How-To Navigate Expectations: A Guide for Artisans and Clients

As we approach the end of 2023, we take a moment to contemplate the art of managing expectations, not only for our clients but, more significantly, for ourselves as artisans. Mastering this skill is pivotal for ensuring client satisfaction and fostering our own mental well-being.




Am I doing it?

I'm waiting on you.

Hello, Brandon.

Gore Hello, Jon Schuler.

Hey, buddy.

How's it going, Jon?

Yeah, it's awesome.

It's good to hear.

How about you, man?


You've been busy as heck.

How's that bathroom coming along?

Bathroom is awesome.

We made well, I say we I, I always do that.

I got to stop doing that.

It's a bad habit.

You know when you're when I first started my company I want to be big.

I want to project that as a big company.


We'll get back to you soon.

Somebody will return your call.

Hey thank you for reaching.

Core design company representative will call you back as soon as possible.

You know, I'm at a point now or I want to project that I'm small, that I'm not some big company, you know, So I got to stop speaking and plural.


So I cast a bunch of tile for the bathroom, quarter inch thick, maker mix tile, 2% air, glass, fire.

And they look great.

They look great.

I did, I did a little tonal shift.

So what I would do is when I'd cast, I would adjust the pigment up or down slightly.


It was it was a 1% loading ish.

So I do 67G on this batch and I do 73 on this one and 60 on this one and I would do that so they would all be slight.

Each batch would be slightly different shades and then I mixed them all up before I before I tiled and man I love it.


I just went in there a minute ago and looked at it.

So I finished grouting couple days ago.

The grout's finally kind of even and out as it cures and it just looks great, looks amazing.

I love it.

I gotta admit, man, the only thing running through my head right now is like, uh huh, That's your super inaccurate scale that you're trying to look up for.


You're .001.




You don't know.



Well, if I was a, if I was a real professional, I would have a scale that that went to a thousandth of a gram.

And The funny thing is, Jon, I do have those scales.

I have them back there the the ohals or ohas or.


I think you need to.

I mean, I've seen the pictures.

So anybody who hasn't anybody listening and hasn't seen what we're talking about, there's some really cool pictures or I think they're cool pictures, yeah, of your bathroom wall, the tiles you've been working on.

And quite frankly, based on the tonal shifts and the way the tiles are arranged, it creates a a much better three-dimensional kind of thing between the way the lights are, the shading, the changing color, the whole 9 yards.


It's it really is a cool look man.

I mean not to pump you up, but I mean, it really is a cool look.

Keep going, Jon.

Keep going.

Yeah, Keep going, right.


Put it on.

Lay it on me.

So yeah, anybody who has not seen what we're talking about or interested in saying, you posted them on the, I think the Kodiak forum page, right, Kodiak materials forum page.


Yeah, it's on Facebook.

It's on my Instagram too.

If you just go to Hard Goods Co Co, Hard Goods Co on Instagram, you'll find them.



So yeah, So it was, it was fun.

And yeah, the design, I called it the stream of consciousness tile design.

And the reason is I did a triangle in collateral triangle and then I divided it into quarters and there's a little bit more to it than that because of the grout lines and the dimensions and it took some finagling to get it exactly right, but I I got it dialed.


So anyways, once you put one tile and then you put another tile next to it, essentially it becomes an infinite pattern variation.

You just start setting boom boom boom, small, small, large small large large large small and you just it.

They nest perfectly and it just starts to create a a infinitely variable pattern which I love.


I love.

You could take them and and do a repeating pattern if you wanted.

I think you'd lose the magic of this design if you did that.

But somebody could.

I mean you know I'm going to be selling these molds soon by the way anybody that sees this or like oh dude that's really cool and it could be used for floors.


It could be used for walls.

I'm using it for a wall.

But these molds, hopefully I've got a lot of client work on my queue right now.

But hopefully I can get through this client work and then I can get to producing these molds for for retail.

And so they will be available hopefully January, maybe February, we'll see.



Cool, man.

Yeah, super cool.



Well, I mean, you've been clearly busy, so it it looks nice.


I can't wait to see.

I mean, see the rest of it when it comes together.


What do you put like a Pottery Barn vanity in there or something?

Something like that, Yeah.


Yeah, yeah.

No, what I did, you know, my last shop in Eureka Springs, I did a floating vanity.

So I built a cabinet and, you know, mounted it to the wall and I had to be strong enough to hold the weight of the concrete sink.

I did a concrete erosion sink on it and it was really cool and I liked it.


But there's diminishing returns for the amount of work that goes into things, and that was one of them.

That was a lot of work to to get that effect.

And when it's all said and done, nobody even noticed.

It was one of those things I was like, so this time I bought these IKEA metal office cabinets for the front office and I store a bunch of stuff up here in the front office and those and they're really nice.


They're just all metal white, matte white cabinets.

And I bought 1 to use as the the vanity cabinet in the bathroom.

So I'm going to have to modify the back as it's metal to get it to fit over the plumbing.

But that way it all matches.

So we'll have a white, matte white metal cabinet with a concrete sink and it's going to have a really cool floating sink that floats off one side.


And but yeah, so that's the plan for that.

But yeah, some stuff left to do.

I got to fabricate a a cool mirror and some other little details in there and I bought some artwork which I'm excited about.

There's this artist, Mark Maggiori.


Maggiori, Maggiori, I don't know, he's in Taos.

I followed him for a long time.

But he does Western art.

He's a younger guy but he's been setting records for the sales of his paintings.

Like his originals are going for 600,000 plus per painting and but he does biannual prints so twice a year is the only time he can buy his prints for 36 hours, which I think is a kind of smart thing he's doing because if they're always for sale they wouldn't be in demand.


