Since my retirement, I have more time to do things I have thought about but never had the time to attempt. Hmm, that last statement sounded a bit too noble. Let’s try again. Since my retirement, I am doing what I want to do.

Recently, for reasons I still can’t explain, I became interested in painting. I know what you are thinking, I am finally going to release my beckoning artistic ability. You can relax, my artistic aptitude will stay locked away where it belongs. I am talking about painting as in a boat trailer or outdoor furniture. Sounds simple enough, right, what could go wrong?

My first project was to repaint an aging bass boat trailer. This trailer is 17 years old and as you might imagine, rust is starting to take over critical parts of the trailer. My initial vision of this project was focused on the actual painting part, you know with a brush and sprayer. I researched and bought the proper paint. Upon looking closely at the trailer, I realize I couldn’t just start painting over rust and old peeling paint. I needed to do preparation work and a lot of it.

I spent the next few days scraping, grinding and sanding on the trailer. Finally, I was ready to start painting. The actual painting of the trailer took 3 hours. The vast majority of my time was spent preparing to paint.

I did not have to do all this preparation work. I could have just painted the trailer and taken my chances. Practically, I had to do the preparation work as just simply painting the trailer would have resulted in eventual structural failure and a really lousy looking trailer.

Many important events of our lives are like painting in that they require a lot of preparation. We can try to take shortcuts, but eventually, a lack of preparation will show up in the form of some sort of failure. Let’s look at a few notable events that require preparation.

Job Interview

The hiring manager has a problem they are looking to solve by hiring an employee. When interviewing for a job, the most important task is convincing the interviewers that you are the best person to solve the problem. To solve the hiring manager’s problem, you first must understand it. Information about companies, especially public ones, is readily available. Prior to the interview, you should read the most up to date information regarding the company of interest. Look for issues they are facing, the issue doesn’t have to be a problem. For example, a company may be trying to grow a specific area of their business. Be prepared to talk about any issues or opportunities you encounter and how you are uniquely qualified to help address the situation. If you manage to convince the hiring decision maker that you are the best person to solve their problem, your odds of landing the job go way up.

Important Presentation

There will likely come a day in your career where you will be called on to make an important presentation. This could be presented to customers, a board of directors, or executives. Really, this is any presentation where the stakes are high. This event can be nerve-wracking. It is critical to remember the objective of the meeting. Most of the times the objective is just one or two items. Many times, when facing a significant presentation, people spew out too much information. They bring up ancillary issues because of the idea of a captured audience and the rare opportunity to run as many topics up the flagpole as possible. Resist the urge to bring up everything but the kitchen sink, stay focus on your key objectives. Also, try to avoid death by PowerPoint. Use PowerPoint to augment your presentation. Every slide should support your key objective. Regarding PowerPoint, when in doubt, throw it out.

Know your audience, this can be difficult at times. Some presentation recipients are respectful and will stay on task. There are some recipients who are not so respectful and will wander off on whatever topic interests them. You need to be prepared to deal with these wanderers in a respectful manner while trying to keep the meeting on target. Sometimes you will fail at this endeavor as a recipient with influence will relentlessly lead the meeting astray. Patience is the key, you may have to go to bat another day.

Finally, practice your presentation in front of someone with a critical eye. Write the objective down at the beginning and at the end, ask the previewers if the objective has been met.

Major Purchase

What is a major purchase? Most folks will recognize a major purchase when they see one. Some examples are; house, car, boat or a pool. Through all my years of formal education, I never took a class on how to buy expensive stuff. Unfortunately, I had to learn by making mistakes. The term “information is power” is very true and in today’s world, information is readily available. Except for the house, my other examples are bad investments from a financial perspective.  Most times a car is a necessary poor investment. Prior to initiating a major purchase, you should do your homework. It doesn’t take much effort to know more about the product of interest than the salesperson. This level of knowledge should be your minimum goal. Next, make sure of your financing prior to starting the purchase process. Know what you can afford and have any loans secured. Waiting to secure financing after an emotional attachment to the major purchase is always a regrettable mistake. Finding the best value should be paramount to any major purchase. I have learned the hard way that cheaper is not always better. Research the quality history of the item of interest, any remaining factory warranty is valuable. Be hesitant to purchase any extended warranties. Learn to negotiate for the final price, usually, all elements of the purchase are negotiable. It never hurts to ask!

Executing the purchase is the easy part, doing the research for a major purchase is the hard, but rewarding work. Avoid buyer remorse by diligently preparing for your next major purchase.

Make the most of this day!

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