Cause A Disturbance

skipping stone.1Several weeks ago I attended a BOMA luncheon. This was BOMA’s annual meeting in which several people are  invited to speak on the “state of the economy” as it relates to property managers and  owners. The invitees are mainly Brokers and make up the panel to present their predictions. This year the panel was bit different from past years. This panel consisted of one-Broker, one-sustainability representative, and one investor; a refreshing approach. The Q&A was also different; rather than “lots of stats” the conversation was centered on sustainability and investment and very little statistical information.

I always try to walk away from any event with something that I will benefit from or makes me better. For me, the highlight of this event was something the investor said in his presentation. He said, “investors always invest in things that cause disturbances”.  This resonated with me and I have since challenged myself and the Customized Team to step out of the box of routine thinking and to be a disturbing force!


What I CAN Change 

  • You can’t change your entire life, you can only change your next action
  • You can’t change a relationship with a loved one, you can only change your next interaction
  • You can’t change your entire job, you can only change your next task
  • You can’t change your body composition, you can only change your next meal
  • You can’t change your fitness level, you can only start moving
  • You can’t de-clutter your entire life, you can only choose to get rid of one thing right now
  • You can’t eliminate your entire debt, you can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item
  • You can’t change the past, or control the future, you can only change what you are doing now
  • You can’t change everything, you can only change one, small thing…and that’s all it takes


This excerpt, taken from Mike Robbins’ weekly blog was one I thought worth passing on. He said it came from a friend as an email and I’ll admit that if I had received it as an email, I’m guessing I would have missed it as I delete almost all forwards without even a look.

I’m glad that he didn’t miss it and printed it in his blog. It made me think. I’ve been guilty of the “grand gesture” winning out many times in my life, but, when you get right down to it….the next step really is the only one we can take. And, the one that matters the most. So, I wish you success in every change you undertake….one step at a time!

If you’d like to see the entire post by Mike Robbins, check this link to his Appreciation in Action column:

Microfiber: What Is It? And, Why Is It So Effective at Removing Soil?

When I first researched microfiber for a presentation approximately 5 years ago, I performed an internet search and there were over 1 million hits. Just for fun I typed “microfiber” into Bing today and it listed 84,500,000 choices!  Wow!  And, today as then, the entries range from apparel to furniture and LOTS of cleaning applications.

In VERY simple terms, microfiber is a TINY synthetic fiber that appears “exploded” if you view under a microscope. Due to all the available surfaces, it picks up particulate matter and hangs on like the harpoon hooks work on velcro.  The illustration below is my favorite to demonstrate the difference between a microfiber and a cotton fiber moving over a surface to remove soil.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so there you go.

For many years we have used “rags” in the cleaning industry with varying degrees of effectiveness.  While a case for the “reuse” component of rags could be made, microfiber outperforms and outlasts these remnants – staggering differences.   In a study conducted by Daniels Associates, the bacteria count on restroom counter surfaces was reduced by 96% when implementing microfiber cloths and disinfectant. 

The cloths are typically expected to last from 500 to 1500 commercial wash cycles depending on the quality of the microfiber.  I don’t know about you, but, my cotton jeans certainly don’t have much oomph left after those numbers of washings!

Microfiber cloths and mops are frequently seen as components of “green” cleaning programs, and, while they are a synthetic product, they are incredibly effective at soil removal and allow us to use less chemical product to effectively clean surfaces.  Less chemical use along with non-disposable wipes are contributors to a green program.  The cloths are easily cleaned, don’t harbor bacteria and absorb 7-9 times their weight in liquid.  When the “pro’s” are weighed with the “con’s” it’s no wonder that “microfiber” together with “cleaning” account for so many of the internet search findings.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Here’s a Top 5 List of concepts that were NOT in the custodial contractor’s vocabulary just a few short years ago.

5.  Green.   About the only thing I remember being green was the color of butyl degreasers .  These cleaners  were also very unfriendly to the environment and to those who used them.   Thankfully, today we have Green buildings, Green companies, and even Green degreasers!

4.    Eco-Friendly.   Most of our paper products, i.e., paper towels, toilet tissue, facial tissue, were purchased based solely on the look and feel (and price).  Products were bleached to a bright white and there was little or no recycled content.  Trash can liners were thick, virgin resin and there was no thought to a biodegradable product.

All the major paper and some can liner companies today boast products with published and certified eco-friendly content.

3.    Low odor/Low VOC.   Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are compounds which contain carbon (organic) and readily evaporate or vaporize.  Most of the smelly chemicals our industry was notorious for using emitted LOTS of these.  Floor finish and strippers, degreasers, and solvents, and paint, were in everyday use until awareness was increased and low odor and low voc products became available.