But he does this 36 hour block twice a year and people just go crazy.

His website crashed because so many people are buying prints.

So anyways, I bought, I bought a bunch of prints for the office.

I'm going to cast really cool concrete frames, which I've done concrete frames in the past and I love them.

So I'm going to cast really cool concrete frames and hang those here in the front studio.


And another thing that's cool just sitting here right now recording as we did, these concrete window sills or window stools as you.

Yeah, as you informed me, they're called window stools.

So these windows are really deep, the walls, this, this is metal building.


They furred the walls out on the inside to insulate.

So there's like a 12 inch return for the the windows and it was just a drywall return and the bottom, which I keep calling the sill, but it's called a stool.

The bottom was just drywall so it gets dusty.

It looks messy, you know you don't want to set up a drink on it because the water is going to soak into the drywall every time.


You don't want to put a potted plant on it.

So anyways, this last workshop, we did a fundamentals workshop a 1 1/2 day and we templated these window stools and we built the forms.

So what was cool about that class, Jon, was when the people showed up, there's nothing done.


So they showed up and I said here's.


Oh, you didn't pull the cookie cutter show kind of idea.

No, You know, that's demo days.

Things like a demo day like where it's a four hour class or 6 hour class, you have to, there's no way not to.

So you have to have stuff pre done.


You have to have stuff precast and you have to have all that stuff because you don't have time to do it.

But in this class, when the attendee showed up, I said here's what we're going to do.

We're going to template all these window stools, and we're also going to make a concrete countertop as well, but we're going to go through the whole process.


We came in, we we templated, we did, you know, all this stuff just like I would for for any project in the field.

So we made all the notes and overhangs and all that kind of fun stuff.

And then we went back and we pulled out melamine and I taught them all how to use the track saw.


So we cut all the melamine for the to make the forms, the edge strips, everything.

We went through ways to fasten molds, how to build molds, different methods of attachment, taught him how to use pocket screws, how to actually attach pocket screws or some tricks to that, how to caulk, how to clean the forms.


We did all that, how to batch cast cure.

And then on day 2, which was the half day, we came in and we did all the processing to the underside before we flipped it, flipped it, processed the tops, did all the diamond hand pads on the the round overs and acid etching and everything.


And then at that point it's about 11 P or I'm sorry, 11:00 AM.

And then we spend the next hour discussing ceiling.

And then at noon we're done and everybody takes off, head to the airport and hops the plane back.

So yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Yeah, When we talked about the very beginning offering things like that, I get just, you know, and I'm not blaming anybody who may take this the wrong way.


I think I think fundamentals in so many things they get.

I think people make them too complicated in my opinion and maybe a little too overwhelming.

So a day and a half, two days to come in really learn fundamentals of you know, mixes and mixing and you know how to use track saws and how to do forming and templating.


And it's really, I don't want to say it's easy but it shouldn't be that complicated It it really shouldn't and you know experience haven't done it long enough.

It's not it's really not that that complicated.


What's that saying, Jon?

Never ask an insurance salesman if you need more insurance.


Yeah, right.

So they'll always say yes, right.

And so I think there's, there's people out there that are only in the business of doing classes.

That's their only business, the only source of income.

Yeah, yeah, Yeah.

And so of course they want to sell you a five day class instead of a 1 1/2 day class because they're charging per day and they make a lot more money on a 5 day.


So of course, of course you got it of you guys.

It takes 100 days to learn this, You know, it's well, I'm sure that's.

Part of it.

Oh, that's 100% of it.

And then I think the part of it is they're, they're the inexperience too.

I mean the experience.

Yeah, that's what I would say.


That's the to me that's the probably the much larger overwhelming tone is when a person over complicates it it's it's I mean for anything we do you know what I mean if I take my truck into two of the mechanic and well here's an example the other day you know I was replacing a door sensor right.


And I'm like perfect opportunity.

Jay and I are going to do this together you know dad and son time and we're just going to switch out this little sensor.

Well for me by the time I did YouTube I mean it just seems so complicated and get in the you know blah blah blah, blah, blah.


Where, you know, the reality is that whole thing should have taken probably 30 minutes and instead it took us well over a half a day over complicated meaning.

See, I don't have experience doing that kind of stuff.

So of course it seems a lot.

It's of course it seems overwhelming.


And then if I was to teach somebody else, well, due to my inexperience, I would probably want to maintain that over complicated persona so that you take the, you know, so that your dollars goes into my pocket for more days than potentially necessary.


But I don't think it's necessary because I think it's necessary because I don't have the experience.

I don't do this.

I mean, that's just my what I've seen.

No, for sure.

I think your mechanic analogy is a good one, although it was a little convoluted to follow there.

Oh really?

A little bit, but you know, if you ever.


Did a door sensor man, you can see what's going.


But no, I think you're right.

I think, you know, if you go to a young mechanic who doesn't have a lot of first hand experience doing whatever it is, maybe they went to school and they got certified.

Whatever, they have their certification.

Hey, look at my diploma.

I'm certified, OK?


And then there's the old guy over there.

It's been doing it for 20-30 years.

So the the young dude with all those, you know, all those certifications and he's going to go through everything before he ends up at the solution because he doesn't know what he doesn't know yet, right.

And then the old man over there who's been doing his whole life pulls up, turn it on real quick.



OK, boom.



Me a second.

Yeah, done.

I don't need to do all that stupid stuff that the young kid over there with his certifications is doing.

Hey Jon, I'm forklift certified and.

Again, not that he's not trying.

I mean, you know, not that he's not trying.


I get it.

He's just, he doesn't.

He doesn't know what he doesn't know yet.

He's he's too too much of A novice.

So anyways, back to where all this started Jon was.

