September 14, 2017

Dear Fellow Members,

     The founder of modern management, Peter Drucker once said, “The effective mission statement is short and sharply focused.” He further noted, “It should fit on a T-Shirt.” So with that little pearl of wisdom in mind and a new, exciting business book entitled, “Total Focus” in hand – I departed on a seven day vacation determined to formulate my new, personal mission statement. Drucker recommends the statement not to exceed eight words. Mine is three. So sure the maxim fit my mood, vision and approach for the future, I have already ordered a shirt. At first blush – it might sound crude. It might also appear – at first glance – to be negative or insensitive. Nothing, I assure you – could be farther from the truth. Though light on words, it more than makes up by being heavy in content. Before I share this magical mantra, let’s get a little background.


    The book’s author, Brandon Webb is a former, Navy SEAL sniper turned CEO, who served multiple combat deployments to the Middle East and Afghanistan and was the head instructor at the Navy SEAL sniper school. Admittedly, all it took was one blurb on LinkedIn praising the book, before I knew it was a “must read.” It’s about total situational awareness…it’s about front sight focus. Rarely, have I felt the same level of compulsion to read a book as I did this one. I was not disappointed. I’m rather confident you won’t be either. It’s about knowing the path and walking the path are two very different things. I firmly believe there is something in each of the seven chapters that you could apply to your business. It’s about making better decisions under pressure. I do not expect that you will read all 264 pages, but I recommend you do. It’s about understanding that outstanding success starts in your mind and so does failure. It teaches us that a “genuine commitment to excellence is impossible without a deep appreciation of pain and failure.”


     Now, before I unleash the three-word phrase that will teach you acceptance, let me suggest… that the roots of this mindset are steeped rich in tradition… and can be traced back to the Bard of Avon. In fact, somewhere in the Northern Woods in the first scene of Act III of Shakespeare’s, Henry VI, King Henry VI can be overheard saying to First Keeper, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” This line teaches us, if nothing else, that adversity is perceived to be “sour.” Adversity, of course, is defined as “the universal human experience of facing obstacles and setbacks.” Shakespeare, upon closer examination, suggests that in order for individuals to gain wisdom and a sense of understanding, adversity must me experienced. His words suggest, that in by doing so, the individual gains more insight into the world and one’s place in it. Some 400 years later, Webb simplifies it for us when he recounts for us (his readers) this most revealing passage: “Am I miserable? Totally. Does it suck? Copy that. Am I hating every second of what is happening? Affirmative.” In times like these, what does Navy SEAL, Webb recommend? In his “life or death” world, the choice was simple. Either you… in SEAL vernacular, “Ring the bell,” in other words, “quit” or you can…hear it comes…wait for it… “EMBRACE the SUCK!”


   Suck for the record… is not a curse word. Perhaps vulgar when used at an inopportune time, but it does not constitute a curse. “Suck,” does not even come close to cracking the list of the “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” made famous by the late, George Carlin. Suck, though I’m sure considered by some as being morally objectionable – was oddly enough allowed in our house. “Whatever,” on the other hand was tantamount to dropping an “f-bomb.” What-ev-vaaa (with tone) was a “capital offense.” Boy, I miss my brothers. Matter of fact, plastered high up on the wall…directly under the Family Coat of Arms…was the family motto: “Life sucks, then you die. Then it sucks again!”


   So, what is the relevance in terms of the small businessperson, entrepreneur, and/or Chamber member? If you listen to Webb, he says, “Most outrageously successful business ideas are born out of the experience of failure, sometimes even bitter failure.” Thankfully, he adds, “The pain is temporary; the learning is priceless.” Look, Category 5 hurricanes suck, divorce sucks, runaway inflation sucks, recession sucks, high unemployment sucks, extensive track delays at Penn Station suck, flu pandemics suck (Hong Kong or otherwise) and perhaps nothing sucks worse than unrequited love. As English physician, Havelock Ellis once wrote, “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.” Waking up to find out Amazon has seriously cut into your market share sucks. The permutations of suck are endless. I remember reading once an interesting piece by a firefighter who had a most interesting spin on suck when he said, “Life is designed to be a long sequence of suck interrupted by moments of greatness.” Brilliant!


