Gritdowns! Okay, have you seen “Sneckdowns” showing pictures of intersections in the winter? The snow that doesn’t get tracks in it can indicate where vehicles actually drive… and the space that is dedicated to asphalt that might not be needed.

Well… Anchorage has the same but with spring gravel (which might be one of the most Anchorage things ever?). This is a different data point, as drivers can see lane markings. This post has photos and commentary on what I see in them.

Special thanks to Jonny Hayes for coining the term Gritdowns when presented with this phenomenon.

The photo below illustrates how vehicle wheels move gravel away from the travel route. It also illustrates the misery of how much gravel can be in pedestrian routes. Imagine being on crutches, in a wheelchair, or someone super dedicated to keeping rollerblading alive.

This mini-gritdown that illustrates typical travel routes and turning movements.

A frequently used site entry where the wheels have cleared the sidewalk of gravel.

A lesser-used entry where the gravel is just doing its thing.

This property owner missed a chance to be community-minded. They’ve cleared their lot nicely but missed the opportunity to clear the adjacent sidewalk. It could actually be that some of their gravel wound up on the sidewalk. See the photos after this one to see how sidewalks actually show how pedestrian foot traffic also seems to have some clearing benefits. So, in this photo, gravel was either added, or pedestrians are walking over the adjacent asphalt.

And here we see evidence of pedestrians—both in the sign indicating their presence for the next 1500 feet and in the clearer sidewalk away from the road. There may be other factors in play for the level of gravel on the sidewalk, but stay tuned for other photos related to this.

If you look at the pedestrian refuge area halfway across this intersection, you’ll see a great example of a fully mature adult Gritdown.

Here I am at the pedestrian refuge. I’m being very quiet to get a photo of the fully mature adult Gritdown that has bedded down here. This is a difficult habitat, but it is made possible because vehicles have no reason to disturb this area.

Sidewalk time! See the wider sidewalk with maybe about 2 feet being more clear to the right? The next photo shows the same on a narrow sidewalk. A factor at play could be that the sidewalk stretch in this photo is just after an intersection. Intersections do receive more gravel.

A narrower sidewalk with the same clear area on the right is likely (at least in part) a result of people’s feet moving the gravel around. Or maybe not. This study is not yet conclusive. It’s just pure speculation at the moment.

Who’s in Control?

Mary Ellen Wilkes (Joseph C. Towler)

As a Principal who is very engaged with mentoring (and trying to do it well), my communication focuses on finding the right communication tools for each person. A large part of this is figuring out how to deliver the same information to different people. This means different examples and different metaphors, adapted to someone’s communication style.

An important example I come back to is trusting your gut. As soon as your gut starts to tell you something, you need to stop and listen to it. If you assess that your gut has you 10% uncomfortable, then you’re probably in a good spot. You can manage that, and it will likely result in professional growth and personal development. As soon as it’s more than 10%, it means that you are truly uncomfortable with something… and I bet that it’s because control over the situation is in doubt.

EVERY situation needs to have someone in control. This person needs to recognize that they have control. They need to accept this control OR quickly defer the control to someone else. In order for a situation to progress well, the right person needs to be in control. This requires that we listen to our guts to assess whether we should be in control or not. The whole concept falls apart when someone is deluded into thinking that they should have control, but they aren’t the right person (they have a dysfunctional ‘gut alert’). This means that we WILL experience a combination of negative impacts on schedule, budget, quality… and morale. (It also falls apart when multiple people try to exert control)

Within our firms, we can manage this system of ensuring someone is in control. It’s really difficult to do this when we are subconsultants, and we look to our prime consultants to exert the control we need from them to ensure our projects go smoothly. Some previous posts referenced the challenge that subconsultants face when we’re put in a place where we need to “manage from behind” (Managing From Behind – Part 1). As subconsultants, we have to walk a line of deference (for lack of a better word) and try to work within what we have. It’s pretty uncomfortable to be in a place where we need to request our primes do better. It seems that the only way we typically do that is when we bring up scope/fee modifications. This is likely an indicator of lack of clarity, and lack of clarity means that someone isn’t in control.

So, let’s try to be clear about control. It makes us all look good.

[As to going back for scope/fee modifications, the reality is that we anticipate these kinds of bumps, and when they’re bad, absorb them as we can. Scope/fee modifications tend to need to be valid with a client, and these internal team misalignments are not valid to a client.]


As a visual example of putting control in the right place, I previously created a flowchart for staff (Know What Not to Do – Part 3). This also dealt with listening to your gut, but it was aimed more at staff inefficiency/mistakes with things they hadn’t done before. A different way to discuss the same fundamental topic: who should be in control?

About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has an ongoing preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:

Remote Work – It’s Okay to Not Be in the Cloud! (…fully)

NOT the cloud – Two programmers work on the ENIAC (U.S. Army Photo via Columbia University)

I decided to move my final paragraph here to save you the time of reading to get to it.

The point of this post is to say that it’s okay to cobble things together for remote working. Don’t listen to the person who says all the smart people are fully in the cloud. We don’t need to know everything all at once. Gradual evolution is possible. Each of us has different needs for what we need our technology to do for us in delivering our services. Technology (and the cloud) is not necessarily the savior of working remotely. The savior is knowledge and knowing what tools to use and when. Oh, and back up your work. Definitely back up your work.

(And… you should at least be somewhat in the cloud. I think/hope the cloud will be pretty awesome when we get there fully…)

The beginning of the post:

April 1, 2010, was the day we opened a Juneau office and entered into the world of long-distance communication and collaboration. Last Friday, (just two weeks short of ten years of remote integration), Anchorage’s Mayor declared that we ‘shelter in place’. All non-essential businesses were told to stop their on-site operations. This was our turn for what seems to be a global watershed moment for remote interactions. We saw this coming, and I thank my lucky stars that I’m in the professional services sector where we have ongoing projects and can replace face-to-face with screen-to-screen (unlike the approximate 12,000 food services employees in Anchorage that have lost their jobs). And again, I feel lucky that we already have our infrastructure in place, have recently upgraded laptops, and it’s easy to set up our in-office desktop computers for use as remote workstations as needed.

I programmed games in BASIC as a kid, and I provide much of our firm’s IT because I enjoy it. I actively look at resources to try to figure out how to spend our money most wisely when it comes to hardware and software. I thought I’d just share where we are right now, getting into the weeds since some of you might find this of interest.

So, below is a bit of a stream of consciousness. My goal is to get my firm fully into the cloud within the next few years, but we’re not there yet.

(Note: We are a landscape architecture firm in the Architecture/Engineering industry. We use AutoCAD, Civil 3D, the Adobe Creative Suite, 3D modeling software and other similar packages. That’s what our technological needs are based on.)

Our Connection to the Interwebs 

Our offices have 150mbps download, and 20mbps upload. This means that communication between them is limited to 20 up/20 down. Established 14 years ago, we are on our third server, replacing them on a five-year cycle. While I hope that our next server will be cloud-hosted, I’m still a bit unsure about that… but continue to assess that as a very desirable option.


We hosted our email locally on our last server. When it crashed (due to an update!), within a day, we were using cloud-based email through Office 365. That was a great thing to happen to us! More than just email, it exposed us to and encouraged us to use the other features of Office 365.

A Side Note on Back-Ups

I recently had my personal external solid-state drive crash (1TB Samsung EVO NVMe M.2 in an external enclosure). I didn’t have a backup!!! I cobbled together most of it from other drives (undeleting many of them from a previous hard drive the files had been on – thank you Recuva), but I lost 1.5 years of some important word and excel files where I stored information. I can rebuild it, but that takes time. Those files SHOULD have been backed up or in the cloud. There was no reason they weren’t.

For work, our server is Raid 10 and is backed up on a Synology 4 drive unit, and then duplicated onto a Synology 2 drive unit that is off-site with incremental daily updates to keep it current. FYI… I love the versioning capability of Windows Server 2016. Everyone can smoothly go back to a file from yesterday, instead of needing to go to the tape back-ups, we stopped doing three years ago.


I’ve been specifying workstations for almost 20 years, and have usually had a target of spending around $2000 for a workstation (when I used to purchase from DELL). I could lower that when I started building them on my own. The two critical things are whether your software is single-threaded or not, and what kind of graphics card you need. AutoCAD is single-threaded, so the best processor is the one with the highest processor speed. The number of cores is irrelevant (but relevant to the other software we use that is multi-threaded). For graphics cards, Nvidia Quadro or AMD Firepro have the best compatibility for AutoCAD. Their error checking is not as crucial for rendering packages, where high-end gaming cards give you much more bang for your buck. In a desktop, it might benefit you to have one of each (allowing working on AutoCAD on the quandro/firepro and rendering on the gaming-type card).


We have Surface Pro Tablets for our principals and have been using Lenovo laptops for staff when they want to be remote. I just got a great deal on two Lenovo Flex 15 laptops at Costco. Their specifications are great for what they are. Consumer computers now often provide more than enough horsepower for what we need them for.


We can easily VPN into our server to gain direct access to everything. This is limited by internet speed, and you definitely don’t want to try to look at pictures on the server or work directly on more complex workflows. In other words, an excel spreadsheet is fine to open direct, and maybe a small CAD file, but not photoshop or other more resource-intensive files.

Remote Desktop Connection

Our workstations are enabled for Remote Desktop, and it is incredible how well this works, depending on internet speeds. When latency (as evidenced by mouse arrow lag) is good, it’s like being in the office. If latency is off even a little, it’s like being drunk… and angry.

The Right Tool at the Right Time

We know when to package an InDesign or AutoCAD file and put it on our desktop to work on it directly. Then we know to put it back on the server to ensure it gets backed up. THAT is the challenge of remote working. Having access to your files in a way that they are backed up and safe(!!!), and there’s not a worry that someone else was working on the same file. Luckily we’re a small firm, we typically aren’t working on the same files.

I’ve been cobbling together effective solutions for a long time. I know how to optimize my efficiency with the tools we have. I certainly look forward to when we have our server in the cloud, and we use our laptops as terminals to access virtual desktops from anywhere. These virtual machines will have all of our software in them and be a dream to use! We’re not there yet. I imagine we could be, but we don’t NEED to be yet. I’ll blame where I live for lousy bandwidth or some other poor reasoning.

Microsoft Teams

Talk about good timing. We started using Microsoft teams a few days before Anchorage went on lockdown. MS Teams is a game-changer for us. Within a week, it has resulted in us chatting within our firm instead of emailing, encouraging us to video chat more often, and allowing us to integrate project management and other tools directly into one workflow. This has not been an incremental change; Microsoft Teams has provided us with an opportunity for a significant leap in how we work. But… I think that probably deserves another more focused post.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Enjoy what you do.

About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has an ongoing preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:


Remote Working – SMILE!

Ernest Borgnine… smiling! (Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons)

With the impacts that Covid 19 has (and will continue to have) on our lives, it suddenly seems like there is a lot of information out there to provide advice for remote communication and work. This information has been there for a long time, but now it’s critical to many people. From what I have seen recently, I’m not seeing any really new information being offered… and after many video chats in the past few days, I realized that my click-bait title for this post should be:

For the love of god… SMILE!

Have you ever seen up close the make-up applied to stage actors? It’s often exaggerated and looks bizarre when you’re next to it. The reason is that they are communicating with people far away in the theater, so the make-up is designed to assist them with physical communication of their craft by accentuating their features. Theater is a communication tool, where people learn the skills required to maximize the effect of that tool.

When we are working with each other digitally, social and physical cues can be hard to recognize and interpret. The tool of video conferencing requires that we adopt skills to make it effective, and knowing when and how to apply them depending on the communication style of the person we are conversing with. Today I realized that when I am on skype/zoom/webex/gotomeeting/hangouts/teams (insert other option here) I have adapted to try to provide overt social cues to the person I’m speaking with. I nod, I tilt my head, I grin, I give thumbs up. I might look like some kind of animatronic anomaly… but… I do it to reinforce my interactions with the person on the other end of the call. I’m trying to make them comfortable and to confirm that we have successfully communicated with one another. As to whether this works or not, that’s another question. But, it seems logical to me.

Give this some thought. We all have certain resting features, and they do affect our face-to-face communication. That effect is likely amplified when we are screen-to-screen. Good communication involves understanding the communication style of the person with whom you are speaking, and benefits from you adapting to that style in order to help them hear you. We also hope that they are doing the same for us.

I share the above to hopefully add something new to the current remote workplace conversations. Beyond establishing work protocols and that we should wear the same clothes as we would to work (including pants), we need to recognize the subtle aspects that help to normalize our digital communications. We are in ominous times, and there is a reality that we can ease the challenge of remote communication by intentionally telegraphing the cues that help other people hear us. At a minimum, smile, modulate your voice, and move your head a little. When people don’t do that, it can be unnerving speaking with them. Don’t be unnerving.


