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20 Years Of Practice ... Lost My Focus & Drive

169
Weltschmerz

I graduated from university in 1997, and immediately started working at the most prestigious firm in my smallish (300,000 population) home town.  I became disillusioned with "corporate architecture" six years later (the firm wasn't supporting my efforts to pass the ARE, office politics, etc) so I moved to a larger multi-discipline firm.  I passed my ARE, obtained my first license, and started running the architectural department within a year. 

Thirteen years later I'm now a senior executive at a significant firm ($50M annual revenue) ... and ...

I've lost my focus and passion for the built environment.

The first nineteen years of my career were spent sacrificing everything for professional growth.  I had failed marriages, lost touch with family, gave up my hobbies, and added about forty pounds of stress fat.

I'm now faced with the next step on my professional career: majority ownership.

However, I don't have a desire to continue on this path.  I feel like a proverbial star that has burnt itself out.

My work week is very "architecturally routine" (which is to say ... not routine at all).  The only constant is I'm at the office by 7am and don't leave before 5pm.  A lot of evenings I don't leave until 8pm. Weekend work is common. The bloody "smart phone" enables clients to contact me at all hours.  It is not uncommon to receive a 10pm call.

I feel the burnout is a result of several factors:

1) The intense work schedule and personal sacrifices.  2700 hour work years are my norm.

2) The market has changed.  Younger graduates have unprecedented salary, work/life balance, and personal expectations.  Oddly, firms are paying new graduate hires MORE than senior architects (I'm in a position to verify this practice).

3) The market has changed.  Our clients have become "self aware experts" owing to the internet.  Fifteen minutes with google and clientele feel like they can practice.  The aforementioned "smart phone" has also changed their response expectations from the standard 24-72 hours to immediate.  I often get calls from clients (small projects: say $2M construction) who DEMAND to speak to me immediately about issues that are of zero significance.  To these clients, architects are "on demand".

4) The  market has changed.  Owners no longer have realistic expectations regarding construction schedules, inclement weather impacts on schedules, or an understanding of the ever growing code requirements which impact their projects.

The reason I started there of my factors with "the market has changed" is to illustrate my burnout is not a result of an internal attitude.  It is a response to a changing market place.

My question to you ...

Are any of you in a similar emotional state?  Has anyone else observed the change in client expectation from "insane" to "surreally insane"?

 
Aug 1, 17 6:18 pm
chigurh

take a sabbatical.  sounds like you are doing work that you are not interested in or passionate about.  start your own firm.  reset your goals. Think about what it was that made you interested in the field in the first place.  If none of that works - retire or find a new profession.  Always put a limit on the invasion of work into your personal time.  

Aug 1, 17 7:19 pm  · 
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geezertect

I've lost my focus and passion for the built environment.

That statement sounds like it is an "internal attitude".  Are you bored with the whole idea of architecture itself, or just fed up with the realities of the changing profession itself?

The business itself is changing and not for the better, but that is true of almost every aspect of American work life.  Ask a doctor sometime whether medicine is as satisfying now as it was a generation ago, given the problems of malpractice liability and insurance hassles.

Aug 1, 17 7:48 pm  · 
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If you cant find or make happiness in whatever you are doing get the fuck out. You are wasting your life.

Aug 1, 17 7:59 pm  · 
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Weltschmerz

Geezer,


A physicain client recently complained to me about how medicine has changed since the 1980s.


I believe it is time for me to start considering the next phase of my life.

Aug 1, 17 9:27 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

OP, same here. Been about 17 years in the biz, worked on cool projects, making some good money (for this business anyways), but am totally losing the drive motivation to push good design anymore.

Part of it is observing the principal-level seniors in the office. Even though they are pushing 65-70, they have to work harder and harder - not drawing, but drumming up the work, chasing clients, traveling all the time etc. And this is the BEST case scenario. Most of the others at this age, if not retired, have been forced out around 55. Definitely not a future I forsee for myself. Oh yes, and 55-60 hour workweeks for 17 years also burn one out.

Seems like there is one more of us that needs to start considering the next phase.

Aug 1, 17 10:50 pm  · 
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cr8ve

I am also going through the same experience.  Have had my own practice for nearly 25 yrs. I am 56 now and feel burned out.  Good thing is I invested in real estate and no longer have to rely on traditional practice to make a living and am completely financially independent .  However, I feel no desire to pursue clients and bad projects.  I still care about design though, but now only want the near perfect client and a near perfect project which really does not exist.  The business side of the field is getting worst and worst every year with fee competitions amongst firms and significant projects going to very large established firms and starchitects which leaves a lot of less desirable projects with lower and lower fees for the rest.  Meanwhile, new graduates have higher expectations and one cannot blame them .  Overall, I would say I am disappointed with the field.  It sort of tends to fizzle out at some point , at least it has for me..combination of changes in the business, age, new technology , client expectations, burn-out, etc... I am so glad I am not working at a firm and my life does not depend on it any more

Aug 2, 17 1:51 am  · 
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geezertect

++++++++

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randomised

Never give your private cell phone number to clients or just don't take their calls after hours. And if clients have unrealistic expectations, you of all people should be the one to set them straight and inform them of the realistic ones. And take a holiday, by all means take a little breather. Don't let the bastards grind you down!

Aug 2, 17 5:35 am  · 
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geezertect

Well said.

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Volunteer

Go to a nice sunny place like the Balearic Islands for three weeks and decompress. If you stepped in front of a bus the world would go on. Leave a subordinate in charge and tell him that you should be called only if the world ends and maybe not even then. Give him the phone number of the place you are staying and leave your cell phone at home.

Aug 2, 17 6:44 am  · 
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Nats

I am not burned out I am just bored after around 25 years of the crass commercialism of the career, the lack of creativity, the rise of greedy developers and the unfairness of it all. I am getting more into 3d rendering now and trying to do that as a sideline possibly a career in time.

