FPR

Fernando Pages Ruiz, Buenos Aires, AR
contributor


FPR
Homebuilder, developer and author Fernando Pagés Ruiz speaks, writes and consults internationally on how to build high-quality, affordable and energy-efficient homes. A builder with 30 years of experience and an expert on how to cut costs and keep quality when building or remodeling, Pagés is the author of two books published by the Taunton Press: Building an Affordable House: A high-value, low-cost approach to building (2005) and Affordable Remodel: How to get custom results on any budget (2007). He has won numerous national awards including the 2008 “Green Building Single Family House of the Year” and the 2007 “Workforce Housing Award” from the National Association of Home Builders. In 2006, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's PATH project chose him to build America's first PATH Concept Home, a home that is affordable to purchase and to maintain while meeting the criteria of LEED for Homes, ENERGY STAR, MASCO Environments for Living, and the NAHB's Green Building certifications. Please visit his FaceBook page to see recent articles and activities: http://www.facebook.com/BuildingAffordable

Gender: Male

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Contributions

Self-Taught MBA: Failing Forward

Self-Taught MBA: Failing Forward

The confidence to start or expand a business comes from the hope for success, but if you’re smart, a thorough knowledge of the anatomy of failure is indispensable.

Self-Taught MBA: Bulldogs and Double Agents

Self-Taught MBA: Bulldogs and Double Agents

The martial art of learning from and leveraging customer complaints for constant improvement.

Self-Taught MBA: To Cut Costs, Split the Profits

Self-Taught MBA: To Cut Costs, Split the Profits

To induce my employees and subcontractors to remain on the lookout for cost savings, I offer to split the money.

Self-Taught MBA: One Picture Saves a Thousand  (Written) Words

Self-Taught MBA: One Picture Saves a Thousand (Written) Words

Keeping accurate job site field logs can become a fulltime job, but technology makes it easy.

Self-Taught MBA: Three Desks for Better Organization

Self-Taught MBA: Three Desks for Better Organization

Beyond three hats, I have always separated my workspace into three administrative centers, each with its own files and a separate desk.

How to Finance a New Home

How to Finance a New Home

Here are a few key things to know about the new world or mortgage lending.

Self-Taught MBA: Collecting Data to Improve Bids and Operations

Self-Taught MBA: Collecting Data to Improve Bids and Operations

Developing methods to collect accurate data on your company’s construction costs will improve your bids as well as your operations.

Self-Taught MBA: An App for Designer and Builder Collaboration

Self-Taught MBA: An App for Designer and Builder Collaboration

An ingenious app that makes it easy to share plans, markups, photos, and reports electronically with the entire project team on tablets and smartphones.

Self-Taught MBA: The Tailgate vs. the Water Cooler

Self-Taught MBA: The Tailgate vs. the Water Cooler

Job-site communication styles don’t readily translate to the office environment. I almost lost my job learning this important fact of life.

Building the Best Affordable House: 10 tips for Getting the Most House for Your Money

Building the Best Affordable House: 10 tips for Getting the Most House for Your Money

Here are the top ten things you can do to build on a budget.

Self-Taught MBA: An App to Eliminate Callbacks

Self-Taught MBA: An App to Eliminate Callbacks

By putting installation information at your fingertips, the new app by Construction Instruction helps you get the job done right the first time.

Self-Taught MBA: The Builders Briefcase

Self-Taught MBA: The Builder's Briefcase

A briefcase is nothing more than a leather toolbox for your business gear. Here’s my take on the top five tools that belong in that bag.

Self-Taught MBA: Blue Ocean Advantage

Self-Taught MBA: Blue Ocean Advantage

Find an uncontested area of the market to ply your business and you’ll have smooth sailing toward success.

What Are the Best Affordable Home Security Systems?

What Are the Best Affordable Home Security Systems?

For home security, the low-hanging fruit may be in your smartphone.

Self-Taught MBA: Teaching the Old Dogs New Tricks

Self-Taught MBA: Teaching the Old Dogs New Tricks

Exploiting social media for marketing, while adapting best home-building practices to the digital world, the next generation’s business strategies may teach us old dogs a few new tricks.

