Archive for the 'Entrepreneurs' Category

5 Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Architect Should Be Following

Podcasts (an episodic digital series of audio or video files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device) are a great way to learn the lessons about business that many of us lacked during architecture school.

Below are my 5 current favorites:

EntreLeadershipDave Ramsey w/ Host Chris LoCurto

One of the most successful podcasts on the planet, EntreLeadership focuses on personal success, business and leadership. For about 45 minutes every two weeks, host Chris LoCurto guides us through a fundamental business topic such as Sales, Marketing, Delegation or Personal Productivity.

During each episode, LoCurto shares a lesson presented by Dave Ramsey recorded at one of his many live events. The second half of each show features LoCurto interviewing one of the nation’s top leaders or business people, such as Tony Dungy, Steven M. R. Covey, John Maxwell and Tony Hseih. Each interview dives deeply into the topic of the week and listeners learn many secrets to success.

For a little podcast bonus time, be sure to pop over to Chris’ own website for an extended interview with each guest.

The Rise to the Top | David Siteman Garland

A fun, inspirational and sometimes “off the wall” podcast about helping rising mediapreneurs (online media creators, authors, thought leaders, personal brands, coaches and internet marketers) grow their businesses and dominate online.

David’s in-depth interviews attack each subject with focus and dedication to finding the root of each entrepreneur’s success. As David states at the end of each recording, “if you’re looking for fluff, go pet a bunny”.

This is Your Life | Michael Hyatt

The former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt is now a consultant, speaker and author of the bestselling book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Michael’s blog and accompanying podcast focuses on what he calls, “intentional leadership”. His mission is to help his listeners live with more passion, work with greater focus and lead with extraordinary influence. Sounds like a few things every Entrepreneur Architect is seeking, doesn’t it?

Startup School | Seth Godin

Marketing expert, top blogger, bestselling author, entrepreneur. Now he’s a podcaster too? Seth Godin shares recordings from his recent Startup School live seminar using the podcast format. He takes us from defining your approach to business (freelancer or entrepreneur?) all the way through startup launch in this weekly podcast.

Currently offering his 8th episode, when Godin reaches the end of the recorded event, will this become a permanent offering from Godin? Only time will tell.

This one is well worth the time while its still available.

MixergyAndrew Warner

A successful entrepreneur himself, Andrew Warner spends an hour each week interviewing founders and CEOs of the world’s leading technology companies.

Focusing on the “ambitious upstart”, his questions probe deeply into the hows and whys of each entrepreneur’s story, teaching listeners what do to, as well as what not to do when launching and running a company.

So, what are some of your favorite podcasts? Please share a link in the comments so everyone may check them out.

photo credit: Colleen AF Venable via photopin cc


Michael Gallin: Entrepreneur Architect

While at Carnegie Melon University’s school of architecture in the early 90’s, Michael Gallin developed a passion for finding innovative solutions combining design and technology. Although his primary interest has always been architecture, computer technology has been a close second.

Gallin founded his architecture firm just north of New York City in 1999. He recently merged his practice with another firm, forming Gallin Beeler Design Studio. The current office, with a staff of nine, has a reputation for exceptional design quality and is a frequent recipient of regional design awards, including 11 AIA awards in the last ten years.

Frustration is often a catalyst for innovation. In 2009, Michael’s frustration over how his office was managing information brought his passions for architecture and technology together.

A client requested a paint color used on a past project. After spending hours sifting through archived drawings and construction submissions, Gallin concluded that there had to be a better way. He thought that his firm’s project information and specifications should be stored in a single searchable database. The database should be instantly available for reference from one project to the next and users should be able to refine the information over time. In a controlled and managed way, clients, consultants and contractors, should all be able to access and contribute to the database during and after the project is completed.

This simple idea, to put all project information into a single accessible database, has revolutionized how Michael’s practice runs.

Initially, Michael created the database using a software called Filemaker. After refining the user interface and optimizing the database structure to be flexible and intuitive, he moved the database and user interface online. The resulting website is available to everyone at

According to Gallin, “We can now find what we specified, as well as what was actually installed on a project, in a matter of seconds. This information is available for refinement and reuse on our upcoming projects. Time consuming tasks such as producing finish and hardware schedules, managing submissions, disseminating bidding information, and managing construction contracts have all become dramatically more efficient. We have tried many ‘time saving’ and ‘quality improving’ products and nothing has had the dramatic impact that ADOSAR has in improving project quality and efficiency. The key difference is that ADOSAR is simple. Its always available online and doesn’t try to do everything. It focuses only on the information that is ideally suited for database storage while leaving the drawings and models to other better suited tools.”

