Back from Sabbatical

For those familiar with sabbaticals and the Old Testament origins of the term, you know that every seven years, Jews in the land of Israel are expected to take a year-long break from working in the fields.  In modern times, sabbaticals are most often associated with colleges and universities, where professors often take a semester or two off every seven years to research a topic of interest.  However, sabbaticals have found their way into the business world as well.  A good friend of mine has worked at Intel for over 20 years, and every seven years he has been afforded eight weeks of paid sabbatical to go off and recharge his batteries before returning to the hectic world of high tech.

Why my interest in sabbaticals?  Well, setting aside the fact that I believe strongly in them as a mechanism to allow valued employees to pursue personal interests for a material chunk of time (climb Mt. Everest, teach a class at one’s alma mater, volunteer full-time at a summer camp, travel across the country in a motor home one last time with the kids, etc.), more to the point, I have been on one from this blog for almost exactly seven years.   And I think that’s long enough.

What have I been up to these past seven years?  A lot.  I spent four tremendous years helping a New Zealand-based company gain a foothold in the US auto collision repair market.  Our team rolled out a transformative electronic marketplace which allows body shops to buy collision parts efficiently and profitably.  The beachhead firmly established, I then returned to the disaster restoration industry nearly three years ago by joining BELFOR, the world’s largest and most capable restoration firm.  I have helped the team continue to grow the business in manner that is the envy of our peers.

As you might surmise, much has changed in the disaster restoration industry over the last seven years, but as the saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Our industry continues to struggle with the same issues that it has for decades, though additional issues have popped up.  The good news is that there remain dedicated professionals who are committed to doing their best to address those issues for the benefit of all.

Along this vein, my last post in April 2012 encouraged industry stakeholders to attend the second meeting of the Property Insurance Conference, or PIC on April 15, 2012.  The PIC was created in January 2012 with the express purpose of bringing all parties from across the industry to the table on a regular basis to collaboratively discuss difficult issues facing the industry and seek common ground solutions to them.  And when solutions couldn’t be found, to at least create a greater understanding amongst all parties as to why the other parties behaved the way they did.  It’s very hard to vilify another party (as some are wont to do) when those parties come to the table and discuss their perspectives openly and in good faith.

I’m sad to say that the PIC died a rapid death shortly after I left the industry in May 2012, but I’m just as excited that the concept was resurrected as the Property Insurance and Restoration Conference (PIRC) in October 2016.  We are now seven(!) meetings into the new forum structure and I am excited with the progress being made.

For Bob Newhart fans, you know that arguably the greatest television series finale in history occurred when Bob woke up beside Suzanne Pleshette (his wife on the Bob Newhart Show) at the conclusion of the Newhart show, telling her that he’d just had the weirdest dream.   Well I feel about the same way about this blog.  When I ‘fell asleep’ seven years ago, I had just encouraged people to attend the PIC in Orlando in April 2012.  And now, as I return to my writing seven years later, I am encouraging people to attend the next PIRC in Frisco, TX on June 27, 2019.

I am delighted to be recharged.

One response to “Back from Sabbatical

  1. Welcome back – guess we should call this the Rip Van Winkle blog. Thanks for your insight and contributions – keep them coming.

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