I'm sitting here and I'm looking at these window stools, these concrete window sills.


I'll still call them a sill, but these concrete pieces and it adds just this little detail.

If you have deep window returns in your house or your home, consider doing this.

You're 1 inch thick SCC direct cast maker mix sealed with ICT and they look.


It adds such a level of refinement and luxury to the space.

Before it looked cheap.

The the window returns look cheap because they're drywall, but the concrete it's just it's so nice.

It's so nice.

At some point I'll take a photo and publish it.

Yeah, super cool.

But it's just a nice detail, just the little details matter, and this is a good one.


So anyways, what else is going on, Jon?

That's it, man.

That's it.

We're gonna hit for a cool How 2?

Oh, I don't know.

What do you wanna do?

Well, I mean, so based on the your tile wall.


Mm hmm.

I think what a cool how to would be and and I think this is boy man probably 90% of my tech support when helping people with whether it be ICT or other sealing technologies.


And I know I probably shouldn't do that because I always say you know hey give so and so a call you know with this and you know talk to them first before you talk to me.

I actually got a someone who hit me yesterday with that and started laughing when that was my text back.

Like, hey, what did you call them first?


Wait, what's going on?

Somebody's asking for tech support on something else.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But I I'm not going to throw the name out there, 'cause I don't want to throw them under the bus.

No, You know, I don't.

I don't begrudging anybody for use other products.

But if you're using another product and you're having a problem with that product, call that person that sold you the.


Product I agree.

Yeah, I agree.



Anyway, so but anyway, where I was going with all this is, I'll bet 90% comes back to how to set expectations.

And along this conversation, because they're probably people like, oh, they just rolled their eyes like you're aid another how to set expectations.


I'm not talking about sealer.

I'm not talking about scratching.

I'm not talking about stain resistance.

I'm not talking about cracks.

I'm not talking about any of this kind of stuff.

I find that the number one influencer in how to set expectations is US and setting.


I mean, like literally building confidence in ourselves that there's no apologies for whatever we're making and how we're making it.

The materials we're using, you know, learn to embrace, you know, even if it is, stand in front of that mirror until you tell yourself you're pretty enough.


Then you actually, you know, believe you're pretty.

It worked for me.

It worked for me, yeah.

But you know that's the number one.

So where this goes full circle is I was sitting there looking at that wall, right.


And I was looking at the the different size menage A tois that you had going on in there.

Do you know what that means?

Do you know Monash?

Yeah, it's a triangle.


Well, sort of.

Kind it is.


I just looked it up, dude.

That's why I knew I could throw it in here without being sounding silly.


Did you know a synonym for a triangle?

Is menage A tois OK?

So you have.

So when I say to my wife, hey, we should have menage A tois, I just mean we should have a triangle.


What does that even mean, Jon?

When you came home to like, dude, I worked all day on my menage box.

Yeah, I'm giggling over here, 'cause I literally looked it up.

I'm like, what are Simon and Simon Loops for Pyramid Triangle?


And I'm like, turns out Menage.




He sounds sort of learned.

I had to work it in.

Yeah, I had to work it.

In do anyway.

So I was looking at that between the variance and color and the way you have them.


You know that alone.

If if you not not again, you're not doing this for somebody else.

This is you.

If you had not already built a confidence in the material you're using.


Now, I know you did it on purpose, but let's say you didn't.

The basic variation that happened in all those tiles with the various castings and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, then you would step back and want to rip your hair out or in your case, your beard out.

You know, like, Oh my gosh, it's, you know, it's menage A Tuomageddon, you know.


And so where I'm going with it is you know without the rest of it is what are strategies and what are strategies you've done specifically and I'll talk about mine later, what are strategies that you've done over the years of working this material that's helped you become confident and in a way set your expectations so that those expectations is the passion to sell to the clients, which has helped you with your client base and you know etcetera, etcetera, go for it.


Well, Jon, that's a good question and it is, it is timely because with Kodak Pro Maker mix you know we've we talked about two podcasts to go what we called Sam again.

But essentially one of our raw material suppliers stopped production of a sand we used and we had to switch to another sand that was you know, very similar but slightly different color.


And so when people did a deep exposure, there's some flecks of of color in there that that they didn't like.

And so we stopped production and we found the replacement sand which we can talk about that later.

But anyways, the whole point with that is the, the issue that we were hearing from people specifically one person I talked to him yesterday was he had made samples of maker mix present to a client and then when he delivered the piece or when he finished the piece, the, the flecks of sand were you know, a different color than what he showed them and they didn't like it, right.


And so the expectation hadn't been set on his part to the customer and really on our part to to him.

And we should set that expectation that when you're using a natural material, when you're using natural sands and we have four different sands in maker mix and they're all mined out of the ground.


And so if you mine 10 feet deeper, 20 feet deeper, it's going to be a different color.

You know if you mine on that side of the mine versus this side of the mine, it's a different color.

And so the, the very building color is just inherent in natural products.

And I just want to tell you I, I have samples, I've been making concrete samples for 20 years and I have a label on the underside of the sample and I would encourage everybody listening to please write this verbiage down.


I'm going to read my my label to you, the disclaimer.

And it's not even a disclaimer.

I mean it's it's in big letters on the back.

So it's not you're not going to miss it because it's fine print.

But this is what it says, Jon.

It says our products are handmade from natural materials.


Variation in colour, dimension and porosity will occur.

Samples should only be used as a general representation of the material.

That is 100% how I feel when I give a, a sample to a customer.


I'm very straightforward with them.

They say, oh, we're looking for a charcoal, we're looking for, you know, a light Gray, dark Gray, whatever.

And I send them samples and I say these are samples.

When we make the piece, it'll be very close to this.