Today’s contractor has great choices on low odor, low fragrance, low voc chemical systems.  Closed delivery systems also make them even safer as all of the “mixing” is done with equipment rather than pouring or glugging.

2.    Indoor Air Quality.  Right on the heels of the VOC issue, indoor air quality was rarely addressed.  We vacuumed our way out the door and the vacs we used had such poor filtration that we potentially added a layer of dust as the last act of cleaning.  Never mind that we dusted surfaces earlier in the cleaning process along with emptying the trash.  We used cleaning products with strong fragrance, deodorizers that were designed to mask rather than neutralize odors, merely inserting a strong perfume on top of an unpleasant odor.

Indoor Air Quality is routinely a topic of discussion for building designers, owners and occupants.  High filtration vacuums, cleaning cloths that pick up and remove dust and soil, low or no fragrance products, neutralizing deodorants all play a pivotal role in enhancing a facility’s indoor air quality.

1.  Sustainable. A responsible approach to using natural resources….huh?  Rarely was a thought given to the conservation of water or energy.   Times do change.  With effective maintenance systems and programs we also work to preserve building assets.  If you actually get the 10 – 15 years that a carpet is designed to give rather than the carpet “uglying out” before it’s time due to careless or improper maintenance, we have contributed to sustainability.

Living a Balanced Life – Time Management

Our “theme” this month is innovation and change; Check  the post entitled “When in Rome, Don’t Do as the Romans Do.”  Today’s viewpoint might actually spur some thoughts toward a CHANGE for you Type A’s out there:

The primary thought here is that if we get really good at time management, we might actually have more time for relaxation and the “fun” of life.  Of course, this can backfire for those of us who truly don’t know when to stop working.  More hours in my day?  More hours to get things done!  So, at its core, the concept of balance has to be embraced!  Let’s just say we do agree that it would be desirable to have more balance, or, more hours to relax, unwind, exercise, watch a movie, etc.

One of my favorite business writers, Jeffrey Gitomer, has this to say about time management:

“Time management – what’s important now?

Lessons in time management are pretty much a waste of time.  You know what to do.  You even know when to do it.  What you need is a lesson in procrastination.  Or lessons in higher self-image.  Or a lesson in fear of rejection.  Or a lesson in preparation.  Those lessons will allow you to execute the things that in your own mind you believe you, “don’t have time for,” but in reality you are just avoiding them.”

One of the traits I like so much about this writer’s style is that he’s blunt, to the point, excuses nothing and accepts no excuses.  Of course, there are days I would rather protest that he’s wrong, that, in fact, I just have TOO MUCH TO DO.  No amount of time management would help?  But, then I read the one about preparation again, and, yes, I do take some time ramping up when I don’t have an adequate plan.  Or, I can add one more…..when I don’t know HOW to do something, I procrastinate and the entire time management cycle is thrown off and slowed down if not stopped while I dither and get distracted by whatever is in front of me that I DO know how to accomplish.

Customized Intern, Aurora Velez, did some research on the topic and she offers these three “Quick Tips” for breaking the cycle, using time more effectively and “moving toward the activities you enjoy”.

Quick Tip #1

Write down all your goals for the Next Day the previous night

Quick Tip #2

Turn off all electronic devices and communication.  Just use what you really need to accomplish your task;  paper, computer, etc.

Quick Tip #3

Set a schedule for all your work tasks and do not stop until you have completed each task – no cheating – one task at a time

A balanced life leads to a healthier you!

When in Rome, DON’T do as the Romans Do!

Last year brought us to the clear realization that THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE! That has a great deal to do with the current Presidential Administration and those who can affect change on that level.  However, we do have great influence over our small piece of the world.

Many companies reacted by downsizing and rightsizing to reduce costs and save money.   We, however, chose not to focus on the weakened economy and the negative impact it caused.  Instead, we channeled our resources towards the future.  Rather than deviate from our strategic model of delivering high-level service and growth, we chose to maintain our staffing levels and invested in new talent to help position ourselves for the next wave of positive business.  Internally, we are asking hard questions, managing costs more effectively, communicating more and more effectively than ever before.

From one very innovative young  property manager  we heard,  “I’m doing everything I’ve been doing differently,” and in her case it meant showing space in a mixed-use project after work hours and on weekends.  She has filled her buildings.

A New Year, a New Decade, a New Mantra……When in Rome, DON’T do as the Romans Do!