Dino Tudisca | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Dino Tudisca

Background:  

Dino Tudisca founded Bozrah-based Exterior Solutions LLC, a construction and remodeling company with three employees, in 2001. He added “…by The House Doktor” to the name of the business to honor his father, Santo “Sonny” Tudisca, who started The House Doktor in the early 1980s. During the 1990s, Dino Tudisca worked solo, doing business as DRT Enterprises. He became director of construction services at New London-based Habitat for Humanity of Eastern Connecticut 15 months ago and still runs Exterior Solutions. He also has been vice president of the Builders Association of Eastern Connecticut for the past two years and previously served as its secretary.

The Mistake:

Working without a purpose.

My dad, who died Oct. 29, gave me a love of the business. It was a family thing with its family moments – get fired in the morning and rehired in the afternoon.

I was motivated by money for a time but I needed more than that. Something was missing. I felt like my work didn’t have a purpose. Your work needs to have meaning.

Purpose became my drug of choice.

The Lesson:

If your work doesn’t seem to have a purpose then maybe you’re in the wrong business. The most important thing is finding the “Why” in “Why are you doing this?”

Volunteer work helping to rebuild a Voluntown home after a fire in 2008 was the way that I found that and became able to express what I was feeling inside.

Purpose became my drug of choice. I continue to look for ways to help and express creativity at the same time. And if you put yourself out there people will find you and those opportunities will come.

I especially like bringing back old houses. There are so many good ones in and around Norwich. My dad used to say, “Anybody can build a new house.” The challenge of reviving an old house is definitely a way for me to express myself.

I love my job with Habitat. If someone was to write a job description just for me this is it. I went to South Carolina in October for a vacation and volunteered for Habitat for a day when I was there. It felt great to help the families there. You get infected with the love of doing this.

I have more office work than I used to but I don’t mind it. When you’re purposeful then that means you’re organized and you plow through the paperwork because it’s part of your purpose. At Habitat the time is made for you to do it.

Working for Habitat has given me more freedom with my other work with Exterior Solutions. Before I felt compelled to take jobs because I figured I needed them to pay the bills. Now we just do the jobs we want to do.

I’ve been working with college kids through Habitat and they make me feel really good about the youth and about the future. The bad ones get all press. No one who goes to visit someone and makes them feel better about their day is going to get in the newspaper.

It’s good to have friends. I have great friends including at BNI (Business Networking International). They’ve been tremendous since my dad passed.

Dealing with pride is a challenge. It’s hard for some people to accept help.

The biggest challenge for a person is identifying what they’re good at, what’s profitable, then following through to see if they’ve found their purpose. That’s the way to become a competent, well-oiled machine and more relaxed one, too.

Habitat for Humanity is on Twitter at @Habitat_org.

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