An Executive Summary Q&A

Words: MASONRY Magazine

Editor’s Note: Juan Carosso talks with us about his new book At Your Best as a Mason. In this executive summary, you will read more about this new installment of Carosso’s At Your Best series. We’d like to thank Juan for taking the time to talk with us about his book and series. 

Masonry Magazine: How did this book come about?  

Juan CarossoAt Your Best as a Mason came about because I wanted to help reverse the growing shortage of skilled bricklayers, cement masons, block masons and terrazzo workers throughout the US. This book is part of the first set At Your Best Playbook series, which covers the building/construction trades. 

As immigrants to the US, working in the Skilled Trades was the foundation on which my family was able to realize our American Dream. In the past few years, I became very aware of the Skills Gap and the impact on the many contractors that I worked with on a number of building and remodeling projects across the US. 

The many conversations I had with successful, current and retired craftsmen (subject matter experts or SMEs) and my own research opened my eyes to this growing shortage and the need to do something about it. I realized that I, in fact, could do something about closing the Skills Gap by assembling and offering a comprehensive set of resources (the At Your Best Playbooks, Page Break 

website with a growing array of complementary tools and social media outreach) that an individual can use to navigate the career and small business decisions that he/she will need to make along the way. 

When I factored into this, the very real impact that having such a set of resources could have on the lives of individuals and their families, this topic went from “important” to a 24/7 passion. 

M.M.: Tell us about some of the benefits of the book. 

J.C.: At Your Best as a Mason provides the reader a comprehensive, step-by-step game plan for building a career and starting a successful small business as a mason.  The primary benefit is that the steps, milestones and tools offered are applicable anywhere the reader may live in the US. Combined with the www.AtYourBest.com website, this book provides the tools and advice from current and retired successful craftsmen (subject matter experts or SMEs) that the reader can use to differentiate themselves from their peers and give themselves a competitive advantage in their local market. 

M.M.: What readers will readers find in the book? 

J.C.: At Your Best as a Mason is designed to answer 10 key questions for the reader: 

  1. What does a career in one of the masonry specialties look like? 
  2. What should you consider when becoming a mason? 
  3. How do you become a successful Craftsman as a mason? 
  4. How  much  can you make as a mason in your chosen local market? 
  5. What are your career options as a mason? 
  6. How long does it take to succeed at each stage of your career? 
  7. How and where can you find work as a mason in your local market? 
  8. What concrete actions should you take to be a highly valued employee? 
  9. What should you think about before you strike out on your own?  
  10. What, at minimum, does it take to launch a successful small business as a mason? 

M.M.: Do you have any advice you may have for our readers? 

J.C.: The advice I would give would be some of the responses that was given to me by the SMEs when I asked them the same question: 

  • Be teachable and humble 
  • Put in 100%, 100% of the time 
  • Learning communication skills is critical to how far you can go. You need to know how to communicate with your boss, your coworkers, or your customer or your dead in the water. 
  • Stay off your cell phone. Your wasting somebody else’s money. 
  • Do your best work when no one is watching over you 

M.M.: This book is a part of a series, tell us more about that.  

J.C.: The At Your Best Playbook series is intended to help close the Skills Gap – one individual at a time. At Your Best’s mission is to provide folks a clear pathway so they can envision a successful, long-term future by pursuing a career and starting a small business in the Skilled Trades. I truly believe that the Skills Trades can be the foundation for many, many folks to realize their own American Dream, as it was for my family. 

As noted earlier, I am convinced that, by offering individuals a step-by-step, A-to-Z game plan, a reader can envision what needs to be done to succeed at each stage in a career or a small business, irrespective of where they may live in the US. They can then make a better decision when considering that career or business in the Skilled Trades. With a clear action plan, that better decision will lead to another better decision and so on.  

M.M.: Is there any additional information you’d like to include? 

J.C.: The At Your Best Playbook series is written to specifically address the career and business decision making needs of the following four demographic group of folks: 

  1. The Newcomers:  Those who are entering the workforce for the first time. 
  2. The Veterans:  Those who are returning to the civilian workforce after their military service. 
  3. The Restarters:  Those who are re-entering the workforce but are changing careers. 
  4. The Upgraders:  Those already in a Skilled Trade but are now looking to go the next level as an entrepreneur.