Authentic Concern … July 2024


Authentic Concern … July 2024

The Hard Way Makes for Good Outcomes 

 My son graduated from Purdue University this past May, and Mung Chiang, President of the University, delivered the commencement address. During the talk, President Chiang reminded us of what this graduating class had gone through at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be frank, I had all but forgotten those days, but it brought back a flood of memories about the challenges my son and all the other students went through just to continue learning. 


The speech’s theme centered on doing things the hard way and delivering a better outcome as a result. Purdue bucked the trend and stayed open through the entire pandemic, and rather than succumbing to fear and the unknown they endured criticism from many sources for the careless risksthey were taking.  


In the end, there was no death and calamity at Purdue, as the critics predicted. Although some sickness occurred, Purdue took the harder road of relentless testing and masking to give their students a shot at a normal” school year. Ultimately, the remarkable grit and determination that all students demonstrated to get through the ordeal created kids who will be more resilient when they face adversity the next time.  


I recently watched a video of Jensen Huang, the chief executive officer of the technology company Nvidia, discussing resilience with a group of Stanford University students. Resilience matters for success,” Huang said.“I don’t know how to teach it to you, except I hope suffering happens to you.He shocked the students into silence by saying he doubted their success because they had not faced much suffering. In his mind, suffering created the kind of grit and determination needed to drive a company to trillion-dollar valuations.  


Of course, some in the audience had tales of suffering and difficult times (especially attending school through COVID-19). However, Huang’s central point was that suffering and hard times produce wells of strength and self-assurance, the traits needed by businesspeople to persevere when they face difficult times in their businesses. 


But it is not just humans who need hard times to do their best work. On a wine tour several years ago, I learned that grapevines must dig deepto find the water they need to grow to produce the best wines. In California’s Napa Valley, 2016 and 2021 were especially hard years for growing grapes, but they produced some truly remarkable and flavorful wines. 


The best stories and the stories that capture our imagination are those tales of men and women who face adversity and then rise from it to triumph over their struggles. We learned about this concept in English class — it’s called the heros journey — and storytellers have explored this theme for millennia. They know that the harder the challenge, the better the story. Art imitating life, indeed! 


In parking, we are no strangers to doing hard things. I might suggest we all follow the heros journey nearly every day. We face the unrelenting and unappreciative onslaught of the parking public. We meet the challenge of helping those who take our work for granted with a smile, barely ever letting the parking public see us sweat as we toil to make their parking experience forgettable.   


As parking gets easierfor the public, it is getting harder for operators. They are faced with an ever-growing list of technological challenges and choices to help customers navigate, park, and pay. Through this journey, and by doing hard things together, we will successfully and continuously improve the parking experience for our paying customers. 


I have always been a big fan of doing hard things. From a business perspective, my leaders are used to hearing me say, The harder, the better,when it comes to building software or delivering our service. My view is, if it is hard for us, it will be just as hard for the next guy to copy what we do. The struggle also makes the successful outcome more gratifying and galvanizing for our team.  


“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do,is a common expression about the need to persevere. On a similar note, one of my favorite phrases has always been, Let’s keep going!This phrase resonates with me because when times are good, I want to keep it going, and when times are challenging, I know a better outcome is just over the next hill. 


BRIAN WOLFF is President & CEO of Parker Technology. He can be reached at or visit 

Article contributed by:
Brian Wolff, Parker Technology
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