5: Interview with Paul Clark (Timber Ridge Custom Homes)

February 26, 2020
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Don’t miss this stuff:

  • Men having feelings. Ete talks to Paul about his ability to make people feel important and cared for. Besides the fact that it’s nice to hear a couple of guys willing to get a little vulnerable, there’s also an important business application here, which they discuss. Paul likes people and cares about relationships. That genuine regard for other people slides naturally into his business relationships, and informs the way he runs his company.
  • The positive vibes. Paul says that he believes that “Positive energy breeds positive energy.” It’s a really great idea and a nice phrase, but the way Paul talks during this interviews makes you believe it’s more than that for him. He describes his life so far–his upbringing, his family, his team, his clients, people in general, difficult situations that have come up–with what sounds like genuine love and gratitude. Not to get too sappy, but that’s a special thing, and it’s something we really enjoyed about this episode.
  • The idea of removing fences. We loved Paul’s take on the builder/homeowner relationship. He says he learned early on that “construction and confrontation tend to go hand in hand.” So he worked really hard to change that in his own business. Paul describes the typical construction situation: the owner on one side of the fence with the builder on the other side. When one side wins, the other side loses. That tug of war is at the root of the confrontation mindset. Paul's company seeks to develop a team relationship with “no fence between” themselves and their clients. Their goal from the outset is to find out what the homeowner wants to do and then help them accomplish that within their agreed budget. Coming from it at this angle shows that they want to be a team. The clarity and shared goal helps to prevent the tug of war. We were really impressed by this approach.
  • From 25 employees to one guy with a toolbelt: hello 2008. Paul tells the story of how Timber Ridge weathered the Great Recession. They almost didn’t. In the very moment he decided to call it quits, an unexpected call came. Paul looks back on this time with, what else, gratitude.
  • A builder at heart. This is how Paul describes himself and it’s the reason he is still legitimately excited about his work. He speaks of homebuilding in a really unique way: as an act of artistic creation. While most people think of building a house in terms of it’s practical, science-y aspects–as an exercise in engineering–Paul focuses on the dynamic nature of the process, of composing a home through a million aesthetic choices. Very cool.
  • The best window washer in the sixth grade. Paul illustrates the essentiality of learning to work hard with some truly entertaining stories from his youth. As one of 9 kids, Paul recalls a few times when he had to run a full-service gas station by himself as a sixth grader. Throughout his childhood he also fixed cars, logged, built wood burning stoves, and did construction with his family to help pay the bills. Today this sounds absolutely crazy, but he appreciates what he learned: how to “work hard and not just drudge through it but feel the gratification of a hard day’s work.” It’s a great lesson, and you’ll want to share these stories with your kids, if for no other reason than to get them to stop complaining about having to pick up their dirty socks.
  • Paul describing how he learned to “slalom ski behind a station wagon on a canal in Idaho.” Got a slalom ski for your birthday? Don’t have a boat? Well there you go. Work hard. Play hard.

The most amazing quote I've ever heard. You can't get better than this. Keep going with it.

- Enzo Whipple

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