Ed Winter was the owner and president of Masiello Employment Services for over 20 years. He passed away unexpectedly in February of 2009.  Ed grew the business to three offices in three separate states during his time here. He was regarded as a wonderfully generous and giving person… giving of his time, of his energy and of his abilities. I learned many important lessons from Ed about family, about using resources wisely and about running a business. In 2009 I felt there was really no better way to introduce Masiello Employment’s new blog, “Results At Work”, than to talk about Ed and his lasting influence on the business. Here we are a short three years later and this list feels even more true and valuable than when I wrote it.  So here is the list…

Waiting to make a decision can be strength – this fast paced world is short on patience and short on time. We want instant gratification and we sometimes lose track of our priorities. Sometimes it’s okay to move quickly and make fast decisions; sometimes it is not even an option. But more often than not, a significant business decision should be well thought out; the pros and cons contemplated; the people it affects considered. Ed taught me to slow down, to take the big picture into consideration before acting. This lesson has saved me countless times, and has saved us even more money.

Listening is more important than speaking – The importance of learning how to be a good listener can’t be overstated. A good place to start is by considering the difference between hearing and listening. Ed was a great listener and everyone who interacted with him noticed. Listening can endear your employees and it is integral when interviewing. By listening to a business partner, a friend or a family member, you will show your concern for them. You will set a good example for those who look to you for help.

Your employees are what make your business successful – you have heard people say it, you have read it in business books, but Ed lived it. It wasn’t lip service when Ed said it. I heard Ed say many, many times that his employees were his extended family. He brought them gifts back from trips, he invited them to family functions, he included them in many of his decisions. Ed knew that one of the secrets to success in business was in finding people that were better at performing certain tasks than he was. Learn to trust your employees and their abilities and they will reward you with their respect and hard work

Fair pay includes friends and family – Hiring friends and family can be a dangerous prospect. Expectations can be skewed, liberties can be taken, and non-family members of the business can become jealous. A new study called “Protecting the Family Fortune,” conducted for U.S. Trust, by Prince & Associates Trust and Campden Research, proves the point. It finds that only 15% of family businesses last beyond the second generation. “A family business combines the most rational human institution — a business — with the most irrational human institution — families,” states a Wall Street Journal article.

Music makes things seem less serious – Ed loved music and people loved Ed. There is just something important about enjoying good music. Some people say it makes you smarter, others say plants do well with music. I am not sure about either of those, but I do know nothing can motivate and inspire like the right music at the right time.

There is enough time in the day to do all the important things – I went on vacation recently and I actually managed to relax. In the past few years I had started to suspect I was not capable of such a feat. I considered going to vacation counseling (calm down, I made it up). While on vacation I realized that my attitude was different about time. I was not as focused on what I had to do next, so the days seem longer and more enjoyable. I decided right there and then that when I got back from vacation I was going to try and pretend I could still relax. It worked. But it also made me think of something I had been wondering since Ed passed away. In the months that have gone by I have talked to many people that had a story to share about Ed and something he had done or said that helped them. How did he have the time to for all of these people? He found the time, which means there is enough, after all he had 24 hours in his days too.

Pancakes are not just for breakfast – My wife Becky (Ed’s daughter) had an overnight stay at a hospital in Boston a few years ago. Ed and his wife Sandy came out to visit us in the hospital. At about 11pm at night we all decided we were going to get food delivered from a local restaurant. Ed ordered pancakes. I will always remember that because I saw in Ed a boyish joy when he saw he could order pancakes, delivered, at close to midnight. Ed loved pancakes and he didn’t apologize for it. Find your comforts where you can get them.

Helping other businesses owners does not need to be self serving – If you listen to Google, this is old news. Google helps everyone that uses its search product for free, and it is one of the fastest growing and most successful businesses of all time. Give your friends, your customers what they want, what they need, for free and they will thank you by paying you for the other things you offer. Ed gave his time and his knowledge and he was supported and respected for it.

A good sense of humor helps foster good relationships with your employees – Ed’s sense of humor bordered on absurd, but his delivery could pull a laugh out of an armed guard. Keep it light, keep it fun and you will feel like smiling more often.

One can never have too many pens – highlighters, pens, pencils, if we all lost our computers and had to go back to basics, Ed would have been well prepared. In fact, he probably could have opened a side business just selling the office supplies he had purchased over the years. I don’t think he ever found the perfect pen, but I don’t know if that would have ended the quest. Ed always carried a pen, which is smart. He also often wrote business communications by hand. There is something noble and personal about receiving a handwritten message from a business partner, customer or vendor. Email is fast and easy, and your recipients know that.

Thank you Ed.