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Must-Have Gifts: A Marketer's Holiday Wish List

Days are getting cooler, lines at the mall are getting lengthier and decorations are everywhere; it’s officially holiday season. Have you created your wish list yet? If not, it’s high time you set aside a few minutes to jot down some “must-haves” stocking stuffers. Yes, you read correctly…I’m saying that you should TAKE SOME TIME TO FOCUS ON YOU. I know, it’s a crazy idea, but worthy nonetheless!

So why create a wish list? How about the excitement of allowing yourself to see the world of possibilities? Items on your wish list are not necessarily things you need to purchase right away, but they might represent potential investments for future projects…or they could just be awesome ideas to tuck away for whenever you’re ready. Plus, as a marketing professional, you probably have a propensity for staying organized…which means you probably LOVE creating lists anyways. So let’s do this!

The first item on your ‘Must Have Marketing Wish List’ is so innovative that it’s not even available yet. Why put it on your list? I’m keeping you ahead of the game…come on people, stay with me here!

  1. Nixie - the wearable selfie drone

In a world full of selfies, advanced technology and marketing, it is no wonder that the first wearable, flying camera has been developed. Just think about all the creative footage that you could capture by walking around with this tiny drone on your wrist. Imagine this: You walk onto the jobsite of your company’s current project and it’s even more unique then you realized. Instantly, you want to hire a photographer or climb to the top story and snap a few photos or take a video. But with the Nixie, you can forget about the hassle of hiring someone else or trying to take quality photos with your iPhone. Simply put your device into ‘boomerang mode’ and Nixie soars off your wrist, captures the moment and comes right back! Within seconds, you are able to upload the newest recording of your company’s project and all you had to do was wear a selfie-drone wristband. NICE!


  1. How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas by Chris Barez-Brown

Usually, I’m not the type of person that goes around telling people about the latest and greatest book. However, I am going to go out on a limb here and make a rare exception in this case…mostly because fun reading is totally different than the serious, boring, “take notes” type of reading. If you want to head into the New Year feeling great, rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world, then READ THIS BOOK. If you are feeling stuck in a rut, uninspired, jaded or perhaps even a little dissatisfied, then this is ALSO the book for you. It’s less than 250 pages, has tons of great images, big fonts, tons of color and some kick-ass content (of course). Major companies like Nike, Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola all turned to this book when they needed inspiration. The book includes step-by-step activities, case studies and practical exercises and is sold on Amazon for just $11.01!

Kick-Ass Ideas

  1. Pocket Projector

The days of emailing a presentation for someone to review or handing over a binder full of paper are OVER…and if you’re still doing it, then you might want to step your game. Stand out to your colleagues AND your clients by carrying a lightweight, pocket projector. One of these mini devices can run for up to two hours on one single charge and even has dual speakers built in. All you have to do is connect to your smartphone, tablet or other media player and present. With this secret weapon up your sleeve, you’ll come across as someone who takes initiative, who comes prepared and who is “at home” in a world of ever-changing technology. Extremely convenient and simple to use, this device creates a “big screen” feel for business presentations, movies, web videos and more and can be purchased for as cheap as $30!

Plocket Projector

  1. Jot Pro Stylus

How many smart devices do you have? Okay, stop counting. Most of us carry a smart phone and possibly a tablet at all times…and maybe even a laptop when we travel. So why do so many of us still scribble away in our notebooks? While some people CAN write faster than they type (scary), others might feel that they remember things better if they physically write their notes out. Then again, there are still some of us who just haven’t adapted to the technology yet. But whatever the reason is, stop it. Stop wasting paper, stop wasting the technology at your fingertips, stop wasting your time and stop wasting all that money. Get hip with the times and purchase a jot pro! I suggest this type of smart-device because it accurately “writes” on iPads, iPhones and Androids and is compatible with most Windows products and touchscreen devices. This innovation will expose your inner creativity, allowing you to jot down notes the old fashion way (kind of) and save your “written” work for as long as you want it. Get it online for just $29.99.



Whether you’ve been out of school for a few months or a few decades, you can always learn more. Let’s face it; in today’s environment, you’ve got to constantly develop and increase your skill set if you want to stay relevant. Training through is a leading online learning company that will help you learn business, software, technology and creative skills. Everything from 3D animation to web design and more are just an online membership away. With 4,4105 video courses, expert teachers and a variety of instruction levels, you are bound to learn something new that will benefit your career and stimulate your thinking. Taking outside classes to learn one specific skill or one specific software package can be expensive, time consuming and extremely boring. With, you can decide the pace at which you learn, the price that you are willing to pay and the exact information that you want to dive deeper into.


Whether you’re looking to knock your colleague’s socks off or you’re just in the market for a little extra inspiration, any of the above items are sure to make the grade. Plus, now when people ask you that insanely difficult question at this time of year (“What do you want for the holidays?”), you now have an easy answer. You’re welcome!


About the Blogger:  Ashley Black is one of those millennials that everyone can’t stop talking about.  She’s motivated, driven and proud to be a new face in the Phoenix A/E/C industry. Ashley loves to write, volunteer and watch her favorite NBA team – the Golden State Warriors.  She’s ready to prove everyone wrong about “youngsters in the workplace” and promises to be a marketing professional you won’t soon forget.

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For Contemplation During the Holiday Break...

Here we are again...we just closed the books on Thanksgiving and now only a split second later, it's already time to shut down the office again!  Not that I'm complaining...far from it.  I absolutely love this time of year.  But it doesn't exactly make for a lot of blog traffic LOL!  Which means that I'll be making this week's blog a SUPER-EASY read...again.  In fact, you won't even have to read that much...just a short little paragraph, then WATCH and ENJOY!  Yes, I'm posting another video...OK, two videos.  But before we get to the video portion of this week's blog post, here's a little food for thought...

I consistently hear from colleagues and peers that marketing for service-based firms is different than marketing for product-based companies...and there is no denying this.  However, I usually hear this anecdote as a sort of explanation or justification for our industry's overwhelmingly lackluster approach to marketing.  It's said as if A/E/C couldn't possibly be expected or even hope to produce anything as creative (or hilarious) as some of our product-based counterparts (check out DollarShaveClub) because...well...we're different.

Is it true that most of the clever ads that we see in the mass media are a function of product-based marketing?  Yes.  But service-based companies do it too...and so can we.  I actually found an AWESOME example of a clever campaign generated by a digital services firm based out of Portugal.  Not only does it demonstrate the realm of creative possibilities for service-based industries, but it is also sure to get you into the spirit of the season.  So sit back, relax and contemplate the brainpower behind this festive piece, courtesy of YouTube and ExcentricGrey.  Happy Holidays!    

"The Digital Story of the Nativity"

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U Can't Stuff This...

So I thought long and hard about what type of post to place this Thanksgiving week.  Hard-hitting, controversial, revolutionary?  But is anyone really in the mood to read an article (or blog post) of any length leading up to a holiday weekend?  By all accounts, people are already on vacation OR doing their best to finish things up before closing down the office.  Throwing an article into the mix will surely get lost in the holiday hubbub.  So with this in mind, it seemed like the exact right time to send out a that is sure to make you laugh to the point of least, that's what it did to me.  Seriously, I almost fell out of my chair!

So sit back, relax and enjoy a little Thanksgiving funny bone from yours truly, BeatBlogger, courtesy of YouTube and "M.C. Turkey." 

"U Can't Stuff This"

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Water in the Desert (Incoming President's Address)

If you would have told me eight years ago that I’d be taking on the role of SMPS Arizona President, I would have laughed you out of the room. When I started my A/E/C marketing career in Utah more than 17 years ago, I was introduced to the Salt Lake City Chapter. But unfortunately, none of my firms were very supportive of me joining. So when I moved to Phoenix to take a job with URS ten years later, I was surprised when they encouraged me to join…and join quickly! Of course, I jumped at the opportunity…with both feet. I volunteered to be a member of the Publicity branch, attended my first newsletter committee meeting, raised my hand with an idea, and then by default was “voluntold” to take my idea and run with it. The rest, as they say, is history.

It feels a little bit like the twilight zone when I reflect on where my involvement with SMPS all started and then realize that it’s now the middle of my third month as President. Just this past year has been such an incredible learning experience. I’ve undergone personal and professional growth as the incoming President that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. SMPS has opened so many doors for me and has helped shape the marketer (and person) that I am today. It is amazing to see what happens when you set goals, share them with your friends, and then have them hold you accountable.

There is no denying that anyone who knows me at all knows that I drink the proverbial SMPS Kool-Aid, and the past year has only increased my consumption. My love and passion for this organization is what drives me each and every day. We have so many wonderfully talented and committed professionals who have poured themselves into making our Chapter great and we are now in such an amazing position, having just won the Outstanding Large Chapter award this past year. In short, we have tremendous momentum and energy right now, and I am truly honored and humbled to be stepping in as Chapter President.

Of course, the stakes are high when transitioning into a leadership role of this magnitude and I want great things to continue for our Chapter. So as I took part in the President Leadership Symposium (PLS) this past summer, I started to rack my brain. If I had to choose ONE idea to represent everything that was to be accomplished within our Chapter this year, what would it be? Obviously, the idea of hard work isn’t foreign to any of us, but in an age of instant gratification, sometimes we need a little motivation to keep on going…especially when we don’t see our efforts paying off immediately.

