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GBA Transition Plan Complete. Transition Is under Way
GBA President Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon) unveiled details of GBA's now-complete transition plan in a recent message to Member Firm leaders and, with more background information, to attendees at the Fall Conference in San Francisco. Now, Steve has prepared a message to all members: "Here's the plan in brief," he writes. “By November 2015, GBA will have transitioned…to being self-managed. In other words, we will hire our own staff to manage the association, to plan and coordinate our meetings, and to provide the service to each of our Member Firms that you have come to count on with John Bachner and his staff. Although John Bachner will no longer be involved in the day-to-day management of GBA after 2015, we fully intend and have committed to him that we will continue our relationship with him beyond that point. John's creative genius has helped GBA become an incredibly innovative and "member-centric" organization; we have no intention of losing that reputation."
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New ASTM Fracking Standard on the Way, with You or without
GBA-Faculty Member (MIT) John T. "Jack" Germaine, Ph.D. chairs ASTM International Committee D18 on Soil and Rock. The Committee will next meet in New Orleans, January 26-28, 2015. There, each of the D18 subcommittees "will gather for a business meeting where the members discuss the status of standards [each must be reviewed and updated as needed on an eight-year cycle], set directions for the subcommittee, and discuss issues raised through the standards-balloting process." On the 28th, Jack points out in a memo to GBA members, the committee will host an important workshop titled Water-Quality Monitoring and Environmental Characterization Related to Hydraulic Fracturing Activities. Bearing in mind the adage that "the world is run by those who show up," will you show up? Remember: It's your world.
Sessions from 2014 Fall Conference Now Available Online, On-Demand
Recorded sessions from the 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco are now online and available for free to members or for purchase by nonmembers ($999 for all, or individual sessions for less). Get the code for free access by members (member login required). Download the handouts for all presentations.
GBA helps you and your clients confront risk and optimize performance, and you’ll get tons of great tips to do just that from these presentations:
01: Legendary Leadership in Changing Times, Speaker: Nate Booth DDS, MS
02: Confronting International Business Risks, Speaker: Donald J. Anderson, Jr., P.E.
03: Confronting Risk: Emerging Practice Areas and Legal Trends, Speaker: Lisa Dyson Gamblin, Esq.
04: Business Vision: October 2014-April 2015, Speaker: Matthew "Matt" Moler, P.E.
05: Value: The A/E/C Industry’s Biggest Blind Spot?, Speaker: Richard S. "Rich" Friedman
06: Skillful Discussions: Crucial Conversations, Speaker: Joseph D. "Joe" Rei, Ph.D.
07: Resilient Leadership: Key Techniques to Navigate Risk with Less Stress and More Success, Speaker: Valentina H. "Val" Ries, RN, MBA, ACC
08: Water Scarcity: Where Do We Go from Here?, Speakers: Bradley M. "Brad" Melocik, P.E., P.H.; Richard W. Atwater; Keely Brooks; David C. "Dave" Curtis, Ph.D.
09: Great Minds Sharing Great Ideas: Business Round Table Discussion Download, Speakers: Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G., Chris P. Bellusci, and Jason A. Kephart
10: Winning Negotiating Tactics, Speaker: Lee R. James, CPA, CMC, CBI
11: Embracing the Design-Build Model To Improve Your Bottom Line and Your Culture, Speaker: Stewart G. Osgood, P.E.
12: Alcatraz Island Geotechnical Evaluation and Shoreline-Erosion Study, Speaker: William V. "Bill" McCormick, PG, CEG
HR DEPT.: Managing Remote Employees
A University of Illinois study reveals that those who lead and manage remote employees need to dump the traditional top-down leadership style and — to help remote employees overcome their feelings of isolation — rely on a relationship-based approach characterized by trust, loyalty, developmental feedback, and support. According to Illinois Business Professor Ravi Gajendran, this approach can also help overcome the lack of face time leaders and managers use to determine if an employee would benefit from a pep talk or just being left alone. The research also found that leaders should be strong advocates for their remote employees' work, to counter remote employees’ feelings that their service is not noticed or appreciated.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.
Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any a Drop To Drink
National Public Radio
Is your geoprofessional firm involved in the growing water-infrastructure repair market? If not, you may want to consider entry: Researchers estimate that we lose six-billion gallons of treated water per day — 2.1-trillion gallons per year — because of leaky pipes, broken water mains, and faulty meters. Although at least some of that water finds its way into healthy aquifers, the energy required to treat it is lost; so is the income that water utilities would otherwise receive. According to American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance, the cost to replace worn-out water infrastructure will be about $500 billion. Another $500 billion will be needed for the new infrastructure needed to serve population growth and areas that do not now receive water.
