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Beating the Labor Shortage with Dr. Melissa Furman
Episode 5026th August 2022 • Construction Disruption • Isaiah Industries
00:00:00 00:57:08

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While the construction industry isn’t alone in the labor shortage, some specific problems it faces are unique. 

 

First, finding people who want to work outside with their hands is difficult. Many potential workers choose college over the skilled trades, a trend that is beginning to change. 

 

Second, it’s also dealing with a multi-generational workforce. There are many factors to consider when integrating younger and older employees. Relationships are complex as new employees join the fold, older ones retire, and others work from home.

 

According to expert Dr. Melissa Furman, understanding these differences but focusing on the similarities between each generation is key to a happy, coherent workplace.  

 

Melissa’s passion for guiding people inspired her to launch Career Potential, where she helps individuals achieve and organizations succeed. She’s taking the construction industry by storm with her balanced approach to training.

 

In this episode, Melissa shares her advice for young leaders and older professionals and addresses one of today’s hot topics: remote work. She believes in giving younger professionals a chance to be innovative and ambitious but advises them to learn from the older employees.

 

The future of workplace relationships is going to be a turbulent one, at least for a while. The key to harmony is being open-minded, innovative, and comfortable working with chaos. 

 

Tune in to learn how to beat the labor shortage with an integrated workforce and make construction sexy again. 

 

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • How can we create appeal for hands-on jobs?
  • The importance of succession planning
  • The multi-generational workplace
  • Finding the right fit in the workforce
  • Combining ambition and innovation with experience and work ethic
  • Assessment tools for self-awareness
  • Peeling back the onion on working from home
  • Being flexible about flexibility
  • Get over yourself, or you’ll sink your own ship
  • Be patient, listen, and don’t make assumptions

 

Head to unlockcareerpotential.com to invest in your employees with Melissa’s training and guidance!

 

Connect with Melissa on LinkedIn.

 

To hear more Construction Disruption episodes, visit us on Apple Podcasts or YouTube.

 

Connect with us on FacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn.



This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

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Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy

Transcripts

Melissa Furman:

:

I think it's interesting. Manufacturing has tried to promote their opportunities more and they're promoting it as these high-tech jobs and a lot of them are high-tech. But what I'm hearing from my manufacturing employers is, I need somebody who can hammer a nail. I need somebody who can turn a screwdriver. Like high-tech is great, but we also need those hands-on practical skills as well. So it's kind of a double-edged sword.

Todd Miller:

:

Welcome to the Construction Disruption podcast, where we uncover the future of building and remodeling. I'm Todd Miller of Isaiah Industries, manufacturer of specialty metal roofing and other building materials. And today my co-host is Ethan Young. Behind the scenes, we have Ryan Bell. Our goal here at Construction Disruption is to provide timely and forward-looking information regarding the construction world by looking at trends throughout the industry. When we pick up on something that is impacting the construction and remodeling industry now, or maybe we think it will in the future, we go out, find an expert on that subject and bring them on the show to share their insight and knowledge. Now, before we get rolling today in this episode, I do want to share with you one thing we're doing, that is just the second episode we have done this. So Ethan and I, as co-hosts, have given each other challenge words. And so these are words that we have challenged the other one to somehow work into our conversation today. But we like this because it gives the audience, you guys can be listening in the audience trying to figure out, huh, I wonder if that was the challenge word. And then at the very end, we will reveal what our words were and also whether we were successful or not at using them. So this is kind of fun. Was fun the first time, hopefully second time it's not annoying. No, it'll be fun. Good stuff. So I am really excited about today's guest. We're going to jump right into things. I first heard Dr. Melissa Furman speak at the Metal Construction Association meeting this past January. I was so impressed by her and so informed by what she had to say that we then had her speak at our 2022 Metal Roofing Summit a few months ago, and now we find that she is taking the construction industry by storm, as she will be speaking this October at the 2022 Metalcon Show in Indianapolis. So why is she so popular in our industry right now? Because she is spot on with her information about what most folks say is the number one concern in the construction industry, the labor shortage. This is definitely an episode of Construction Disruption that you do not want to miss. So I'm going to give her a little bit longer introduction than we often do of our guests, because I think it's important for our audience to understand who Dr. Furman is and where she comes from. Dr. Furman served as the assistant dean and currently serves as a faculty member at the James M Hall College of Business at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. She has also served in roles at Emory University, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her doctorate of Business and Masters of Science and Professional Counseling from Georgia State University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Susquehanna University. Dr. Furman's passion for guiding individuals with career, professional, and leadership development inspired her to launch Career Potential to help individuals achieve and organizations succeed. As the owner of Career Potential, Dr. Furman delivers highly engaging sessions at state, national, and international conferences. In addition to providing consulting and training services. Dr. Furman is not your usual academic. She utilizes her research and subject matter expertise related to generational diversity, unconscious bias, career and leadership development, and emotional intelligence to have a positive, practical impact on organizations and individuals alike. Her engaging presentation style, which I can attest to firsthand, is filled with humor as well as great insight. Melissa, it's great to be back with you today. Thanks for joining us here on Construction Disruption.

Melissa Furman:

:

Thank you for having me.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good. Well, I have to say, you kind of as I read your bio, I realize you specialize in going to being at schools that have hard to pronounce names, so I'll forgive you for that. I made my way through Susquehanna, though, so I was I was kind of excited about that. You're in a pretty unique line of work. What kind of inspired you to do what you do?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah. So I'm primarily motivated by impact. And of course, working in higher education, I was having impact daily, working with my students and the faculty. However, as the assistant dean of the business school, I spent a lot of my time out in the business community, and I experienced this great disconnect between what we were teaching our students in the classroom and what we were publishing in our journals and what was actually really happening in the real world. So I decided to start my own business to kind of serve as a bridge or a conduit between academics and the real world. So now I feel like I'm having this direct impact directly on the business community. So that's that's what keeps me going. That's what motivates me.

Todd Miller:

:

Was this kind of your dream career, too? I mean, did you always know you wanted to work with people or psychology or things or what was that? What did that look like?

Melissa Furman:

:

I always knew I wanted to work with people, but it's kind of an interesting story because I first started off college as a math major and then walked into Calculus 2 and realized this may not be the right fit for me, but I've always been a people person. And so that's why I majored in psychology as an undergraduate. But if you had asked me 20+ years ago if I ever thought I'd be an assistant dean of a business school getting a doctorate in business, I would say, heck no. And then one step further, if you ever asked me if I was going to be an entrepreneur, absolutely not. And so I'm just a perfect example of how people's career journeys change over time.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, I can definitely relate to that Calculus 2 comment. That's right about when I stopped doing mechanical engineering too. So I figured out something else was better for me. But that was the same, right about the same point.

Todd Miller:

:

Calc 2 threw me too. I was like, you know, I'm not going to keep doing this. And the funny thing was, I'm sure you did, too. I always got the grades, but I didn't have a clue what all that stuff meant or why I should care.

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah, I wanted to be a math teacher, and I didn't understand why I needed calculus to teach high school algebra.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, I can agree with that.

Todd Miller:

:

Good stuff. Well, so we've already kind of touched on it, but a huge concern right now in the construction industry is the labor shortage. And it seems particularly troublesome for construction because it's really hard to find people these days who want to work outside, want to work with their hands, want to work in all sorts of weather. Is the construction industry unique in this? You know, where, hey, there's this major shortage and we're not even sure when or how it's ever going to change? Or are there other industries that are equally troubled about this and concerned about, you know, hey, even if unemployment goes up, we're not sure our situation is going to improve?

Melissa Furman:

:

Mm hmm. And it's funny. It sounds like there's an echo in my world because I also work a lot with manufacturing and agriculture, and they're saying the exact same thing about people working with their hands, working in harsh conditions. So really, the construction industry is not alone. Almost all industries are experiencing the pains of the labor shortage. However, industries like construction, manufacturing, agriculture, you guys do have some unique additional challenges. For example, the applicant pool is much smaller in less urban areas, and a lot of times these jobs are located in the more rural areas and two, the jobs are not necessarily what I call quote-unquote sexy jobs. Unfortunately, the media is not making movies or TV shows featuring employees working in construction and in agriculture as jobs, as appealing jobs. We do have Dirty Jobs. I love watching Dirty Jobs, but you just don't see it. And you also have K-through-12 education systems promoting careers within fields like STEM, where there are great jobs and careers within STEM, but there's also great jobs and careers within fields like construction and agriculture, and they're just not promoting them. We are seeing some programs in some of the more rural areas where they are promoting these trade-like positions, but you just don't see it publicized and it's just not branded as a sexy field. And lastly, most construction and agriculture jobs require employees to work with their hands, like you said, and to work with specific tools. And unfortunately, again, you don't have as many kids today growing up, working with their hands, hanging out with their parents or their father or mom working on a car and building stuff. Because of the amount of technology we have, we see that these kids are more inside playing video games on the computer, doing high-tech stuff. So, you know, the applicant pool is already small, but it really starts to shrink and get smaller and smaller when you start thinking about talent for the construction industry, for sure.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting. And yes, you're right. I often think about that, how today's youth don't necessarily grow up, you know, doing projects around the house and things with their parents the way that my generation did. And that's interesting. You related also to agriculture and manufacturing. I know one of the things the manufacturing industry started a few years ago was manufacturing day or MFG Day, which is every October. And it's really been a great initiative to try to educate folks about the opportunities in manufacturing. But it's interesting to think about that fact. We think of ourselves as kind of being alone in construction, but and feeling like we kind of have a tiger by the tail in all of this. But there's other industries dealing with it as well.

Melissa Furman:

:

And I think it's interesting, manufacturing has tried to promote their opportunities more and they're promoting it as these high-tech jobs. That's great. And a lot of them are high-tech. But what I'm hearing from my manufacturing employers is just like I need somebody who can hammer and nail. I need somebody who can turn a screwdriver. Like high-tech is great, but we also need those hands-on practical skills as well. So it's kind of a double-edged sword.

Ethan Young:

:

I can see some of those kind of lacking like you were talking about. Maybe parents aren't teaching them as much or there's not as much of a necessity that your kids are interested in them. I mean, we did a little bit when I was younger maybe, but not a ton, I guess. Maybe I'm kind of on the tail end of that, so.

Todd Miller:

:

It's definitely changing. Can you share with us a little bit about the specific things that you help businesses and individuals with in your work with Career Potential?

Melissa Furman:

:

So as you have experienced, I speak at conferences and my purpose in speaking at conferences is to try to empower attendees to start thinking differently and to start thinking about how to remain relevant during these challenging times. And if I'm successful at speaking at these conferences, I'm usually invited to assist organizations with finding success by offering different services. This could be in the form of training, things like management training. And when I say management training, that goes all the way from hourly employees all the way up to salaried professional employees, leadership training. I do policy audits. We look at policy manuals because many times organizations haven't refreshed their manuals and they're really not relevant for today. They created a policy or a standard operating procedure 40 years ago based off of something that happened once. So sometimes they just look at refreshing their audits, refreshing their manual. So I conduct the audit just to see where they can be more relevant. Today, I do coaching that's in the form of leadership coaching, career coaching, management coaching. For example, I had one manager who was with his organization for 30 plus years and older gentleman who's just having a hard time communicating with the younger folks. And the younger folks are complaining about it and are filing complaints about it. And this gentleman genuinely wants to be better but just really didn't know how. So I've been working with him and coaching him on his management skills. I do succession planning because right now, as we've talked about and you've heard me talk about at conferences, a lot of the folks in leadership roles are going to be retiring out here soon. And what's their succession plan? How are they going to get the younger people engaged and get them ready for those leadership roles? So really, I mean, I do everything under a very broad, wide umbrella coaching, training, speaking, really. I just come in and listen to what their needs are and try to help them come up with ways that I can address their needs.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good. And I know one of the topics you speak on is the multigenerational workplace, is this concept of a multigenerational workplace more of a reality now than it was in the past? And if so, why is that? Or do you expect it to continue the way things will play out?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yes and no. For the first time in history, we have five generations present in the workforce. This has never happened in American history before and these five generations, they do have differing mindsets, communication styles, and workplace preferences. So because of these differences, we are seeing some challenges and some clashes. But I try to tell people, spend more time focusing on the similarities than the differences. However, you can't ignore the differences because those differences are significant. Why it seems like it's such a big deal now is because there's a lot there's been a lot of bad press about the millennials for the last 15 years, but this isn't new. In the 1970 November edition of Time magazine, front cover. Watch out, here come the Boomers. Fast forward 1990. Watch out, here comes Gen X. They're workaholics. Well, in what we've been hearing for the last 15 years is watch out for these millennials. And due to social media, we have been brainwashed to believe everything that the news is saying, and the news likes to spin it in a way that they're challenging. And quite honestly, if the world wasn't so crazy right now, we would probably be hearing about Gen Z and we'd be hearing a whole lot about the challenges of Gen Z. So much of the buzz is really due just to the popular press and because of social media. We're hearing about it more, but it's really not anything new.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting. Well, that's interesting, too. I've heard you say that before, that for the first time ever, there are five generations in the workplace. Can you give us just a quick 50,000 foot summary of those generations that are coexisting in the workplace today and maybe some of the chief ways they often times they don't understand each other? And maybe some quick, and I hear you say need to listen to each other. I think that's important. But how can we work through some of this?

