Archive for the '12/12/12 Project' Category

My 12/12/12 Project: The Entrepreneur Architect Podcast

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One month ago, on November 12, 2012, I published a blog post introducing The 12/12/12 Project. The idea behind the 12/12/12 Project is to push through your fear of failure, make a decision final and commit to something that will literally alter your life. Something that you have been dreaming about but have always been afraid to do. It’s an opportunity to follow your passion and become what you are truly meant to be.

My challenge to you, and to myself, was to prepare a plan and commit to executing that plan on December 12, 2012. Well… that day has come. Today, is 12/12/12.

So what is my 12/12/12 Project?

Click the link below to find out. I hope you enjoy it.

Please take a moment to post a comment and tell me what you think.

Click Here –>> EA000 _ Introduction- The Entrepreneur Architect

Here’s the Transcript:

Episode 000 | Introduction: The Entrepreneur Architect Podcast

Every summer as a kid, my parents would load up the old Suburban, hook up the boat and head to a crystal clear lake in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains. My brothers and I would look forward to that trip all year long. In anticipation our imaginations would take over and create an event so amazing that the excitement of thinking about the vacation was almost more fun than the actual trip itself.

We had such a great time on those trips. We would swim and picnic and fish and go on long rides in the boat. My Dad is a retired auto mechanic and he loves all things FAST. Our boat was a 27 foot Magnum; an offshore powerboat with twin 350 Chevy engines… and it was FAST. We would strap on our goggles, hang on tight and we would race across the top of the waves. We would visit amazing places on the lake;  which as a kid I would imagine were undiscovered territories never before seen with human eyes.

Some of these special coves and bays are surrounded by shear cliffs where hundreds of thousands of years ago tectonic activity ripped through the region and mountains rose from the earth. Sometimes we would anchor and swim to shore, climb these cliffs… and jump.

It is truly an amazing feeling to jump from a 30 foot cliff and plunge into cool deep water below… but it is NOT easy to do the first time.

The first time you climb to the top of one of these cliffs and look down, your heart pushes up against your throat and your stomach tightens up and you say, NO WAY am I jumping into that water. You are filled with complete and total fear.

But then your courage pushes through your fear… and you just do it!

And it is awesome. The feeling of pride. The freedom. The physical sensation of the wind whipping past your ears and the adrenaline pumping through your veins finding its way to your brain. It is amazing.

And its a feeling that I haven’t felt in a very long time.

Until now.

One month ago, on November 12, 2012, I published a blog post introducing The 12/12/12 Project. The idea behind the 12/12/12 Project is to push through your fear of failure, make a decision final and commit to something that will literally alter your life. Something that you have been dreaming about but have always been afraid to do. It’s an opportunity to follow your passion and become what you are truly meant to be.

My challenge to you, and to myself, was to prepare a plan and commit to executing that plan on December 12, 2012. Well… that day has come. Today, is 12/12/12.

So what is my 12/12/12 Project?

I will get to that in a moment.

First, I want to tell you a little bit about me.

My name is Mark LePage and I am an Architect.

I am the President and Partner in Change of Operations at the architecture firm, Fivecat Studio, which I own with my most beautiful and talented architect wife Annmarie McCarthy. Annmarie and I have three young kids, two dogs and… let’s just say several cats… oh, and a guinea pig named Reilly.

Annmarie and I are slowly restoring our little 1934 stucco cottage in the woods of Chappaqua, New York. It’s about a 10 minute commute from our studio in Pleasantville.

Being married to my business partner and working so close to home allows me to be a very involved Dad. My kids are a huge part of my life and Annmarie and I have worked very hard to find the proper balance between the firm and our family.

Fivecat Studio is a residential architecture firm located about 40 minutes north of Manhattan in Westchester County. We have a small staff, a diverse portfolio of work and we specialize in high-end small projects.

These past five years have been extremely challenging, but with a loyal crew and a smart business strategy, we have survived. And in this economy, survival is success.

I decided to become an architect when I was 10, the day I realized that artists didn’t make much money. You see, I also wanted to be rich. So… I thought… “Architects are professionals. They must make a lot of money. I can be an artist, design buildings AND buy all the toys I would ever want.”

Like most creative professionals, I’m a dreamer and as a kid I would spend hours of my day fantasizing about what my life would someday become. I would plan out my own “success stories”, step by step.

Today, I owe much of my success to those early days of developing strategies and tactics for how I would one day dominate the world of architecture.

