Okay, January is the time of year to make New Year's resolutions, so I would like to offer some resolutions for electrical contractors. I promise that they will be more than the two most popular New Year's resolutions: getting organized and losing weight. These ideas won't force you into a guilt-induced trip to Organized Living to fill a shopping basket with Day Planners, a new filing system or new shelving to organize your office, basement or garage or cajole you into trying a “revolutionary” new diet to drop any extra weight accumulated during the holidays.

Borrow or steal great marketing ideas and adapt them to your own company

It's easy to forget that marketing your company's services is just as (if not more) important in a bad economy as in a good one, and that proven marketing ideas often aren't that hard to find. In many brainstorming sessions, John Behmke, a former publisher of this magazine, would always say, “Don't shade your eyes, plagiarize.”

For electrical contractors, that may mean looking at how subcontractors in other building trades market their companies. I recently received a mailer from Hudson Ink, an Alabama-based marketing company that helps HVAC contractors promote their companies. It was surprising how many of that company's marketing tips for HVAC contractors would work equally well for electrical contractors.

You can also get plenty of good ideas about improving your business or job skills by reading the profiles of electrical contracting firms in CEE News and other electrical publications and by being active in electrical trade organizations, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) or Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).

Make a real difference in someone's life at your company

We have all had a boss, coach or teacher somewhere along the way who somehow made us a better person. Try to be that person for a co-worker. I mean doing more than just teaching a new apprentice how to wire a load center — mentor a co-worker by helping him or her with “life skills.” Perhaps it's leading by example in a crisis. Rudy Giuliani recently said that he relies on an inner calm while in crisis-mode, and that it helped him think clearly and make effective decisions. He said — only half-jokingly — that when there wasn't a crisis to work on, he liked to create one, because that's when he was most effective as a mayor. You can be a leader by handling crises in the same manner.

Be thankful

With all that happened in the world in 2001, taking time to count my blessings gave me new insight into how fortunate I am to have my health, family and a job that I enjoy. For me, it hit home while reading the ongoing series of bios of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks that The New York Times has been running since 9-11. These articles are a powerful reminder of how quickly one can lose it all. The sudden and devastating impact of the tragic events of 9-11 had an imponderable affect on thousands of ordinary families and communities.

Take some time to reflect on what's really important in your life, and on just how good you really have it.