Thursday, April 25, 2024

Who's on Your Bus?


AYM High Consultants coach Steve Merrick, in speaking at industry events for many decades as a coach and motivator from the ’90s to present day, often asks audience members, “Who’s on your bus?” It’s impactful. His coaching often focuses on the team players who you network with, on whom you can call when needed for different areas of expertise.

The concept of “Who’s on your bus?” comes from Jim Collins’ bestseller business leadership book, Good to Great, which we highly, highly recommend. In this video clip, Jim explains the “Who’s on your bus?” concept a little more:

Recently, Fahim had an experience that reminded him starkly about the importance of having the right people on his team…

We’ve all clicked on the wrong site from time to time, and Fahim recently, in trying to get some artwork together for a client, followed a Google rabbit hole onto a shady free-to-print site that accidentally downloaded a virus to one of the Island Ship Center (ISC) stations. Within minutes, Fahim took a picture of the virus results and sent them to Aaron, the IT consultant who Fahim and the ISC family have a relationship with.

Within 15 minutes, Aaron had remotely accessed the ISC computers, removed the virus, and everything was back to normal. So much time and energy and expense would have been wasted if Fahim didn’t have the right person at the right time to help with the situation. Aaron was on Fahim’s bus, and because of that a potentially disastrous situation was averted.

Your bus doesn’t only consist of your colleagues, contractors, vendors, and external team, but in so many more ways it also consists of your immediate team—coworkers, colleagues, and business partners. How you treat your team, how you source, vet, and mold the right people to join your team, and how you groom your team to take on more and more leadership roles to take more and more off your plate is essential.

Marty recently sold his business, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, to his then-manager, Clark, and Clark’s fiancé, Codey Noel. Clark had been with Marty for five years before buying him out; Clark’s sister, Aleah, was Marty’s first long-term team member, followed soon after by Clark, their brother, Callum, and their mom, Julie. Family friends also joined the team as well as Ryan, the husband of Clark’s third sibling, Emma. Though not related to Marty by blood, together they truly made Uncle Marty’s a family business…and the culture of the enterprise reflected that intention.

Marty chose to not call his staff “employees,” but rather “team members” and “coworkers” (and, often, his “work kids.”) This vernacular was chosen on purpose to empower each coworker to feel truly like they were part of the family business they created, and most of the growth that the business saw over the 12 and a half years that Marty was at the helm can be attributed to the team that guided it together. As a result, Clark felt so invested and saw so much potential that he wanted to fully take over.

In just under five months since the business sale, Clark and Codey Noel have broken many of Marty’s records, have a second Uncle Marty’s location scheduled to open in June, and are even in talks with a new office complex to open a third location in 2025! The sale was a win-win-win: win for Marty to be able to semi-retire and focus on coaching and writing; win for Clark and Codey Noel to take over a growing business with huge potential; and a win for the business to have fresh, young blood taking the reins and guiding it to significantly more growth, profit, and community involvement.

Fahim and his wife, business partner, best friend, and the president to his vice presidency, Seema, also have done an amazing job in selecting and sculpting a team. However, like any worthwhile endeavor, it took time. There were a lot of very hard lessons learned along the way and some very difficult choices that had to be made in letting the wrong people go in order to attract and cultivate the right people. It’s an ongoing process, as it always will be with any growing business, but right now their team is top-notch, A-plus, dream team material. Seema and Fahim don’t call their staff “employees” either, but rather they refer to them as the “ISC Family.” And that simple language shift reflects in the cohesion and vestment that the ISC Family members wear proudly on their purple sleeves.

ISC’s current manager, Jasmine, has been a godsend. She didn’t come from the print, shipping, mail, and business center industry. Her background is in sustainability, and the skills and perspective she brought to ISC were invaluable. Her attitude is outstanding, her investment in the business is superlative, and her empowerment as Chief Experience Officer (which they chose to title her instead of the less-exciting title of “Manager”) has made a huge impact on the business. Just as Marty’s team came from outside of the industry, so has most of Seema and Fahim’s team.

We often coach at AYM High to “Hire the smile and train the skills,” which is an adage hammered into Marty by his parents, Cindy and Dub, from their nearly 20-year stint as outstanding industry leaders and owners of a three-store chain of Pack & Mail stores in the ‘90s and ‘00s. Attitude trumps skills any day of the week. We’d much rather see someone who treats guests with kindness and patience than a know-it-all with a snarky demeanor any day of the week.

