The EntreArchitect Annual Meeting is their first-ever live conference that took place in Austin from November 1–3, 2022. This community is created specifically for small firm entrepreneur architects to get together for a fun and interactive learning experience as they get ready for the upcoming year. 

Originally founded as an online community dedicated to helping small firm owners, EntreArchitect (EA) has finally brought this growing community together to meet for the first time in person through this conference.

(Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

Event Kick-Off

I’m a newcomer to the EntreArchitect Community, but I felt right at home because everyone welcomed me with open arms.

The opening reception was held in the beautiful Vistas Ballroom at Lakeway Resort and Spa. The venue was suspended 150 feet above Lake Travis and had vaulted ceilings, a wraparound terrace, and spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the magnificent lake. It was such a refreshing view!

(Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

The event was kicked off by Mark R. LePage, founder of EntreArchitect who gave us all a warm welcome and shared with us the conference’s core values— LOVE, LEARN, SHARE. This was the cornerstone of the two-day event.

Mark R. LePage (Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

If you are an entrepreneur architect open to growth, the EntreArchitect Community Annual Meeting is the perfect business event to “Grow Your Business and Grow Yourself”.

 

Takeaways that resonated with me the most

EntreArchitect has truly maximized the advantages of having these like-minded people in one room. Over 15 speakers covered a variety of themes like business, leadership, branding, finance, technology, mental wellness, and so much more. 

Here are some of the things I loved most about listening to these incredible speakers:

1. Bolanle Williams-Olley’s “Creating Bold Possibilities”
 
The first speaker of the day was Bolanle Williams-Olley, CFO and co-owner of Mancini Duffy, an architecture firm based in NYC. She talked about creating BOLD possibilities and empowering leaders to build BOLD firms. She also introduced the BOLD framework:
 
     B – Be Yourself,
     O – Open your mind to new definitions and opportunities,
     L – Lift others, and
     D – Don’t wait, do it now!

Bolanley Williams-Olley (Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

In her talk, she mentioned that 77% of organizations are lacking leaders. At Mancini Duffy, they take the “people first” approach to promote from within and emphasized that this is what BOLD leaders are good at. 

She also shared a powerful quote from Craig Groeschel that perfectly captures her perspective on leadership, and I too, wholeheartedly agree:

 “People follow leaders who are REAL, not people who are perfect”

Indeed, we can all benefit from authenticity and prioritizing our workers in this day and age when excellent talent is hard to come by and a lot of people are quiet quitting.

2. Megan Dahle’s ‘Why Financial Statements Are (Mostly) Useless—And What To Do Instead’ 
 
Megan’s presentation was fantastic! She was able to effectively convey the importance of her message that everyone needs to evaluate their finances. Although most entrepreneurs find it uncomfortable to talk about money, she emphasizes that this is a discipline that they should be able to manage.

Moreover, she claimed that one of the main issues or sources of stress for all small firm owners is cash flow. They must learn to approach this issue head-on. Megan continued to elaborate on this idea by saying:

 “Financials are not the backbone of your business, it’s the backstory”

In order to help us take charge of our money and start to “look at the future of our cash”, she provided us with a cash calendar template as a guide. Her talk was really fantastic!

On a side note- Megan is a member of our Architects and Allies Mastermind, so I’m very thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her and learn from her. Check out her website at megandahle.com

3. Christopher Eckman’s “How to sell without selling while leading the witness”
 
I found this talk to be the most entertaining! A vibrant and high-energy speaker like Christopher Eckman was the perfect way to spice up the second day of the conference. Along with his charisma, he also expressed the most sensible and thought-provoking statements, one of which particularly rang true for me:

“If they are not using you, they’re doing it wrong” 

Christopher Eckman (Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

He successfully captivated the audience by simply posing the question, “What do architects do?” and talked about standing out from the crowd. He also taught small firm owners how to streamline and focus their messaging to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Examples of ways to achieve this include:

  • Be relatable and build rapport
  • Do what you say
  • Be first, and
  • Stay in Control/Stay Confident 
 

To end his presentation, he requested all 150 attendees to step out to the balcony while he poured kerosene in his mouth and started fire breathing! What a spectacle!

4. Evelyn Lee and Je’Nen Chastain’s ‘Transforming the Practice of Architecture’ 

This was a very informative and educational session led by the hosts of Podcast Disrupted, Evelyn and Je’Nen. The following four trends in business practices were the focus of their discussion:

  • Culture
  • Next Gen Leaders
  • Building great teams
  • Workplace trends and tools

Throughout the discussion, they emphasized the value of having a strong culture that is centered on values, health, wellbeing, communication, trust, and employee empowerment that recognizes successes no matter how big or small. They firmly believe that turnover rates significantly decline when culture is prioritized. Moreover, a positive workplace culture also draws in more employees.

Another point that resonated with me was to think of mentorship within the organization.  The majority of fresh graduates nowadays lack “real world” experience when they start looking for a job. They pointed out that small firms must devote more time and resources to educating and developing their workforce, as well as support and encourage employees to join in organizations like the AIA, in order to bring in and retain top talent.

5. Keynote Joyce Marter’s “Build Your Mental Wealth” 

Joyce Marter’s keynote address was simultaneously enlightening and uplifting. She perfectly encapsulated the conference’s premise, and it’s clear that she inspired everyone in the room. 

In her speech, Joyce shared how her early life experiences shaped her perception and relationship with money. Additionally, her mental health and how everyone in the family viewed money were also both impacted by the hardships they had previously experienced when her father lost his job.

Joyce Marter (Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

With these experiences, Joyce stressed in her keynote how improving our mental health may also help us become more financially successful. She encouraged us to value who we are and to cultivate an “abundance mindset” in order to achieve better financial success.

 I also learned from her that abundance can come in various forms, it can be:

  • A result of gratitude, 
  • Collaborating with others to evolve together,
  • Rooted in believing that there is enough for everybody, and
  • Focused on believing in yourself.
 

Along with that, allow me to share a few of my favorite phrases from her:

 “Love is the currency of life”
“The most you get is what you ask for”
“The key to our success is our relationships”

Her keynote profoundly resonated with the entire audience– powerful, impactful and inspiring! What’s really awesome is that she is also from Ohio (just like me). Joyce is an international speaker, author, licensed psychotherapist, entrepreneur, coach, and a mental health thought leader.

Check out her book The Financial Mindset Fix. I can’t wait to read it!

People I met.

Sharing some photos of people I met during the event and post-event dinners.

Final Thoughts 

Jing Johnson, founder of Prism Renderings and a good friend of mine, encouraged me to attend this inaugural event, and I’m so glad she did.

(Photo courtesy of Scott R Lepage Architectural Photographer)

Joining this conference really widened my perspective as an ally who supports the architectural industry. It offered me the chance to gain first-hand knowledge of the difficulties and challenges that architects and designers face as they are my clients. Finding skilled team members to fulfill the needs of their project surges was one of their main concerns and it explains why most firm owners these days are turning down new projects.

My business, MGS Global Group provides full-service architectural support such as drafting, BIM modelling, from SD’s to CD’s, and much more. 

Every small firm business owner needs a community for support, growth, and learning and this is what the EntreArchitect community does. Being a part of this community has only emphasized how essential collaboration is to success and growth. I am truly honored to be a part of this. 

I wish I had more time to write about all the amazing speakers from this conference. I guess you will have to attend next year’s Annual Meeting to witness it all! Check out the EntreArchitect community here.

This is one of my favorite quotes that sums up the EntreArchitect Annual Meeting 2022:

 “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together”
African Proverb

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