As Dwight Eisenhower said -plans are worthless, but planning is essential.
So not to be too jocund, well maybe just a little humorous, we may now refer to the “Seven P’s”: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
I was first introduced to this paradigm for success by Petty Officer First Class John O’Toole.
When I met John, I was trying to escape duty a deck ape should be doing, not someone with my delicate hands. I learned fast that avoiding work with John was a novice sort of thing. He knew all the tricks and evasions. Soon though, John found more valuable work for me and my skills: bootlegging.
John did not produce the hooch. Where the hooch derived from is a mystery to this very day. But John was the man in charge of making sure each bottle made its way to Officers Country and the Chief’s wardroom. Of course, mere peons, such as John and I, were not included in the larger scheme of things. But with proper prior planning, he and I managed to divert small quantities for our consumption.
The bottles had no tax stamp and never got resealed. Instead, they were carefully recycled and cleaned between uses. The “Source” filled the bottles and passed them on for distribution. John brought them to me in the sickbay for careful measurement with the available lab equipment. We had found out that the “Source” was imprecise in filling. We merely averaged out the system, adding occasionally but most often removing small amounts. When we finished, each bottle was amazingly uniform, and we had enough Scotch, Rum, Rye, or Bourbon for personal use.
John and I felt that we were doing an excellent service to the ship. While we were in charge, quarrels about unevenly filled bottled ceased – peace reigned among the drinkers.
All good things end. I got reassigned, and my successor was a teetotaler not interested in participating. I did not run into O’Toole again until after I was out of the Navy. He was still a PO1 and never even tried to make Chief. He claimed it would cramp his style. His ship was at the Navy yard for overhaul, and he asked me if I’d like to pick up some fast cash every week. All I had to do was pick up and drop off uniforms on their way to be cleaned and repaired – ripped seams, insignia replaced, and the like.`He had an arrangement with a Charlestown tailor; he took a cut from each job he handled and had a cut-rate deal with the tailor. He’d even arrange fittings for custom uniforms for a minor consideration.
Sitting around at the Harvard Gardens one night, I asked him how many little rackets he had going. John took a bit of umbrage at the term racket; he preferred services for which he took a fee. He then counted out about seven ” services” that ran concurrently. One or two were freebies – he used the Latin Pro Bono. They were simply for goodwill and trust among the officers and crew. He carefully maintained the fairness of all he did. “Reputation is everything when you do the sort of work I am involved in.”
“And how did you get all this started?” His answer was, “Planning. I observe every little rub or friction in life, calculate how much of a nuisance it causes, and evaluate what it might be worth to people if I eliminated the irritation. Do that often enough, and you have a service. Then, create a smooth manner to carry out the service at a price you can profit from and have a revenue stream. Finally, get enough services going, and you have an income. See – proper prior planning. Do it right long enough, and you gain the trust of your customers. That prevents the piss poor performance.” O’Toole was outfitted in a custom-tailored set of dress Blues. Dressing for success was an absolute for him.
My own life was changing directions, so I turned down some other work opportunities with him. So I have a sort of bittersweet feeling about this. I’m pleased with how my life turned out but a bit envious of the O’Toole Financial Group’s success in managing retirement funds and investments.
2 Replies to “Plans”
I agree. Planning is very important, also understanding that the plan is going in the bucket the moment you try to get it off the ground. 🙂 Great story, once again.
And let’s hope that our planning remains adequate for when the bucket gets upended on our heads!
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