Monday, January 20, 2014

ELP Class of 2014
Chairs: Amy Holzle, Lauren Boepple, Jared Eder, Shannon Carpenter

This year's Emerging Leaders Class met for the first time Friday evening at the DCFA for a small orientation and introduction to the program. This would be the first time they would meet the one and only Dr. Pete DeLisle  "The Man". The man who would take them on a journey for the next 9 months, teaching them how to use their voice, have a voice, and be a leader.  I would imagine after the ELP class left orientation, they had questions, and thoughts of what the heck they would be doing the next morning. Would they be gathering early the next morning for the Kick-Off Retreat, only to encounter 6 hours of lecturing and note taking? Would it be like college classes, sitting and listening for hours upon hours? Little did they know, they were in for a treat! A day of learning, filled with activities and discussions most of them had never had the privilege of experiencing. Because, let's face it, not often do learning and fun end up in the same sentence.

The class arrived at the Pump House bright and early on a Saturday morning, expecting breakfast and hot coffee to help wake them up and focus on a day of learning. Surprise, in typical architect fashion… the coffee and food was running a bit late. Fast forward 4.3 minutes and the coffee and hot breakfast burritos arrived. As the group stuffed their faces, they went around the room sharing interesting facts about themselves. Some were about dogs, babies, babies on the way, how they needed more sleep, how beautiful it was outside, how excited they were to be sharing their Saturday with a group of strangers etc.
For most of these individuals, it was the second time they had been in a room with these people, one would still call them strangers. Try and imagine yourself in their shoes and hold on to that feeling of uneasiness. Now imagine you are given your first task, the goal is to convey a sentence  you just wrote down to the person beside you. There's only one problem, you are not allowed to speak to the person beside you. Now add another variable, the person you are trying to communicate with cannot see you. You can’t speak, and they can’t see. How do you communicate effectively? How does this relate to work? How does this relate to relationships? Why does this matter? My personal favorite sentence one classmate wrote "This exercise makes me uncomfortable". Now imagine how the heck you are going to convey that message without speaking to your partner. Without giving it away, I'll let you view some images to see how our talented new class reacted. This was just one of the many lessons discussed on Saturday, January 18th, at the Emerging Leaders Class of 2014 Kick-off Retreat.


The day went on with discussions about oneself. What’s known, hidden, blind, and unknown. Each topic grandly defined with stories and situations that would help each class member understand what makes an effective leader, co-worker, and teammate. Each discussion led to a group activity, even something as simple as group juggling and hot potato, if you will. The tasks were, for the most part, straightforward, allowing each individual to observe their surroundings and uncover the reasons why people work together the way they do. It allowed them to understand how leadership develops naturally within a team.
Everything in life can be examined. Sometimes we tend to over think the simple answers and try to produce complicated judgments that only cause more worry and anxiety. Pete has a way of allowing the group to work together without distractions, by carefully controlling the internal and external circumstances, which in turn allows each person to take a step back and observe/study the resulting behaviors. Juggling those tennis balls and developing a communication style, led everyone to realize it’s much like juggling work. if you have an effective team, and team leader, everything will flow as it should. The team will be effective and the company will be effective and efficient.


Halfway through the day, the group gathered as a large family would, and had lunch. Lunch was catered by Street Fooder (one of our favorites). The group was treated to the PHAT sandwich, aka Pretty Hot And Tasty – Texas toast piled high with chicken and slaw. Yum! By lunchtime you could tell the group was comfortable with one another and was ready to open up. The room was filled with chatter, stories about family, work, the previous class discussion, and so on.
As is routine, lunch ended and the group gathered to continue the conversation. Situational conversations began amongst the group. Feedback was given, and ideas and stories pinged back and forth from one person to the next. You could see and feel the camaraderie within the room. The class learned there is no such thing as constructive criticism, as this is an oxymoron. Instead we should learn to call it constructive feedback, and learn how to promote positive remarks and useful feedback.  
As the day game to an end, the group discussed what they had learned that day and what they had hoped to gain from the class. By the time it was ready to depart for the day, it became to clear to all in the room, that the activities and discussions had served many purposes beyond leadership and leadership skills. The entire day had transformed the group of strangers into a group of partners, who were all beginning to trust one another and make friendships. It will definitely be an amazing adventure for this group over the next 9 months, with many great stories to come!

