What I’ve Learned: Chip IsraelPosted 7/23/2017
CEO/Founder of Lighting Design Alliance
You are always growing and learning. As you get more experienced, you learn to do your job a lot better, and as you mature as a person you develop a better design style and learn to work with the teams better. I am lucky I work with experienced design teams, and I’ve learned to become a more collaborative partner with them because there’s compromise on every project. I’ve also learned how better to present ideas and to solve problems.
Every relationship needs strong communication. My marriage has taught me the need to communicate better. I might be thinking in entire thoughts but not articulating everything. It’s important to put down phones and technology and engage with people rather than try to do everything as ten-word sentences.
Do what’s right, even if it’s not easy or popular. My grandfather had multiple furniture companies, and watching him I learned to work very hard. More importantly, I saw that when he went into bankruptcy in the early ‘70s he still repaid all the loans, not hiding behind bankruptcy. He paid back everybody rather than passing the buck and hurting others. I’ve tried to do that through my life, and it isn’t always the most popular thing but it seems to work out for the better.
Patience is important on both sides of a relationship. My wife is very patient with me just because I do work an awful lot and have expensive hobbies with boats and cars. I take time to listen to her and do what she needs.
You can’t always predict everything. We made personal sacrifices when the recession happened and put the company more at risk than we should have, but I would do it again. You can plan and strategize, but it’s extremely difficult because the next day something could happen that stops your plan. We have metrics and strategizing, but you can’t always know what’s coming.
Value the time you have. I have to give my wife the most credit for raising our daughters, but I’ve learned a lot about support and valuing the time we do have. For example, my daughters’ volleyball is important, so I can work long hours during the week but it was a priority to be there when they needed me on the weekends.
Sometimes you need to let go. The recession about eight years ago basically stopped the economy, and we didn’t have new jobs coming in and existing jobs were closing down. We made the decision to keep people, hoping things would turn around, because we cherish our employees. Still, at one point we had to lay off five people. The response I got from all five of them was ‘why did you wait so long?’
Always lead in moving forward. I always work hard and try to develop technical skills, especially with the most recent technologies. It’s the idea of evolving, in not just lighting but in all things.
Be honest. The lighting industry is extremely small, and you have one reputation. I’d rather go and have a tough conversation and say I’ve screwed up rather than try to just cover it up later. I think people appreciate that.