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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Getting Dished and Dishing it out.

Its easy to pontificate when you think you know what you are doing in a technical field.  Self praise flows easily on these pages as I have convinced myself that I actually am pretty good at building interesting machines these last 20 years or so.  I openly congratulate my company Factory Five Racing or Local Motors when they have wins in this fun business.  I am also openly critical of my brother Dave's decisions at Factory Five when I feel things are going awry and the core successful business is at risk of not making money.  The kudos as well as the reminders of good tactics are my way of helping from the outside as an owner and director.

As an on the ground founder of Smyth Performance though, I have to listen to the critics and that is not as easy.  The other day I posted a picture of Smyth's young welder/all around employee Eric welding the last of a positioned tube on the welding fixture.  Everyone(including me) loves the cameo inside progress shots that I have been sharing on facebook so it was just another fun shot that documented the evolution of the prototype into full production.

After a few cool comments I received several critical ones re Eric welding in short sleeves....wait a guys can't criticize me...I am Mark Smith the fun and interesting 20 year car guy in a shop sharing all this great stuff with you.  My first thought. Honest.  I even posted a bit later in the thread that Eric was just tacking and that is why it was O.K....

Right.  Way to go Mark.  Your first employee who is at the start of his working life and you are justifying the young man welding in a t-shirt.  Well the power of constructive criticism, if you can get past your stupid ego, is  just that...constructive.  It is actually pretty rare for smart people to give bad advice...the problem is that some smart people have trouble taking the advice.

Eric is working on the Alpha car this morning because he came to work in shorts again.  Now I get to step up and become a mentor and a better boss.  Just because I am psycho busy with my own work at Smyth is no excuse...we are going to wal-mart before lunch and we are getting the full set up of work clothes.  We are headed over to the  Welding Supplies place and fit the leather arm/chest guard like I should have on the first day.  I have been running companies that join steel with fire for years...I knew exactly what he needed and I was too busy to do it.  When are you ever too busy to watch out for the safety of your people.  Should Eric have done this himself...maybe. But I definitely have the responsibility of making sure he is safe at work.

The absolute power of an enthusiast base like we have at Smyth Performance on facebook is that out of over 10,000 fans we have thousands of really experienced and knowledgeable folks who are willing to share their life learnings with us.  I have been doing this a long time.  I love what I do and will never retire.  I really like the reminders that I am not so fancy as I think I am.

People who know me well will tell you that I never shut up when the topic turns to my passion of building machines...hopefully they will also tell you that when I do quiet down I am listening carefully to what you say.

Mark Smith

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