Ethan Young:

:

And real quick, is it would you say it's more of like a kind of a cycle or the generations, kind of a more of a boomerang effect where things are going to go out and come in, or is it more of just a continuous evolution and changes and all that?

Melissa Furman:

:

So generations don't just naturally occur. Some people think they just naturally occur every 15 years. And it's the cycle and it's actually generations are defined or born, if you will, based on historical occurrences that happen during their childhood and early adolescence. Now, the generations I'm going to go through here real quickly. These are American generations because our generations are based on historical occurrences in America. So other regions of the world, their generations are based on things that have happened in their regions. Because if you think about it, it makes sense. Things that happened to you as a child shapes the lens and how you see the world, which then translates into how you behave as an adult. And so we actually now have six generations because we have just experienced a major historical event called the pandemic. Right. So as researchers, we've now just added a sixth generation. So I'll go through them here real quickly. So you have the oldest generation right now that they're called the Silent generation, also frequently referred to as the veterans. Not to be confused with military veterans, of course. And these folks are typically 76 years old and above. Because there's really no exact date. I tend to use the dates from Gallup because that's what I use for my research. But it's like plus or minus three years. So the oldest generation, 76 and older. Then you go to the next generation and these are the Baby Boomers. And they're typically right between ages like 57 and 75. They are a huge, large generation. They are still in our workforce. We anticipated that by this point in time, they were only going to be roughly 12 to 15% of our workforce, and they're still hovering right around 33%. So they're not going anywhere.

Todd Miller:

:

We're not leaving.

Melissa Furman:

:

You're not leaving for all different kinds of reasons. Right? And then you have Gen X. And believe it or not, the millennials have the bad reputation of being the problem in the workplace, when really what I find as a consultant and also in our research is really Gen X is the problem. The good news is now Gen X is also the solution. These folks are between the ages of roughly like 41 to 56. They're wired differently, they're extreme workaholics, they strive for career success. They have a very different mindset to their approach to work. So 41 to 56, then we have Gen Y, which the popular press likes to refer to them as the millennials. They are ages 25ish to 40ish. And so one thing I don't like about this generation, because it's really hard to compare a 28 year old and a 38 year old, even though they're in the same generation. 28 year old, 38 year old, they're kind of in different life stages. But still, that's the bulk, so 25 to 40. Then you have Gen Z. These are college and high school students right now, and they are not millennials. I keep hearing people refer to them as, Oh, they're them, but no, they're not and they are dramatically different. They are the offspring of Gen X, so they have a very different mindset, different preferences, different communication styles, and they're roughly 24 to 12. Now we cut them off at 12 because of the pandemic. The sixth generation that is now we're talking about it as researchers. We're actually calling them Gen Alpha now. We'll see if Alpha sticks, because like the millennials, we refer to them as Gen Y. We didn't call them millennials, but the popular press called them millennials. So Gen Alpha, we'll see if Alpha sticks. And these are children ages 12 and under. And so that's the broad overview. And at the end of the day, I tell people to understand each other better. You really need to understand the differing mindsets. You know, for example, baby boomers aspire for job security. They're going to work for one employer throughout their entire career. Gen X aspires for career success. Keep your head down. Work, work, work, move to the top as fast as you can. And the millennials, they they're very different. They aspire for freedom and flexibility. They are living for today because they don't know what tomorrow's going to look like. So this is where we're seeing the clashes the most between the Gen X and the millennials.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting. So alpha generation might be called the COVID kids or something by media. Who knows?

Ethan Young:

:

I've heard Gen C for COVID.

Melissa Furman:

:

We are anticipating that this generation will have social anxieties, for sure.

Todd Miller:

:

Wow.

Ethan Young:

:

Mm hmm.

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah.

Todd Miller:

:

You know, one of the things that I've been hearing about in the news, and it's been kind of interesting to me recently, is the number of older folks, maybe even some of those veterans, but certainly boomers who chose COVID as a time to step away from the job site or job place workplace, to choose early retirement. And now suddenly with things happening and with their investments and, you know, COVID getting better, some of them are reentering the workforce even just a couple of years after they left. I have a feeling they're finding it an entirely different world out there. Any advice for them on how to reenter?

Melissa Furman:

:

I call them the retire to rehire. So at the beginning of the pandemic, they did drop down to 31%. And I was like, brace yourself, here's the graying tsunami. It's the tidal wave of retirements. It's coming, here it is. And then now it just dates back up to 33% of the workforce. So they some did retire, but they came back and got rehired, some in the same role, some in a different role. And here's what I'm telling them. I'm telling them, do what makes you happy, right? If you still want to work and that makes you happy, then do it. But if you want to pursue your hobbies and that's what makes you happy, then go do that. If you're not really sure what makes you happy because some people aren't retiring simply because they're not sure what they're going to do. Because they're not really sure. Because all they know is working. And I tell them, take some time to figure it out and figure out what you want to do. Okay. So let's say they are coming back to the workforce, it's a new world. They're not really sure what to expect. I would just tell them to just be a sponge and just listen to what's going on around them. Make a decision if this is the right fit for them and if they're not really up for working full time or in a certain role, just talk to their employers. Employers right now are eager for employees and they do value the emotional maturity of the boomer folks. So if that role that you initially got hired for isn't the right fit for, you talk to those employers because I guarantee you they can find a place where you can still add value to the organization.

