RR: Listen first. Take responsibility for your actions. Take work off their plate. Treat their money like your own. Be humble, but always remember that you are hired to be an expert at your craft. Have a voice when tough decisions need to be made. Deliver great design. “There are also many ways to contribute to the firm’s success beyond the numbers. Leadership and experience are where a lot of our value lives.” TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? RR: Yes, we are. It has worked great. We have worked with an outside consultant to help us navigate our opportunities for the past couple of years. I would recommend more design firms to take advantage of this credit. TZL: Your company seems to embrace a culture that is collaborative and fun. What are some key ways you maintain and nurture those characteristics? RR: We have a lot of ambassadors in the office who help maintain and protect our culture. And our office space has a lot to do with it. From my first day, it was described as equal parts lab and workplace. We like to experiment on ourselves. And we are getting better at celebrating the little things! Team meetings celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, accomplishments, and milestones. Our project gong sits in a prominent location in the studio and is a fun way of announcing wins. Our founding principal has even sent one to the home of our director of business development so the tradition can stay alive as we work from home. Zoom happy hours are the new norm. We have also started a new “10/10/10” meeting. It is a voluntary set of meetings where people can virtually meet with their peers and share how they are doing personally, professionally, and how they think the company is doing – on a familiar scale of 1 to 10. Someone even started a book club. I am constantly amazed at the ideas to keep our team connected. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? See TOUCHDOWN, page 8
as we brought most of our technology strategy in-house. As a result, we didn’t have an “all at once” shock to our systems. I truly applaud our founding principal (and chief innovator) and our technology director for being ahead of the curve. I think our next move is to really reach out individually to our team and see what pieces they are missing for the best work- from-home setup. TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? RR: Right now, six to nine months. But with a heavy portfolio of corporate and healthcare interiors and interior architecture work this has been the norm for the past five years. Those projects just have a shorter life than typical ground-up architecture projects. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” RR: It’s about 50/50 right now. Some weeks the hours tilt one way or the other. It’s mostly my fault because some of my best clients have been collaborators for six plus years and I like working on their projects. When you find great friends in your work, you tend to hold on to them tightly. I’m learning though! “Be humble, but always remember that you are hired to be an expert at your craft. Have a voice when tough decisions need to be made. Deliver great design.” TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? RR: There has always been an overlap. Although my wife is an educator now, we met in college and have the same design degree. So, it’s been nice to have someone who gets what the profession demands. And the kids have always been interested in what I do. They love to see me draw at the home office and join me from time to time. I’ve adopted the notion of looking for work- life harmony and not work-life balance. One can consume the other pretty quickly and I have loved ones that know when I’m forgetting about the other. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients?
HEADQUARTERS: Houston, TX NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 48 YEAR FOUNDED: 1997 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ❚ ❚ Houston, TX ❚ ❚ Dallas, TX ❚ ❚ Tulsa, OK ❚ ❚ Nashville, TN THEIR WORK: ❚ ❚ Workplace ❚ ❚ Health and science ❚ ❚ Architecture and design ❚ ❚ Experiential design THE ESSENCE OF DESIGN: People VALUES: ❚ ❚ Respect ❚ ❚ Good stewardship ❚ ❚ Opportunity ❚ ❚ Curiosity ❚ ❚ Excellence MISSION: To transform the client experience in design and architecture by creating smart, human-centered spaces achieved through a dedicated partnership with its expert team.
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OBER 26, 2020, ISSUE 1365
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