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I’m stepping in for Joe this issue. Joe is dealing with a medical issue—nothing serious, but certainly nothing pleasant, and he may not feel like typing right now. I’m glad for this opportunity, because I really enjoy Joe’s take on things. I always want to call the webmaster and ask for the creation of a page that says, in big letters, “Joe—your column last time was EXCELLENT!” It should feature flashing stars and a video of fireworks.

I agree with Joe on so much. I love that he writes about how we present ourselves on the job—that facility managers are professionals, and his belief that we need to dress and conduct ourselves as though we are at the top of the management ladder. We all know the old adage that one should dress a level above one’s current position; I like to tell people to dress as though they might have to meet unexpectedly with the president or chairman of the board that day. In discussions with Joe when we’ve seen each other at World Workplace or other events, we agree that we aren’t telling folks to wear Armani on a construction site (although I have) or plunge a toilet while wearing high heels (although I do) or wear a suit every single day even if the culture doesn’t demand it (although Joe does). We agree we aren’t telling people they have to focus obsessively on appearance; we just think appearance plays a big role in how we’re perceived. We believe professional presence matters. It tells people what we think of ourselves and our jobs. It’s an indication of the value we know we provide. Even if the job does not demand a high-profile look, one should always look sharp and presentable and professional. We wear our authority, even when we don’t feel very authoritative. Like Joe, I like the psychological switch of coming home and physically taking off the day, putting on the clothes I wear around the house to give me the mental impetus to leave the day behind.

I also enjoy Joe’s other pursuits. Joe has a blog called Rock-It Fitness . He’s a Beachbody coach and a health enthusiast. The subtitle of the blog is “Here’s to an awesome second half,” and as I am well into my second half, having reached a normal weight for the first time in my life within the past five or six years, I appreciate the observations he offers. I know, as Joe does, that while weight loss can be achieved without exercise, it cannot be maintained without it, and the pursuit of a strong and healthy body can actually be fun. Well . . . maybe fun is not the right word. I am one who rarely enjoys a workout, but the end result (after some patience) is inspiring. It makes you feel things are possible. It’s a tremendous stress reliever. For me, lifting weights gives me time to think through a problem. I’m sometimes going through a talk I have to have with someone at work while I’m skiing on my NordicTrack. I can be in the middle of a circuit on my Total Gym when I suddenly have a flash of how to solve a tiny but persistent issue at work. Exercise does more than just tone the body; it clears the mind and creates a framework for how to address issues on the job. I’m not kidding, and I know Joe would agree. He’s into good nutrition, exercising thoughtfully, setting realistic fitness goals, and sharing his knowledge and struggles as he has made his way through the world of dieting, parenting, friendships, and even his father’s death by heart attack. He’s also a great rock music critic. He provides his weekly workout playlists, although I regret to tell Joe rock music was never my thing—my first music loves were show tunes, Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens—music I suspect would not ever be on his playlists. Nevertheless, I find his overall insights tremendously revealing.

Everyone has their own individual challenges, but what I share with Joe is a real enjoyment of the facility management profession. Many years ago, when I first began speaking at IFMA events, I opened my presentations by asking who in the audience had studied facility management and planned to go into it as a profession. Few would raise their hands, although that has changed to some degree (I still ask the question). Then I would ask how many studied for something else, and then, as now, the majority of hands would shoot up, and I’d ask folks to call out what their majors had been in college. From romance languages to child psychology, facility managers come from so many different initial interests. I seem to remember Joe telling a Corporate Facilities Council audience that he had studied medieval literature but had drifted into facility management because it gave him an opportunity to solve problems—something universally attested to by those in our profession, along with getting to know lots of different people (usually everyone in a company) and using one’s skills of organizing and strategizing.

I find in Joe a sympatico view of work and life. He is blessed to have found a job to which he brings his talents and values and finds satisfaction, and he has a desire to create a good life, a long life. He sees the lessons of life in his job, and I will bet that anyone who has done a study on what makes a rewarding career can tell us that being able to view most days as more than just a job probably predicts how much enthusiasm and commitment one brings to work.

So here’s my page of flashing stars, Joe! Keep those insights coming! I look forward to your views here and on your blog. Happy new year!

Sue Thompson

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