Your attitude as a business owner or manager is also of the upmost importance. What you say and what you do has to be in sync. Authenticity, realness, and words-actions symbiosis is imperative. When it’s not in sync, everything suffers. You absolutely must be the best example to your team and coworkers if you want them to work, lead, and treat guests and clients with integrity, honesty, and…above all…smiles, smiles, smiles!

Chad Gono, CEO of Regal Plastics and a LinkedIn influencer Fahim follows, recently posted a photo with a sign that reads, “I used to think people only switched jobs for money. Now I realize people are looking for respect and a healthy environment!” To that, we say #Truth!

Fahim journals daily and every now and then will share his journal entry with Marty for encouragement and inspiration. While a journal is personal, Marty convinced Fahim to allow him to share a recent journal entry in this article with all of you, as it’s so pertinent to the point we’re trying to make. While not intended to be made public, we hope that the following entry from Fahim’s journal from April 8, 2024 will be inspirational to you and give you a little glimpse into what’s at the heart of someone who leads with empathy, respect, collaboration, and gratitude:

“Today was the day of the solar eclipse, an event that last took place in Buffalo / Niagara Falls 125 years ago! Similar to that time, today’s event was eclipsed by cloudy skies. However, the event was magnificent nonetheless. For 10 minutes, the day changed to night in front of our eyes, the temperature dropped, and the majesty of creation was visible for all to see, as the moon covered the sun 99.32%! And then, just as quickly it had come, the event was over, the light returned, and ironically the sun shone brighter than before the eclipse, since the clouds also vanished with the passing of the moon. How symbolic was this event to our lives, I thought. For those who try to be the sunlight for others, we get eclipsed by dark events and forces in our lives, seeming to have lost our own light. But, if we just wait out those moments with persistent patience, our light can actually pierce through, and shine brighter than before, allowing us to make an even greater impact on the lives of others. You see, we don’t lose by giving our light to others, rather we gain even more light. Such is the law of the sun, the universe, and the land. So, give off your light to everyone, and know that some may try to eclipse you, only to allow you to shine brighter than before. When we swim upstream, trying to force our muscles to work harder, we develop quicker than when we swim with the current.” #FahimFix

(And, yes, Fahim signs many of his personal journal entries with his own hashtag, #FahimFix.)

The seatmates on your bus need to be invited. Your coworkers, team members, business family members, close colleagues, vendors, and, yes, your mentors and coaches, need to be chosen with intention. Don’t give seats to those who choose negativity, who constantly complain, and who prefer to always be victimized and cast blame instead of rising above, taking responsibility, helping others get through touch challenges, and becoming better. Give seats to those whose light shines bright and not to those who eclipse others’ lights. Invite busmates who know that clouds pass and the sun is always behind them, no matter what.

Please, think hard about who’s on your bus, then do some seat-shifting to put the right people in the right places. Who can you depend on to help grow your business? Who can you call in an unexpected situation who has the experience, knowledge, and ability to help? Who has the positive, rise-above, meet-the-challenge-and-then-overcome-it attitude and bright light to shine that you’ll give those special seats next to you to? Choose with intention. And don’t be afraid to stop the bus and let someone off who’s not filling their seat properly. Only then can the bust move forward with precision and drive to get you to a destination better than you could have imagined.

We hope you’ll save us a seat.

Fahim Mojawalla is the Motivation and Mission Lead at AYM High Consultants. He loves what he does and would love to show you how to make 21st century sales and marketing easy, simply by being authentic, appreciative, respectful, responsive, empathetic, collaborative, and all-around awesome. Along with his wife Seema, he is an effervescent co-owner of Island Ship Center, the Spa of Shipping. #FahimFix


Marty Johnson is the Communication and Vision Coach at AYM High Consultants, a columnist, and an editor, producing the mail and business center industry's leading magazine, MBC Today. In 2023, he sold his popular and growing brand, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, and retired from shopkeeper life to focus on writing and coaching. Subscribe to his free Ask Uncle Marty™ newsletter and read more at; follow him on socials @askunclemarty. #AskUncleMarty


Article co-published at and on April 25, 2024.

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