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YAF Leadership Program 2017-18
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Marketing and Business Development Meeting

Posted By Emily Dallmeyer, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Written by: Emily Dallmeyer and Ryan Trimble

They YAF group gathered at Little’s office to have a discussion with Rob Crane, Managing Principal at C Design, Kim Marks, Principal at Progressive AE, and Nathan Daniel, Principal at LS3P.  Our session title was “Marketing and Business Development” so while we focused on how each panelist thinks about pursuing and winning work, we also delved into business development from a staff and personal standpoint.

When talking about pursuing work, the panel had both broad and very specific recommendations.  With each question that the attendees asked, their responses came back to the essential idea of knowing your potential client and your own team.  An effective RFQ/RFP package and interview presentation is framed in response to a specific client’s needs, culture and values.  Before you even put together the pursuit, the panelists stressed the importance of a go/no go process wherein you and your team clearly discuss how your team can excel and what projects will benefit your firm.  It is important not to burn time on pursuits that you either can’t win, or projects that aren’t profitable or constructive in some other way.  The concepts of awareness and reflection on how you actually do your work and learn from it continued to be a thread throughout the conversation. That said, the panelists encouraged us not to be too risk adverse, and if a project is in your firm’s target field to not be afraid to submit, even if it seems like a long shot against bigger firms. 

Assuming you need the workforce to accomplish the projects that you’ve now won, the YAF program participants asked questions about how Rob, Kim and Nathan go about attracting and retaining staff. While strategies constantly as the target audience of potential staff is changing, the panelists had a few specific methods.  Progressive AE took the route of hiring a full time in-house recruiter, while all the firms use social media and engagement with community organizations, including attending critiques or career expos at UNC Charlotte and other regional universities.  Potentially most importantly, and very resonant today, is that they all highlight their firm’s culture as well as their portfolio.

The conversation wrapped up with a few questions about the arc of the panelists’ careers and how personal professional development plays into the firms’ business development.  Based on Rob’s, Kim’s and Nathan’s different paths to leadership positions, they recommended to the attendees to ask questions, let your firm leadership know that you’re interested, and to get involved in passion projects outside of your work.  It was particularly interesting to hear that while firms want to sell their culture to staff members, they also find value in their staff having full lives outside of work. 

The overall conversation bounced between multiple types of marketing and business development, from the firm to client relationship, to staff recruiting and retainment and finally wrapping up with discussions about insights into how to manage personal life to career priorities.  The room came away with a lot of questions answered as well as a lot of food for thought.  Thanks to Rob, Kim, and Nathan for taking the time to speak with us!

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Session 4: Integrity in Business

Posted By Lauren Burn, Monday, December 4, 2017

Before attending the YAF Session 4 – Integrity in Business, the group was asked to read a short article from an interview with Professor Michael Jenson. The article introduced the group to the concept of integrity and its relationship to business. Throughout the session we would learn more about integrity – how to keep it and loose it in the workplace.

One of the biggest concepts explained in this session was that integrity is not only keeping one’s agreement or word. This is not the only way to uphold integrity. Rather, we can keep integrity by honoring the agreement.

An example was running late to a meeting. One might argue that being late to a meeting would result in a loss of integrity. Though integrity can be kept in this situation by simply sending a notice to the other meeting members. This makes them aware of your being late. A notice would keep the integrity of the situation. The original agreement of the meeting time would not be met, but in notifying the group, the original agreement is still being honored and acknowledged.

Integrity isn’t just the moral right/wrong in a situation.  Rather integrity is the workability of a situation. Integrity holds everyone accountable. When someone is late to a meeting, integrity is lost because the meeting is no longer workable. But in the notification of being late, this allows others to plan accordingly and start the meeting at a time when the meeting is workable.

Integrity is when a task is whole and complete with nothing missing. One way to reach a whole and complete end result is to put key tasks in existence. By scheduling work and making a list of 'incompletes', this allows us to see how much there is left to complete. A way to do this is to put tasks on the calendar or some other display outside the head. In this session we were asked to make a list of all our 'incompletes'. Making lists isn’t the solution, but actually going back to review them and check them off. These are strategies that allow us to keep our promises and live with integrity. 