Well, thankfully, as I matured, my priorities changed. The material things became much less important. Although, I do like my toys. I still drive my 1969 Camaro Rally Sport. I purchased it when I was 16.

And the desire for world domination? Well, luckily it subsided too as the idea of improving the everyday lives of people through architecture became a reality to me.

I love being an residential architect. I love that we can, very literally, change the world, one family at a time with the work that we do.

But, as much as I love being an Architect, my true passion is business and the concept of “success”. I love the game of business and how, if you learn the rules, practice and get good at the game, you can win…. you can succeed.

And if you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time or following me on Twitter, you know that I love to help other people succeed too. I share everything I know and everything I learn.

The concept of success has always interested me. I have an entire library of books on the subject and have been researching “success” for as long as I can remember… even before I realized it was the concept of success that I found so fascinating in those early “success stories” I developed as a child.

The word success has so may definitions. It could mean financial peace and stability. It could mean positive growth and accepting a leadership position in business or in life. It could simply mean that you have found a place of contentment, a balance in your life, where everything is as it should be.

Success. Everyone wants it, yet, its very difficult to achieve. It takes hard work, knowledge and dedication.

So… this all leads me back to my 12/12/12 Project.

My 12/12/12 Project is Entrepreneur Architect.

Yeah I know… Entrepreneur Architect has been around for quite a while now. In fact, it was officially launched in 2009 2007 when I published my first post on the Entrepreneur Architect blog and then created the Entrepreneur Architect Linkedin Group in 2009. But until now, it has always been a hobby… it’s been a side job that I did for fun. A way to connect with other aspiring Entrepreneur Architects around the world. And its been great! I have met so many people… a tribe of enthusiastic and encouraging individuals, who’ve inspired me to pursue my passion and reach for my dreams.

So today, as the first step of my 12/12/12 Project, I am pushing through the fear and jumping off that cliff. I am committing to taking Entrepreneur Architect to the next level. I am committing to the idea of Entrepreneur Architect as a platform for supporting architects, designers and creative professionals throughout the world, and inspiring their everyday success in business, in leadership and in life.

I will continue to publish my blog, EntreArchitect.com. I will also continue to host the Entrepreneur Architect TweetChat at Twitter.com which happens every Wednesday evening at 9PM Eastern Time… and I will continue to administer the very popular Entrepreneur Architect Group over at Linkedin.com.

These are all great places where our tribe of Entrepreneur Architects come together as a community, support one another and learn how to be more successful… everyday… in everything we do.

… and this podcast, The Entrepreneur Architect, is the next step.

The Entrepreneur Architect podcast will continue to feed my passion, and facilitate my research and mission to discover new, and maybe even forgotten, paths to success for architects, designers and other creative professionals. I will post a new episode each month. The podcast will include interviews with architects and designers, as well as any other interesting people who have something to teach us about the path to everyday success.

The first official episode will be posted to the Entrepreneur Architect blog after the new year. It will feature an interview with my friend, Christopher Pollard. He’s the founder and CEO of Anon Design Collective. Chris is trained as an architect and has used his background and skills as a designer to take his career in a very different direction. He has a very inspiring story and I’m excited to share it with you. So save the date, Episode 001. It’s coming to Entrepreneur Architect in January 2013.

And like I said, this podcast is just the next step. My 12/12/12 Project includes much more than just this podcast. I have lots more planned for Entrepreneur Architect, for Fivecat Studio and for me personally. And I’m going to share my progress, successes AND failures, with you here on this podcast and on my blog.

Today, December 12, 2012. It’s the first day of the rest of our lives.

So, what is your 12/12/12 Project?

I want to know what you’re doing. What life-altering commitment have YOU made? Share your plans with me on the blog in the comments, or privately by direct message or email.

And for those of you who have not yet made the commitment… It’s not too late. I once again, invite you to join me. I challenge you to push through YOUR fears and jump off that cliff. Follow your passion. Feel the freedom. Take that big idea in your head and do it.

Develop a plan, take a deep breath and jump.

So that’s it. The Entrepreneur Architect podcast.  It’s official.

Please share this with everyone you know… on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+. Email it to everyone in your address book. Tell everyone in your office. Shout it from the rooftops. The more people who know about what’s going on here, the more successful it will be for all of us.

And please subscribe to my blog (there’s a link on the upper right margin). That way you won’t miss anything and I promise that everything I do here will be worth your time. By subscribing to the blog, each post will be delivered directly to your inbox.

