By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE/CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
“Get your head in the game” is the clarion cry of coaches demanding athletes regain focus and bring their talents to bear on the success of the team. While no one can ignore the extraordinary physical talents and capacities of athletes, in some ways the far more demanding effort is what goes on in their minds. That’s incredibly true for successful and effective leaders as well.
Focus is what makes it possible to achieve extraordinary things. Bringing your focus to bear on the efforts and activities of your team is a force multiplier. No, I don’t mean “micro-managing” their efforts. I mean making certain they are seeing the next steps, thinking through their options, and making the optimal choices as they deploy your organization’s resources.
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? That’s not an idle question. In today’s fast-moving environment, accidental voids always get filled by someone. How else to explain the rapid rise of Lyft, Uber, Via and a host of other ride-sharing services fueled by mobile applications spreading around the globe? The game changer was the smartphone. Was there really no one in the taxi industry thinking about how Internet technology could disrupt their business? The business model of limiting taxi medallions and licenses while relying on regulatory control and oversight of personal transportation has been leapfrogged by a new mobile business model for the 21st century. Incredible. There are surprises waiting for other industries, too.
Leaders cannot just wait for the threat to show itself. First-mover strategy creates huge advantages for those coming into your marketplace. Done well, these new enterprises can force you onto an uneven playing field, where the odds are stacked against you. Think about Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re a brand or in business, you need to be there, whether you like it or not. For many, the low cost of entry makes social media an easy choice. The downside is that social media giants like Facebook collect much more information about your customers and clients behind the scenes than you ever get to see as the content provider.
Jeff Immelt, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, made a similar point about the vast amount of data collected behind the scenes from manufactured “smart” products like diesel engines, refrigerators, washers, dryers, jet engines and more. Virtually all manufacturers have outsourced the collection of data from these devices, and in the absence of any serious analysis or review, insights and the accompanying opportunities lie fallow. If you are chasing peak performance from your organization and your teams, you can’t afford to let this approach go unexplored.
Writing for the Washington Post, Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University, notes that big data goes beyond the ominous line of “we know where you live” to something perhaps even more ominous: “we know where you are.” Your clients, customers, and stakeholders are telling you things about your organization in a thousand ways by their action and inaction. The first-time buyer, repeat buyers, skulkers, stalkers and observers – all offer valuable knowledge – if you’re paying attention to them while they are paying attention to you and your organization. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Getting your head in the game is reminding yourself why you’re here and what you intend to accomplish. Here’s five steps to help:
Ask yourself, what do I want to achieve?
Imagine yourself reaching that goal. How will it feel? What will it take to get there?
Can you see it in your mind?
Mental rehearsal plays an enormous part in helping you focus and move toward your goals in a calm and purposeful way, minimizing the stress you may otherwise face.
Walk away from analysis paralysis.
You won’t get every strategy exactly right. Precision, not perfection, should be your approach to complex tasks. If you focus on making every single step along the way perfect, you may distract yourself from the most important effort. Get started. There’s no such thing as a lost opportunity. Someone always finds it. Make sure it’s you.
Find a focus phrase.
The ancient Sanskrit word mantra comes to mind. Mantra is a sacred utterance, numinous sound, a syllable, word, or group of words. The value of mantra comes when it is audible, visible, or present in thought. What words help to keep you on task and focused? My mantra for the 21st century is “take a closer look.” What’s yours?
Dispel the doubters.
There are always those who are in doubt. As a leader, you should not be one of them. If you’ve done your research, thought carefully and thoroughly about your course of action, engaged your team in the process and are now implementing the plan efficiently and effectively, confidence is what’s called for. As former Secretary of State General Colin Powell reminds us when it comes to leaders, “people want to share your confidence, however thin, not your turmoil however real.”
Being a leader is tough work even under the best of circumstances. Those around you often mistakenly believe you get to do whatever you want, come and go as you please and decide the day’s agenda. In truth you get to do exactly what needs to be done to keep your organization thriving and alive for the near and foreseeable future. That’s a tough challenge by any standard. Getting your head in the game is the first place to start.
By Matt Sigler, PMI Technical Director
Four states – Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – are considering legislation that would create plumbing fixture efficiency standards below WaterSense levels and more closely match flow rates required by Title 20 of California’s Code of Regulations.
PMI has been vigorously advocating that these states instead apply proven, effective WaterSense efficiency levels, rather than adopt lower and untested flow rates that could cause unintended consequences and pose potential public health issues.
