President’s Update #2: June 30, 2021

Personal Growth within GBA

By: Tom Blackburn, P.E. G.E., F. ASCE, F. ACEC

Hi everyone,

My wife, Grace, encouraged me to write this article about our involvement with GBA and how that has impacted our family and business. We have been involved in GBA since 1994, and our kids essentially grew up with GBA and many of you know them.

Family Time is precious and passes by fast. We only have a limited amount of time to invest in any given commitment. We want the best “bang for our buck”. For us, GBA has been one of those worthwhile commitments. Why? Because it helped our whole family grow and have fun at interesting places. Our geo-profession seems to attract other people like us – people that care about their families and their profession. And people that help others.

Our Kid’s Growth

One of the most rewarding (and somewhat unexpected) impacts of GBA has been on our kids. When they were young, Grace would take them out of school, and we would attend GBA meetings together. The kids met our GBA friends and colleagues, saw us work, and explored some exciting places. We think they learned more about life and different places with us than doing their schoolwork. They also learned the value of helping your profession. They are grown up and calling their  own shots now and they have chosen to get involved in their professional communities. Donald (28) took over Grace’s role for our firm and is involved in GBA as an emerging leader. He’s also involved in ACEC-California. Amy (26) works as a pharmacist for Dignity Health and serves as president-elect for the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP). Isaac (25)  works as a materials engineer for Boeing defense and serves on Boeing’s Generation to Generation (BG2G) Events Committee. The apples don’t fall far from the tree! We love them and we are so proud of them, and appreciate GBA’s role in their growth. It was healthy for us to blur the lines between business and family.

Our Growth

So many GBA friends have impacted us and enriched our lives, it is impossible to list them all. A few impacts included:

• Constant risk avoidance advice that shaped our firm in many ways.
• Friendships that began from the spouse group that connected me to members I didn’t know.
• Heartfelt encouragement from several GBA friends with financial and corporate advice when we started Blackburn Consulting. Starting our business was intimidating in the beginning. A few hometown friends told us that we likely would not make it past 5-years! With our GBA friends’ encouragement and advice we are still going strong & transitioning our firm to the next generations!
• Peer review advice on three occasions that literally changed the way we ran our business in several areas where we had blind spots. This included advice for communications, leadership, finances/investments, marketing/business development, and business strategy.
• Spot-on ownership transition advice multiple times from multiple people.
• Excellent Story-Brand marketing advice from GBA presenter, Donald Miller, that helped us modernize and enhance our website.

GBA is Simply FUN!

We have many fond memories of GBA meetings. Like the Cancun meeting, when hurricane Roxanne rolled through on our last day and caused many of us to evacuate the Ritz and move inland to a shared classroom while it roared right through our area. One big guy stood outside our classroom door and announced to our group that it wasn’t all that bad outside, and he didn’t see why they were keeping us in there. Then, a large tree blew past him from behind. He turned around and then said, “well, I guess it’s time to come inside.” The next day, when we went back to the Ritz, the beach was gone.

Or the time in Monterey, when our kids went to our room early and fell asleep with the door chained (so security couldn’t get us in). I walked the narrow ledge of the second floor in the dark and squeezed into the partially open window. We also met and celebrated some titans of our geo-profession at that meeting.

In summary, GBA and its members have positively impacted our lives in many ways. I encourage you to get involved in GBA so you too can mine the benefits from our special 51-year-old organization.