Yesterday, the team at New Directions celebrated our 28th “birthday” of being in business. Long have I heard the stories of how my mother, Deb, started the business – out of her spare bedroom with a $500 loan from her mother, that from small beginnings emerged an international resource for human development. I usually think about this story once a day as the economy remains sluggish, the summer slowness creeps on and nothing seems to move before the end of the election season – the daily reminder that someone before me took an even greater leap of faith by starting a small business as a woman in the spare bedroom of her house with a $500 loan from her mother. What do I really have to complain about!
One only has to sit in a meeting or workshop with Deb to quickly realize that the mission and goal for her and New Directions has remained solid – a mission focused on the pursuit for organizational and employee excellence, a goal to provide people-centered solutions through training, development and organizational strategy.
This past year
This past year has been another year of growth and maturity for us. Some of you may have noticed that we enhanced our free offerings to our clients, customers, and well, even strangers visiting for the first time. These free offerings include tool kits, field guides, articles, compilations, samples and templates. With these free offerings we’ve tried to enhance our communication about them through social media, emails, workshop pre-reads, and the extended sections of our popular NDCBlogger email.
This year also saw another revision of the website (have you seen it yet?), continuing to build a website around the visitor by providing easy navigation to find all the resources we can physically get out to you in any given day. This includes blogs, tool kits, videos, podcasts, articles and workshops. It’s still a work in progress, but that is the neat thing about working at New Directions – we are continually in our own pursuit of excellence, never feeling that we are completely done with any one component of ourselves or our business. We are committed to seeking out the best experience for our customers on a daily basis.
Another big focus this year has been to innovate at the verge by building partnerships and relationships with many different sectors of our global community. These partnerships include the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce and working with their Entrepreneur Boot Camp program and the GenNEXT Young Professionals of Tech Valley initiative. The Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and Rensselaer Regional Chamber of Commerce continue to be new and emerging partnerships for us as well. As many of you know, this year we were honored by becoming an Influential Voice of Quality for the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and offered our readers a once-a-month blog in pursuit of quality excellence. We also continue to be active members in our local chapters for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) by offering workshops, trainings and strategic direction.
Part of our growth has also been addressing emerging hot topics within business. These topics include the emergence of social media and learning within our organizations and how to strategically apply social tools for marketing and learning opportunities. Along with new social learning, generations in the workplace continues to be one of the most interesting fields of study as the new batch of workers, millennials, are changing the work paradigm (yet again).
What’s next for New Directions
As the son of the founder, I think about these questions daily: How can we position ourselves for the work world of tomorrow? How do we stay relevant? How do we not become obsolete? How do we continue to have a culture of excellence when it comes to teaching, consulting, customer service and having fun while we do it? How in the world do I continue what Deb and her great teams throughout the years have been able to accomplish in almost 3 decades?
Defining what New Directions is and what it is not
I believe we have a staff with an amazing amount of knowledge, experience, and discipline that translates into a steady, methodical business strategy of survival. Our task will be to continue to grow that staff while sticking to our values and internal culture. This business has seen the recessions of the 80s and then in the 90s and then again in early 2000 and obviously now. I’m learning every day what to be concerned about, what not to be and how the business will unfold as it should. It’s an interesting mix of what Jim Collins calls productive paranoia, empirical creativity and 28 years of fanatic business discipline.
I believe we offer a unique set of comprehensive, custom-built, high-end products and services for the employee and organizational development field. We are at a time in our business, what I call our Apple vs. Everyone Else opportunity. We have to decide if we are a meticulously-crafted, amazingly-reliable, superior service-oriented company like Apple? Or, are we just another commodity item for mass consumption, doing the minimum to get a paycheck, going below our standard to try and partner with every possible client? I’d like us to be the first – perhaps a little more expensive, a little higher-end, but customers are overjoyed with the results once purchased and continue to come back for the greater experience of working with us.
Why New Directions will continue to matter
We are very excited about the future of New Directions. What I have come to learn in the past 3 years of working side-by-side with my mother and our team, is that our business is somewhat special and unique. People will always be at the heart of any business; they will continue to be an organization’s number one resource. Managers, supervisors and emerging leaders will continue to need skill development, high-level executives and senior leaders will continue to need an outside perspective on strategy from consultants (that cross-pollination of ideas that New Directions can provide), and customer service and product excellence will continue to drive every organization’s economic engine. We’re a company, I believe, that can come in and help many of these organizations out with our vast experience, quality of our work and fundamental core value to see our customers succeed for many years to come.
How about you?
Where would you like to see New Directions go? What new services are you interested in that we might be able to offer? What should we be preparing for in this new economy to better accommodate your needs? What great stories do you have of New Directions over the last 28 years?
On behalf of the NDC staff, thank you for your continued support, readership and friendship.
Business Development Manager