An elevated experience

Oct 15, 2018

Everything feels different. Three weeks after the 2018 Hot Firm & A/E Industry Awards Conference in Dallas, our team is still on a high. Fueled by positive feedback, a wealth of exciting ideas for Las Vegas 2019, and a buzz among our clients, this year feels different. It’s as though we unleashed something, an energy that is driving progress. The tendency after an event this large is to go back to the office, take a break, and then get sucked back into the grind. Not this time. It’s different. Our team met the Monday morning after the conference, when people would historically take off to recover, and instead had a power session where we discussed key takeaways and suggestions for next year. The room was full of ideas and enthusiasm, and we even looked out to 2020!

We recognize the value of a good event and what it can do to inspire change and progress in your organization. Reflecting on this year’s conference, several things stand out from the feedback on what we should be doing every day in our firms:

  1. Focus on the team. During our opening session, we talked about the importance of building the best team possible, like they do in sports. You have to consider trading off the underperforming players so you can draft high performers. In today’s tight market, many AEC firms are tolerating sub-standard staff because all talent is difficult to find. According to our data, the damage underperformers or toxic employees do to the culture and productivity of the firm is far greater than any contribution they bring to project delivery. Additionally, bad people, no matter where they are in the org chart, erode your overall brand. At Zweig Group, it’s important for us to practice what we preach. Improvements in our team over the past two years were evident at this year’s conference. We felt it. The feedback we received from you reinforced it. A great team delivers a great product that clients notice.
  2. Have a strong sense of purpose. Our new mission to Elevate the Industry embodies the strong sense of purpose our team has for the future. For us at Zweig Group, it’s a logical – and a little bit of a magical – evolution. It’s a real sense of mission, not just a mission statement. It seemed to resonate tremendously across the conference, providing a buzz in breakout sessions and discussions throughout the two-day event. A strong sense of purpose is what differentiates the most successful firms we have worked with over our 30-year history. Consider what makes your firm unique, something you can claim that no other competitor can claim, and elevate your sense of purpose. The results will be amazing!
  3. Care deeply about the optics. We pay attention to the details, which had a pronounced, and favorable, effect on the overall feel and results of this event. One of the tenets of our new mission is to promote the industry, to bring more positive attention to what we, as architects and engineers, do for the world. Getting together and celebrating our accomplishments in large fashion is an important part of that promotion. We have to love what we do and make sure the optics reflect our passion. From the opening on Thursday morning to the Black-Tie Gala on Friday night, every video, song, speaker, meal, and even the color of every light, was intentional. It is our hope that those optics energized everyone in attendance to go back home and elevate what they do. The optics of your team, your mission, and every aspect of your brand can have a profound impact on your business and your success.

This year was definitely an elevated experience for many. Fueled by great people, a new mission, and sizzling energy for the future, attendees made this conference the best ever. As we celebrate 30 years at Zweig Group and consider our own evolution, it is our hope that this year was a springboard for a brighter future for us, our clients, and the AEC industry as a whole. Let’s all join together and elevate in everything we do.

Chad Clinehens is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at

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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.