Care Enough To Be Different

Be an amazing leader.

Returning home after a trip, I saw the stack on the counter. Five days’ worth of printed newspapers. While news continues to migrate to the convenience and lower cost of digital sources, there’s something about seeing the words on newsprint. For me, it puts a personal face on the hardworking reporters and journalists who provide daily content, always striving for the story that will buzz.

Finding the time to thoroughly read a newspaper is a pipe dream. So, I challenge myself to quickly scan each page for the nuggets I don’t catch from my phone, laptop, or the ubiquitous screens in airports, hotel lobbies, and elevators. Sometimes I chuckle at what pops out at me from the page. Other times I wonder why someone found a story important enough to include.

This stack also included a glossy magazine publishing the results of the local paper’s “Top Places to Work 2017” competition. I’ve served as a judge for several Top Places programs and assembled or reviewed Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards and Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” applications, so I always find it interesting to read how firms try to attract and retain talent while managing financial, operational, quality, and growth expectations.

A quick perusal of the pages showed there were less than a handful of A/E/C firms included. Why are there not more of us?

As our conversation about the role of marketing and business development professionals in our firms continues, we must find greater opportunities to effect change in all areas of our firms. We, of all people, know what it means to differentiate!

Laura Jacobus served as the paper’s Top 100 editor. Her letter had two sentences that stood out to me.

Some companies go above and beyond, telling us all about themselves. Others fill out the mandatory categories and hit “send.”

I decided to give out some unofficial editor’s awards this year to the companies that made reading their entries fun — and rewarding.

Whether we’re developing business relationships, preparing RFP responses, assembling an interview presentation—or acquiring staff, requesting business funding, delivering for our clients—we need to stand out from the crowd. Imagine the difference your leadership could make by disrupting the norm. Wow, I didn’t expect that! Whew, what a refreshing approach!

It doesn’t matter what industry you serve, or what role you hold. Being memorable (in a good way!) opens the door to success. You can lead change.

Make the end of 2017 a good one, and start 2018 with a bright outlook. Create the company your clients—and your team—want to work with. Be a different kind of leader. Be amazing!

SMPS President Nancy Usrey, FSMPS, CPSM, is associate vice president of HNTB in Plano, TX. She can be reached at

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