I had so many ideas at first, but the idea of persevering when things don’t seem to be moving along fast enoughreally resonated with me. That’s when I remembered one of the best sessions that I’ve ever attended at Build Business; it was by Greg Bell, author of “Water the Bamboo.” The whole premise is that when giant timber bamboo seeds are planted, it takes three years of watering before a shoot even begins to show above ground. Once this has occurred, you can literally watch and hear the bamboo growing…a whopping 90 feet in 60 days! Here’s the catch, though. If the farmers aren’t diligent with their watering, the bamboo doesn’t grow.

So I took this “Water the Bamboo” concept and ran with it, and our Chapter is now officially embarking on the watering process right here in the desert to create our own little oasis. Capitalizing on and leveraging our momentum, getting our current and new members engaged, and looking for additional ways to invest in and create opportunities for our members are just a few of the ways we will be “watering” our Chapter. As always, we have some pretty big goals outlined for ourselves. But the collective effort of all of us watering together will continue to take our Chapter to great places and will allow us to reap a strong crop!

This is truly an exciting time to be a member of SMPS Arizona….so let’s do this!


About the Blogger:  Cricket Robertson, CPSM is a professional marketer by day and rocker by night. After rediscovering her love of live rock music last year, you can often find her at one of the many concerts that come through Phoenix. This year alone, she’s seen more than ten concerts and 20 bands. She has even been known to travel to see a favorite band.

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The Yoga of Marketing: Part One

“I quit.” After nearly twenty years in the A/E/C industry as a professional marketer and business developer, these were the words I uttered to my boss just before my son, Daniel, was born in 2006. I was Fried…with a capital F. I walked away from two decades of industry relationships, professional success, a number of industry friends and a mountain of stress.

I pondered my next life chapter carefully. My plan was simple: I would trade-in my Type-A, overachieving, sales-minded, creative business life and become a nurturing stay-at-home mom. I would be the best mother in the world. I would be an attentive, present and loving caregiver…the type of mom who always puts her baby’s needs before her own. I would grow whole foods in an organic, edible garden in my suburban-yet-oasis-like backyard and puree fruits and vegetables for Daniel’s snacks. I would shuttle him to and from play dates in an eco-friendly Prius and love every moment. Better yet…we would walk. I would create soft, simple play clothes from organic cotton and hemp.

My goals seemed so true and good and right. They were wholesome, pure, idyllic…all the things that I always wanted for my family but could never find the time to work into my insane marketer’s schedule. And with work out of the way, I could finally get down to it. It was perfect…and my life would BE perfect! Of course, as anyone who knows me well will attest, pretty much everything on my list turned out to be completely and utterly unrealistic.

After six-months of sleepless nights, breast-feeding, chicken pox, projectile vomit and pureeing whole oat groats for my sweet baby boy, I did what any new “Marketing Mom” would do for balance; I made myself a huge margarita, hired a full-time nanny and started my own PR firm.

Within three months, I was burning the midnight oil…again. But not for my actual baby; this time, I was foregoing sleep for my “PR baby.” My PR-firm grew like wild fire and took on a mind of its own. Before I knew it, I had clients onOprah, in the New York Times and a variety of other prominent media outlets around the globe. It was fun, exciting, challenging, and I was loving every minute of it. The only problem was that I was having sleepless nights because of the wrong baby. I had shifted all of my time, attention and energy from Daniel to my PR project. And I knew that once again - like my 20-year run in the A/E/C industry - I had allowed myself to become completely focused on work…not that I had time to do anything about it…

Then in 2010, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and was sent home to die. As fate would have it, this was around the same time that I was media-coaching a high-profile client who had run for Congress (and lost) and who wanted advice on how to reinvigorate her national image. So in the last 48 hours of my Mom’s life, I spent my time sitting with her for a while to provide solace, then jumping on the phone for a “quick” client conference call and then running back as fast as I could to be by my mother’s side.

After the funeral, when I returned home to Arizona, I reflected on how I had “balanced” my priorities during this key moment in my life. Instead of being fully present with my Mom during her last precious hours on this earth, I had allowed myself to become distracted by work. That was my “a-ha” defining moment. That’s when I knew that I had to re-write my life script. No longer would I allow work to syphon my energy away from the good stuff in life: family, friends, relationships, presence, awareness, consciousness, mindful behavior…my version of God. I had to get my life and my priorities “in balance” once and for all. But how?

In Buddhism, this is what is referred to as “The Middle Path,” and I knew I needed some of that in my life. I just wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to achieve it…besides reading Eat, Pray, Love again. So after much contemplation, I signed up for a Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga teacher certification program at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. After 500-hours of chanting, downward-facing dogging and back bends (also known as Urdhva Dhanurasana in Sanskrit or Upward Bow/Wheel pose in yogi speak), I became a Certified Yoga Instructor. The experience transformed me. All of the stress that I had built up in my nervous system over the years – all the neglect to my body and my mind – had finally dissipated. And for the first time in a long time, I felt peaceful, calm andbalanced. That was five years ago.