So… Are you ready? Are you ready to make good things happen in your business… in your life?

Together, we’ll learn and be inspired to take our lives to places we only dreamed about as kids.

Have a blessed Christmas and happy Hanukah. And we’ll see you after the new year at The Entrepreneur Architect podcast.

Remember, today, 12/12/12, is the first day of the rest of our lives. Let’s do this…

***
photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc

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5 Secrets to Success from an Entrepreneur Architect

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My wife and I launched our architecture firm, Fivecat Studio, in 1999. We were 29 years old. Young, ambitious and a little crazy, we started with no money and no clients. One good lead and some help from a few local architect friends gave us the courage to take a leap of faith, and we went for it.

In the 13 plus years we’ve been in business, I’ve learned a bunch. Today, I thought I would share a few secrets to our success.

Dreams really do come true. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a big dreamer. Since I was a young boy, I’ve been planning my future and plotting my success. You can even ask my mom. The life I am living today is awfully close to the stories I told as a child.

The difficult part of being a dreamer though, is when your life veers away from your set trajectory. Life happens and you need to respond, but if you keep dreaming and have faith (and work your ass off), you’ll find that your dreams really do come true.

It’s much harder than you think. I am a father of three young kids and my life revolves around their care, their guidance and their happiness. I was born to be a dad and I have always loved kids. I thought fatherhood was going to be a piece of cake. Well, any dad will tell you that being a father is the second most difficult job on the planet. It is way more difficult that I ever thought it would be.

Running a successful architecture firm is very much like raising kids. You start wide-eyed with big plans of success. Soon after you start, you realize that your job as a leader is much more involved than you ever expected. You have responsibilities that you never planned for and not everything ends up like you dreamed. Your “hat rack” grows larger and larger every day as your roles in the business and in your life multiply. As prepared as you think you might be, running an architecture firm is much harder than you ever imagined.

It’s much easier than you think. Yes. It’s difficult to run an architecture firm, but if you properly educate yourself in the basics of business (You’ll need to educate yourself on this topic, because our architecture schools have decided that its not important enough to include in their programs.); prepare budgets, manage your expenses, create sales systems, properly market your services, hire the right team, develop habits of personal productivity, encourage a culture of personal responsibility and lead with passion, you might find that success is actually much easier than you think.

You must jump off the cliff before you can fly. This is a mantra that I’ve adopted since commencing on my 12/12/12 Project last year. Imagine what it would be like to fly… to just stretch out your arms, catch the currents of the wind and glide high into the sky. The sense of pride and freedom you would feel would be incredible. Your movements would be effortless. Your destination… limitless.

Now, imagine jumping off a cliff. Fear. Total and complete fear. Well, if you are ever going to fly, you are going to need to first jump off the cliff.

Before you can finish, you must first begin. Sounds simple right. Well, the big secret in business is that taking the first step is not as simple as it sounds. Starting is actually the single hardest part of launching a firm.

Last night, I was putting the final touches on my 12/12/12 Project and preparing for its big launch on Wednesday. I’ve learned much in the many years since launching my own firm, but the single most important lesson I have learned is that you must push through the fear, turn away from the list of reasons “not to”, embrace the possibilities… and start. Only then, will you succeed.

I hope you too have taken this opportunity to start. December 12, 2012 is only a couple days away.

Until then…

***

photo credit: gaspi *yg via photopin cc

10 Tips to Conquer Procrastination

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My name is Mark R. LePage and I am a recovering procrastinator.

There… I said it.

After 40+ years, I don’t have much hope of ever finding a cure, but recently I have found some ways to hang on to the wagon and stay focused on getting things done.

Here are 10 tips I’m using to conquer my procrastination.

1. Write out a plan. In order to get anything done, you need to create a plan. What does the end result look like and how are you going to make progress. Write it out. As a serial dreamer, I have hundreds of plans in my head, at all times. The plans that make progress are the ones written down and developed into a clear step-by-step process.

2. Schedule milestones. Progress looks much less daunting when you break things down into smaller easily attained milestones. Set them to specific dates and get to work.

3. Work toward deadlines. The quickest way to NOT get things done is to never NEED to get things done. Set deadlines on each milestone, and base your deadlines on realistic timelines developed in the plan you developed above.

4. Turn away from distractions. In November, I re-instituted my “full media blackout”. I stopped reading the news, turned off the television and tuned the radio away from the talk station. If the world as we know it does in fact end on December 21st, I am quite certain I will hear about it. I am now focused on the things that are fully within my control. The things not within my control are simply distractions. Turn away from the distractions and focus on the things that truly matter most.

