The “Good Old Days”

The “Good Old Days”

August 11, 2016

People who pine for the “good old days” possess total recall of all the positives and none of the negatives. Which is, of course, how the memory protects the mind. Sure, doctors made house calls, and, yes, their fees were affordable enough to be paid in cash. But millions died from diseases that no longer kill, and the average life span now stretches to 80, not 60. The future we want to build will bring forward the best of the past and marry it with the best of the present . I have no delusions about the “good old days” . . . just an objective evaluation of what was good about the past and how we can reclaim it for the greater good.

Forty years ago last week, I started this company after working for large public companies. I wanted to bring with me all the “good stuff” . . . . the big-company discipline, processes, procedures, and structure. But my then-present self also wanted to build something better. A company where people spent their time in joyful pursuit of their own uniqueness and great work, not conspiring how to take credit for other’s. A place where collaboration and accountability really mattered. A place where we could craft jobs to match the skills of talented people, instead of trying to match people to boxes on a chart. In short, I wanted to build a future on past experience and present ideas. I wanted to build a company I’d want to work for.

In corporate life, I concluded that the people who worked for me and the people who were my peers all had five things in common. They all wanted to . . .

  • do interesting and challenging work,
  • work with people they respect (and, ideally, like),
  • work for a company that has values and lives by them,
  • work for a company that does something of value,
  • have their contribution valued and recognized by management and their peers.

We’ve had 40 fabulous years (well, not all of them fabulous . . . see “Great Recession”), and I believe it is because we have never lost sight of these guiding principles. And the best part of it is this. We have not only built our own organization to match this model, we have also been able to help our clients in their efforts to build values-driven, recognition-filled corporate cultures. And it seems so appropriate that during this 40th anniversary week, we received the news that SmartCEO magazine has just named us as winners of their CORPORATE CULTURE award, given to companies that use corporate culture as a business driver. Add to that, our back-to-back NJBiz awards for being a “Best Places to Work in NJ”, and the CIANJ “Companies That Care” award for our philanthropic work, and I conclude that, yes, this is a company I’d want to work for.