Seven Lessons Learned

Published On: May 16, 2024By Categories: Business Management, Editor’s Note

By Thad Plumley

Sometimes you’re sitting in a workshop at a conference, watching a webinar, or dare I say, reading a book, and think, “This is what I’ve needed.”

The message just clicks. It’s a great feeling when you think you’ve found something that has a chance to help you.

I wore that feeling like a warm jacket when I attended a publishing conference this spring in Chicago. I came out of the event with a notebook full of scribbled down ideas that I couldn’t wait to try when I returned to the office.

One of the sessions on growing revenue could have had you sitting right beside me. The longer I am the editor of Water Well Journal, the more I realize us editors aren’t so different from all of you working at small businesses.

The session provided seven lessons and the first was a doozy for those who prefer the status quo. The speaker told everyone, “Change or become irrelevant.” You have three options he said: “Change, resist, or land in the middle.” It was also abundantly clear the middle seat wasn’t a great spot either.

The second tip regarded viewing your competition. Two ways were presented, and I know a lot of us do the first as we keep a close eye on our competition. But I wonder if you are doing the second way presented. Are you figuring out who or what will be your future competition and preparing for it?

The third and fourth tips were related. The third was investing in talent. Pay your staff well, offer good benefits, have nice uniforms, and a professional office and equipment. People don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses who don’t take care of them.

The fourth is investing in learning. Send your staff to shows where they can sit in on professional development opportunities. Pay for certifications. And don’t forget to do the same for yourself.

The fifth takes time. We were told data is king and to trust the data. Of course, we have to have the data to know what story the data is telling about us. Do you know your story?

Next, attendees were provided a game plan. We were told to operate FAST, which stands for focus, accountability, speed, and transparency.

I think this one is cumulative of the others. You can’t move FAST if you’re afraid of change, and you can only do so if you know what your competition is doing, you have the right staff, that staff is trained, and you have the data to support your plan.

Finally, we were told technology always wins. Is your technology current or are you using the same old equipment because you have it broken in just how you like it? What do you know about your competition’s technology? If their tools are more efficient, you’re falling behind.

I returned from the conference invigorated. I’m busy trying to apply many of the lessons I learned, and hope you do the same. You may just be able to say, “This is exactly what my business needed.”

Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.

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