Archive for the 'Websites' 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 ADOSAR.com.

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 ADOSAR.com.

Michael Gallin is an Entrepreneur Architect.

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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.

My Time Online: Presenting Portfolio, Creating Context and a Top Google Rank

This week, we’ve been exchanging website URLs over at the Entrepreneur Architect Linkedin Group. It is very interesting to learn some background on the people we’re interacting with on that forum.

I shared our website URL (which is in the midst of an upgrade from our original site to a new one). Then, I posted links to all my other work online. Here is my original post:

In addition to our website at http://www.fivecat.com, below are the other places I spend my time online (and with my spare time, I’m a very involved Dad to 3 and I run an architecture firm).

Entrepreneur Architect Blog: http://www.EntrepreneurArchitect.com
Entrepreneur Architect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EntrepreneurArchitect
Entrepreneur Architect on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EntrepreneurRA

Fivecat Blog: http://www.LivingWellinWestchester.com
Fivecat on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FivecatStudio
Fivecat on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FivecatStudio
Fivecat Squidoo Lens: http://www.squidoo.com/Fivecat

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markrlepage

I am very active on all of the above sites. It has absolutely benefited the firm and me professionally. I have a Pinterest account, a Google+ account and a Tumblr account as well, but I don’t spend much time with these (yet).

How about you? Other than actively participating here (thank you very much) and our new sub-groups, Architect Led DesignBuild http://goo.gl/U2heu and Architect Developer http://goo.gl/DJZTr, do you spend time online elsewhere?

Where? Why? and How much time?

A few group members asked if all this online presence was worth the effort. Do I really benefit from spending so much time online?

First, I enjoy writing and interacting with people all over the world. I have met so many people and have learned so much from my work online.

As for the business, we literally built our firm using our website. When we launched the firm in 1999 almost all of our work came directly from our website. Today, it’s about 50%. The other half comes from referrals from happy clients. We have a form that prospective clients complete when we meet for an interview. One of the questions we ask is where they found us, so we know exactly from where our leads are originating.

The blog, twitter and facebook do not typically lead directly to work, but they allow prospective clients to learn more about Fivecat Studio and more about me. They create context. When I meet with prospective clients, many tell me that they feel they already know me and that most certainly gives me an advantage when presenting a proposal.

All the work online also leads to very high rankings on Google, which is the point if you want your website to lead to sales. If you’re not found on the first page of a Google search, you are invisible to your prospective clients. Search “Westchester Architects” on Google and you will find us within the top 3 results on the first page (the results vary day to day).

I have never quantified my time online. I probably don’t want to know. I don’t recommend that everyone invest as much effort online as I have, but for us, it has been very, very successful.

Dream Big: Develop Your Business Plan Using a Narrative

ArchDaily.com picked up my friend and Entrepreneur Architect Linkedin Group member Bob Borson’s blog post today. If you haven’t read Bob’s writings, I recommend that you visit him at LifeofanArchitect.com. Leave him a comment and tell him we said “hi”.

Bob describes how he uses a narrative during the programming phase to learn what his clients want, both functionally as well as emotionally. At Fivecat Studio, we use a similar process using a questionnaire and other fun programming exercises to help guide our clients through the mine field of ideas in their heads. As Bob states in his post, this is “the most important step”.

Bob’s post also reminded me of how I finally developed and finished my business plan for Fivecat Studio. For years I had started and stopped and started and stopped as I attempted to craft a business plan worthy of the organization I had assembled in my head. In fact, I had no less than six separate incomplete documents in the “Business Plan” folder on my PC (I’ve switched over to Macs since then).

So, how did I break the pattern?

I wrote a narrative. I described, in detail, what my business would look like 10 years into the future. I basically described the vision I held in my head for so many years. I had a blast! For one, it’s lots of fun to dream big… with no limits. It was inspiring and helped me focus on what I really wanted to do and where I really wanted to go. It also helped with the development of the rest of my plan. Knowing where I ultimately wanted to end up, helped me develop my plan to get there.