PMI’s communications to the appropriate state lawmakers and agencies addressing these bills have reiterated the importance of implementing WaterSense plumbing products, which use at least 20% less water than those only meeting federal regulations – without sacrificing performance. The following are highlights of PMI’s efforts and the status of each bill.
Hawaii is aiming to conserve water and energy by requiring the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to adopt state appliance efficiency standards for faucets, showerheads and several other appliances and devices that would model California’s standards. PMI submitted testimony opposing the bills (Hawaii HB 2248 & SB 2935) and urged the state to:
Analyze the impact on its infrastructures and resulting potential public health risks before lowering water consumption levels of plumbing fixtures and fixture fittings below current state levels.
Adopt maximum flow rates of 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) for private-use lavatory faucets (including residences and private restrooms in hotels and hospitals) and 2.0 gpm for showerheads consistent with the WaterSense program – if the state decides to go lower.
Reconsider the bill’s July 1, 2018, effective date and apply the standards only to products manufactured after January 1, 2020, allowing retailers and distributors enough time to sell off existing inventory.
At its February 23 meeting, the Hawaii Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee considered and, ultimately, deferred the bill.
Rhode Island and Washington state have proposed bills similar to Hawaii’s. They would amend appliance efficiency standards for several products including faucets, showerheads, toilets and urinals to match California’s lower flow rates. Rhode Island’s bill (Rhode Island SB 2362) was introduced and then referred to the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee, and PMI will continue to monitor its progress.
Washington’s proposed legislation (Washington HB 2327) to reduce flow rates below federal WaterSense levels for urinals, showerheads and bathroom faucets has made its way to the state senate. PMI is urging legislators there to further study the impact of reduced flow rates on state drinking water, wastewater and recycled water infrastructures, and to gather input from state drinking water and wastewater utilities. The senate did not vote on the bill by the end of the 2018 legislative session on March 8.
In Vermont, a proposed bill (Vermont HB 410) seeks to amend the state’s energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment by including products not currently covered under federal energy efficiency standards, including kitchen faucets, lavatory faucets, showerheads, urinals and water closets. On January 31, PMI received confirmation from Rep. Curtis McCormack (D), the bill’s lead sponsor, that PMI’s comments were incorporated into the bill approved by the House of Representatives. PMI will continue to monitor the bill, which was referred to Vermont’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.
Amy Scherer recalls happy memories from her childhood, picking through nuts and bolts in her dad’s lawnmower repair shop, stringing them on wire and proudly wearing her bracelet creations.
She said she had no idea that sharing those memories during a job interview at Speakman Company 10 years ago would help launch a fulfilling career in the plumbing manufacturing industry. While the co-chair of PMI’s Outreach and Communications Committee no longer makes jewelry out of leftover lawnmower parts, she does enjoy helping to produce plumbing gems, like the Speakman Reaction showerhead.
“It just shows that you never know where your life is going to take you,” Amy said. “I never thought I’d be in plumbing getting excited about new showerhead designs, but I’m a big believer that you can achieve amazing things no matter the industry or where your path takes you.”
As director of product management at Speakman, Amy leads a team of product managers and designers working on strategic plans, such as future enhancements and market positioning, for the company’s product portfolio, including residential and commercial bath fixtures and safety eyewash and emergency equipment. Always looking to learn and grow, Amy earned her green building certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to better understand how Speakman’s products can fit into the design and construction of today’s high-performance green buildings.
Amy’s career at Speakman also exposed her to PMI and all it has to offer. The committee co-chair since early 2017, Amy said she appreciates learning the challenges of bringing competitors together, like making sure antitrust laws are followed on pricing and other issues, while expanding PMI’s visibility both inside and outside the industry. “It was encouraging to see all the great brainstorming ideas our committee laid out at PMI’s annual meeting, including how to recruit more youth into our industry,” she added. Amy emphasized the importance of highlighting how plumbing products enhance and positively impact people’s everyday lives as a way of encouraging new people to join the industry.
With a master’s degree in business and an undergraduate degree in communications and anthropology, Amy said she likes to use what she has learned to dig into and analyze consumer feedback to understand how her company’s products can better fit customer needs. She admitted her research often spills into vacation time spent with her husband, Rob, a petty officer 1st class in the Navy. “When we travel, I’m compelled to immediately check out the brand and model of showerhead in our hotel room, and my husband still asks me why I need to do it every time,” Amy said with a chuckle.