That very same year, I decided to return to the A/E/C industry…but with a new perspective. I decided that I would find a way to remain peaceful in this deadline-driven, stress-filled, high pressure environment (the typical habitat for professionals in our industry). After five years of “balancing” yoga-ing, market-ing and parent-ing, life and work, work and life, and integrating the yum and yuck (or the yin and yang) of work, life, family and friends, I am finally on my way to sustained balance. I am calling my journey to personal peace The Yoga of Marketing.

SMPS Arizona has marketed this phenomenon as a revolution of sorts, but I think “re-invention” is a better descriptor. As our industry embarks on the chapters ahead, ask yourself how far you are willing to go to re-inventyourself. What distance are you prepared to travel to achieve transformation? In the words of poet Mary Oliver, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” I hope that together we can come up with some inspiring ideas and practical tools to help us all better manage work and life. Our ultimate goal? To cherish ourselves ashuman beings, not just “human doings.” To achieve “The Middle Path.”

With this in mind, I’ve included my all-time top three pieces of advice for all the high-strung, energetic, overachieving, think-we-can-do-it-all, insanely intense marketers…like myself.

  1. Be Present. When you are in a meeting, on a conference call, on a teleseminar, in a podcast or webinar, in a virtually-simulated environment, on an iPhone or iPad, iTouch or behind a pair of Google Glasses…show up! Be present and accounted for. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, be fully present with whatever it is that you are doing. No texting while in the presence of a real, live human being. If you must intercept a call or text while in the presence of others, be courteous. Excuse yourself. Be respectful. Be mindful. If you’re behind the wheel, just drive! It’s really about creating boundaries for yourself and sticking with them. Do one thing at a time, and do it to the very best of your ability. Multi-tasking is NOT where it’s at. Being fully engaged in whatever you find yourself involved with is a far better choice.

  2. Get Real. Make nourishing choices for yourself. Saying “yes” to projects and proposals that are resounding “no’s” means that you’ll have to say “no” to your real priorities. If an interview presentation seems unrealistic, then speak up. If it’s humanly impossible to meet a Client’s timeline, then ask for help. Be truthful, authentic and real. Saying “yes” to an extra proposal, presentation or project when you really mean “no” is not healthy or helpful. Focus on what you know is the right thing to do for yourself and your company. “More, better, faster” may be the current way of the world, but as strategic thinkers and creative marketers, we must be the voice that says “Stop…this is crazy. Is there some other way we can exceed our goals without pushing our teams over the edge?”
  1. Own Your Truth. If you’re sick and exhausted, then leave the office. If you’re unable to meet a deadline, then ask for help. If you can’t juggle another project, then say so. And if you have to excuse yourself to go for a run (or go to yoga or Reiki or whatever) or make a quick trip down to Whole Foods for a double cold-pressed Green Goddess, then do that! Ask for forgiveness and not permission, especially when it comes to taking good care of yourself. Pushing through when you are depleted, over-worked and discouraged isn’t good for anyone; not for you, not for your boss, not even for the Client. At the end of the day, any respectable employer would rather have a happy, productive and inspired Marketer than a dead one. Hey, I realize that bottom line is the bottom line, but at what cost? Small acts of self-care go a long way in restoring chi and ultimately making for a better outcome all around.

So what about you? Do you have a few pearls of wisdom that you’d like to offer those of us that have too much to do and not enough time to do it all in? Or do it all well? Share your thoughts and share in the journey of personal transformation and re-invention and we collectively learn to balance and thrive in a modern world. OM and Namaste.


About the Blogger:  An inspired marketing, business development and public relations consultant, Jeanna Zelin delves into the heart and soul of the marketer’s hero’s journey.  As a 25-year veteran of the A/E/C industry, a mother and a wanna-be yogini, she explores topics of balance, well-being, inspiration and personal transformation.

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Princesses are Pretty, Not Proposals

“Marketing prettied up our proposal, so we can send it out now.” Ah yes, the true measure of a marketing department’s effort on a winning proposal and surely every top-performing marketer’s dream compliment. After working all week to perfect a proposal, there’s nothing I love more than to hear the phrase “thanks for prettying this up.” In case you haven’t picked up on it already, I’m being sarcastic.

Don’t get me wrong; I really do appreciate the ‘thank you’ as well as the recognition. But compliments like these mostly fall into the category of backhanded, although unintentionally…I hope. So I think it’s about time to speak plainly and set the record straight: if you tell me you are thankful for me “prettying” up your document, you are actually insulting me WAY more than you are endorsing me. Surprised? Let me explain...

Princesses are pretty…not proposals. If I really wanted to make your proposal look “pretty,” I would simply sprinkle some glitter on top and call it a day. But I’m not playing proposal dress-up with sparkling tiaras and shimmering ball gowns. “Prettying this up” makes it sound like my position is to snap my fingers and voilà! The proposal looks more attractive. Instead of acknowledging all of the hard work that went into the proposal, your “compliment” has elevated me to the esteemed status of…wait for it…a little girl running around her parent’s kitchen plastering tiny little bows all over every drawer and cabinet within her reach. Praise, indeed.

