Renovate the Old or Build the New?
My friends look at me in horror when I tell them that my secret dream is to build a home from the ground up. Well … maybe not the hammer and nails part or installing the plumbing. Rather, I’m in love with the idea of creating a vision of my perfect home and designing every element, every nuance, and then prodding it along to reality. Those who have been through the home building experience roll their eyes, swearing they will never do it again. But they can’t sway me – it’s on my bucket list, right at the top next to a visit to Madagascar to see the lemurs.
As a kid who went to five high schools in four years, the daughter of an international businessman, a home represented permanence, something that has often felt elusive to me. My parents did their level best to make each house feel like a home but, because it lacked time, roots and old friends, my sense of connection around a particular house was short-lived, it was always in the rearview mirror.
When people ask me where my home is today, I generally answer, “Its where I live now” and, I confess that no place ever feels like the last stop. I followed my father’s footsteps into the international world of business, a place I’m comfortable in - I thrive on different cultures, foods and languages. I haven’t lived with my parents in decades but, this sense of movement and lack of permanence is always with me, that little voice asking me what’s around the corner.
I realize now that in lieu of building a house, I have spent a lifetime creating departments for companies, managing large global projects and helping my clients design and build businesses and programs that they can be proud of - ones that are sustainable and that offer a sense of permanence. I thrive in the chaos of startups, mergers and acquisitions and pulling all the pieces together to create reliable structures.
As a team, we focus on building and taking care of community, both internal and external. We appreciate the pride we feel when we cultivate the value of higher purpose and legacy. We know that without a solid bottom line, the good that we hope to do for our world will be fleeting, an idea that may be great but not sustainable. No company can truly make it in the long run if it is only focused on profit, for every action it takes touches people - and their welfare will always come first.
I have learned over the years that sometimes you can’t renovate an old house or an old business. No matter how tender our memories are of the hope the founders felt at the start of their journey or how comfortable we are with the status quo – sometimes, it’s a tear down and you are forced to build from the ground up. It can be exhilarating and, it can be painful - particularly when your hand has been forced by a pandemic or other unexpected life or market changing event.
Many of our businesses have succumbed over this last year and our focus has often been on what appeared to be failures rather than the success stories and the hope and grit of new founders. More than 4.4 million new companies were started in 2020. That's a 26.9 percent increase from 2019 and the biggest increase of the past decade by a mile. Was this caused by unemployment? Perhaps, but this surge of innovation will yield some of the greatest partnerships, products, services and paradigm shifts of our time.
These Renaissance companies have stepped up to the plate not to fix structures that no longer serve us well but to build a New World of Business. In many instances, the old way will never resurrect. As I’ve learned when I returned to earlier places or former relationships – you generally can’t go back and expect it to be the same. It isn’t the same and you aren’t the same. You have grown wiser with a broader view and this allows you to tackle your next step with confidence, to evolve. It’s no different with your business or your career path. So I ask, would you really start all over again at the beginning? Or, are you ready to build the new?
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All rights reserved – Linda Lattimore