Mike Pierce's blog

Lessons in Effective Communication

A few recent anecdotes:

I once managed a salesman who, whenever I started to discuss with him a performance issue and my dissatisfaction with it, would complain that I “never told him that before.” As though every discussion had to have a predecessor to be valid. So each of those discussions would end with, “Well, I’m telling you now!” And what started as constructive criticism took on a much greater edge.

It’s about attitude.

Thanksgiving … Giving Light and Hope to Others

Please bear with me a bit, this one’s personal.

A couple that I know – a great couple – fun, bright, attractive and successful when I knew them in my younger years, before I moved away, recently experienced a tragedy. It made me think long and hard about Thanksgiving. Its meaning. Its essence of our culture and mindset and how we look at life in the USA.

Sales and Emotional Intelligence – The “Wow!” Factor

Sales and selling is often a maligned profession. It’s as though the sales professional is out to “get” the buyer and brings no intrinsic value to the interaction other than a necessary evil. On the contrary, it is one of the most difficult professions and one that should be respected as more of a challenging job than a dirty job.

Understanding and Fulfilling Client Needs vs. Wants

I have been thinking about a few instances lately where our team – myself included – felt we were in good shape on a project, that we had what the client wanted. I think this perception was based on what we believed the client needed. In the end, we were listening to ourselves and not the client. After some stresses and strains, we understood and delivered, but there was pain that could have been avoided or at least mitigated better.

The Corporate Moral Compass: Upholding Core Values

Values, Mission and Vision statements are widely used and a common practice in organizations. The creation of them is often a painful process when done by a committee, as it reminds one of the camel being a horse designed by a committee – it’s hard to agree on the exact wording and priorities. That said, once established, how well does the organization actively promote them?

Trends in Contract Terms and Conditions

When I started in sales some 30+ years ago, many of Austin’s design and construction projects were completed under a simple agreement between Austin and Owner. Austin’s standard agreements were simple layman’s contracts that explained costs, payments were based on Advance Fund Schedules (we were paid in advance for the work to be performed), limitations of liability and warranty, and cost protections the Owner and Austin agreed upon.

Building Belief in Sustainable Design

The Austin Company recently nominated Judi Szabo-Stull, Manager of Facilities Development in our Cleveland Operations office, for a Green Building & Design 2015 Women in Sustainability Leadership Award. For Judi, this is a much-deserved recognition – internally to Austin and more broadly within the industry. Good luck in the process Judi!

Reflections on Independence Day

I write this on Wednesday night, July 1. July 4 is Saturday. We all seem to refer to July 4th as the “Fourth of July”, as opposed to the original and more appropriate name, Independence Day. When someone recently referred to Independence Day, the immediate vision that entered my mind was not parades or fireworks, but the Will Smith movie, Independence Day. That is embarrassing to admit and depressing to think about.

Leadership: Finding Your North Star

Leadership seems to be such a popular topic covered at industry association and company meetings and seminars, as well as the focus of study by countless consultancy and academic agencies. Thirty years ago, I do not remember there being such a concentrated focus on it. Clearly, it has become a more important aspect of what organizations do to compete and succeed.

A Little Respect and Common Courtesy

So I am kind of struggling with this one.

Over the past year or so, business emails from strangers trying to interest me in something start off with the salutation, "Hey Mike". Growing up, my Dad – who was the consummate gentlemen – would have been embarrassed to hear one of his kids show disrespect, rudeness even, to a stranger by using such a casual greeting, especially in a professional environment.

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