But if I cast on, you know, a Wednesday versus a Thursday, if I cast when it's cold versus hot, if I cast, you know there, there's slight differences in the mix and that's part of it.


And they expect that.

They expect that.

And if the expectation is set from the outset, nobody's upset about anything.

It's the material.

The material's a natural material and nobody, nobody has any issue.

The problem is when that expectation isn't set.


And what?

Kind of.

But where I'm going with it is so with you personally, cuz yeah, I agree with everything you're saying.

I'm right there.

So what are things that you, and again, maybe they weren't specific, I don't know.

But what are things that you cuz I know you probably went through the same thing all of us have gone through.


You probably went through a period of time where you almost felt like you had to be apologetic about whatever you were making, right?

And yeah, you brought something and like, yeah, so I'm just saying what what helped you along this path of, you know, blankety blank years to build the confidence and understanding to set your expectations, which now your expectation becomes a confidence building thing.


So when you go to that customer, it's a very, I hate to use the word it's, but it's completely unapologetic.


Like honest.

It's an honest conversation.


There you go.

Yeah, honest.

That's a good way.

I don't know if I ever was apologetic about the material, Jon.


I mean, I I know people are.

I know people out there that feel that the material is lacking in some way and they need to apologize for that.

As far as concrete, the material itself, for whatever reason, they they just, they don't accept it for what it is.


I've always accepted concrete for what it is.

I went through a phase and everybody goes to this phase where you aim for absolute perfection.

And so you get into concrete because you love concrete and you get into concrete because you cast something, you demoulded it and you're like, Oh my God, I've made this.


This is insane.

It's incredible.

And you know, it's just it's so exciting.

But the the more you learn, the more your expectations become perfection.

And you start expecting the concrete.

You personally, not the customer, starts expecting it to be absolutely flawless.


No variation in color, no modeling, no sand, Fleck colors anywhere.


You want it to be perfect.

You want it to be Corinne.

That's what you have in your mind.

This is what concrete should be.

But concrete's like you.

That's not what I am.

I'm not that.

I'm a real thing brother.

And so once the artisan go through that cycle and again I went through it, everybody goes through it.


It's just part of it.

I get it.

But once you come back around and that pendulum swings all the way the other way and you're like, man, I love concrete for concrete.

And I think everybody gets there at some point, then it's like it's like, you know when you when you get to a certain age and you settle into your own skin and you don't care what other people think and you're comfortable in who you are at that point in life.


That's what it is.

At this point, when you're comfortable with the material for what it is and you're honest with the client about what it is, everybody has a much more relaxed approach to it.

It's when you go into it hyper about every little thing.


And if you go into it with a client that's hyper everything, they're not a good fit for concrete.

Yeah, but I would say that's just for me.

My experience was I went through that.

But I've I've never been apologetic for concrete and I've always been 100% honest to people, and I've always been very honest that concrete is a real thing.

And concrete like a real wood floor, a real leather chair, copper gutters, cedar siding, these are all things that age gracefully in time.


And that's what concrete should do.

If you cover concrete and plastic like an epoxy, you're going to encapsulate it forever and you lost the soul of the material and you should have just done coring at that point.

So I've always been very honest in that honesty has has worked well for him at this point.


It's here's concrete.

This is what we love about it And you're like, I love that too.


You're going to love this material.

So yeah, I I think it's just setting expectations out of the gate.

What I would say, Jon and I was, I was thinking about this earlier, back to the whole sand thing, which there's, there's ways if sand is an issue for a customer, right, for if you're a concrete artisan and you do deep exposures.


If sand color is an issue, we have a product called Radmix.

And Radmix is an ad mix without cement or sand in it.

And you're able to source your own sands and use your own cement and and that way you have full control over whenever you expose it.


You, you, you know, it's your sand.

You're exposing whatever you purchased.

And I was saying to you, like, you know, for a lot of years I was buying Medicalin, I was buying V cast.

I was making my own mix using #30 silica sand and liquid polymer.


I was doing that.

And you know the the mix, it was the sand was always just #30 silica, which is like a gold color.

And it was OK.

It wasn't great.

It didn't have the realness that I wanted in concrete because it's just #30 silicos sand.


So when you expose the sand it's just like gold spots, you know it didn't have the the organic sole of concrete.

But really the reason that we use the sands that we use in this mix is for particle compaction.

So we're choosing sands basement graduation and particle shape and water absorption.


Those are the defining criteria.

And So what we're getting with these sands is the surface density which is what we're we're looking for that's what we ultimately want with the performance of this mixes density of the mix.

But what I I guess why I was going with this is if somebody is if that's their their concern their issue, we have an option rad mix.


So you can use Rad Mix, use your own cement, use your own sands and you have full control.

Well, what I was going to say.

What are you going to say?


Us what I am going to say.

Tell me.

Is for me and I think part of a huge part of it is because of where I live and not that where I live has any more history than when anywhere anybody else lives.


But I live in the, you know, the old mother lode gold area.

So there are anything from old mines, you know, old buildings, things have been here since the, you know, as as far back as the late 17 to mid 1800s and etcetera.


For me, a defining moment, if I walk back about 20 years, 25 maybe is I walked into one of the stone buildings in downtown Angels Camp.

I I apologize, I'm going to call it a stone building.

And I walked in and the first thing I noticed when I walked in, there was the wood floors.


And then there was this, I don't know, like this built in cabinetry along the sides.

And then I had gone even further back into the bathroom and there was these old marble surfaces in there that, you know, it was pretty odd.


They've they've been there forever, you know, it was pretty cool for me.

That was a defining moment.

And I turned back out of the bathroom and I looked and the thought that hit my head was like, Dang man, if there was like for two hours a time machine to go back and let this building tell me the story, the story of every nick in the floor, you know what I mean?