The more people use ADOSAR, the better it gets. The database grows and is refined continuously.

Problem: Inefficient recovery of information from past and current projects.

Solution: Michael Gallin’s

Michael Gallin is an Entrepreneur Architect.


Anyone interested in helping to test and improve on the “ADOSAR” concept should reach out to Michael via email. Free access to premium features is available to users willing to help refine Adosar by providing constructive feedback.

The Passion Profit Cycle of Success

Prior to starting our own firms, we business-owner architects experienced an “entrepreneurial seizure”, as Michael Gerber so accurately described in his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. It’s the precise moment when a passionate employee commits to starting her own firm. Frustrated by the process (or lack of process) established by her employer, she decides that she can do better.

Do you remember that moment?

The passion required to overcome the fear and uncertainty of launching a start-up business is a very powerful emotion. It’s what takes us from “business-owner architect” to Entrepreneur Architect. It’s what gets us out of bed every morning and keeps us going years later.

Passion for what we do though, will only take us so far. To become a great firm, a truly great business success, we must also have a passion for profit. I know… Profit. To some, profit is a dirty word, but the reality is that without profit, your passion for being an architect will very quickly evaporate. It is the passion for profit that allows us to grow our firms and continue to build successful practices.

Much like winning a game, earning profit feels great. Not just emotionally, but physically. Neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Ian Robertson writes about the the neuroscience of success in his book, The Winner Effect. Earning a profit (winning in business) physically alters our brain chemistry and increases the production of dopamine. It sharpens our focus and desire for continued success. Earning profit literally causes us to become passionate about earning more profit.

The lack of profit alters our brain chemistry as well (unless your business is set up to run as “non-profit” of course). Running a firm without profit is frustrating and frightening. We become depressed, disinterested and our passion for the profession fades. During times of economic slow down, the dangers threatening our firms not only come from outside pressures but literally from inside our heads.

So what can we do? Here are five approaches to earning more profit.

Cut your expenses.

Look at your books. (You do keep a record of your earnings and expenses, right?) Review your expenses and eliminate any unnecessary or wasteful spending. You may be surprised by how much of your earnings are used for supplies and services you don’t really need. Remember, the goal during this economic crisis is survival. Wait for the “good times” to return before spending your hard earned revenue on coffee service or extra phone lines you don’t use.

Eliminate debt.

When times are tough it is so easy to get snared in the trap of business debt. Credit cards and lines of credit shift from “safety net” to reliable source of “income”. Before you know it, you’re maxed out, paying massive amounts on interest and working with no net at all. Make a plan to reduce or eliminate your debt and start working with retained earnings to pay for expenses. Check out this Entreleadership podcast about the importance of running a debt-free firm.

Increase payroll.

Huh!? Increase payroll to earn more profit? Yes. Healthy businesses must grow. You can’t do it all yourself. With the right team in place, you can take on bigger and better projects. Expenses will be distributed among more income sources and you will earn more profit. Be careful though, hiring the wrong people may cost you much more than you’ll be paying them.

Raise your fees.

Competition has increased among architects and some prospective clients are selecting firms based on cost.  Many architects have cut their fees to the point where profit is impossible. Remember, without profit our firms will fail. Higher fees will not only keep your firm running strong, but will indicate the true value you bring to a client.

Expand your services.

Architects must think beyond the traditional design studio business model. In 2007, with the current economic storm heading our way, my firm expanded services to include Interior Design and Construction Management Services. This change in offerings allowed us to increase potential revenue with every project. Fees, once paid to outside designers and contractors, are now earned by our firm. Not only has potential profit resulting from each project increased significantly, but we have more control over the final quality of our projects resulting in happier clients.

Without passion there will be no profit and without profit you will soon lose your passion. To be a successful Entrepreneur Architect we must have both. It is the Passion Profit Cycle that builds great firms and allows us to continue to do what we love most; practice architecture.

Stay tuned to Entrepreneur Architect. (Click here to have my posts delivered directly to your inbox.) I will share more ideas in future posts on becoming more profitable and building great architecture firms.

Are you passionate? …about profit?

You should be.

In this crazy tough economic environment, what are some ways you have found to become more profitable?