I am giving things a lot of thought right now and may post again. When I write, it’s in part to share information, but I also use it to clarify my thoughts (selfish me). In case you see another post, here’s some information that might give me some street cred on this topic:

My firm is a small company with six employees based out of Anchorage, Alaska. “Remote office” for us has been an ongoing evolution for the past ten years. This evolution began with a single person in an office in Juneau, and has included various employees in home offices in varied locations in and out of state, and the flexibility to allow staff (and myself) to work when away from our home turf. Each year brings better bandwidth for our internet connections, better options for software and applications… and more understanding about the trials and tribulations of integrating remote work into our workflow. It’s not easy(!), but it allows us to be flexible, and flexibility is something that staff like.

About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has an ongoing preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:

Appreciation in Three Parts

Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate having the chance to share my thoughts with you.

…now… rewind.

A meaningful, heartfelt apology has three parts: acknowledgment, remorse, and restitution. You can find various sources online to check out how that works. It’s certainly good to know and use.

While driving with my wife, I wondered out loud whether there is also a formula behind showing thanks. I think there is.

The use of “thank you” is typically a courtesy, an acknowledgment. It’s made more meaningful when it includes recognition of the act to which you are responding. This forms a fairly complete interaction with someone: Action -> Thank You -> You’re Welcome! Done, complete, and everyone continues with their day.

When appropriate, courtesy and recognition set the stage for appreciation. Appreciation spans the gamut from making someone feel happy that their actions are useful, to expressing gratitude and insight that leaves someone speechless and perhaps teary-eyed.

When you take the time to express appreciation, you stop and take the time to see someone… and to tell them they have been seen. I believe that it is human nature to want to be seen, to be visible to those around us. We do kind things for one another for the sake of being kind, but also because these interactions validate our existence and we feel good.

When we are courteous, give acknowledgment, and show appreciation… we tell people that we see them and they have done something of merit. We have taken the time to invest in them and build them up.

Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really and truly do appreciate having the chance to share my thoughts with you.

About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has an ongoing preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:

Our Commitments

We recently quantified what we have learned from our clients and how our clients have changed us. These discussions led us to identify what we need to do as a firm to ensure we are always growing and serving our clients better. We are calling these “Our Commitments”:

Accountability: Develop clearly defined expectations, roles, and responsibilities, founded within clear communication and explicit schedules.

Problem Identification: Identify and define root issues to ensure we are targeting the correct problem (and thus developing appropriate solutions).

Decision Making: Provide expert information to our clients for decision making.

Consistency: Develop measurable success criteria to guide and evaluate the solutions that we deliver.

Innovation: Emphasize the importance of innovation to the development process, delivered instruments of service, and built products.

Momentum: As the sum of all of the above, our critical commitment to our client is to partner with them to maintain momentum. Our highest level of success with our clients is when a project moves at a smooth pace, where all partners are enabled to work at their highest level of expertise.

Within our firm, the discussion and effort to develop these provided internal rewards. It was a valuable discussion to identify the good we have done and how to make it better… and how to make lemonade out of the lemons we have sometimes been handed (or inadvertently grown). We share these with you to perhaps use in your own growth and improvement discussions.

About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has an ongoing preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:

What is the desired outcome?

We have all learned lessons through uncomfortable situations. In our digital world, email is likely the ‘unintentional’ culprit of many of these situations. Either through it’s inability to convey the full intent behind what we are trying to say, or the ease with which the ‘send’ button can be hit without taking the proper time to mull something over.

From a strange interaction with someone years ago, I came to the realization that emails without question marks don’t need to be answered. Just because we receive an email doesn’t mean we have to respond. In this situation, it was someone ranting… and while the situation was an odd one… I eventually clued in to the fact that it was a monologue in search of an audience. Any response would fuel the monologue… and it’s not a monologue that I needed.

A recent interaction where the communication attempt was poor on my part, reiterated the importance of understanding how an outcome relates to what you are communicating. In other words, asking myself intentionally, “What is my desired outcome?” The recipient clued me in that I had written an email with no true recognition of what I wanted to get out of it… or what I was offering. The intent behind it was honest, but the email failed in that it was open to interpretation. It should likely never have been an email in the first place(!), but in what I sent… there were no question marks. There was no interaction. It was me sending an email that was functionally useless because I didn’t think about the desired outcome. The unfortunate thing is that when you do that, you burden the recipient with something they really don’t need, want, or really know what to do with.

