3 Invaluable Lessons from Kent DeRusha

  1. Trust and communication matter, but listening with empathy is most important.
  2. Vision is generally not fully formed at the start of a project, it takes time and buy in.
  3. Adversity will affect your team, but if dealt with well, will make your team stronger.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Kent DeRusha about the importance of branding, why you should stand for something, and how to gain and retain the trust and business of your clients even when a project goes wrong.

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About Guest Kent DeRusha (1:10)

Kent is a Project Director for Austin Commercial, one of the largest and most diversified builders in the United States. Kent shares how he is creating his construction dream team.

Kent’s Journey to Becoming Project Director for Austin Commercial (1:54)

  1. Kent was the first college graduate in his family (2:05)
  2. He got the opportunity to work on airport projects and with rocket scientists (3:10)
  3. Kent went overseas to Qatar to work with a diverse international team made of people who spoke 21 different languages and were from 16 different countries; this project  is where he learned how important it was to have communication and listening skills (3:45)

Insights on Kent’s Greatest Strength as a Leader (4:40)

  1. Trust and communication, but most of all listening with empathy (5:00)
  2. He takes his father’s advice – two reasonable parties, equally informed, seldom disagree (5:30)

What are the High Performing Traits for Construction Leaders and Teams (6:35)

  1. Vision – You have to have a vision for your team and contribute to the vision of the project (6:44)
  2. Discipline – It is what has to occur to get a project started when there is no structure or form (9:26)
  3. Tenacity – The ability to stay with the discipline of the program (13:15)

How High Performing Traits Play Out on Projects (14:18)

True vision doesn’t just happen when the team first works together. People’s individual visions need to meld into one larger vision through discipline and tenacity.

How Can People Acquire High Performing Traits and Put them in Action (15:50)

  1. Watch and learn from others who are good examples (16:00)
  2. Congratulate others when they do well (16:10)
  3. Vision is a combined effort you have to work toward (16:25)
  4. Use discipline to create a good plan (16:45)
  5. Tenacity enables you to get through a plan and show up over and over (16:50)
  6. Teams don’t fail, they go flat (17:04)

Barriers to Implementing High Performing Traits and Creating Strong Teams (17:21)

  • Adversity plays a role, losing people whether from poor performance or illness and death on your team can lower morale
  • You have to have an obligation to one another to keep each other on track and to help each other push through difficult events as a team
  • Teams who gel together well and go through adversity together are more likely to be strong and high performing

The Biggest Challenge Kent Has Ever Faced (20:55)

Personally, when Kent was 15 he had a swimming accident and broke his neck.  After the surgery he had nine-months of recovery and he had to wear a neck brace that made him look like a geek in high school.  This experience taught him patience, self-control, and tenacity.  He “grew a thick skin” from the teasing he received.

Professionally, in Qatar he had to work in a foreign desert culture with people he never met.  He brought his American opinions and swaggered into the project and he had a hard time fitting into the business and social cultures.  He used the patience and tenacity he learned when he was a teenager to successfully get through the project.

The Best Advice Kent Has Ever Gotten (23:28)

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken – Oscar Wilde.  Ken has had several mentors. If you open your eyes, you can see that mentors are all around.

Resources for Listeners

Kent’s Favorite Piece of Tech (28:00)

Wireless, noise canceling headphones – great for on the job or on an airplane.

Contact Kent

Reach out to Kent on LinkedIn

Kent’s Parting Advice (29:30)

Try to avoid email and writing letters, call someone instead or talk to them face to face. The best experiences are face to face or on a phone call.  If you listen with empathy, you might be surprised at what you learn.

Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Why not send out this episode to your team, so they can help you. The more people you have helping – the faster you can build your Construction Dream Team. Remember…Construction Dream Team drops every Monday morning at 4 am PST. Please join us next week when Sue will interview another industry leader or expert so you can learn how to create your Construction Dream Team!

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