This is a quick write up for you all to give you a few examples of how those in blue collar industries think and act different than us in tech. It’s not better or worst, just 5 honest observations.
Customers. Blue collar workers truly value their customers on a relationship-based level. They understand how important customers are to their ability to conduct business and they want to do a good job for them. In the Tech world, we see customers as data, always trying to figure consumed about getting more, and not necessarily about the customer in front of us. Techies can learn from the blue collar industry.
Money. Techies understand that the only reason we’re in business is to make money. We are constantly trying to find new ideas and tap into new markets with the goal of making money. Blue collars on the other hand get caught in the cycle of working, at times, for cost and have very low profitability in some industries. Blue collars can learn a lot from techies when it comes to revenue generation. There’s just an understanding that aerial equipment repair can easily exist because money making businesses need it.
Employees. Blue collar workers rely on their employees and train them well to become professionals. Us Techies generally hire for what we need, and don’t have the time to mold an employee into something greater. And, many techie employees have aspirations to leave us and start their own business anyway. Us Techies can learn a lot from blue collars.
Tools. Blue collars use tools to get their jobs done. Techies often build custom tools as their job. We can both learn from each other here.
Sales. Techies understand the value of selling and marketing. We understand that the process takes time and we can view data to track our progress. Blue collars want to see immediate results and don’t always understand the long sales cycle. Blue collars can learn something from us Techies.
Just a few observations. I’m sure these will change or be expanded as my mission continues.
At the 2.5 week mark, and after the conference I attended in Colorado Springs, I got a chanced to attend a focus group held by local business owners, for local business owners trying to form alliances and groups. The ultimate goal was to form more than networking circles, but more so partnering communities, figuring out ways to leverage each others customers and refer each others services.
Very cool concept, and the idea had me interested.
I found out about this conference after meeting with a commercial cleaning services company. My meeting with them was to understand the type of software they used to run their business. My thought initially was that it was going to be extremely simple, or extremely complex. Funny enough, I found that their systems were a mixture of simple and complex. Of course this interests me!
While they use very primitive tools for tracking and managing data such as customer lists, finances, supplies, employees, etc. they are collecting a lot of information, with very high detail. I was extremely impressed to see what they were doing, which basic spreadsheet functionality, and more impressed that they actually managed to stay on top of this system. While I didn’t leave with an idea in mind for these guys, I did write their company down for future follow up.
The cleaning industry is a big one, and if I can figure out a way to tap into that market with a tool that had mass market appeal, it would wonderful for all.
Anyhow, at the conference, I found that companies are trying really hard to connect, leverage other business relationships they have and find creative ways to go about acquiring not just new business, but loyal customers.
This kind of made me feel like social networking was the solution, but not really solution networking as it is today. And then, of course, I realized that creating a social network is a foolish idea, so back to the drawing board.
So many great notes captured from the great state of Colorado. This was the first time I ever spent this type of time in the blue collar world and I have an incredible amount of respect for these hands on, hard working people.
Keep your eye out for my time spent in Northern California, which is coming up next. I had a great time meeting with folks “not” in the tech world, which is the big focus around those parts.
Hello my name is Gary from New York City. I’ve worked in the startup tech field for the last 16 years, and have been apart of some very successful startups, and some flat out failures. I like the tech field because it has allowed me to work with many different industries, developing life long relationships with people I can call upon and count on whenever needed.
Today, Q2 of 2016, I spend most of my time traveling the country. Living in via hotel, and on occasion mom and pop motels, or if I’m lucky, bed and breakfast places in remote locations. I rarely travel to remote places, as my big interest these days are in metropolitan areas, studying the flow of the city and comparing it with the next.
My mission with this blog is to share my story. My story being what I’m up to today. How I navigate throughout the country by myself, living the lifestyle I have always dreamed of. My story today is more about building relationships. Lets face it, I’m not working right now, I’m living off of the proceeds I acquired during my 16 years of operating multiple startups–some successful, some not. But thankfully the successful ones were successful enough for me to not work currently.
I do plan on going back to work at some point. But the challenge is I don’t know what I want to do yet. So for now, I’m spending my time meeting cool people in a number of different industries. My purpose for this is two fold, to gain relationships with people that I can help, or who might one day be able to help me (networking) and to learn about as many industries as possible, so I can identify pain points of said industries and hopefully, one day, figure out a solution (via another startup).
I’ve never taken this approach to finding a pain point. Most people don’t because they don’t have the financial means to just stop working to seek their next adventure. But for me, I’ve worked for well over 15 hours per day, mostly 7 days per week for more than 10 years straight, so I understand how important it is for me to take a break. This is a necessary evil.
While traveling to Colorado Springs last month I attended the Blue Collar Works Conference, which is a new conference held at Colorado University at Colorado Springs.
At the conference, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a few mechanics from Walsenburg, Colorado. The interesting thing is that these were a group of independent mechanics that worked under the same roof. Basically, they all had a set of specific skills, and they only worked within their particular skill set. This is unique, as most mechanics tend to be very generalized in nature, allowing them to work on just about anything. These guys did have those skill sets, but they also continued their mechanical education and developed skills and knowledge in special areas. It was the specialty areas that really set them apart.
On the other side of me, I sat next to two guys that drove down form the Denver area. They were locksmiths (unlockops.com). These guys were trying to learn how to generate more business and dominate their area. They had already found a way to dominate their local market for residential locksmihing (if that’s word, if not you know what I mean) services, but were seeking to grab a hold of the commercial market in their area.
Meeting these two groups were great for me. Everyone was a little reluctant to speak with me because they thought I was trying to sale them something. They couldn’t grasp the concept that I have a genuine interest in blue collar industries, considering I’m a tech guy. But I explained that as a developer, it’s important for me to understand, on an intimate level, the pains of different industries as that is what inspires my next project/company.
I didn’t identify much, but I was able to make a few friends and have some good conversations with people I know I will talk with in the future. Another guy I met there was trying to start his own independent trash pickup company. Conversing with him got my wheels turning, but he was so far from starting real company, that it didn’t make sense to dig deeper. This is a person I will keep in contact with as he understands how vital technology will be to his operation.
I don’t think this conference was a huge success for me, but it did enlighten me. I know that it’s important to go to these places, if for nothing to meet people in the right places. My next step would be to shadow them on their job, to gain a deeper understanding of their day to day activities, and most importantly, the pains they consistently experience.
The trip to color was awesome. I also visited several restaurants that I must make it back to. It’s crazy the level of technology built into some of these places. Some of them have systems down that really minimize the need for a server. I like servers and their interactions, but of course I’m always looking at, and interested in ways to create efficiencies.
I ended up staying in Colorado for 3 weeks. I spent most of my time in Boulder, CO, which a pretty cool visit. Very “hippy’ish” as most people know, but very different than say Berkeley, CA. People of Boulder tend to be a little more materialistic and not nearly as open and friendly, but still a cool place, with some good places eat!