My Top Three Skills

My Top Three Skills

My top three skills are creativity, problem solving and hard work. These traits have helped me succeed in a number of projects, such as building a house for my two dogs, fixing the A/C in my car and integrating data for groundwater model. Here are a few stories that highlight these three key skills in my career thus far.

Creativity

When I was planning the launch of my pipe tobacco subscription service, the Tin Society, I intended to run Facebook and Google ads to build my pre-launch email list. This, I thought, would cost a bit of money, but it would be fairly easy to execute. I soon realized, that getting the word out about my upcoming launch and building an email list crucial for its success would be a much harder challenge. Much to my surprise, every social media platform as well as Google has restrictions prohibiting the advertisement of tobacco products due to federal regulations.

This was quite a blow to my confidence, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to move forward. After a day or two of brainstorming, I had another plan that would help me gather emails for my launch, and build a sizable social media audience. I was already a member of a handful of active pipe smoking Facebook groups, so I started by making announcements there about our plans for the business. Interest began to build slowly as people asked questions and offered encouraging comments. This strategy not only achieved the goal I was hoping for, but it also provided me with helpful feedback from my target audience.

My next strategy was more time consuming, but proved to be much more effective. It was essentially a cold lead outreach campaign via Instagram. I started by populating my profile with pictures that would give people an idea of what they would be getting with a monthly subscription, and I included a link to my landing page in the bio. The outreach consisted of finding popular profiles within the pipe smoking community and simply following their followers. Once people found their way to my landing page, they were given a short description of what we were offering, and an incentive to provide me with their email address. My incentive was a chance to be one of five people chosen for a free, lifetime subscription. Over the course of a month, I was able to amass an email list of 600 and a social media following of nearly 2,000.

Problem Solving

I’ve always been a curious person, and I take every opportunity I can to consume new information. This has developed in me a certain mindset, that when I’m faced with problems I’m unfamiliar with, I know for certain that the information required to solve that problem is only a book, a google search or a podcast episode away. In this internet age, I know I can find and consume relevant information with the just the click of a mouse.

The first iteration of the Tin Society website was created by my wife. She already had some knowledge of web development, so I delegated that task to her. She designed and built an excellent website, that helped us to grow our subscribership each and every month. Over the course of the past year, however, I learned through customer and influencer feedback that I needed to reassess my product offering. That’s exactly what I did, and I decided that I needed to refresh my website at the same time.

My wife was busy with other work this time, so it was up to me redesign my website. I had no previous experience with this, but I knew the information I needed was out there. With the help of some video tutorials I set up a local server on my computer, so I could build the new site without disrupting my current online traffic. Reading various blogs, and asking a lot of question in a few Facebook groups helped me to get a feel for the page builder that I would use to design and build out each new page. When I hit a snag with a particular design element, I would head to Facebook or Google and find an answer.

I released my new site along with my new Society Box at the beginning of December 2017 just in time for Christmas. That month I had the largest amount of traffic to date and my subscriber-ship grew by 90%. I now have a website that looks good, is easy to navigate, and is flexible to change as I continue to grow my business.

Hard Work

In addition to owning/running my own business, I also have a day job as an environmental engineer for the state of Alabama. My role as an engineer is to analyze remediation work plans and reports to ensure that they comply with either state or federal regulations. One of the facilities that I manage is Maxwell Air Force Base.

Maxwell has many sites with various hazardous contaminants found in both soil and groundwater. The contractors hired by the Air Force to clean up these sites were given a small time frame to get these sites cleaned up. In meeting with representatives from both the Air Force and their contractors, I was told that they would be sending me an unusually large number of documents that would need to be turned around quickly in order for them to meet the deadlines built into their contract. As a state regulator, I’m certainly not obligated to cater to the needs of contractors, but I naturally wanted to help them out and complete my work as quickly as possible while ensuring that our regulations were being met.

Over the course of about a year and a half, I reviewed hundreds of pages of technical reports to ensure compliance with our environmental regulations. Near the end of the contract period, I was having a meeting with the main representative of Maxwell along with my immediate supervisor as well as our branch chief. The Air Force representative made a point to note that he was very pleased with the progress that had been made, and that over the many decades of his working with state regulators, I was the easiest to work with and quickest to get projects to completion. I’m proud of the fact that I was commended by a colleague for the speed and the care that I took to ensure that these projects were moving forward to completion. Most regulatory agencies are known for being slow, reluctant to communicate clearly and overly meticulous in their document reviews. When I work on any project, I want to make sure that I’m doing my best and that I’m accommodating the needs of the other stakeholders involved in the project.

Thanks for taking the time to read through these stories. If you have any questions, or would like to talk more about these stories, please feel free to contact me here.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn