One of the most magical talents we have is our ability to tell stories. Myths, fables, parables, tales—whatever we call the stories we share, they are the keys to the common storehouse of human experience. We create these messages for a wealth of reasons—to entertain, to inform, to protect, and to teach.
The work I do with and for my clients is storytelling, although I haven't always called it that. Books, brochures, by-lined articles, even proposals are stories about firms, their people, the strength of their design, the possibilities of the venture. What matters most.
Over time I have begun to tell stories of my own. Whether it's an article on urbanism or marketing strategy, a talk about firm culture or creativity, the narrative is always about the ideas that matter to me. I trust that they matter to my audience, my fellow humans.
They [tomorrow’s workers] can and must become champions at the skills of human interaction — empathy above all, social sensitivity, collaboration, storytelling, solving problems together, building relationships. The reason is that we’re hardwired by 100,000 years of evolution to value deep interaction with other humans (and not with computers). Those wants won’t be changing anytime soon.
~ Geoff Colvin
New Voodou is in the right business.
SoCal, Semiotics, Sorbonne, SMPS. It’s an unlikely background that serves me well in my role as advisor, advocate and articulator of ideas. Good fortune found me when marketing professional services was in its nascent days. Since then I have had the exceptional opportunity to work with several of the leading architectural and design firms and, more importantly, some of the best minds in the industry. Right place at the right time: helping the Society for Marketing Professional Services flourish has been a professional reward. And I was honored to serve as national president and receive their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Houston to Harvard to home in Santa Fe, my career trajectory has taken me from large-scale practices to my own independent consultancy. Along the way I have shared my perspective and ideas, and those of my remarkable collaborators, in articles and presentations to the design and development communities through SMPS, the American Institute of Architects and Urban Land Institute and by teaching at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Executive Education and the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, as well as courses at Columbia University’s Masters in Real Estate Development and Rice University’s Jones School, among others.
Sherman Alexie, a Spokane Indian and one of my favorite authors, wrote a wonderful poem, “An Incomplete List of People I Wish Were Indians.” In it he lists an all-star team of adventurers, athletes, actors, artists and authors as well as Jesus Christ and Superman. I have been lucky to have found my tribe in my work. My collaborators have inspired and challenged and taught me much of what I know about professional practice.
Over 20 years ago I joined Paul Nakazawa and Marjanne Pearson in a strategic alliance that married three distinct professional points of view—practice, talent and image—to embrace the full range of issues confronting contemporary practitioners. We consulted together for many years and taught an influential course at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design through the executive education program. Today, Marjanne and I continue to work and write together exploring the changing landscape of the market for design services.
Cathy Edgerly Fales and I have collaborated on brand identity; talking, teaching and writing on the topic. Graphic designer, Kristin Odermatt, and I have worked together for many years developing marketing materials for real estate developers and architecture firms. Kristin and I are currently working with Bill Nevell in an integrated marketing approach for design firms.
It was the myth of fingerprints. - Paul Simon
I can't say for sure about fingerprints, but my experience in working with a select group of firms, in collaboration and on my own, has reinforced my belief in their unique identity, culture and value.
Duda Paine Architects
Eskew Dumez Ripple
Gary Lee Partners
MCLA Lighting Design
STIR Architecture (formerly Altoon + Porter Architects)
Withee Malcolm Architects
Photo Credits: Nancy - Marilyn Duker | Pow-Wow - Kiyyah