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Business Strategy
Industry Expertise
Workplace Culture

Something Special

I recently found myself in a conversation with a wise businessperson, also close friend, who challenged me with the comment, “But your business doesn’t sell something special”. As context, he was comparing my technology professional services firm, LABUR, to the well-marketed, world-changing, secret sauce in AI platforms, or name another hot tech, dubbed to be the next unicorn in the technology revolution.
These conversations always intrigue me, demanding I do my best to not be defensive (easier said than done), as well as cogitate on the outside perspective and what I can surmise. Of course, me, like many, want to be selling something special. And, me, like many, work in an industry that is vital to the world economy, but not marketed with the world-changing bravado you might see from the myriad technology startups these days. Our conversation ended but my internal dialogue continued as I reflected on his comment.
As I sat in our bullpen listening to my colleagues actively serving our portfolio of work, my introspection was interrupted by one of my Sales Associates who shared a success story from one of our client stakeholders. The exact quote from the client was, “You all have built me an EDI Dream Team.” I felt myself overcome by this testimonial. Mind you, this August represents a quarter century milestone for me in professional services, more than half my life. My point being, I have heard numerous testimonials over those many years, but this one came at a special time.  And, upon hearing this great testimonial, the word “special” lit up in my head like a game show, as if I had guessed the final clue in Wheel of Fortune.
The first notion of special was the reference to EDI, a technology that many said wouldn’t survive the 90’s before being replaced with more modern technology. And yet, its standardization has withstood the test of time, very much like my interior designer friends speak of shag carpet and natural wood. As they say, “If it ain’t broke…” There is something special about serving client stakeholders and consultants in an arena that is not leading nor bleeding edge, but rather tried and true. In a world of new technology that promises new advancements and new efficiencies, old school can be refreshing. I still threaten to make my staff sit with me and go through my rolodex, 25 years of heavy stock business cards; old school can be refreshing, indeed.
The second notion of “special” was the reference to a Dream Team, so many sports memories came to mind. Ultimately, sports aside, the reference to a Dream Team is the highest accolade one can pay. It struck me as very special that a client stakeholder described their appreciation for our value with that esteemed reference, a testament to our EDI Consultants, and their Sales and Delivery colleagues who support them. We’ve built many a Dream Team in my tenure, across many different technology platforms and business domains, but this client called it such, unsolicited.
As I wrapped my day, I reflected on this concept of “special” once again. I concluded that our work in professional services is unlikely to be seen with the same level of flashiness as the newest technology. However, the special secret sauce here at LABUR lies in the human intervention with technology, the deep human relationships it takes to communicate and execute on how technology will enable better business outcomes. So, technology will change, and many new promises will come along, but the human involvement will be the tried and true element. I’m grateful for my friend’s comment and challenge, it made me reflect, and it kept the special nature of what we do in front of me. The human business is special, indeed.