How to Succeed in Business in a Nutshell
How to succeed in business – this question has many answers. I wish I could give you a true formula, an ABC, a 1-2-3 on how I was successful here at Development One. The only thing that I can tell you is that all along I’ve been very passionate about my profession. Passion is what drives me and what gives me the energy to keep on going.
Following Your Passion
A lot of people might say different things about the right formula to succeed in business. To me, if anybody were to ask for my advice, I would tell them to follow your passion, whatever that is. It’s like in the movie City Slickers: it’s one thing. Determine what that one thing is and pursue it. Never look back. Always reinvent yourself. Always keep yourself growing. But follow that one thing that you’re passionate about. That’s what I did.
When I use the word passion, I bring it down to some important basics. What is it about my profession that I was passionate about? The biggest thing I am passionate about is making a difference in the built environment. When I see how my clients respond to my design work and to me, that is the ultimate way to succeed in business. To be able to see how this not only affected them but how they are using that facility throughout the years.
Designing for an Air Force Base
I remember one of the first facilities that I designed. It was for an Air Force base up north, Travis Air Force Base. It was a visitor center. I remember being a young guy putting out my ideas on what this facility could look like. I’ll never forget the clients saying that is the facility that they want. I stuck to my guns about the design because some other people want to change it around. After that, I sold my design to the client and he followed through in building it. I started doing some more work for them up north this last year. And to my surprise, the building is still standing.
So I’ve gone in to ask them how they liked the building. The people running it still talk about it as if it were a brand new building. That is a thought that has told me that this building has stood the test of time. It was the right design. And that is what makes it all worthwhile. That is where I draw my passion. It’s one of the things that is important in any field.
Mentorship is Another Element of Success
And of course most important in the field of architecture is to have the proper mentorship. I went to the University of Washington. There, it was important that we embrace the field of architecture in a passionate way. They wanted to know for sure that you had it in you to go the distance. They wanted you to get a good degree and to be able to become a licensed architect. And the only way to do that was to develop a very strong passion for the profession of architecture.
There were different ways that U of W helped us develop this passion. Some of the instructors took us to their projects to see them. Some of them taught us the ways to draw that communicated your ideas well. But it was also a tremendous amount of fun. There were some times where they actually had you meet clients. This showed the interaction between one and the other. We were able to be able to come up with these ideas and make them come to fruition.
There were many ways that they led by example in developing this passion for the profession. When I left university, I was in love with the profession and what my future looked like ahead. Here we are, fast-forward 30 years in the life of DevelopmentOne. I continue to feel as passionate as I did back then…it’s possible that it’s a little bit more intense now.
Preparing to Succeed in Business
When I went out of business, I almost hung up my shingle. I started out of my garage. And I was on a wing and a prayer hoping that things would work out. If somebody told me that it was going to take 10 years before I would make a living in architecture, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But it’s important to be realistic. It is very important to give a complete commitment to your profession.
You must immerse yourself in it and believe in it to succeed in business. And that is what I did. I believed in what I was doing. It wasn’t about the money, it was about bringing meaning and purpose to my professional career. That’s what it was about. So it takes much longer than one year or two years. It may not even need to be 10 years. I didn’t have any contacts. Nor did I have a source of business that could come my way. I had to learn on the fly. So that is one thing that I wish I would have been a little bit more prepared for.
Philanthropy Is a Way to Succeed in Business
True in any profession, philanthropy is very important. It should be part of any business venture. To give back to society and community is one of the most important aspects of life. These are the aspects of life that come back tenfold. These are the aspects of life that are the right thing to do. Those that believe in God, a higher purpose, or a higher being will know that the universe works in mysterious ways. I’ve experienced it where the fruits of those philanthropic activities come back to me. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to marry my profession with one of my other passions. And that is aviation.
I know how to fly a plane and maintain it as well. Because of this, I can take part in operations to help underprivileged communities. I was able to help out with healthcare and medications. For example, I’m a member of the Flying Doctors of Mercy and also a member of the Flying Samaritans. We have taken doctors and medical supplies to remote areas in Mexico. In these places, there are no doctors or medical supplies. And we run a clinic once a month.
We would take about somewhere between 25 to 30 planes. We take about 250 medical professionals to these areas to be able to help them. I come back fulfilled to succeed in business and enriched in knowing that I was able to give back. It is by giving safe transport to people to these remote areas and bringing them back as well. It is very, very rewarding.
Pro Bono Activities: Giving Back
Every now and then there are activities that we will do that will be pro bono. I consider some of these activities as gifts. This is for people who may not have the full means to be able to compensate you for your services. We’ve done many efforts in design to be able to assist some of these clients. One of the latest ones was for the Firefighter’s Memorial up at the city of Mammoth. It is by the ski resort, Mammoth Mountain, where we designed a memorial to the firefighters.
A lot of people don’t realize the contribution firefighters have in our community. In southern California, we’ve experienced a lot of fires. A lot of times people don’t pay attention to the true heroes during those tragedies. Who are they? Well, they’re the firefighters. So it’s been our intent to be able to give back to that community of firefighters. As a result, we’ve been able to design a memorial for them.
The Sense of Purpose at Development One
After being in business for 30 years, I’m most proud of understanding the purpose that Development One has given me. It’s also about understanding what D1 has given to our employees to succeed in business. I have even been talking about some of our clients where we’ve been able to make a huge difference. One of them is NASA. NASA is an organization that has made a huge difference in society through space exploration. Whereas our contribution to NASA is a small speck, it is an important speck in what they do at NASA.
The support facilities are critical for the operation of their major experiments. We have been part of that for over 18 years. And some of the facilities that we have designed continue to get comments that make us realize the contribution that we have been able to make. So it has given us purpose to be part of the NASA operation.
In the same way, we’ve been part of projects at JPL for the Air Force, for the General Service Administration. These are all public entities where people go into work and make a difference in our society. It’s not only to protect our citizens. Their work also provides goods and services so that we can live good lives. It is so they can have a proper service from our government.
Gratitude to Succeed in Business
I look back after 30 years. The fact that I can marry my passion with my profession is an opportunity that I am grateful for. Many people know that I’m an architect, of course. A lot of people don’t know that I’m a pilot as well. I feel fortunate to be able to marry those two together. Our clients have welcomed that as an asset to how we do business here at Development One.
When I look back and rewind the tape, I reflect on when I graduated from the University of Washington. I did not know that’s how things were going to be. My master’s thesis was on an airport terminal. And I guess I should’ve known at that time where I was going to be going, where my career was going to go. Today I’m able to take a look at some of the projects that I’ve done. There were projects for NASA, Fulton Airport, John Wayne Airport, LAX, and Qantas. And there were aviation aerospace type projects for the Air Force. All those projects are all connected, rewinding back to my master’s thesis. And best of all, I’ve been passionate about all these projects.
Landing at EAFB
It amazes me to realize that I fly my plane into the same runway space I used to land on. When I fly over a dry lake bed and come in with a final approach into Edwards Air Force Base, that is something that few people can say. And I taxi right up to the offices at NASA at Edwards Air Force Base. So I feel fortunate and grateful for that opportunity to be able to do that. I still have a long time to go in my career. If there’s any advice I can give to anybody, it’s to reach out for those things that bring them tremendous passion. If you can, combine it with your profession. That is the advice I would give.