When Is It Okay to Hire Someone You Know?

When is it okay to hire someone you know?  In the latest chapter of Good Guys, Wise Guys, and Putting Up Buildings, Florman describes a time when he gave a competitive bid to a good friend of his from grade – school.  Unaware that his friend was experiencing financial issues, his friend went out of business and he was partially to blame for it.  However, Florman did nothing wrong in the situation.  It is better to hire someone you know who does good, quality work and is someone you can trust than to hire someone you know about only from outside resources.  

In an essay by Cynthia Sommer, Sommer explains how she believes in intuition.  intuition is a powerful and quick insight.  Sommer has used intuition throughout her life to help her focus on her goals in life.  Like Sommer, Florman used his own intuition to make an obvious choice to choose his good friend to complete a project because he was emotionally attached to him and knew that he would do a good job.  

Recently, I have discovered that I use my own intuition skills when asking for helpImage on calculus.  I’ve found that I usually go to the same person to help me understand something in my calculus class.  I go to the same person and never try anyone else because I am already comfortable in getting help from this person. Even if occasionally, it is not beneficial to the person helping me because it takes away from their study time that they may need, but I don’t realize it.


Fair Evaluation

In chapter 10 Samuel Florman’s, “Good Guys, Wise Guys, and Putting Up Buildings”, Florman discusses construction estimating and how to calculate cost based on productivity.  Productivity is estimated by productivity i.e. how many bricks a worker lays down in a day.  The contractors have to make decisions as to how much they should pay the workers fairly, while trying not to run out of money.  This is why it is important to hire General Contractors that not only know what they’re doing, but will treat people fairly as well.

In Craig Newmark’s essay, Newmark explains how he used to believe people were generally malicious and opportunistic.  After doing full-time customer service for Craigslist, he now believes that people are trustworthy and treat other people fairly.  These are a few qualities that are very important when looking for a contractor.  However, Newmark does have to deal with people that try to be sleezy and think that it’s okay to rip people off.  Finding contractors that are going to pay the workers fairly may not always result in getting the most profit, but it is the right thing to do.

In my own experiences, I have had to do group projects in which my group members and I had to evaluated each other. I remember in some instances, some people would go above and beyond in their workImage, while others would hardly work.  I made my best judgments and graded the ones that worked on the project the most with the best grades and the ones that hardly did anything with lower grades.  In this case, I was the contractor and I had to make a judgement call on the quality of work and how much each person was worth.  I think I made a fair assessment.  


In the 9th chapter of Samuel Florman’s book, “Good Guys, Wise Guys, and Putting Up Buildings”, Florman describes how the empoyers of his company, “Kreisler, Borg, Florman”, came together as a family throughout the years due to the employers instinct to treat people well, share prosperity, and three significant people who held the “family” together.  Joe Blitz, on the other hand, believed in Belligerence.  Two of his employers would constantly fued in which he stated that he preferred it that way.  This could have been fairly destructive to his workers and to his fueding employees.  It was bad for his people no matter how much he wanted it that way.  What he should have done was seperate the two and keep them from working near each other.  They were obviously not a good fit for his company and distracting to the other employees.  However, Blitz made it work out for him, even though it is unethical to make a few people’s lives miserable in order to make your life easier.

In Frank Miller’s essay, “That Old Piece of Cloth”, he talks about how, when he was a teenager, he  rebelled against his parents when they tried to teach him to be patriotic.  He believed that it was just an “Old piece of cloth” when he was growing up during the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  It wasn’t until 9/11 when Miller began to understand the meaning of what his parents were trying to tell him.  Terrorist killed his neighbors, and made the lungs of every New Yorker filled with the chalky dust that filled the air.  Miller saw patriotism as “self – preservation” and “central to a nation’s survival”.  He quotes Ben Franklin in saying, “If we don’t all hang together, we all hang sperately.”  It is important to treat each other like family and fueding should not be tolerated in a workspace because it could split the workforce into pieces just like the country did in the 60s.  America needs to be a family if we want to help our country survive.

I remember my middle school baseball team that I played on when I was in 8th grade.  We were a small team of about 14 players and we all came together as a family and would hang out together outside of baseball, much like “Kreisler Borg Florman” employees.  As a result, we had a very good year and only lost 3 games the season.  On other teams that I played on that had fueds between one teammate and another, resulting in poor performance.  For example, on one travel team that I played on we would all yell and point fingers at one another and our record that summer was sub .500. I believe in teams that are united and that work well with others are the most successful, not necessarily the ones that have the best players.