Todd Miller:

:

I love that that idea of communication and hey, find the right fit. There isn't an employer out there who's going to turn away a good worker right now.

Melissa Furman:

:

Absolutely.

Todd Miller:

:

So if you're not in the right fit, talk until you find it. Good advice.

Ethan Young:

:

I will say this is something we're going through with my grandpa right now, he retired at the beginning of the pandemic. And then he's the kind of guy who has his hobbies, but like he really loves his job. So he decided to go back this year and he's been doing just like in the mornings he takes off at lunchtime, but it's been good for him. I think to get back gives him some structure. But and like you said too about picking up stuff like a sponge, that's something that's impressed me a lot about him is he's kind of adopted that mindset and it's helping him a lot.

Melissa Furman:

:

And I'm telling the employers, don't think that training is just for your new young people coming in. Don't be afraid to train your older people. But the approach and how you train them is going to be different than how you're going to train a 21 year old. Yeah, so different approaches.

Todd Miller:

:

And I think that's interesting. I mean, historically, I think usually when we think about the workplace, we think of sort of a hierarchical-type situation driven by age, you know, where you've got younger workers being led and managed and mentored by older generations and older workers. But I don't think that's the case anymore so much. And I know I've even seen it here in our own company where some of our key managers and leaders are leading folks significantly younger than them. What advice do you have to folks in both sides of that situation where it's not the typical older person leading a younger person?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah, this is happening a lot and it can be challenging for everyone involved. So let's start with the younger folks. So the younger folks, I tell them first, don't jump in and pretend to be an expert. Right? Spend time talking to and getting getting to know your older employees. They have been there for a long time. They do add a lot of value. Show them respect and show them that you value them and you value that experience that that you have. I'm finding the older folks are feeling disrespected by the younger folks. And so I'm going to give a quick story here. So just last week, I witnessed an interaction between an older and a younger just exactly what you're talking about. And the older employee said, I have 30 years experience. And the younger employees said, Yeah, you have experience doing the same one thing for 30 years. And I said, Well, okay, there's validity to your point, but maybe the approach was not the best, right? I guess the younger point person was saying, Yeah, you have 30 years of experience doing something that's no longer relevant today. Yeah, that is not showing respect. And I don't recommend anybody say that. But there is an ounce of truth behind the disrespect. You know, business environments and technology has changed so quickly and will continue to change faster. And the younger professionals tend to embrace and expect that change and expect the innovation. So to the older professionals, you got to give the younger professionals a chance. Yes. They're lacking emotional and professional maturity. Yes, they're lacking tact, but they do have really good ideas and they do tend to be very ambitious. They're just really green. And the only way they're going to gain the emotional and professional maturity is with time and experience. You know, somebody mentored you along the way, which is funny. My Gen-Xers say, no, they didn't. I didn't have a mentor. I figured out all by myself and I'm like, okay, thank you for sharing that. No need to pass your trauma on to the next generation. Right? Let's give better moving forward than what we received. But I say to them, rather than turn away from them, rather than get mad at them and push them away and be disgusted by them. Lean into them, build relationships with them and mentor them. Because if we could take the ambition and innovative thinking of our young people and take the discipline and experience and work ethic of our older people, and we put them together, man, that's going to be super powerful. So everybody really just needs to be patient. They need to listen. They need to trust and respect one another. And that relationship is going to be wildly successful.

Ethan Young:

:

I really like that. Yeah, that's powerful.

Todd Miller:

:

No, that's, that's good stuff. And it's funny because so, you know, one of my coworkers here and he's often times the co-host here is Seth Heckaman and he's our VP of Sales and fairly young guy for that position. So he's leading folks younger than him. But on the other hand, it's been more than once he's thrown at me that line of, Yeah, you've got 30 years of experience doing it the wrong way Todd.

Melissa Furman:

:

Oh, no.

Todd Miller:

:

That's okay. That's why we get along so well.

Melissa Furman:

:

I always tell people it's not right or wrong. It's not better or worse. It's just different.

Todd Miller:

:

I'll use that next time with him. We'll see how that goes. I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about assessment tools in the workplace or, you know, hiring in different things. What roles can they play and what sort of assessments are you bringing people through that you see as being most valuable?

Melissa Furman:

:

Assessment tools, I think are going to be critical for success moving forward. Now, I'm a big advocate that assessment tools are used for self-awareness. I think that's the core of it, and the foundation of it is leaders, managers, employees. They they need to be self-aware of what are they good at? What are they not good at? What are their blind spots? And blind spots are weaknesses that they didn't know they had. What are their preferences as it relates to work style work environments? People I don't know about you, but I'm not like driving around, sitting around thinking like, who am I? What do I like to do? I mean, we just don't do that. So having these tools are critical and first and foremost being self aware. Then once you're self-aware, you can then use them to learn about other people. Now, I do not think that assessment tools are the know all, be all. I just think they're great conversation starters. I think it's a great tool to use to have that dialog between somebody else to figure out what you have in common, where you are different, and how you can meet somewhere in the middle. I'm not a big supporter of using them for hiring per se, because again, every tool out there has a flaw into it and they are not perfect and they don't. I mean, we're human beings, right? We're complex creatures. I think they're great tools. After you hire somebody, when you're putting together their onboarding experience or their training program, that's what I think they're really good to use. I wouldn't use them to hire also, to be honest, I wouldn't use them to hire people because it's a legal liability. Because somebody could come back and say, so I didn't get hired because I didn't score this on this particular assessment. And like I said, none of these assessments are perfect, so I don't recommend using them for hiring. I specifically like to use the DISC assessment. I think it's broad enough where it doesn't compartmentalize people. Not a huge fan of Myers-Briggs. I think it's a little too specific saying, I'm an INTJ., I'm an ENFP. It really kind of depends on the situation where I think the risk assessment is broader. Now, some people have really drank the Kool-Aid of using the Enneagram, which I love the Enneagram. But what I'm going to recommend to you is use the Enneagram with the experienced professionals. I would not use it with your early stage professionals who are just starting off. They just don't have enough experience to draw from, to be able to answer the questions within the assessment tool to then get accurate results. So I prefer the DISC for sure.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting. And that's what we'll usually recommend a lot of times is DISC as well. And I agree with you, it's not so much a hiring tool as it is, Hey, this is a great way to understand your team once you have that team in place. So a big topic in recent months has been work from home. Increasingly, there are some high profile business leaders, even Elon Musk speaking out against this idea of work from home. What was his comment? If if people want to not work, they can go someplace else and not work.

Melissa Furman:

:

That's right.

Todd Miller:

:

Kind of curious, what are your feelings on the impact that work from home is having out there and what do you think the future of it will be?

Melissa Furman:

:

It's a mixed bag and a lot of my clients have been reaching out to me, asking me for my insight and opinions and what they should do. And, you know, it's a mixed bag and I see both sides of it, but there is actually no data right now that can either support or reject the effects or impacts of work from home. We have just as much data saying that it works as we do that says that it doesn't work. And there are really no common denominators. We've been looking at it across industries. And as you were hearing, you know, the tech industry, they're not even seeing consistency of what's working at one organization and what's not. So here's what I'm telling people. I strongly believe that it all depends on the culture of the organization. It depends on the culture. It depends on the leadership, like Elon Musk's leadership style. Clearly, he wants people at work. And it also depends on the training that you're providing to managers and to the employees of how to do this thing called work from home. You know, it happened so fast because there were organizations that were doing it slowly and or the organization was created from day one to be work from home. So they're being successful. Sure. But the ones that it just the change happened so fast. We're human beings, we're human creatures, right. It takes us a while to change. And if you're not training employees on how to do this thing called work from home, and more importantly, if you're not training managers on how to manage from remote environments, it's not going to be successful. So here's what I'm telling people. I encourage people to, quote unquote, peel back the onion to better understand the why, the why behind why people want to work from home. Because, again, there is no common denominator. There's no consistency. People are throwing these blanket statements out there that, oh, all the millennials want to work from home because they want to stay in their pajamas or Gen Xers want to work from home because they're balancing childcare. That's actually not necessarily the case. It's really if you peel back the onion, it's about flexibility. Now, flexibility to the younger generations mean something different than flexibility to the older generations, because remember, they have different mindsets. So like the younger generations, specifically the millennials, their flexibility when it comes to work is more about work-life integration. And they go to work, it's a job. And then when they get off their job that they go to their side hustle and they go live their life. Gen Xers, the older folks, the workaholics, they just want the flexibility to work when they want to work to get the most work done. And they need to be able to take their kids to school and then go to work. I mean, because Gen Xers, they tend to live to work versus work to live. And Gen Xers have been on this quest. And boomers I throw in there as well have been on this quest to find work-life balance. I've yet to really find a whole lot of people who have found this thing called work-life balance. So it's the flexibility and flexibility means different things to different people. So again, I tell the leaders, communicate with your people and get to know the core reasons for why they want to work from home. Don't make assumptions and then try to figure out how you can make this happen. So real quick piece on this, too, with the flexibility. I work a lot with manufacturers and they're saying to me, well, we can't offer flexibility because we have shifts and we can't do that. It's not possible. Well, it is possible. It's just not the way we've always done it. And it is thinking innovatively. And yeah, H.R. may need to change their protocols. Yeah, you may need to pay people differently. But don't say that it can't be done. It can be. But you have to basically deconstruct everything you know about shift work and then build it from the ground up.

Todd Miller:

:

Very interesting. You know, we've not figured out exactly how to to address work from home here as a manufacturing environment. And, you know, partly it's a couple of things going on. I mean, one is we'd love to offer that flexibility to certain workers, but truly and and maybe we need to think more outside of the box. But for someone that has to stand at a machine and operate it, they can't work from home. So, you know, then where do you find the equity in all of that for your team? And that presents us some challenges.

Melissa Furman:

:

But what I would encourage you to do is go ask your people. Don't think, you know, ask your people and say, Hey, I would love your insight and your opinion. How could we provide you more flexibility? Because these folks, they've been working shift work for a long time. And if there's anybody who knows how they can have more flexibility, they're going to. They're the experts and they're going to tell you and they'll be like, well, if we actually did our scheduling differently. So rather than working twelve hour shifts, if we only work ten hour shifts or if we didn't rotate every two weeks, or like they will tell you, they will give you insight on on what that flexibility looks like for them. And quite honestly, they may have some good ideas.

Todd Miller:

:

That's really good. No, I love that. Good advice, thank you. It's been interesting too as I've watched my son, he had graduated from college in 2020 and got a job and works for a company. He's a coder, so he writes code all day and you know, his job has mainly been work from home. And as I look at him, I mean, he's a very much put your head down, get it done. I work the exact hours I'm supposed to work. Don't work earlier, don't work later. But I get it done. I get it done promptly and efficiently. And for him, it wouldn't make any difference if he was working in the workplace or from home. The end result is going to be the same. But on the other hand, as I've told him, I said, you know, getting into the office environment, if you ever want to do anything other than just code your whole life, you're going to have to be able to be in an environment where you can build those relationships.

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah. And you know, it's different for introverts versus extroverts or it's different for young professionals versus mid-stage. It's different for an employee who's just being hired into the organization and is trying to figure their way out versus somebody who's been in the organization for ten years and already has their networks established. And that's why I don't like the blanket statements or like, oh, these young people, right? They all just want to work from home and stay in their pajamas. Well, I'm actually going to tell you, Gen Z, these are your 24 and younger. So your college and high school students, they were freaking out when the pandemic hit because they didn't want to work from home. They're trying to launch their careers, they want to build their network. They want that face to face interaction and mentoring. And so I wouldn't make that blanket statement. And then, you know, Todd, you know, die-hard, Melissa Furman's a die-hard feminist. I'm even telling women and I know you guys don't have a ton of women in your industry, but it is growing.

Todd Miller:

:

Absolutely.

Melissa Furman:

:

tell the women, you need to show up. You know, you need to be seen. You need to build those relationships. And quite honestly, the work from home for women could actually stunt the progression that we've been making in the predominantly male-dominated industry. So it's not for everybody for sure.