5. Stop blaming others. No one else is going to get it done. There is nothing stopping you from progress except YOU. You are in control of the decisions you make and the attitude you choose to adopt.

6. Birth good habits. In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg deconstructs the habit into three parts; a cue, a routine and a reward. Once you understand that, you may give birth to your own good habits. If you want to do something consistently without the pain and frustration of broken resolutions, make it a habit and watch what happens.

7. Kill bad habits. From what we’ve learned in number 6 above, we can now analyze every bad habit standing in the way of our progress. Identify the cue, the routine and the reward. The key to making sustainable change is keeping the cue and reward, and changing the routine. Do you unnecessarily check your e-mail everyday at the same time, rather than working on those pending construction documents? Identify the cue and reward. The cue may be the time of day. The reward may be a sense of accomplishment. Change the routine to completing a simple task on those drawings and a new habit may be born.

8. Look beyond yourself. Find some inspiration. Find others who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. Learn everything you can about them and how they made progress. When you know that others have done what you are trying to do, you’ll find hope that you too will accomplish your goals.

9. Raise the stakes. As many of you know, I am working on the plan for my 12/12/12 Project. Talk about procrastination. I’ve been trying to make progress on this project for more than a decade. By announcing the concept of the 12/12/12 Project to the world and publicly committing to my plan, I raised the stakes. If I don’t do what I said I’ll do, I will lose credibility with you, my family as well as myself.

10. Start. It may be the most difficult step, but believe me, no task has ever been completed without starting. So, start… and see the procrastination melt away.

***

If you like this post, please share it with your friends.

photo credit: Mykl Roventine via photopin cc

The Courage to Proceed

The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t?

The Courage to Proceed.

Dream. Plan. Proceed. Succeed.

Step 3 is the most difficult.

 

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

How To Complete an Overwhelming Project

Last week I announced the 12/12/12 Project and with it, an invitation for you to join me in committing to your own life altering decision. On December 12, 2012, together, we’ll start the next phase of our lives.

A life altering commitment is pretty heavy. A 12/12/12 Project is overwhelming by definition. So, how in the world do we approach such a thing? How do we accomplish, quite possibly, one of the most important decisions of our lives?

This week, I want to show you a simple way to get started.

Develop a Plan.

As architects, we’re good at developing plans. So, let’s start with a plan. Map out your project, step by step from beginning to end.

In his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey writes about  Habit 2; Begin With The End in Mind. What do you want your project to look like when it’s finished?

My family and I live in Westchester County, New York. Our little cottage in the woods sits upon a one-acre lot. Dozens of tall deciduous trees stand side by side from property line to property line. Every autumn we are blessed with a colorful spectacle of orange, amber and red. That wonderland quickly turns into a layer of dried brown leaves covering every inch of our parcel. It’s rather overwhelming, knowing that I am solely responsible for removing each and every leaf.

It’s a very big project.

What do I want the property to look like when I am done? Clean and organized.

How do I accomplish that? I follow my plan.

Break it down into small sections accomplished over multiple days.

I deconstruct the overwhelming project into smaller, more manageable sections, to be accomplished over multiple days. “The Front”, “The Hill”, “The Garden”, “The Patio”… Looking at the project as several small tasks makes the massive amount of work appear much more manageable, and even quite surmountable.

Start.

No project has ever been completed by standing there and looking at it. You need to actually start. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, but trust me, starting is critical to the success of the project.

Use the right tool for the job at hand.

I pull out my trusted orange gas-powered leaf blower, fill it will fuel, pull the cord and get to work. Yes. It’s noisy and a bit smelly, but its the right tool for the job. Leaf removal is no game. We are talking major amounts of organic material, accumulated, probably weighing hundreds of pounds. A plastic rake isn’t going to get me very far. A plug-in electric blower with not much more power than my wife’s hair dryer? I’d rather pick up each leaf by hand.

Begin with the section having the heaviest impact.

So many leaves. So many sections. Where to begin? Begin with the section having the heaviest impact. I start with “The Front” section. When the front of the house looks maintained and tidy, the whole property looks better. The project starts to look much more manageable when the front of the house is in order. A sense of motivation to carry on with the project sets in as I move on to the each consecutive section.

Work down hill with the wind at your back.

