12 quick bits of advice from a war-torn veteran

Jun 14, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 9.14.22 AMNow in my 36th year of this business, ‎I am still learning. Here are some quick bits of advice that have helped me over the years:
  1. Never lose your temper. Being calm is always best. But if you do, say you're sorry. And mean it!
  2. If something goes wrong on a project, eat it. Don't try to fight doing what you know you need to do and will do anyway. The sooner you get to fixing the problem, the better.
  3. Don't ignore HR problems. They will just get worse. Deal with them head-on, sooner rather than later.
  4. A productive team member is far better than a destructive "star." A destructive star may do the work of two or three people but run off 10 or 20. You can't let that happen.
  5. The best time to sell is when you don't need the work. You'll be more honest with the client and more confident. That will lead to a better fee and relationship.
  6. There's always something to fix in every business. But you can't let that make you negative and cynical. Negative, cynical people are not ultimately successful.
  7. Focus on building your strengths versus trying to fix every weakness. It's always good to figure out what you like to do and are best at. Do more of that and less of what you aren't so good at.
  8. Longterm relationships are worth investing in. It's easy to be seduced by a brighter smile or lower price but it takes a long time to build a relationship with a subconsultant or supplier. Don't cast those aside quickly – especially for those you know have good intentions.
  9. Do as I do, not as I say, is always best if you're the boss. Set a good example. Don't be above any job. Demonstrate your competence in the basic work to be done. Pitch in and help out.
  10. Don't create your own trap. It's good to be good at doing stuff but not if you are so good that no one else can come close to meeting your standard. You'll never get away from anything if that's the way you operate. Trust the other guy to perform.
  11. There's some truth to every rumor. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Investigate and find out what is really going on with your clients, subs, and employees, because it could affect you.
  12. Take care of your people. They aren't easily replaced. Loyalty and care for the business should be rewarded.

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

This article is from issue 1148 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here for to get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.