Todd Miller:

:

Wow. That's an interesting insight. So this is next question is a very broad question. But as you look into Melissa Furman's crystal ball, do you have any projections on the future of workplace relationships?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah, yeah. I'm speaking about this a lot at different conferences. I'm talking about the future of work, the future of the workplace environment, and the future of the workforce, because those are three different dynamic areas. And here's what I'm going to tell you, kind of big, broad statement. I think it's going to be turbulent for a while. I think it can be turbulent for a while. I don't think it's going to settle out. I don't think there's an answer. There's not a quick fix and it's going to be turbulent. So I tell people, I think the key is going to be training, specifically management training, because when you're talking to people who aren't happy and they're leaving their organizations, it's typically because of their direct supervisor. They say, what, good people don't leave bad organizations, they leave what bad managers. And as I'm spending more and more time in these organizations, that management role is the key. I mean, people even come in to me, they're like, Hey, can you come in and fix these like, damn, millennials, can you, like, teach them how to work? I spend more of my time with the managers and teaching the managers on how to empower them and how to coach them and how to train the young people. So I think it's going to be management training. I also think the challenge is going to be staying relevant. If you're trying to tweak old systems under old paradigms, you're not going to be successful. You really need to think about starting fresh and nothing is off the table. You can't throw anything out. And I caution you to stay away from best practices. Best practices are based on what has happened in the past. What has been successful in the past, right. Business is moving too fast, change is happening too fast. There's so many things today that were not in place in the past. And so I just caution you to stay away from it. Just just be be open minded, be innovative, be ready to be agile and quickly flex, be comfortable working with chaos. I mean, I know that's a challenge for a lot of folks. I think it's here to stay for a while and this is going to be our new normal is my projection, my crystal ball.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah.

Todd Miller:

:

Something we've already touched on a little bit, but I'm going to ask you a little more directly this time. So one of the things that we hear all the time, and it's in the media, everyplace we've touched on older workers complaining about younger workers, and I really think this has been an age-old situation had happened. When my generation come in and I have to think back in caveman days, there was some guy saying, oh, these young kids don't even know how to start a fire anymore. And look at their cave drawings. Don't get me started. But this stuff really seems to have hit the fan with boomers talking about millennials being as blunt as you can be. What your specific advice for boomers who are experiencing this?

Melissa Furman:

:

I tell them to get over it. Get over yourself. And so Todd, you've heard me say this when I speak at conferences, I said, listen, you need to get on board or you need to jump ship when it comes to millennials, because if you do not get on board, there is a very good chance you are going to sink your ship. And if you don't sink your ship, they're going to walk you off the plank and they're not going to give you a life preserver because they are huge. They are a huge generation. They are what we call as academics, disruptors. They're disrupting everything, everything, work, hours, workdays, workweeks. Why do we have to do this? How can we have done this? Business hours, everything. Because they're asking why to everything. And I'll tell you, 80% of the time there's validity in them asking why. Because like, why do we have Daylight Savings Times? Why do we do have to do it? Why do we have a 40 hour workweek? That was developed in 1920 with Henry Ford on the assembly line. Like, maybe we need to revisit some of these things. Now, the way in which they ask why may not be the most appropriate and the timing and when they ask why may not be appropriate, but there's validity. So, you know, I say to the older folks, there's a lot that these younger folks can do that you can't do. Remember that. And honestly, some of the skills that they've gained today could result in your survival. I actually had somebody asked me the other day if you had to take ten people of your in your workplace environment and be on a stranded island, who would you take with you and why? And it was interesting to hear like, oh, I'm only going to take the older folks because they can build they can start fires. To your point, Todd, you know, they can build shelters. Okay. Well, the younger folks may know of a way to take their phone with them that they have with them and to wire it in such a way to ping a signal off a satellite to one of the barges out in the middle of the ocean to come save you on that stranded island. I don't know. You know, I mean, stop. I tell people, stop focusing on the differences and focus on the similarities. Talk to one another. Learn from one another. Everybody has something to bring to the table. You just need to figure out what that is. And you need to lean in to one another and have those conversations. Because, again, what you're seeing with these younger folks, that frustrates the older folks. If you peel back that onion the other day, the core of it is they're lacking maturity. They're lacking emotional and professional maturity. The boomers, they matured when they were 18, 19, 20. They were get married, they had mortgages. Some of them were being drafted to the Vietnam War. I mean, they had to grow up. Go to my generation, which is a Gen Xers. We kind of grew up like in our mid-twenties, mid-to-late twenties. And what we're seeing with this younger generation is they're not showing that same level of emotional and professional maturity till their early to mid-thirties. So you just have to lean into them and they will grow out of it. They will mature, but they'll mature faster if you help them. So that's my take on that.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good. And one of the things I'm really blessed to be able to do on occasion is walk into construction companies and start talking to them about the organization. And, you know, as I start talking and digging a little bit, whenever I hear them, the managers complaining about millennials or younger generation, I'm just like, you know, this is a problem. On the other hand, I get into some organizations that are just thriving and lively and good stuff happening, and they have embraced that millennial mindset and brought it in and just great communication between all generations. It absolutely makes a difference. So we do believe that a lot of our audience members here for Construction Disruption are younger folks fairly new to design and construction. Any top advice for them as they work to establish and further productive, enjoyable careers?

Melissa Furman:

:

I mean, to tell them be a sponge, like I said earlier, be a sponge and soak it all in. Yes, bring your new ideas because we know your industry and your organization are going to need them. They're going to need your ideas. They're going to need your innovation to be able to stay relevant and to stay with the changing times. But at the same time, be open to learning and soaking in as much as you can. There is value in learning about the history or the organizational history. There is value in building relationships. Because what we're finding and Todd I mean, you've talked about this, we've seen this, that especially in sales, the young people don't really see the value in building the relationships or knowing, continuing to develop the relationships that the older people have nurtured for 30 years. They need to learn that. So I tell the young people, be open to learning. Soak it in and soak it in as quickly as you can. Because again, if you take your innovative thinking and ambition and combine it again with those that older generation's discipline and work ethic, you're going to create something pretty powerful. And it could be industry-changing for your industry, for sure.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good. Well, we're getting close to the end of our time and something we like to do here on Construction Disruption before we close out each episode, is ask our guests if they're willing to participate in our rapid-fire questions. So these are just seven questions. They may range from silly to serious. All you got to do is give your quick response to each of them. You up to the challenge?

