EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Husqvarna Construction Products N.A.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Southwest Scaffolding
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
President George W. Bush and former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa meet in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 17, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush and former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa meet in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 17, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper
January 16, 2014 7:00 AM CST

Mandela-style leadership

A model for contractors


My plan all along was to use the January column as a look into 2014. After all, it is that time of year, and people traditionally put the current year onto some kind of a back-burner or an old file cabinet to think about the New Year. But crashing into my thought processes as I began writing this column was the death of Nelson Mandela.

Truth be told, I am not at all a fan of his early politics, but I can’t help but be a huge admirer of him, particularly in his later life. It is an amazing thing that a conservative such as I would find value in some of the philosophies held by this icon of “humanitarian nobility.”

And yet, the quotations and thoughts from Mandela fit nicely into laying out our plans for the coming year. More important, these thoughts and philosophies remained a part of Nelson Mandela once he was released from prison, after 27 years. He never once sought vengeance. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” - Nelson MandelaIn fact, at his presidential inauguration, among his invited guests were his jailers from Robbens Prison.

I’ve been a long-time writer for Masonry Magazine, but my messages of the last few years have all been about the idea of hanging in there, persevering through this economy, etc.

People disagree on exactly when the construction industry went into its current death spiral – probably somewhere near late-2007. Regardless, I have long been hopeful of a turnaround in the fortunes of everyone. That hasn’t happened yet. We could complain that the last six or seven years might not have been good, but it hasn’t been 27 years, has it?

Talking the other day with a friend of mine named Richard, he told me that the company he founded had suffered a hostile takeover. He was out, and that now he is doing something entirely different at age 75. He’s excited about it and the prospects it has. What I love about Richard is that he got up. By getting up, it reminds me that it is possible for me and others to get up. Richard’s reaction and attitude would have made Mandela proud.

Sure, it’s still scary out there. Maybe you feel more like the bull’s eye on a target than a mason contractor. The great thing is that we’re not in this alone. We have the MCAA, which embraces the goals of free-market capitalism, along with the integrity, resolve and the stick-to-it attitude necessary to win as entrepreneurs providing a much-needed service. A key to winning in 2014 is having the resolve to help yourself, plus networking with organizations that can help you achieve these goals.

As you look at the New Year upon you, what are your plans for prosperity and growing your business? Will you continue to do only the same old things, or will you consider other ways of helping your business?

What I find effective is using “lead-generation websites,” geared toward automatically getting your phone to ring. These work for me. Maybe you’ve got some other ideas. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” - Nelson MandelaI’d encourage you to test them.

Scary times call for bold plans. Well into Mandela’s prison stay, the bitterness and hatred had left him. He saw a big picture. For him, it was a free South Africa, and the passion, strength and courage it would take to pursue it and end Apartheid – a bold plan.

May God bless you this coming year with all of the tools, energy and commitment required to accomplish your goals, and may your goals be big enough to be worthy of your efforts. Here’s to a great 2014!

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at


Related Articles

More Masonry Headlines

“The MCAA is working to solidify our industry.”

Donald McCauley
Hunt Country Masonry, Inc.
MCAA member since 2010

Learn More