So it was a fail on my part.

  • Was it intended to make me feel better? Maybe? I don’t think so… but it did result in a more complex situation that didn’t feel good. So, actually feeling worse. And, it also spread the virus of not feeling good to someone else who certainly didn’t invite that in.
  • Was it intended to state something? Perhaps. That might be the only real reason to send an email without a question? Just sending an email that states something? Seems kind of weird though in this context.
  • Was it a bad attempt at working through something? That might be closer. It was about something quite complex to me… where I was having trouble processing it and didn’t even know where to start with spoken words. But… then it’s just the wrong choice. That’s what phone calls are for.

None of this changes the ‘reason’ behind the email, but it did mean that I likely lost all ability to receive validation of the concern and moving to the most important follow-up steps of clarification, and seeing what the shared outcome would be. When I spoke with the person after, I realized that I had created a wall that would likely not come down easily. So, not only do I have the complexity that I was seeking to address, I added the feeling of messing up. Without a pathway for closure. The unfortunate part is that there was a good intent, one founded in truly having wanted to build value.

Is there a silver lining? Well… getting a solid reminder about good communication. And, it’s certainly led to me trying to understand the situation that led up to it. It’s provided some good insights… and is a moment to grow on…

Thanks for reading. Hiding within the personal therapy are the two take-home messages of: “interaction should have question marks” and the importance of asking “what is the desired outcome?” The later is a great question for almost everything we plan and do, at all levels.


About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has a current preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see:

Cultural Design: Is This My Story to Tell?

This 1916 image of Frances Densmore and Blackfoot leader Mountain Chief listening to a cylinder recording has become a symbol of the early songcatcher era.

As a landscape architect, I subscribe to the idea that within our designs we are trying to convey stories. At the beginning of any effort, one of the most important questions is, “Whose story am I trying to tell?”. More important than that question is, “Is this story mine to tell?”.

For many of our designs, we are creating new stories based within the typical site programming of clients needs and wants, function, aesthetics, and the design elements that contribute to comfort and enjoyment. We are telling a story that we are creating on our own, or creating new with our clients.

The origin and ownership of stories comes to the forefront when we look to culture and tradition for elements to incorporate into our designs.

As designers, we get inspiration from all of the sources around us, and get truly excited with taking what we see and incorporating it into what we do. We might treat the whole world as a design sourcebook. The difficulty is determining whether there is any meaning behind what we see and draw from, and whether our use or adaptation of it is appropriate. Appropriate. Is it our story to tell?

From Wikipedia: “Cultural appropriation is the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Cultural appropriation, often framed as cultural misappropriation, is sometimes portrayed as harmful and is claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture. Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural appropriation can include using other cultures’ traditions, food, fashion, symbols, technology, language, and cultural songs without permission. According to critics of the practice, cultural (mis)appropriation differs from acculturation, assimilation, or cultural exchange in that the “appropriation” or “misappropriation” refers to the adoption of these cultural elements in a colonial manner: elements are copied from a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context—sometimes even against the expressly stated wishes of representatives of the originating culture.”

If a story isn’t ours to tell, our telling of it will most likely have mistakes and not be true to form. If a story isn’t ours, then we either need to get permission to tell it (and the training to do so) or we work with the owner of the story to tell it with them… or ideally, assist them in telling their story within our medium (landscape and site). Within our expertise as design professionals… our success is facilitating stories to be heard in new ways.

Is this my story to tell?

**Below are some examples of some of the work we have done with our clients. I think our success in this is at the end of the day, our clients see themselves and their stories. We’re successful when we overhear our clients telling people what it is and what it means, if not stating proudly that it was their idea.**

Dena’ina Health and Wellness Center – A privacy screen based on a quillwork pattern

Dena’ina Health and Wellness Center – A cultural calendar and representation of tribal values translated from sketches into granite

Yakutat Community Playground – Clan artwork used to create a play fence representing the six local clans. They also show moiety, and history of arrival in the Yakutat area on their backs.

Yakutat Community Playground – Culture and tradition aren’t just historical, the play equipment shows current community activities such as hunting (and reading on a panel not shown)

Yakutat Community Playground – A swing with images of the ships that visit and call Yakutat home.

Sitka SeaWalk – Brick pavers and formline patterns developed with local partners to reflect the local community and Tlingit culture.

