Put the Ben’s Before the Benjamin’s

Brian being Brian inspired Ben to be a Ben!

Brian being Brian inspired Ben to be a Ben!

All it took was one conversation with Ben, a 24 year old kid, for me to know Pondemonium was a success. Last week was the biggest week of the year for me and Aquascape. Pondemonium is the signature training, entertaining, and networking event of the year in the entire water feature industry. We work really hard to plan a cornucopia of events for the almost 500 passionate Pond Guys and Gals who come from literally across the globe to Chicago each August. Their success is our success which brings me back to my conversation with Ben.

Ben was a first timer at Pondemonium, a foreman for a Certified Aquascape Contractor who had been employed for just under a year building water features. What he said to me Saturday night gave me goose bumps and made my Pondemonium. Ben told me “Brian Helfrich changed my life this week.” He went on to explain that watching how Brian Helfrich, Aquascape’ s fun-loving, water feature guru extraordinaire, worked with stones, changed his entire perspective on building water features! Ben said that before his hands-on Pondless Waterfall Class at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago that Brian led, he dreaded the hard labor associated with building a water feature and moving heavy rocks. But seeing the passion and love of a true artist getting into his work was an ah-hah moment for Ben. Ben wanted what Brian had, which was the indescribable pleasure that comes from doing what you truly love in life.

What Ben said, and just as importantly the way he said it, was music to my ears! Your attitude determines your altitude. Ben came to Pondemonium a kid with a job that involved hauling rocks, what he left with was a man with a career working with stones. Amen!

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the 23 years of running Aquascape it’s this: If you want the Benjamin’s, focus on the Bens. Ben’s going to be a changed man for his boss that invested in him. His new found attitude will create new found altitudes for both him and his employer. Too often it’s easy to forget that it’s the people who make the projects and not vice versa. Brian was a Ben for me many years ago now. My investment in him has paid off for me and now it’s paying off for others. Most investments in people fail because most people aren’t a Brian or a Ben. But to stop investing in others is to stop investing in yourself. Aquascape is Aquascape because of its people. So is, or isn’t, your company. If you don’t have a Brian or a Ben, you probably don’t have the Benjamin’s either! I learned a long time ago as well, you can only make so much money with your own two hands.

In the end though it’s not all about the Benjamin’s or even the projects the Bens and Brians create. You can’t measure success by dollars and projects alone. But the investment you make in people, is one measure of success that when it pays off, is immeasurable. I have a Brian, and now someone else has a Ben, that will prove that. And that makes Pondemonium 2013 a success in my book.

Carpe Diem,

The Pond Guy