Melissa Furman:

:

Oh, gosh, yes. But again, full disclaimer, I'm from New Jersey, so I can't control what comes out of my mouth. So, anything I say, just edit it out.

Todd Miller:

:

Awesome.

Ethan Young:

:

We will do that.

Todd Miller:

:

This will be great. We'll alternate asking.

Ethan Young:

:

Alright.

Todd Miller:

:

Would you like to ask the first one?

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, I can start with the first one. Alright, so what crazy activity do you dream of trying someday?

Melissa Furman:

:

That's a hard question.

Todd Miller:

:

That's just the first one.

Melissa Furman:

:

Can I say pass and then come back to it?

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, that's fine.

Todd Miller:

:

Absolutely.

Melissa Furman:

:

Okay. So pass.

Todd Miller:

:

Okay, second question. Little bit more serious. You've been an educator for a few years now. What is the major change you've seen in students over that time?

Melissa Furman:

:

The way that they learn. We call them modern learners and it's amazing the way that they learn. You cannot just get up in front of them and lecture to them with PowerPoint slides behind you. The minute you do that, you lose credibility and you lose their interest. And so with the younger folks, you have to give them knowledge to read or to watch or to absorb before they show up. And then when they show up, you have to engage them and don't be intimidated by them challenging you because they have access to all these resources. And even though you're the subject matter expert, you're their professor. They have no they do not hesitate to challenge you for hot minutes. So biggest change has been their learning style.

Todd Miller:

:

Wow, very interesting.

Melissa Furman:

:

Very different.

Ethan Young:

:

Do you have any pets?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yes. And she's sleeping behind me. I have an indoor/outdoor, long haired cat named Miss Molly.

Ethan Young:

:

Oh, that's cute.

Todd Miller:

:

Good golly.

Melissa Furman:

:

That's very sassy. But she's a southern kitty. She loves this hot weather, and she really wants to be outside right now with 200 degrees. Mm hmm.

Todd Miller:

:

That must be the tiger coming out or something.

Melissa Furman:

:

I guess.

Todd Miller:

:

Okay, next one. What is the earliest major news story that you recall from your childhood?

Melissa Furman:

:

Oh, that's easy. That's the Challenger blowing up.

Todd Miller:

:

I think our last person I asked that had the same answer about the same age. So yeah.

Melissa Furman:

:

It depends on the generation. I can almost predict what they would tell you by the generation. Yeah. Mm hmm, Challenger.

Todd Miller:

:

My generation is. Is Vietnam War. Maybe if you're a little bit younger, probably Watergate. But, you know, those are those are the two.

Melissa Furman:

:

I would say that. I would say Challenger or the Berlin Wall coming down.

Todd Miller:

:

Oh, yeah.

Ethan Young:

:

I think for mine would probably be 911. I'm kind of a little bit too young to really remember it, but for most people, I think that's what it would be.

Melissa Furman:

:

The younger generations, it's usually 911 or Columbine or Y2K.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah. How the world was going to come to an end. My wife was in iIT at the time and oh, my goodness, they had her sweatin that like crazy, although she's like saying, this is really not a problem, but I'll do what they tell me to do.

Melissa Furman:

:

And the college students today have no concept of 911. Like we stopped even doing memorial ceremonies on college campuses because they don't relate to what it would be like doing a Pearl Harbor ceremony. They just, they weren't alive or they were too young. And that's kind of wild for me to process that.

Todd Miller:

:

Wow.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah. Alright. What one word describes you the least?

Melissa Furman:

:

I feel like you should ask Todd that question. Reserved, maybe. Todd, would you say? I don't know.

Todd Miller:

:

That's good. I like that. Good answer.

Melissa Furman:

:

Close-minded, I'm not close minded.

Todd Miller:

:

If you had to eat a crayon, what color would you choose?

Melissa Furman:

:

Oh, pink.

Ethan Young:

:

Okay.

Todd Miller:

:

That's the first pink we've ever had.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah's that's a new one for us.

Todd Miller:

:

Very good. Just a favorite color?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah, I will think in my mind, pink is sweet, and I would think pink would taste better than, like, a brown or a black or a purple.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, I can agree with that. I don't know.

Todd Miller:

:

That makes sense.

Melissa Furman:

:

It looks most like candy.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah, cotton candy, rather than poop.

Melissa Furman:

:

It sounds much better.

Ethan Young:

:

Alright. Do you know how to drive a manual transmission?

Melissa Furman:

:

Yes, I do, because I'm married to a car guy.

Ethan Young:

:

Oh, there you go, yeah.

Melissa Furman:

:

He has an 86 Camaro with an LS1 engine. He'd be so proud that I know that. That's the third engine he's had. And that 86 Camaro was in our wedding pictures.

Todd Miller:

:

Oh, awesome.

Melissa Furman:

:

So that was a deal breaker for him. If I didn't know how to drive a manual, I also know how to ride a motorcycle.

Ethan Young:

:

Oh, that's cool, okay.

Melissa Furman:

:

Because he rides motorcycles and I won't ride one of my own because I drive too fast. I'll kill myself. But I know how to ride one in case anything ever happened while we were riding. I could go get help. I could go hop on the bike and go get help.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah. Mm hmm. What color's the 86?

Melissa Furman:

:

It's this blue. It's like this brilliant blue.

Todd Miller:

:

Like an electric blue.

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah. And he just bought a brand new Camaro that matches it. So he now has the modern version and the old one. Mm hmm.

Ethan Young:

:

That's fun.

Todd Miller:

:

Okay. I'm a bit of a Camaro fan myself. So you're after my heart.

Melissa Furman:

:

He really wanted to, he had a Corvette. He wanted a Corvette.

Ethan Young:

:

I'm a Corvette guy.

Melissa Furman:

:

He bought a 2013, something very fancy about this Corvette right when the pandemic hit and the optics looked bad. And so I told him he needed to get rid of it. It just, it looked bad. They were laying people off at his work and here he was showing up with this Corvette.

