Treehouse Masters on Working with Childlike Enthusiasm

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The following is from guest writer, Ed Russo.

As a college student my summer job was to build above-ground swimming pools. It was backbreaking work but tremendously rewarding. Every day I was motivated by the fact that when I was done laboring, a family, most often with children, would be swimming and playing in the pool I built. The crew I worked with shared my passion for creating a quality product that met the needs of the pool company and the homeowner. Despite the long days, hot temperatures, and physical demands, it was one of my most enjoyable work experiences.

Fast-forward 20 years. As an adult watching Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet, I can’t help but recognize how enthusiastic Pete Nelson is about treehouse structures. He walks among the trees to see which ones “talk” to him. He wants to make sure the treehouse is good for the trees, the structure, and the customer. Not only does the tree need to be able to support the structure, the structure needs to support the customer. His staff recognizes his passion and a certain amount of goofiness that goes with his enthusiasm.

At no point is the viewer confused about Pete’s motivation. He has recruited the most skilled and artistic laborers to build the perfect treehouse in the perfect spot. His passion is evident in how he motivates his workers, how excited he gets about the awesomeness of nature, and the specific detail harnessed by the decorator he chooses for the final touches.

Everybody thought treehouses were just for kids. I think at 25 (years old) I suddenly found myself reintroduced to the idea of a treehouse. I found myself as excited as I was when I was 12 years old thinking about a treehouse. I can’t think of anything that I am more suited to do. One of the neat things about it is if I spend the time and put quality thought into what I’m doing and concentrate on it, it is going to be good.

In almost every episode he is faced with an obstacle or challenge to his vision. What he does to overcome this obstacle is at minimum creative, and ultimately remarkable to see.

When I’m scouting a new location for a treehouse I’m considering a number of factors: the tree types, the size, the health. I don’t always get the ideal location but half the fun is overcoming these limitations.

Having passion for what you do and making the end-user happy is a win-win proposition that cannot be beat. Leaders who channel their passion into a service or product that meets the needs of the vendor, the consumer, and the environment achieve ultimate success.

I just get such a kick out of bringing a plan to someone that I know will work and see their eyes light up. I make people’s lives fun.

We may not all be able to work 20 feet off the ground but we can make our customers feel like they are our top priority. How often are you jazzed by your next assignment? In your business, have you created a “structure” that will flex and grow with its foundation? What would it take to get you to work with childlike enthusiasm? Why not ask a tree? It seems to be working for Pete.


Ed Russo is the Program Manager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Ed works with educators, law enforcement, community leaders, and government officials to implement child safety resources into schools and communities across the country. Through presentations and trainings, Ed provides participants with information about how safety resources can help prevent the victimization of children. Prior to joining the Center he was a Human Resources Manager in a Florida County Clerk’s Office and has over 18 years of teaching experience. Ed is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a BS degree in Education.

Ed can be contacted through Twitter and LinkedIn.

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