My advice is look at what you really want to do within reason and try it - take a pay cut, get a smaller house and car, spend more time with the family and start enjoying life more, life isnt about money its about enjoying your time.

Aug 2, 17 7:00 am  · 
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archiwutm8

Bills still need to be paid though, I'm not old at all and the first thought for me if I leave my role is "How am I going to support my loved ones"

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shellarchitect

just found out that a past client, a developer who was always saying faster, quicker, cheaper ( i'm sure you know the type) died at around 50 years old.  Don't let that be you.

Aug 2, 17 8:31 am  · 
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randomised

That's indeed faster and quicker than average. He should be pleased.

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Weltschmerz

I've had three colleagues die (43, 51, and 58). Cancer, and two heart attacks.

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randomised

Well, you don't become senior executive solely based on merit...last man standing gets the job.

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curtkram

exactly. if you want to advance your career, work hard and kill your coworkers. the first part isn't even that important.

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x-jla

one life to live.  Live it to the fullest.  

Aug 2, 17 10:33 am  · 
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On the fence

I think we are all burnt out.  I want to quit all of the time but need 9 more years to retire at 60 with a pension.  I am going to push through it.

Aug 2, 17 12:53 pm  · 
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randomised

I'm not burnt out, but I choose to not work that much anymore and only do projects I believe in. Spending more time at home with my kid and my batteries are fully charged again, I can really recommend it. Why don't you try and work one day less a week to spend on something you love to do, with your loved ones or reading fiction, building furniture whatever...aiming for that magical retirement moment when the road to it is a hell isn't worth it, take some detours and have a more meaningful 9 or perhaps 9.5/10 years :)

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yarchitect

I hear you. I couldn't agree more. The market HAS changed, it's making it harder and harder for honest, good architects and firms to make a decent living. I graduated in 1998 and am in my 3rd year of owning my own firm. We are small, but focus on commercial clients, preferably developers, and it is very hard. Maybe you need to quit the rat race at the big firm and work on your own terms. This may mean joining a small boutique firm, so you are managing less projects/clients, a firm that takes time to educate their clients to "manage" the "abuse". They are out there.

Starting a firm from scratch and running it is hard. But the best part is I get to make the rules. I can decide when to say "no" to a client or a project, and I can implement office policies that work with everyone's lifestyles. Work is still demanding, and it's always a give-and-take. We clearly cannot support a practice where the young inexperienced ones get to work only 40 hours and collect a large salary. Young ones these days want everything spoon-fed to them, and we cannot financially support that. It doesn't appear that they share the same motivation and attitude that we had coming out of school, the mentality of treating your first job like an apprenticeship - learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, so you can be of assistance rather than a burden. That thought doesn't seem to exist anymore.

I think small firms need to start changing the culture of the profession again, so we can all work on reasonable terms that help us do our best work and still be able to make a decent living.

You should take a weekend or a week off and figure out what brings you joy. What did you used to do that you don't do anymore? Traveling? Painting? Reading? Start planning your life and mold your career around the life that you want.  Stop thinking about the Majority Ownership carrot that you've been chasing just for a weekend to figure out what it is you want out of life.

Good luck. It's hard. Architecture is hard. It's not worth it if you don't love what you do.

Aug 2, 17 1:18 pm  · 
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JLC-1

.."learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, so you can be of assistance rather than a burden. That thought doesn't seem to exist anymore." Amen to this, we had an intern that did more damage than good on anything she touched.

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s=r*(theta)

"learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, so you can be of assistance rather than a burden" - In my mind, its not just architecture, its the mind set of the younger millennial generation period! dont want to pay there dues, just jump to the top

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Weltschmerz

I don't envy your position. Starting a practice is very daunting (especially if you're not a sole practitioner). The amount of "non-architectural" work would be overwhelming. Just having to manage renewal of O&E would be a nightmare.

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bowling_ball

"learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, so you can be of assistance rather than a burden" - anyone with this view can politely go fuck themselves. Older generations had MUCH cheaper educations, MUCH cheaper housing, and earned comparatively more than the younger generation in question. Oh, and the older generation wasn't as productive. This has been proven again and again in US work force studies since the 1970s. Millennials aren't afraid of hard work, they just want to be compensated for it (this is an industry that still uses unpaid interns) and have a slightly better work/life balance than older co-workers. Maybe if the bosses here in this thread had taken that last bit of advice, they wouldn't find themselves burning out at 50 and we wouldn't need this thread. (I am not a millennial, for the record)

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I'm getting burned out by all the old people complaining about being burned out. I thought millennials were supposed to be the whiny generation. 

Also, LOLing at the, 'it's not my attitude, it's the market that's the problem,' mentality. Apparently, your attitude is that the market shouldn't change, hence your frustration with the market changing. 

My advice ... set some boundaries so your work doesn't interfere with your life. Set your work hours and stick to them, don't take phone calls after hours, don't answer emails after hours (easy if you don't check emails after hours), don't work on weekends, take vacations, exercise, take up a hobby, etc. Any client not willing to accept the fact that you have a life outside of work, isn't worth being a client.

Aug 2, 17 1:26 pm  · 
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corbismyhomeboy

Agreed. As a millennial, I see those who have been in the industry for 20+ years and all of the crap they are enduring (intense work hours, sacrificed sanity due to clients who want everything immediately, sacrificed personal relationships/health) because they never set boundaries for their work life or made the 'this is how it's always been for architects' excuse.  I try to set a work/life balance that encourages longevity; architecture is a marathon, not a sprint. I don't mind putting in extra hours to meet deadlines, but do I want to sacrifice my health or personal relationships? No. Do I want to work with clients that can't accept that I don't live at the office? No. I've only been at this a short while, and I'm already tired of the "can we have a conference call with you and 5 of your consultants in 10 minutes to ask about a note that's clearly indicated on the drawings" routine.

