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Christmas Trees Don’t Send Emails

I absolutely hate email. I hate using the word hate but it is the only word I can find that describes the true nature of how I feel about engaging with people over email. I recall vividly the day my girlfriend (she ultimately became my wife, mother of my daughters, and ex-wife) insisted I get an email account. She assured me email was going to be the only way to communicate in the future and I better get used to it. Well I am here to report that in over 20 years of using this byzantine communications structure, I have never been able to communicate with others effectively using email. This is not to say that I have not accomplished many things using email, I have. Email is simply not natural for me, and I decided a long time ago I was not going to put in the effort to learn this mode of communication. I am an excellent communicator and did not want this new “technology” to ruin what is one of my most important leadership skills… communication using language and words to engage with others. Languages have always been easy for me and something I enjoy learning about. When I started my career on the floor of The Chicago Board of Trade, the language of open outcry was easy for me to pick up. When I was learning to fly airplanes, I discovered the language pilots use to communicate with each other and air traffic controllers. When we are actually talking with another person, the chance for misunderstanding and mistakes is much less. We are able to pick up on the nuanced nature of human interaction and dialogue. It is my opinion that all this nuance is lost when we regress to communicating via email or even worse, text. When it became clear to me that a real estate career was not in the cards for me… more on that later, I made the decision, whatever I discovered next, was not going to require significant email engagement.

Christmas trees don’t send emails and 90% of my customers don’t send me emails either. I do have a couple people that pre order trees online but that has been manageable so far. I am blessed to interact with a family during what very well will be the best 30 minutes of that families’ year. Picking out a family Christmas tree is a time when people seem to forget all the problems they deal with on a ​day in day out basis​. Sure there might be the occasional teenager that doesn’t want to participate, but even they express a joy I have found only exists on my Christmas tree lot. Because I don’t have to worry about replying to hundreds of emails in order to sell my product, I am able to be fully present and content in the moment with a family. They feel this positivity as well. It feels unnatural and disconnected to constantly be communicating over email with other humans. I don’t think we were meant for this and it has had a divisive effect on our society. When my customers are buying their tree and think they might need my help down the road, I make sure they have my phone number and they can call me any time. They appreciate this and it is one of the reasons I have so many repeat customers. It makes me smile when I see a family I know walking onto the tree lot.

This year, we need your help. In order to keep our employees (my wife runs a recruiting business) onboard through the pandemic, we dipped into our savings and net worth in order to pay our people. This is simply the way we operate. This money would have been used to buy my tree inventory in a normal year. As a result, I have come up with a fun and creative “hustle” idea for Christmas, to raise the money needed for this year’s inventory. On my website, didoperspective.org I am selling Coronavirus Christmas tree ornaments. They are $19.99 plus shipping. We also have kits for people to make their own ornaments at home. They are colorful and fun, something we could all use more of right now. We are also going to be employing the residents of Lincoln Park Community Services to put the ornaments together, they will be paid $15 hr. (If we get enough orders) We are also donating 10% of our net profits to LPSC and Gabriel’s Light Foundation (5% each). Please go check out these two organizations, they are very near and dear to my heart. Have a great day!!!

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Christmas in July? – Reason #3

One of the other reasons I really enjoy running Christmas tree lots is the opportunity to teach young people a strong work ethic.  

This will be my fourth year in operation. My friend Mike has been a part of this story from the very beginning and I could not have done it without him. Mike has two boys that I admire very much. They are growing into a fine young men. It makes me smile knowing that I had a part to play in helping these boys become men. I have three daughters so teaching young men is something special to me. Mike’s son Cam has been working at the tree lot from day one.  Over the last three years he has worked hard enough that next year he’s going to have the opportunity to run and manage one of the lots on his own.  I like to think that I have planted a seed in Cam similar to the one Bill Sorenson instilled in me when I was a young man.  Cams brother Mike also works with his dad and myself at the tree lot. The boys have complementary skill sets and are learning how to work together. What a good feeling for a dad.  The 2020 season is going to be a bit different.  The boys and I have already started talking about operations.  I’ve decided I’m going to leave it in their hands and let them show me how to run things differently.  The bottom line is nobody knows what the next six months are gonna look like. I love the idea of letting two young men with strong work ethic figure it out. The last three years have proved to me I could learn a lot from teaching a young man the day and day out perspective to life, work, or whatever struggle the world throws at them. 

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Christmas in July – Reason #2

One of the reasons I love selling Christmas trees is simply the children. When I was a little kid, my dad had no shortage of tricks up his sleeve and the Christmas season was his time to shine. For a couple years when I was 5-7 my dad started a very special tradition. One night I remember hearing bells on the other side of the house coming from outside. I raced over from the dining room table to the living room window peering out and wondering what in the world it could have been. My instinct of course was it indeed did have something to do with Christmas. Once I got to the living room window, I heard the bells once more – this time coming from near the kitchen window. I raced over again to the other side of the house trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on outside. The doorbell rang!! I went immediately to check the front door. When I got to the door, I couldn’t believe it! Santa had delivered our Christmas tree. As my dad held me in his arms, I saw a brighter than most star hanging high in the night sky which I pointed to claiming “dad that is Santa’s sleigh!!! He just dropped off our Christmas tree.” This will always be one of the most favorite memories from my childhood. Dad had Santa Claus deliver our tree for three years. Taking that experience with me into the Christmas tree lot business, I now have a really great story that makes people smile and keeps my dads memory alive. Like the Doobie Brothers song “Listen To the Music” says, “What the people need is a way to make’em smile, it ain’t so hard to do if you know how.” Dad definitely knew how to make people smile. (HAPPY EARLY FATHERS DAY DAD!)

So I dress up like an elf and make Christmas tree deliveries to families. Words simply cannot express the joy I feel when I see the smiles on the kids’ faces when an elf delivers their Christmas tree.

It really is the little things in life done with great love that make all the difference.  I hope you and your family have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS IN JULY!!