As one of the 11,000+ CSI volunteer members (and also one of almost 20,000 CDTs), my involvement with the Construction Specifications Institute is because I truly do believe in its Mission: to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance. I just celebrated my 5 year anniversary of joining CSI last week and in that time, I’ve gained countless valuable friends and had innumerable experiences and memories that will last me a lifetime.
Proper involvement within CSI should go well beyond joining and adding CSI to your business card and email signature. Chapter meetings are a great place to start, with most meeting one day a month. Joining a Chapter committee is another way to get involved, as is passing your Certified Document Technologist (CDT) exam or attaining one of the 3 advanced CSI certifications – the CCPR, CCS or CCCA. The CSI Annual Convention and trade show, CONSTRUCT, may be the grandest experience of them all. A convergence of over a thousand members from all walks of life who congregate to hug, shake hands, learn, share and laugh, happens to take place this year in Baltimore from September 9th to the 12th, 2014. The grand finale of CONSTRUCT is the induction of the new CSI Fellows. Since CSI Fellowship was introduced in 1959, only a few hundred members have been elevated to Fellow. Fellowship is one of the highest honors bestowed by CSI and one of many awards that the Institute bestows on their members. The various CSI Regions and Chapters also give out awards and as CSI members are volunteers and not paid positions, these awards are a true thank you to the work that is put in by the recipient member.
I have been extremely fortunate to be active in the Allentown Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute over the last 5 years. A Chapter that now has 2 active member Fellows in Sal Verrastro and Mitch Miller, that is hosting it’s 36th year running a very successful product expo & educational seminars on April 16, and one that has now received five Outstanding Chapter Commendations from the Institute. I believe we have been most fortunate to have an incredible Immediate Past President who also is our Program Chair and Awards Chair in David Wrigley, the Director of Specifications for Spillman Farmer Architects. I consider myself lucky to call Dave a friend and can only fathom the hours he has spent over the last few years alone submitting the Allentown awards into the Region, as well as the Institute so that the hard work of our Chapter members can be duly recognized. Just last week he shared the news that our Chapter received FIVE Mid-Atlantic Region awards, including:
Lee Ann Slattery – Winner of the Robert P. Brosseau Memorial Award, Dave Fenstermacher – Winner of the George C. Neuhausel Memorial Award, Jon Lattin – Winner of the Communications Award, Barry Isett And Associates – Winner of the Organizational Certificate of Merit and Mitch Miller – Winner of the Education Award.
Being fortunate enough to know Lee Ann, Dave, Jon and Mitch, I know the work that they put in during the day that pays the bills and then the additional time they put in before and after work for the Allentown Chapter of CSI. These awards are a true way for them to receive thanks for all that they do and the time that they spend to contribute to the same Mission of CSI that I live by.
I have been extremely blessed to have received an Award from the Allentown Chapter and further, one that could rightfully be given to any active member. As then President of our Chapter, David Wrigley led the awards announcements on June 20, 2012. These words alone are ones that will stick with me for a long while:
“This next Award is a very Special Award, because it is given to the person whom the President feels has shown amazing devotion and selfless personal commitment to the Chapter in the administration of the Chapter’s affairs over the past year. Whenever I have asked the gentleman for something, no matter what it was, he got it to me as quick as he could, as correct as it could be, and with his own opinion on what he thought was best and why……I respect that. I said earlier that I thought a sizable portion of the Expo’s success could be attributed to his e-mail blasts and the constant contacts lists he has, not to mention the tweeting and blogging he does on behalf of the chapter. But it is also his unbridled devotion to CSI that has gotten him to where we are tonight.
On a more serious note: Last September, we were both at the National Convention, in Chicago. After the convention, we ended up driving home together. He quizzed me and asked me questions about spec-writing and all kinds of other construction related topics, like he was actually interested. We talked almost the whole ride home. I don’t know about you, but spending 11 hours in a sealed vehicle……..talking with a spec-writer…………..is more than most individuals can stand in a lifetime, let alone in one day!! Now if that isn’t amazing devotion and selfless personal commitment to the Chapter, I don’t know what is!!