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bowling_ball

Exactly. Stop whining, you old farts. You did this to yourselves. Maybe if you'd set boundaries earlier in your careers, this wouldn't be an issue. No sympathy.

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curtkram

everybody knows baby boomers are the whiniest generation ever to exist within our species.  that's why they whine about millenials so often.  its all they know how to do.

his second point is that interns and recent graduates are getting paid too much.  architects are treating young professionals too good.  i suppose too much training and mentoring too.  that's an argument you don't hear very often.  (that's how you know it's a troll.)

Aug 2, 17 1:59 pm  · 
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mightyaa

Basically.. .you aren’t alone.  I’m on zombie mode now.  I stumble around the office, give guidance to deaf ears with ‘know it all’ teenaged arrogance recent licensed architects, wave my hands on job sites then write reports just to prove I was there, attend meetings where half of it is just recapping the last meeting, and deal with hundreds of dumb questions a day because it’s easier than looking at the drawings or putting some thought into the ‘why’ of that detail.  Step in on a few items to squash the ember before a fire breaks out; particularly annoying that these kids don’t foresee how ‘that’ might cause a major issue down the road.  Then I go home knowing I maybe put in a couple hours of meaningful work that day. Rinse and repeat where days blend into months and then years.  My heart is no longer in this; my ambition and drive to get here seems wasted.  My experience is severely wasted. 

I honestly do not know a solution, since like you’ve noted, it’s really all these outside forces.  A lot of it I think stems back to societies erosion of trust in anyone or anything as well as ‘google smarts’; A false sense of intelligence because google had an answer by someone who knows how to write (note experience, factual information, discourse / discussion, or full sentences not required).  Everyone is out to protect themselves and the business and has an opinion where no amount of reason will budge them.  Loud voices seem to be the only ones heard anymore regardless of the message content and everyone reacts to that instead of the very professionals they hired for their insight and experience.

Even our industry is now set up to reward the unimaginative; something cutting edge is going to have a hard time getting through and lead to constant wrestling matches with consultants and trade industries… a brown box or flavor of the year wrap won’t raise concerns.  Once upon a time not all that long ago, folks were excited about working on something different and cool.   It’s depressing now. 

btw; not boomer who are now in their 60's+... X-Gen

Aug 2, 17 2:10 pm  · 
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The commiditization of everything, a glut of everything, and a population that doesn't know the difference between an ass and an elbow. And did I forget too mention a value system based solely on ROI?

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Weltschmerz

mightyaa - you described my routine precisely.

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Weltschmerz

Oh, and regarding the snotty kids that are posting about us being 'babyboomers' ... well, that illustrates their lack of historic understanding and they'll be in the same emotional position in 10-15 years. This site needs an "ignore" button.

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"This site needs an 'ignore' button.

The site does have an ignore button. Not sure if your intent is focused toward me, but FWIW I never called anyone a boomer. I just said you were old/not millennials.

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curtkram

i believe i was the one who brought boomers into this.

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I'm really enjoying this conversation. It feels very real to me (a 50yo architect) and honest, when we can all get past making snarky generalizations.

Weltschmerz, I am inspired by the example of debartolo architects. Jack Debartolo Jr was a partner at one of Arizona's biggest corporate firms, ADP. His son Jack 3 went to architecture school, and then the father left the big firm to start a small firm with his son. They do *excellent* work and I think (this may be conjecture on my part) that Jack 2 felt able to create much better work after shuffling off the chains of corporate responsibility. However, upon looking up this firm I realize that Jack 3 is already FAIA! We were in school together; he started as a freshman when I was graduating, good lord I'm old!   I still love architecture after 25 years of practice, but have made significant changes in my career many times, most recently six months ago. Here is a podcast about it

Aug 2, 17 3:03 pm  · 
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Weltschmerz

I'm not familiar with Debartolo. Several people have recommended stepping aside, and starting a smaller (presumably more focused) firm. My concern with this option is the number of years required to actually start generating a positive cash flow. My retirement goals are aggressive.

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Maybe you should revise your goals. They're useless if you don't enjoy your life or if you work yourself to death before you get there. You choose this path, whatever you do stop whining about it. Lots of people would kill for the kind of success you've had. You have a problem, you're a designer, design the solution.

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randomised

There's more to life than your aggressive retirement. So many people drop dead within a year or two after they finally reach that goal. It's just not worth sacrificing everything else for when that time comes to start living again.

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Wood Guy

"You have a problem, you're a designer, design the solution."

Mantra material.

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code

Agreed. As a millennial, I see those who have been in the industry for 20+ years and all of the crap they are enduring (intense work hours, sacrificed sanity due to clients who want everything immediately, sacrificed personal relationships/health) because they never set boundaries for their work life or made the 'this is how it's always been for architects' excuse.  I try to set a work/life balance that encourages longevity; architecture is a marathon, not a sprint. I don't mind putting in extra hours to meet deadlines, but do I want to sacrifice my health or personal relationships? No. Do I want to work with clients that can't accept that I don't live at the office? No. I've only been at this a short while, and I'm already tired of the "can we have a conference call with you and 5 of your consultants in 10 minutes to ask about a note that's clearly indicated on the drawings" routine.

ditto - from a marathon runner - 

Aug 2, 17 3:06 pm  · 
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Weltschmerz

The idea of setting boundaries to establish a work/life relationship will result in stunted professional growth. The reality is senior architects view "balance" as "laziness". Choice projects and advancement will always go to the intern or recently licensed person who gets in early, stays late, and asks for more. If your objective / goal is low/middle level production work you'll be able to easily maintain your work/life. However, if you want to be a project lead you will be sacrificing .

