Beyond the Build


Ode to 2020

I’m not sure anything could have truly prepared us for last year. In a strange sort of way, it feels like anyone who went through the financial crisis of the last decade had a leg up. Although the disruption came from opposite ends of the challenge spectrum–one with financial roots and the other health related–they both toughened organizations, imparting survival skills along the way.

Would we rather give the young people in our organization the knowledge without them having to walk through the hardest of challenges? Of course. But that’s not the way it works. These last few months have cemented my belief that more successful organizations need a combination of institutional knowledge, the experience of wisdom and youth/energy to keep the ship going.

Of the many lessons I learned this year, a few come to mind:

  • Gratitude is something to practice daily, and health belongs at the top of the list.
  • While there’s nothing to replace face-to-face meetings, maybe we can trim some fat, using video conferencing for balance.
  • We’ve implemented increased security at the front door and have fewer people entering the building. It’s been well-received.
  • We all have room to be more inclusive of the diverse cultures all around us.

I can sum it all up by saying that personal connections are more important now than ever. Customers and team members need to feel appreciated in these times. And on a lighter note, wearing a mask outside in the blowing winter weather may not be a bad thing…

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.