Dan’s Journey : Ideas and Ambition

I stepped out on my own with nothing more than a degree in design, 5 years of practical experience, and a lot of ideas and ambition! Through long hours and hard work and perseverance, the firm was producing well designed projects and was by all standards very successful.  I thought I was invincible – until 2008.

June 2008, I experienced the worst day of my life when I had to lay off 12 good people. Many who had been with me for years and had become my friends.  I remember vividly the day, when one employee walked into my office and she knew what was coming. She knew why and she just cried. I felt like the biggest jerk in South Carolina. I wanted to go home and hide and never come out. I felt I had let down my family, my staff, my friends, and myself. To be honest it was my own fault, even though we were in one of the worst recessions in recent history. What I thought was my greatest strength - my confidence and business acumen, had been the catalyst for so much disappointment.


To be honest, after that experience, my confidence was shot.  And now, I had to face the future with little or no confidence in my skills to rebuild, after such a life changing experience. I became indecisive. I would procrastinate, pause, put off and generally delay any decision making, for fear that I was making the wrong move.

I was still in business but I was paralyzed by doubt.  As a business owner I could not continue like this. Would the economy tank again? Would I be able to handle pressure of starting over?  There were other problems which became evident, starting with a shaky foundation for the business itself. We were good at what we did, but we weren’t really solving our clients’ most basic problems in a way that made us an invaluable asset to their team.

Then one day something happened that changed everything.  In an attempt to clear my head, regroup and maybe learn something about myself, I joined a friend for a hiking and rock climbing trip in the North Carolina Mountains.  After a few days of cool, clean, fresh air and lots of challenging physical exercise, my mind was clear and my attitude became increasing positive.


Climbing a cliff face I froze.  THAT’S when it hit me.  In business it was like I was stuck on the cliff face, scared to make a decision. I knew I had to make a decision and move, even if that move was initially wrong, I could learn from it and then make another move, and if that was wrong, I would learn even more and make another move until the move I made was right.

Just like in rock climbing, I had to make a decision for my clients, and get moving.  The sun was going down and the temperature was starting to drop. I needed to get off that mountain and the only way was to make decisions and start moving.  I knew what I had to do on the rock face and better still, I knew now, what I needed to do in my business as well.

With each successful climb I began to feel my confidence grow and felt with it a huge sense of achievement with each cliff face I conquered - this was a great experience and I loved it!  Now, I’m a rock climber!  I actually climb up the face of steep cliffs, for no other reason than the challenge of reaching the summit!


The trip not only helped to clear my head, but after reaching the top of the last, highest, and most dangerous climb, I repelled down feeling the exhilaration of overcoming the fear and physical challenges - and the moment my feet hit the ground

I realized what my business and my design process had been missing.  Just like climbing, they required thorough research and planning, a great team, a well-organized but flexible process along with a fearless mindset to face the challenges head-on.

The challenges I faced climbing a vertical, cracked, slippery, unforgiving cliff, where a mistake or succumbing to fear can lead to dire consequences, forced me to look at changing my approach to how we prepare for the many challenges in architecture.


This realization led me to create a proprietary research process we call Base Camp Feasibility Analysis™.  We provide our clients with thoroughly researched, accurate and creative problem solving solutions, with 3 flexible cost options.  Just like starting a good rock climbing expedition needs a good base camp as a foundation for success, so does starting a commercial or historic preservation project.

One example of many is a client who owned a piece of property and had made an offer on adjacent land.  Based on a preliminary conversation with zoning, they assumed they needed more space for parking.  Our Base Camp Feasibility Analysis™ determined it was not required. This resulted in $400,000.00 savings in land cost, and $50,000-$60,000 savings in site construction. THE PROCESS WORKS!

The lessons learned have become the solid foundation that I was searching for in my business.  Our clients now make great decisions, based on solid information at the very beginning of the project, leading to reduced stress, cost and time savings and a much more enjoyable experience!

Before you or someone you know starts a Commercial or Historic Preservation Project, ask for our Base Camp Feasibility Analysis™. Save time and money!

For more information on how to avoid the #1 most costly mistake, watch our short Start Here video.

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