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Doesn't seem to be my experience. Luckily I work for a firm that values balance and efficiency. The people coming in early and staying late are usually called out as inefficient and don't usually get beyond middle level production work even if they do ask for more.

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yarchitect

I second Weltschmerz' response. Yes, work-life balance is absolutely possible but your professional growth will remain "average" or less. If you aspire to be extraordinary in architecture, then you have to go the extra mile. If you want to put your own brilliant fingerprints on projects and implement positive change in our built environment, a 9-5 job attendance will never get you there. So it all depends on your priorities. It is my impression that the young ones truly believe that they WILL do extraordinary things during the normal workday hours. And if you work for an amazing, established, LARGE high profile firm with the resources to accommodate that, maybe you will. But the chances of that are very very small. The profession (driven by the clients and the lack of high-fee commissions) still requires that if you want to create EXCELLENCE, you have to put in the hours and dedication. Sometimes, construction emergencies require that you check your email on weekends. If your boundaries are set such that you "shut off" on weekends, well, you'll never be in charge of a fast-paced construction job. If you don't live, breathe and look at architecture and design during your off hours, then it's going to take you 3x longer to come up with a compelling design idea/solution during office hours. That means, the design tasks will go to the person who can whip out a great design in a matter of minutes or an hour or two at the most. It takes constant practice and dedication. Just like musicians and athletes. The Young Ones like to treat architecture like an engineering job. It's just not.

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curtkram

it could be that senior architects working 60 hour weeks don't know how to organize and delegate, or they're micromanagers that aren't able to keep other people busy.

i don't think small architecture practices work as a business model.  getting a building built is a collaborative process.  introducing a big wad of hubris pretty much always messes it up.

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randomised

"The idea of setting boundaries to establish a work/life relationship will result in stunted professional growth" What are you worrying about growth, you're a senior executive for crying out loud. If you don't set the boundaries nobody will.

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mightyaa

"it could be that senior architects working 60 hour weeks don't know how to organize and delegate, or they're micromanagers that aren't able to keep other people busy." There's truth in there. It's an issue since that drive to get to the top usually goes right along with staying in control. Hard to let it go and allow others to lead.

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thisisnotmyname

I'm thinking that with $50mm of yearly revenue, there is some possibility you could use your position of majority ownership to refashion the business into something more rewarding.  Think about just keeping the good clients and send the crazies elsewhere.  

Aug 2, 17 3:25 pm  · 
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Weltschmerz

I'm currently a MINORITY owner. I'm now facing the decision to become a MAJORITY owner. Our partner buy-sell stipulates a maximum age for ownership, and one of our most-senior partners has reached the max age restriction. Myself and one other minority owner are being offered the buy out.

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thisisnotmyname

Yes, I know you don't have majority ownership yet, but would your taking ownership give you the opportunity to change the firm's situation? Will you have to put up money to buy the departing people out? On the flipside, If you quit the place, do you have the means to live comfortably?

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Rusty!

"Oddly, firms are paying new graduate hires MORE than senior architects"

What an odd observation. This is not even remotely true in the big leagues. 

Other than that, a lot of people in this thread come across like they are doing wrong kinds of projects. Just the nature of what I do gets me involved in over 50 projects a year. And some projects suck. I am lucky because I can move on a week later, but design teams on these projects are stuck with it for months. I've seen people go mental after a sequence of multiple shit projects. It really takes it all out of you. On the flipside there are projects that are lots of fun, with satisfying designs, great clients, competent GCs, that I wish I could have spent more time on. 

There is no single influence what makes a project good or bad, but I would say it is often connected to the overall budget. Small stingy projects are the worst. Remove one of those qualifiers and Architecture can still be a lot of fun. 

Aug 2, 17 3:38 pm  · 
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Weltschmerz

We have staff that has been with the organization for 20+ years. We give them cost-of-living raises. We have a difficult enticing new hires.

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Weltschmerz

I will say a part of the issue is our hourly demands. 50 hours are REQUIRED.

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Rusty!

Fair enough. 20+ years at the same company will lead to salary stagnation. Likewise lack of incoming talent compared to work volume has inflated some salaries. But we are past the peak. The plane is heading straight to the ground again.

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thisisnotmyname

Does the need to work 50 hours come from understaffing or inefficiency in your processes , or both?

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Rusty!

50+ hours comes down to billable rate. Pulling long hours is not the metric used to determine actual profitability. It's a chaotic profession and if everyone was 100% billable, you bet your ass it would be a 9-5 job. But it's not.

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The more you post about your organization the less I can imagine anyone wanting to work there. It's not a surprise you're burned out. What do you do to keep the 20+ year staff you have there and not leaving to find a better job?

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curtkram

.

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spiketwig

Weltschmerz's office sounds like a terrible place to work... no wonder he's burned out.

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bowling_ball

Yeah that work place sounds absolutely terrible.

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s=r*(theta)

as far as practice, im only 10yrs in, & recently licensed and only at pm level last 2yrs in my career. the only thing i can speak to is the expectation of recent grads (0-4yrs exp) who always know everything about everything and never want to hear sound advice, and want to work 4 hours and spend the rest on social media and drinking starbucks wile sitting in their bmw.

All that said, im more in the vien of capitalism, In my mind if there is an opportunity for great design, wonderful, I will push that agenda first, but if client is paying i could careless what gets built. those are the projects i look at as "at the end of the day its a job, food in my fam mouth, my mom's medical care etc..