* * *

To learn more about the neuroscience of winning, check out this recent interview with Ian Robertson and Leo Lopate on WNYC Radio.

Oklahoma State University: Architecture & Entrepreneurship

Oklahoma State is developing a program called Architecture & Entrepreneurship. Every architecture school should be doing the same.

Do you know of any other programs teaching entrepreneurship to architects?

David Hovey, FAIA, Entrepreneur Architect


Faced with the natural constraints of client-based business, architects often dream of the freedom that could arise from developing their own building projects. A look at some AIA Chicago chapter members who have taken the leap to become architect/ developers can act as an inspiration and provide insights to success in this risky, but potentially rewarding, area of business.

Read more.

The Entrepreneurial X-Factor

What is it that separates us entrepreneurs from other business people?



According to legend, this is the ad placed in a London newspaper in August 1914 by Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

While it’s not exactly the kind of ad we suggest you use to recruit employees (see our article Recruiting Ads That Work), it certainly makes clear the kind of person Shackleton was looking for. Adventurers, visionaries, risk takers, people willing to work hard only for the promise of possible recognition…

Sound like anyone you know?

In a lot of ways, you could use this very same ad for an entrepreneur.

What are Entrepreneurs Made of?

Entrepreneurs posses that indefinable quality or characteristic that drives them forward, that enables them to persevere, struggle, and overcome obstacles in order to succeed at building a thriving and successful business. You can call it the “Entrepreneurial X-Factor” — and regardless of what many believe that “X-Factor” might be (attitude, passion, obsession, or simply abundant self confidence) — most entrepreneurs believe there is something that sets them apart. Although it can be argued that it is not necessarily an intrinsic quality, there is a certain something that sets the successful entrepreneur apart from the rest.

Read more.


Fear. I think there’s lots of this stuff floating around lately.

Personally, I feel that most of our current economic woes can be tied directly to “fear of the unknown” and “fear of the different”. When the politicians in Washington want the economy to recover, they’ll delay making changes that will forever alter society as we know it, until we’re all comfortably back in business (but that is an entirely different post for an entirely different blog).

Fear can be paralyzing and debilitating. In the business world, fear is the enemy. Fear is the one thing that stands between you and your most successful future. That’s it… fear.

The most successful organizations in history were created by people who pushed past the fear, stared down the risk and took a running leap of faith in their own ideas. Google. Microsoft. Nike. Walmart. Even the United States of America. All built by fearless leaders.

What are your fears? What is standing between you and your greatest success? (Hint: It’s not the economy stupid.)

How Many Business Plans Have YOU Started?

I started at least a dozen business plans for Fivecat Studio, before I finally finished one. The task is overwhelming. Executive Statement? Financial Reports? Fun stuff…

The trick?

Keep it fun, follow your passion and start with one simple page.

Below are five questions. Answer each question with three sentences (no more – no less). When you’re done answering these questions, you’ll have a plan.

  1. What is the mission of your firms?
  2. What is your vision for the firm?
  3. What are the strategies you will use to accomplish your mission for the firm?
  4. What are the specific goals you have set using your strategies?
  5. What are the specific action plans you will use to meet your goals?

This is how I did it.

Our first completed business plan was a single page. It’s been significantly expanded since then and each year we revisit the plan, revise it, add to it and use it to keep us on course. Its been a key factor in the success of Fivecat Studio.

As an architect, you know you cannot build a successful building without a plan. As an Entrepreneur Architect, you must develop a plan in order to create a successful business.

Fivecat Studio: Interviewed on WVOX 1460AM

Last week, Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, invited me to join her at WVOX 1460AM in New Rochelle, NY. I enjoyed speaking with her about Fivecat Studio, the business of architecture and our annual campaign to support local animal shelters, Pillows of Puppies.

Are You Remarkable?

Becky Shankle (@ecomod) is thinking out of the box… the IKEA box to be more specific.

Becky is the founder and lead designer at eco-modernism. In addition to designing and installing custom kitchens and baths in the Raleigh, NC region, she has launched an innovative IKEA kitchen services. By promoting her firm as IKEA specialists, she differentiates eco-mod from the dozens of other kitchen designers in her region. She’s a Purple Cow. She’s remarkable. She has found a way to inspire people to “remark” about her firm (here I am writing about her… so it worked).

How can you transform your firm to be more remarkable?

Learn more about Becky and eco-modernism at her website, her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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