The story of this cabinet that came in and who put it in and what was going on.

And it turns out this building was a pharmacy.

You know, an old time pharmacy Downtown Angels camp.

And that's for me, the moment that these thought process started coming to my head to say, like, oh, wait a minute, man, why am I, like, legitimately wasting my time to to make things for people that aren't going to tell a story so that the story told is whatever I put in that day.


And there's no change in character, you know, there's no new line on the fence, the face your your child never gets any taller.

You know, you don't get to live.

You don't get to live the story.

You know what I mean?

That, to me, was the moment I look back and realized that's when I faced my own expectations and what it was I was making for clients and how to pass that passion, if you will, to a client that made them go well, hell yeah, that's what I want.


I want that leather jacket that doesn't look like the day I bought it.

I I want it to live the story with me as I'm rode it riding my motorcycle.

And the the little scratch you remember when you went through some town in Oklahoma, You know what I mean?


It's so that's where I went with it.

And when I, let's say in my heart and soul, embraced that philosophy and then I'll give you another defining moment, the time actually I came out to your place for the first time and went up to that Crescent Hotel at the top of the hill.


Up there in Eureka Springs, yeah.

In Eureka Springs, yeah.

And I went into the dining room and immediately pictured, I don't remember how old that Crescent Hotel is, but the the wood, old wood, yeah, the old old wood floors in there were checked and scratched.


And again, I just thought, man, think of every ballroom dance that took place in here, you know?

And I think there was a period of time.

It was a insane asylum or something, too, right?

Yeah, So there's.

Probably anywhere now.

Gouges on the floor where they're.

Trying to get away, yeah, But as I sat there.


Eating my breakfast.

This is no kidding.

I I probably could be eating the worst gruel in the world, but I was just completely mesmerized by this floor.

I remember you told me about it when you came in.

You were talking about the floor?

The the, the story that it could tell throughout the years.


And then I was bummed out.

I think I told the last time before we left, they had sanded the floors and redid them and and I was like, oh man, it just, it took away 100 years of storytelling here.

I mean, there was probably some woman who flew in one time and you know what I mean?


That it it dropped her glass.

I mean, who knows?

But that to me is when all of my expectation truly transcended onto the to my customer base, to my clients, that's when I openly embraced what I'm doing.


I didn't have to make it for what it doesn't have to be.

It's going to be and pure honesty from that point.

And when that happened, and it wasn't just a light bulb moment when that happened, I'll still say there was a major transition between how the materials were presented.


And I mean literally, if I could draw a chart, it was a direct ascending line to the customer base that I started tapping into.

While you're talking about that, I was thinking you're talking about a leather jacket.

I bought this bag, this briefcase from a company called Saddleback Leather, and I've had it.


Now I don't know about a year probably, and it is getting better and better and better as where it rubs against my body when I'm carrying it.

You know, the leather is aging just the the realness of the material.

Had I bought a fabric briefcase or a pleather briefcase or anything that was not a real thing.


It wouldn't have that, it wouldn't have that realness to it.

But it's funny when you're when you're telling me the story of of kind of the the first moment, I do remember my first experience and mine was different than yours in the sense of mine was essentially the client telling me that they didn't like the perfection.


So what happened was there was an architect in Phoenix, AZ named Luis Salazar, phenomenal architect.

He's still still practicing and Luis hired me to make his concrete countertops.

Now Buddy Rhoad's products back in the day is actually owned by Buddy Rhodes, which is a long time ago because it's gone through a couple of owners now.


But way back in the day, Buddy Rhodes products I bought his first pile to mix he ever sold, but I used to buy his mix and there wasn't really any clear cut instructions on dosing water.

And I remember when I first met Buddy, Even.


For Buddy.

Oh my God buddy, I think.

There was any clear?

He was spraying water into this barrel mixer.

I'm like, all right Buddy, how much, how much water you had?

And he's like about that much.

Is that a, is that a quart?

Is that 2 quarts?

Is that a gallon?


Looks about right, but Buddy and which is he was like you know?

That big smile on his face.

Yeah, you know so anyways there wasn't really any clear cut instructions on on dosing water.

And so when I when I made this countertop for Luis Salazar, I was still pretty much winging it.


You know there wasn't we weren't using ice.

We weren't using plasticizer, we weren't using anything.

I mean polymers weren't even being used.

This is pre GFRC, this was you know this was way back in the day.

I put way too much water in the mix, way too much water in the mix and I cast the countertops for his house.


And when I when I did a light Polish on it and sealed it, it had crazing, which is like little microscopic cracks, like a spider web, spider web of cracks all to the surface.

Looked like an old ceramic or old porcelain plate.

So I didn't like it at all.


But I know that he needed his countertops.

He had like plywood in his kitchen and he needed countertops.

So I installed them and he was there when I installed them.

But I told him I'm going to remake these.

These are not up to my standard.

He's like, oh, I like them and but I he told me already that he used his house as a as like a meeting space but a showroom also for his clients to show ideas.


So he told me he's gonna bring clients by to show them these countertops and because I knew that and I told him I I said no, no, no, no, no.

I'm gonna remake these these.

They shouldn't be like this.

I don't like it.

This isn't as as good as it could be.

I'm gonna redo them.

He's like, no, I like them.


I'm like, I'm telling you, I'm gonna remake them, bro.

I'm gonna remake them.

So I go back and this time I use Quikrete.

Instead of the Buddy Rhodes mix.

I use Quikrete.

And I, you know, didn't use too much water this time.

And I and I demould them and I slur them and I Polish them and I slur them and I Polish them and I slur them and I Polish them.


And I do this again and again and again and I get every last little pinhole and every last lawyer hole filled.

