Part One: Matthew Stowe, Chief Operating Officer
For as long as I can remember I have been working with or for my Dad. Starting at the age of five in his restaurant cleaning dishes, sweeping floors and cleaning the restrooms to now being the Chief Operating Officer at OctoClean. Life lessons were learned early and hard work was a right of passage. Of course my brothers and I found time for fun too. We found ant hills to poke at with and ran through the neighboring grocery store and car dealerships raising hell. The manager of the grocery store or dealership calling my parents to complain meant it was a particularly successful day of having fun. At this age I did not understand what hard work was I just knew it was part of my day.
Growing up in a home with an entrepreneur was unpredictable and the ups and downs leant to my Dad having to work for someone else only two times in his life. The beginning of OctoClean started on a Spring day in 1989 when my Dad quit his “job” and started Chuck’s Window Cleaning. No plan, no bank full of money and no investors just a dream and some hard work. Risky decisions were not seen as life changing in our household... it was common place. Less scraps to throw the dog from the table but we would “survive." Throughout my teen years my summers and vacation were filled with my brother Greg and I alternating work schedules with Dad to “learn” the business.
In the summer of 1990 my life changed. My Dad turned to me, while driving to our first window job, and said “I am going to teach you a trade so you will never go hungry." The rest of my life was built on this statement of learning a trade to "survive." I wanted to be the best. I began to hone every skill he taught me. I learned to negotiate with housewives on the price to clean mini-blinds and window tracks while Dad cleaned the windows. The biggest breakthrough was learning to negotiate with Dad. I haggled with him to get an extra $5.00 per job knowing that at the end of the week that extra money meant another handful of baseball cards that I could trade with friends.
A lot has changed since that summer but one thing remains, "survival." Being afraid that I may not be able to lead this great company to its potential is “survival” kicking in. My family now expands beyond those that have the same last name as mine. It is my franchisees, staff and their families. How will I lead a sustainable and amazing company when survival is such a profound part of my life? How will I lead with empathy when survival is a selfish behavior? This is a blog about my journey. The journey about my fears and my survival and how it is possible to give back, lead and be fulfilled.
You can also find me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. My email is email@example.com and I would love to hear from you if you have any questions.
*Photo courtesy of Melanie Savolainen