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  • Brian Van Brunt

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

There is this quote that goes ”how you do anything is how you do everything.” The origin of the quote isn’t clear. It’s been attributed to various authors and trainers like Simon Sinek, Martha Beck, and Suzanne Evans (who wrote a book with a similar name). The quote jumps into my head as I round the corner on hour three of editing a video of a webinar Nina Delgadillo and I recorded live in May.

I edited in the minivan as my wife drives us to casino on the day before the holiday. I edited while waiting see the new Wes Anderson movie Asteroid City with several of my kids and their significant others. I’m editing now, on the day after the holiday while drinking my coffee. Right now, I’m importing a picture of Peter Faulk as the infamous detective Columbo to bring home a point about how the threat assessor is seen by the subject. I’m at timestamp 32:31 out of 52:59.

This was a free program on “Assessing Truthfulness in Threat Interviewing” as part of our DarkFoxDen series. We try to keep the trainings to around 20-30 minutes, but usually this goes out the window as all the good content starts to flow.

I like processing the videos. I get to reflect on my teaching. It helps me improve timing and catch bad habits. I make some notes. I tell myself to talk less, to pass the microphone to Nina more. This isn’t the first time I have this last thought. You might think it’s my desire for screen time or getting caught up in a story. It’s more about the pressure I feel. I worry about getting through all the content quickly. I worry about leaving something important out.

This one is a long program and taking longer than usual to edit. The typical hour it takes to add pop up-text, video clips, captions, and cutting the “ummms” and “you knows” has long since expired. I had planned to work through my task list over the holiday weekend. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my failure to accomplish a goal over this odd, 4th of July Tuesday/weekend.

I sip my coffee and insert the photo of Columbo into the time range 32:31-32:39. This gets me thinking about the quote I opened with. Over the years, it’s become a bit of a guiding principle, a kind of mantra for the work I do. It reminds me that the quality of the work I do matters. I could have quickly processed the video in ten minutes. No one is paying for it. I don’t think people would really care. I can slap a ten second header and footer on either side and leave out the clarifying extra points, video clips, and sound fixes. People tell me to do exactly this. Get it done. Stop messing around with it.

But it’s not my way. I remember developing the Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment (SIVRA-35) and recording the infamous Dustin and Stacey interview demonstrations. I trained tens of thousands of people on the SIVRA and those videos. And then we recorded the Myra and Jon demonstrations because it was important to show a wider range of threat examples highlighting mental illness and faculty threat. Then came three more demonstrations: a black athlete being profiled, a sorority member who made a threat against a sister, a trauma survivor who got into some serious classroom disruptions. Each of these was an investment in the people we trained.

It’s easy to assume the work is about money, attention, power, and fame. These each hold an allure for me, yet the strongest drive is the process of creating something and finding that perfect way to communicate the work. It’s about finding the best way to teach a concept to an audience. It’s about finding the perfect example, even if that means adding captions we initially missed on the side of the highway on the way to a gig in Louisiana in 2017.

This is the driving force for me. It’s a desire to make things better. It’s my StrengthFinder quality of maximizer taking over the driver’s seat. It’s about taking something good and making it into something better.

We were hired by a college to teach a day long, virtual conduct training in a few weeks. There are few things I get excited about more than being paid to make something amazing and collaborative with a team. The head count for the project is eight instructors. I know it will be a quality training. However, I still hear the voices of past. They whisper in my head words like margins, maximizing profits, and “don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.” They tell me to take the easier path, that 2-3 instructors would still provide a great training. Pocket the extra money. No one will notice.

At 51, I’ve finally learned some things about myself. Those voices are quieter now. I know my drive. It’s about the pursuit of something most excellent. It’s creating a work that has quality.

I like to scroll on TikTok. I came across an old clip of Steve Martin discussing how he became successful. I like listening to successful and smart people talk about their process.

In the video, Steve Martin said the secret of success is to “be so good they can’t ignore you.”

What connects here to me is creating excellent content, engaging the audience each time I teach, and delivering materials that exceed the expectations of the audience. It closes the gap between the idea and the deliverable. Always striving to be so good, they can’t ignore the work.

I’ll leave you here. I need to get back to editing so I can move onto the next thing. It’s supposed to be 91 out today and the pool is set up outside. I’m planning some swimming with my youngest daughter, Lizzy. And I want to be mindful of that.

Thanks for listening.


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