2 Nov 2011
It’s 2:00am and I am laying in bed … I must have 10 or 15 things running through my mind all at once. To me, in my sleep deprived semi-conscious state, they are all good things that make perfect sense – solutions to problems, opportunities to try and take advantage of, things to share with others, reminders of tasks to complete. These ideas are all crystal clear. All these thoughts – who knows where they come from because despite the clarity I seem to have laying in bed, almost all of it is lost and fragmented just a few hours later.
The idea of writing things down has been presented on more than one occasion but that just doesn’t work. I would be writing for a long time, and I don’t think my wife would appreciate me turning on the light so that I could see what I’m writing down and sketching up. One of the most often reoccurring topics I think about is what I am going to write about here on this site. Topics are easy but coming up with something interesting that I am able to talk about (the way I like to talk about things) is the challenge. Its the “how” that matters to me the most, not the “what”.
The 2011 Texas Society of Architects AIA Convention
I didn’t attend the convention this year – not really, the timing was bad. But for the second year in a row, I was a presenter on a panel titled “Purpose of Balanced Social Media” and I found time to walk through the “Design Products and Ideas Expo”. I enjoyed what little time I spent down at the convention, it’s always fun to see people from other parts of the state that you don’t normally get to see. Speaking of which, I went to a “Beer & Tamale” get together at the office of an architect friend of mine, and while the guest list short, it was a veritable who’s who of AIA Fellows and design award winners, generally a group of architects that other architects look at and admire. I was standing around trying to figure out why I was invited (other than to keep an eye on everyone’s bags) when Larry Speck – longtime idol of mine – walked over to say hello.
Larry was acting Dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture and one of my design studio professors when I was in college and to say that I greatly admire him is putting it mildly. In a way, the name of my site was inspired by him (read more here). When I presented at last years Texas Society of Architects Convention in San Antonio, I wasn’t nervous … not until I saw Larry walk into the back of the room. I don’t mind embarrassing myself in front of a bunch of strangers but not to someone I’ve assigned hero status. Luckily, Larry took the time to come up after the program and tell me what a great job he thought I did (sigh of relief) and that meant a lot to me, especially coming from a man who stands in front of 100+ people and lectures several hundred times a year.
At the “Beer & Tamale Extravaganza” party, Larry told me that he was sorry that he missed this years presentation (which was understandable because he was presenting a seminar at the same time) but that he thought that in general, I am on to something. I learned that he was interested in exploring how architects talk to people and that we (as architects) need to cut through the bullshit and communicate differently with the people we are trying to impact. I don’t know if you would agree with me but that sort of communication has always been one of my goals here with my blog – making what I do more transparent and approachable to people who aren’t built like me and definitely don’t think like me. Larry mentioned that he has something that he wants my help on and despite acting somewhat coy and preoccupied (“let me check my calendar…“), I know that I will do just about anything he asks of me - yes, “help moving a body” included.
I have a lot of things on my plate but I’m the one who keeps loading them on there, re-evaluating my priorities is not an activity that I particularly care for but I can see that it’s coming. Writing this blog has provided me with a lot of opportunities – 99.99% of which don’t involve a paycheck. What I learned from the little time I spent at the convention is how many new people I have met, but I was amazed to learn just how many more now know of me … for better or worse. I have always believed that communication skills are the key to finding success regardless the endeavor, but I didn’t really appreciate just how difficult communicating is for so many people. I know many capable architects who are currently without work and I think its partially because of their inability to talk in a manner that allows them to connect with the listener.
If nothing else, the activity of writing content for this blog three times a week for the last 18 months has helped me work on my communication skills. I may not be great but I am better now than I was when this experiment started. The important part is that I am talking to people.
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The only goal that I have right now on this site is to make what I do as an architect transparent and beneficial to anyone who finds their way here. Be honest. Be sincere. Be helpful.