As a mom of two small children, nine-month-old Thomas and two-year-old Charlotte, Amy acknowledged her motto of “a busy mind gets things done” has never been truer. She described herself as a “solo parent” currently, since Rob is part of the crew of the USS Ralph Johnson, a new destroyer commissioned in South Carolina on March 24. She said she is grateful for the time they recently spent together on a trip enjoying live music in New Orleans and much-needed sunshine in Pensacola, Fla.
Since her family’s recent move to Washington state, Amy said most of their time involves activities in or near the ocean. She also pointed out the need to find balance and let off a little steam, which she accomplishes during kickboxing classes and high-intensity cardio workouts.
She summed it all up this way: “Let’s just say I’m never bored.”
Be sure to mark November 5–8, 2018, on your calendars for the PMI Conference at the historic Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., near Phoenix.
After connecting with plumbing manufacturing peers during the conference, PMI members may want to take a little extra time to enjoy all the adobe-and-timber luxury resort has to offer, including more than 440 lushly landscaped acres, three pools, lighted tennis courts, 54 holes of championship golf and a 26,000-square-foot spa with a private pool. The resort also offers regulation bocce ball courts, a sand volleyball court, and bike rentals to tour the property.
The surrounding area offers plenty of opportunities for PMI members to explore the nearby Arizona desert and White Tank Mountains. With 50 miles of trails through 16,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert, the South Mountain municipal park provides a great backdrop for outdoor adventures, including viewing the skyline, identifying Sonoran Desert flora and discovering ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks.
Those who like to hike may want to check out Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, an iconic landmark delivering a panoramic view of the city and Phoenix Mountains Preserve from the “hump” – named for its resemblance to a kneeling camel.
Other popular area attractions include the Challenger Space Center in Peoria, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and the Phoenix Art Museum, Musical Instrument Museum and Zoo.
Learn more about the Wigwam at wigwamarizona.com, and stay tuned for more details about the conference.
When looking for sources and developing content, today’s reporters and editors want the best and the brightest. They want evidence of substantial action and points of view that stand out among the crowd. Blending in doesn’t work, and neither does spin based upon specious claims.
If you want to get noticed, do something remarkable. If you want to get published, express an opinion they haven’t heard before. Of course, all this must be accomplished in a way consistent with your organization’s communication goals.
Over the past several weeks, PMI communications contributed to building the “safe, responsible plumbing – always” brand and member value via media outreach. The team also helped to accomplish PMI legislative objectives while positioning our association as thought leaders on newsworthy issues.
Fulfilling Legionella-related trade media opportunities
On Feb. 6, PMI published original Legionella content on its website to provide its members, industry allies, the media and the public with reputable and accurate information on this waterborne pathogen and the risks it poses to water supply systems.
Since then, PMI has reached out to media to encourage them to publish stories about the content, as well as to write in-depth stories about various aspects of it, to create awareness about this water safety issue. This work resulted in a Contractor magazine article about Legionella and plumbing system safety bylined by Pete DeMarco of IAPMO, as well as other stories published by outlets such as Municipal Sewer and Water. More stories are in development.
As a result of how PMI has search optimized its Legionella content and worked to create awareness of it among the media, PMI’s Legionella page has been the seventh-most frequently viewed page on the PMI website since Feb. 6, with 735 views as of Mar. 28. On this date, the page also ranked first on Google search for “legionella water infrastructure,” “legionella water supply system,” and “legionella water age.”
Supporting PMI government affairs in Washington state
The Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill calling for lower than WaterSense flow rates on wall-mounted urinals, showerheads and bathroom faucets. On Feb. 23, with the bill under consideration by the Washington State Senate, PMI Technical Director Matt Sigler asked PMI communications to take PMI’s case about the public health risks of going lower than WaterSense directly to Washington state citizens via the media.
On Feb. 26, PMI emailed a news release to Washington state media and search optimized it via the Business Wire distribution service. PMI communications also tweeted messages with links to the news release at PMI members, key senate leaders, the Washington state governor and Washington state media so that our messages could be shared and amplified by our members and noticed by decision makers and the media.
Next, PMI communications sent an op-ed article bylined by PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole to Water Deeply, which accepted it on March 1 and published it on March 6. The legislation stalled in the senate and was not enacted prior to the March 8 session deadline due to various reasons, including the efforts of the PMI technical, government affairs, and communications teams and their allies.
There are similar legislative scenarios in Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont, where they are considering lower than WaterSense flow rates. PMI now has messages and a template that we can use as appropriate in these states.
The Washington state situation also demonstrates the usefulness of PMI’s proactive approach to communication about Legionella. This content is evidence of PMI’s commitment to addressing the risks caused by this waterborne pathogen. As a result, media and lawmakers perceive PMI as an organization that can contribute a credible and valuable viewpoint into the discussion about the pros and cons of lower flow rates.
