Parenting and being the boss

Columns - Industry Voices

The words RV shared with us motivated us to new heights and made us cry (yes, grown men can cry).

January 18, 2013
Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

Recently at my ACE (Accountability Creates Excellence) meeting, our host, Joe Chiellini, from Ameriscape Services in Tampa, Fla., brought in RV Brown to talk to us about being a better dad and husband. My group is 10 highly successful landscape contractors from all around the U. S. It’s amazing what this group has accomplished in the last six years by pushing and holding each other accountable.

The words RV shared with us motivated us to new heights and made us cry (yes, grown men can cry). He also shared with us some basic things that will help me not only be a better dad and husband, but also help me be a better leader at my company.

Leadership as the anchor on a ship. When the anchor is not firmly planted, the ship drifts and wanders off. Man, I like that. It’s simple and it’s true. If you don’t lead well at home, things won’t work out well. He said we have an obligation to be present in our children’s lives and explained how the smallest of things, such as what we say to our kids, when we say it and how we say it matters so much. He said when a child does something wrong, address it immediately and after you’re done with discipline, hug your child and tell them you love them. It’s the same with your team, isn’t it? 

We leaders often wait too long to discipline and when we do, it’s often when we’re at our boiling point and then we let people “have it” that don’t deserve that. He stressed the importance of being a leader at home in that we should hug our kids and tell them we love them each and every chance we get.

In fact, he told the story of telling his son he loved him and hugging him in front of his buddies.

His son pushed him away as he was embarrassed. A few minutes later, his teenage son’s friend came up to him and said, and I quote, “I wish my Dad told me he loved me.” Wow. So, I challenge you, when was the last time you hugged your kids and told them you loved them? 

And when was the last time you told your team you appreciated them and shook their hand? A ship needs a good anchor so it doesn’t wander. A family or a company need a good anchor (that’s you) to make sure it doesn’t wander where it shouldn’t.

Influence. He said, “leadership is influence.” It sure is, isn’t it?  RV spoke with passion about how careful we all need to be about whom we spend our time with. Seems so obvious, right? But do you do it? With whom do you spend your free time? Whom do you eat lunch with weekly? 

Do you spend your time around people who have good, solid families? Do you spend time with people who have good, solid businesses? The people you spend time with, no matter what age you are, tend to influence you. We all have “friends” that used to be good for us at a different time in our life, but now? 

Maybe not so much today. What books do you read? What TV shows do you watch? I have a group of fathers that I meet with several times a month to help remind me of what I should be doing. Life isn’t always easy and we need positive, can-do people in our lives to remind us of what we should be doing. Who or what is influencing you?

Kick-out. The final step RV shared with my group, in his efforts to inspire us to be better fathers and leaders, was “Kick-out.” He shared with us how we need to kick people out of our lives that don’t have good values, but he also said we kick out a lot of good people from our lives by how we act.

And this is where he shared the quote I started the column with. He said, “Your voice is either a weapon or a gift.” He said that we need to demonstrate more patience and watch what we say. He spoke of how you should discipline an employee or child right away, but once the discipline is over, you finish up that conversation by sharing with that person how much you love them and then you let the incident go and start over. That’s some great advice. Your voice really is a weapon or a gift.

RV Brown is an awesome human being who works with college and professional athletes all over the U.S. But on this day, RV’s words of wisdom helped us 10 landscapers see that being a parent is the greatest responsibility we have and that many of the skills we use in business as leaders should be used at home. I hope what I shared here makes you think, too. Talk to you next month.

So, to RV Brown, thank you, sir. You made a difference in my life, and hopefully in the life of every landscaper who just read this column.


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