Snow & Ice Symposium keynotes cover staff, health

June 29, 2016 -  By
James Rouse, M.D., author of Eat Think gives the keynote address at the Snow & Ice Symposium June 24 in Providence, R.I.

James Rouse, M.D., author of “Think Eat Move Thrive” gives the keynote address at the Snow & Ice Symposium June 24 in Providence, R.I.

Nearly 2,000 snow and ice professionals gathered in Providence, R.I., for the 19th annual Snow & Ice Management Association’s (SIMA) Snow & Ice Symposium June 22-24.

Attendees took advantage of a staggered schedule of educational workshops, networking sessions and time on the trade show floor, which featured 146 exhibitors. One networking session, the Snack & Chat event, gave snow professionals the chance to discuss various topics over an informal lunch. The show’s education workshops included sessions on sustainable salt use, salt brine, contractual issues, business processes and much more.

“SIMA does a very good job of scheduling these events in such a way that its attendees can take full leverage of the educational programs and the exhibit hall,” said Bill Elverman, director of public relations at PKA Marketing, working with Case Construction Equipment. “It’s the best of both worlds. At a lot of other trade shows, you have to pick one or the other, and something suffers. That doesn’t happen with this show.”

SIMA also held its annual awards ceremony, where 15 awards were given. Ben Arthofer of Skyline Construction in Dubuque, Iowa, was named Employer of the Year. SIMA’s Excellence in Business awards went to Cornerstone Partners Horticultural Services in St. Charles, Ill., and Case Snow Management in North Attleborough, Mass. Rick Kier of Pro Scapes in Jamesville, N.Y., was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tour of duty

The first of two keynote speeches—both of which were highlights of the symposium—addressed labor struggles. According to speaker Ben Casnocha, co-author of “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age,” employers should rethink employees as “allies on a tour of duty.”

“We are allies whether you spend one or 10 years here,” Casnocha said, describing the conversation that needs to take place between employers and employees. “I want to help you get to where you need go. In exchange for me investing in you, you need to commit to me for a realistic amount of time.”

With an average tenure of a millennial worker at 18-24 months, holding onto a new, young employee until he or she retires is not a realistic expectation. And that’s OK, Casnocha said.

A tour of duty is an “ethical compact” between the employer and employee. It determines the specific project the employee will work on and a date the project will be completed. Once the deadline is met, the employee and employer will meet and evaluate the work. This might be the time to part ways or the time to sign the employee up for a new tour of duty, but it sets a firm date for employee evaluation. It also ensures the employer is getting the most out of an employee’s potentially short time with the company—and vice versa.

The only way to form a tour of duty-style relationship is to have honest conversations with employees that acknowledges the fact that their current job may be a stepping stone, not a dream job. That’s why Casnocha’s co-author Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of LinkedIn, asks each of his employees one question: “What job do you want after you leave LinkedIn?”

“The better I understand that, the better I can craft the tour of duty,” Casnocha said. “Honesty helps you motivate and engage employees. Give them projects they actually care about and they may just stick around.”

Self care

Great leaders take care of themselves, both physically and mentally, said James Rouse, M.D., human performance technician and author of “Think Eat Move Thrive.” And people that take care of themselves rub off on those around them.

“Taking care of yourself is social activism,” Rouse said during his high-energy keynote speech on the final day of the event. “No one wants to hear the sermon, but they want to see it.”

Self care is a shortcoming of many hard-working snow professionals, said Rouse, who grew up working at his father’s snow removal business in Vermont. While he watched his father run a successful business, he also saw a man unable to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Driving trucks and moving snow put Rouse through medical school, but the business also took a toll on his family members, many of whom suffered from poor physical and mental health and alcoholism. Rouse, whose speech emphasized “but reduction,” or removing reasons why one can’t do something, compared these genetic traits that could have plagued him to songs in a jukebox.

“You have your DNA that your parents gave you, but whether or not these songs play in your lifetime is up to you,” Rouse said.

Rouse was aware of his genetics. Instead of suffering from them, he used them as a catalyst for success and wellness by taking the necessary steps to avoid things like the wrong foods, inactivity or family parties that centered around drinking. No matter what genetics one is born with, Rouse said, the following steps can help them avoid playing the wrong songs:

  1. Keep the bed phone-free—Other than studies showing electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones disrupts sleep, starting the day by browsing a smartphone raises anxiety. Instead, before checking in for the day, Rouse suggests finding and focusing on one thing to be grateful for each morning. This simple exercise can help prevent depression and lower stress.
  2. Limit time on social media—Social comparison drives depression, and social media epitomizes social comparison. While Rouse shares the love of Facebook and Twitter, he also warns that too much time on Facebook can make serotonin plummet, causing depression and a slew of other health issues.
  3. Three minutes of morning exercise—After three minutes of calisthenics in the morning, the body starts building dopamine, the chemical that makes us feel courageous and wanted, Rouse said. Exercises as simple as jumping jacks or lunges on the way to the bathroom can raise dopamine by 300 percent.
  4. Balance blood sugar—Being too busy for lunch is antiquated behavior. Unstable blood sugar makes one less productive and less focused. Instead, Rouse stresses meal frequency, eating every three hours. Superfoods like black beans, almonds and sweet potatoes are best and can help build lean muscle and shrink the waistline.

About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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