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PROFESSIONAL SELLING: Don't Sell Your Own Personality
There's an iconic scene from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show where Mary Richards, seeking a job, interviews with TV-station manager Lou Grant and, in the process, demonstrates her lovable, perky self. Lou looks at her admiringly and says, "You know what? You've got spunk." Pause. "I hate spunk." Point: In selling, you sell to people. Maybe it's just one prospective-client representative or perhaps it’s one who reports to a committee of five. No matter. If you approach each individual the same way, demonstrating your own wonderful personality, you perforce assume that all individuals are the same and will appreciate you for who you are. Wrong assumption. Each of your prospects has a personality and, in most cases, one of four personality types will predominate. If you can figure out which it is and adjust your approach to cater to the other person's outlooks, needs, and preferences, your hit rate will move from 25% to, very possibly, close to 100%. You need to learn this information and have it permeate your firm or office. It can make ALL the difference.
New Partnership To Restore Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem
Saying "The health of the Gulf ecosystem will be decided by how well we treat the private lands that make up most of this region," U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new partnership between the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Each will chip in $20 million (more is likely to become available) to support private landowners and operators that still need help overcoming the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem damage done by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Projects will include stream restoration, wetlands conservation, riparian buffer restoration, and farm and ranch land in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
EDITORIAL: Take the Time
By John P. Bachner
What's the difference between a geoprofessional and a taxicab? Sometimes I wonder, given geoprofessionals' penchant for placing so much emphasis on billability. That's not a bad thing per se. It's bad only when it blinds people to the difference between right and wrong. Open your eyes!
GBA research indicates that project risk is inversely proportional to project size; i.e., the smaller the project, the more likely that something will go wrong. Why? Bad attitude is the simplest answer. Geoprofessionals often regard a small project as a pain, and thus approach it with professionalism held hindmost.
GBA research also indicates that many of the problems that give rise to claims and disputes could be avoided or at least mitigated through effective contract formation; i.e., initiating the engagement in a professional manner, via a face-to-face meeting with the client representative. But when it's a small project…"We have a fee of $3,500. We're looking for a profit of $350. How can we invest an hour in meeting with the client?"
"Fix the Infrastructure," U.S. Industry Says
The call for infrastructure improvement is getting ever louder, as more sectors of the economy weigh in on the benefits to be derived. Now it's industry's turn, and that could be a major impetus for increased public and public/private spending. Noting that population, congestion, and maintenance backlogs are increasing while the share of GDP spent on transportation is declining, IndustryWeek cited a Texas A&M finding that the cost of congestion alone comes to $121 billion per year, with much of that being borne by freight-hauling trucks. Look for industry to begin pressuring Congress for faster upgrades in order to achieve more marketplace competiveness, job growth, and customer satisfaction. Unquestionably, this market will be front and center for years to come. Is your firm front and center, too?
DR. ENGLISH: From, To, - , Between
Geoprofessionals' choice of words has to be just as precise as their choice of numbers. If the correct number is 566.712, and you instead write 568.325, you surely wouldn't excuse your error with a "Well, you know what I meant," especially when a plaintiff's attorney is leaning into your face. So let's look at two common errors: The first of the two is more a matter of style than substance, offered to encourage the nit picking you need to adopt to help ensure accuracy. When indicating a time range, you have two correct choices: “from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM” or "10:00 AM-1:00 PM". The incorrect choice is "from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM". Note, however, that either of the correct versions can and should be improved upon by using 24-hour time designations; i.e., "from 1000 hours to 1300 hours" or "1000-1300 hours." Doing so lowers your susceptibility to error, as when AM is used when PM is meant, or vice versa.
Next, "Pick a number between 1 and 10." Unless the numbers 1 and 10 may not be selected, what the speaker or writer really means is "Pick a number from 1 to 10." Yes, you could say, "Pick a number between 1 and 10, inclusive," but why?
Texas Holdem: New Taxes or Violent Death, Draw One
You may remember Jack Benny, an old-time comedian whose feigned stinginess was the source of many jokes. In one of his most famous, Benny, with both hands raised, is being robbed at gunpoint. "Your money or your life," the thief intones, to which Benny says nothing. The thief, growing impatient, asks, "Well…?" To which Benny responds, just as impatiently, "I'm thinking!" Which, apparently, the entire state of Texas is doing…or not, given that the state's annual investment in roadway-system maintenance and improvement falls $4 billion short of what it needs. In fact, Texas has been resisting tax increases of any kind for a while and, for the past two decades, has frozen state fuel levies, resulting in gas taxes being able to buy less than half of what they used to. In areas like Odessa, deteriorating roads are contributing to a highway-fatality rate that is more than half-again of what it was just five years ago. Texas is not alone, of course: The quality of U.S. roadways, which was a paltry 8th worldwide just 5 years ago, now ranks 16th.
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: You Want Rice with That?
According to Bingjian Zhang, author of a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Accounts of Chemical Research, research into ancient Chinese construction projects has discovered that sticky rice, a staple of many South East Asian countries' diets, was mixed in with mortar. A chemical in the rice — amylopectin, a type of complex carbohydrate — made the mortar strong enough to withstand earthquakes. The rice also made the mortar "more resistant to water than [the common] pure lime mortar," Zhang wrote, explaining why it was used to build everything from city walls to tombs. (RIP, Uncle Ben!)
2014-2015 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063