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Relax: By Age 10, You Learned All the Math You Need to Become an LBM General Manager

Updated: Jan 18

“We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees.” - Jason Kidd


04/03/2023


Math! The mere word makes me and 50% of the population shudder. My mind flashes back to Sister Christine’s 8th grade. While all-star classmates Tanvir Chaudhry, Brian Bunk, and Dave Ciske received nothing less than an A, my math test scores came back with a giant red D, or almost worse, a C-. What's with the minus? Couldn't I squeeze one more right answer and land a more accepting straight-up C? It was with great relief I bailed out of my last high school pre-calculus math class as soon as I learned I didn’t need it to graduate.


Given how math shows up everywhere in LBM dealers daily operations and given how construction supply C-suites increasingly are occupied by college grads and MBA types, those memories of feeling terrorized by calculus can lead some great potential leaders to conclude they lack what it takes to move up. For others, they have lived without math in their lives for so long they become unaware of the clarity math delivers. There is no reason to be afraid, you are not ignorant. Here’s the truth: 


The most any business professional will ever need is a 4th grade level of math proficiency. 

Didn’t they still serve milk in 4th grade? 


Yes with 4th grade math, you possess virtually all the skills you need to be a business professional. If you can multiply and divide, understand fractions, and can figure out story problems, you’re well on your way to achieving general manager success. Here are some questions we ask candidates about their current work. Notice that most of the questions demand candidates be aware of numbers but go light on calculations:


•   What are the sales and profits you inherited? What did you grow the business to?

•   Is sales volume the best way to measure growth, given commodity fluctuations? (This requires the ability to take units like board feet sold and divide that number by sales dollars.) 

•   What does your company value greater: gross margin dollars or inventory turns? 

•   Are A/R days sales outstanding average (DSO) managed as a competitive opportunity to gain high-margin profits or mitigate risk? What is the additional gross margin capture on your perpetually overdue builder accounts? 

•   Is your profit-and-loss statement fully burdened with real estate and corporate administration expenses? 

•   How does contribution margin impact your pricing strategy?  

•   Is activity-based costing a key part of your weekly sales management program? 


The cultural health of any team is also best measured in numbers: 


•   What was the previous turnover of the team? What is it today? 

•   How many people have you recruited, developed, and promoted? 

•   How many future leaders’ high-potential 20-year-old-somethings are you developing and mentoring today? 

•   How have you created a shared risk culture? What self-measured metrics have you implemented to the team? 


We’ve found good candidates for next-level jobs know the answer to these questions and can provide key performance indicators with ease. They embrace how the numbers provide clarity on the state of operations and help everyone focus on what matters for success.


Author David Eagleman wrote:


“The thrill of life is not about who we are, but who we are in the process of becoming."


Eagleman’s book LiveWired is my #1 book recommendation for people wanting to conquer their perceived math gap. As neuroscientist Eagleman teaches how even in our later stages of life the neuroplasticity of the brain gives us the power to reshape our cognitive skills –like Math. 


Brian Bunk is a professor at University Massachusetts –Amherst, Tanvir Chaudhry is a Cardiology MD, and David Ciske an Internal Medicine MD. My path was different… but as rewarding. 


Please reach out to the Misura Group Team to find and grow your value. 


Hire Smarter™ – Tony Misura.

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