Self-Taught MBA: Know the Battlefield

Self-Taught MBA: Know the Battlefield

Strategic thinking is essential to success in any highly competitive activity, and the building business qualifies as one. This, the second in our three-part series on strategy, focuses on learning the contours of the real-estate marketplace, the builder's battlefield.

Self-Taught MBA: Profiles in Good Business

Self-Taught MBA: Profiles in Good Business

Profiles of building enterprises that provide valuable insights. Unique business strategies that work for them, and may work for you.

Self-Taught MBA: Strategic Thinking

Self-Taught MBA: Strategic Thinking

What makes the move from tradesman to entrepreneur so difficult? To start, the tradesman focuses almost entirely on tactics—the means and methods of good craft and honest work—while the entrepreneur focuses on a strategy, an ambitious vision to fulfill in the future. Which one are you?

Self-Taught MBA: Builder-Office Automation

Self-Taught MBA: Builder-Office Automation

Nowadays, builder software offers far more than estimating and accounting. We take a close look at what’s available and discuss how you can determine what office automation products provide the best fit for you.

Self-Taught MBA: Project Management Made Easier

Self-Taught MBA: Project Management Made Easier

Project management is the skill set at the heart of any contracting business, and technology brings powerful tools to help you to do it better. As we continue looking into computing power tools for job-site management, we'll focus this time on InLoox for Outlook.

Self-Taught MBA: Homebuilder Resolutions--What Will Builders Do Differently in 2014?

Self-Taught MBA: Homebuilder Resolutions--What Will Builders Do Differently in 2014?

We asked homebuilders about their New Year’s resolutions. Here's a sampling of what we got. Please add yours in the comments!

Self-Taught MBA: Accurate Estimates Dont Come Cheap

Self-Taught MBA: Accurate Estimates Don't Come Cheap

Xactimate and XactRemodel are perhaps the most accurate and speedy estimating systems available—but they come at a price.

Self-Taught MBA: Free Estimates

Self-Taught MBA: Free Estimates

We all give them, but you can get them, too. This series is a response to one reader’s search for more-affordable estimating systems. I'll start with as affordable as it gets: free

Self-Taught MBA: Dealing With Workforce Diversity

Self-Taught MBA: Dealing With Workforce Diversity

To lead a diverse team, learn the silent language of culture. And then mine the riches discovered in the differences for a more productive and personally enriching day at work.

Self-Taught MBA: Youre Fired!

Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

It’s the hardest thing you'll ever do as an employer--so hard, in fact, that some firms hire it out. But you can't, and shouldn't, so from time to time you'll have to say those two devastating words: “You're fired.” Still, you can break off with kindness and with a touch of class.

Self-Taught MBA: Writing Job Descriptions

Self-Taught MBA: Writing Job Descriptions

Every position in your company, including yours, should come with a written job description. What basic elements should a job description contain? Here, you'll find a quick guide to help you create clear, concise descriptions for your employees.

Self Taught MBA:   New Recruits: The Art of Hiring Right

Self Taught MBA: New Recruits: The Art of Hiring Right

Faced with a shortage of qualified workers, contractors suddenly have to confront hiring decisions. In case you've forgot how, here’s a primer on handling the good hire.

Self-Taught MBA: Motivating Employees Through Lean Times

Self-Taught MBA: Motivating Employees Through Lean Times

Anyone making weekly payroll knows the meaning of stress. Avoiding white-knuckle Fridays while still motivating your employees requires creative, nonmonetary incentives. Here are a few tricks for keeping the troops happy without a raise.

Self-Taught MBA: Strategies for Communicating With Couples

Self-Taught MBA: Strategies for Communicating With Couples

Building or remodeling a home can stress couples to the breaking point. On a scale of 1 to 10, with the highest number equating to the death of a child, psychologists place remodeling at about 6 in terms of relationship stress.

Self-Taught MBA: Good Communication with Homeowners is Crucial

Self-Taught MBA: Good Communication with Homeowners is Crucial

The most basic element in good customer service involves frequent and fluent communication. But this simple chore eludes many in the construction industry and represents the number-one customer complaint. How do you handle communication?