So, in lieu of combat pay…………….. I am very pleased, and happy to present the 2011 – 2012 President’s Award to Mr. Eric Lussier”
The plaque above is only a reminder of how great it felt to be recognized for all of my work and effort that I was more than happy to do. The President’s Award was the icing on the cake and the ultimate recognition that we all really do like to hear. Who doesn’t like to hear ‘You look nice today’, ‘You did great work on that proposal’, ‘Congratulations on getting that project’ or ‘I am very pleased, and happy to present……’?!?
Take the time and help recognize those CSI members that continue to go above and beyond. The deadline to submit nominations for the FY14 CSI Honors & Awards program (including the Outstanding Chapter Commendation for FY2013 covering data from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) is 5 PM Eastern, May 2, 2014. Recipients will be recognized at CONSTRUCT & The CSI Annual Convention in 2014. Submit your nomination at www.csinet.org/awards.
Special honors, including Fellowship, have unique and specific requirements. Download the 2014 Honors and Award Guide (PDF) at www.csinet.org/HAGuide.
Working within any industry that has tried and true roots, the need for a change of ways only seems to be pushed by the atmosphere around you. In our ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality, we seem to remain firmly implanted in the footsteps of those before us and content to not waiver off course. Nowhere has this been more true than in my experience in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Policies, SOP’s, methods and more have led many companies to many years of success. And why bother to change and adapt to the world around you? The mantra ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ has worked for so long, many principals and presidents have seen no reason to adapt.
That was then, this is now.
The scary thing is ‘then’ was barely ten years ago, if that. Our world is changing around us daily, if not hourly. It is impossible to keep up with the start-up and technology driven age we are living in. What once could take years of concept, research, design and delivery has been compressed into what seems like mere days. Think tanks and crowdsourcing is the new norm and the power of one has now become the power of many. No longer is the need for change inevitable, it is mandatory.
This all hit home harder than ever last week in Nashville, while attending #CONSTRUCT, the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) annual convention and affiliated Trade Show from Hanley Wood. After Institute President Casey Robb impressed the need to ‘Step up your game with CSI’, the keynote address was delivered by Ira Blumenthal and entitled ‘Change is Inevitable: Building Your Brand for the Future’. In a well researched and passionately delivered address to the general assembly of CSI members, Ira’s presentation really hit home on the absolute need for change. Starting off with asking ‘How many people flew here today?…….on Eastern Airlines?’, many thought-provoking messages were hammered home on not just how the AEC industry has changed, but on how the world has changed and how FAST it is changing. Remember when McDonald’s rolled out the McCafe to keep up with the coffee industry? They are now selling the 2nd most coffee in the industry – all because of the need to adapt to their industry around them.
The change in the world may have hit home hardest when the following ‘critical mass’ slide was shown (as seen above)
‘Critical mass’ for the sake of this presentation was the adoption of new technology by 50 million Americans. What once took 25 years to reach 50 million users in television has adapted through just one year for my social media medium of choice, Twitter. Facebook may have taken 2 years to reach ‘critical mass’, but now there are 1.15 BILLION users as of June 2013 – over 15 percent of the WORLD population. While Twitter and Facebook may not be at the backbone of your organization, or even used by your marketing team, it is a great indication on how things are indeed changing around us.
Change isn’t easy, whether it is personal changes that you need to make within or to your company as a whole. However, change is not only inevitable and mandatory. As Ira said, ‘most people and organizations change because they are forced to change. Why wait for a fire to install smoke detectors?’ His answer: ‘we become paralyzed by our paradigms.’ The mentality of ‘This is the way we have always done it’ is the mindset of extinct organizations, like Eastern Airlines. Simply put by Ira, ‘Ignore change, and you will die.’ The message sent was widely received by all: 500 plus members of the Construction Specifications Institute; an organization 65 years in the making in perhaps one of the most changing industries out there: AEC. Don’t be afraid to break some rules, alter the guidelines and invent something new. ‘But this is how we’ve always done it’ is not how your organization is going to bring itself into 2014 and beyond. Whether to build a better building or deliver your product, you can’t be afraid to ask questions, form allegiances and raise the bar.
