Choice One Engineering | Choice Mindsets
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Choice Mindsets

Choice Mindsets

“I love it when a plan comes together… It doesn’t always, but I love it when it does.”

– Jeff Puthoff


Sometimes a well-laid plan doesn’t work out. Case and point: Tony’s flat tire from a recent camping vacation, pictured above. One would imagine having to change that pick-up truck tire put a kink in his vacation travel plans more so than, say, changing a bike tire would.

When a plan does come together, it can be nothing short of remarkable. But as Jeff has pointed out, that ideal moment isn’t always meant to be. The key is to learn from the plan that failed and focus on the plan that worked. Like finishing a site plan in record time, making clients slingshot monkeys with their eyes closed, and finally getting rid of Matt Hoying and Brian Schmidt by creating an expansion plan so we could ship them to the Loveland office.

So plan, and love it when the plan comes together, but don’t sweat it when things fall apart (and don’t be afraid to try again). It could be worse: you could have been in the truck with Tony when that tire blew on a highway in Indiana.

* You might have guessed that Jeff is a big fan of The A-Team. In fact, we have been known to watch old tapes of The A-Team episodes over lunch. If you don’t remember, The A-Team was a television show in the 80s that involved a lot of firing guns at the ground (no one ever was hit), a kidnapper-esc black van, and a cigar-chewing character who always used the first half of Jeff’s quote above.

“Just to let you know, I made the Afternoon Coffee.”
-Nick Selhorst

Not too long ago we hired engineer Nick Selhorst (better known around here as “Not Nick Sanders,” because, yes, with three Jeffs, three Brians, and two Ryans, we now have two Nicks). Nick, a North Star/Versailles native–which some people like to think aren’t the same thing–comes to us from ODOT District 10, in Marietta.


Among other things, Nick has provided us with valuable information on how to move all of his accumulated stuff from five hours away in one day, how to make counting traffic in the rain MOST inconvenient, and, as one might guess, how to correctly arrange orange barrels in really awkward ways.


We kid, of course. Something Nick really HAS taught us is the enjoyment of afternoon coffee. For years we have been making coffee until about 10:00am, but suddenly, after Nick arrived, there was coffee made in the afternoon for a little 3:00pm pick-me-up.


Why we haven’t thought of brewing coffee in the afternoon before is a mystery. (Maybe we were less tired before?) Regardless, a fresh perspective and new input can bring about valuable, surprising changes and ideas that can help positively alter or improve efficiency, productivity, and outlooks.


If nothing else, given our propensity to want to take naps around here, it can just provide a nice afternoon caffeine buzz, compliments of ODOT.


“This would be a really great time for the Nap Room.”

– Andy Shuman

We here at Choice One have all literally dreamt of having a special room at our office just for napping. We could furnish it with a comfy couch, maybe an easy chair, some fluffy pillows, and a television set to low volume showing the one sport that puts everyone to sleep but Tony: soccer*.


As you can see, we clearly enjoy catching a snooze. In fact, a concerned citizen once called Kaye in for napping in the Choice One car at a local park (she was on her lunch, she swears!). Jeff Puthoff can probably even sleep standing up. Maybe that’s what the clunky, heavy boots are for–weight to keep him from falling over when he sleeps upright.


A little rest never hurts. As Brittany said just this morning, sometimes to solve a problem we need to “step back, take a nap, and then get some work done.” Stepping away from a problem can often clear our minds and allow us to tackle the challenge again with a fresh perspective, renewed energy, and possibly a little drool on our faces.

*For the record, Tony does not agree with this statement.

TONY: “Nick, do you remember what I talked about last time?”

NICK: “I think you talked about what a genius you are.”

– Tony Schroeder and Nick Sanders

Tony’s real genius? Delegation.


This poster has (literally) been hanging around Choice One for 15 years. (Check out Jeff Puthoff’s glasses.) And it’s just as true now as it was 15 years ago.


Sometimes it is hard to delegate. As human beings, we often adopt the attitude that we can do something better ourselves or that someone else won’t do it the “right” way.


At Choice One we try to avoid this mentality. Kaye is not good with math. Tony is not good with grammar (or unclogging toilets, according to the poster above). Jeff Puthoff is not good on computers. Put those three people together, though, and one might find (in addition to a rather goofy-limbed, awkward, bike-riding farmer) a solid mix of math skills from Tony, grammar and computer skills from Kaye, and… toilet-fixing skills from Jeff.


Andrew Carnegie once said “A genius is a person who surrounds himself with people smarter than himself.”By delegating tasks and using teamwork to accomplish goals, the product will be better and “right” because the most appropriate people have contributed their best talents.


Therefore, at Choice One Engineering, rest assured that, if nothing else, we can delegate to calculate the extent of our toilet’s damage with a well-worded document.

“Not above scrubbing the toilets”
-Choice One Engineering interview evaluation sheet


We don’t mind doing dirty work here (considering Matt’s expression, some of us maybe even enjoy it). In fact, based on the line above from one of our interview sheets, it’s a requirement to work here.

The list of least-loved tasks here at Choice One is long and adverse (depending on which whiner you talk to here, of course). Perhaps the best example is the move 13 years ago from the Ohio Building to our current Sidney location on Hoewisher Road. That event was so dreaded that two employees made up “excuses” to get out of it-Brian Barhorst and his wife Chris had a baby, and Jeff Kunk got married (seriously, what kind of excuses are those?!).


But just because we don’t always like the dirty work (like Matt obviously does above) doesn’t mean we aren’t remarkably willing to roll up our sleeves and jump in to help each other out when the time comes. Indeed, some of our most memorable moments come from the laughter of shared, unpleasant experiences.


Just ask Kaye, when her head was smashed against a wall while trying to lift a heavy box with Brittany, whose “fingers were going weak” from laughter.

“The real question is, ‘sometimes $#!% happens, but why does it always happen to Ryan Francis?'”

-Tony Schroeder


For some reason, Field Surveyor Ryan Francis seems to regularly be the victim of bad luck, accidents, and embarrassment here at Choice One. For instance, he has:
  • Backed a survey truck into a power pole. In the middle of a 50-acre field.
  • Routinely gotten the survey truck stuck on job sites.
  • Broken the back door window out of a truck when he “opened the back door and did not see another guy standing there holding a sledge hammer over his shoulder.”
  • Dropped his cell phone in a manhole.
  • Had a survey instrument and tripod blow over in heavy wind.

You get the point.

Luckily, he has broad shoulders (both literally and figuratively), so he generally takes all the ribbing he gets in stride. Unless he’s hungry. Then, by all means, stay out of his way.

When something bad happens, it’s easy to ask “Why me?” and feel gloom and doom about whatever predicament is at hand. But there’s another option: to look at each bit of adversity as an opportunity to learn, improve, and/or try again.

Granted, when unfortunate stuff happens to Ryan, there may not always be an obvious lesson for Ryan to learn, like “measure twice, cut once,” or “wait 30 minutes after eating to swim.” But it does give him the opportunity to learn to laugh at himself (which he always does), no matter how unlucky he is. And it gives the rest of us here (and now you, as well) the opportunity to laugh at him…er, laugh with him… too.

We just hope his abundance of misfortunes come to an end. For his sake AND ours.