And I Polish that thing like 3000 grit.

And I seal it and I wax it and it is perfect, perfect, perfect.

So I called Louise and I said, hey, your countertops are done.


He said great.

You know, he gave me a key code or he left a key.

I can't remember exactly.

But and maybe I've told the story.

I feel like I've told the story, but I'll tell it again.

So he said, he said, yeah, just go ahead and and go on in and you can take out the old ones, put the new ones in.

So I go to his house, take out the old countertops and put in the new ones.


But when I took out the old ones, instead of just putting them on the racks of my trailer, I just broke them in the driveway and threw them in the trailer because I didn't feel like strapping them down and all that kind of stuff.

I just stood them in a trailer.

So anyways, you know, I I Shim everything in his on his new countertops.


I tape it, I silicone it.

It is as good as good can be.

I leave.

He gets home from work that day.

He calls me.

I hate it.

I hate it.

What do you mean you hate it?

He's like they don't look like concrete.

They look too perfect.


They don't like concrete.

I was like, what are you talking about That's concrete, bro.

He's like, I want, I want my old countertops back.

I'm like, I broke your old countertops.

They're in a dumpster right now.

He's like, I don't like these.

I'm like, well, I don't want to tell you because that is that is perfect.


He's like, but I don't want perfect.

And that was my moment where I realized that I had become focused on perfection.

When a customer, you know, this really well known architect in Phoenix, he could have gotten perfection.


He could have gone down and got stainless steel.

He could come down and gotten Corian.

He could have gotten some soulless granite covered in epoxy.

There was a ton of options for him if that's what he wanted, but he did not want that.

He wanted organic.

He wanted real.

He wanted something like an old leather sofa, copper, copper gutters, cedar siding, concrete countertops.


When I delivered that first countertop that I had messed up in my opinion, and put too much water in and had those imperfections, it was the imperfection that he responded to.

That's what he loved about the material.

He loved the realness of it.

So that for me was my moment.

And that was, you know, the kick.


I needed to be like I, I, I.

At that point I remembered what I'd forgotten.

I'd forgotten that customers want conquer because they want something that's real.

And from that moment on, I embrace the realness and I've set expectations accordingly.


Now we strive for perfection.

And that goes full circle for me because as we're talking about honesty in materials, this is so many places where I think all of us got off track again, because I can hear somebody already, you know, put me a message like, yeah, man, you know, pin holes are real or let's be honest in, you know, in the, you know, moon crater finish.


Yeah, I need a crack running right through it.

That's honest.

No, it's not.

That's an easy answer for me because I'm still going to say I think we're so many of us got off track and now I feel like you know I'm I'm back in something that I'm comfortable again is again we started pumping stuff full of plastic and then that plastic created issues IE polymer right.


And we, you know, and then we kept punching ourselves in the groin, I would say in the but.

You could beep, you know, to to accept this for what it is and just da da da da da.

And I'm like, yeah, I know, man.

And so I, I went through that transition difficulty where I'm like, yeah, yeah, well, this this is not and I don't know it's really uncomfortable And and then we all end up, you know, down a, a rabbit hole of which sealer's better or you know, is a topical that peels and scratches versus anyway.


And but the reality is I got away from the honesty of the material.

And I think in a lot of ways I also watched my business suffer.

Meaning when I say business, it's not like I wasn't still selling things, but my customer base started transitioning again, you know what I mean?


And I wasn't touching into that customer base that, you know, that liked buying the older car.

You know what I mean?

Who, who who liked seeing these things?

They wanted to see these things.


They were going to pay the money for the hand hewn beams.

They were going to do these kind of things.

And here I come along again like, yeah.

And then here you go.

I got, you know, my concrete, plastic, plastic creep.

That's not really what we're looking for, Jon.


What do you mean?

Why wouldn't you want it?

You, you got to do this and now I'm back again.

I mean I I got, I think I told you a project I'm probably going to put off till the 1st of the year because of everything going on.

You know, this is a customer base and I and I hope this message gets out to people who who listen the the customer base, you start tapping into #1, not all of them.


And you can certainly make anything for who you want.

They often become the more affluent, you know, people that they want to spend the money on honest things, on real things and that's which is great.

It's a great because what you're making and how you're making it and who you're making it for changes dramatically.


You know, we always talk price score, but really it's value that you become a far more valuable, you know, artisan to them or maker to them or whatever.

You know, craft concrete person to them, whatever you want to call yourself.

And it really transitions and it transfusions, transitions in such a wonderful way.


But a huge part of that, if I can put that out there, is we as artisans learn to embrace your materials, learn to be honest with yourself and honest with your materials.

And I think you know 99% of the time you're going to come to where the rest of us are, whether we're talking sealers or concrete or anything, is when you get honest, real honest, it changes dramatically.


So that to me, I know it's a long way of talking about setting an expectation, but that I think is a huge part of the expectations that all of us had to learn.

I agree.

I I, I want to add two things.

We've talked about it before, but luxury, true luxury for for the fluent clientele is real.


If you ever look at a truly affluent client's house, you go into their house.

It is not a pergo floor.

It is not a quarian countertop.

It is not, you know, painted walls.

They're gonna have the American clay hand troweled walls.


They're going to have a a real wood floor probably reclaimed and it's going to be old growth oak from 200 years ago.

They're going to have a soapstone countertop.

They're going to have things that are real, that is luxury.

Things that are fake, things that are plastic, things that never age.


That's going to be an apartment complex, that's going to be McDonald's, that's going to be those types of places.

So there's there's definitely a clientele that responds to things that are honest and real, and so that is the fluent clientele.


The second thing I want to talk about is you're right, we're saying something.