I came home from Nashville with one of Ira’s messages flowing through me: ‘Your history means nothing. Today and tomorrow, you must do it again and do it better.’ Think big and raise the bar – it is how you change and grow that matters today.
(Note: I would be remiss if I didn’t give a hat tip to @KaitlinSolomon3 of CSI who put together a great Storify summary of September 25, 2013, which you can see here and to my fellow Tweeps for their Tweets of a great keynote: @DStutzman, @TheGainesGroup, @LizOSullivanAIA, @cheriseschacter, @m2architek, @rietta_mccain, @matt_porta, @speclawyer and @vivianvolz)
I’ve only briefly had the chance to return to the local playground so far this year. As much as I would like to say it was for myself, it wasn’t. Reid (seen left), who just turned 2 in March, is the ultimate joy to be with and it is amazing to watch him grow right before my eyes. It seems like just a few weeks ago we brought him home from the hospital. Now he is almost completely self sufficient and I expect him any day to ask me for the car keys. Thankfully we’re not at this point yet and every once in a while we are reminded that he is only 2 and needs us close by. He likes to slide and climb and isn’t quite big enough to get fully into it, but he also likes to swing. I’m very much looking forward to him being big enough to hold on for himself and ask me to push him. Once in a while, we all need that push.
Whether it’s on a figurative swing or literal swing, sometimes we just need that person behind us encouraging us to go higher. Perhaps it’s your boss, your sales manager, your wife, your girlfriend, your mother or even your son, but we all need that push – that encouragement – to go further, higher, harder or more. As a fairly independent person, I’ve never been one to reach out for help or a push. More often than not, I’ve needed that push but have been to strong willed (which sounds so much better than stubborn) to ask.
There are numerous things I could use a push about. I’ve been meaning to push myself to write more and had actually wrote in my 2013 goals to do so. It doesn’t take much poking around my blog to realize I didn’t do to well at that. Well, perhaps I finally got the push I needed today. For now the details will remain nameless, but let’s just say that you should be seeing a fairly regular blog post from me. We’ll say monthly and go from there.
Time to get on the grown up swing. Can you give me a push?
Is society to blame for the “I want it and I want it NOW’ entitlement that some people possess? Technology is speeding out of control and has put us in the fast lane for everything. The answer you seek once took extensive research and perhaps a visit to a library – whether the architectural library or the community library – and that answer is now at the tip of your fingers.
Google has completely changed the way we live, whether you are a user or not. As I tweeted this morning “Google is the modern day Big Brother. They are EVERYWHERE. Matter of are you trying to hide or be found?” Even if you live completely off the grid, I’m not even sure you can hide from Google. How easy is it to be found nowadays? While addressing Christmas cards last night, I was missing a few addresses. Within 3 minutes, I had the 3 addresses I need. So, if you can’t hide, you might as well try to be found.
Being in construction sales and marketing, it is my job to be found. Whether a specifier needs an architectural specification or an interior designer needs samples for their charette, I need to be Googleable, as do my keywords. When one of these parties reach out, what is the proper expectation for my response time? With smart phones, tablets and constant internet connectivity, my job is no longer 8 to 5, Monday through Friday. Even though that is what I am paid for, my job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. And if I don’t make myself available 24/7/365? My competitor most likely will. Even though the specifier or interior designer gives a window of opportunity for me to respond, I know the early bird still gets the worm. It goes along with search engine results when you are looking for something. How often do you click through to page 2? Chances are, you are clicking on page 1 and you are finding what you are looking for within seconds.
This all ties back to our instant gratification society that we now live in. The internet and social media are entirely to blame for the ”I want it and I want it NOW’ entitlement that we live in. You can embrace it wholeheartedly or you can continue to live in denial. Our constant connectivity is not going anywhere and if anything, is getting worse. Our car dashboards are no longer just speedometers and odometers. Google Glass is on the horizon. You can choose to accept it all or get left behind. I choose to live and accept the former and am excited at the continued possibilities.
My absolute love of Social Media does absolutely nothing to help my attention span, which at times reminds me of Reid, my 15 month old son.
