It seems like just a few weeks ago I was in Phoenix for the first time. Then a few weeks before that was Chicago. It turns out that PHX was 1 year ago this month and the Windy City was one year before that. It is incredible how fast time has flown over the last few years. My daughter has become a Tween, my once newborn son has entered the ‘Terrible Two’s’ and we now have a 1 month old daughter on our hands. They say the older we get, the faster time goes. I’m not so sure I’m ready for that.
I am ready to go to Nashville this month, though. The reason being for the same event that I went to Arizona last year and Chicago the year before that: CONSTRUCT. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Annual National Convention and Tradeshow attracts the ‘Who’s Who’ from the AEC community. Especially those that look to educate themselves and others all while meeting up with friends that get together all to sparingly. Camaraderie is strong and the willingness to share is even stronger in CSI. Dozens of the AEC industry’s thought leaders are set to speak with over 50 seminars slated over four days this coming September 24th through the 27th. That is coupled with a Tradeshow that is truly about learning, sharing and educating. Complete with a Learning Pavilion and hundreds of exhibitors eager to share the latest in building products, CONSTRUCT has quickly become my only can’t miss convention of the year.
My schedule is fairly full from the start on Tuesday morning, September 24th, straight through to Friday, September 27th. Seminars on specifications, marketing, relationships and more fill my time. Thursday could be a highlight of the stay with not only a TweetUp at 2pm in the CSI Booth 435 , but also a private event at the Country Music Hall of Fame hosted by the Nashville Chapter of CSI. Thousands will be converging on Nashville for this event. While most are strangers to each other, all have the mission of CSI in mind: “to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance”.
Those that I feel closest to are connected through the digital realm. We may not share a Chapter, but we do share the mission and the love of social media. Through Tweets, webinars, LinkedIn Groups, TweetChats, Facebook posts and more, a core group of CSI Tweeps keep in touch digitally, but utilize CONSTRUCT as our reunion and homecoming all tied into one. The big event has not even started and plans are underway for TweetUps, blogging panels and perhaps the Grand Finale – a post CSI Honors & Awards Gala on Friday night. Keep your ears peeled for details on that!
It’s not too late to attend this can’t miss event. It’s only three weeks out and we all know how fast time goes by. Visit http://constructshow.com for more information on attending. If you can’t attend, be sure to tune into the #CONSTRUCT hashtag.
If CONSTRUCT 2010 in Philadelphia was getting my feet wet (with an exhibit hall pass only) and 2011 in Chicago was jumping in head first (with a full education package) then I would view CONSTRUCT 2012, held in Phoenix from September 11th – 14th as a leisurely paddle down a stream, even if it did host my first Gala.
The week approached incredibly fast and passed just as quickly. Looking back now, 2 weeks after returning to PHL from PHX, I can summarize the week with one word: comfortable. This would certainly not be the case without the people that make up the Construction Specifications Institute – CSI. Without these people the conference could be clunky, lonely, perhaps even boring. However, it is none of the above because of what the members bring to the Institute and to the Conference.
From the greeters at the Phoenix Convention Center, to the team members of Hanley Wood, to the presenters and exhibitors at CONSTRUCT and most importantly to the attendees of the Conference, my week in Phoenix was like slipping into your favorite sweatshirt during the first chill of fall – comfortable. From seeing old friends (those that I know from way back in the day in Philly 2010) to meeting new friends that were just an avatar in my Twitter-based world until recently, CONSTRUCT has become the CSI water cooler for me – the place that I go to connect with everyone IRL – in real life.
Social Media, while seemingly having “taken off” in the last year, has been an important part of my life for the past 3+ years. However over the last year the relationships have certainly “taken off’ with roots being firmly planted on a laptop screen, or on my smartphone or tablet. PHX CONSTRUCT was all about meeting some of these people IRL. From Kaitlin Solomon (@KaitlinSolomon3), Paul Gerber (@PaulDGerber), J. Peter Jordan (@JPeterJordan), Paul Treanor (@CONSTRUCTshow) and Liz “Don’t Call me Sullivan” O’Sullivan (@LizOSullivanAIA) to new Fellow John Guill (@SpecMonkeyNorth), Carol Hagen (@CarolHagen), Brok Howard (@BrokHoward) and Cherise Schacter (@CheriseSchacter) and more, it was like an instant reunion, despite having never met any of these people before. Social Media may be the new cold call, but it’s also the new water cooler, bar stool, message board, and “blind date” all mixed into one.
