I gave this speech as I was installed as the President of the Remodelers Council of Southern California on Jan 28th. It contains quotes from the previous blog that I had requested. Thank you to those who contributed!
Installation speech (ethos, pathos, logos) Jan 28, 2011
Thank you _________
“it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” Can you identify with either or both?
2 short years ago I had my biggest project ever. It was referred from an architect, not even competitively bid. I had a full time Project manager on site and I was in the office most of the time, wasting time, taking things for granted – like the next project. And this thought kept coming to mind —— two words—- “humble yourself” —– but I couldn’t or wouldn’t. I didn’t know how. Well, the next project never came – at least the kind I was getting used to. After struggling with that reality for a couple months, I laid off all my employees including my wife, Cheri. She went back to work for the first time in 18 years and I was wearing the tool belts, doing whatever I could to supplement my wife’s income. I even interviewed with a commercial builder, wondering if I should just close the business down. Maybe I was depressed. Maybe it was a mid-life crisis. Maybe that’s what “humble yourself” felt like. And right in the middle of it Ken Bailey asked me to serve as Vice President of this Council. I was alert enough to see the irony in the situation, but was indecisive and non-committal. After a conversation with my business coach I realized what a great opportunity this was so – as they say – the rest is history and here I am.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and I can tell you all for certain that what I went through in 2009 – emotionally and financially – is not something I ever want to experience again. And yet, I learned some things during that time that I hope I never forget. I learned in a deeper way to appreciate the gift of life, to appreciate the Giver of life, and to appreciate the people around me. I learned to appreciate the present moment, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s too easy in this age of hyper-media, cutting edge technology and 10 second attention spans to be distracted with lesser things and to be overwhelmed with the tyranny of the urgent. But this I know, now more than ever: My work is a gift from God to serve people and my Lord.
Tonight we’re gathered with others who share a good and common work: improving the lives of our friends and neighbors. Our common goal is to improve our businesses and we know that professional organizations like the NAHB Remodelers are here to help us do just that. We are professionals and we’re committed to growing, learning and serving our clients. Fortunately, we’re not alone. NAHB Remodelers has over 14,000 members nationwide and is the largest, most influential organization serving our industry. Why did you join? I joined because Ben Morey told me to ? Actually all he had to do was suggest it. Thanks Ben, you’re the consummate professional.
We use the word ‘professional’ in many different ways. Ever hear of professional wrestling? What is a professional remodeler? How does that look in real life? I asked this question on my blog and these are some of the responses- from inside and outside the industry: “Integrity, promptness, good listener, tight systems, people skills, have legal ducks in a row, genuine interest in the teams success and workmanship, love for their work, communication, great relationships, no ego, responsive, clean, sets clear expectations, conflict management skills, respects the clients home and emotions” – and here is one verbatim: “A professional runs their business like a business. They operate ethically in all matters. They have self imposed rules, regulations, and policies which they follow. They push to continuously improve every aspect of their business, and seek to do the same for their industry. A professional invests in the community and works to enrich the lives of everyone they come in contact with. A professional strives to improve the perception of their business and their industry. A professional is not satisfied with adequate performance; they strive for excellence in everything they do. A professional checks their ego at the door. A professional tells the truth, seeks to build good will and better friendships, and ensures their actions are both fair and beneficial to all concerned.”
Does that about cover it? Were there any that resonated with you? I know that each one of us in this room have at least a handful of these mastered. Will you share with us? And each one of us feels the need to improve in some of these areas. Will you ask for help?
The comment that resonates with me is: “they push to continuously improve every aspect of their business”. That is my challenge tonight. I challenge you and I challenge myself. “To continuously improve every aspect of your business” As we consider this challenge let me suggest a balance of conventional wisdom and innovative entrepreneurial thinking. On the conventional wisdom side, I believe that there is no substitute for mentoring. Technology will not replace what a person to person interaction will achieve. That’s not to say that technology can’t be used as a tool to facilitate the interaction. And maybe we need to reframe our idea of mentoring. The flow of ideas is not one way. I think it’s not only possible but very viable to co-mentor. In this room there is a huge untapped potential of mastered skills that can be shared. You may not even recognize your own skills because they come so naturally to you – but believe me – you have skills, talents and traits that we can learn from. Education has always been a strong emphasis of the NAHB, BIASC, and the Remodelers Council. Mentoring is the organic component of education. Find a mentor, be a mentor. Let’s grow this way together.
That’s the conventional side of the challenge, sharing best practices and more. I want to challenge you to balance that with the need to think outside the box. The combination of technology, the economy, and demographics have rocked our world so that we can’t afford to passively react to the new demands of this age. We have historically been a reactive, responsive industry and in some ways we have to because the client is the boss, but we can be proactive and innovative in so many other ways. Let’s brainstorm on ways to improve our business models, our systems, our customer service and delivery, our communication, our time and technology management. Everything is up for grabs. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, to think outside the box, and reinvent our business if needed. I was very encouraged to see our BIA take action to streamline itself in response to the economic realities. I saw it as a proactive step, and I’m proud to be part of an organization that can recognize the need to take big steps – and then follow through. The bottom line is that someone will figure out a better way to meet the needs out there and it might as well be us. It might as well be you. What fear keeps you from taking a big step? Let’s talk about it, face it and move forward – together.
Moving forward is not for cowards or lone rangers. It may not be easy but it will be exciting. The good news is that the forecast is bright. Consider the following:
Consumer confidence is the highest in 3 years and people expect to spend more on remodeling. Two huge growth areas are sustainable (CGP) and universal design, as the massive boomer population has officially started retirement age (CAPS). The Joint center of housing studies at Harvard University is optimistic about the future of the remodeling industry. It says the late economic downturn only stalled the inevitable need for people to upgrade and improve their homes and they are expecting a sizeable increase in spending.
There will be opportunities ahead for sure. Let’s figure out how to see them, how to find them, how to create them.
As your President I want to commit to you on 2 points:
I will be available to teach, learn, listen, and think outside the box with you.
I will challenge you to continuously improve every aspect of your business.
In return, I ask for one thing: let’s get in touch and stay in touch. We all need each other. We’re a community with a common vision and we’ll thrive when we’re growing together
Thank you all so much for coming tonight. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and serving the council. May this year be good to you and those you love.