Todd Miller:

:

Brand new Corvette.

Melissa Furman:

:

People assume Corvettes are expensive. And this one, it wasn't, but people assume that it is and it just looked bad. So he got rid of it. But then now he just bought his new Camaro.

Todd Miller:

:

Awesome. So the stick shift manual transmission thing, I do have to say, I read the other day someone said that they ask that as an interview question. They're saying it's harder to ask now because there simply aren't as many manual transmissions out there. But they say what it showed them was if that person was adventurous and wanted to be resourceful enough to learn everything that they could possibly learn, I thought that was interesting.

Melissa Furman:

:

I don't know. As a psychologist, a trained psychologist, I don't like those types of questions. Yeah, because again, remember, I do research on bias and unconscious bias and conscious bias. And I think that's a bias. I would hate that you would miss out on a great candidate because they didn't know how to do that.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah, I agree. Because my wife, as I did try, well, I must confess, I tried to teach her to drive one of mine once and it didn't go so well when the sheriff pulled us over and stopped us.

Ethan Young:

:

It took me a little bit to learn. Actually, the car I drive right now is a manual and I didn't know how to drive manual at all. I had messed around with it in like a friend's truck. But it was a good deal for the car. So I was like, I guess I'm just going to have to learn. So otherwise I really probably wouldn't.

Melissa Furman:

:

And I'll tell you, I have to wear heels a lot, but because doing what I do, I'm in a suit often. Not clearly working with your industry or manufacturing or ag, but all the other industries I work with. Try driving a manual in heel.

Ethan Young:

:

Oh geez.

Melissa Furman:

:

So I always had it. Then I'd have flip flops in the car, then the flip flop would get stuck under the clutch. So it's like, okay, enough, flip flops. I need to have like real shoes. So I chose not to. It was just, and how do you eat, drive, and text in a manual?

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah, it's too advanced for me. I can, I can maybe text while doing it but that's about it.

Todd Miller:

:

I mean, first world problems, I'll tell you. So we got to go back. You could just take a permanent pass, but what crazy activity do you dream of trying some day?

Melissa Furman:

:

See, I'm trying to think of crazy. Like, how would you define crazy? Because, like, I don't want to jump out of an airplane. Not my, I don't want to do that. I'm afraid of falling.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah, that'd be a bad mix.

Melissa Furman:

:

I don't want to say, like, drive fast because being married to a car guy who races cars and motorcycles, I've been there, done that crazy activity.

Todd Miller:

:

Well, we can catch this one next time, too.

Melissa Furman:

:

Yeah, stay tuned.

Todd Miller:

:

There we go.

Melissa Furman:

:

Come, come to Metalcon and you'll, I'll report on it if you come to Metalcon in Indy.

Todd Miller:

:

Sounds good. Hey, we're, I'm looking forward to seeing you at Metalcon. Kind of fun, I don't know if you remember from the Metal Roofing Summit, David McCreary, who was our emcee upfront and does some magic stuff. He's going to be in our booth at Metalcon, so we're really looking forward to that.

Melissa Furman:

:

Oh, he's great. We totally connected on Gen-X vibes with 1980s music.

Todd Miller:

:

I bet, he's a fun guy.

Melissa Furman:

:

He's awesome.

Todd Miller:

:

Well, thank you so much. This has been a true pleasure and privilege. Oh, I do need to share, folks, where we ended up on our challenge words. So the challenge word that Ethan gave to me was tiger, which I worked in there fairly early on with some reference to having a tiger by the tail or something. And the word I gave Ethan was.

Ethan Young:

:

It was boomerang, which I kind of had a little idea ahead of time. So it worked pretty well for where I threw it in there.

Melissa Furman:

:

You all could have thrown that in there so much more than you did now that you say that.

Ethan Young:

:

Yeah.

Melissa Furman:

:

I could have beat you in that game for sure. Yeah.

Ethan Young:

:

Maybe we'll have to do that, include the host.

Todd Miller:

:

Yeah, we should give the guest a word, too. That would be fun. Okay, well, thank you again for joining us today. This has been great. You're a wealth of knowledge, just so personable. And you you convey that knowledge in such a great way. Is there anything we haven't covered today that you'd like to share with our audience?

Melissa Furman:

:

I think we covered everything.

Todd Miller:

:

We have covered a lot.

Melissa Furman:

:

And again, just just in closing, take away, be patient, listen. Don't compartmentalize, don't make assumptions, just talk to people. I always tell people, you know, everybody that you work with has a different lens and how they see the world. And that lens was shaped by things that happened to them during their childhood, during their early adolescence. And here's what I tell people. You don't have to like other people's lenses, absolutely not. And you don't have to agree with other people's lenses. But you need to respect their lens and you need to respect that they have a different lens than you. So be kind, be compassionate, and listen and we'll all be better for it.

Todd Miller:

:

Excellent. Thank you so much. Well, for folks who might want to get in touch with you, how can they most easily do that?

Melissa Furman:

:

Very Gen-X of me. I would refer you to my website which is www.unlockcareerpotential.com. I do have social media channels, but I'm in the process of refreshing them, so I'm not going to direct you there right at this moment. Or you can just simply email me, again very Gen X, mfurman@unlockcareerpotential.com. For our younger folks you're welcome to text me if you like. You just, I'm going to give you the scavenger hunt to go find my phone number on my website and then you can text me. If you can do that, you're welcome to text me.

Todd Miller:

:

They've probably already found that.

Melissa Furman:

:

They're very resourceful.

Todd Miller:

:

That's right. Well, thank you so much. This has been great. We really appreciate your time here today, Melissa. What a joy.

Melissa Furman:

:

Thank you.

Melissa Furman:

:

Todd Miller: And I want to thank our audience for tuning into this episode of Construction Disruption with Dr. Melissa Furman of Career Potential and unlockcareerpotential.com. Please watch for future episodes of our podcast. We have more great guests coming up. And don't forget to leave a review on Apple Podcasts or YouTube. Until our next episode, change the world for someone, make them smile, encourage them. Two powerful, easy things we can do to change the world. God bless, take care. This is Isaiah Industries signing off until the next episode of Construction Disruption.

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