I dont feel anywhere near burnt out, and rite now i put in about 48-55hrs a week, on avg. im in at 7am 2-3 days a week and typically leave 6:30-7pm 2-3 days a week, but no matter what is happening, I typically always go out with my wife every tues nite, and as a family every fri nite. but im not self-employed either

Aug 2, 17 4:54 pm  · 
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cr8ve

My suggestion to the younger Architects is to start early and invest in Real Estate (or something else!), however small, so by the time you are 45-50 you are financially independent and can do the Architecture that you want by slowly moving to development of small projects where you can be the decision maker on pretty much all aspects of the work. (development is natural for Architects).  Staying in the corporate Architecture world and getting measly 3-4% raises a year and small bonuses and promises of Partnership and stock options are a total waste/a Mirage.  I mean, look at the salary surveys of Principals/Partners , $250 K ?  its ridiculous ! You give that to a doctor/Lawyer 25 yrs out of school and they would laugh at you !! Architects should be making that in their early 30's.

 Use your 2,080 hours a year cleverly and do things on your own as early as you can and as soon as you have your license.  I am glad I went on my own at 29 and now all I do is pick and choose who I want to design for and do my own small development projects.  This advice is of course not for everyone.  Some people love the illusion of safety that a paycheck provides them !! 

BTW, I enjoy the fact that the Millennials  are not "Stupid" to put up with the entrenched culture of working more for less.  This profession needs to be lifted and it can only be done if the young don't give themselves away for nothing.  Starting salary for graduating architects should be in 6 figures.  This will automatically result in higher fees as percentage of construction cost and will be good for the profession overall.

Be smart !

Aug 2, 17 6:51 pm  · 
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Rusty!

Is this a novelty account made in order to say ridicilously out of touch things?

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cr8ve

No, its real advice for real people !

Unless , that is, you want to get paid $22/HR and cap off at $52/hr (if that much) 30 yrs later (a $ a year raise for 30 yrs) !

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I'd love a 6 figure starting salary. (also $ a yr raises are BS)

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Not trying to speak too much in generalizations, I'll point out what I see from my young perspective re: recent graduates/interns/young architects acting or thinking they know it all. Most are simply emulating what they see the senior architects doing. This profession is plagued with a fake-it-'til-you-make-it mentality, and it permeates from the top down. Probably due to some ego-driven desire to never say, "I don't know, but I'll find out." The way to fix it is proper training and mentorship, but that won't happen until that ego-driven desire is acknowledge and eradicated from the leadership.

I'm not saying every older architect is just faking it. There are those that know what they know, and know what they don't know. I will gladly seek out their mentorship and soak up all the advice that are willing to give me. I've found they are pretty easy to spot because they are the ones willing to challenge their own views and actually learn and adapt to changes, rather than stubbornly trying to keep things they way they've always been. Interestingly enough, I don't think I've ever heard one of them complain about being burned out.

Aug 2, 17 7:18 pm  · 
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s=r*(theta)

I struggle with your comment only because of my career path, I started as a drafter and never expected to end up an architect, I never had to deal with much arrogance or was either ignorant to it as I worked as a drafter, but once I re-entered the university to finish my B.arch, I never experienced such arrogance coming from a good majority of the students at 2nd yr level. infact I use to laugh within myself listening to them talk thinking they would be designing banks, skyscrappers and libraries fresh out of college! I knew once I graduated I would be right back to picking up redlines, drafting sketches, building models, printing & assembling drawings & spec books, make coffee; on site visits: wade in the mud, climb in the crappy crawl spaces, or up in a 95 degree attic, or in a freezing unoccupied industrial building in the middle of winter (even worked at a place were I was expected to cut grass and pull weeds) all the menial task

 · 
  1. In my mind ignorance isn't arrogance. The 2nd year students weren't arrogant, they were merely ignorant to what actual practice is like. That's because the educational system still teaches architectural practice like everyone is a little Howard Roark, rather than approaching it as a multi-disciplinary collaborative process (you know, like it is in reality). I'm also speaking to recent grads/interns/young architects, not necessarily students. 
  2. What does it say about a firm if you are cheaper labor than hiring someone to cut the grass?
 · 
corbismyhomeboy

You are right on the money with your first point. I think back to how I was during second year, and I suddenly understand my studio prof's love for whiskey...!

 · 
s=r*(theta)

just about ALL people who are ignorant are equally if not more arrogant. True confidence is the opposite of arrogance. arrogance is a mask for insecurity and insecurity is a clear sign of lack or void which brings us back to ignorance which last time I checked is define as a lack.

p.s. its your job to get educated at the university, not the instructors


 · 

I get what you're saying. Perhaps what you witnessed it is better classified as unconscious incompetence. My point is that this is different than what the fake-it-'til-you-make-it approach is, which I'd classify as conscious incompetence without the desire to become competent.

 · 
shellarchitect

although terrifying I really enjoy this thread.

I'm about 10 years in and imagine that in another 5 or so years I'll be looking in a senior leadership of my firm, similar to the OP.  I'd rather not share his somewhat depressing view of the profession by that point.

However, if consistent 50+ hour weeks are required than I have no interest in those positions. 

I seem to recall the CEO here telling me in my interview that very few made much over 80k here.  I'm either about topped out or he wasn't entirely honest.



Aug 3, 17 12:57 pm  · 
 · 
Schoon

Has anyone in this thread complaining about millennials lacking work ethic witnessed any of their "good" behavior?  In the offices I've worked you'd get chewed out real quick if you were caught on social media anytime during the workday.

I know lazy millennials and I know extremely driven ones.  I know stubborn, egotistical interns and ones that are eager to learn.  We're like any other slice of the population, we're made up of good and bad.  I'll bet that the ratio of competent to incompetent millennials is virtually the same as any other generation, but we just love to complain about the bad in each other's.

