Once again I find myself siting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and I’m working – this pattern has been going on for such a long time now I’m pretty used to it. You might be thinking that by “working” I’m referring to me writing this actual blog post … but you would be wrong. Writing this blog post is the break I am giving myself from actually working.
You read that correctly, I’m working – as a distraction – from working.
… I really need to get some better hobbies.
I am coming out of a particularly brutal stretch of work-related extra-curricular activities with only 1 week to go until I am in the clear. For some part of every week the last 9 weeks, I have had to travel somewhere and lecture, speak, or Emcee. When I wasn’t doing that, I was going down the Dominican Republic on an architectural mission trip (which was cool, but still …). I loved doing it but it was starting to kick my butt a little bit. I might not need a whole lot of sleep but I do need some.
This week I will be down in Houston, Texas, at the 75th Annual Texas Society of Architects Convention and Design Expo. Normally these events are about picking up continuing education requirements and taking advantage of the fellowship that comes with hanging out with several thousand other architects. While I anticipate that those things will still happen for me, I am going to be presenting (i.e. working) twice while I am down there.
TWICE!! (seriously, what is wrong with me?!?)
The first event happens on Friday –
I am actually looking forward to this “Fireside* Chat” because it has restricted attendance and the presentation format is very casual. I went to one last year and all it consisted of was 25 or so people sitting around in a circle asking questions and listing to stories. Now THAT sounds like my sort of presentation! All that is missing will be the beer.
There are still some spots available to this fireside chat so if you don’t have plans, come say hello. Even if you haven’t registered for this seminar, you can still come by (I don’t think there will be any bouncer’s at the door.)
there isn’t actually going to be a fireside … just the chat
The second presentation is a bit more involved and actually requires some preparation.
The title for my presentation is ‘Digital Communications for the Small Architectural Firm‘ … sounds pretty legitimate doesn’t it? As chair of the Digital Communications Committee for the Texas Society of Architects, it was assumed that my committee would present something (I am co-presenting with Brinn Miracle from PDR in Houston – she’s terrific). As I spend my weekend putting together this presentation, I have given myself a [facepalm] about a half-dozen times. For those of you who may not be familiar with this gesture, is it quite simply the act of placing your open palm against your face and is generally thought of as an indication of frustration, disappointment, or sarcasm.
The fact that I am still trying to convince people that “digital communications” isn’t a waste of time is a huge facepalm for me. So far I have presented on this topic at 4 state AIA conventions and 1 National AIA convention – and I have no doubt that it could have been 10 times that number. I just don’t know why this concept is so hard for architects as an industry to understand, everyone else seems to have figured it out so what’s our problem? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question but if I spill my guts here today, what would I have to talk about during my presentation?
Probably a lot – I have strong opinions about the correct way that professionals should use social media and almost all of them are different that what you’ll read in a book, or what some high-priced social media “expert” will tell you. The short version is this:
- Tell a story – if you are telling somebody about something amazing you or your firm has done, don’t let your marketing person tell the story – you need to tell it. Architects have been telling stories as part of the creative process for centuries, why stop now? This isn’t marketing drivel, if it’s important enough to tell someone, you should be the one telling the tale.
- Keep it as a 1st person narrative – nobody will engage with an entity so if you want people to care about what you are doing, keep it personal. I can assure you that people would rather talk with “Bill” or “Mary” from Firm ‘X’ than with Firm ‘X’. If you don’t know who you are talking to, you won’t talk to them.
- Use Images to tell the story – almost every post I write starts with the images rather than the text. Once I know what pictures or drawings I am using, I then go back and explain those images with my text. It’s never the other way around.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously – the creative nature of what we (architects) do allows us to take all sorts of liberties with our behavior, how we dress, the hobbies (or lack thereof) we pursue, etc. While you might like people to think you’re perfect, the truth is that you aren’t. Trying to be something that you’re not will eventually catch up with you.
You’ll just have to come to my presentation if you want to hear any more. One of the things I will get into – the thing that I think everybody really, really, wants to know, is about the money. “What is your return on investment pertaining to social media?“ is a question that I get all. the. time. Well, I’m finally going to talk about it and show you just how good – or bad – the return is on the time I’ve spent developing this website.
One last parting note – I feel the need to remind anyone who might be reading this that I never started this website with any sort of financial gain in mind. It was simply a creative outlet during a slow period and I am as surprised as many of you are that things have evolved like they have. I’ve tried to keep that in mind as the years have gone by to keep the intent of this site intact.
That’s why my grammar and writing style is still so bad … it’s on purpose, I’m keeping it real. Also, I probably wouldn’t talk about toilets as much as I do.