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BBB: If you have time to complain, you have time to seek solution

All my life I’ve had a pet peeve: complainers with all the excuses in the world and no solutions. We all know someone like that. The person who doesn’t have enough time to get their work done. The person who can’t make sales because the economy’s bad. The person who complains about rush-hour traffic. The list goes on and on.

I’m no saint. I have spent many a day lamenting the “hardships” in my life. But I will forever be grateful to my father and his generation for helping me see that I can air grievances, but only if I actively seek solutions. It does no good to me or anyone around me to complain just for the sake of it.

Today’s economy proffers countless issues for complainers: the high cost of gas, international turmoil, a dead housing market, record unemployment, extensive permit requirements. That said, I am starting to see a trend in the changing mindset of businesspeople from complainants to solution-seekers. Even amid the turmoil and anxiety of an election year, positivity is growing in our region.

Internally, my BBB staff has stepped up to the bar this year, actively coming to me with new ideas. From newbies of less than three months to the tenured of over five years, all are thinking outside the box. Sure, they still complain, but now it’s an intro to their ideas for solutions to whatever problems they face. It has created a vibrant, refreshing and progressive energy. We’re not just treading water on the same old issues. This positivity is being generated by the greatest asset I have – my team.

Externally I’m seeing the same trend. I’ve attended several informational meetings at two community hospitals, and their message has been one of forward growth. Yes, they began by highlighting their difficulties but then followed up with how they’re combating them. Both Providence and Rockwood Health Systems hold a positive outlook for the future.

As part of Spokane Mayor David Condon’s new Business Advisory Council, I brainstorm with a group of wonderful business leaders in our community. At our first meeting the mayor asked us to bring answers from our associations to three questions:

1. What is one regulation the city could eliminate to promote progress?

2. What could the city do to help you expand your employee base?

3. Do you feel that the city’s economic health is improving, staying the same or declining?

I received a fantastic solution-oriented response from our BBB Accredited Businesses. Not every solution will be the right one, but the process is what’s important. Even when some of the answers expressed frustration, businesspeople still followed up with suggestions for improvement.

Rich Knight, the owner of Knight’s Kitchen & Bath, commented: “To expand the employee base the city needs to run a tight ship with fewer government regulations, lower taxes and sound policies. A special thank you to those serving in city government who work hard for common-sense decisions which promote the things that make a great community.”

Echoing similar positive sentiments, Jason Bryant, part-owner of The Decal Factory, said: “The answer to the public good is a healthy, prosperous business community. I applaud you, Mayor Condon, for showing a leadership quality that is needed for our great city to become the shining star of the future.” 

I appreciated these responses because I, for one, am tired of doom-and-gloom. The economy is what it is. Wallowing in the negative will only perpetrate more negativity. We are a strong, creative region and we do not give up. We’ve had a bumpy road the last few years, but now we’re focused on the reality of this new environment and making it the best we can. I’m proud to work with all of you and I welcome your ideas and feedback – provided the complaints are equally balanced with solutions – just like my dad always requires.

Eleanor Katzele is president and CEO of the local Better Business Bureau. She can be reached at