Aug 3, 17 1:13 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

I think the boomers just want someone else to be the target of ridicule and complaints for once, hence all the fury about millennials in this thread. When it's actually the boomers that have ruined it all for the rest of us and this planet, those bastards :P

 · 
yarchitect

generalizing a whole generation is not productive. Every generation has good and bad eggs, motivated individuals and individuals who are happy being average (or less). I have worked with a few great millenials. But there is a common thread about them not wanting to at least follow the email traffic on weekends, waiting to be asked or told to pay attention, rather than to pay attention to a project or client on their own, they are super eager to perform well on a specific task, but don't think about going above and beyond to maybe show their bosses that they are trying to learn how to take more responsibility, not much critical thinking going on these days, no thought about risk, potential downfalls of doing something a certain way... they are happy relying on their senior staff to do all the critical thinking for them. It's sad to see. I see very few with management potential or true "master architect" potential. Everyone wants the title and the pay very soon after obtaining their degree (as did I when I was young), but very few are willing to learn what it truly takes to be exceptional, to truly serve the client's needs, to protect the firm (that pays you), and to make the firm look good at every step of the way. And it's not like I don't teach all that stuff.... I am getting tired of teaching it over and over and over again, and still getting stuck being the last person responsible at the end of the day to get shit done correctly.

 · 

^ says "generalizing a whole generation is not productive," then proceeds to generalize a whole generation.

 · 
yarchitect

such an unproductive comment.

 · 

such an unproductive generalization.

 · 
bowling_ball

What a load. If you're trying over and over again to no avail, the problem is you, not everyone else.

 · 
s=r*(theta)

lets just call a spade a spade and stop playing blind to the problem

 · 
shellarchitect

think the generational complaints are not really about generations, more about being 25 years old vs 50 years old. 

I seriously doubt that Millennials are that much different than boomers  or X when they were 25

Aug 3, 17 1:20 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

You're right.

 · 
randomised

When boomers were 25 they had permanent contracts, could afford to buy a house, a car, and have next to zero student debt. People of 25 today are lucky to afford a bus pass while living with their parents going from internship to internship and being crippled with debt, or so I'm told...

 · 
corbismyhomeboy

+++++ And no one seems to be able to understand why we are asking for more money than previous generations! Not that we are entitled to it by any means, but we are asking because many of us are in worse financial state than those in generations before us so why not just ask and see what happens.

 · 
mightyaa

Agreed shell; it's a experience thing. As you age, you collect scars and learn from them.

 · 
whistler

Designed my whole career around trying to avoid this type of discussion.  The whole thread is just sad. Sometimes you have to look up from the drawing board / computer screen!

Aug 3, 17 2:51 pm  · 
 · 
Weltschmerz

I've found this discussion fascinating:

1) My OP did not blame millennials in any way.  I mentioned the changing market and their expectations.  However, true to the way "older people" view them: this thread has largely become about them. My advice to anyone under 35 reading this: distance yourself from believing you are a snow flake.  The quicker you mature and learn to discern wishful thinking (or perhaps inflated self importance) the faster you'll be grow as a person and professional.  Most of your bosses (as in the people who sign your checks) don't really care what you think.  You haven't EARNED the right yet.  Your response to this comment will prove my point.

2) Most of the more mature / experienced people have responded in kind. They too see a profession in peril.

3) Many people have leveled honest criticisms at our profession: incompetence; micro-management; and others.

HOWEVER, few have mentioned the real issue.  (Millennials I am especially looking at you): You work for your clients (the firm you sit at would not exist without the client base / projects).  The amount arrogance or ignorance displayed regarding "not taking calls" and "setting boundaries" speaks volumes about where you are in the food chain.  If your bosses were not taking after-hours calls, checking emails, and otherwise babysitting clients .. you wouldn't have a job.  You still think money comes from "mom" or "the company".  It does not.  It comes from results.  The results of putting in the extra hours to secure a contract, maintain relationships with existing clients, address the endless mistakes contractors makes, cover up mistakes that inexperienced junior architects make, deal with: health; general liability; and professional liability insurances; deal with your attorneys; deal with your accountants; filing quarterly taxes; managing your corporate line of credit; etc.

Oh, by the way, there also that pesky little task remaining...practicing architecture.

So while you're enjoying your "boundaries" and 9/5 mentality ... you might consider thanking your superiors because you're eating dessert at the table they set for you.  You matter very little in the big scheme.  You're replaceable with countless other inexperienced / unrealistic / idealistic / self-important post-grad children.

Aug 3, 17 3:51 pm  · 
 · 
yarchitect

BRAVO.

 · 
yarchitect

In a nutshell, the the young children are complaining about the old farts complaining about having to work so much and being burnt out. The old farts are complaining about the young children complaining that they want more pay for less work. Well... if the young ones want more pay for less work, by default the old ones have to work more hours to compensate. If the old ones don't pay the young ones more, they will go and job-hop, so the old ones do what the market demands and suffer through burn-outs and divorces to keep their labor force. So the old ones have EVERY RIGHT to be "whining" (if that's what the young ones call it these days).

 · 
yarchitect

This forum used to be a place to ask questions and get helpful and productive answers and advice, or alternate points of views to help with perspective, and discuss issues constructively, people used to try to help. I still see some of that, but I now see a lot more finger pointing, blaming and just people telling others to "stop whining" (not just this thread). Then again, it's been several years since I've checked out this forum. It's sad to see.

 · 

yarchitect, who is saying they want to get paid more for less work? Plenty of people have said they would like to get paid more, but i don't recall them saying they feel they should get that and have to work less. If anything they just want fair compensation for the work they are already doing.

 · 
yarchitect

more pay + 40 hour max work week = more pay, less work (compared to the traditional demand in this profession). Work-life balance. that's all. I don't disagree with this ideal, hell, I'd love it too. But it's very hard to do that in this profession and be ambitious at the same time. That's all.

 · 
yarchitect

BTW, I know plenty of "millenials" who work very hard and put in plenty of overtime to get work done. There are many that "get" it. Which is why I hate the generalization.

