My name is Gavin Wingate Bowie. For over a decade, I have been a partner at Wingate Hughes, a leading architecture firm in Washington, DC, focused on design of premier office space.
Our firm was struggling with stagnation on many levels. Although we had a steady flow of work, we had difficulty completing the work quickly, profitably and to quality standard. Our staff turnover was excessive, resulting in a drain of knowledge base, overwork for remaining staff, and a high cost of sourcing and hiring new talent. The impact was exhaustion, as well as an inability to delegate effectively while maintaining excellence, and a feeling of being on the hamster wheel.
As leaders, we had become bottlenecks in our business, working far too hard and living with all the resulting stress. The challenge of keeping pace with growth became overwhelming, and our partnership became very strained. The frustrating thing was that we knew that our firm had all the fundamentals to elevate, regain our success, and grow beyond.
Suddenly we faced the market challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, when overnight the very last priority at most companies was design and construction of new office space, resulting in a staggering drop in demand for our service. And yet, we needed to maintain staff to complete works already under way. Because of the structure of our billing cycle, this became daunting and unpredictable. Despite limited government support through PPP, we faced a potentially devastating cash flow crunch.
As an avid reader of business fundamentals and inspiration, I initially believed that we could continue to bootstrap ourselves through the next phase of recovery and growth. “Consultants,” in my prior experience, were paid overly well to repackage hackneyed information that is readily available by reading any of myriad titles available in the press. Yet, we had reached the stage where I knew we needed help.
We had met a few other consultants who reinforced my initial beliefs, and were completely uninspiring. Yet I knew we must change course or die: our choice was to go big or go home. At just that moment, I was introduced to Johan by a fellow entrepreneur. Upon our initial meeting, my partner and I both immediately felt Johan, more than simply a business mechanic, was a true mentor. He was the man who could help us go big, and we were impressed by his track record of success. Working with Johan has proved to be a game-changing, eye-opening experience.
Information was not what was holding us back. We did not need to know more about how to do our work. There was no magic key to success out there that we didn’t know about.
What we did need was trusted, effective, clear and actionable guidance enabling us to double down on leadership, our management, and our organization. We needed to get the business properly organized with a fully developed and shared vision. We needed to distill that knowledge into a relevant strategic plan, apply improved leadership skills to a properly documented process, and achieve results through selecting, developing and empowering the right team.
Following Johan’s guidance, we were able to achieve consistent results, and now the business is on track. His mentorship, when matched with our diligence, perseverance and effort, is resulting in profitable, efficient and sustainable operation, delivering better work for a higher caliber of client.
What I realized through that process, however—which would never have happened without Johan’s guidance—is that I had become trapped in the wrong business, for the wrong reasons. My role was no longer the right fit, and I had become stagnant, unfulfilled, and depleted. I knew that I was now ready to invent my new future.
Under Johan’s tutelage and encouragement, I negotiated an exit and we restructured our business. I developed a new-and-improved business and life plan which gives me energy and which I am excitedly undertaking. The new business is now launched, with phase one up and running, with a vivid vision and a solid plan for the future.
What surprised me about working with Johan is that we worked together as much on me as a person as we did on the business. What I had wanted was a mechanic to fix the flaws that I perceived in my business. He was able to see through and beyond my short-sightedness and cause me to elevate my thinking. Together we succeeded in navigating my business through the pandemic, and he helped me open my mind to other bigger possibilities.
I haven’t looked back.