Help PMI Respond to Media Requests on Your Behalf
A Wall Street Journal reporter working on a story about what trades are doing to attract young people recently contacted PMI looking for good sources. PMI communications responded by setting up an interview with Kerry Stackpole and by providing the reporter with contact information of others in the industry that fit her needs. This all happened within a day; reporters generally work on very short deadlines and require recommendations on sources quickly.
To help PMI communications help you, please provide us with the name, title, email address and telephone numbers of your company’s media and social media contacts, as well as a list of subject matter experts that can participate in interviews or contribute to articles on current topics of interest to your organization. These topics may relate to contracting; product design; distribution; housing, remodeling and consumer trends; and other subjects of your choosing or to industry issues such as lead in plumbing, Legionella, recycled water, workplace development, water infrastructure, and trade. It will also to helpful to know which individuals in your organization have previously been used as a source by media and have experience being interviewed for articles and/or on-camera or on-air.
You may send this information to Ray Valek, PMI Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, when media outlets are looking for experts in these subjects, PMI will have your information at the ready.
Water Week, taking place April 15–21, offers the plumbing industry several events and opportunities to share and learn about the value of water to environmental protection, economic development and job creation.
As part of Water Week, the National Water Policy Fly-In, to be held April 17-18 in Washington, D.C., will address issues of infrastructure funding, affordability, regulatory reform, and research support. The event is a collaboration of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, WateReuse, and the Water Research Foundation and gives water sector organizations across the country a platform to discuss these issues, as well as to engage with the EPA, administration officials and members of Congress.
In addition, the WateReuse Association will host a congressional briefing on April 19 in Washington, D.C., to highlight how four communities are using water recycling in various ways to produce local economic benefits. The briefing will feature Loudon Water, Ashburn, Va., and its recycled water use for data centers; City of Dickinson, N.D., and its recycled water program for oil and gas operations; the Orange County, Calif., Groundwater Replenishment System; and Pure Water Monterey’s recycled water for agriculture irrigation initiative in California.
While pointing out that preserving tax-exempt municipal bonds in the recent tax reform package was a great victory, Water Week organizers identified the elimination of advance refunding as a red flag that advocates must educate policymakers about.
To learn more and register for the National Water Policy Fly-In, visit waterweek.us.
In a victory for the plumbing manufacturing industry, consumers, water utilities and water conservation advocates, the EPA’s WaterSense program will be funded at fiscal year 2017 levels until Sept. 30, 2018, as part of a $1.3 trillion government spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.
Reflecting a bipartisan approach to addressing the nation’s water issues, the bill also contains significant increases for clean water infrastructure investment.
$600 million for EPA State Revolving Funds (SRFs) – split equally between the Drinking Water SRF and the Clean Water SRF – for a total of $2.9 billion in funding – the most significant new money for these programs in many years. These federal-state partnerships provide low-cost financing for water quality infrastructure projects such as improving drinking water treatment; fixing leaky or old pipes; and replacing or constructing water storage tanks.
$63 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) – a significant increase in funding – exceeding the previously authorized fiscal year 2018 levels.
“Plumbing Manufacturers International and our members and partners have worked diligently for more than a year to preserve and maintain WaterSense,” said PMI’s CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole. “Today is a victory for everyone who cares about assuring that water remains a sustainable resource in the United States. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to keep WaterSense funding in the fiscal 2019 budget.”
In particular, PMI applauds the Interior/EPA Appropriations Subcommittee members, led by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), for taking a strong stance for the continued funding and operation of the WaterSense program.
In a letter to EPA head Scott Pruitt sent in March, Stackpole put forth a compelling case why the federal agency should continue to preserve and fund WaterSense, which has provided valuable water- and cost-saving benefits over the past 10 years.
“EPA’s WaterSense program is an example of an effective collaboration between industry and the government in determining voluntary water efficient performance measures that can be used by consumers, industry, as well as states and local governments,” Stackpole wrote. ‘It is universally supported by manufacturers and the public and private agencies charged with supplying water to American households and businesses.”
Congratulations to Kohler Co.’s Cambria McLeod, who is the newly appointed co-chair of the Water Efficiency and Sustainability Committee and the Sustainability Task Force. PMI is grateful for her willingness to lead this important effort and assure the success of the committee in fulfilling its mission. She will serve with co-chair Danny Gleiberman of Sloan Valve Co. Matt Sigler, PMI’s technical director, serves as the staff committee liaison.