Self-Taught MBA: Building Abundance in a Tough Market

Self-Taught MBA: Building Abundance in a Tough Market

You're a good customer, using the same subs job after job, yet your costs keep skyrocketing and you can barely keep up. Just hiring the same guys time and again isn’t enough. Building mutually beneficial alliances requires the most difficult but ultimately most rewarding type of negotiation: the collaborative approach.

Cool New Building Products from the AIA Conference

Cool New Building Products from the AIA Conference

I recently attended my first American Institute of Architects Conference, held this year in my home port of Denver, Colorado. It was a pleasure to see things I’d never seen before.

Self-Taught MBA: Collaboration and Competition

Self-Taught MBA: Collaboration and Competition

In real estate and construction, you will engage in every sort of negotiation, from win-win to the most disheartening losses. By learning the techniques and tactics of professional negotiators, you will see through the fog of war, understand the gambits being played to focus on achieving desirable results.

Self-Taught MBA: Lets Make a Deal

Self-Taught MBA: Let's Make a Deal

The negotiator's playbook includes a handful of tactics and a few dirty tricks.

Can You Survive a Tornado?

Can You Survive a Tornado?

Living in Tornado Alley without a storm shelter is a bit like barreling down the freeway without fastening your seat belt. Never mind the house--what about you and your family?

Self-Taught MBA: The Real Value of Experience

Self-Taught MBA: The Real Value of Experience

In the end, the hard-won soft skills are more solid assets than the technical skills that got you started in business

Self-Taught MBA: The Little Lumberyard that Could

Self-Taught MBA: The Little Lumberyard that Could

Meek’s Lumber & Hardware does not have some of the advantages of a national chain, but it competes by providing what a megaenterprise cannot: heart, and lower prices. This small lumberyard chain has set up a responsive, contractor-focused alliance with its customers to build up sales through the success of their contractors.

Self-Taught MBA:  Make Your Digital Devices Work Harder and Smarter

Self-Taught MBA: Make Your Digital Devices Work Harder and Smarter

Builder and business owner Sergio Grado recommends his go-to desktop, tablet, and smart-phone apps for finance, construction, and more

A Talk With The Home Depots Vice President of Pro Business

A Talk With The Home Depot's Vice President of Pro Business

The market view from The Home Depot’s national perspective and how the chain has changed to serve its contractor clients better. Plus, an introduction to The Home Depot’s free online estimating program and aerial job-site maps—you’ll never get up on a roof to measure it again.

A Conversation with Tedd Benson About the Road from Fine Carpenter to Fine Businessman

A Conversation with Tedd Benson About the Road from Fine Carpenter to Fine Businessman

Tedd Benson, one of the most celebrated homebuilders in America, has been a leader in reintroducing the art of timber framing, and has continued to develop it using modern technology to create structures of lasting beauty and high efficiency. He also built a successful business, stalwart enough to sail through the Great Recession and expand. I recently had the opportunity talk with Tedd Benson and learn about his background, his business, and his plans for the future.

Self-Taught MBA: Are You Ready for Building Information Modeling?

Self-Taught MBA: Are You Ready for Building Information Modeling?

Building information modeling (BIM) is the next evolution of CAD, involving the five-dimensional generation and management of digital plans. This post, written by my colleague Kristin Dispenza, introduces a new product specifically for small firms.

Self-Taught MBA: Getting Intimate with Social Marketing

Self-Taught MBA: Getting Intimate with Social Marketing

In this second half of a two-part social-media primer, I'll discuss using LinkedIn, a professional’s platform that can help you stay abreast of industry trends, build credibility, and engage in business-to-business dialog with prospective clients.

Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

Get started with social media even if you’re not interested. It’s free and easy to learn, and it offers the best guerrilla-marketing opportunity in history. Here’s a builders' primer, the first of two installments.

Digital Toolbox: Getting an Education Without Leaving the Job Site

Digital Toolbox: Getting an Education Without Leaving the Job Site

New contributor Sergio Grado provides accessible and practical advice on how to keep growing your knowledge base even when you have no time to spend on furthering your education.

