Quality eLine Newsletter
November 2004
Vol. 6, No. 11

Six Sigma and More: 
David Schwinn reflects on jobs and passion.

by David R. Schwinn

Last month’s article on the export of U.S. jobs must have hit a nerve. After reading the many responses, my conclusion is that this topic deserves a deeper conversation. As I continue to seek more learning about this issue, I hope you will continue to provide me with your own deeper understanding.

In the meantime, I will propose a solution that may be better than relying on legislation. I’m proposing entrepreneurship. Seventy-eight per cent of net new jobs in this country have been created by small business and 62 per cent have been created by small business with fewer than 20 employees over the last 10 years. Let me describe three such businesses I visited in the last month.

The first one is a fast-growing, highly successful health insurance firm in the area of Lansing, Michigan. As my class listened to the CEO’s story of his career and the growth of the company, I heard a theme over and over again. “I promised to take care of them,” said this company’s leader with an unmistaken earnestness and passion in his presence. When asked to recount his early unremarkable assignments as an athletic coach, he noticed that, in those cases, the school administration didn’t seem to care. He left those assignments for others where he could, indeed, “take care of the kids,” and have successful seasons. When we asked a few of his employees about him, they said, “He cares and he sets a personal standard for hard work and excellence that hardly anyone else can help us with.” If you are passionate about taking care of the people, especially your customers and employees, I guess you’ll create jobs.

My second recent visit was to a tailor shop. Although not in the U.S., the theme is similar. My wife Carole and I were recently in Bangkok for an international leadership conference. When we asked the attendees about getting a suit made, they said I must go see Bobby. Upon arriving at the shop that Bobby ran along with his father, I noticed customer photos of both of our presidential candidates, as well as many other well-known U.S. political and military personnel. We were immediately asked how we could be helped. We were also offered a pleasant variety of food and drink. The process of fitting was the fastest and most complete I have encountered anywhere. The whole time, Bobby maintained a fun, intelligent banter that enhanced my delight with the process. When, at the last minute, I told Bobby that we had to leave for home 12 hours earlier than we had planned, Bobby said that it would be his pleasure to have all of our clothes delivered to our hotel before we left. I later found out that he and his father pay their employees a premium because of the high quality work they expect. More passion, more success, and more jobs.

My most recent visit was to an equestrian center just outside of Lansing. We first met all the horses, one by one. The delightful woman who owns and runs this center “just loves horses.” That’s the whole deal. She does whatever it takes to take good care of the horses, both individually and collectively. In this case, the owner’s passion for the horses matches the passion the horse owners and riders have. Her center is full-to-overflowing at a time when similar centers in the area are going out of business.

Passion. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell says, “Find your bliss.” Others talk about callings. In high school, counselors talked about ”interests and aptitudes.” I like “passion.” Find out what you care about…REALLY care about. Maybe you just love taking care of customers and/or employees. Maybe you love horses. Maybe you care about making our homeland more secure. Maybe you want to design and produce products that don’t have to go to the landfill after we’re finished with them. Maybe you care about our inadequate health care system. Maybe you just want to sing.

Whatever your passion, I’ll bet that you—and other people you know--can follow it toward creating new jobs, yours included, to make up for all those jobs that are going overseas. Start by visiting your local Small Business Development Center. Each center is part of a national network designed to help people start and grow small businesses. The centers provide FREE consulting. To sample what the centers have to offer, go to the Michigan network’s website at www.misbtdc.org. To find the center close to you, search the Internet for the website for the Association of Small Business Development Centers.

This is a way we can all stem the tide of jobs going overseas. As always, I welcome and appreciate your input. I’m at support@pqsystems.com


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