As a relative introvert, I have found it becoming increasingly more difficult to meet people as the years progress. Having been a lone employee who works from a home office over the last four years in Pennsylvania, CSI has become my neighborhood bar, coffee shop, library and grocery store. It doesn’t seem to matter the persons occupation, economic status or firm seniority, by just being a CSI member, you have something immediate and important in common.
So I could continue and talk about the wonderful city that Phoenix was – how the food was great, the people were terrific and the amenities were fantastic or about how great the CONSTRUCT presentations and exhibit hall was and it would all be true. But to me, PHX was about the people. The incredible crew from CSI Allentown that were there with me – now Fellow Mitch Miller, our current President Tina Montone, Lee Ann Slattery, Rob Sarnowski, Tim Sisock, Sal Verrastro, Dave Fenstermacher to fellow PA CSI folk John Groff, Bill Brightbill, Jan Meyers, Charlie Beauduy and Mike Lechleitner there were plenty of now local friends that I got to see over 2000 miles from home. Factor these folk in with the previously mentioned Twitter folk that I got to meet for the very first time and top them off with being able to spend some time with Joy Davis (THE woman behind the CSI Social Media community) and I deem CONSTRUCT PHX 2012 an absolute success.
Nashville 2013 is on my calender (as it should be with yours – September 24th – 27th) and I’d hate to make time go by any faster then it already is, but I can’t wait for it to get here! Between now and then, I hope to see you at a meeting.
As a relative ‘newbie’ to the Construction field – I started in January of 2006 and to the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) – I only joined February 12, 2009 – I can already look back and recollect and say “look at what CSI has brought me” in such short time.
First and foremost, CSI has educated me. As a product rep for a finish (we supply and install athletic flooring of all types), CSI has completely opened my eyes to the Project, but further to the Project team. The project is full of Divisions and Requirements that do not necessarily directly relate to my trade, however, I can better understand how all of the parties on the Project Team come together because of the education I have received. Whether it has been through a monthly program, through conversation with a fellow member, or through my CDT certification, I feel much more knowledgeable about the many facets of the Project.
CSI has expanded my network. Speaking of being a ‘newbie’, I have only lived in Pennsylvania since April of 2008. I deem myself shy and a wallflower in public places (and some people that know me well will question that) and unfortunately, I don’t make friends easily. After spending a few CSI meetings in my local Allentown chapter off to the side, I slowly started recognizing faces and names and vice versa. After a realization that most of the people around were much like me, I opened up a little more and more as the months went on. Fast forward through CSI meetings in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Williamsport, State College and Camp Hill (home of my 2nd ‘home’ chapter – Central Pennsylvania), I can now say that most of my closest friends in PA are fellow CSI members. People that I can depend on to answer a question, lend a hand, grab a drink and share a laugh. I truly feel part of the CSI family.
CSI has brought me places. Whether it was Chicago (home of CONSTRUCT in 2011 and a place I’d never been) or into an office that warmly welcomed me because of the CSI brotherhood, in a short period of time I feel that I have had to chance to bring myself places in more ways than one. CONSTRUCT 2011 was an incredible experience, filled with fantastic educational classes, a great exhibit hall and the best of speakers and people. I will never forget my time in the Windy City (which you can read about here: http://ericdlussier.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/construct-2011-in-chicago-through-my-eyes/ ) and am already very looking forward to Phoenix for CONSTRUCT 2012 and I hope, San Diego for the CSI Academies in March.
I could go on about CSI, but these 3 points above I feel strongest about. But I am going to try and wrap up by saying what CSI is not. If you are a product rep, CSI is not a guaranteed spec. It is not guaranteed work. To have CSI work for you, you have to work at CSI. My personal CSI mantra has become “CSI pays back what you put into it. Join, commit, be active and network."
Become a member of this amazing team. What it all comes down to is the mission of CSI, which is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.
Effective immediately until Monday, October 31st, you have a great opportunity to join CSI. Please don't miss this special offer! Join CSI by October 31 and pay only $192 for national dues -- a 20% savings.
1. Visit www.csinet.org/joincsi
2. Select "Join Now", and then click "Sign Up as a New Member"
3. Enter Promotion Code 1220ARCH when prompted
4. Click the "Add Discount" button
And if you do, please use my CSI member number 1014285. Then, please drop me a line and tell me you joined. I can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @EricDLussier, on Facebook at Facebook.com/EricDLussier or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/ericdlussier
Hope to see you at a meeting!
The miscellaneous ramblings of Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT