Think again -Tell us about a time you made a false assumption about a person or place.
In this business as an architect we meet many people in a given month or any given year. First impressions are obviously important and may affect how we decide to move forward with a project. There have been several times when my first impression with someone has been…let’s say weaker than the relationship that ensued. I don’t want to be too specific because I don’t want to release details or embarrass. However, I’ll tell one story.
Early in the life of my own business, a call came from a potential client. I wasn’t even in my office; I was actually in Lowes looking for something during my lunch time. When you are in the early years of being on your own, it is common to have…some free time on your hands. Nevertheless, my office phone rang over to my cell and I answered it. A person was calling inquiring about hiring an architect.
The types of things he was discussing and the information he shared at the time puzzled me because I didn’t understand what it had to do with the big picture of the project. I could tell from the information that the person was very concerned about detail and had a vision for their project. Fortunately, I agreed to meet with them to discuss the project. To be honest, I had only been in business a short time so I was not going to turn anything away.
When I finally met the couple, the first impression (in person) was very positive. I still had concerns about the project, seeing their unusual current house, but I decided that the relationship was more important than the project. It intrigued me to be honest. I took on the challenge to design a large addition with no idea where it would go or how long it would last. I believe we worked together (on and off) over the course of seven or eight years.
The exchanges were intoxicating. As we moved forward, things only got better. The couple’s vision required me to be my best, think critically and look for multiple solutions (hmmm…all of the things architects do). This project had to fit the site, the context and their specific requests. They demanded (politely) to work the design down to the last detail and trusted me to work it out. They never made a move without me. They paid fairly and quickly. I guarded this relationship very carefully. I was heavily involved throughout construction, more than customary. Therefore, I felt like I built this too.
As I look back since project was completed years ago, I discovered that not only did I find a new client but I found good friends. It was one of the most rewarding projects I have done to date – and early in my life as a business owner. It could be a long time until I find another client that will invest in a project (or in me) with the trust and latitude that they offered. We gained a tremendous respect for one another and a great project resulted.
Had I judged the situation solely from the very first telephone conversation I might have missed out on a really amazing opportunity. So, think again.
photos are from stock photo galleries on FreeImages.com – click on photo to see author (used under the Standard Restrictions)