Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, with not much effort required for gifts or decorating, and extra time to enjoy togetherness with family and friends. It also gives us time to reflect upon and express gratitude for many things that we often take for granted. So, I’m devoting this blog article to giving thanks in my business life.
First of all, I’m thankful for reliable and hardworking employees. As a small business owner for the past two decades, I have had wonderful staff members and only a couple that didn’t work out so well. Our current team is terrific and we couldn’t manage without them. I’m very grateful.
I’m thankful for our clients. The vast majority of them are pleasant to work with, pay on time, and aren’t unreasonably demanding. This is a constant source of amazement to me. I know lots of business owners who struggle to satisfy difficult customers. I’ve personally witnessed this in retail environments. When you are in a service industry, every day is filled with interactions with clients and potential clients. When people are nice, our work is a joy.
I’m thankful for permitting agencies, especially City and County planners. Anyone who is willing to pick up the phone, or answer an email promptly, so that we can get on with our work in a timely manner is a blessing. Usually they are overworked, and they must adapt to changing building codes, ordinances and zoning requirements. It’s a tough job, and most planners and building officials don’t get enough credit. They put up with a lot of hassles and negativity from the public. Those that remain professional and responsive are invaluable.
I’m thankful for office technology. Now granted, I’m the first person to get disgruntled when something has ceased to function properly or an upgrade doesn’t go smoothly. I dislike changing hardware or software platforms and I hate having to learn how to operate a new gadget or program. I don’t read operating manuals (like the rest of the world). But technology has made our lives easier in countless ways. My business experience predates not only computers, but copiers. Have any of you ever tried to type something in triplicate with carbon paper? I have. It’s horrible. Smart phones and wireless technology and CADD systems…I could go on and on…they are indispensable. (But we still have a drafting board and tools in the office!)
I’m thankful for excellent schools. Most of the architectural school graduates that we have interviewed have great computer skills, are eager to work, and are interested in making the world a better place through design. All of them have a focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly construction.
I’m thankful for colleagues who are willing to work together collaboratively. Many are willing to share information and helpful advice. This includes other architects, engineers, general contractors, real estate developers and brokers. Treating others as we would like to be treated, in contrast to dog-eat-dog competitiveness, is by far the best way to get ahead in this world. I’ve found that some of the most successful people in our community are also the most kind and generous with their time and talent.
I’m thankful for a good and responsive landlord, and for vendors and service providers who do what they said they would do on time and at a fair price.
I’m thankful that I work in a wonderful community. We have an office with a pleasant atmosphere in a nice building. It’s close to other places where I can shop and run errands. I don’t have to commute. There’s even a park nearby. We have nice neighbors. There are plenty of great restaurants and entertainment venues downtown. Business people in Redwood City are engaged in making it a better place to live and work. Wherever I go, I run into people I know and like. The weather here is nearly always nice—not too hot and not too cold. I realize that this is an ideal situation.
I’m thankful for my partner in work and in life, Mike Kastrop, for being the kind of person everyone likes to work with and be around. We are celebrating 20 years together at The Kastrop Group as of November 15, 2014 and we recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It continues to be a successful partnership.
Last, but not least, thanks to you for reading my blog. It is genuinely encouraging when someone posts a response or becomes a follower and lets me know that my thoughts are worth sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects