While you may not have seen the 1989 fantasy-drama sports film, Field of Dreams, staring Kevin Kostner, you’ve certainly heard its message: “If you build it, they will come.”
For readers of this column who have wanted to go out on their own, but have been afraid to do so, then Breaking the Glaze Ceiling by Lyle Sussman PhD will help you find your Field of Dreams.
If you’re wondering, “Glaze, as in donuts?” You’re right! The book was inspired by Sussman’s daughter Annie, who, along with her friend Leslie, opened a donut shop, “Certain they would not fail and shattered barriers – ceilings - which I thought were there, leaving well-paid jobs, starting a business which has huge competition, taking an enormous risk with limited financial resources.”
This is a story of two friends, whose Louisville, Kentucky-based, Hi-Five Doughnuts rapidly went from a tent to a donut truck to a bricks and mortar building with a national following. Sussman sees this story as representing, “A group of people in our country today who are saying, ‘If I’m not happy on a payroll, what can I do that will allow me to sing my song?’”
For Annie and Leslie, “Their song is represented in a donut, not just fried dough with toppings on it, but a creation. The bottom line is that these two friends broke through the negativity while tapping into their creativity, despite all the logical reasons not to open a donut business.”
Sing loud, sing clear and sing while you still can
Breaking the Glaze Ceiling isn’t your typical “Here are the things you have to do if you want to get into business.” No, it’s much more than that.
Sussman is a professor of management and former chairman of the department of management at the University of Louisville. He has written 16 books which have been translated into 15 languages and total more than a million copies in print.
What makes this book such a compelling read is the wisdom, the straight talk and common sense about life and time the author will not let readers ignore:
“Singing your song means accepting the reality that you just don’t want to fake it anymore, that you’re simply going through the motions so you don’t get fired. You are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and dread another day on a job that is killing your spirit and soul.”
For anyone in a job where TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday – is the only bright day of the week, Sussman offers TGIM, Thank God It’s Monday! “It is possible to look forward to a Monday because of the opportunities it provides.”
Six ceilings to break through - Do not steal from your employer
And just what are these ceilings which must be broken through? Sussman outlines six of them: Fear of failure, low self-esteem, sunk costs, negative pressure from significant others, fear to leave your comfort zone and limited resources.
For anyone who has dreamed of jumping on that risk train, there are a million reasons for staying where you are. “If not now, when?” is a theme he repeats, stressing that for anyone currently employed, there is a right way, and a very wrong, illegal way for launching a business.
“Your actions should be both ethical and legal, preventing litigation and allow leaving your current employer on civil terms,” he strongly maintains, describing the wrong way to set up shop:
- Do not operate a business with your employer’s resources or on their clock. That’s stealing. Phones, computers and office supplies belong to your employer. Upon leaving, you want to hear good luck, not, good riddance, and you certainly do not want to hear, “You’ll be hearing from our lawyers!”
- Be careful about using proprietary information from your current employer to start your business, such as customer lists or manufacturing processes. If in doubt, schedule a consultation with a business lawyer. The money you spend for that advice will save you a great deal of downstream heartache and expense.
- If your current employer asks you to sign a non-compete agreement, see legal counsel before your sign it. These agreements are common, and like all contracts, are negotiable.
- If a customer offers to set you up in direct competition with your current employer, this could easily be a legal, ethical and moral minefield. Seek counsel before taking one step further.
Life and business lessons learned from his daughter
The subtitle to “Breaking the Glaze Ceiling,” reads in part, “Sweet Lessons For Entrepreneurs and Innovators,” and as I felt in reading Sussman’s both practical and touching book, it was he – the professor – who became his daughter’s student.