 · 

What if there were "people" who didn't have to work overtime to get work done. What if they had "bosses" that rewarded them for working efficiently? Then the more pay + 40 hour work week = everyone happy with a work-life balance. I seem to be able to make it work. I work hard, get my stuff (and then some) done in 40 hours/week and get rewarded for it with compensation, promotions, recognition, etc. I'm happy. My boss is happy. Our clients are happy. Win-win-win.

 · 
corbismyhomeboy

In all seriousness, have you thought about stepping back your responsibilities at the firm and searching out a teaching role? I'm not sure if it's something you're interested in, or if it makes sense where you live, but it sounds like a program would benefit from your knowledge and experience in practice. My thought it that it would break up what sounds like a less than fulfilling routine, and pass on some knowledge so others aren't necessarily starting from zero.

 · 
s=r*(theta)

@yarchitect, ha ya, all 3 of them

 · 
randomised

Well Welt...good luck with that heart attack. You came here asking for advice and all you do is look for approval of your way of working that clearly doesn't work for you if you're honest, hence the starting of this thread in the first place. If you don't want to make changes and only vent that's okay too. I hope it helped and made you feel superior for a minute. You complain about your work but the minute somebody comes with a suggestion of how you could improve things for you personally you act like people are personally attacking you. Well I'm done with this thread, enjoy your lonely stressed out corporate life. You seem to forget that your future clients are those same millennials you can't stand, try getting commissions from them when all your lovely boomer clients have passed...

 · 
won and done williams

Weltschmerz, your attitude in this post is both why you are successful and why you are miserable. If you are looking for a way out, I would start by reconsidering the fundamental assumptions of what you consider to be important.

 · 
code

corbismyhomeboy

+++++ And no one seems to be able to understand why we are asking for more money than previous generations! Not that we are entitled to it by any means, but we are asking because many of us are in worse financial state than those in generations before us so why not just ask and see what happens.

Thats not the way it works - you want to make more money? try producing more value and taking more responsibility

Aug 3, 17 4:46 pm  · 
 · 
corbismyhomeboy

I fully understand that, which is why I wrote "not that we are entitled to it" meaning I'm going to ask for a number I know that isn't reasonable, but that would be comfortable, and let my employer tell me what they'll accept, and then work my way up from there with experience/taking on more responsibilities.

 · 

Your right that your OP didn't blame millennials in any way. I was the one that brought them up in the first place ... as a joke ... sorry it got out of hand. Wasn't my intention to start a generational war. 

I do find it ironic that those who have self-identified on the thread as millennials aren't making the discussion about them. If anything it's the other way around. You made your last statement about the "real issue" completely about millennials. Again putting the blame on others rather than looking at what you can do to solve the issue ...

... which is pretty much the same thing you did in the OP. You were blaming the market, assuring us that it wasn't your internal attitude. Yet from my viewpoint your internal attitude to the changing market is exactly why you find yourself in the state you are in. Yes, many of the changes in the market are due to shifting demographics (ie. millennials) completely outside of your control, but plenty of others seem to be able to manage the changes just fine ... many of them self-identifying as non-millennials (ie. your peers). So while many have basically agreed with you and see a profession in peril, many do not. Why do you think you're such a special snowflake that the market should remain constant because you're unwilling to change? Is it just because you bring in the clients?

I do thank my superiors for bringing in, and babysitting the clients ... making it rain. I don't think I could do it any better. I'm under no delusion that money just magically appears because I show up to work everyday. But I also don't have much sympathy for my superiors when they start whining about how hard it is. You chose to do it, you're compensated for it, and if you don't like it you can always stop doing it. Why are you entitled to my sympathy for doing your job? 

I don't get your sympathy when I have to put up with the crap that I have to in order to do my job ... you'd just tell me to get back to work ... why should it be any different for you? And if you don't like the fact that I don't share your consternation when you complain about the changing market you can't adapt to, or the terrible clients who won't leave you alone after 6 pm ... feel free to replace me. I wouldn't want to work for a boss like that anyway. You'd be doing me a favor. 

Aug 3, 17 5:55 pm  · 
 · 
bowling_ball

Well said. Bosses want the juniors to answer their personal cell phones on the weekend and babysit clients? Then pay them for it. It's pretty simple.

 · 
tintt

There is a book for this. Image result for who moved my cheese

Aug 3, 17 6:00 pm  · 
 · 
tintt

My jpg disappeared... "Who Moved my Cheese?"

 · 
Schoon

On Wednesday the CEO of the firm I work for came to the office for a town hall-style meeting, where he stressed that among the firm's many goals was a commitment to facilitating work-life balance for employees.  In my opinion the need for that balance isn't just a millennial thing, it's a part of the culture of the current decade.  I also think this is part of a desire to do more than one thing with our lives before we die, and a shift of our ultimate priority from maximization of money or career status to satisfying relationships and experiences.  Maybe I'm just optimistic and lucky to be working under leadership that cares about that sort of thing, though.  

As you said in your original post, Weltschmerz, your career came at the expense of your relationships and hobbies.  We only have so much time in this world, and we can only have what we make time for.  After providing for ourselves and our families, we might as well spend the remainder on what satisfies us.

Aug 3, 17 8:58 pm  · 
 · 
archinine
"BTW, I enjoy the fact that the Millennials are not "Stupid" to put up with the entrenched culture of working more for less. This profession needs to be lifted and it can only be done if the young don't give themselves away for nothing. Starting salary for graduating architects should be in 6 figures. This will automatically result in higher fees as percentage of construction cost and will be good for the profession overall.

Be smart !"

