Chapter 2: Dreams, Ideas and the Courage to Pursue
After graduating college, I got a job working at the last architecture firm I interned. I did this for two reasons the first of which was a desperation for work. You see, having acquired so many loans I had no choice but to accept the first offer that was given to me. This offer of course was significantly below market rate for a person with my background and the degree I now held. The second reason I took this job was because the other places I applied to never got back to me. It seemed at the time that finding a job was much about who you knew rather than your skills, knowledge and capabilities. But I must say having taken the job would soon prove worthy.
After a few months of working at this firm and getting used to the ‘real world’ as opposed to ‘school world’ factor of architecture I started to become much eager to grow and learn. I asked my supervisor to work with multiple people and departments in the office. I was working with architects designing building, with planners developing communities and helping the marketing team establish graphics. I even helped our I.T. create an intranet to host, code, and make a central database housing everything from our companies drawing standards to staff info and their backgrounds. Upon working with all these departments I started to see a trend which ultimately led to my discovery of the problem. The problem I just discovered was the lack of communication and work sharing both internally and externally. Surprised that the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry had yet to solve this problem after many years of industry maturity, I took it upon myself to find a solution.
After discovering this problem, I started to dream of ways to solve it. I say dream because ideas alone aren’t anything more than dreams unless you bring them to life. I became aware of the problem and dreamed of ways to solve it. I spend the next 4 months constantly thinking of ways to bring the idea to life. I must have wasted a lot of trees just writing on scrap pieces of paper, sticky notes and napkins. I wrote everything and anything that came to mind, sometimes I rewrote the same things thinking i was actually solving the problem. Realizing I wasn’t going anywhere with this idea I started to read books, news articles, blogs and even watched videos on becoming an entrepreneur and making a startup.
Architecture isn’t as simple as it is portrayed in movies. We don’t work your normal hours of 8-5 as clients are demanding, projects are complex and ensuring a buildings safety often means over working on projects. As a result my work hours started to look more like 6-8, sometimes even longer. I knew I was becoming more eager to work on my idea while pursing architecture to pay my bills, but long working hours meant little time for my idea to develop. Working 10-14 hour days took a toll which meant after work I only had enough energy to go to the gym, eat something and catch some sleep before the next day. Solutions are everywhere if you look in the right places.
Realizing its often difficult to develop my own idea after work, I started to build certain skills that could give me more time. You see, I didn’t want to stop helping so much around the office because of the exposure I got with the problem I wished to solve. Instead I started to approach my work differently. I developed problem solving skills and speed. In architecture this is valuable. By foreseeing the problems before they are present, one can find solutions to prevent them from happening in the first place. I also started to find clever tricks that helped me work a lot faster which did two thinks for me. First it allowed my employer to see my talent which meant I got even more exposure to the problems while earning their trust which of course meant I didn’t need anyone looking over my shoulders to ensure I was working. Second, it allowed me to finish my tasks fast with extra time left to work on my own ideas without even getting noticed.
Simply put: Become clever, solve the problems before they even become problems, work faster, have spare time, use spare time to pursue startup idea.
Now was the time to stop writing on paper what I dreamt for months but to act on it. Now was the time I truly felt like I could actually achieve my goals. I used the extra time to research my idea, to see if there are existing competition in the market and how I could tackle them head on. I knew I needed help and I didn’t know where to start so I did everything I could. Wrong or right I tried anyways because failure was not an option…
Dreams become ideas if you nurture them with courage. Be persistent to never give up no matter how hard you fail…fail and try again…