Note: The image I use at the beginning of this blog post with Frances Densmore and Mountain Chief also made me question whether “this photo is mine to use”. Other than proper usage, I thought that it might reflect colonialism or be in negative contrast to what I’m trying to say in this post. She was functionally an ethnomusicologist, and in the face of the damage of colonialism, these kinds of efforts did assist in preserving much information that might have otherwise been lost. As a designer, I’m hoping that I’m not in the same situation of trying to be helpful in the face of cultural destruction. I hope that I can assist the stabilization and growth that seems to be occurring, until there are Alaska Native landscape architects. I very much like the analogy of the “rising tide” that the Kenaitze Indian Tribe uses. Until then, I’m generally slightly uncomfortable in my role as the middle-aged white guy who is trying to listen and be of service. I think that discomfort is necessary. It means I’m paying attention.

Feeling Relevant is Important

Sokol exercises in year 1924

A part of the human condition is a desire to feel needed. The reality is that in most of our interactions, we won’t be needed… but we can be relevant. And our relevancy doesn’t need to me immediate, there is a similar benefit to thinking we can be relevant in the future.

When I interact with people, I ask enough questions to start to get a feeling for how I might be relevant to someone, and how they might be relevant to me. At a party, this could be as simple as trying to find the subject area that they love to talk about. They feel relevant through an area of their knowledge. If I’m flexible or clever enough (or they are), we find the way that our interests intersect and then we can both be relevant. I may not be a model train enthusiast, but I am interested in the modeling of landscapes. We become relevant to each other and provide mutual value.

Professionally, the people that actively try to understand my relevancy (value) create a bridge to me. I can see when people expend the effort to understand how I might help them in the present or the future, and it’s a natural inclination for us to then try to do the same for them. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. This person is filed in my brain as someone I’d like to work with.

In comparison, it is very obvious when people take no interest in you. I might find them to be interesting, and the conversation might be great, but it’s typically one-sided. I take knowledge value away from it, but I rarely take away anything more. This person doesn’t get filed in my brain as someone I’d like to work with.

It doesn’t take much effort to invest someone with a feeling of being relevant, now or in the future. At the worst you might just walk away with an excellent conversation. I like good conversations.

Awesome Leadership Development. Seriously.

I was just at the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Pacific Northwest Regional Conference in Anchorage (my town). I’ve attended our local chapter events, and gone to a national SMPS event before.

If you haven’t been to an SMPS event, or your peers or employees haven’t… you need to.

As a technical professional (landscape architect), most of the professional development opportunities targeted at me are… well… technical. That was perfect for much of my career to date, but it doesn’t fully match the new skills that I need as I’ve transitioned into leadership and business. When that happens, us technical types typically learn through trial and error, being mentored (perhaps), reading books and talking to people.

If you want to shortcut that shotgun approach to absorbing business development and leadership training, go to SMPS. Seriously, go to SMPS! You will be surrounded by people whose goal is to develop business and people within the architecture, engineering and construction sectors. Even if you go once, you’ll find that most every session offers you something to temper your own thinking or provide you with new avenues to consider and follow.

Like any professional growth avenue, you’ll see immediate high return on investment for your exposure and knowledge. Over time, it will decrease as you begin to focus on specific needs within your professional development. Then, if not before, you need to get your staff to attend! While they might not be leaders, exposing them to this information will help you lead. It stands a strong chance of developing shared communication and semantics. If they have some comprehension of development and leadership strategies, then they may be more open to work within those ideas and at least understand what you might be trying to do.

This is not a paid advertisement. I’ve found great professional value in what SMPS offers, and I think that any A/E/C professional will find the same value. Especially if you are at a place in your career where you are in (or entering) the world of business development and leadership. I’m surprised that more technical types don’t attend their events.

At a minimum… going to one of these will help you understand your marketing and business development people, and how you can enable them to be better at what they do. And… they’re part of your front line for business success. If they are more successful, you are too.

Lastly… it’s fun. They seem to be great people who realize that relationships, networks and friends are not only key to business, but key to enjoying our time on this planet. Just be warned that if you aren’t in bed by 10:00pm, you might not get to bed. (and to be honest, I’m in bed by 10:00… I just hear the stories the next day. The stories make me feel tired. But, I also wish I had stayed up.)


About the Author: Peter Briggs is a landscape architect who has a current preoccupation with the business of design. For more bio information, please see: