The Dee Howard Legacy

Dee Howard Sayings

Dee liked to make his point by using an expression or telling a story. The following is a collection of some of the stories and expressions Dee used most often, some are Dee Howard originals and some Dee borrowed from others:

  1. It is amazing how much you can get done if you do not care who gets the credit for it;
  2. It is not who is right it is what is right;
  3. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do;
  4. You cannot talk to a farmer about crop rotation when his barn is on fire;
  5. If you do not like the way things are going just keep doing what you are doing and you will not like the future;
  6. I do not know where we are going but we are making good time;
  7. That guy is so dumb he does not know he does not know;
  8. Just when you think you see the light at the end of the tunnel it is another freight train coming at you;
  9. It cost more than I thought it would but I thought it would;
  10. I do not trust that guy, he would piss on your foot and try to convince you you are sweating;
  11. Confusion-I am so confused I feel like the guy standing in the middle of the road staring at a rope who does not know if he just found a rope or just lost a cow;
  12. Cost overruns –it is like the monkey peeing in the cash register ,this could run into some money;
  13. With regard to controlling costs on projects Dee liked to tell the story about two guys talking one of whom had just gone bankrupt, his friend asked him how did it happen. The man that had gone bankrupt responded " two ways, gradually and suddenly";
  14. In terms of sizing up a situation quickly, Dee liked to tell the story about the cowboy in the old west that rode into town and took his horse to the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith had just taken a horseshoe out of the fire and was letting it cool, the cowboy not knowing it was still hot picked up the horseshoe and dropped it. The blacksmith smiled and asked the cowboy what is the matter was it hot and the cowboy said nope just does not take me long to look at a horseshoe. Just like that cowboy it did not take Dee long to size up a situation either and act on it;
  15. Know when to cut it off-in the Howard Aero days , Dee would fly around the country demonstrating the Howard aircraft to prospective customers, many of whom were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Dee always being inquisitive and never missing an opportunity to learn something , would take advantage of the time he had with the CEOs and would ask them if they had any advice for a young entrepreneur, in response one of the CEOs told Dee “know when to cut it off”. The CEO went on to explain that most people either work a problem either too long or not long enough, whether that is an engineering problem or a personnel problem. The CEO said the key is to know when to cut it off;
  16. That which is everyone’s responsibility is no one’s responsibility – Dee would ask in staff meetings “…if this does not work who do I fire…” he did not ask that question because he was going to fire someone(although he might) but to find out who was responsible, because if no one could tell him who to fire no one was responsible;
  17. The devil is in the details;
  18. If you give a guy a barrel of nails and a hammer he will figure out how to quit hitting his thumb before he gets to the bottom of the barrel;
  19. If the only tool someone has is a hammer every problem looks like a nail;
  20. If you have got luck anything will do for brains;
  21. Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way;
  22. It took longer than I thought it would but I thought it would;
  23. We are going to have peace or I am going to raise hell;
  24. Happiness is having something to look forward to ;
  25. Everyone needs a that a boy(i.e. pat on the back) now and then;
  26. That guy just lost a golden opportunity to keep his mouth shut;
  27. Speaking of design defects or poor workmanship – “..that is an accident looking for a place to happen..”;
  28. Life is what you do while you make other plans;
  29. In relation to working a problem until you find the solution, Dee used to say slowly, slowly catch the monkey and would go on to explain that if you are in the jungle and want to catch a money if you hide ,see the monkey and jump out and try to catch it, it will be frightened and will run away but if you gradually sneak up on it you will be able to catch it;
  30. The difference between committed and involved-It is like ham and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed;
  31. That guy is so confused he does not know whether he is a foot or horseback;
  32. If you are going to be a bear, might as well be a grizzly bear;
  33. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem;
  34. Communication: Don’t just wait until I am through talking, listen to what I am saying;
  35. That guy has the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory;
  36. If you find the horn of plenty don’t blow it;
  37. When all else fails tell the truth;
  38. A camel is a horse designed by a committee;
  39. Dee was not a big fan of long meetings. He would tell the story about when the settlers were traveling from the east coast of the US to settle the West in organizing the wagon train they would have a wagon master and a scout, if the wagon train was attacked while traveling west and the scout and wagon master were killed, i.e. the two people that knew where they were going and how to get there, they would circle the wagons and have a meeting;
  40. Dee was fond of quoting LBJ[President Lyndon Johnson] who said I would rather have that guy on the inside of the tent pissing out then  outside the tent pissing in;
  41. Don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk;
  42. Desperation: A drowning man will hold his arm out to an alligator to be saved as he is going over the falls;
  43. On the subject of greed: It is ok to be a pig but don’t be a hog, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered;
  44. This is like herding cats;
  45. Speaking about an overabundance of opportunities: I just said I was thirsty and wanted a glass of water but was hit by a fire hose of water;
  46. If a customer’s aircraft was in the hangar to long, Dee referred to it as a hangar queen. Dee said work was done best and cheapest when everyone knew there was followon work when a job was completed. If employees were worried about whether they would be working themselves out of a job, whenever they did not have something else to do they would post time on the “hangar queen”;
  47. We play by the golden rule, them that has got the gold makes the rules;
  48. Don’t give me the mushroom treatment, that is, keep me in the dark and feed me cow manure;
  49. Dee often quoted Peter Drucker, the management expert, who said every new idea needs a product champion [see http://www.clemmergroup.com/innovation-champions-skunkworks-and-organization-learning.php];
  50. If you take care of your customers they will take care of you;
  51. Dee used to say that customers will judge you based on how you treat them when they have a complaint ,while few customers had complaints, if they did ,Dee saw it as an opportunity to build goodwill with the customer;
  52. Be careful what you ask for, you may get your wish;
  53. Not learning from your mistakes - Dee would often say it was like pouring salt in coffee and then would tell the story about the man who sat down at the counter at a diner and ordered a cup of coffee. When the coffee was served the man, mistaking the salt for the sugar, put salt in his coffee, took a sip of it and put it down. The man made some excuse and asked for another cup of coffee, now everyone was watching to see what he would do and he poured salt in his coffee again. Finally, the server not being able to keep quiet about it any longer asked the customer why he did that, and he said because I did not want you to think I did not know what I was doing the first time;
  54. Speaking of poor management - This is no way to run a railroad;
  55. When someone would not take no for an answer - I have told you no three times now and you don’t seem to understand, no means no so maybe you will understand this “I don’t want to, I don’t have to, and I ain’t going to”;
  56. When you are the leader of the pack you are going to get arrows in your butt;
  57. The easiest thing to sell someone is something that they want and that no one else has;
  58. Dee was fond of telling the story about when he was a little boy and he and his father were out in the country by the side of the road looking at the cows in the pasture and Dee’s father said to him” Dee you see those cows, they are growing while you are sleeping”. Dee said he decided right then that he wanted to go in business, that he would spend one-half of his time running the business and the other one-half of his time coming up with new products for the business while others were running the business;
  59. You can’t checklist a guy to success-in other words, you hire good people, give them some guidance and then expect them to do their job, if they are constantly coming back to you and asking you what about this, what about that, what do I do next, that is not the right person for that job;
  60. He is about as reliable as a puppy dog on a new carpet;
  61. Nothing to it but to do it;
  62. That guy is a loose cannon;
  63. Don’t spend money you don’t know where it is coming from;
  64. You can’t critique a blank piece of paper;

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