May 2021: Full Contact Project Management


2021 Theme: Eternal Truths for Simple Coaches

Title: “Grandpa…What Was Free Speech?”

Subtitle: Just When You Thought All Was Lost…


Words: “Coach” Gary Micheloni

  I was telling myself that things would be okay, that we’d get through all of this pandemic stuff and economic stress, but then I had this terrible dream, or nightmare, or thought, not sure which, and one of the kids asked me this question: “Grandpa, what was free speech? What was that about? Was there a time in America when it was okay to speak your mind? In history class, we talked about that—and we heard that once upon a time, in our country, people thought they could say or write what they wanted—what was important to them, without government and social media approval.  Everybody in our class was, like, ‘No way! That’s crazy talk!’  I had to tell him the truth:  “Yes, son. That’s the way it was for almost 250 years. Of course, there were some restrictions. Laws, which said that you couldn’t, as a joke, yell ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theatre, for instance, and cause people to panic and trample each other.  But if you had a belief, you could say it or write it. But if it weren’t true, then you’d be caught in a lie because the news people would check it out and call you on it and expose you. This was called freedom of the press, but that was back when. By the way, we also had ‘freedom of religion,’ but don’t get me started on that one.” But just then, I woke up/came to/snapped out of it, whatever that was. But it was horrible!  Some folks might think that I could be the only guy in America with such crazy thoughts in my head—but I suspect some of that is going on right now, within many people, so that gives me some hope. However, I don’t think the nightmare that I had is impossible.  We’ll come back to that subject in a moment. I want first to share some positive things that are going on, too, on my Podcast. For instance, there’s a terrific, short video that you’ve got to see. Just click on or go to, and you’ll see the video. It’s exactly what you need to see in these trying days, “just when you thought all was lost.” When you get to thinking that everything is falling around you and going into the porcelain fixture, go check out a video clip showing the resolve, appreciation, and patriotism of a 14-year-old kid saluting the real superheroes of a bygone generation.  Please don’t miss this one. It might give you chills. Did me! Now, more good stuff at the Brick and Block Podcast website: some phenomenal audio episodes about leadership, marketing, and project management--specifically for mason contractors and suppliers, along with an interview on training for the new tradespeople we need. Some bright spots! For a lot of us, myself included, it seems like we lost a year. Perhaps we did lose 2020. Then again, maybe we just don’t want to remember it. Not sure how it happened. Anyway, this is now 2021; like it or not, here it comes!  That said, it seems like kids and families got the worst of it because most kids did lose a year of in-person schooling, families lost a considerable chunk of income, security, savings, and sanity. In my opinion, there’s an open, governmental invoice, I’m sure, being prepared for presentation to future generations for the stuff we are about to use right now. For some reason, today’s popular notion is that it’s okay to “pass on” to our grand and great-grandkids the bills run up and “cost-coded” or expensed to COVID 2020. You know what? It turned out to be so, surprisingly, easy that we now can go charging off things, supposedly to Covid, while keeping a surprisingly clear conscience. Take that, future heirs! Forget VISA.  I’ve got my US GOV Card, and I have an unlimited credit limit, thank you very much. Okay, I’m a bit tired, maybe just a little over-the-top, but as a part-time student of history, I know that this has happened before, people trying to take the easy way out. For instance, check out this 90-second nugget, a “Coach Gary” history lesson, from only 80 years ago. Here’s the picture: The world is on the brink of war, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flies to Germany and meets with Adolph Hitler. He returns on September 30, 1938, and addresses a crowd hungry for good news. Neville assures the country that he and Adolph had a meeting of the minds and have agreed to never go to war against each other again, and he waves in the air the paper signed by both. Everybody cheers that we now have ‘peace in our time.’  The very next day, Germany invades a neighboring country, things get worse. Prophetically, Winston Churchill says to Chamberlain: “You were given a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and now you shall have war.” Sadly, within a year, September 3, 1939, PM Chamberlain again addresses the British people and informs them that they are now at war with Germany. You can’t make this stuff up! By May 10, 1940, nobody still had faith in Chamberlain, and he resigned, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. Churchill takes over, but London is bombed almost nightly by Germany for many months, then sporadically through May 1944. Unfortunately, beginning in June, German V1 and V2 rocket attacks on London commenced and ran until almost the end of the war. Yikes! Coach Gary’s Take-away: You can’t just follow the easy way out, trying to make all people happy, if it leads you in the wrong direction, and you violate your principles.  Okay, I hear you out there. “Hey, Coach, why this history lesson in a construction magazine? Is it a history lesson only?” No! It’s a lesson in leadership, and it plays out in many of your jobsites more often than you’d like. Here’s the thing: too many contractors allow themselves to be ‘bullied’ by other contractors who take advantage of them. They want to be seen as team players. Keep the project moving. You know the drill.  But realize this: you can’t always keep the peace. It’s a poor strategy never to question or object. Don’t roll over and perform extra work, for free, simply because others tell you so. What does the contract say?  Bringing that to the present day: it’s the subject of a continuing discussion we will be having over these next several months on the Brick and Block Podcast. I’m going to lead that discussion personally. Heck, I wrote the book on it: “Get Paid for a Change! The Contractor’s Blueprint for Turning Extra Work into Extra Money—through Change Orders.” This is going to all be on audio for you. We’re talking strategies that work.  The podcast’s goal is to be an extension and expansion of the Full Contact Project Management column, but all of it is coming to you in bite-size chunks of info and wisdom that you can chew on while you’re driving to a jobsite. The easy part of your workday. 
Coach Gary’s Corner: Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, speaker, author, consultant…and a coach. Get Coach Gary to speak for your group.  And be sure and tell him about how you are leading! 
Copyright 2021 Gary Micheloni
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