Getting up the hill is only the start of your journey

September 2018 Letter from the CEO

Thank you for reading this–my first posting of thoughts on technology, business and, when it really boils down to it, life.  For those of you that have been Clients awhile, you probably know that I travel frequently to various technology events.  For those of you that are new Clients or considering becoming a Client, I spend a lot of time traveling to events and I like to share those experiences.  For instance, I’ve made the pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show every year for the past 16 years.  Perhaps more interestingly though for the last two years I’ve been attending a peer group meeting every quarter. 

CES really gives a broad range of insight into what might be coming out and the direction of the various technology industries overall–from “smart” refrigerators to 3D printing and robotics.  The peer group on the other hand focuses on our technology business, but also more deeply on business in general and more importantly on life and a good work / life balance.  My intention with this article is to provide a good jumping off point for what I hope will become a more frequent sharing of my experiences in the hope that they can help you in some aspect of your business and by extension your life. 

What I think I’ve been most struck by in our peer group meetings is how similar every business is once you take away the product itself, whether it is fixing a computer, or a person, building a punch press, or cutting paper, rushing to save someone, or planning our city’s future–the same challenges are posed.  We all, both in business and in life, experience curve jumping. 

Imagine a hill–you strive to get to the top of the hill, which takes learning new skills and adapting.  While on that journey up the hill you get focused on the hill in front of you; once you get to the top, you realize that what it took to get there, while necessary, isn’t the only thing needed to stay there.  You also might realize that next to you is another hill that is higher than the one you’re standing on. 

Now you face a choice; continue to keep your spot or take the leap to the next challenge.  Even if you choose to remain where you are, you will need to adapt to constantly changing requirements and goals.  Failure to do this causes you to slide down into a valley perhaps wondering how it all fell apart.  The other option is to more clearly see that next higher hill and take the leap, jumping to a new slope and learning the skills necessary to struggle up that next peak. 

In business this usually means understanding what good looks like.  Measuring yourself against good and honestly evaluating how to make your company better.  This might be building a better widget, perfecting a process or creating necessary structure.  It might mean all those things.  If you get bigger, higher revenue and more employees means new challenges, methods, process and structure.  It strikes me that life is very similar–each new plateau lets us see just that much further ahead and we get to choose if we are going to stay where we are or jump to the next challenge.

Business or life, manufacturing or service, it doesn’t really matter all that much.  Once you take away some of the details the structure of the journey is the same.  Regardless of where we are or what we sell or provide we can all help each other understand something that will help us on our own journey.  In life or in business.

With that thought I’ll go back to the beginning of this message.  My hope in writing these various pieces is to help bring some of my experience to your journey.  Perhaps reading these can offer some insight into your particular hill.  For those hoping that this would have been more about robots or 3D printing I will most certainly get to the tech.  But every journey has to have a starting point and I thought this might be the best. 

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your time; for those Clients reading this, thank you for your business and the insights you’ve given me into being a better business owner and service provider.  You are all, always, welcome to send me your questions or comments. 

Bill Schwartz - CEO of Inter-Quest

William Schwartz - CEO