A Note from ENTOUCH CEO: We Admire Resilience, But We Pay For Excellence.
While brainstorming with a team member on a message to our customers, we arrived at a theme focused on resilience. After all, if we had demonstrated anything in 2020, we had demonstrated that we were resilient. We had weathered an economic and public health storm like no other. The ENTOUCH team and our customers had stood shoulder to shoulder demonstrating that our businesses and our people were resilient in the face of the strongest test. Interestingly, a newer team member agreed that we had been resilient, but “so what?” He went on, “our customers are probably happy that we’re resilient, but they don’t pay for resilience, they pay for excellence.”
At first, I was taken aback. We had spent nearly a year celebrating our resilience, and, as parents, mentors, coaches, and leaders, some of us had spent lifetimes heralding the nobility of resilience. The press and social media are rife with messages celebrating the resilience of our heroes of 2020. But – “so what?” So what if we are resilient if we are not also excellent. It’s harsh, but it’s true. In the context of what we do, our profession, or our calling, resilience isn’t simply enough.
When we celebrate our front-line healthcare workers, we don’t simply celebrate their resilience. We celebrate their resilience while still delivering the best healthcare on the planet. We are impressed and compassionate that the ICU nurse shows up day after day, week after week, to care for our friends, neighbors, and loved ones during a pandemic. But, we are awestruck that they continue to deliver the same level of care, if not even better, today as they did on day one. They have been resilient and excellent.
As an amateur cyclist, I participated in a Gran Fondo several years ago. Gran Fondo is simply a fancy way for cyclists to refer to an organized ‘big ride.’ We’re an odd group and need fancy names for common things. Anyway, we rode from Austin, TX to Dallas, TX, over two days – essentially 100 miles a day. It was fall, and we should have had mild temperatures and a tailwind making the ride fairly easy. Instead, as a cold front barreled in from the north, we had near-freezing temperatures, a headwind, and drizzling rain. It was the most miserable two days I have spent on a bike. With over 70 miles to go on the second day, I was shivering uncontrollably, bordering on hypothermia, and unsure if we would (maybe I) could make it to Dallas. After a brief stop, I warmed up, drank some coffee, put on a dry jacket, and soldiered on to Dallas with the group. I was resilient. I was not excellent.
On any given day in the Tour de France, the pinnacle of professional cycling, the riders endure freezing temperatures, drizzling rain, massive climbs, dangerous descents, 150+ mile routes, and they do this for 21 days over a 23-day period. Nearly 200 riders will start the race, and only 80% of them will actually finish the race. That’s correct 20% of the best cyclists in the world won’t even finish the race. After 21 days of resilience, we recognize the cyclist who demonstrated the highest performance amongst his peers while being tested to his very limit. They must be resilient, but, in the end, we only truly celebrate the excellence of the winner. We don’t “pay” for resilience we pay for excellence. Again, it may sound harsh, but it’s true.
To be certain, resilience in the face of a great challenge is to be admired and is a requirement to achieve real excellence. When I reflect on 2020, the ENTOUCH team was exceptionally resilient, but we were also remarkably excellent. In March, we laid out a path that required us to thread a needle to achieve short-term financial stability and long-term success. Today we are days away from completing the most profitable year in our history, we surpassed 1 Billion kWh saved for our customers and won business that will ensure 2021 will surpass 2020 from both a revenue and profitability standpoint. More importantly, as our customers were forced to shed resources, we stepped in and filled gaps to ensure their operations continued uninterrupted. During one of our largest deployments of the year, at the peak of the pandemic, our newest customer remarked, “this is the smoothest, most successful technology deployment I have ever been a part of.” We were resilient and excellent.
Resilience is enough when we are being rewarded for simply participating. However, our customers expect and pay for excellence. That’s what we must all demand of ourselves and deliver even in the most difficult times.
ENTOUCH Chief Executive Officer