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)
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.
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.
It is incredible to believe how far technology has come in (seemingly) such a short period of time.
I have been fortunate enough to be around computers and video game systems for most of my life. To think I started in school on a TRS-80 (known at the time as a Trash-80), then owned a PC-Jr, an Atari, a Nintendo, a Sega Genesis, a Sega CD and now have a Droid driven Eris phone that does the work of all of those. And we won't even get into what my new PS3 does (thanks Blu-Ray!)
So, it's really no surprise that the flooring and surfacing manufacturers that we work with are that adaptable and have changed their style over the years now. Have a custom thickness that is needed for a weight room floor? Need a custom color for a sports floor? Need something next week? We are fortunate that we work with respected manufacturers that can do that for us.
So if there is something that you envision that you don't see on my site, or one of my manufacturers sites, feel free to ask anyhow.
The miscellaneous ramblings of Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT