Getting Back on the Path

I’ve always got ideas in my head. I’m in a constant dialogue, whether with myself or with others. Yet, I don’t always know what to write. I’ll get part way into a draft, save it, and then when I come back, I’ve lost the essence and the post is moved into the trash folder. So here I am again, just writing. Connecting. Putting out random thoughts today.

It’s been over a month since my last post. I don’t like that. I agree with Seth Godin; people talk about “writers block” but no one has ever heard of “talkers block”. We talk every day, all the time, but can’t write a thought? Maybe it’s like the difference between talking spontaneously to those we know, versus presenting a speech to a group of people. We put pressure on ourselves and create barriers.

Speaking of barriers, the biggest obstacles to our success and advancement are typically the ones we create. Mindset is everything. We have to believe that we “can” first, and then we can do the “what” or “the thing.” Control the mind, control the actions. Otherwise, the mind controls us.

So anyway, that’s it for the day. Just a simple post. To break through the blockage; to establish the pattern again. One day at a time.

I hope you are well.


Since it’s Sunday, I’ll deviate from normal “business stories” and share one of faith. I hope you all enjoy it. It’s deeply rooted in many of the promises and truths of God.

If I tried to explain it, you’d hardly believe it….but it’s true.

It’s a modern day version of “Loaves and Fishes..” (Jesus multiplying the food for the crowd.)

The manifestation of God’s provision in our business week after week, month after month. Heaven touching earth.

Everyone in administrative support group is seeing it.

Without exaggeration, it’s brought out some awe, emotion, and some true jaw dropping responses.

I’ve “teared up” a few times and could hardly speak, but now I just smile and say “loaves and fishes.” It’s become a key phrase and truth for us, and it makes us smile.

The sprinkling of Gods love…..

It’s real and amazing

Have you seen it? Have you felt it in your life too? Do you know it?

Got a story?

If so, and if so led, share it here.

Happy Sunday. Happy faith venture.

Leveraging Compliance

In my last post I discussed how compliance doesn’t confirm competency. However, compliance is necessary for the design professional. I don’t like being tied down by compliance needs, but it is critical to our business and has broad implications.

So how do I to take something I view as a real drain on my time as a CEO and business leader and turn it into something that is self multiplying and of increased value?  I make it my intention to book continuing education that is live (meaning with real people in a real venue), out of office, out of town, able to be accomplished for the year in 2 days, whether 1 event or 2 separate events, allows me to network with clients, and exposes me to new ideas as much as possible. This is a good grid. It works for the most restrictive states that require a certain percentage of “live credits” (webinars or in-person events), and it has a high ROI. In this way I am able to take something that is a drain, and turn it into as high of a leveraged activity as possible.

The second choice is in-house CEU events from vendors, risk managers, and others, that will present to a group of us over lunch. It still provides networking internally, with the vendor, and connects us to other industry activity.

If all else fails, or if it’s a requirement like Indiana or Florida Laws and Rules, I just turn to good-ole Red Vector. It’s inexpensive, quick, and I can do it anywhere.

Turn compliance requirements and other mandated things of lesser business value into positive outcomes to accomplish multiple goals.

Compliance vs Self-Education

I am a professional. One thing that distinguishes professionals in any field or industry, is self-learning. When we commit to being a professional, we commit to a lifetime of self-learning. I also happen to be a professional engineer, a “PE.” With becoming a PE, comes years of study, testing, and an ongoing obligation to the public and the profession to practice in our area of expertise; to follow clearly outlined by laws that regulate the profession. I am a big proponent of this.

Some years ago, regulators and PE’s serving on state boards, working together, decided it would be a good idea to require continuing education in order to renew and maintain one’s PE license. This sounds like a good idea, but does requiring continuing education to be completed define whether a professional is a self-learner or not? Were the bylaws, the ethics, and the essence of what we agreed to do and adhere to not enough? Can professionals not be trusted? If they can’t be trusted then there are rules in place to discipline them, or remove their license. Before that would happen, they would likely be discarded by clients or their employer. Is this not enough compliance? What’s my point? (I’m glad that you asked)

Practicing any craft well requires a continual commitment to learning. It’s a necessary part of the process. Am I a believer in continuing education? Yes. Does requiring it as part of a compliance regimen guarantee the right outcomes? No. Taking coursework is good, but it doesn’t define self-learning. Checking a box is simply that. We can complete an exercise, walk away, and not learn the rest of the year if we choose. If we are self-learning, we are “checking the box” every day.

Compliance doesn’t confirm competency.

The Token

They reminded me after my doctor appointment that I needed a token (coin) to get out of the parking lot. “Thanks for reminding me,” I said.

In my car, I shifted to reverse to back up and head for the exit. But there was a car behind me, then another and another. I looked around and saw that two lines had formed for one exit. 

One exit had a maintenance truck in it working on the machine for lift the gate that allows the cars to get out of the parking lot. The other lane had a car sitting there, taking some time to deal with the one operable machine. The lines quickly formed and got longer and longer. I wasn’t going to get out any time soon. There was clearly a problem with the car trying to exit. It appeared that the gentleman in the vehicle was struggling to figure out how to use the machine. Everyone was just sitting, waiting, not moving. I thought to myself, if someone doesn’t do something we may be here all day. Perhaps that someone needed to be me. 

So I unbuckled, got out of my car , went to the maintenance guy and asked him if he knew what was happening with the car in the exit line. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said grufly (like don’t bother me dude.) So while everyone sat in their cars and watched, I approached the guy at the exit. I saw he had a credit card in his hand. I asked him, “What’s the problem? Can I help you with something?” 

“I’m trying to get out,” he says.

“You need a token,” I replied 

“I don’t know where mine went, I can’t find it, and I can’t back up,” he said.

Gazing around at the growing line, I said, “Here use mine. I’ll go get another one. You’ve got to get out and it’ll take some time for the line to get smaller anyway.”

“Thank you,” he said

“My pleasure.”

A few smiles and nods greeted me on the way back to my car to lock up and head back into the building. 

As I started my walk back to the building I heard a voice. “Sir! Do you need a token?” It was the maintenance guy. “I found a token on the ground here. No need to walk all the way back.” 

That gruff maintenance guy that seemed to be ignoring everything was actually watching. He somehow had found the coin the guy had dropped. I trotted over, thanked him and hustled straight back to my car. A smile came over my face. Problem solved. Cars moving. Done deal.

As I sat and reflected, it struck me how God sees even the little things. That He who sees a sparrow fall, can see a token as well, and works through others to bless acts of kindness beyond our expectation. When we pay it forward it always produces positive results whether we see it or not. 

Some other applications from this little encounter:

Someone has to initiate. All it took was me, one person, providing a solution to break the jam. What can we do today to provide a solution to someone or something?

“God finds” I call them. Little things and big things so easy to overlook. Positive focus. Unexpected blessings.

How can we pay it forward today? Break the log jam? Help someone? Find the value proposition and act on it?

Sometimes all it takes is one small token.


Allow dissenting voice in meetings, especially around strategic discussions and direction. If  dissent doesn’t define this idea clearly, call it “allowing opposing viewpoints.” Some will say “I’m playing the devil’s advocate for a moment.” Phrasing aside, I find it good to appoint someone to state the “cons”, to point out the roadblocks, to take the opposite view, to articulate the worst case scenario. I’m not always excited about the opposing view. In fact for many years I didn’t think it necessary to hear, nor did I advocate for it. It made me uncomfortable. It still does at times. This is good. It allows freedom for all to vent their perspective and be heard. Collaboration in decision making wins. I’ve made many mistakes alone or in isolated decisions. Again, collaboration wins. Dissent and opposing viewpoints are one key part of that process. All stakeholders must voice input. In the end, the leader makes the decision, but  it’s harder to make the wrong one when all the facts are on the table and we are fully informed.


At work I’m trying to stay committed to “extreme decision making.” Meaning, I’m working intentionally at cutting down on the time required to make decisions, reducing the number of decisions I make through delegation, and by working at “extreme clarity.” My standard with day-to-day decisions is to decide immediately, on the spot, Yes or No, or to empower the person asking me, to decide. 

It’s  not always been that way. I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’m always getting things done, but it’s easy to delay key decisions, key planning, scheduling decisions and others. It’s easy to tell people “let me think about that” and not really mean it. 

I just made a decision yesterday about a legal and corporate level matter that sat on my desk for a year. Yes a year! I made the decision in 15 minutes. It was an important business decision in a specific geography. But the decision was much simpler than I’d made it to be for the year prior. I just had to get on with it.

I’ve just decided that I’m done with dragging my feet; period. Life is too short. Barriers must be removed. The weight of delayed decisions creates too much stress.

“YES,” NO,” & “YOU DECIDE” are the standard answers. There’s also the choice to ignore certain domains and decision areas, choosing what NOT to be involved in. This is key. Simply eliminate the responsibility for certain decisions that others can and should make themselves. We can only work so hard and so smart. Delegate and Empower people to make decisions based on established criteria. Make qualified choices to allow certain scenarios and decisions to be resolved without getting involved. When something is really wrong or really bad, and we recognize over time that it’s not being resolved, then pop in and deal with it. Create clarity, define, and move on. The goal should be to never have to go back to resolve that issue again. There’ll be a position and process to handle it.

Delaying decisions can be habitual. I am trying to remind myself to decide quickly and move on, every hour, of every day, of every week. It creates clarity. It reduces stress. It improves productivity. It sets a better tone. Indecision is a killer. Eliminate Indecision.


I don’t care what business we are in, we are all in the business of value generation and value creation. Whether we’re baking scones, litigating, engineering, cleaning toilets or whatever it is, it’s all about generating and creating value. What we “do” is to be a given; everyone assumes we know our craft (if you can’t do your craft you’re not even in the conversation.) That craft, our skills and our capabilities, that’s what we practice. But that doesn’t guarantee or define where value lies. Value lies in how the dots are connected in the empty spaces. Value lies were ‘bridges’ are built. Value lies in generating more time, more income, more order, more of something of value to the receiver. If anyone else in the world does what we do that makes us a commodity at some level. So we need to take what we do and figure out how to apply it in a way that will bring meaning and improvement to other people’s lives and businesses. When people start requesting more of us, our service, our enterprise, that’s when we know we may be on the right track.

The Extraction Scenario

 The extraction scenario is about understanding that as owners, you and I will not always be present at our place of business. At some point we will be gone either by choice or necessity. Have we worked through that scenario? Have we envisioned the office or business with us no longer present? The extraction scenario should drive our decisions day after day. Is this work repeatable? Is this work sustainable? Can someone do this instead of me? Can someone else do it better? Do these clients  have a person that they’re connected with here? Everyone is extracted at some point. The extraction scenario needs to be part of our strategic plan.


Viewing Reality

One way to succeed in a chosen domain is to be able to view reality through a different grid; a different filter; to see things uniquely. This might be in one’s DNA or it might be a product of environment, choices, experiences. How it happens is not clear to me. But it seems that the broader and more diverse a person’s background, the more an individual can apply the diversity and experience in a unique way to their chosen field, work, domain.

For instance, I know several musicians that played professionally, or studied music in college and then went into the IT field. Guess who turned out to be the best communicator and manager in their space? The musician. Technical people that can play music, write, or know a foreign language also typically excel. Learning or doing something completely outside one’s field, stepping out of a comfort zone, makes them better at what they do. Every experience leads to more cross connections and viewpoints.

I say the best at what they do mostly come at their field from a different point of reference, a different experience base, a different educational background. Sometimes, or perhaps often, these people can not stay in a set company, established culture, or “this is the way we’ve always done it” environment. They’ve got to step out; start the new thing; create the new business, the new culture, the new product.

Travel, study, read widely, hang out with people younger, older, different, study other businesses, talk to people, listen to testimonies, be real, ask questions, embrace curiosity, seek community, grab an instrument, sing, play games, hike, run; you get the picture.

Niche, new, or disruptive is not created by following the crowd.