A New Year’s Suggestion: Resolve to master some aspect of construction technology

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This time of year people are thinking about starting a diet and exercise program, understandably. But instead of self-improvement, what about making a resolution to improve your business or your craft?

If  you are in the construction business and looking for an edge, there is no better time to start than now and no better year than 2020. I’m talking about learning more about construction technology and doing so at this year’s two major trade shows: the World of Concrete, February 2 to 7; and ConExpo, March 10 to 14. Both shows are in Las Vegas. (You can see a collection of previews of major OEM booths coming to ConExpo 2020 by clicking here.)

At the last ConExpo (2017), I was shocked at how big the booths were and how much space construction software companies occupied in the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall. Less than 10 years ago most of these companies didn’t exist and the ones that did typically worked out of those tiny 10-by-10-foot booths on the margins of the show. Today they are major players at the show and in this industry.

Since ConExpo only comes around every three years, this is a major opportunity for anybody who wants to get better organized, more efficient, more profitable and improve their business.

But a software shopping trip to Las Vegas once every three years is not enough when it comes to learning more about technology to improve your business. The late Pettus Randall Jr., who founded Randall-Reilly, the company that publishes Equipment World, once told us that if you read for an hour every day consistently on one subject, at the end of a year, you’ll be knowledgeable, if not an expert. Don’t believe me? Do the math. An hour a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year equals 250 hours of study.

James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” and Charles Duhigg in “The Power of Habit” have written about how tiny changes in habits over a long period create big results. Don’t try to lose weight, learn Spanish and memorize the Constitution all at once. Just dedicate 30 or 60 minutes a day to learning more about a certain technology or software platform – online, in books or magazines, through YouTube, whatever media floats your boat – but do it every day.

And incidentally, something I discovered to improve retention is to spend the last five minutes of that time writing down what you learned that day. Keep a dated journal of the knowledge acquired. You don’t have to write an essay. One sentence is sufficient. Three sentences is more than enough. This is just to jog your memory. Repetition is the key to learning.

But make it a resolution. Spend time researching and gathering information at the technology booths at the trade shows this spring. And also note that Trimble hosts its Dimensions Conference this fall; Topcon has contractor events planned for this year, and most construction software companies offer user conferences as well. 2020 is the best opportunity you will have in a long time to improve your game. Make it a habit.