I’m so glad that I spent four years of my life studying in college and working towards graduation so that I could go on to a wonderful and glamorous life of… making things pretty. Yeah, that’s sarcasm again. Unfortunately for me, my Bachelor’s degree left me with absolutely NO beauty tips whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada. In fact, “Making Proposals Pretty 101” was never an available class offered to me and I sure as heck never enrolled in “The Fine Art of Pretty Proposals.”

For those of you belonging to the baffled masses, the point of a marketer’s involvement throughout the proposal process ISN’T to make it “pretty.” The point is to make sure that the proposal’s message is strong and concise, that ALL the questions have been clearly answered, and that the client’s covert motivators (what they actually care about) have been adequately addressed. Without a marketer to quarterback the process, proposals would be all over the place: 100 pages long with no real sense of flow and riddled with grammar mistakes…everywhere. And they certainly would not look very “pretty.”

Note to the rest of A/E/C from us pretty-proposal-makers: there are rules when it comes to proposal preparation…and marketers know these rules like the back of our hands. So every time you send a draft our way and want toRandomly Capitalize words that don’t need to be capitalized…or inconsistently spell out “15” when it doesn’t need to be spelled out…we have to go in and fix all of that, sentence by sentence and word by word. And when we receive 10 pages of verbiage from four different people for a half-page proposal section, we condense it to fit…all the while ensuring that new verbiage reflects one singular voice rather than a big mush of various opinions and information.

Some may think that this process just makes the writing look better and therefore falls under the umbrella of “pretty.” But news flash: it does more than just make the writing look better; it actually makes the writing itself better. Let’s also not forget all those adjustments to font sizes and colors, all the reformatting of organizational charts and the careful selection of the most representative project photos. These efforts actually allow for a clearer message, better organization and sure…it’s more appealing to the eye. The final product might look shiny and attractive to you, but a lot more went into it than me just jazzing it up. In no way am I spending all that time on a proposal because – gee, I really want it to look super cute!

Does no one realize how demeaning this whole “pretty proposal” commentary is? And not just to an A/E/C newbie like me. This affects even the most talented of marketers…even a total marketing goddess, like my boss. She is a Certified Professional Services Marketer, has a ton of experience marketing in A/E/C, and is a terrific strategist and leader. She has shown direct success through her marketing tactics and has more than proven herself to the team. She also consistently gets feedback from the team which indicates that they appreciate marketing as an important aspect of the business. Then all of a sudden, BOOM! Her credibility is demolished in an instant when they open their mouths and ugh – pretty verbal vomit comes spewing out.

Like Really Pretty

OK, I admit it…this all seems really negative…and I suspect that the rest of the team doesn’t understand how they really sound when these horrid words leave their mouths. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. After reviewing my lengthy rant, it has occurred to me that I might be looking at this all wrong. Maybe…just maybe…I have done such a great job on the proposal that the team sees it as seamless. Maybe the awesomeness of my efforts is too difficult to describe. Maybe the final product is so professional looking, that it is in fact “pretty.” And maybe the summary six letter descriptor just happens to send chills down my spine…

So the next time you find yourself on the verge of buttering up your marketing team with adjectives best reserved for fairy tale princesses, try to remember this: marketing departments do MUCH more than make things look “pretty.” If you want to show me real appreciation, first try to understand what it is that I actually do before handing back this “pretty proposal” to you.


About the Blogger:  Blunt Newbie is a fresh face in the A/E/C industry.  She knows what she brings to the table and isn’t afraid to speak her mind and shake things up a bit!  And even though she is young and still finding her way, she wants to be taken seriously and will work hard to earn the respect of her peers.    

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Ready, Set, BLOG!

It's a new SMPS year, people...and great things are on the horizon!  OK, OK, you got me.  It's not time to burst open the champagne bottle and bust out the noise makers...YET.  But it IS time to get ready for a brand new SMPS Leadership team.  And among the newbies is A/E/C Beat's newest addition to the blog team, none other than returning SMPS member Jeanna Zelin, who will be assisting BeatBlogger with all things blog-worthy throughout the 2015/16 year...EXCITING!!! 

Of course, with the new SMPS year comes some awesome new content for our A/E/C Beat followers and some brand new contributors ready to make their blog debuts!  It also comes with a new posting schedule which we hope will work better for both our readers and our writers alike.  What is it, you ask?  Pretty simple:  rather than EVERY Tuesday, we'll be posting EVERY OTHER Tuesday.  So be on the watch for our first official article of the year, coming to you all on 10/13/2015.

