Management Message: Thrown (fearlessly) into the Fire

By: Matt Lloyd

“Hi, I’d like to order some hot dogs for our fundraiser this weekend.  Can you tell me your prices?”  It was at this moment during my first week as an inside sales rep that I discovered I didn’t have all the answers.  In a state of nervousness, I politely asked if I could place them on hold and direct them to someone who could help them.  As I began to transfer the call to a co-worker, I was met with an unexpected response.  Instead of transferring the call, I was told that I was going to provide the customer with an answer. My co-workers quickly gave me a rundown of questions (what size, were they trying to hit a price point, what type of meat: all-meat, all-beef, turkey, etc.) so I could come up with a solution.

It was in this interaction that I recognized the importance of being
a solution-maker. 
The only way forward was to push through my fears and start learning from the ground up.

Being “thrown in the fire” isn’t an idiom that exudes rainbows, cotton candy, and unicorns.  In my experience it was facing my fear of not being prepared, not having an answer, and embarrassing myself and the company in front of coworkers and a potential customer. Fast-forward 9 ½ years later and I can look back at that “fearful” interaction as a game-changer for me.  Instead of dodging the inevitable, I was supported by a team of people that were willing to train and invest in my development. 

As we move forward into 2019 as now a group of companies, we will undoubtedly be thrown into the fire at various points of our employment.  It’s in these moments that we truly grow as people and a company.  We recently celebrated a record year (2018) at JD and anticipate substantial growth at Certified, Gillum Family Farms, and The Print District.  I truly believe what sets this family of companies apart from others is the commitment to helping each other as we experience being “thrown in the fire”.  I’ve enjoyed the continual learning process and found joy in helping others as they walk fearlessly through their own fires.

I don’t think I ever made that hot dog sale in early September of 2009, but the significance of the experience helped shape me into the person I am today; one who fearlessly looks forward to being “thrown in the fire” again.