And then there's gonna be competitors out there, or I don't even call them competitors, but there's gonna be people out there that do shoddy work that sell crap products and they're going to take our language and try to use that to sell what they're doing.


Oh, this is embracing the material because it has a billion pin holes in it.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Do not bastardize what we're saying with that type of crap sales pitch, Right?

Here's my, here's what I'm saying.

There's a really famous woodworker named Noguchi.


He's passed away, but he's super famous.

And he would take wood slabs, Live Oak, or or live edge wood slabs and let him cure for years and years and years.

And he would study them and think about them for years before he would make it into a piece of furniture.


And then he would take that piece of wood and he would do meticulous craftsmanship to make the base, to to do whether it was a chair or a table or whatever it was very, very high level, meticulous, precise craftsmanship.

But he embraced the character of the wood.


He took what was real and the imperfections that were inherent in that piece of wood and embraced it and made a part of it, but focused on the quality of the craft.

And that's why Noguchi is in the Museum of Modern Art.

That's why Noguchi, his name will live forever because he did extremely high end craftsmanship, at the same time embracing the honesty of the material.


And So what I encourage people to do, and what I do in my own studio, is I aim for perfection.

Meaning when I build my mold, I build it as precise as can be.

When I silicone my form, I do it as cleanly as I can get it.


When I clean the form, I'm super meticulous.

Go through that.

When I batch, when I cast, when I cure, when I finish, when I seal, when I crate every single aspect of the process, I do the best that I can.

But when I cast a piece of concrete and ID molded and there's some modelling of colour, or maybe here's a fiber over here that ghosted slightly or there was 1 little air pocket on on the round over.


I let that be.

I don't sweat it.

When I demote a piece.

I'm looking at these window sills right now.

There is not a pinhole, not 1000.

If you took a needle and you poked it in a piece of paper, there's not a pinhole that size to be found anywhere on the surface.

They are insanely functional surfaces, extremely durable, extremely life friendly.


They will last forever, but when I was building the forms for the fundamentals class, we caulk the round over.

That's going to be the front edge that we want to round over.

But I did not caulk.

The other sides are going to be touching the walls and the attendees asked about that.


They're like, well, you know, is the water going to create, Is water going to seep out right there because he didn't seal it?

Yes, yes, it will.

It will.

And I call that a watermark.

And what happens is when I demould it, there's going to be a slightly lighter color in those areas.

Now once we ask that I shouldn't seal it, it's pretty much 100% goes away.


But occasionally you do get it to where you still see a a lighter area and that is what I'm talking about.

That is embracing the imperfection of the material.

You let the material be real.

I've literally had customers.

I did a table, maybe I'll post it in the show notes of this.

I did a table for this coffee shop in Phoenix called Royal Coffee Bar and when I cast it, I didn't cure it properly.


I put plastic directly in the back of the concrete, which we don't recommend.

We recommend felt, and the reason we recommend felt is if you just put plastic water, the the, you know, evaporation is gonna build up on the underside of that plastic.

It can Wick underneath the concrete.


It happens sometimes.

It doesn't happen all the time.

Yeah, that's.

Just bad practice.

Yeah, but I I was that day.

I was in a hurry.

Maybe I had to leave early.

If I put the felt on, it would have bonded.

So I just put plastic.

I don't know why I just put the plastic, but I did.

So when I flipped the pieces, one piece had this big watermark where water had whipped underneath and created this, this watermark.


And I was like, oh God, I got to recast this thing.

You know, it's an inch and a half thick, 4 foot by 8 foot.

It's like a whatever.

But I flipped it over and I just took a photo of it.

I put the four slabs together as they're going to be for the table and took a photo and sent to the customer, this architect Hayes McNeil.


Hayes McNeil plus minus studio.

I sent Hayes the the photo.

He's like, dude, I love it.

I love it.

OK, so I finished.

I asked etch did.

I sealed it.

I put the mounts on.

I assembled the table, delivered it.

He when he came to the table, I mean, the table is perfect.


There wasn't again, there wasn't any imperfections besides this discoloration watermark, which didn't create any imperfection in the surface.

Meaning it wasn't rough, it wasn't, you know, it was dead smooth.

But it's just this colour discolouration.

He walks up and he's like, he's like, I love this table, he's like, I love this, this, this is what I love.


Of course that's what you love.

That is the the realness of the material that is the real, that's the soul and that's what he responded to.

And again it was that another kick I needed of like, yes, this is what customers want.

You you strive to do your best.



That day I didn't do my best.

I you know, I I know to put felt.

You strive to do your best.

But when things come about, you embrace it for what it is, you know, so you don't want to you don't want to misconstrue a crappy material like a polymer modified concrete that has all this whipped, entrained air into it.


And you have all these pin holes.

No, no, that's not honesty materials.

That's just a crappy material.

You know you're trying to put lipstick on a pig and call it something that's not.

But if you if you use a material that's inherently dense, it doesn't have all those issues.

And you do the best you can and you strive for perfection all through the process.


You let the chips fall where they may and you accept the material for what it is.

And if you do that and you, you believe in the material and your customer believes in the material and the customer believes in you, everybody's happy.



Yeah, that's so if that's my message to anybody about setting expectations is and even though we use these words like embrace or you know, whatever.


And it's not about like even to yourself.

It's not about apologizing to yourself for what it is.

It's it's.

And I even hate using the word I was going to say accept because sometimes accepting is like I guess this is what no, man.


I mean like step on a soapbox for a minute and be like, dude, this is what I do and This is why I do it.

And once anybody can get that into their soul again, don't, you know, if you're not trying to become your own salesman, But once you've done that, that's when you'll take everything to new heights, new heights.


I know that's definitely what I've seen throughout my career.

