awesome rolling hills, pretty lakes and nice people.

Go right now to your computer and Google Fort Payne. It’s not a place you’d expect a landscaper to be doing $2 million a year. But, when you prepare and you stay focused and you don’t listen to the naysayers, there are all sorts of things you can do. And there is my simple message for this month.

What would you do if you knew you would not fail? What are you not doing that you know you should be doing?

In each and every case above, these were gentlemen who stayed focused. They spent time planning because as one of my mentors says, “All planning is good,” and everyone who’s learned to stay focused on what a win looks like will find it.

More than 20 years ago, I was told by a landscaper in Dayton, Ohio, that I would be better served to just “get a real job” and not fool around with landscaping. Most young people would have listened to this seemingly successful landscaper. I was way too focused on being successful to even listen to him. In my mind, I saw so many things he did poorly. I wasn’t surprised that he would say that. I zigged when everyone else zagged and it’s worked.

And you know what, I’m not nearly as successful as I could be either. I have to admit that to you. I can and will do more.

Even after 29 years of business, I am still learning. And, that’s why on a Monday night after watching Susan Boyle, I’m reminded that I can do more, I need to do more and I’m going to go to bed early and get up early and go over to my office and make a few more calls. I will spend some more time planning and making sure I remind my team what’s possible if we all work together.

I hope you’ll do the same. If you’re really looking for some inspiration, I suggest you visit and watch the Susan Boyle clip. L&L

Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail