For today’s To The Point, we get to know our co-host, Paul Redman, a little bit better. From having no experience in the trades to becoming a district manager for Lennox and eventually VP of Sales for RYNO, we pick Paul’s brain to figure out what made him successful.
Paul Redman was born in Michigan and raised in Ohio. As a small child, Paul was riding along 1-70 in his mother’s Crown Vic and couldn’t help but notice the guardrails speeding by. Even at such a young age, he realized that someone, somewhere, was in the guardrail business making money hand over fist.
This opened his mind to the possibility that there was more industry than would be disclosed to him in his public education, and that there was something more to discover about the world than what was simply being shown to him. This eagerness to learn would drive Paul forward.
A few years out of college, Paul was living in an apartment with his wife and a newborn, working a job making $25,000/year which just wasn’t cutting it—even in Ohio. Refusing to be complacent and never afraid of change, Paul and his wife made the decision to pack everything up and move to Colorado to start a new life.
Knowing nothing about Colorado except the pictures Google had to offer, Paul started networking with his neighbors and came in touch with Tim Parkey, who lived in CO and was returning to Ohio for a high school reunion. Paul invited him to dinner and learned that Tim owned an air conditioning business (Parkey’s Heating, Plumbing, & Air Conditioning). Paul reminded Tim of someone who worked in the trades and mentioned that he would be great fit working for Lennox, who just so happened to have an opening in Denver. In 2008, Paul started a journey that would result in him traveling the country and eventually finding himself all the way in Phoenix, AZ!
Paul had no mechanical background at all when he started in the trades. All his clients were HVAC experts, so he had to humble himself and learn as much as he could. He never pretended to know more than he did and didn’t shy away from asking his customers questions to better understand his industry—even if it meant asking how an air conditioner worked! He recalls all his clients being excited to help, and many took extra time to help him learn the ins and outs of the products and aspects of the industry. It takes great humility to admit you aren’t an expert at everything, and to ask for help. However, this single important trait, we find, tends to be incredibly common among successful people.
One thing that Paul hears a lot from clients is, “What’s the minimum I can get away with and be successful?”, and stresses that this is the wrong mindset to have. Especially in digital marketing, half-assing your way through any industry is a sure way to forfeit a full seat at the proverbial table. Most of the time, the only way to be successful is by being all-in; committing 100% to get 100% of the prize. This often leads to tough conversations, and Paul stresses importance of being straightforward and honest with yourself and in your relationships to maximize your potential to succeed.
The truth isn’t always easy, but it’s at the core for any successful business. Conflict is difficult for many, and when delivering potentially painful information, our nature can be too shy away from dealing with real, raw data and information. If we aren’t delivering the truth, what are we really achieving?
Paul recalls many instances when he stood in front of the mirror, prepping himself to give some bad news to clients or employees. Whether it’s a necessary firing to move forward or telling a client that you’ve fallen short, preparing for a tough conversation can pay off when the time comes to handle the truth. Being honest with yourself and others can be hard, but it’s the only true way to build trust in relationships and forge a future of success.
One thing Paul has noticed that all salespeople, technicians, or anyone that needs to meet a certain level of performance for their profession, is that everyone wants to communicate at the macro level. No one really wants to communicate or be managed at a micro level, because it demands much more accountability. By boiling things down to the micro—specific goals, tasks, etc.—you can get a clearer picture of where a person is in their development. Still, there is a balance to be had, and depending on what stage an employee is at they may not require as much accountability or direction. That’s an important skill that comes from honesty and good communication, as well as a time investment in those you work with.
In a world where everyone wants to know who’s getting a better price on services, or who’s getting the best end of a deal, Paul refers to this mindset as “saving your way to success”. It just doesn’t work, and Paul challenges you to approach things a bit differently. Instead of beating up vendors on pricing, or figuring out your leverage in each situation, try being radically generous. Paul notes that all the people who have stood out to him in his career were simply a pleasure to work with! When you treat your professional relationships with respect, the person at the other end of the table is going to much more likely to want to help you achieve your goals.
Think about your favorite client—if they asked you for something a little bit extra, would you help them? Now think about one of your “problem” clients. How likely are you to go the extra mile for them? Being aggressive and attempting to squeeze every last cent of value out of your vendors is never as valuable as treating them as a partner. Paul isn’t suggesting being a pushover, but simply to step back and realize that fighting over pennies is never as profitable as chasing the richness of a healthy business partnership. Paul calls this approach being “strategically thoughtful”.
Don’t have unreasonable expectations for people who are serving you. Work with what you have. Be generous. Treat people with respect. It’s the Paul Redman way.
Recommended reading: Zappos Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.