Training Day
Laura Van Zeyl

Amidst the national pride and awe of athleticism that always sweeps me up with every Olympics, this year’s games also remind me of New York City’s campaign to bring the event stateside. Even before Chicago’s failed bid for 2016 came thisclose, I remember visiting Manhattan and loving the clever signage that proclaimed to the world (and no doubt the Olympic Committee): “We’ve been training for this forever.” Playful posters showed weight lifters doing clean-and-jerks with Fifth Avenue shopping bags, hurdlers clearing barricades, a sprinter ready to launch at a crosswalk and wrestlers battling for a taxicab.

Even though marketing New York’s über-urban experience as a backdrop for world-class sport ended with the games landing in London this year instead, the theme remained memorable to me. And with so many family businesses and venerable veterans in our own industry, it seems apropos to adopt the message for ourselves. We have indeed been training for this forever — “this” meaning our current environment, a housing market that can’t seem to shift out of first gear, a post-recession economy with plenty of catching up left to do, game-changing technologies and competition from new channels. While these circumstances may be unprecedented — particularly in the perfect-storm form we are experiencing them today — we’ve laid the groundwork to meet them head-on with a stockpile of expertise and perspective.

But just as Olympic athletes continue to push themselves no matter how many records they break, our education must be an ongoing process, too. The American Lighting Assn. (ALA) offers a range of highly relevant training that’s easy to access for its members. The upcoming ALA Conference, Sept. 9-11 in Scottsdale, AZ, is another key opportunity for professional development. Everything you do to educate yourself or your staff is an important investment to ensure you are ready to perform.

We may not literally throw our torchieres like a javelin (unless provoked, of course) or swing from our chandeliers like gymnasts, but our physical and mental preparation for this moment have taken a lifetime to achieve nonetheless. We can continue to build on that foundation and go further, or we can rest on our hard-earned laurels and lament the end of our “glory days,” passing the torch to those with the will and the stamina to stay on top.

I know I always prefer the thrill of victory to 
the alternative. Here’s to everything you do to keep your mind/body/business in peak condition. Let the games begin!

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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