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What I Learned by Watching Bob Villa?

I grew up watching Bob Villa, This Old House, and occasionally see him doing an interview. It was so amazing watching these renovations start and finish over 3 or 4 episodes some longer, if you are not a fan, he would take some of the most pathetic looking homes you have ever seen, and when they were done, they would be restored to their original glory.

Due to my inquisitive nature the question that came to mind is “Why did he do it, why take the time? Obviously, he made a lot of money but I would hope to think Bob is deeper than that, so since I do not know Bob personally, I would have to guess or would hope he would say something like this, “These homes were “Built To Last” and bringing them back to what they looked like back then honors the original Master Craftsman that sunk their blood sweat and tears into them, honors the designers, and architects that poured their heart and soul into what they built originally.”

I extrapolate with great liberty to then say, as weird as it sounds, Bob Villa, unintentionally, has become part of these homes, Master Craftsman, architects, and designers succession plan. He still shares in that original vision of building things to last and has the know how, budget, and team to execute it even though he was not apart of the original vision in the first place. Pretty amazing skill set and probably also why his show ran so long.

So what does any of this have to do with business?

Obviously, the first no brainier correlation here is, “Don’t build your business so that it needs restored in 50 years.” Which poses the follow up, “How do your prevent it from happening.” Which I think leads to the ultimate question below:

Will your business really last 50 years from now or not?

  • If yes, why?
  • If no, why not?

I know on the surface this does not seem to be all that difficult of a question to ask yourself, and the skeptic in me would say nobody truly knows what is going to happen over the next 50 years, unless you are best friends with Dionne Warwick. Joking aside, I do think the question really tells more than you may think not only about your company but about your idea in how you want to run it “psychologically speaking,” over the time you around to run it, how you are ever going to sell it, pass it on to your kids, whatever your answer or goals ends up being.

I will argue the real value of your business at the end of the 50 year goes beyond some executable financial strategy between your attorney, CPA, planner, business broker, or banker. The real value is created now, in the real details, what I will call from this point on the “Bob Villa details.”

Be a master craftsman. When people look at what you do, they should just say Wow! That is beautiful, smart, amazing, unique, efficient, whatever it is you do, that they can tell you take pride in what you do and you do it because you care more about helping them than you care about yourself. That you are driven with a higher purpose that goes beyond making a living but a true calling of sorts. Doing whatever you do to honor God, your family, your history, goes beyond the bank account and will drive value forever.

Be an amazing architect. Focus on the integrity of the foundation, build an amazing team of people that also believe in your vision and care about the details getting done and delivering on what you promised. Make sure you and your team are technically competent and can add value by listening to your client and delivering on a set of variables that makes them see that you get them and you knew exactly how to fix their needs. Architects build trust by delivering blue prints that are executable and well thought out for all kinds of contingencies.

Be a designer. Bob does not use the old technology, electric wiring, support structures, from back in the day. He has a knack of being able to restore a house without changing the restoration integrity. He adds value and makes something that was already amazing more amazing by integrating new technology in a way that unites the old and the new. Organizations are made up of people of all ages, color, gender, different experience levels, different ideas, different culture, are composed of old and new technologies, the designer puts it all together so it does not look tacky or weird but makes sense. Makes it a great place to be and sitting down and experiencing it makes you feel good not just about yourself personally but that you are in something bigger than you.

Be happy about what you do. In all the years I have watched Bob Villa I really do not think I have ever seen him unhappy. He always seems so excited to be where he is at the moment. Enjoying the project in all it steps unfold. He never seems impatient, or frustrated, he seems grateful that he gets to do what he loves doing and gets to spend time with people who care about the project as deeply as he does. There is something to be said in not being complacent but being content in knowing that where you are in whatever you are doing it is for a reason. Make the very most out of it, be there for someone else, be a mentor, a steward, a friend, be someone who people will look back on and say that guy or gal gave me my first shot in business. They took a chance on me and I am forever grateful.

I am hopeful if Bob were to ever read this that he would know that he taught me more than how to replace my hardwood floors and how to hang my cabinets. Thank you Bob Villa.

Disclosure: I do not know Bob Villa, and the house above is not a house he restored even though it looks like it. Instead, this is an old historical house I took a picture of off the “Blue Ridge Park Way” outside of Boone with my wife. The article is truly from my own perspective and does not represent the views of anyone else.