Article: Shannon Carpenter, AIA NCARB (2014 ELP Co-Chair)

Class of 2013 Project Update

Promise House _ Street Outreach Shelter Space


As of today, the team is VERY close to being able to send construction drawings to the city for permitting! This means we can start construction in the near future!!!!!
The group has a few meetings left with Promise House to hammer out some finish and construction details, then it’s off to securing supplies, as well as hands, to help get this project finished.
Our goal is to have kids in the space before the end of Summer.
We would like to thank everyone who donated money at our fundraisers, volunteered to review drawings, and those who have given in kind donations to help this project be a success! Keep checking back for the final build out photos and updates!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Innovators and Adapters, Mentors and Proteges

How easy or difficult do you find it to present yourself consistently, over a long period of time as:

a perform who conforms?

a person who proliferates ideas?

a person who needs the stimulation of frequent change?

These questions and others from the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory were pondered by each member of the ELP class during our June meeting.  On a scale from “very easy” to “very hard”  we each reflected on whether or not we considered ourselves to be “methodical and systematic” or a person who “risks doing things differently.”   The responses to the questions had numerical values resulting in a score that indicated whether we were innovators (who generally produce numerous ideas, prefer less structured environments, and like to find new ways to do things), adapters (who prefer to generate a smaller number of high quality ideas, work within the established system, and like well defined restraints) and bridgers (who fall somewhere in between).  In short, a contrast was established between those who like “doing things differently” and those who like “doing things better” and those who strive to balance or link both together.

Once we all had a score, we arranged ourselves from high to low and reviewed the results.  Most seemed to feel that they did indeed fit into the stereotype of innovator, adapter, or bridger as described.  Perhaps not surprisingly, this group of architects and designers tended to skew towards the innovator side on average.  Pete then lead a discussion on the implications of these varying personality types, how those traits affect teams, and what this means for a team leader.

Also at our meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from four panelists, Kimberly Byrum of Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate Advisory Serices, Laura Davis of HPD Architecture, Terrence Maiden of Corinth Properities, and Dennis Stacy of Stacy Architectural Studio, on the topic of mentors and proteges.  Several of our previous panelists had touched on the importance of this subject, but at this meeting, the four shared their advice and stories on an in depth level.  Having a mentor is important, they emphasized, but having a protege is also important.  Some shared how the act of being a mentor had been as meaningful an experience as being mentored, not only because a younger person can bring fresh ideas and perspective to the table, but also because there is a additional motivation to uphold high standards  of excellence as an example to the protege who is watching.  The discussion then turned towards current efforts in the field of architecture, both from firms and from the AIA, to foster mentorships among its members. 

Do you have a mentor? we asked each other.  How have our mentors helped us?  What do we wish a mentor would do for us?  How will we someday mentor those who will be at our experience level, looking up to us for help and guidance?

Gwen Morgan, SHW Group

Friday, June 14, 2013


The weekend of May 17-19 was a busy one for the ELP class.  On Friday we convened our monthly meeting at Allsteel's showroom in the design district where we heard from three industry leaders: Jeff Forbes of the Beck Group, David Zatopek of Corgan Associates, and Mitch Milby of Milby, PLCC.  The three men formed a panel which brought together three diverse perspectives: architectural, construction, and legal.  They shared with the class how leadership is demonstrated amongst the various trades that interact in the design and construction of buildings.  All three emphasized the importance of mentorship in professional development, an idea which has become a recurring theme in the class this year.  Although we missed having Pete there in person, we were able to pick up a few of his tidbits of wisdom by watching pre-recorded videos of his thoughts on what motivates people (why they do what they do) and high performance teams.

On Saturday we embarked on our first major fundraising event for the expansion of the Promise House Teen Street Outreach facilities with an event hosted by Community  Beer Company downtown.  Community Beer Company was kind enough to offer up their space and donate a portion of entry fees to the cause (a thousand thank yous!).   It was a warm, sunny afternoon (not to mention International Beer day), and the place was soon full of architects, designers, their spouses, friends, and members of the community, laughing, talking, and supporting a cause.  A few local artists displayed their work.  Raffle tickets were sold, beer was drunk, and a good time was had by all.  Thanks to everyone who participated!  What a wonderful way to kick things off!
Gwen Morgan, SHW Group