Optimism and healthy habits — do they work for businesses as well as individuals?

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Construct canada
Construct Canada/The Buildings show started near the time we started the publishing business behind this blog. We’re still around, 27 years later

There’s research indicating that optimistic individuals, with strong family and community relationships, regular physical exercise, spiritual comfort and (for men) continuing to work past retirement age, have much better physical health on average.

Anyone who asserts these arguments can usually find plenty of examples of individuals who did everything wrong and lived with vim and vigour into their 90s – and others who played by the rules, and died young.

This is because not everything is under our control. There are the variations of fate, heredity (inheritance) and our external environment.

Yet, as I look through the AEC community after a quarter-century in business, I sense these personal health observations in many ways mirror the circumstances of businesses. Some organizations start with much promise and flame out. Others survive, holding on through thick and thin. A few do really well over many years. And even fewer (and these are to be respected), thrive through generations, decades, and in a few cases centuries.

I think these thoughts on returning from a visit to a company that traces its origins to just two decades ago, and now has a capitalization of is more than $500 billion (that is a half-trillion), and as we prepare for an a visit to exhibit at Construct Canada/The Buildings Show in Toronto Dec. 2 to 4.

That $500,000,000,000+ company of course is Google (now named Alphabet). After voluntarily answering questions on one of the company’s help forums, about five years ago I was invited to become a moderator or Top Contributor. The prize: Annual expense-paid visits to Mountain View or Google New York City (generating enough travel benefits to exceed by several orders of magnitude the earnings through the company’s ad serving AdSense program.)

Meanwhile, as we prepare for Construct Canada, I recall originally disdaining involvement/exhibiting in this show more than two decades ago, about the time Google was starting up. However, the show organizers asked me for a favor in promoting their event, and I agreed. Then, I received a shock – a former employee had set up a competing business, and signed a deal with the show setting out an exclusive arrangement to bar our company from exhibiting at the show.

Remember my initial observations about values and healthy practices. The show organizers, realizing they had been caught in an ethical bind, proceeded to figure out ways to make good for our support – and worked out a solution to allow us to participate in the show despite the restrictions. A few years later, our competitor failed – and we inherited the now defunct-business’s space. Karma.

The entrepreneurs who started Construct Canada (now part of The Buildings Show) have been far more successful in business than me, but obviously not quite as successful as Google’s founders. As well, I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, and certainly cannot claim any level of ethical perfection.

Yet we’re still very much around, and I’m looking forward to transitioning the business to the next generation, as I remain in tune (and now financially invested with shares in Google/Alphabet) in the future. It is good to be able to look forward with an optimistic spirit.

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