Well it's been two weeks since my last post and I've got to admit something: Blogging ain't easy! Besides needing to feel moved to write something in an educated fashion, I need to get my energy level up to deal with the ramifications of what I say. Enough crying and on to the educated part -- I hope. Aquascape isn't about The Pond Guy! There I said it. Aquascape is so much bigger than me that turning the blog into a Greg-fest (or feast) is just a waste of everybody's time. I've rambled enough so let me get to my point. Aquascape is going places.
It's going places I have never been before, and I believe and know that's a good thing, actually a very good thing for all our customers. For as much as I've deliberately branded Aquascape with my thumbs up, Carpe Diem personality (Marketing 101), the company I created has outgrown me many times over. And that's been my gameplan from the beginning. Our earliest rallying cry was "Changing the Way the World Builds Ponds." To achieve that lofty goal, I knew I needed to get others on my team, as well as customers and distributors who bought into my vision. Today, we have more or less achieved that vision since skimmers and falls -- a foreign concept when we entered the market -- are now the norm for water features. Today, what drives Aquascape is less about changing the way ponds are built or even retailed and more about our focus on how to make our customers successful.
For those of you who are curious about evolving your business, there's a great new book that speaks to the heart of the matter. The Breakthrough Company, by Keith McFarland, articulates far more completely than I can post in a blog how "Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers." In a nutshell, McFarland (an Inc. blogger himself!) reveals his findings after having studied 7,000 companies — every company to make the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies.
McFarland's biggest assertion is that for a fast-growing company to continue to grow, it needs to "crown the company." To do that, an entrepreneur must put the firm's best interests above his or her own. The company's leadership must be centered on serving the company, rather than having the company serve the founder. Companies fail to grow not so much because the company outgrows the leader but because the leader fails to change his leadership style. My bull-in-the-china-shop approach might have helped me not only survive but thrive in the early years, but today it can be detrimental to our organization. When this happens, I get coaching from my new President, T.D. Decker. T.D.'s a professional manager I brought in last year to help take the company to the next level, and he fits McFarland's mold perfectly. Sure, T.D. has the pedigree, the MBA, the experience running four other companies -- including a $3 billion hedge fund -- but more importantly he has the servant leadership style that's needed to align himself behind Aquascape's higher cause. And I know T.D. and our management team are committed to doing what is best for Aquascape.
In summary, I've come to realize that for Aquascape to go to the next level, it can no longer be just about The Pond Guy -- even if I've made my name and image synonymous with the brand. It's about the higher cause that Aquascape strives to achieve. And paramount to pursuing that cause is our customers' success today and tomorrow. I've come to realize that Aquascape can no longer be the ready-fire-aim organization that I'm so naturally wired to be. I've got to change, if I want Aquascape to grow. So get used to the Greg "chill pill" '¶ to a point. Change isn't a bad thing. A tough thing, yes, but not a bad thing when you're crowning a company to serve your customers.