We had our best quarter ever at the Engineering Management Institute in the first quarter of 2020. Our team was growing as was our client base. Then all of a sudden it seemed like the world stopped dead in its tracks. This virus that had been seen on the news, had made its way into the US and it was spreading fast, and not only was it killing thousands of people, but it took the US economy down as well.
As the leader of EMI, I had some big decisions to make, namely, what do we focus on during this time? Most engineering companies halted all expenditures including training and development, one of our main revenue streams. So while we kept publishing our free content through our Civil Engineering Media & Entertainment Network (CEMENT), we needed to find a way to survive. Better yet, we needed to find a way to thrive through the pandemic.
As I pondered our next steps, I leaned heavily on some of the reading and studying of the Zen philosophy I have conducted over the years. One book that was extremely helpful was a book by Ryan Holiday entitled, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. I would classify this pandemic as an obstacle, wouldn’t you?
Holiday references a quote from the great Roman leader Marcus Aurelius early on in the book to drive his point home:
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
How can we use the pandemic to create the future for EMI instead of letting it take us down? What stands in the way becomes the way. We took a look at our current and past client base, and 95% of the firms that we have provided people skills and project management training for were civil engineering companies. Interesting.
How can we serve that market better? There is only one way to find out how you can better serve your clients. You ask them!
I proceeded to conduct approximately forty phone calls with civil engineering firm leaders including executives, project managers, human resources professionals, and learning and development experts.
These conversations culminated in a new service entitled the Civil Engineering Collective. The discussions that I had with these leaders helped me to see that if we combined our training expertise with our ability to create relevant content for civil engineers, along with our already huge platform, we had something that could really help these firms train their staff on key topics, help their leaders gain clarity, find top-talented professionals, and expand their firms geographically. All in one service.
Who would’ve thought that would have been the case. We designed the service and made charter membership available which sold quickly, and here we are about to launch this service in September of 2020.
So the term, the obstacle is the way has new meaning to us at EMI. It has changed our future, and if you are a Civil Engineering Collective member, maybe it changed yours too.
I’ll leave you with one other quote from the book that was from an old Zen story:
The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.
If you’re interested in your firm possibly joining the Civil Engineering Collective, please contact us here or call us at 800-920-4007 ext. 800.
I hope you’ll join us.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success