The great 17th-century British poet and writer, John Donne, was probably most famous for his quote, “No man is an island.”
As is true of many challenging endeavors, that statement is entirely applicable in the world of aquatic design, engineering, construction, service, and ultimately, water quality management. Indeed, no one person can do it all alone. Achieving the high-minded goals I’ve been writing about requires many hands. It takes a community of professionals who together pursue common objectives.
In our industry, ultimately delivering the best consumer experience is all about nurturing a shared culture of technical advancement, innovation, and adherence to the greatest possible standards. It’s a campaign driven by high ideals, but one that must also be anchored in elevated methods and standards — and that takes a collective effort.
Always Tough at First
In this industry, I first stumbled into that kind of village when I started taking courses with Genesis 3, the now vaunted design and construction program that has largely transformed the industry.
When I attended my first Genesis class back in 2008, my initial thought was how much it reminded me of my early days in culinary school. In both cases, the first part of the training was tough by design. It’s a type of winnowing exercise where the weaker, less committed members of the class are weeded out. The first couple of weeks of learning how to be a chef were truly brutal. The instructors tore you down to the core, stripping away any pretense you may have had about your own prowess. But then they gradually rebuilt you with their expertise, confidence, and inspiration.
The same thing happened with the Genesis classes. My first instructor was one of the original founders, David Tisherman, who was as hardnosed and unrelenting as he was brilliant. Some people didn’t respond well, while others like me understood exactly what was going on — that level of almost mental brutality is the first step in establishing a culture of excellence. Those who make it through and don’t get rattled become part of a group precisely because they share the challenging experience.
In other words, it takes a level of rigor to define what it means to reach beyond the norm. Everyone is pushed beyond his or her comfort zone, and those who can handle it become part of a family that’s centered on the common objective to operate at the highest possible level.
In the 10-plus years since, I’ve continued my education with Genesis and other resources within the industry, and sure enough, it’s all had the intended effect. Not only have I come away with a far more advanced knowledge of things like hydraulics, water-in-transit systems, and even art history, I also have become part of a society of committed professionals. Many of those people have also become very close friends.
Part of a Community
The benefits of being part of a professional group are multi-faceted. On a personal level, there’s a strength and comfort that comes from having friends who share your ambitions and challenges. You have the opportunity to share experiences, celebrate successes together as well as commiserate and analyze the setbacks. You see each other at industry events and in many cases, spend time together away from work.
People in the Genesis program, for example, not only bond over professional considerations, they also travel together, visit each other’s homes, and know each other’s families. When we’re in the same cities, we often share meals and spend a great deal of time swapping stories and laughing about life’s little absurdities. It’s the essence of having friends; even when time passes between visits, you never feel like you’re alone. We’re always just a phone call, email, or text message away.
Then there’s the professional side of these affiliations. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our areas of expertise, and places where we still need to learn. I think of my friend from California, Dave Peterson, who is a genuine guru when it comes to hydraulics and other aspects of systems engineering. Not only are we close friends, I often turn to him for design services on particularly challenging projects. By the same token, my dear friend from Texas, Mike Nantz, is a gifted designer and creative thinker. That’s why I love picking his brain and collaborating on different ideas about design and aesthetics.
Through just that single organization, there are countless examples of people helping each other. Sometimes it’s as simple as a product recommendation for a given application, and at other times, it’s more involved like a way to address a tricky structural engineering challenge. From my perspective, it’s exciting when people reach out to me looking for help because in the end, we all know that when we help each other, we’re also helping ourselves, not to mention the consumer.
All of that is why I’m exceedingly proud of the relationships I’ve built within the industry and I look forward to many years ahead of fruitful collaborations professionally, as well as time spent enjoying each other’s company socially.
In my case, as I strive to elevate the way we consider water quality management, I gain strength and hope from my colleagues. These important and enjoyable relationships help me become a better professional and a more contented person. That ultimately means, I’m better able to provide the level of experience my clients have come to expect.
John Donne was right, no one is an island, no one walks alone, and we’re all better for it.
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Meet Steve Kenny
Steve Kenny is an aquatic designer, builder, and service technician with more than 25 years of experience. Based in Long Island, New York, he specializes in designing, building, and maintaining commercial and residential pools and spas that feature the highest possible water quality.
He is a passionate advocate of creating a new class of aquatic professionals devoted to the science, methods, and art of ensuring pristine water conditions. Steve was formally trained in the culinary arts and has a passion for fine dining. He is an accomplished photographer and sailing enthusiast. He is also a passionate advocate of the benefits of hydrotherapy.
A devoted family man, Steve lives in East Hampton with his bride of 20 years and their three children.