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In architecture school, we might take a Professional Practice course, but it rarely addresses business development or sales. In my case, I got a Masters of Architecture without having ever even taken a Professional Practice class. Once in practice, however, I was immediately assigned marketing and business development tasks. I began to learn by doing.

Fortunately, I received valuable mentorship from Jeffrey Bricker, AIA, which was based on the model of S.I. Morris – a remarkable man with fantastic people skills and an amazing achievement record. However, I was never confident that this model fit my personal style or the environment in which I was working. I began searching for new models that I could own and share with others. The late great Tom McKittrick, FAIA, introduced me to the fine work of Max DePree, including one of my favorite books, Leadership Is an Art. This book provided a model for leading and interacting with diverse teams of creative people, including my teams with the Park Team J.V., City of Houston General Services Department, and Houston Public Library. It was a book that acknowledged and celebrated the use of personalized styles and techniques toward a common goal. I could see myself in this book, pursuing a thoughtful path of self-expression while advancing organizational goals.

When I joined Page 5 years ago, I assumed more responsibility for business development and even – gasp! – sales, a word that architects don’t like to use. Although I was comfortable interacting with potential clients and listening to their needs, I needed to become a “closer” and get beyond the conversational stage of interaction. That was when I discovered the work of Daniel H. Pink, who is not an architect, but whose principles are easy to grasp and can be adapted to people of varying styles. I bought the audiobook, To Sell Is Human, and liked it so much that I listened to it twice, then bought the print edition. It debunked the outdated image of the plaid-coated used car salesman and showed how sales is essentially interaction – mostly listening, then hopefully reaching consensus that benefits both individuals.

Although I am still learning and growing, I am excited with tools I’ve discovered – so much so that I want to share them in the Prosperity Conference. I am certain that at least one of the tools I will share will help you be more effective, and more human, in your practice.

Register for the 2nd Annual Prosperity Conference here.

Wendy Heger, AIA, is Associate Principal and Client Development Director at Page

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