Ten questions for you to honestly answer

Apr 27, 2020

“If there’s a silver lining in this crisis, it is that we may each have a chance to reevaluate our priorities and improve the quality of our lives from here on.”

Besides reacting to the industry-wide slowdown and working remotely as most of us are, now is also the time to focus on YOU.

It is that time because – if you are like me – you have more time. You are probably spending more time at home, and with social distancing, spending a lot less time with other people. Also, spending less time commuting, less time in meetings, and less time running your kids around to one thing or another.

So the question with all this newfound time at home is, what are you doing to make a better you? Answer these questions honestly and see if they don’t get you thinking:

  1. Are you reading? And I’m not just talking about news online or articles you’ve seen posted on LinkedIn. I mean really reading actual books. The right books can change your life. Not just business books, either – but also fiction and biographies and history – stuff that really gets you thinking. If not, go to your bookcase and grab something and devote some honest time to reading every day. It could change your life.
  2. Are you eating better? You should be if not! Making all of our own meals at home has certainly tuned up our cooking abilities. We had gotten lazy, and in spite of having a full pantry and refrigerators and freezers, we went out to eat for lunch and dinner most every day prior to this shutdown. The result of cooking at home is not only good for our waistlines but is also saving us a tremendous amount of time and money. Nor do we have to listen to our girls complain about our choice of restaurant!
  3. Are you getting some exercise? I know I am. While I have yet to actually try the Peleton machine in our fully outfitted lower level home gym, we are trying to get out most days for a vigorous walk around our (very) hilly neighborhood. It has been great. I know I feel better as a result. I can honestly say that this whole thing is making me pick up some new and healthier habits.
  4. Are you spending your money more wisely? I certainly am. We don’t go anywhere and don’t seem to really buy anything yet it is still surprising we get the AMEX bill we do at the the end of the month, but at least it is one third to one half of what it used to be. Good thing, too. In spite of being very fortunate that we don’t live paycheck to paycheck like so many Americans do, I just don’t feel like spending a dime on anything we don’t really need. It’s good to learn you can do without.
  5. Are you spending time with your family? If not now, when in the world will you? If you can’t see someone because of their potential exposure or your fear of making them sick, that’s one thing. But at least now you should see your at-home kids and spouse more as everyone is stuck together. Use that time wisely. Give them each some real attention. And those you can’t see, give them a call or FaceTime or text with them.
  6. Are you reconnecting with old friends? Just this morning I talked with a friend I hadn’t spoken with for 15 years. It really reminded me of the gratitude I had for the kindness he and his wife showed my older girls and me during a really bad time our family was going through 20 years ago. I’m so glad we have now reconnected. Who are the people you need to reestablish a relationship with? Make it happen!
  7. Are you reconnecting with old clients? This is such a great time to actually reach people you haven’t talked with in some time. They are there and you both are more likely to have the time for a good conversation. Ask about how THEY are doing. Have them talk about themselves and their business. Share some about yourself. Connect on a personal level. Now is the time!
  8. Are you reconnecting with your employees? Same idea as No. 6 and 7 above. You have the time to do it. You can call people and check up on them personally. How are they getting along? How are their kids? How is their spouse? How do they like working from home? Do they need anything that would make that go better? I thought it was interesting that The Walton College where I teach entrepreneurship sent an email out to everyone the other day telling us that they had heard a number of folks didn’t have good desk chairs at home, and that we were welcome to get our office chairs from our offices at the university to take home if we wanted to. That showed some real care for us as employees. What can you do for your people in this stressful time?
  9. Are you thinking about risk and how much of it you want to take from here on out? This whole thing is making many of us reevaluate our lives and some of the decisions we have made. I’m glad that my wife and I decided to start phasing out of the development and construction business about 18 months ago. Even though we still have too much overhead and some unsold/unleased properties, the situation would be far worse had we not taken the steps we did when we did to reduce our risk. There are other decisions I might now make differently than I would have prior to this pandemic. Learn from the experience and don’t repeat your mistakes.
  10. Are you thinking about “life after” and how you want to spend your time? Everyone should be taking stock now about what direction they want to go personally and what direction they want their firms to take going forward. We each have only so much time left. It may be time for a new role. It may be time for an ownership transition. Or it may be time to grow and diversify your business with some select acquisitions of firms that can’t weather this storm.

These 10 questions – and probably a number of additional ones – should be asked and answered by each of us right now. If there’s a silver lining in this crisis it is that we may each have a chance to reevaluate our priorities and improve the quality of our lives from here on.

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

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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.