Until then, if you've got a hot industry topic that you want to '"put out there," WE WANT YOU to reach out to BeatBlogger or Jeanna (we're still trying to figure out her virtual persona)...we accept both "guest" and "ghost" blogger articles.  And for those of you that don't fancy yourself writers/bloggers, that's cool.  We still need your help with keeping the conversation going through your lively comments and online dialogue.  Remember, in big ways and in small, it's never too late to #RevolutionizeYourAttitude 

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Bon Voyage: A Heartfelt Farewell From our 2014/15 President

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The first draft of my final address started out with a reflection on what we had accomplished this past year. But in all honesty, it left me feeling cold and didn’t really express the message that I truly wanted to convey. And then a good friend of mine reminded me that sometimes you just have to say what you’re feeling! So I’m taking this opportunity to touch on a few of the thoughts and emotions that I have as I bid farewell to the presidency. Yes, I’m going to get ‘mushy’ and reminisce about all the ‘fluffy bunny’ moments that we experienced as a group this past year.

First of all, what a ride! I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard…because it was really hard. There were long nights, frustrating moments, lots of laughing, a few dozen happy hours, and some cussing thrown into the mix just for good measure. But it was by far the most rewarding experience I have had the privilege to be a part of. I set out tosurvive…and I DID. But now I find that I’m in a bit of a funk, filled with a strange mix of conflicting emotions. On one hand, I’m completely ready to hand over ‘my baby,’ but on the other I’m not at all ready to let go.

I remember commenting to a friend about half-way through last year that I wanted to bottle up all my feel-good moments; the times when something I was taking a chance on worked out in fabulous ways that I hadn’t expected; the days when someone said thank you and actually meant it; the moments when I realized that I wasn’t completely sucking at this job. As it turns out, I actually was bottling all those moments after all…because, believe it or not, I am experiencing them all in full force as I write this very message. I bottled everything – the laughter, the tears, the late nights, the celebrations, maybe even every weird and wonderful facial expression ever made – and now I take with me the full package of what it means to lead an amazing organization.

To the people that I surrounded myself with this past year – the amazing individuals that all brought a different personality, perspective and challenge – you were simply amazing. You proved that a team of 32 can pretty much KICK A$$ in more ways than one. You increased membership by 16%, held an 86% retention rate, increased networking opportunities, gave back to the community, recognized our members through SoMe, and accomplishedevery single initiative that the chapter set out to accomplish. You made it look easy, even though you spent countless hours volunteering for the betterment of SMPS. You made my heart swell with pride, amazed me with your unrelenting passion, and (quite frankly) surprised me with all that you were able achieve.

Just a few days ago, I was having a conversation with a few Presidents from some of the other chapters and one of them posed to the group a question: “What are your top ten will or won’t misses about being president?” So, here goes…

Won’t Miss:

  • 75 Emails in One Day. You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. One day I had 103 emails going back and forth. Drop-kicking the person who invented “Reply All” has been high on my list ever since.
  • Working at Night. My “set” SMPS hours were pretty much 6:30 – 9:00 every night and Sunday afternoon from 1:00 – 5:00PM. And on my work days, SMPS would often consume multiple hours. Lucky for me, my company was completely understanding.
  • The Meetings. On any given week, I would have between three and four meetings with individuals or teams. I loved it, but sometimes I wished for a calendar day with no responsibility.
  • Hearing “I’m Busy.” I know, I know, I know. We’re all “busy.” Working full time, having a personal life, and volunteering is hard stuff. But I would be ever so happy to never hear “I’m busy” again.

Will Miss:

  • My Team. That powerhouse that listened to my crazy ideas, somehow turned them into action plans, and then made me laugh every step of the way. I will miss you all the most – you made my heart happy when I was around you.
  • Not Being So Busy. Yeah, you read that right. I actually miss not being so busy. I’m the type of person that operates best under pressure, with a to-do list three pages long. I miss my extra SMPS to-do list. Now it’s just work to-do’s. Wah, wah, wah.
  • My SMPS Strategic Plan Book. I reviewed the strategic plan and action items on a weekly basis, just to ensure that everything was falling into place. I took it out of my bag last week and am missing the extra weight it added.
  • The Shenanigans. I don’t know how many times I would receive an email that would have me rolling on the ground laughing. Every last one of those emails is saved in my “Bad Day Laughs” folder in my email account.
  • What’s Next. I’m kind of like a little lost puppy right now. The emails have stopped, the questions are no longer mine to answer, and I’m not organizing anything. I am finding a new norm…along with a little void in my heart.
  • Writing Thank You Notes. Those suckers can turn around a bad day. I had no idea how powerful a hand written note on a 4 x 5 piece of paper could influence your entire perspective.

Someone asked me at the beginning of my presidency what I wanted my legacy to be. Legacy? I pretty much set out to survive. I wasn’t really thinking about leaving a legacy. I was thinking about having a great year, growing great leaders and giving everyone an opportunity to show their creative side. Did we do that? Well, we did end up winning the SFE Outstanding Large Chapter of the Year. ‘Nough said!

