Lee Distad

Lee Distad

Lee Distad is a rAVe columnist and freelance writer covering topics from CE to global business and finance in both print and online. Reach him at lee@ravepubs.com

Work Friendlier, Not Harder

February 7, 2024

There’s a self-help aphorism I keep coming back to that goes, “The universe will keep sending you the same lesson until you finally learn it.” Human nature is what it is; sometimes, even when you think you’ve learned a lesson, you may need to relearn it again. One of the things I’ve learned over time […]

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What’s Up With Smart Homes Today?

January 20, 2024

Every so often I check in on the state of what’s still being called “Smart Home” tech and I find myself coming away with a sense of déjà vu. Or, perhaps more specifically, a sense that “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” or “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” […]

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Strange Re-Tales: Fraud and Big Shorts

January 3, 2024

I haven’t done one of these in a bit: reminiscing about my often surreal experiences working in retail. So here are two unrelated anecdotes I thought about recently for the first time in a long while. At one point, I worked for The Bay. For you Americans, The Bay is Canada’s version of Sears. Except […]

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DIY Automation Beefs

December 22, 2023

Remember that one guy in your classes who would ask the professor a “question?” I used quotes because their question was always a thinly veiled excuse to expound and fill up the air with their own opinions. I never liked that guy when I was in school. As a result, I try to avoid being […]

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Black Friday on the Distribution Side

December 7, 2023

Black Friday has come and gone. Not for the first time, I am struck by the differences between working in distribution and frontline retail. Chatting with one of my vendor contacts on Friday, I reflected that Black Friday was a quiet day for me. The only emails I received on Black Friday — both of […]

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You Climbed the Mountain; So What Now?

November 20, 2023

A friend who’s an avid mountain climber once said to me that the thing about climbing a mountain is that once you reach the summit the first things you see are … more mountains. It doesn’t take a great leap to recognize the metaphor here: Once you’ve achieved a goal, a new goal beckons to […]

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Conquering the Basics

November 1, 2023

When I was in junior high, our baseball coach constantly impressed upon us the importance of conquering the basics, or the fundamentals of the sport. The reason was that consistently and successfully executing the basics on the field is what wins games. Here’s what he had to say about showboating or trying to be fancy, […]

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Picking the Right Clients

October 19, 2023

Some solid advice I received long ago was that “you can’t chase every rabbit.” My dogs would disagree, and I see their point, but as business advice goes, it holds up. You need to cultivate long-term relationships with the people you can do business with, not just to look after their needs on a repeat […]

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Answer the Phone

October 6, 2023

It’s an annual tradition that at the start of the New Year my wife makes a Facebook post that goes: “Hey other realtors: want to make more money this year? Then answer your phone when I call!” We’ll get back to why that’s important in just a minute. It’s a weird rule of the cosmos […]

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Understanding First-Order Versus Second and Third-Order Metrics

September 28, 2023

Long ago, one of my old bosses and mentors had a favorite saying: “What gets measured, gets managed.” And he was right, as far as it goes. If you’ve got a metric and a system that reports on it, you pay attention to how you’re performing against that metric, and you make adjustments based on […]

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Going Above and Beyond

August 16, 2023

I’ve talked before about how frequently I receive queries from end users. It’s because when people Google one of the brands we distribute our website comes up, and my name, phone number and email are right there. I don’t sell to end users. I have dealers for that. But I always take the time to […]

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MORE Things I Never Expected

August 3, 2023

My grandfather was fond of saying “If you live long enough, you get to see it all come around again.” It wasn’t until much later in life that I came to realize how true that is. Off-topic, his retirement hobby was going to the hardware store and telling anyone who would listen how much that […]

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Measure Twice and Then Some

July 26, 2023

American mathematician Alfred Korzybski coined the phrase, “The map is not the territory.” He was talking about psychology and the human mind, but his analogy is just as apt for our businesses. Just when I feel like I’ve seen everything, something happens that proves me wrong. No indeed, it’s still possible for me to be […]

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Closeouts and Good Deals

July 12, 2023

My family has a saying, long attributed to my grandfather: “We can’t afford an elephant, but since they’re half price we’ll take TWO!” There’s just something compelling about getting a bargain. That applies not only to people as end users but to businesses too. My category managers at my work regularly negotiate special buys and […]

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Networking: Everybody Knows Somebody

June 21, 2023

When I first moved to Alberta in high school, a girl I met here told me “Edmonton is a town of six hundred.” Actually, at the time it was a small city of about 700,000 people, but right away I picked up what she really meant: Everyone knows everyone else. And she was right. Later […]

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Tempering The Need To Win

June 8, 2023

Everybody likes to win, right? At least that’s what I tell myself. And that’s fine, as far as it goes. But there are times when it can be taken too far. There are different ways of negotiating deals. Some are fairly universal, while others are more applicable to specific circumstances. Without going off on a […]

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Finding the Best People

May 17, 2023

Ever since their businesses emerged from the challenges COVID inflicted on them, one common challenge that all of my dealer partners still face is staffing issues. Almost everyone I know is still running their company short-handed, while actively searching for qualified people. At the same time, many of them have complained that the available talent […]

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Consumer Shows Are Back!

May 3, 2023

I recently supported one of my dealers at a consumer trade show. And honestly, I couldn’t wait. If anything feels like a return to normalcy it’s that my calendar this year is filling up with customer-facing events that my dealers are organizing. My pedantic nature distinguishes between trade shows and consumer shows. It seems simple: […]

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Understanding OKR

April 26, 2023

One of my old mentors had an aphorism. To be fair he had lots of them, and his influence is probably why I do too. But in this case, I’m referring to the one that was his favorite, and you could count on hearing him say it, if not daily, at least several times a […]

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Who Needs Serviceability Anyway?

April 12, 2023

Readers may know that one of my favorite Facebook groups is “AV Install Nightmares,” where industry pros post pics of horrible things they’ve encountered in their workday. Often, the backstory to these pics is that they “inherited” a project when the old contractor vanished/quit/got fired and now they must pick up the pieces and make […]

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Organizational Flexibility

March 29, 2023

My old weightlifting coach had a lot of stock catchphrases he used in the gym when lecturing us or encouraging our efforts. One of them was, “I always defer to the laws of physics.” That’s one of those understandings that applies to all things. For example, two concepts that are useful to apply to your […]

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Why Even Have Resellers If You’re Going to Cut Them Out?

March 8, 2023

In order to tell this story I need to set the stage. Here’s what you need to know. When I start work in the morning one of the steps in my routine is to log in to Alberta Purchasing Connection: that’s the portal of the provincial government that aggregates all the RFQs and RFPs for […]

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Things I Never Expected

February 22, 2023

No matter how long you’ve been around, you can still be surprised. This Christmas season, several of our brands ran Q4 sales contests and promotions for our dealers. There’s nothing unusual about that, lots of brands run promotions for Q4. It’s Christmas, and you have to make the most of what we always hope will […]

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And the Sale After That …

February 8, 2023

Whenever you meet with your financial planner, and they discuss investments like mutual funds, one of the standard cover-their-ass sentences you see in the printed materials is “past returns do not predict future performance.” That’s true of many things. What was once Hot often becomes Not, and occasionally vice versa. So, I had a meeting […]

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Something to BRAG About

January 10, 2023

If you are old enough, some of you will remember a TV commercial from the 1980s in which an actor said, “I’m not a doctor, although I play one on TV…” I want to preface this column by saying that I am not a project manager, nor have I played one on TV. But I […]

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You’ve Got the Look

December 21, 2022

Before COVID, I spent a lot of work time in the field in a lot of public places: offices, retail stores, shopping malls, parking lots. Especially parking lots. I joke that I have two offices: my home office, and the Tim Hortons parking lot on 39 Ave NE in Calgary where the Wi-Fi signal is […]

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Managing Client Timelines

December 7, 2022

With the holiday season in full swing, my dealer partners are in the middle of one of two modes, depending on which channel their core business is in. The retailers are nose-down, hard at work to maximize their revenue between the just-passed Black Friday and the still-to-come Boxing Day. Meanwhile, my B2B dealers, who focus […]

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Understanding Friction Versus Inertia

November 16, 2022

No, this isn’t a physics lesson. Okay, maybe it is, in a way. I talk a lot with my clients about processes — the ones they’re using and, just as importantly, the ones they aren’t. With the processes that they’re using, the questions center on what’s working, what isn’t and what changes can be made […]

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Coming Out of COVID

November 1, 2022

The last couple of years have been eventful, to put it mildly. Even now, things are getting back to normal while still not really being back to normal, if that makes any sense. In my store visits to my retail partners, I’ve noticed that it’s about 50/50 between places that have taken their plexiglass sneeze […]

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Staffing Levels

October 19, 2022

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the aphorism that “to the person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” I knew someone who had to read “Boom, Bust & Echo,” the book by demographer David Foot and journalist Daniel Stoffman, in college. After doing so, they related a factoid — no matter how […]

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When Testing Goes Wrong

October 5, 2022

Long story short, we were cleaning out the basement, and purging clutter when I found a subwoofer that I forgot I had in storage. I packed it up when we moved house nearly three years ago. It was great when I had a dedicated media room in the basement with good acoustics. However, the new […]

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Always Defer to Expertise

September 21, 2022

One of the things I’m fond of reminding people of is the quote from Pablo Picasso that everything “is either easy or impossible.” I can usually be counted on to suffix that by adding that the difference between the two often comes down to having the right tool for the job. Just the other day […]

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