Grade Yourself

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
-Teddy Roosevelt

When was the last time you took a test and earned a grade?

I’ve been on Army Reserve Annual Training for the last few weeks teaching West Point cadets (Go Army!), and it’s been a reminder of how intensive the course work is. Over the 3.5 weeks of class, the cadets had 4 graded homework assignments, 2 graded tests, a final group project presentation, and a final exam – intense!!  

I am teaching what could arguably be the most motivated and highest caliber group of students in the country, and if teaching these students virtually is REALLY challenging, how does anyone teach in a less motivated virtual environment?!? I honestly don’t know how our teachers got through the last year, but I salute all of them. 

But, while reflecting on the last few weeks, I realized how long it’s been since I had a “graded performance.” Sure, I am critical of myself and reflect on how I did in a meeting, a podcast, or a project deliverable on any given day or week. Still, it’s different than receiving an associated grade with that event or project.

This week we had MCFA quarterly conversations, and in the spirit of school, I asked our team to grade themselves on how well they did on their quarterly priorities. Surprisingly, it led to much different conversations than what would usually ensue during these reviews. We usually focus on “did we accomplish this or that,” and “if not, why?” But giving ourselves a grade really made the conversations critical – in a productive manner – of how we really did. 

So, I challenge you this week to stop criticizing yourself and start grading yourself – and your team – on roles, responsibilities, and the big “projects” or “events,” like proposals, project deliverables, and meetings. Criticizing ourselves leads to negative self-talk, whereas grading ourselves leads to better preparation. 

BJ Kraemer, President

Inspiring People & Places: Episode 17

Title: “Teaching in the New World”

Episode Summary: BJ and Mike discuss the challenges of teaching in the new world, and how it’s affecting the way content is delivered in classrooms and organizations.

Host: BJ Kraemer, MCFA

Special Guest: Mike Steadman, IRONBOUND Media

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Click here to listen on Spotify.

Click here to listen online.

MCFA Celebrates Park & Recreation Month!

Since 1985, July has been celebrated as Park and Recreation Month!

MCFA recognizes the importance of parks and recreation in our communities and the experiences they provide. In honor of Park and Recreation Month 2021, MCFA highlights our Shepherdsville Park Master Plan completed for the city of Shepherdsville, Kentucky, in 2019.

MCFA created a Park Master Plan for the city’s underutilized and under-appreciated 130-acre park located in Shepherdsville, KY – a quaint city located 30 miles south of Louisville. Considered a verdant open space, the park connects residential, commercial, and civic areas of Shepherdsville and Bullitt County to the Salt River. Due to recent economic development at the time, residential and commercial needs in the surrounding areas began to shift and grow.

MCFA evaluated existing site conditions and programmatic use of Shepherdsville Park and the Salt River waterfront. The project team also analyzed the vehicular circulation and parking, including a parking space inventory and how pedestrian circulation would be affected by proposed changes. Transportation to nearby neighborhoods and community facilities were also studied, and opportunities for future links to surrounding parklands and forests were defined. MCFA also addressed waterfront access points to allow access to the Salt River and did flora and fauna surveys to mitigate any environmental concerns related to proposed projects.

Our team is grateful to have worked on such an important project and encourages everyone to get out to their local park and have some FUN this summer!

Mission, Meaning & Memories – Pt. 2

Last week, we ended with a teaser…did it work? If you didn’t read last week, you can check it out here. Part 2 is below…happy reading!

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
-Steve Jobs

I don’t remember everything from my graduation day at West Point, but I do remember the late Donald Rumsfeld was our speaker, and I remember him challenging my graduating class with a quote from the bible, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)

That line has both inspired me and haunted me over the last decade or so. 

“To whom much is given, much is required.” 

It has driven me to do more than I thought possible, but it has also drowned me at times in a mixture of PTSD and survivor’s guilt. It has inspired me to action, but it has imprisoned me with anxiety. And if you are thinking about me the way I thought about myself, I get it. 

How could this guy struggle?  

I have everything anyone could ever want or need from this world, a family who loves me, supports me, holds me accountable, and allows me to thrive. A mother who prayed for me and a father who pushed me – both loving me and cheering for me the entire way. Siblings who laughed with me and looked up to me. A beautiful wife who has loved me through the highs of accomplishment and the lows of panic attacks. Kids who make me want to be a better version of myself every day. Professionally, a business partner who saw more in me at times than I could see in myself, and a team that has pushed me, taught me, followed me, and delivered for me.   

How could I struggle? And if I am struggling, how do the people who have no support system survive?  

I have everything anyone could want from life, and yet…I struggled.  

War is a scary thing, and the mind of man can be scarier. Over the last decade, I have seen classmates commit suicide, and former soldiers fall victim to drugs and alcohol. Classmates struggle to find a job or a place in the civilian world, and soldiers who were so scarred by war that they scared their families away. In moments of reflection, I always wonder, how can I help? I have volunteered for veterans’ organizations, and I have donated to the downtrodden. I have tried to bring awareness, understanding and open minds to people who may not understand…some I helped and some I couldn’t. It doesn’t seem to make a dent.  

But to whom much is given, much is required.

So today, I am declaring that we – those on the MCFA team, those with who this message resonates, and those who want to work for us or partner with us – are here to make a dent in the universe.  

I am announcing a renewed 10-year vision at MCFA. MCFA is committed to making the world a better place by investing in transitioning military veterans to become leaders in the construction, engineering, architectural and real estate development professions. Through this, we will inspire and transform a new generation of leaders in both the public and private sectors to continue to serve our nation.  We have a goal over the next 10 years to:

  1. Train 1000 transitioning veterans for jobs in the A/E/C and real estate development industry, for service in the public and private sectors – and hiring 100 of them to support our clients.
  2. Interview 1000 Entrepreneurial Public Servants on Inspiring People & Places podcast and partner with 100 of them to impact public service, stewardship of tax dollars, and innovate delivery in the development and construction industry for the next generation.
  3. Invest in and develop 1000 units of veteran housing (with first floor shared office/training space to incubate and launch 10 veteran businesses).
  4. Last but not least, donate 10% of all profits to our Philanthropic Arm, the Friendly Strife Foundation, to give back to Veteran-focused and Veteran-operated missions, initiatives, non-profits and businesses committed to serving the greater good.  

At MCFA, we are on a mission to inspire people and places to make the world a better place. With our team, partners and network, we will make these goals a reality and put a dent in the universe.  

We have a big, audacious and meaningful mission in front of us. If you want to have fun, work hard, make memories and create meaning in the world, let’s talk.  

To whom much is given, much is required.

BJ Kraemer, President