Earlier this year, we were interviewing for the design of a large academic medical center. One of our people, former US Coast Guard Seaman, radio operator, and electrician John Wood compared our team for that project to the rowers in “The Boys in the Boat”, a book he said was one of his favorites.
In preparation for the Olympic Games, and because of John’s recommendation, I read this book last week (Sunday was the 80th Anniversary of the Olympic race celebrated in the book.) I am so glad I did and can tell you for sure that John was on to something.
The book is the story of a time and a place – the Depression in the US Pacific Northwest and the surrounding events leading up to WWII. But it is really the story of a group of young men who were not men of privilege. They were young men from humble beginnings, people who lived in YMCA basements, who worked back-breaking jobs like blasting rock for the Grand Coulee Dam, and people whose parents abandoned them when they were 10 years old. They were “nobodys” who found that, by giving their all, and by coming together in a special way, they were able to transcend the ordinary and become extra-ordinary.
I thought a lot about that book as I was reading it, in the context of the teams we are trying to build. What a humbling comparison and, really, a challenge that John threw down when he compared us to these people. I would never presume to approach their accomplishments, but I think it is the ideal of that spirit of commitment to excellence in service to each other that serves as a beacon towards which we strive.
You may have read about the recent merger of Mazzetti and GBA–two companies with similar strong track records in the service of our mutual clients. As we were working on the merger, our theme was how we could make “one plus one equal three”–very much in line with what great teams of athletes must do. I have already started to hear, now, about some of the IT issues that are not working so well, and all of the headaches of bringing two companies together. I know enough, though, about the people in both organizations to know that we will get through these irritations, and we will become the better entity we all envisioned.
And one other note–we are NOT ONLY the Boys in the Boat.
I have made a commitment to the idea of transparency about gender in the workplace. One big thing GBA brought to Mazzetti was the high proportion of women in their firm. Together, we have taken a sizable step towards being a better company. I am proud of the people of Mazzetti; I am proud to welcome our new colleagues from GBA. Together, we are committed to excellence in service to each other and in service to you.