We did it, and we did it as a team; one big (sometimes dysfunctional) and wonderful team. I will miss the presidency, but this team still has plenty of room to keep growing – so keep doing what you all do best! From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the opportunity to be your “Prez” and for letting me get a little sappy in my farewell address. Please know that I will never ever forget how you all made me feel…which was pretty friggin’ awesome!  “Mic drop, DONE.”


About the Blogger:  Grenee Martacho-Celuch, CPSM, is the Immediate Past President for SMPS Arizona. Spending time in the Presidency for the last year afforded her some lessons learned and a few rude awakenings, but ultimately she found a passion for leading people without compromising her straight-forward nature. For someone who is constantly focused on being the ultimate professional, this emotional blog post leaves Grenee feeling a little vulnerable. But it is one more step on her journey to becoming a well-rounded leader.

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It's Transition Time!

"Transition is in your future."  Yep, there's no doubt about it...we are on the cusp of a new 2015/16 SMPS Arizona leadership team and that means it's transition time!  While this year's team is getting ready to bid their roles a fond farewell, the new team is working on getting their feet under them.  There's a LOT going on, to be sure...which makes this the perfect time to take an extended breather from "revolutionizing our attitudes" so that we can get through this transition period with our sanity still intact LOL!  With this in mind, please make note that BeatBlogger will not be posting new articles again until Tuesday, September 15th, 2015.  

In the meantime, here's a recap of what was accomplished this year for A/E/C Beat:

  • 29 Posts with 26 Original Articles
  • 19 Unique Content Contributors
  • 6 Comments per Post (on Average)
  • 1 Re-Branding Effort

So there you have it!  Not too shabby for a new AZ Chapter effort.  Thank you to all of A/E/C Beat's content contributors for their originality and innovation of thought.  And thank you to all our readers who took the time to digest and comment!  BeatBlogger is already curious about what the 2015/16 year will bring!

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Millennials & The Generational Gap: Part 1

How to recruit and retain talent; it’s at the top of mind for most A/E/C firms these days. We just can’t staff up fast enough to meet the growing demands of a recovering economy. Our entry to mid-level workforce was gutted by the recession and our seasoned professionals are starting to think about retirement again. So who’s going to replace them? Millenials.

Every conversation regarding new talent inevitably comes back to Millenials; those “entitled, lazy Millennials.” Of course, negative connotations aren’t isolated to this one generation. Every generation comes with a “stigma” that labels them with a particular mindset. Baby Boomers are “stuck in their ways,” GenXers are “hard to get along with,” and Millenials are “the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world.”

Preceding generations almost always tend to think of their predecessors as problematic. They cause trouble, have a different outlook on accepted approaches and come with ‘questionable’ communication styles. But what parent in the history of parents hasn’t said this about their own child at some point? Generations are different, but the “right or wrong” way of doing things is a matter of personal opinion, not of generation.   And let’s face it; this IS what it IS. The next generation IS the future.

The Facts:
According to Forbes, today’s workers face uncharted territory regarding workforce demographics. There will soon be FIVE generations in the workplace all at once, whereas prior year’s workers contended with only three or four. But Millennials currently make up a HUGE portion of the workforce, and their presence is only going to grow. Here are a few cold hard facts:

  • Millenials are individuals born between 1981 – 2000
  • Millenials represent a population of approximately 80 million people (that’s a lot)
  • Millennials will become the workforce’s new majority by 2015, and will occupy 75% of the workforce by 2030 (according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics)

So what is SOOOO different about this workforce generation that is causing so much heartburn right now? Why do “those darn Millenials” seem to cause such a stir in office trends? Is there no communication in this big blended office family? Hmmm. Since great communication is rooted in a true understanding of another’s viewpoint, here are a few of the fun facts on Millenials:

  • Approximately 15% were born outside the U.S.
  • They have their own computers, phones, tablets, etc.; they don’t need your stuff.
  • Millenials like to work hard, but they also like to play hard. The two go “hand in hand.”
  • They went to school in collaborative spaces with a lot of flexibility. It’s only natural that they would want flexibility and telecommuting options in their careers as well.
  • They grew up with text messages, social media, and instant gratification. Their communication style is fairly informal in comparison to prior generations.
  • Entitled or just young? Hey, we were all young once…but someone saw our potential and took it upon themselves to mentor us.

In a recent Forbes poll, top employers were asked about how multi-generations affected the workplace:

  • 43% say multi-generational teams are good for projects to provide knowledge in specific areas
  • 45% say the biggest challenge to getting along is understanding each generation’s approach to a work-life balance and work ethic
  • 20% say communication style conflicts are the biggest impediment to working together

Pay close attention the first statistic – “43% say multi-generational teams are good.” Wait, what? Based on all the negative hype, you might expect the stats to reflect the opposite. Not so. As this poll suggests, each generation brings value, and how a company uses that value to benefit their clients in a team setting is what’s important.

