Book extract: Reflections of a Modern Man by TDA Managing Director Andrew Holder

Andrew Holder is Managing Director of TDA Interiors, a fast-growing retail and office interiors design and refurbishing firm. Andrew's recent book, 'Reflections of a Modern Man', considers work/life balance from the perspective of a busy family man, and in this extract shows how you can delight customers without spending a fortune.

 

Andrew Holder is a serial entrepreneur whose company, TDA Interiors, is growing fast in its chosen niche of office and retail interiors. 

Holder has also penned a book, Reflections of a Modern Man', from which we present Chapter 38 - 'The Best things in life are free'.

Home Life

This year we have decided to go camping for the Easter weekend. If you have ever tried camping with four young children, one of them being a six month old baby, you would know it can be quite an intense experience. We start the weekend full of eager anticipation, brimming with enthusiasm. As day one unfolds, it becomes clear to us that the equipment and logistics required to house and nurture four little cherubs under canvas resembles the sort of paraphernalia required for a wartime battalion on a lengthy military operation in the Burmese jungle.

Andrew Holder

We hadn’t factored in losing at least three days of the four day sojourn: one day to drive there and set up, one day to recover and remember where we put everything and one day to pack it all up and drive home. In between mishaps, bruising and misplacing of necessary assembly equipment there is the cooking and the cleaning and the war against the bugs. The evenings are spent trying to discharge or suppress the nervous excitement that has built up in the kids during the day. Then trying to allay their impending hysteria at the fast approaching pitch black and the strange and terrifying soundtrack that is the Australian bush at night. Some of the wild cacophony even has Sue and I huddled a little closer.

(Note to self: Must go camping with Sue more often, perhaps in the Burmese Jungle!)

Everyone gets to sleep in their uncomfortable make-shift beds eventually and 15 restless minutes later the sun comes up and it starts all over again. Everyone wakes up grumpy and hungry. All the kids want something different for breakfast and with the unfamiliar and limited resources, all the meals take twice as long to prepare. Then a short stroll to the camp ablution block to stand in the long queue for a refreshing ice cold shower with a bunch of disgruntled strangers. Why we don’t do this every weekend I’ll never know!

By the time everyone arrives back at the tent, revitalised or in thermal shock, it’s time for lunch and the dishes are still dirty from breakfast. During the afternoon I manage to squeeze in two whole minutes of relaxation while visiting the ablution block by myself. The early evening routine arrives and there are more dishes to be washed and dried and used again. The rule of thumb is that if you want to go camping for four days, you will only ever manage three, if you want to go for three days you will only ever manage two, and so on. The food, equipment, you energy and your patience all run out at least one day before your estimated departure date.

Having whinged and griped about all of the above, I still believe it’s worth the adventure. Especially for the kids, they just love it. It’s cheap, it gets us all out of our comfort zones and I get to play Tarzan to Sue’s Jane. It’s a rare moment to share a novel family experience. But given a choice between a five-star hotel costing 500 bucks a night or a ten by ten metre piece of turf that costs around 30 bucks a night, let it be known, without a shadow of doubt, the Holder family adventurously, boldly, enthusiastically and unanimously chooses the hotel.

Work Life

When you employ people and they have been with you for a good few years, you take it for granted that an incremental pay rise every year will be enough to keep them faithful and motivated. This is a dangerous assumption. Sure, their salary is important to them, it is their financial survival. But beyond this there is often a hidden world of ambition to move forward with their lives. These nuggets of ambition are often hidden because the individual hasn’t yet identified them. It’s often about self-worth or untapped potential or a secret dream.

April is always the time for us to reflect on this as we are usually setting up the budgets for the new financial year. With the boring high level financial planning also comes the subject of growth and development of the business which in turn, leads to a discussion about professional growth and development of the individuals with the team.

Reflections of a Modern Man

This is the time to find those nuggets of ambition in your people, draw them out as if you are panning for gold, then weave them into your business for the coming year. Often people just want to be seen for who they really are and to do what they love. I have found that it’s very rarely all about the money.

The best things in life are indeed free - that’s assuming you haven’t employed greedy, selfish bastards who have a dollar sign hanging where their heart and self-worth should be.

Lessons:

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make people happy. Don’t rush in with cash. Firstly work out what makes them tick and often you will find that the solution is free of charge. They work happier and more efficiently. When more money comes in ... they get the rewards anyway.

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