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Blame my dad.


Recently some friends thought it would be fun to create a new hashtag “#blamelema” and site to accompany it. You might wonder what I did to earn the privilege? Well here it is: I suggested that the business models used by many WordPress companies were unsustainable.

I said their prices were too low. I wrote about it related to plugins and then later about themes.

It all started in a Taco Bell….

When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally take us out to dinner. Sometimes it was Pioneer Chicken. Other times McDonalds. And a few times we went to Taco Bell.

This was back in the days when the restaurants looked like a bell (late 70’s). But one day we went to a different Taco Bell and this time the restaurant looked a lot like the ones you may have seen recently.

If you’ve never thought about the difference, then you’re just like I was as a kid walking into a restaurant. But my dad is different. He wouldn’t walk into a place that had changed so radically without thinking about it – often out loud.

“Do you notice that these places used to use 70% of their store for the kitchen and now they’re using 70% of the store to give us room to sit down and eat?”

That’s the kind of question he’d ponder all the time. He’d look at the systems and strategies behind everything. And then, upon reflection, talk about the difference.

“By giving us a place to sit, inside the restaurant, they’re betting we’ll order more. Or go back and add something in a bit. That’s good thinking.”

Or when we visited right after they introduced a special menu with items that were .59, .79 and .99. He’d analyze it.

“By showing you lower prices, they’re inviting you to choose them instead. Even if you end up spending the same amount.”

Yesterday at lunch…

I didn’t eat at a Taco Bell yesterday. But I did have lunch. It was at a new pub right on the campus of Georgia Tech, with Tom McFarlin. If you don’t read his blog, and you’re an engineer, you really should.

As we talked, there was one thing we had in common that I hadn’t known. Our dads were alike. They were the business guys that lived out their business thinking every day of our childhoods – and it had an impact on how we saw things.

The power of a positive role model

When I was in high school, my dad went back to school and got his second masters degree – this time in operations management (which is all about the study of systems).

He did it because he was a constant learner. He did it because he liked the information. And he did it (I think) because he wanted to model what it looked like to work full time, coach soccer for his kids, study and get straight A’s while getting another degree.

People ask me how I get so much done, but I’m a slacker if you knew my dad before he retired. Even now, in retirement, he works harder than some of my work peers.

A question for you…

This isn’t just a post about my dad. This isn’t a post about hard work. I know…you’re starting to wonder what the point is, then.

Here it is. And it’s really plain and simple. Easy to ask. Harder to answer.

Are you asking the right questions in front of the right people to spur on their curiosity and challenge them to keep learning and growing?

Like I said, it’s easy to ask. It’s a lot harder to live out. I have two little ones and challenging them to keep thinking, imagining, and questioning can feel like a full time job!

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