Self Taught MBA: Learning to Walk Again: Life Lessons From a Professional Negotiator

Self Taught MBA: Learning to Walk Again: Life Lessons From a Professional Negotiator

Mike Walker lived the rise and fall of the real-estate market as a broker and developer, but really learned his trade on the way down. Nowadays, Walker teaches effective negotiation strategies and skills in 14 cities, and almost as many states. He talks about how he learned so much about negotiating and what he believes are the negotiator’s top three strategies.

Self Taught MBA: Empowering Homeowners at ArmchairBuilder.com

Self Taught MBA: Empowering Homeowners at ArmchairBuilder.com

Building a business by empowering homeowners, ArmchairBuilder.com provides DIY support online, internationally and for free. How does entrepreneur Michael Luckado make money?

Self-Taught MBA: Developing Executive Thinking

Self-Taught MBA: Developing Executive Thinking

The manager focuses on doing things right; the executive focuses on the right thing to do. The manager asks how and when; the executive asks what and why.

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going Is Good, Part 4

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going Is Good, Part 4

Head for the equator: Continuing to explore promising building business niches, here’s the last profile illustrating how good fortune sometimes comes through relocating. In this case, it’s the story of a southbound immigration: A successful Midwestern developer dodged the recession and found continued growth and prosperity in Ecuador.

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going Is Good, Part 3

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going Is Good, Part 3

Continuing to explore promising building business strategies, here’s a third profile illustrating how good fortune sometimes comes through relocating. In this case, it’s a story that has played out millions of times in the United States, and one at the core our democracy, since most of us are or descend from someone who came to America for a better life.

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 2

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 2

Continuing with our exploration of construction-business niches, here’s the second of two profiles illustrating how some builders find good fortune by relocating. Determined to survive the downturn, this Montana developer discovered black gold in a mobile-home park.

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 1

Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 1

We have talked about strategies to develop a business niche that works in today’s challenging environment. But there’s another strategy, and that’s to go the business climate is sunny.

Self Taught MBA: From Single to Multifamily Builder

Self Taught MBA: From Single to Multifamily Builder

The transition from single family to small multifamily builder presents fewer challenges than from homebuilder to remodeler. You use the same designers, the same subs, and even the same mindset. Now that the multifamily market is booming, perhaps there's an opportunity for you.

Find Your Niche and Own It

Find Your Niche and Own It

With the reshuffling of the construction industry, some contractors have become subs, some bosses have cinched on the tool belt, others moved into other industries, but some builders have found productive niches and stuck with them though think and thin. The next few posts will explore alternatives to the, we’ll do anything that requires a hammer approach and “no job too big or small.”

Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyers Advice, Part 2

Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyer's Advice, Part 2

With a practice focused on real-estate, business, and bankruptcy law, attorney Nancy Loftis has counseled clients big and small through boom and bust cycles since 1982. She has seen success and failure firsthand, and observed what works and does not. Part 2 of our conversation: Consulting services, road hazards, and the definition of success during times of famine.

Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyers Advice, Part 1

Self-Taught MBA: A Real-Estate Lawyer's Advice, Part 1

With a practice focused on real-estate, business, and bankruptcy law, attorney Nancy Loftis has counseled clients big and small through boom and bust cycles since 1982. She has seen success and failure firsthand, and observed what works and does not. Her honest, disinterested take on what it takes to make it in construction and real-estate might provide us a refreshingly realistic look at the ingredients of success.

Self-taught MBA: Arming the Insurgency

Self-taught MBA: Arming the Insurgency

You can build name recognition, credibility and a customer following using your local paper, television and radio to tell your story effectively and for free.

Self Taught MBA: Decoding Your Sales Factor

Self Taught MBA: Decoding Your Sales Factor

To create an effective marketing scheme and know it’s working, you have to aim for specific results, the specific number of leads required to keep your business running without down time. This is how to figure it out: the sales conversion factor.

David Gerstels take on the Benshoof Interview

David Gerstel's take on the Benshoof Interview

I prefer a somewhat different approach. The kind of business planning Benshoof he favors seems to me a bit too tidy for the turbulent realities of the construction world.

The Self Taught MBA: A Conversation with Mike Benshoof, MD for the Ailing Builder

The Self Taught MBA: A Conversation with Mike Benshoof, MD for the Ailing Builder

“So you want to know, if you have a real business? Ask yourself if you can take off for a month or more and the operation runs just fine without you. If not, you don’t have a business—you have a job. I can fix that…” says Mike Benshoof.