Trying to keep on top of the latest and greatest in Social Media requires one to be on their toes and be willing to dapple in what fancies you. How do you know what to pay attention to if you don’t give it a try? The older I get, the less I can concentrate for longer than 5 minutes it seems. I haven’t investigated Adult ADHD, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised if I have at least some form of it. So, if I’m introduced to a new Social Media platform and see a value in it, I’m on it. The platforms that stick, at least with me, are the ones that are most user friendly. Facebook (although that is more personal than business, Twitter and Pinterest all come to mind. I do like the visual and text blend of all three.
I have started no less than 3 blogs now in 3 different locations. The first was on ericdlussier.com, the 2nd was here on WordPress and now I have just started a Tumblr page. Tumblr is (to quote Wiki), a service that allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. I think I can already see what appeals to me as the visual aspect is what is featured first and foremost (hence, my love of Pinterest).
One of these days I think I need to sit down and concentrate on one spot and one location, at least for my blog. Is there such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to Social Media? I think so. But for the time being it is all about being found, if someone is looking. So, if you are looking, you have found me.
Take your pick. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, WordPress, Tumblr or on my own website
Ever skeptical about the latest and greatest trends in fashion, music & sports, I was apprehensive about jumping on board the latest and greatest thing in social media, Pinterest. When I finally jumped on board and found out that I had to request an invite and actually wait for it to arrive, I thought ‘geez…this BETTER be good. Fortunately, the wait was not long for my account and I signed up, jumping on board at http://pinterest.com/ericdlussier/ Within an hour of uploading some pins and repinning a few items, I knew instantly that this great new device could be applied to my day job – as a construction product representative for Advantage Sport USA.
As Architects are visual creatures (and I work with lots of them, as well as interior designers), I realized almost instantly the benefits of starting a Pinterest page for Advantage Sport USA. As I already rely on our Facebook page to showcase our installation work https://www.facebook.com/advantagesportusa/photos, I thought that Pinterest could be our images on steroids. Not only can someone easily browse the images of the floors we offer, but when setup correctly, a click of the mouse can lead them to further information on the product (our manufacturers website), or better yet, a download of a brochure (from a direct URL). As some firms move further and further away from an architectural library and are apprehensive to take unnecessary product meetings, any device that can deliver visuals and information easily and fluently is AOK in my book.
Fast forward less than 24 hours and I have launched the official Advantage Sport USA Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/advantagesport/ I hope you can use this to get ideas of what you can do with your construction products. Please keep in mind that for the time being, Pinterest doesn’t allow you to rearrange your pins on your board, so once you start pinning, you’ll want to literally save the best pin for last.
I’m excited what Pinterest has already brought to the table and what the early results are saying. It is driving serious referral traffic (more than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined) and according to a comScore report, it was the fastest standalone site to pass the 10 million users mark, which happened over a month ago.
Of course, as soon as more companies figure out it’s potential, it could become less fun. Remember Facebook for business pages? Yeah, me too. I’d say ‘come on, jump on’, but perhaps I want to be an early implementer of Pinterest for construction product reps.
The bad part about having a blog is needing to keep up with it. Without a task reminder in my Outlook, it just slips my mind. Without a doubt, blogging has grown tremendously as access to the internet is so incredibly commonplace nowadays. Remember paying for dialup and how torturous the connection was? Now, almost everyone's connection is lightening fast and we're on the internet so often, it has become an extension of us.
So, I started this blog, but I am horrible at updating it. It's very easy to do, thanks to Weebly and I enjoy writing (and find it fairly easy), but it's just a matter of sitting down, coming up with a topic and then following through. Most of the time, I start a new post and just go.
The popularity of wordpress and other blogging sites add to the piles and piles of blogs out there. I more like the idea of having a blog accompany a site and having it be an additional page.
So, I suppose I should be typing about something that is pertinent for me....that is sport flooring, or social media, or AEC sales and marketing. My brain isn't going in one particular direction, so as a result, it's just a blog about blogging.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing. While you're at it, please give me a follow at www.twitter.com/ericdlussier
The miscellaneous ramblings of Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT