Just Thinking...

Sep 15, 2003

There’s nothing like a little quality time to do nothing but think. Just sitting in a chair or lying back in your hammock… pushing the mower… driving on a long solo drive. I relish those opportunities because they come so infrequently and so far apart. Just as we have lunar eclipses every so often, about once every three years I have a “miscellaneous ramblings” article. Lots of thoughts but none of ‘em is worth an entire article. This is one of those times: The economy seems to be getting better, but I don’t know why. Unscientific support for this notion is that fully 9 out of 10 people I speak with are telling me the same thing. There’s no real explanation for it! But it seems like just about everyone I talk to is telling me that they are doing better, they are getting more inquiries, and that things are looking up. I’m glad to see it… and hope it continues. Treating every office as a profit center just does not seem to work very well. Unless you are in the construction materials testing business or some other service area where there is absolutely no cooperation across offices required to get a job done, treating your offices as profit centers just does not seem to work. All it does is promote an “us vs. them” attitude. It’s good to get in shape. I feel better, more alive, with regular exercise. Sure it takes time, but what is really important? Beyond the fact that you will probably live longer and have more energy along the way, there’s a real benefit that getting in shape has in terms of your attitude at work. It just makes me more relaxed and better able to deal with the stress. So the time spent to hit the gym three times a week is time well-spent. Good books are hard to come by. I haven’t read anything lately that is inspirational. In fact, I haven’t read much of anything lately at all! That could be the problem... Computers sure can be a pain in the butt, but try living without them. We got hit by the worm virus recently. It shut down our e-mail and our company Internet connection. That was a killer! It almost made it hard to be here all day— but the thought that the remote access was down kept me from going home instead! It is nearly impossible to do what we do today without e-mail and Internet access. When our Internet was down, I wanted to find some travel information— but couldn’t. I wanted to look up some information on a firm that just called me— couldn’t do it. I wanted to look up some information on a person who sits on a board I just got elected to— couldn’t do it. All of this stuff we just take for granted today we didn’t have just a couple years ago, but boy how quickly we got spoiled! No one— even if they own 100% of their companies— really controls it. Control is a complete myth. Why? Because slavery is illegal. All of the people who work for you are free to go somewhere else. You must always consider their feelings and thoughts and likely reactions if you are going to remain in business. Therefore you don’t control anything… they do. The ownership or lack of it really has very little impact on this issue. Some people, while very capable producers, aren’t worth the trouble they cause. These people may draw too much attention to themselves, they could be credit hogs, or they could simply have too many issues that take all of your time and mental energy. If this sounds familiar and you are in one of these “relationships” with an employee at present, start planning for how you will get out of it. If the parting is inevitable at some point, better on your timetable than theirs.
  1. Instead of big, expensive, splashy open houses, try getting smaller groups of clients together in your offices. Host breakfast meetings with 10 or 15 clients and let them talk about anything they want to talk about. Have a note taker there and get the transcript from the discussions out to everyone who was there by the end of the day. IF the event was a success, send out a press release on it to the media. And then do it again.
Originally published 09/15/2003

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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.