Self Taught MBA: Strategic Planning, Part 3 - Organizing a Strategic Planning Session

Self Taught MBA: Strategic Planning, Part 3 - Organizing a Strategic Planning Session

Here's how to embark on a strategic planning session, run a business, and make it home in time for dinner.

Self Taught MBA: Strategic Planning, Part 2 - The ABCs of Strategic Planning

Self Taught MBA: Strategic Planning, Part 2 - The ABCs of Strategic Planning

It's more critical than ever to have a plan of how you will deal with this tough economy. Strategic planning focuses on redefining high-level priorities and setting a course for the year ahead.

The Self Taught MBA: Business and Strategic Planning, Part 1 - Best Laid Plans

The Self Taught MBA: Business and Strategic Planning, Part 1 - Best Laid Plans

You may not have started your business with a formal plan, but writing one now may help you achieve your goals--now that you're old enough to think ahead!

The Self Taught MBA: The Harvard Home Builder Story

The Self Taught MBA: The Harvard Home Builder Story

A new book from researchers at Harvard University shows that American home builders were immensely profitable during the housing boom, but did little to improve the efficiency of their operations.

The Self Taught MBA:  David Gerstel on Running a Successful Construction Company

The Self Taught MBA: David Gerstel on Running a Successful Construction Company

You Don’t Have to Run Your Business by the Seat of your Pants

Self-Taught MBA: Inspired Reading

Self-Taught MBA: Inspired Reading

Helpful business books categorized by the eight divisions of business management.

Self-Taught MBA: You Cant Be a Successful Builder Without Management Skills

Self-Taught MBA: You Can't Be a Successful Builder Without Management Skills

Businesses do not have a tangible structure, like the frame of a house, but every business has a framework nonetheless. The purpose of management is to keep that framework functioning effectively.

The Self-Taught MBA

The Self-Taught MBA

About 30 years ago, I read a Fine Homebuilding article that changed my career. I came upon it while building my second house. By then, I owned a sturdy Ford truck and a garage full of tools, and I...

Do You Remeber Your First Issue?

Do You Remeber Your First Issue?

Do you remember your first issue of Fine Homebuilding Magazine?

A Few Inspiring Products Amidst the new Normal at IBS

A Few Inspiring Products Amidst the new Normal at IBS

Sitting at the airport bar, having just left the International Builders Show, waiting for a delayed flight, it's time to muse on the International Builder’s Bash in Orlando.

¡Viva Verde!

¡Viva Verde!

For green building to survive it has to become bilingual.

Ready or Not

Ready or Not

The Suddenly it's Here and Now Future of Energy Remodeling

Haiti InnoVida Update

Haiti InnoVida Update

Short movie shows how these homes go together.

Have You Considered Vinyl Siding, Lately?

Have You Considered Vinyl Siding, Lately?

Considering advances in product quality, energy efficiency, and improved manufacturing, it pays to take a second (or third) look at vinyl siding.

IBS 2010: Green Builder Donates 1,000 Homes to Haitians

IBS 2010: Green Builder Donates 1,000 Homes to Haitians

New building technology firm, InnoVida™, donates 1,000 homes to Haiti using Fiber Composite Structural Insulated panels introduced at IBS.

IBS 2010: Last Tango in Vegas

IBS 2010: Last Tango in Vegas

A veteran's take on this year's International Builders' Show: Things can't get any worse



Recent comments


Re: Self-Taught MBA: Bulldogs and Double Agents

Thanks for your comments, Dovetail, and I am sorry to hear of your unfortunate situation with an unreasonable client. Of course you're right that the customer is not "always" right, although I'd disagree with the opposite conclusion, too. I have found in my experience with life in general that I can only fix my own mistakes, so I tend to focus on only my mistakes and not the other fellows. But I do admit to having felt exactly as you do more than once. Some people are very hard to please. Others are impossible.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: The Builder's Briefcase

Good comment, DancingDan. I carry a voice record, too. I call it my prosthetic memory. Breath mints, pocket knife, graph paper, all good suggestions. I carry a circuit tester, too, seemed like a good tool to have, although I cannot say I have ever used it.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Strategic Thinking

Yes, Andy, it is possible to work reasonable hours as a tradesman and make a good living if you work for someone else, and they put in the 40 hours on the business end of the operation. Of course, some people are in constant demand in a market that lacks skilled labor and they can be pretty sloppy with business and customers still put up with it. You see this most often with good, honest plumbers and auto mechanics. They put you off, never finish on time, but if the price is right and they always tell you the truth, you keep taking your business to them. Some people have an artistic bent and they can get work at high prices for their special craft. I know a very artistic brick layer like that. So while there exist many exceptions, most of us prove the rule that you cannot run a business effectively unless actually you run the business.

Re: IBS 2014: MyFixItUpLife Interviews Fine Homebuilding's Justin Fink

This was a lot of fun to listen to, Justin, terrific job, light, lively and personable.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Free Estimates

Great addition to the post, Old_Man_Patterson . Thank you. We actually covered the Home Depot estimating system a few months back; see post “A Talk With The Home Depot's Vice President of Pro Business.” http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/27045/a-talk-with-the-home-depots-vice-president-of-pro-business

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Joseph Hughes writes:

@Anthony I appreciate the feedback and am not saying I advocate bumper-sticker management (great term, by the way!). I don't judge people straight away. I was talking about facing the decision of whether to keep an employee or let him go (after a reasonable period of time when you've had a chance to see him in action). Too many business owners avoid firing because it's the comfortable thing to do. They don't want to put themselves or the employee through the pain. At this point, it's helpful to ask the asset/liability question, because as a small business owner, time and money are your most valuable resources, and an employee that is producing drag on your business is wasting both.
By Joseph Hughes

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Anthony LoCoco responds:

Joseph Hughes, I've heard that saying a lot in my career. Although it is simplistic and will not direct this to you or your boss since I dont know either of you, I will say that in my experience it was said by the worst leaders I've had overall. I try to avoid bumper-sticker management, management by crises or basically anything out of "The Five Minute Manager". Sure sometimes you know right off the bat if someone is going to make it or not, but in those cases the obvious failures are more a poor decision by those doing the hiring. IF they had invested the time and resources to vet folks out and/or match them to a better role the degree of failure would be greatly diminished.
I have had the opportunity to review applicants and meet with folks who were in a cursory glance were not given the chance to convince my of their abilities. Higher ups sometimes pigeon hole applicants based on their own dare I say prejudices. I've found the "ugly-ducklings" that no one wanted to take to the dance and sure I've had a few disappointments but probably 75% of the time they end up being the best employees I've had. I saw things in them that at the time they did not in many cases see in themselves. But in the seat of power the big bosses looked at them in a one-dimensional point of view..."a liability" that they were convinced would fail.
By Anthony LoCoco

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Dave Taylor writes: My best employee has seven felonies, old history, but he is 150% tuned to the job always and very few problems! The bible says don't judge lest you be judged, many have forgotten these teachings which cross many religions.
By Dave Taylor

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Joseph Hughes, at Contractor Dynamics, wrote the following, somewhat provocative comments on LinkedIn. I post here with his permission:

In my first career, I learned a simple but powerful heuristic from the owner for whom I worked: 'Everyone on your team is either an asset or a liability.' The simplicity of the statement can sound crude, but the message is clear. A person on your team is either helping the company move in a positive forward direction, or he is not. If he is not, it's time to part ways.

Curious what other think. Is this too simplistic?
By Joseph Hughes

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Anthony LoCoco, owner of Traditions Home Improvement Service, LLC in Chicago writes:

