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I wasn’t always Dennis The Apprentice and the co-owner of two plumbing companies. But trade journals were a key to my transformation and success. When I first got into the trades, it wasn’t plumbing, and it wasn’t intentional. I was quite entrepreneurial, so I took on a lot of sales jobs. I tried to sell life and health insurance. I sold roses door to door. I ran a rental car agency. I tried to sell cars and even spent six months telemarketing. And I helped my brother get his accounting firm off the ground.
I was looking for my next door to open. My roommate's dad kept wanting me to come work with him; they had an apprenticeship opening. I really admired his dad but the thing was he worked at a funeral home. I was not interested in working at a funeral home. But he was persistent and over the course of time convinced me to give it a go. How many of us get dragged into our trade?
Once I began, I decided, like I most often do, that I might as well jump in with both feet. To be honest, I felt pretty behind in the “life” department.
I began to notice these magazines laying around. I would see them on a table here and there, and some of the funeral directors would peruse them on a break. But they would end up mostly unread.
Then a couple of past life experiences and lessons came together. In high school, one of our class requirements was to read U.S. News and World Report. It was a weekly news magazine that covered most every facet of national and world affairs. We had a test every week based on the previous week's magazine and the questions could come from anywhere in the magazine.
I was really into world affairs at the time so I read it cover to cover every week. The test was an easy “A” for me, but more importantly I found that I could enter into most any conversation I found myself in and even contribute a thought or two. Often, I actually knew more than most, as most people launch into discussions with just a cursory understanding of the topic.
Before starting at the funeral home, I had already learned the importance of reading and staying informed. When I worked as a bank courier, one of my managers told me that she had been taught the practice of reading the front page of the newspaper, as well as the sports page and weather page. She did this every morning with the intention of being able to enter into conversation with clients no matter what they were involved with. Informed small talk can be very productive.
I combined these two lessons and subscribed to my industry's trade journals. Some cost a very small amount and some were free. Compared to college textbooks, they are a steal. My go-to magazines at the time were American Funeral Director; The Director; Mortuary Management and Dodge Magazine (the embalming fluid, not the truck) As a result I soon had my schooling paid for, a car to drive, free housing and a promising career with offers for management.
When I got the opportunity to work in my father-in-law’s plumbing company (a story for another time) I simply connected with more trade magazines for the PHCP industry. And it wasn’t long before I was well informed and able to contribute in a meaningful way.
Every trade has its trade journals. Today they are accompanied by blogs, YouTube channels and corresponding social media accounts.
Be sure to subscribe and routinely spend some time flipping through the issues. I know life isn’t all about work, but we spend at least a third of our time at work. We might as well regularly invest some of our time each day getting and staying informed. It will pay off much sooner than you think. When you know more about a given topic than the veterans at your company, management will notice and shove you to the front of the line with all the opportunity you can handle.
How about a test just like back in my high school days? Let’s see how you do:
Key Points Test
According to the article how do many of us find the
a. On purpose
b. We get dragged in by a caring adult
c. We always wanted to be in our trade
d. Our high school counselor
According to the article how often should one read a
c. Just before a promotion
Only construction trades have trade journals.
Reading trade journals cover to cover will
a. Get and keep you well informed
b. Enable you to enter into trade conversations
c. Help you feel confident in your trade
d. Accelerate your career by helping you get noticed as
one that is taking the
e. All of the above
Trade journals come in all forms now: physical magazines, electronic magazines, YouTube Channels and Social Media Groups.
a. True b. False