It is Saturday night, I’m sitting in a hotel room in the middle of Iowa, naked, wearing only a cockring.
I am in Iowa for work. I’m wearing the cockring because they are surprisingly comfortable.
My family is back home enjoying the 4th of July weekend with some good friends. I’m enjoying hotel room cable tv which is just a little better than taking a bottle rocket to the eye.
Iowa is a nice enough place with really great people and the worst cow shit odor you can imagine. It’s a good thing I’m not writing for a travel guide, because that would be my entry. “Great folks, lots of cow shit.”
What am I doing in Iowa? That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked.
I am an insurance claims adjuster. I know, sexy right? On rare occasions, I get called to Iowa to assist some of the small, local insurance companies if they get hit by large hail storms. It looks like this….
and it results in this…
I’ll be here for about a week, meets lots of nice people, then go home and jump back into my daily routine.
I realize this is turning into a boring post so I will get to the point.
I have one co-worker here with me. His name is Chuck. He joined our company last year and has a great work ethic. Insurance claims is a “work your ass off” profession. My pay is strictly tied to productivity; no base salary, no safety net. I work, I get paid. I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
We arrived in Iowa on Thursday. Chuck advised me that he had six inspections set for the day. I told him I had two. He looked at me a bit quizzically, but didn’t say much.
On Friday, He scheduled six more. I scheduled five. “That’s it?” he says. “That’s all your doing?”
Here’s how this works. I inspect the homeowner’s property. I prepare an estimate for their damages, and then they sign off on the payment amount. My job isn’t done until they sign the paperwork. (For the record, I do my best to make sure I pay more than enough to cover the repairs. I hate having to re-open a file.)
I’ve written before about how awesome I am at my job. Chuck knows this because all the bosses and secretaries keep telling him, “Do it like Adam does it and you’ll be fine.” So I know he was sizing me up to see how well he could compete. That’s totally cool. We’re very independent minded and competitive here.
My first appointment on Friday is at 9 am. Chuck did the same. I finished for the day at 1:30. Chuck called me around 5:00 to say he had only made it through three of his inspections and he still had all the paperwork to do when he got back to the hotel. I was napping when he returned.
“What do you mean, done? Like ‘signed off on the paperwork’ done?”
“Eh,” I shrugged. I don’t know him well enough to say, “because I’ve got a big dick,” but that’s the answer that was going through my head.
“I’m going to have to give you some of my claims. I won’t be able to get them all done in time,” he says.
We spent the evening discussing our work methods. I showed him some examples of my work and he just shook his head. “I can’t do it that fast. I don’t know how you do it.”
“Eh,” I said and shrugged.
Okay, I promise I’m not just being an arrogant jackass. There’s an actual point to this.
What separates me from my co-workers? Why is this guy, who came in quite proud of his ability, shaking his head and looking at me as if I am a magical being?
Here is the secret to my success. Feel free to integrate it into your own life as needed.
1. Efficiency trumps speed and strength.
Back in college, I worked third shift at Wal-Mart. We were unloading a trailer that had several loads of 50 lb weight sets. I jumped right in and started carrying them out one at a time. One of the older guys strolled in, taking his time. As I was walking back to the trailer to grab my third box, he stopped me.
“You know the difference between you and me, Adam? You’re strong enough to carry them out one at a time. I’m smart enough to carry them out five at a time.” And then he wheeled the dolly on out the door.
I never forgot that lesson. Thanks, Herb.
2. Efficiency creates strength and speed.
The best advice I’ve received in this business came from my first boss.
“Never pick up a file more than once if you can help it.”
Coming back to a project over and over again generates redundancy and wastes time in set up and transitions.
I set my appointments two hours apart and by the time I leave their homes, everything is complete. My customers feel like I’ve given them four star treatment because of the amount of time I spend with them, and I have an answer for them on the spot.
No one else in my company does it this way.
Chuck called me yesterday. As he was leaving a property, telling the homeowner that he would get back to him in a couple of days, the owner’s friend stopped by. He told Chuck’s customer that his adjuster (me) had already been out, left him an estimate and was turning it in for payment.
Chuck cussed me a little for that. “Eh,” I said, and shrugged.
3. There is no substitute for working your ass off.
At the end of the day, these things only matters because I push myself. I’ve learned to be proficient with my computer skills, knowledgeable in my field, and willing to work as much as needed to get the job done. But what sets it all apart is learning to be outrageously efficient with my work flow, to the point that it looks like I’m not even trying.
My plan is to let my co-workers go on thinking that. They assume that, because I make it look easy, it must be easy. And when they discover it isn’t, they aren’t quite sure what to make of me. I think that’s always to my advantage.
Happy Independence Day everyone!