Having to fire an employee in many cases is a direct result in organizational leadership, vague protocols, non-existent chain of command, hiring a person for a position just created or not giving the employee the tools they need to complete their assigned objectives. I am not saying there are not instances where the employee just fails at every clearly defined task, refuses to set their alarm clock etc.
When you apply to an organization and every other sentence in the job description is "or as directed buy assigned supervisor." or similar wording that is a clear sign of a lapse in communication, disconnect of leadership or unrealistic expectation levels.
I remember some time ago meeting with a firm that was complaining about slippage in their revenue stream in regards to project cost over-runs. They also complained about not being able to find a Production Manager worth a damn. After some investigation I found that sales was over-promising, not defining the extra/change order policy and that in nearly every case the blueprint and written scope of work nearly looked like two different projects. On one the scope called out for 15 can lights with no dimmers, the print had 9 with one dimmer, switched outlets, low voltage and three ways also did not match. When it can't be built correctly on paper you are doomed once labor arrives and tries to start, finish on time, within budget and make it as seamless of a process for the client as possible.
The company owners response was, "That's how we have done it for 30 years and it has always worked fine." - REALLY.
Can you all say D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R.
By Anthony LoCoco

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

Dave Taylor, President at Taylord Designs LLC, wrote the following, thoughtful comments on LinkedIn. I post here with his permission:

Firing a employee is not something you do lightly. Reasons for firing are numerous but all boil down to failed expectations of performance and agreement to operating values. While firing is hard for employee it is also hard for manager who has developed a relationship with employee! Managers have to realize that a change in relationship is a chance for both parties to grow emotionally. Employee has now been given the chance to experience life choices and find what they truly want to do, companies then are given the chance to refresh their values and review policies. Personnel that are affected are co-employees who then will either support the decision or look to change themselves. The termination should be a stepping stone for all parties but always done to respect feelings with compassion!

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You're Fired!

I am surprised how many humane comments I've heard in response to this topic, all along the lines of cdekorne's reply, which carry almost a spiritual overtone, thank you by the way. Employers seem to regard this as a highly moral issue, and not simply a practical one. One employer replied on LinkedIn, and I have asked permission to copy his comments here. He talks about the opportunity for personal and corporate growth, as firing represents a chance for the employee to understand himself, his needs and motivations, and for the company to perfect its policies and procedures. To do precisely what DancingDan expresses so succinctly, "tighten up."

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Strategies for Communicating With Couples

Dear MikeFitzpatrick,

We would love to hear your strategies, especially with unsuccessful and then successful experiences in your resume. Please do tell.
FPR

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Good Communication with Homeowners is Crucial

That was a wonderful post, Born-2-Hammer, especially the last sentence. I suspect most builders can say that the majority of clients are women, or at least the majority of the critical decision makers. But us guys usually come with a design flaw that creates a communication handicap. I'd be very interested in your insights regarding communication and how you approach this craft. We could use a few insights and pointers from the women of the building business.

Re: Can You Survive a Tornado?

Perry525: See you can find a picture of the plans for one of these. It sounds like a design to consider, especially if it could be incorporated into a slab. So much of what we see nowadays resembles luxury housing for the post apocalypse, and not really what's needed. We just need something to take cover in that's cheap, and available.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: The Real Value of Experience

Marleyjune, thanks for the correction, dude, it's fixed! And Renzo, thanks for the comments.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Are You Ready for Building Information Modeling?

Great observations db5 -- I am very glad you wrote.

I forwarded you comments to Kristin Dispenza, the architectural journalist that contributed this post, and she went straight to the top in the quest to reply to your questions: Someone at the highest level of Autodesk is working on getting you specific answers, and Kristine will post them here as soon as she hears back.

Stay tuned!





Re: Self-Taught MBA: Getting Intimate with Social Marketing

Do take a look at Michael Chandler's comment on my last post about Facebook. I believe he nails it. The "tweenyness" of it all if a lot like social chit-chat (I know, I hate it to), but every good salesperson knows the value of engaging potential customers (or people in general) in informal ways that build familiarity and trust. And for guys like you and me,a few minutes of online tweenyness a day is a lot less taxiing than chit-chatting in person.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.

Re: The Self Taught MBA: A Conversation with Mike Benshoof, MD for the Ailing Builder

That's a very good idea, Michaelthemobileguy, and I will take you up on it. Stay tuned!

Re: Self Taught MBA: Strategic Planning, Part 2 - The ABCs of Strategic Planning

Thanks for the comment, Michael the Mobile Guy. I appreciate your insight that businesses difficulties often mirror personal ones,change is always a challenge and we are reluctant to submit.