Safety First

In the latest chapter of “Good Guys, Wise Guys, and Putting Up Buildings”, Florman talks about a developer he met who built apartment complexes with metal exterior fire escapesImage.  These fire escapes were old-school but effective.  They also provided an extra escape for residents compared to other recently built complexes.  It’s safe to say that the developer’s top priority is safety.  In an essay by Ernesto Haibi, Haibi describes his time in Iraq as a doctor in the army in which he witnessed soldiers taking care of the Iraqi people so that they felt safe.  After insurgents let off several car bombs, American soldiers fought the insurgents for more than eight hours until the insurgents backed off.  These resilient efforts by the soldiers showed that the Iraqi people’s safety was more important than their own.  In the past I have driven friends around that would not wear their seat belt.  Instead of telling them to put it on I would completely ignore it and not say anything.  Fortunately, I have not been involved in a car accident in my 3 years of driving and I would like to keep it that way.  However, I know that things do happen I could be involved in an accident with one of my friends in the car not wearing a seat belt.  I know this is unlikely but I still need to make my friends’ safety a priority and tell them to put on their seat belts. 

Being Competitive

In chapter 5 of Florman’s book, Florman begins to work for a construction engineer named Joe Blitz.  Joe is extremely competitive and assertive.  When he was bargaining for a price he would “make an offer and then outwit his quarry”.  If he got the bid his surliness would take over for his own people.  He would demand his team to get off their butts if they began to fail.  He had the “nice guys finish last” mindset.  A huge part of competition is risking failure.  In Jon Carrol’s essay, “Failure is a Good Thing”, Carrol writes about his younger daughter who is a trapeze artist.  After doing the same act for a decade and finally became bored when she realized that she was not learning anything new, so she changed the act.  She risked failure and public embarrassment.  However, she took risks just like Joe Blitz. I remember back in high school, I had a football coach that liked to take risks.  He would alter the playbook on a weekly basis to adjust to the other team, knowing that there was a high risk of failure because we only had less than a week to practice.  There was also the chance that the other team could adjust as well and we would be caught off guard.  Our coach would demand that we get the adjustments down and was quite surly to us much like Joe Blitz, yelling at us when we would screw up.  I believe that taking risks is a huge part of being a successful competitor.

Putting the Blame On Others

In Florman’s book, Florman hires a specialized underwater welder named Barney to help repair wooden fenders on the Cross Bay Parkway Viaduct in Queens.  Barney studied the plans carefully, and informed Florman that he would have no problem with the project.  He was so sure about this that he went ahead and gave Florman his staggering hourly rate.  However, when Barney actually arrived at the site, he noticed the tide was too powerful to work six times a day and he would only be able to work at high or low tide. which would cost Florman three times as much to pay Barney.   Not only did rip Florman off by not making sure that he could finish the project with no problem, but he also put his blame on Florman by saying, “You didn’t tell me about the tide”.  What Barney should have done was to actually look at the site where he was working and decide right there whether or not he would have difficulty in performing the task and how much it would cost Florman. Instead, Barney made more stress on Florman by not being observant enough and blaming Florman about it.  In Laura Shippler Chico’s essay in “This I Believe II”, Chico writes about what kind of person she wants to bring into the world while she is pregnant.  She talks about how the first quality that she wants her child to have is honesty, which is something Barney could have used more of.  She writes about how when you’re honest, people trust you, and you trust yourself, and that is the foundation for all the rest.  I remember a time when I accidentally broke a lamp playing with a sponge ball when I was little and my mom asked me who did it.  My initial reaction was to blame it on the dog, which would be a stretch for her to believe, in which case I stopped myself from doing.  Knowing that I would have to pay the price for my own mistake, I told her it was my own fault.  From there, I was grounded and had to be lectured on the importance of not throwing things across the downstairs kitchen, which was worse than it sounds.  I had to pay the price for my own mistake, but at least I was honest.

Doing What You Need To Do

Sometimes the things that we need to do, are the last things that we want to do.  I have been required to pay attention to detail more than I ever had in my life.  I’ve had to learn to not gaze on upper quad and in the halls, yell at the top of my lungs when I’m in the halls, I’ve had to learn ranks, names, memorize VT history and so forth.  It’s been difficult and time consuming.  Many times I’ve wanted to do other things but I know now that I had to pay attention to details in order to be successful.  In Florman’s book, he talks about his first job as a assistant estimator at Thompson Starrett Company.  He recalls reviewing hardware schedules, analyzing each lockset, and counting structural glazed blocks.  Everything had to be checked multiple times and nothing was trivial enough to be looked over.  His job was tedious and not very enjoyable but necessary to say the least.  In Dr. Bob Barret’s essay in “This I Believe II”, Barret writes about how difficult it was for him to come out about being homosexual.  As a married man with children, he did not want to risk the fact of losing his family and respect as a man.  He did what he needed to do and admitted he was gay to his family.  Instead of ignoring the facts, he payed attention to detail and realized he was gay.