Sharing My Super Power With You

Jim Mumford, AKA the Eco-Warrior Photoshop artwork by Theodore Mumford
Jim Mumford, AKA the Eco-Warrior Photoshop artwork by Theodore Mumford

Jim Mumford, AKA the “Eco-Warrior.” Photoshop artwork by Theodore Mumford

Mary Golden of the Golden Group recently interviewed me for a Plantscaping industry blog, and the result was published earlier this week. It gave me an opportunity to talk about some of my favorite topics, the same ones I write about here: Biophilia, innovations in living walls like the spectacular wall in the Birmingham, Alabama airport, and the future of our business.

Mary asked me a question I didn’t expect: What is your super power? I gave her this answer: “It’s a combination – being engaged in; my industry, the community, developers, architects and designers, paying attention, watching for opportunity and perseverance. And if I hear “no” or “that can’t be done” it means I try harder. I don’t give up easily.”

People who know me would agree I’m stubborn. They would say it’s more like bull headed. I like perseverant but I’ll accept “determined.”

It’s the other part of the answer I want to focus on. This is a super power anyone can put to use. It amazes me how few people do. Wouldn’t you want a super power at your fingertips if you could?

Being “engaged” is as natural to me as breathing, but after many years of working and supporting the Plantscaping industry, architects, landscape architects, designers and being an advocate for green building and sustainability and the livability of San Diego, I know those of us who get involved are in the minority.

Jim Mumford of Good Earth Plant Company gives a presentation at the 2016 Tropical Plants Industry Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jim Mumford of Good Earth Plant Company gives a presentation at the 2016 Tropical Plants Industry Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There are so many benefits to becoming involved in your industry and the organizations for professionals in your field. In my case, this includes groups like the American Society of Landscape Architects, Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, Green Plants for Green Buildings, the San Diego Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, American Horticultural Society, and these are just a few.

For investing a few hours and a few dollars a month by supporting whatever organizations are relevant in your world by attending events, going to a trade show now and then, offering to lead a seminar or write an article, or even participate in the boring administrative tasks, here’s what you get.

*         You get to stay current and learn about the latest trends and products, which means your clients will also benefit from the latest innovations.

*         You become a thought leader and an expert by sharing your own expertise on a professional level.

*         You get to find out about best practices from colleagues who are smarter than you.

*         You gain insight about the challenges of your business and how to solve common problems.

*         Your fellow professionals become familiar with you and your work. When they are in a position to make a recommendation, you will be at the top of their list. And vice versa when you aren’t quite right for an assignment, but someone else is.

After nearly 40 years of doing all this, I still see the same group of people pitching in. I know people are busy, but we’re all busy these days. Honestly if you don’t have enough passion for what you do to be engaged in your industry, how good are you at what you do, really?  If you are going to devote your life to a business or a particular area of expertise, why wouldn’t you do everything you could to improve your own skills by giving up a little bit of time to support the organizations and networks working to improve your industry?

Here is a recent example. Good Earth Plants was asked to provide a proposal to install a large green wall of artificial plants and preserved moss for a client on the east coast. Our bid was significantly higher than a local company. Why? As it turns out, the information I learned just last month about the availability of inherently fire retardant (IFR) faux plants from one of our suppliers that comply with code requirements in hospital settings turned out to be the winning edge.

Our competitor didn’t have a clue how important this was to the client. Had the client taken the cheaper route and gone with the lower bid, it would have been exposed to a huge potential liability. Pay now – or pay later.

I admit once in a while the last thing I want to do is get up early to go to a breakfast meeting, or go to a program after a long work day. When I travel out of town to Plantscaping industry trade shows, it means all the work I left behind will be waiting when I get back. But when I get to the destination, I get to talk to and network with developers, architects, designers and plantscapers just as excited as I am about all the possibilities for our industry, bringing plants and nature into peoples’ lives. Sometimes I get to meet horticulturists and scientists working on cutting edge research which eventually will bring good things to my clients.

Afterward I’m re-energized, and eager to put all this new information to work. Still having that kind of energy after 40 years, there has to be some kind of super power at work to make it happen!