Re: The Self Taught MBA: Business and Strategic Planning, Part 1 - Best Laid Plans

Yes indeed, user-256540, you're correct, and stay tuned, because this is precisely the direction we will follow in the next three chapters of the business plan discussion. Please do add your comments, as it is obvious you are knowledgeable and will have valuable advice. Thank you!

Re: The Self Taught MBA: The Harvard Home Builder Story

Thanks Ktkcad! point taken and error corrected.Blogs, unlike articles, don't go through an editing process, mixed blessing. Appreciate you reading and taking the time to write a comment.

Re: The Self Taught MBA: David Gerstel on Running a Successful Construction Company

Do check out David's latest book,The Considerate House, while not about business, it is a business book in that David shares the highly personal experience of a culminating opus, the project that sums up and expresses through the medium of concrete and lumber, one builder's lifetime in business, craft and personal development. Your business is more than money, it's you and the way you live.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: Inspired Reading

Indeed, Gorilla Marketing, actually "Guerilla Marketing," by Jay Conrad Levinson has become a classic, and I have applied its methods promoting in my work. The word "guerilla" in the title is Spanish, and means "small war," referring to the tactics of guerilleros, or the efforts of the informal, small bands of fighters typical of an armed insurrection.

Re: Self-Taught MBA: You Can't Be a Successful Builder Without Management Skills

Yes indeed, figuring out how to have a business AND a life can be a formidable challenge. I should confess, that although I know the answer, I never managed to put it in practice. Namely, this requires two things: delegating and training. You have to be willing to give up some hands-on management to others, while making sure whomever you entrust is qualified and understands your business philosophy. My mistake was always hiring helpers instead of executives, a bookkeeper instead of a CFO, so even with many employees I had to get involved in running practically all the daily operations. For one, it's more difficult to hire qualified people during boom times because they come with a heavy price tag. It's easier now.

I do know several effective businesses owners personally, who live for, through, and just about consumed by their business. I will try to find a few that have a full, personal life supported by their enterprise, and ask, "How do you do it?

Re: Uptick Expected in Lead-Paint Rule Enforcement

Lead once poisoned nearly 2 million kids a year in the late 1980s, now it’s down to about 450,000, still too many. It's not fear of fines that should motivate the remodeler to comply with lead safety rules any more than you should drive sober this season simply to avoid fines and incarceration. It's the human lives on the receiving end of lead paint dust and the victims of DUI--my son having been one last year. Drive safely this holiday, don't get behind the wheal with a buzz, or worst--and make it your New Year's resolution to never scrape, cut or sand windows and trim (and sometimes walls) in any home built before 1978 without using appropriate lead testing and dust mitigation strategies, even if a candidate like Newt won and scrapped the EPA entirely, the lead-safe approach is the right approach. Sober and lead safe, always.

Re: The Self-Taught MBA

I hope you will all weigh in, especially Penny, who comes to homebuilding with an MBA in her nail pouch. Later today I have a conversation scheduled with David Gerstel, I will ask him what has changed since the latest iteration of book in 2002, and how much has stayed the same. You will get eavesdrop on this parley very soon.
FPR

Re: How to Keep Dangerous Garage Fumes Out of the House

I the PATH Concept House I built in 2007 we were working with the EPA on indoor airquality. We won the 2008 Green Demonstration Home of the year with NHAB. We installed two fans in the attached garage, they exhausted the garage to the outdoors for about 20 minutes each time the garage doors opened.

Fernando Pages Ruiz

Re: A Net-Zero-Energy Home for $180,000

Let me think... something original, but truly reflective. I got it: WoW!

Love to see a special edition on nothing but this higher level of inspirational project. Beats the usual Niemen Marcus type ooooo... and ahhhhh.., definitely prefer the more uncontrollable, WoW! As in what? Or watt?

It's really nice to see your photo and read your words. I am glad you did not disappear. You're the best editor in cheese I even knew. And Brian has remained appropriately humble in stepping into your shoes, although I can already tell he's slowly making the job is own and the magazine will be better for letting the younger men take the helm, and even the oars.

Tough years here on the reader side of the table, really tough.

Would love to hear about your life AFH.

Fernando Pagés
402 610-0589