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A Brave New World

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By Amanda Justice

· 7 min read

We live in a brave new world. The pandemic, global tragedies, wars, economic shifts, political climate, and natural disasters have completely transformed our world especially the job market. In some cases, companies have found a way to blossom with this change and in a lot of cases companies have become dead weeds on the sidewalk.

I think if I hear one more time from our world leaders, the press or corporate executives that, "We have to think about the optics and the politics of every decision we make" I may just retire now.

Steve Jobs once said, "In weak companies politics win. In strong companies best ideas do." This has never been truer for today's environment especially with the divide we are facing in this country. What I have been impressed with are the companies using their power for good, that do the RIGHT thing regardless of politics or optics. Seeing companies stand up against Russia, racism and provide real support for LGTBQ communities, immigration rights and women's health has completely inspired me! These companies remain more focused on what is the right thing to do and what are the optics their employees see when they do the right thing. In return I believe they get loyalty, innovation, growth and a die hard, committed workforce.

As I do with everything in life, I tend over analyze! I decided to shift my thinking. I started to ask myself, "Who are the companies that have found their way through the chaos and ultimately ended up better than before?" How can I adopt this thinking and create positive change for our world? I can either do everything I can to bring that weed back to life, move to the botanical gardens or build my own damn arboretum. At this phase in my life I am choosing the gardens and my hope is that I can be that star flower in the ecosystem.

I found that a majority of the companies that are doing well financially are oil and gas, no surprise there. Greed is good, until it isn't. The obvious ones who remain consistently viable are Apple, Amazon, Cisco, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, Google, Samsung, Facebook just to name a few. Their persistent success seems to lie with a strong culture, employee cultivation and a mindset of constant innovation. It is these kinds of companies who continue to wow me through this madness, and I feel a sense of pride and loyalty for their courage.

My next thought process is what do the employees really think about working there? Some of the leaders include NVIDIA, Amazon, Cisco, Google, Adobe, Box, Linked In, HEB, ServiceNow and Microsoft are a few notables mentioned in Glass Door's top companies based on employee reviews.

So now, what is it that all of these companies have in common between financial success and employee satisfaction? Why do they prevail above the storms? If you read through the analyst reports and employee reviews, you will start to see a common threads such as:

  • Transparent and engaged leadership
  • Remote workforce and flexibility, work life balance
  • Clear roads for advancement and growth
  • Culture of diversity and inclusion
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Commitment to values, vision and mission

What I found in my research is that if a company fails in any of these areas, then there is a clear and profound impact either with growth or employee satisfaction or both. They have to nail each of these, They do not make excuses as to why they cannot achieve these pillars and they do not allow these weeds of distraction to sway them from these basic fundamentals. These principles are in their mission, vision, goals, key performance indicators, investor relations, their hiring processes and compensation plans.

I think back on each and every time I have left an organization and it is for one of these reasons and sometimes more than one. So, what is different now? I believe the power has shifted to more to the employee than ever before. Our voice is loud, strong and united. There are so many openings for smart talent that if you cannot achieve these principles, there is another company around the corner battling to dominate these fundamentals and they tend to come after your rock stars first and losing your rock stars perpetuates a company's fall.

Those who know me well know that I always try to look at both sides of the equation. If I expect companies to operate exceptionally well among these principles, then I must ensure my own principles are equally as powerful. I need to take the time to dust off my own operating fundamentals to ensure I find mutual, utopic alignment. At the end of the day if we expect our employers to adhere to these standards, so should we. With that in mind here is what I have come up with to adapt to this new, crazy world we are in now and there is no excuse why I cannot achieve these basic principles:

  1. Never forget the importance of work life balance. You work to live NOT to live to work. Family first, always.
  1. My time will be focus on the highest value of service to my internal and external stakeholders. Don't be squirreling!
  1. I will listen to understand versus listening to respond.
  1. Every day, I will keep the dial moving. Make meaningful, measurable, value-based progress daily.
  1. Everything I do will be inclusive to all aspects of solving the problem ahead and demonstrating respect to diversity of thought and solutioning to solve that problem.
  1. Make time to grow others and grow myself. Ensure I set the example of transparency, inclusion and engagement with everyone I work with.
  1. Make real, meaningful connections that will last a lifetime. Avoid the negative, build people up.

While I believe these have been innate principles for myself for the last two decades, I know that there is always room for improvement.

I am now headed into a new, adventurous chapter of my life. My partner and I are headed off for a year or so in our Class A motorhome to see our great country. So, as I explore options that will accommodate this grand adventure, I will never forget the amazing, crazy smart people with whom I have had the privilege to work with over the years and I take that love with me in this new journey ahead. It is always so heart breaking to say goodbye, but I know I am a better human in this world because of them and they will never be far away.

I consider the wise words from my son who helped me think through my next steps, "You are old but wise Mom, so go somewhere that you can share that wisdom, solve problems, always be willing to learn something new and you will not fail".

I feel like I can finally take all this blood, sweat, tears and transform myself, truly grow others, learn new things and solve many different challenges facing our world more quickly than I ever could before. It's been too long that I have sold myself short on the gifts I can give, the gifts I receive and I know I need to make the right choices on who I choose to share and receive these gifts with.

The whole point of this blog was primarily therapeutic for me as I am not a fan of change, but we have to always challenge our thinking at what is most important right here, right now. I wanted to share a little about my process that is helping me decide the right next step for me. I think a great way of doing this is to dust off your own principles, re-examine what is important to you and ensure that where you spend your time cultivates positive growth and values. You must ensure that your principles align to your prospective employers and pull the weeds of distraction like politics, optics, negative thinking and "alternative truths". This world is what we choose to make it and our first step is changing our perspective and being brave enough to change. Wish me luck!

This article is also published on the author's blog. Illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Amanda Justice is the Principal Executive Enterprise Architect at ServiceNow where she develops energy and utility solutions.

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