The 2 Things You Can’t Do.

This is not Gus.

Meet Gus. 

Gus is the manager for a drywall wholesaler. He’s been in the business for several decades. Over the years he’s picked up plenty of wisdom about the business, people, and life in general.

Some would question the exact quantity of wisdom Gus has compiled over the years. After all, with all that wisdom, why would Gus be toiling away in a Commodity Business?

Oh, the dreaded “Commodity Business” label. Nothing unique. Nothing special. Lots of competition. Every firm providing undifferentiated products. Low Margins… racing to the bottom. Until you die.

So I ask Gus, “Do you ever find your team falling into the ‘Commodity Business’ mindset? Getting down on themselves because the products (drywall, insulación, and acoustical ceiling supplies) are essentially the same as the competition?” 

Gus’ response started off with the word “No” that lasted four full seconds. I assumed he was thinking of an answer while the “Nooooooooooo” was being delivered.

But then he said something I won’t forget.

“I tell my team this…. There are only 2 things in life you cannot do. The things you haven’t thought of and the things you haven’t tried. There are tons of ways to help your customers solve their problems. You just have to think of them…. and then try them.”




Meet Chad.

I am a big fan of Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week. I’ve read and listened to the book multiple times. It forces you to think… and then try what he suggests. It’s a great example of working smarter, not harder. If you feel like a corporate hamster on a wheel, I’d recommend this book.



Well, Ferriss’ second book is The 4 Hour Body. He applies the same hacker mentality used in Work Week to dieting, weightlifting and the like.

Ferriss tells the story of Chad Fowler. Chad was an IT guru. Chad was very successful in business, but wasn’t very happy about his personal appearance. In short… Chad was fat. And then he became thin. Not in four hours, mind you.

Chad’s story didn’t capture my atención nearly as much as his first-person account of his thought process. Chad Fowler applied the logic that allowed him to succeed in business to his eating habits and non-existent exercise regimen.

“If I want a better-than-average career, I can’t simply ‘go with the flow’ and get it. Most people do just that: they wish for an outcome but make no intention-driven actions towards that outcome. If they would just do something most people would find that they get some version of the outcome they’re looking for. That’s been my secret. Stop wishing and start doing.”




Meet Chris. And His Funny Last Name.

Chris Guillebeau has a few simple goals. He wants to travel to every country in the world by the time he’s 35 (He’s already checked the box on 150). He wants to help others to “live a life of non-conformity.” That is, figure out how to do what you love to do while making enough money from your passion to be happy. In addition to being a professional traveler, he is a writer. His daily goal is to write 1000 words each day. And, as his website says, “I try to live a life of gratitude and purpose every day.

He’s been very successful despite the fact his followers need a phonetic breakout to correctly say his last name. Makes his success all the more impressive. Chris gooh-ill-ah-booh…. Hmm. Let me try again.…. Chris gwy-uh-ooh-leh-bob… Oh screw it!

I am sure someone along the way tried to Johnny Cougar him: “Dude… No offense, but your last name is brutal. If you name your website your name……. No one will ever find it. And if they do find it – they’ll never remember it. Call it Trust me.”

He trusted himself and has fared pretty well. He recently published another book, The $100 Startup (just purchased it – review to follow shortly) and his manifesto, 279 Days to Overnight Success (free to download here) is nothing short of brilliant.

But I introduce Chris Gee because of his column yesterday, How to Make Decisions. His message aligns closely with the wisdom of Drywall Gus and Chad Fowler.

The main point being: Do something. Try.

You can read Chris’ column here, but he suggests 3 ways to make a decision. The third of which is simply: Just pick one of the options and move forward.


Here is the payoff from How to Make Decisions:

On book tour in Seattle a few weeks ago, Tom Bihn told a story of a lesson he had learned from a teacher. “I have so many ideas!” someone had said, “But I don’t know which one is best.”

“It probably doesn’t matter,” said the teacher. “Just pick one of them and do it.”

Therefore, follow Tom’s advice: Just pick something.




In teaching Construction Spanish, I find this reticence too. Participants in the training have learned the core vocabulary of their business. They have the introductions down pat. They recite the verbs with ease. They are ready to speak.

But they don’t.

I think after next week’s session I’ll be ready to talk to a customer.

I’m confident speaking to you…. but not to my Spanish-speaking co-worker. I think I’ll be ready in a few weeks.

I know I know it. But then I get nervous and don’t know what to say. What should I start with?



Say anything.

Do something.



Think about Gus. And Chris. And Chad.

If they would just do something most people would find that they get some version of the outcome they’re looking for. That’s been my secret. Stop wishing and start doing.





Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (, a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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