Give a Damn

When you have five kids, kid #5 is parented drastically different than kid #1.

Case in point.

Two Spring Breaks ago, we’re on vacation in Florida, enjoying a beautiful day on the water. We rent a boat, cruise around the backwaters, do some fishing and swimming, watch a few dolphins jump and then braved the open sea.

Meaning we took the boat out of the inlet into the for real ocean. Only about 100 yards.

Real seafarers would laugh at our expedition.

But in the transition from the calm channel waters to the vast ocean, the waters got choppy.

In her fear of the waves, kid #5, who was not quite six-years-old at the time, rushed to my lap to be secure.

Clearly not feeling fully safe in my presence, she started proclaiming her disdain of the waves by screaming, “Dammit…dammit…dammit…dammit…”

Had kid #1, at six-years-old, launched a profanity-laced tirade?

Well, actually it never would have happened. We had a much tighter grip on her development and certainly would have been appalled at such a word choice (please read this with the intended sarcasm).

But kid #5?

Roaring laughter and a story we’ll tell forever dammit.

Nearly every time I hear the word damn, I think of that story.

And as I thought back about my day today, I recalled a meeting I had with 3 brothers. They own a company together and do meaningful, service-based work for our city.

We met over lunch, a chicken Z-man from Joe’s KC, some fries and of course, ribs.

I had the intention of “eating clean” today, but that had no chance against those options. I chose the afternoon meat coma option instead.

These guys pour their hearts and souls into this work. I asked them what makes them different and better from their competition.

Asking three humble dudes to brag about their honest work was about as hard as saying no to Joe’s KC.

But the adjectives finally started flowing.

We’re reliable. Dependable. Authentic. Honest. Helpful. Friendly. Family-owned. We do great work. Caring.

They described some ways they’ve donated to homeless shelters, then turned down the offer for the shelter to publicize the gift.

They told of a competitor who told an elderly man he had a $20,000 problem. When they got called for a second opinion, they fixed the problem in 2 minutes with their bare hands.

For free.

In short, they give a damn.

They’re not flashy. They’re not fancy. They don’t have venture capital funding. They’re not in it to squeeze every ounce of profit they can.

They just roll up their sleeves, do what they say they’re going to do, answer the phone when people call, say thanks to people, care about their employees and give a damn.

What a business model.

Maybe I’ll teach that to Henley, kid #5:

Hey kiddo, you know that word you loved when you weren’t even six, maybe you were onto something.

Do what these guys do and watch how many people come flocking.

Because lots of people don’t give much of a damn.

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