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People Power Land Surveying

Some of you are undoubtedly familiar with Farrah Etcheverry, formerly known as @lady_land_surveyor on Instagram. She was a rising Social Media star in the land surveying community. Keys to her success were an infectious spirit, made-for-media communication talent and a willingness to speak openly about surveying and herself. We even wrote a short piece about her here: But then one day it all stopped. She went silent on Instagram and later deactivated her account. Her fans were left scratching their heads and wondering if Farrah was alright. Then several weeks ago she posted this message on her LinkedIn page and the mystery was solved: Farrah was burned out. Social Media can consume both the audience and the influencer if they take it too seriously. Many of us are starved for something real in this world and Farrah is a ray of light that points to something a little higher. We wish Farrah the best and hope she will someday continue to share her immense talent and love for the profession when it's healthy for her. Tech Rules People are the heart and soul of our profession, not technology. As I comb through industry Social Media posts and online articles, it's hard not to notice the overwhelming emphasis on the technology and tools surveyors rely on. Seems like every other post is related to the magic of drones, Lidar or GPS. But we need to be mindful how much emphasis and attention we give to the tools of our trade. If we constantly sing the praises of the amazing technology at our disposal, public and client perception will begin to change. People will start to think surveying is easy and only requires push-button data collection or research. Therefore, at every opportunity, we must steer the conversation to the human component of land surveying. We must not be shy when explaining the experience, local knowledge, licensing and training required to produce signed deliverables. Yes, technology makes our job easier and more efficient. But no GPS unit ever walked itself over to a fence corner, recognized a tiny piece of weathered pink flagging on a post and knew to dig for a monument there. People power land surveying, not satellites or light beams. We don't walk on the moon but we are spatial relationship analysts who possess the training, experience and know-how to figure how the grand matrix of lines and boundaries fit together. We compose arrangements that fit the spaces men have defined for themselves to maintain peace and order. Our soul is out there in the points and line work. We are spatial artists, able to see, feel and operate in three dimensions. Step by step, we combine the pieces of the great puzzle. Here's a link to a post from one of my favorite land surveying influencers, Landon Blake. In it he talks about the simple act of dedicating time and attention to developing and training his own employees. This isn't just about creating a warm, fuzzy feeling with staff. It's about rising to the challenge of our future and developing surveyors from within an organization. It's no longer realistic to think you can post a Help Wanted ad and acquire new employees when needed. Companies must now be proactive in their recruiting and employee development so qualified personnel can step in and step up when needed. Read here: New Game The new game in the land surveying profession is not about having the best clients and projects. We're all up to our necks in work. Nope, the competition now is about who can acquire and keep enough qualified personnel to meet overwhelming demand. Paid personal days and 401k plans won't get it done anymore. In today's economy and job market, companies must think differently. They must search for new ways to attract and most importantly, retain employees. We're taking a ground-up approach at the companies I work for to create a workplace culture or "ecosystem" that compels employees to join us and spend their careers here. I'll say this about us, we're going to extraordinary lengths to give employees the thing they value most: the freedom to chart their own career path. The professional relationship with my boss, Brad, had started to edge up, becoming more honest and confrontive in a positive way. He'd ask me questions such as what I thought he should focus on professionally. I'd respond intuitively, speaking straight from my heart which I think he appreciated. Many of our conversations were eye-opening for him. I had nothing to lose and therefore could swing the conversations any direction I wanted. My "big picture" views sharply contrasted his "in the trenches" experience which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for our companies, SPS and ISG. In the time I spend on Social Media, I can't help but notice how many extraordinary people are living rather ordinary lives. I keep a list of surveyors who I feel are extraordinary, both professionally and personally; individuals who are flying under the radar so to speak. Connecting with extraordinary people is always my primary objective. Because I'm learning that great things happen when great people connect. That's a winning formula for life and work. John

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