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El Presidente

Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored 2 books - Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at bradley@redanglespanish.com or verbally at 630.234.7321.

Catalog ideas; don’t shoot them

March 06, 2013

Yesterday I attended a Construction and Safety Expo outside Chicago. General contractors, Sub-contractors and Safety Suppliers were dishing on their skills, networking and drinking by noon.  

There were also 90-minute sales pitches disguised as Safety courses. One I attended was Silent Safety.   
The idea revolved around the complexity in safety. OSHA standards, ANSI guidelines, NFPA codes, ASME interpretations…. Errrr, angry face.
In addition to the alphabet soup, language barriers exist. In Chicago, for example, several languages are commonly spoken. We have English, Spanish, Polish, and South Side.    
To solve this problem, Silent Safety presents a video with no language.
Zero words are spoken.
There’s no text either.
It’s just for watching. 
This particular edition was to inform job seekers of the expected uniform required on the job.
Boots, jeans, safety vest & glasses, hardhat, etc.
After 10 minutes of the video and the grating ‘70’s instrumental, I thought it was an interesting idea. Albeit one I wanted to quit watching immediately. I was skeptical of how many companies would find this as a solution. 
About an hour later I stopped by a landscaper’s booth. I chatted amiably with the marketing director for a bit. Then I mentioned the Landscaping Spanish Seminar Red Angle is hosting next week for English-speaking managers. 
“Would you be interested in hearing more about it?” 
A deep voice from the back of the booth came my way, “No way. Not interested. No thanks.”    
I was then introduced to the owner. 
The owner was not interested in our introduction. 
No eye contact. 
Curt handshake.
“Yeah, hi. Nice to meet ya…. Not interested. No thanks. They gotta learn English in America….”
I asked if he ever considered in investing in Landscape English training for his Spanish-speakers.
“Nope, not my problem. It’s up to them.”    
Not the first time someone has expressed this sentiment.
I said I understood, we had 30 seconds of mini-talk and I wished him luck.
As I walked away I thought about Silent Safety.
That idea certainly didn’t appeal to me.
But so what?
My Landscape Spanish Seminar idea certainly didn’t appeal to this landscaper.
Along with beauty and Angry Birds, good ideas are in the eye of the beholder.  
What constitutes a “Good Idea” varies wildly. 
Ideas develop over time. 
There are multiple iterations of ideas.
Good ones stay alive and improve.  
So don’t shoot ideas down. 
This isn’t Duck Hunt
Don’t instantly evaluate every idea as good or bad. 
This isn’t Hotornot.com
Whether ideas are represented as products in the market or as suggestions from your new hire - don’t shoot ideas down on sight.
Catalog them. 
Keep them in some mental storage compartment. 
Or a physical storage compartment, like a desk drawer. 
Acting upon ideas is what will differentiate your business.  
So keep ideas alive, silent or otherwise.
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