Give it a try. Grab your laptop or a blank piece of paper and start… now! Imagine yourself 10 years from now. What are you doing? Where are you doing it? For whom? Let yourself go. Let your pencil flow. Set no limits and dream big. Your finished business plan is waiting.

Is Our Profession Really Experiencing a “Meltdown”?

Many of you have probably already read this article posted to Salon.com this past Saturday. There have also been a few similar articles written in the New York Times and WSJ.

Is our profession really experiencing an all-out “meltdown”, or are we no worse than most other businesses and industries trying to survive the most depressed economy since the Great Depression? (Many claim it is even worse than the Depression, but that is not the topic I want to discuss here.)

It is bad, no doubt. Painfully bad!, but is the profession collapsing to the point where young creatives have no chance of ever becoming practicing architects? Are we at the point when the practicing architects should give it all up and follow other paths?

Or… must we evolve, expand, grow and reclaim our profession? Must we take control of our destinies and reconstruct the Practice of Architecture for the generations of creative professions to come?

Let’s talk…

Recruit Your Clients to Help you Better Serve your Clients

Starbucks Coffee Co. has built a website dedicated to the interaction with their customers. It’s called My Starbucks Idea. Have an idea that will improve the Starbucks customer experience? Drop them a line at their website. The best ideas are actually implemented in Starbucks stores throughout the world.

Check out the website here: mystarbucksidea.force.com

How can we recruit OUR clients to help us serve them better?

TED

One of the best sites on the web…TED.

Beyond Your Website

I enjoyed participating as a panelist today, discussing How Businesses Can Use “New Media” to Grow. The event was coordinated by the Westchester County Association. Nancy Shenker, founder and President of The ON Switch, did a superb job as moderator. My fellow panelists, both much more knowledgeable of the subject than I, were Lena West, founder and CEO of xynoMedia and Howard Greenstein, co-founder of Social Media Club.

Nancy invited me to discuss my experience using social media as part of our marketing strategy at Fivecat Studio. Using screenshots of Fivecat.com, my Living Well in Westchester blog, this blog and my Squidoo lens, I explained that our entire online presence supports our effort to build Fivecat Studio into the most recognized, most respected brand of residential architecture in the Westechester / Fairfield region (and eventually beyond).

The time we have invested online has paid off. A Google search for Westchester Architects will provide three separate links referring to “Mark R. LePage” or “Fivecat Studio” on the number one results page. And that does not include our AdWords link, also prominently featured on the first page. Perform a search at Google Blog Search and you will find similar results.

Many hours of web development and blogging has put Fivecat Studio in the position to be found online by our prospects every time.

I hope everyone attending found that the event was worth their time and left with some inspiration to start their own work online. If anyone has more questions about what we do at Fivecat Studio, either online or off, you are welcome to email me.

You may enjoy reading the event particiapant’s blogs below:

Nancy Shenker

Howard Greenstein

Lena West

Big Firms or Small, Everyone Should be Online

This past Wednesday evening, the AIAWMH Practice Management Committee discussed websites and their relevance to architects. As I have posted before and have been preaching for years, I think being online is critical to business success. My belief is that if you’re not online, you don’t exist.

I presented my ideas to the committee, visited my firm’s website and showed them some of the other work I’ve done on the web. Then we surfed a bit and checked out many examples of architects’ sites throughout the country.

Big firms and small. Commercial and residential firms. It was very interesting to see the broad range in design and presentation of the sites we viewed.

Today, Seth Godin posted his idea for local businesses who want to be online, but may not want to dedicated the time and money for a professional website. It may not be for everyone, but for the small local firm it may be the answer to business success.

Designing Your Firm’s Website

As a follow up to my post earlier week on the importance of architects being online, Architectural Record online has an interesting article on what to consider when designing your firm’s website.


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