You can’t go back and shouldn’t even want to

Jan 11, 2017

It seems like so many of us want to go back to the way things used to be. That’s why we have so much nostalgic design in automobiles and architecture, reflecting the style when cars and buildings had character. Back to smaller companies where we “knew everyone” personally. Back to our first marriage, to our college sweetheart, before the challenges of time, money and kids distracted from the love. Back to a time 30 years ago when our country clearly dominated the world stage and wasn’t playing second fiddle to the countries that make our cheap stuff. Back to high school days when we were all carefree and our friends kicked in to buy 36 cents a gallon premium for our ‘66 GTOs. Whatever it is – it’s looking back as if the best times are behind us.

I’m here to tell you they aren’t. The best times will be ahead! As the leaders of our firms, we have to look forward, not backward. You can’t go back. Only forward.

We are getting ready for unprecedented demand for what AEC firms do. Virtually every single client group has pent-up demand for facilities and they will all take planning, design, engineering, surveying, environmental and construction services. On top of that, U.S. firms set the standard for the world in terms of creativity and quality. I cannot see anything but a bright future ahead for all of us. It’s insane how great the opportunity really is.

The only question is YOU! Are you ready? Are you going to do what it takes to keep up? Are you willing to keep learning? Are you willing to keep working at it? Are you going to keep investing in yourself, your people, and your firm? If you do these things you will ride this wave. If you keep looking in your rearview mirror and lamenting about how today isn’t what yesterday was, well, I’m not real optimistic.

Leadership is all about having a vision and painting a picture of what the future could be. And it could damn well be fantastic, even amazing, if that’s what you see. It is your job to get everyone else seeing this opportunity in front of us. If you can do it the rewards for all will be tremendous.

That IS what I see ahead. Sure – we have our challenges – not the least of which are people who want to take us BACK. But it is our job to keep things moving forward. And with the demand that I can see out there, that shouldn’t be too difficult a task!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at

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.