Customer bases, you know, square foot prices, you know, things that jump significantly, who I'm doing it for, what they love and why they love it.

And then with that all I keep bringing the psychological side of it.


I love it.

I love it.

And I love that I'm doing it for them because they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

And it's it's it's a completely enlightening moment for all of us, and a very freeing moment when you can get to that point.


You know, I I told about this countertop.

I don't know.

I I remember telling the story.

I just remember which podcast it was on.

But the last story I'll tell that relates to this was I had a customer come to me and he wanted a countertop for his restaurant in Scottsdale called Sumo Maya and is this Asian fusion.


And he wanted he he lived in Mexico City as well.

He lived in Phoenix or Scottsdale in in Mexico City and he'd seen all this really rough concrete in Mexico that he loved.

And so the designer, and I remember him, his name was Jeff Lowe, really good designer.


He did a lot of really cool restaurants and and bars and things in Scottsdale.

But Jeff Lowe brought the client down to my shop in Tempe and the client came in.

He's like, here's what I want.

I want like broken hedges and exposed rebar and like, no, no, no, no, no, no.

That's Mickey Mouse.


That's faux.

That's fake.

I do not do fake.

I'm not gonna take chains and beat the concrete and do all that kind of stuff.

I don't do that.

I say no to clients quite a bit and I remember Jeff's face when I said to the client, I'm not going to do that.

I'm like, no, I'm just, I'm not.


I said, but let me tell you because I'm, I'm hearing what you want and you want the realness and the rawness of what you've seen.

So I'm not going to do fake broken concrete.

I'm not going to do any of that.

But what I will do is I'll do board formed concrete, I'll form the edge with roughs on lumber.


So that's going to pick up what you've seen in Mexico where they're they're not casting on smooth, they're casting on wood.

So I'll do roughs on lumber for the edge, and when I seal it, I'm gonna seal it with a sealer called ICT Reactive sealer.

I'm gonna do one coat only, OK?

I'm not gonna go through all the steps.

I'm not gonna make the thing, Bomber.


I'm gonna do one coat, and that's gonna give it protection, but it's not gonna make it impenetrable to stains.

Essentially, it's gonna age.

He's like, yes, that's what I want.

I said, OK, great.


So I'm gonna do that, and we're just gonna let it settle into the space and let it become part of the space in in, in time.


It's gonna get to where you want it to be.

But I'm not gonna, you know, I'm not gonna pre stain it or do I'm not gonna foe anything on it.

We're just gonna let it be.

So that's what I did.

I did board formed edge.

I did one coat of ICT.

We installed it and he loved it.


And then as years progressed, I'd hear from him from time to time and I'd stop by and look at it and it looked beautiful, beautiful.

And again, there was no stains.

It was no like there wasn't like a wine stain or oil stain.

There was none of that.

But it was like my leather bag, It was just worn.


It had darkened where, you know, people had been sitting and and put in their elbows all the time and everything and it was just like like a beautiful piece of wood that had aged gracefully in place.

And that's what he had wanted.

He didn't want Corian.

He could have gone down and gotten concrete, Corian, which looks like concrete, but it's never going to age.


It's always going to be plastic for here until the end of time.

That's not what he wanted.

So if if you embrace it and you're honest with yourself and you're honest with the client, everybody is happy.

It's it's when you have unrealistic expectations and when your client has unrealistic expectations that the problems arise.


So back to the where this began setting honest expectations.

Having an honest conversation is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your customer.

And everybody's happy to end if you're honest from the get.

Yeah, I agree, 100% agree.

Well, what else?


I got one more thing I wanted to throw out there.

Well, do it quick because we've already gone an hour.

So say what you're going to say, Jon, say it.

All right.

Say it.

All right.

So something cool I've been working on is a new sand company that I'm working with.


Just got the sands in.

They're beautiful.

I'm so happy with this.

If anybody hasn't been paying attention, we're going through a bit of a Sand Mageddon over a a large company that stopped production on the sand and kind of you know anyway left us all hanging, not just us with many companies hanging.


And anyway, so those are going into production this week.

I am super excited about it, man, super excited about it there.

So for anybody interested, you know again go to the Kodiak Pro discussion page and could update it on those kind of things.


But this is once again a a new thing, a new exciting time for Kodiak is these sands.

This is a sand nobody else is going to have, man.

They're super cool.

They are so nice.



I'm like I said genuinely it took a lot of work.

I mean, you know, as I talked to you many times, I mean it was frustrating as heck to get these things up to speed.

But so I just wanted to throw that out there.

So anybody interested?

Kodiak Pro discussion group, you know, see what's going on.


And once again, man, we're going to have some cool things moving forward.

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Last thing I want to hit Jon is the Fundamentals Workshop.

We have in February, February 10th and 11th, which is a Saturday and a Sunday.

And so you can fly in, you know you can work on Friday, catch the flight out of your wherever you're at on Friday evening and then you come to class Saturday Sunday's 1/2 day, catch the flight home Sunday afternoon and you're back to work on Monday.


So you're not going to miss any work.

But it's up to February 10th and 11th and you can go to to read more about the Fundamentals Workshop and we're going to be listing some more advanced workshops here soon.

I've had a lot of people reach out to me lately and ask when's our next pinnacle?


When's the next fabric forming class?

When's the next furniture design class?

And we haven't really had time to sit down and and plan those out, but I'm going to be listing those here soon and so look for those as well.

Anything else?

No, that's it for me, man.



Well, Jon, until next week.

Adios, amigo.


Good talking to you, buddy.


#ExpectationMastery #ClientSatisfaction #ArtisanMindset #SettingExpectations #ClientRelations101 #SelfCareForArtisans #MindfulArtistry #ExpectationBalance #ClientExpectations #ArtisanWellBeing