--Gabrielle Steffel, AIA

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Session 1: Personal Leadership Assessment

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The purpose of Session 1: Personal Leadership Assessment was to review the results of a personality trait exam that members had taken online a few weeks previous. The session was led by Erika Weed of Ascendry Consulting, and was hosted at National Gypsum’s Technology Innovation Center. The examination used was “The Big Five” – a widely-used exam that measures five factors:

1. Need for Stability (N)
2. Extraversion (E)
3. Originality (O)
4. Accommodation (A)
5. Consolidation (C)

Subcategories are then listed below each factor, drilling down to a finer level of detail with more specificity.  Each subcategory assigns respondents a value between 1 and 100, representing the spectrum of a particular trait.  For example, the first subcategory under Need for Stability is “N1: Worry”.  A value below 35 indicates that the respondent generally is at ease most of the time, while a value above 65 indicates that the respondent frequently worries.  Using the values from each subcategory of a trait, an overall value is calculated that determines the subject’s overall tendency towards or away from that trait.

Erica began the discussion explaining the difference between preference and performance. Preference was referred to as personality which is primarily determined by genetics and life events. Performance is behavior or tendencies toward certain traits, some of which are measured in “The Big Five.” Throughout the discussion the topic of performance (behavior) was focused on and the importance of aligning the subjects work performance and home performance in an effort to create a more balanced lifestyle better suited for each individual’s personality. Each member received the results of their exam and was encouraged to ask questions freely and debate, creating a dialogue.

The first part of the personalized exam results evaluated both supertraits and subtraits.  The next part was a narrative describing the results to the subject with real world examples.  The final part of the exam took all of the results and organized them into interpretive comments that offered suggestions on how to play towards personal supertrait strengths and ways to improve in other areas.  This section was divided into the following themes: career, emotional intelligence, independence, leadership, personal characteristics, relationships, safety and health, values, and work habits. Having a greater insight into tendencies for the workplace categories makes each person more aware of how they may improve or hone interactions with colleagues, clients & family to better align home performance and work performance.

-Ryan Barkes, AIA & Chris Reiter, AIA

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Session 2: Listening, Giving and Receiving Feedback

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 9, 2017

I really enjoyed Dana Byrd’s presentation on listening and receiving feedback.  It was eye opening to know that sometimes while we think the fastest path to success is speaking up, sometimes its more valuable to pause and listen.  We get so caught up in wanting to be heard but what we really want is to establish trust, morale, respect, and relationships.

The session consisted of 2 parts: Part one was her presentation on listening and leading by influence and Part 2 was a small group exercise in listening and receiving feedback.

In Part 1, her presentation reminds us of how distracted we really are by technology, phones and work that when we are listening… we really are not, at least not deeply. In addition to listening, it is important to make space. In other words, create pauses that give the speaker time to ponder and reflect on what they are saying more deeply.  Another point I found really valuable in an ‘out of body looking in’ way was her point that the number one reason we don’t listen is because of our ego.  We tend not to seek other’s opinions or value their input when we are doing something that is our strength. This can lead to bad team dynamics.

In Part 2 of the session we took turns being the speaker, the listener or the feedback giver.

It was a helpful exercise for us to hyper focus on how we listen and how we reflect this through our body language. 

-Taylor Milner Compton, AIA

Dana Byrd broke the session into two parts:

Part 1 – Dana dove into what it means to listen and the different levels at which we do so, i.e. hearing doesn’t equate to listening. We listen to do one of three things, respond, understand, or to gain meaning. Each takes a certain level of attentiveness, with gaining meaning from a conversation requiring the most. Dana touched on verbal and non-verbal behaviors and how utilizing both within a conversation can be used as powerful tools. Giving someone an extra second to think and respond before filling the brief silence with your own voice can allow that person to fully express what they might be thinking. Also asking powerful and thought provoking questions not only moves the conversation along, but can take it to the next level.

Part 2 – For part two we were broken into groups of three with each person given a certain task, to be a listener, speaker, or observer. The speaker was to share an experience while the listener practiced the skills learned from part 1. The observer was to watch the listener and focus on how well they put those skills to work. Each person had the opportunity to perform all tasks, with each task giving a unique perspective on listening with a purpose and how difficult it can actually be.

Dana taught us a significant amount about listening, but one of the biggest takeaways was ‘Listening ROI.’ What you gain from intentional listening and communication is rapport, trust, and respect; just a few things we look to take away from listening and giving and receiving feedback.

-Patrick Gaither, AIA

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