Trying to blow leaves uphill and against the wind just doesn’t work. In fact, you’ll often end up with more of a mess than when you started. Work down hill with the wind at your back. Leaves also move easier over the smooth driveway surface than over the pachysandra bed.

Scope out the path of least resistance and work to move the leaves in that direction toward a central location.

First pass, push through and collect as much as possible.

Once you’ve gathered all the leaves in a central location, its time to move them to their permanent home, the mulch pile. After 30+ years of moving leaves (it was my job as a kid as well), I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade.

To move a large pile of leaves as efficiently as possible, you should proceed through the big pile blowing full throttle, in one brutal push, collecting as much as possible as you move forward.

Don’t attempt to push the entire pile in one pass. If you do, you will find that it is more difficult to move the leaves and much of the pile will remain uncollected. You will quickly tire, putting the entire project in jeopardy.

The most important thing is to move from the front of the pile and all the way through to the back of the pile without stopping. You may even use your feet to push more leaves forward as you go. Move as much as possible with each push forward.

After each pass, back track over and push more forward as you move back.

After each pass through the pile, back track and continue to push more leaves forward as you move back to collect more of the pile you left behind on the preceding pass.

After the final pass, collect the small stuff

After several passes through the pile, you will have efficiently moved the entire pile to where you want it to be. With a final pass you will collect the small stones, twigs and debris.

Leave nothing behind.

Use a different tool for the fine detail work

In some areas, a leaf blower is not the proper tool to do the job. It is far too powerful and may damage the delicate plantings in the garden and among the stone ledge. For fine detail work, you will need a small rigid rake.

Remember from above. Use the right tool for the job at hand.

Repeat until complete. Then move on.

Complete one pile in the section. Then move to the next. Repeat this process until the section is clean, organized and looking its very best.

Then move on to the next section.

Repeat the entire process until the project is complete.

See? It wasn’t that bad. An overwhelming project… completed.

Maintain every week

In order to keep the property looking its very best all year long, I do simple maintenance, weekly, throughout the year. I pick up the small sticks that fall in wind storms and rake up random leaves that find their way back onto the property.

If I maintain the property each week, it stays healthy and always looks its best.

Perform a major clean up 4 times per year

Every season requires a different approach and a separate cleaning. Every three months, I reevaluate the condition of the property and address the areas needing my attention.

Revisit each year

Each year, the cycle of seasons finds its way back to autumn and the leaves fall again. Each year, I pull out my trusted orange leaf blower and get to work.

Cleaning the yard is not my favorite project, but all the hard work results in a great looking property. The gardens fall into their winter slumber and wait, prepared for spring to arrive once again. My wife is happy that her gardens are cared for, which, of course, makes me happy.

I look forward to the day when I will finally delegate this annual chore to the next generation of leaf blowers. With a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 5 year old daughter already asking to take over, it may not be long before my leaf removal days are finally over.

When that time comes, I will pass the lessons I learned on to them and move to more productive uses of my time. There are waterfalls to complete, stone walls to stack and garden sheds to build.

The list of overwhelming projects is never-ending.

***

photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc

The 12/12/12 Project

During these next 30 days, I will prepare a most important document; a plan that will change my life. On December 12, 2012, I will take a deep breath, commit to executing the plan and commence with my 12/12/12 Project.

What is a 12/12/12 Project?

First, I will tell you what it is not. It’s not a resolution, where you stop eating chocolate or promise to go to the gym. It’s not something you’re going to “try”, and two months down the road you fall back into your old routine and forget that you ever resolved to make a change. A 12/12/12 Project is much bigger than that.

A 12/12/12 Project is life altering.

Take that big idea that you’ve been dreaming about and make it your reality. Find that one thing that you were put on this earth to do and do it. Follow your passion. Commit to something life changing. It doesn’t need to be a huge. It can be small, but it must be something that will change the patterns of your daily existence from this point forward. It may be something in your career. It may be something for your family. It may be spiritual. It may be something to do with your own personal development or for the good others. It may be for the good of all the world.

Remember… “life altering”. A 12/12/12 Project could be a path to your life’s purpose.

I invite you to join me. I encourage you. I challenge you to commit to your own 12/12/12 Project.

During these next 30 days I will write more about my 12/12/12 Project. I hope you’ll join me and share details of your own 12/12/12 Projects here and on Twitter using hashtag #121212Project.

The clock is ticking. 12/12/12 is coming. Thirty days. Prepare a plan. Do something amazing. Be remarkable. Make a difference. Be awesome!


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