Choice Mindsets

Choice Mindsets

“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.


“What happened to the Canteen?! It’s like a grocery store before a blizzard.”
-Greg Albers
You know how it is: the weatherperson reports that a “blizzard” (read: two to four inches of snow) is coming, and everyone rushes out for groceries in a panic in case they can’t get out of the driveway for three days. The last to the store might find that all the staples–bread, milk… beer–are gone, and that poor sap is left to choose between a questionable jar of pickled eggs and a dusty case of Milwaukee’s Best Light (unsurprisingly, one of Tony’s favorite beers, not because of taste, but because of frugality).
Brian Barhorst operates the Canteen here at Choice One, an honor system “vending machine” that gets a little barren occasionally. Since we all know that Brian hikes Canteen pricing up for profits to fund personal trips to tropical places, we know he’s not unprepared (for fear that he might lose a sale to the gas station down the road). He just hasn’t been to Sam’s Club in a while.
Being prepared for every outcome is impossible (and exhausting), so at Choice One we try to act as a Boy Scout would, and pack our pocket knife and matches: responsiveness, a sensible, realistic outlook, and lessons from past experiences.
Now, if only that Canteen was stocked with some of that dusty Milwaukee’s Best Light today so that Tony wouldn’t have to drive down to the local carryout.