Mike’s A Self-Immolator

When you are inexperienced and immature in business you have a tendency to try to control all aspects of the business.   Since you typically are running a tiny little enterprise you can handle all the tasks involved.   As you grow that becomes more difficult to do.

More importantly, however, is the relationship you have with your people.   It is a fine walk between managing people expeditiously to make sure they are efficient and productive, and over-managing them killing all their creativity and all their initiative.

When I first started I was definitely the creativity and initiative killer.   I micro-managed every aspect of manufacturing because I was scared to death one wrong move would put me out of business.   My fear was not altogether unfounded, I had so little money, every dime I received was used up in equipment purchases, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses.   I hoped to squeeze out just enough extra to make a fourteen hundred dollar house payment and have three bucks left over to pay Taco Bell twice a day.

In November it will be 13 years since I started this business, and today I have the luxury of having most of my equipment paid for, an industrial building which has more than doubled in value since I bought it, and a little bit of money in the bank so I don’t sweat financial worries every second of the day.   That being said, I am still stretched.   The plastics business is very lean and competitive, and if you expect to make any money you can’t have too many managers running around.   It’s a mostly Indians kind of business.   As the general manager, I am not only responsible for plastics processing and tooling, I manage maintenance, machinery repair, material handling, shipping, etc.   I’m lucky my wife is a competent accountant and can handle all the financial requirements of maintaining a small business.

Taking on the task of designing a product as complicated as a handgun from the ground up is a little loony given all my other responsibilities.   Not that I haven’t been called loony more than once.

Today I have a tendency to let people flail perhaps a little longer than I ought to, and it definitely costs money to fix the resulting mistakes.   That’s the minus.   The plus is, people are more apt to use initiative in their problem solving tasks and this increases their value and understanding of their job.   It requires patience to allow, but since I am distracted with other things it generally works out for the better.

I definitely have become much more of the hands off type of a manager adding supervision only sparsely.

Manufacturing is an old-line type of business, but since my company is fairly young and computer centered I anticipated my marketing and sales efforts were going to end up quite unconventional for the genre.   This website is the anchor of that unconventional pursuit.   My main contribution to the Website is to oversee the general theme and write the weekly column (an accidental development).

Most of the creative input is invested by Dave, my web designer.   He has been a graphic artist running his own small advertising business for over twenty years.   About ten years ago he began learning internet design, and today most all his revenue comes from web based projects; almost none from print work.

Dave drives me nuts because after we discuss work plans, he goes off and proceeds to do nothing I told him artist type.   On top of that, a single idea almost always morphs into three new projects.   Sometimes I think he’s a little dense, but he’s really a genius, he’s made it impossible for me to ever fire him.

While I think the weekly column is the centerpiece to our marketing campaign and our theme: encouraging conservative values; Dave has us experimenting with youtube videos, and of course the podcast is his idea.   He has repeatedly volunteered to edit and manage the podcasts and gets a little perturbed with me because I won’t let him, but the truth is he doesn’t have enough time to finish the tasks he has already.   I’m not going to take on that task either if I expect to get this gun on the market any time soon.

That’s where  Mike comes in.

If you read column #20, you know Sake Mike is quite a character, and I would say quite entertaining; just what I thought would be required to make listening to idiots over the internet interesting.   Additionally, Mike wanted the job.

Unfortunately, Mike has a radical case of ADD.   Lately, he has failed to make good on promises; podcast #6 was suppose to be posted in September, he wants to get rid of the FMK truck we spent a bunch of money on to wrap, and now he’s whining because the gun’s not getting done fast enough to suit him.

That really tickles me, while he bounces in and out as he pleases playing Sake Mike I’ve dedicated over five years and nearly a million bucks in efforts to put an innovative handgun on the market all too slow for Mike who’s only really been peripherally involved with the website for the last six months or so Poor baby.

I’ve never asked our readers to leave a response, but perhaps you wouldn’t mind putting in your two cents this week before Sake Mike kills himself off.

If you don’t like these podcasts anyway, there really is no reason for me to try and motivate him to do his part, and we’ll be done with them.   Dave won’t be happy but I just don’t have the energy to babysit any extra children, the micro-manager in me saw his demise long ago.



Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo

11 thoughts on “Mike’s A Self-Immolator

  1. Do you guys thrive off of hate? Would it honestly stop the blood in your viens from flowing if for one second you stopped your miserable crusade of hatered? Is it possible that you honestly feel superior to everyone? Do you wake up in the morning and think “hey, I am so much better than everyone.” Are you sheep, do you really go “let’s bomb thier leaders and convert them to christianity?” That was what Ann Coulter said right? All I have to say that it’s a sad world we live in where people like John Lennon and Martin Luther King jr. are assinated and people like you guys can walk around with your helds held high.

  2. I vote to keep Sake Mike and the podcast. Sake Mike is very entertaining and represents a typical Amercian like my self. Not everyone can understand those big words so we continue to learn. Don’t get rid of him because he can’t meet his deadlines he’s just in training to becoming a responsible adult. It takes work and I have faith in Sake Mike.

  3. Dear Alexandra,

    Did I miss something? Did you read the same piece I wrote?

    For the life of me I can’t find any hatred or superiority you site in this piece.

    This column chronicles a businessman’s lament in managing the challenge of controlling and motivating workers. That wasn’t clear?..obviously.

    My invitation for reply was putting forth the idea I might have to can Mike. However, if he gets replaced with someone with your mental capacity, I will definitely have gone from the frying pan into the fire.

    One more reply like this and his tenure is guaranteed.

    Next week I will post a special column just for you which means I won’t be able to write about Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace prize joining the esteemed company of Jimmy Carter and Yasser Arafat.

    For the record, “Let’s bomb their leaders and convert them to Christianity?” (Don’t forget your spell checker.) was an excellent idea; that is how wars are won.

  4. I vote to keep Sake Mike, because he is cute, and has a great personality.

    Alexandra must have mixed up your column with another one that she read.

  5. Show six has been done seens sunday .. Maybe, dave’s in the frying pan now? I hope so because my ass is burnt.

    How Do You Get Rid of the Smell of Burnt ass?

  6. OK Jimmy, I was just trying to be nice to Alexandra. You better edit Sake Mike’s response. Better yet, buy him a dictionary for Christmas.

    Sake Mike,

    Keep your ass out of the frying pan.
    Then it won’t get burned.

  7. I don’t know WHAT exactly you guys are talking about here….seems a sort of insider joke. I DO KNOW that it had nothing to do about “hatred” but seemed to me actually to come from love of Sake Mike and his genious, though sometimes misplaced or scattered. What makes me smile (and cringe) is the post by alexandria alleging hatred. She ends implying it’d be better YOU guys were assassinated, than some others in history. But, of course, she abhors YOUR “hatred”. Isn’t that the way with mindless liberals though? Never on point, never considering the merit and content. Just spewing REAL hatred at every opportunity.

    To vote on Ipod content – don’t want any, don’t need any, and don’t view YouTube ever. But I’m an anachromism…….I like my news and views the old way, and I like my Constitutional government likewise. Seems there are few like me left and not enough to market to anymore. Seems there are many more mindless liberals out there so smart marketing would say go to the medium that most of the public school, high tech, instant gratification generation are using. Most can’t read anyway. Heck, if you guys package Truth in a package the new, liberally indoctrinated, public schools, pampered “it’s all about ME” generation might stumble across it and LEARN something I’m all for it.

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