Paul Butler: Change is constant

Paul Butler

This past weekend we took a family trip to Yosemite. My in-laws are visiting from England, and they’d never seen the natural wonders of the giant, ancient sequoia trees or the iconic vista of the towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.

Even though the wonders of technology enable us to speak to them regularly via FaceTime, I noticed how they move a lot slower than they did once. As they’ve aged, so have we.

Henry, our son, is a senior in college and was able to join us on this trip. I noticed I couldn’t catch him running up a hilltop as I once could. While I was driving, I caught a glimpse of part of Henry’s face asleep on his mom’s shoulder.

For a few seconds, I thought it was 2009 and then when he moved slightly, I saw the full face of a 21-year-old man and was reminded 10 years have flashed by.

During this trip, we used Airbnb, Turo and Google Maps — all of which were not around 10 years ago. Technology can serve as a great disrupter to shake lazy industries that enjoyed a monopoly for far too long.

Airbnb, which for the uninitiated is an online booking system which allows you to stay in someone else’s home, has put a dent in the lodging market. I was working for a client up in San Jose last week (do you know the way?) and a basic hotel room was running at nearly $500.

I managed to find a beautiful home just five minutes from the client for $50: Airbnb 1, big large corporate hotel chain 0.

We also used Turo during this trip to Yosemite. For those unfamiliar, Turo is an online platform that enables you to hire someone else’s car rather than using a traditional rental car company. In our case, we just needed a larger vehicle rather than all trying to squeeze into the family mini, so we super-sized.

Turo 1, big large corporate rental car company 0.

I don’t know what we’d have done without Google Maps this past weekend. Henry taught me that if we tag the route on the phone while on Wi-Fi, the software will keep us on track, even when we see those two words that give us palpitations in 2019: “No service.”

What did we do as Californians before Google Maps? Remember the Thomas Guide? Did you know you can now buy a Thomas Guide digitally — the only challenge is it’s on something called a CD-ROM, (remember those?) and only available on Microsoft Windows.

Let me know if you regularly use the CD-ROM version of the Thomas Guide on your Microsoft computer, and I’ll send you an expired gift card for Sears.

Organizations must change and adapt to serve ever-evolving customer needs. Technology is a wonderful disrupter that keeps businesses on their toes, to ensure products and services are at our fingertips.

At the Yosemite visitor center, we were intrigued to peek at some black and white photographs of yesteryear. The exhibit was titled: “People change — Yosemite remains.”

It was quite haunting to see people from the late 1800s dressed very differently to us, standing in front of God’s creation we ourselves had stood at, just moments earlier. Yes, people have changed, but Yosemite remains — majestic, awe-inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful.

These old monochrome images called out to me, that although people come and go in the workplaces of the world and, yes, technology will undoubtedly continue to change how we do our work — timeless, universal principles govern our interactions with people at work.

A principle such as the “Golden Rule,” which calls to treat our work colleagues in a way we ourselves would like to be treated. A principle such as “The Law of the Harvest,” which says that we reap what we sow at work. There is also a principle called the “Servant Leadership,” which is proven to be the most revered form of management throughout the ages that yields true followership.

So, thank you, Yosemite, for giving us so many memories this past weekend. I’ll remember that time marches on and waits for no one. I’ll remember that technology is the great shape-shifter that can topple giant monopolies.

Yet, I’ll remember in the workplace, we can still stand on the solid granite rock of timeless principles of how we should lead, serve and work with others.

Just as seasons blow through the valley of Yosemite, technology will continue to blow through the corridors of the workplace. But the more things change, the more they stay the same: Yosemite remains and principles govern between people.

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].

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