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Ryan Sitton Addresses ABC/CMEF Inaugural: “We Build Everything… We’re Aspirational”

Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton addressed the ABC/CMEF 2020 Inaugural Celebration on January 16. He spoke of Eudaimonia Machines, his interview with Time Magazine, and “what’s our brand” in Texas. He concluded by stating that "we build everything... we're aspirational, and we believe in the opportunities of the individual." Here is a transcript, recorded and transcribed by the Construction Citizen team, of Ryan Sitton’s address to the attendees:

I got to tell you a quick story. If you ask me what my favorite book is these days – I read a lot of books about leadership and human motivation, behavioral economics and systems, and structures, even doing some machine learning stuff now – there is a book Deep Work. It is written by Cal Newport. Now Cal Newport is a software developer and he is out of Georgetown University. Cal’s message in his book is if you really want to produce at a high level, you’ve got to learn to focus in ways most people can’t. In one segment in his book, he talks about a specific type of office. He calls it a Eudaimonia Machine. It’s a way of setting up an office in which you have these various stages an employee would go through; it's very different than a traditional office.

Now I’m very blessed before I became Railroad Commissioner, I owned my own office buildings and built us a dream from seven little office buildings. So I have a lot of office space, but it’s all relatively plain. Well, I start looking at this design, working with Cal Newport and this architect out of Chicago who builds these Eudaimonia Machines. Long story short, three days ago I’m doing an interview with Time Magazine, and this is why I want to tell you this story. I’m talking to this lady and she’s out of New York and she says, “Tell me about what you’re doing.” I said, “Well we are building a really kind of radical office design to test the productivity of employees.” And she says, “Man, so you’re just going to take (and it’s about three thousand square feet we’re remodeling) three thousand square feet and just remodel it,” and I said, “Yeah.” She says, “Where do you office?” I said, “I’m in Texas.” She said, “Pshh of course.” What does that mean? She goes, “In Texas you guys build everything.”

You know, I think that’s true, right? That’s how the rest of the world sees Texas. Yeah, we’ll build a building, we’ll build pipelines, we’ll build oil wells, we’ll build railways, we’ll build you name it. We are going to build it.

I’ll tell you, my parents were both teachers and so when I was growing up I spent a lot of time in school not just as a student but with them. And it’s amazing to watch the evolution of buildings, even just in things like academia. A lot of people around us these days take for granted what it takes to actually build the things you all build. And my main point is this, obviously, I very much appreciate the support. I will be the top state official on the ballot in Texas this year. So 2020 it'll be the President, Senator, and I'll be the third state line down. A lot of our conversation today, certainly I'm a Republican, and certainly about how do we win elections, but probably more importantly is what does it mean to be Republican? What is our brand?

When I'm talking to a group of parents in a suburb about their kids going off to school, or I'm talking to a group of energy professionals about a challenging market environment, or I'm talking to a group of construction folks about what the overall economy is, I say okay, so what's our brand? And it's funny, two days ago I wouldn't have thought it would be something like "we build everything." But I think that's really it; we're aspirational. We believe in the opportunities of the individual. We believe that we can do great things that our parents never dreamed of. And the most tangible vision of that are the spectacular things that we go to work in, we go to school in, we go to get medical treatment in every single day that you guys build. So I hope that you are very proud of the industry that you are a part of because I sure am proud to be associated with you.