The Recruiting
Like it or not, it is a job seeker’s market right now in A/E/C (as was so eloquently explained in A/E/C Beat’s “Desperately Seeking MC”), and a lot of those job seekers are Millenials. “They kind of expect a custom deal,” said Christie Borchin, Deputy Director of the California Department of Technology’s Office of Professional Development, during a February 24th panel on recruiting Millennials at the California Public Sector CIO Academy in Sacramento. “You need to really be aware of what makes Millennials tick,” she said, "and adapt your style to meet that.”

Here are a few tips on recruiting Millennials:

  • Build your company brand by engaging potential Millenial applicants on social media. Exhibit events, perks and benefits on Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media platforms.
  • Praise Millennials through the interview process. Interviewing is more than ever a two-way street, and Millenial candidates want to be seen as hot commodities. They know that they need to pitch themselves to hiring managers, but they also want to be sold on the values, mission and benefits of a company. Thank candidates for their time and let them know head-on if you are impressed with how they answered a question or an experience they have had.
  • Millennials expect work-life balance from day one in any new job. They expect to work hard, but they also expect to have the flexibility and time to spend with family and friends. Emphasize your company’s culture and how they will fit into it. Invite potential hires to spend some time in the office getting to know the environment and the people.
  • Perks are an expectation. With all the press around the perks of the Googles and Facebooks of the world, Millennials see these things as the norm rather than the exception. They expect the celebratory food, drinks, and events…along with “Bring Your Dog to Work Day,” ping pong tables in the break room, on premise day care services and pretty much anything else you can think of.
  • Millennials feel strongly about a company’s commitment to the community and making the world a better place.  Have your HR team organize community service events on a quarterly basis, giving groups of employees the opportunity to participate in revolving community service offerings during work hours.
  • Millennials seek incentives and performance-based pay. Of course, everyone loves a steady base salary. But on top of that, Millennials also expect performance-based pay, which rewards them for direct organizational contributions. Get creative with bonuses that incentivize all levels of the company to hit their own individual performance goals.

No wonder they are considered “the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world.” But seriously, whodoesn’t expect kudos for a job well done. Take an inventory of your current employee offerings and ask yourself this: Are we up to the challenge of recruiting these types of job seekers? 

The Retaining
Starting with the very first conversation, ask Millennial candidates about their career aspirations and goals. In addition to focusing on their aspirations, find out what they don’t like to do. Then be attentive to, engage with, and respond to their stated aspirations and goals. Here are a few key motivators for Millenials:

  • Millenials view work as a key part of life, rather than a separate activity that needs to be “balanced” by it. Be flexible with the hours they work, and they will work them.
  • Millenials want a roadmap to success. Maybe not immediate success, but they want to know that a path doesexists and they want to know what that path entails.
  • Millennials are inspired by working with bright and creative people. Create environments that are conducive to brainstorming, emphasize engagement and provide plenty of opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Millenials are more likely to perform (and less likely to quit) if they feel that their work has meaning or is connected to a bigger picture. Acknowledge their work and highlight its significance to the overall project/company (or world!).
  • Millenials want a strong sense of their company’s mission and vision. Be forthcoming when explaining the “whys” behind decisions and provide social activities to foster company community.

The Bottom Line
Now, we’re not saying that you have to adapt everything that you’re doing as a firm to meet the demands and expectations of the new Millenial workforce. As with any healthy relationship, acclimating to the multi-generational work environment of the future will require a little give and a little take from both (or in this case, all) parties. A modest evaluation of faults is not unwarranted, but a healthy inventory of generational value-added will be the key to bridging this gap. The bottom line is that we all need to find a way to get along, and with that comes understanding generational characteristics.

For all the Baby Boomers and GenXers that just read this article, please consider it a quick lesson on “how to train your dragon…errr…Millenial.” Yeah, we’re sorry Millenials…nobody’s perfect. Not the Boomers, not the GenXers, and not you. But don’t get disheartened. Part two of this article will talk about what you can do to overcome that pesky “entitlement” stereotype in the workplace and prove to the rest of us that you’ve got the chops to take on the future!


About the Bloggers:  BeatBlogger was thrilled to be the first to read this post, authored by two of her favorite SMPS Arizona leaders.  Here are their stories:  

  • Deirdre Gilmore is a stereotypical GenXer. She loathes useless meetings, people that can’t put their phones down, and most social media. However, in order to avoid becoming a “get off my lawn you punk” adult, delved into understanding the generational gaps and how we can leverage them to get results.

  • Grenee Celuch is caught in the middle of GenX and the Millenials. She has little patience for people with “entitlement” issues and believes that working hard and going above and beyond your job description reaps huge rewards. Studying the different generations has made her realize that it's a give and take from all generations for the workplace to work as a cohesive machine.

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