     If you’re still not sold on this whole “suck thing,” – then think in terms of unexpected competition. That could qualify high on the “suck meter.” “If you make competition your friend though,” says Webb, “then you start seeing competition not as the enemy but as an opportunity to challenge yourself and your organization, to learn, to adapt, and to exceed whatever level of performance you’ve taken as the maximum up to this point.” I’m in Real Estate. New agents come out of Licensing School by the score every day. You can get down in the mouth about it; you can ignore it; you can run from it; or you can meet the challenge of the day and embrace the suck! “Challenges…both expected and unexpected may turn out to be your best shot at success.” It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going quite to script. What makes your suck any worse than anyone else’s? What makes you so special? I have a lifelong friend who will (most likely) be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life, but rather than cry, “Woe is me,” he has instead turned his life into one of the most productive ones imaginable. He has as much right as anyone alive to say, “Life sucks,” but instead – and I am not making this up – he sees his condition as an opportunity to help others. I see him change lives every day. I wondered how he stayed so positive, when he told me once, “Never let the words or actions of another affect your happiness…for if you do…then you have given away your power.” “And when fear, insecurity and doubt creep into your life…Ray says…it’s okay to feel the emotions…but it’s not okay to use them as an excuse for poor behavior.” Remember what Napoleon Hill said, “Success requires no explanation; failure permits no alibis.”


   So how does this all really tie-in to our busy lives as small businesspeople, independent contractors, bankers, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, real estate agents, social workers, photographers, convenience store franchisees, account executives, insurance brokers and/or web designers? Simple – we’re all in business to be successful. We all experience disruptions. Indeed, at times we share the same ones. Then, of course, there are disruptions unique to our industry. Disruptions can come in a thousand forms. It’s not always easy. Life sometimes throws as a knuckle-curve. Be ready for them. Expect them. Account for them. Plan on them. Embrace the disruption! “The only easy day was yesterday,” says the Navy SEAL, while his business counterpart says, “You’re only as good as your last deal.” We have to earn our title every day. We keep working at it every day. Sometimes we do it alone. Sometimes (hopefully more times than not) we do it as a team. Though said by thousands, Kenneth Blanchard is oft credited for “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Which is why we as a Chamber – continue to reach out to our membership with the primary mission being “to be of value to our membership.” The goal, then …in effect...once you’re valuableinstead of chasing successit will attract itself to you.


   September attracted plenty. On September 6th, we joined new member, “It’s All in the Details” for a ribbon cutting. Why not pay our great, party planner, Lawrie a visit over at 3 Central Avenue in Massapequa? On Sept 11th, we joined hundreds of Massapequans at the Towers of Freedom at John J. Burns Park to help celebrate the lives of those so brutally murdered on that dark day sixteen years ago. Their legacy, I assure you, will be etched into our minds forever. Please visit the towers. It is quite impressive. Then just yesterday, to wit: September 13th, we joined Marissa and Laurie and their staff along with the residents of The Bristal Assisted Living to help celebrate their 11-year anniversary. On the 24th of this month, we will show our support for our friends at the Sons of Italy Columbus Lodge. Please look for the Chamber tent near the intersection of North Cedar and Broadway. The festival runs between the hours of 11:00 & 6:00. I’ll be under a tree reading a book…there and over with my friends and teammates at the Nappa Realty tent. Broker/owner Christine Nappa is happy to announce that April 22nd marks their 1-year Anniversary. Traditionally, an appropriate first year anniversary gift consists of paper. Here’s your paper, Christine. Enjoy it! Embrace it!


   A few days later, we’ll be back to cutting ribbons – when we join new members of the Law Firm of Persaud & Zeltmann. Our virtual neighbors in both time and space – they can be found right across the street at 675 Broadway. The ceremony begins at 11am. The very next day – you will catch us at Mario’s Pizzeria & Restaurant – located at 655 Broadway (west side) between Commonwealth and Rhode Island Aves. to hold our “Annual Police Officer of the Year Awards.” This is considered the General Meeting for September as well. Please help us honor and salute our men and women in blue.


   Our last bit of business is to remind those who hadn’t heard – we will be at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Friday, October 20th to celebrate – alongside our nominee, Hercules Nikolopoulos - when he receives the “Businessperson of the Year” award from the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce. “The Hercster” has moved from TD Bank in Massapequa to Citibank in Manhattan. When asked in his exit interview the reason for his leaving…Hercules was quoted as saying, “I just adore a penthouse view…Dah-ling I love you, but give me Park Av-en-ue!” Good luck and congratulations. Until we meet again… always remember to maintain TOTAL FOCUS and EMBRACE the SUCK! It’s the key to setting yourself free.





Robert R. Barrett, President