To the point about hours, apparently more than 40, equaling "more work" frankly this just isn't true. Work harder not smarter. The fact that one now has email on their phone which opens the gates for weekend calls etc, is obviously a game changer and one of the 'differences' OP is frustrated with. But pairing the outdated notion of being tethered to a desk or certain amount of time = certain amount work accomplished while also having that device is the problem.

Why do the 40 hours need to be contiguous? It made sense before the smart phone. Now it is increasingly stupid to spend all that time in one place while sacrificing health and efficiency by being plugged in and sitting for such long stretches. It's been well documented countless times that the vast majority of humans (of all ages) simply can't sustain high level mental functioning for more than a few hours at a time.

Those who succeed across the span of their career are the ones who adapt. Moreso with each generation as technology changes business and culture ever faster.

OP has the opportunity to set his own boundaries whether that be total time, intermittent breaks, which things to delegate etc yet complains he must be on the clock and present for all these hours. For what? To 'look likes he's working?' If you're not being productive and you're already at the top of your field, take a break, go home, go to a museum, read a book, anything! If someone calls then answer. There's something wrong if you're executive level and doing PA work by regularly visiting a site, talking to manufacturers, contractors etc. You should be the PA/CA's guide by this point not doing their work for them.

To all levels, this 'pretending to work' 'showing face' bullshit is toxic and counterproductive in the long haul. It helps no one and results in endless mistakes ultimately causing tasks to take three times as long and be twice as expensive if you account for fixing them during CA etc.

Part of what needs to change with our advent of phones and computers is the archaic notion of the arbitrary 40 hour week. Times have changed. We as both leaders (boomers) and workers (millenials) must adapt and experiment to find what works.

Bickering about whose fault it is accomplishes nothing. The culprits are really iPhones, student loans (and longer commutes/stressful home lives therein), and a cultural shift toward services with little to no manual input - these are the real changes to be addressed.

This is of course not unique to architecture but perhaps more harshly felt as our graphics centered output has been substantially augmented by technology, arguably far more than other fields. Our fees have gone down while our output continues to climb. Yet our hours have remained much the same if not increased. It's time to rethink the composition of our work day in relation to our health, longevity - both individually and as a profession, and of course our bottom lines.

We all work hard - that's what I'm seeing from the finger pointing and defensiveness from all age groups. Why don't we take a stab at working smarter? Perhaps the young are realizing this and at odds with the older generation stuck in their routines. If OP and similar are sick of the routine, what are steps they can take to address this by using technology vs getting used and abused by it? OP and similar who are at the forefront have a fantastic opportunity by being the current studio heads, to shift the routine and learn from the young just as the young still very much need to learn from the more experienced in terms of craft / products / services / client relations etc.

For the record I've never seen anyone at my current office on social media and I've rarely seen anyone work over time on a consistent basis - yes this includes management who are often last in first out and who rarely if ever email anyone about anything after hours or during their vacations. I worked at a terrible company where the same handful of highly inefficient people (of all ages/ranks) practically lived there and spent plenty of time chatting, browsing the web, and checking over their shoulders to see if anyone was noticing how 'hard' they were working. Firm 1 is profitable, has a beautiful office, no one micro manages, younger staff are given opportunities to take on more responsibility to the joy/relief of senior staff, resources abound, and shitty clients are turned down or let go. Firm 2 failed to make profits during some of the peak billing years as of late, managers are glued to their tablets day and night, endless meetings that could have been handled via an email or CD note are held, random 'experts' are constantly flitting between offices doing a lot of nothing on the company dime (as in these aren't even client/site travel situations), team members are purposely excluded so that someone can play the blame game later, staff micro manage incessantly - even non managers, and people are generally depressed. The work at both ranges from meh to pretty cool depending on the client. Firm 1 management gets over a month and a half in pto, firm 2 management eeks out just over 2 weeks, ironically less than entry level staff at firm 1. As a young(ish) person can you blame me for leaving to be happier doing essentially the same thing (plus opportunities for more things) at the place that clearly values my and my manager's time? Everyone is happier and more productive/profitable when they're given some autonomy and down time.
Aug 3, 17 9:32 pm  · 
 · 
code

still, the client wants more done in decreasingly less time for the same fee - consequently, my hours have gone up, I work faster for the same pay - that's the way it is - I've  long since learned to accept it - it's easier to go with it, than to put up futile resistance - better to adapt - Gen Z will be even faster - they don't have a problem with life/work balance issues

Aug 3, 17 10:20 pm  · 
 · 
bikebicycle

50 hours required for all employees seems excessive. That just encourages people to stretch tasks - not put in the extra time because they want to advance (to the point of helping you manage those 24/7 clients). No wonder you're burnt out.  You're picking up everyone else's slack, and encouraging your staff to slack off. 

Aug 3, 17 10:57 pm  · 
 · 
archanonymous

OP - either buy in with a majority stake, clean house (of clients and employees you don't want) and make it a reset if you think the firm name and pedigree can attract the type of clients do want. 

Otherwise, get outta there (did you ever wonder why someone was selling you their stake?) and start your own place (same risk as being majority owner in this one - could be starting from a better or worse place with clients?) and try to make something happen, maybe while teaching a pro prac or other course at a local university. 

You could also consider a 3-month sabbatical to some sort of tropical island. You've probably earned it by now.


As to work amounts required, etc...

The people I have worked with in my past jobs who are on my "dream team" list for when I start a firm are incredibly efficient in their 40 hours, but then they put in another 20. They are the last to leave, the client's first call, the ones who show you 3 answers to a problem you didn't know the project had. You see them at most architecture lectures, at crits week at the local university, and on the train home at 10 pm. Their personal lives might suffer but neither of us care about that, we care about the projects.

Aug 3, 17 11:45 pm  · 
 · 
geezertect

Their personal lives might suffer but neither of us care about that, we care about the projects.

But then, if you live long enough, you will see your beloved projects get torn down or renovated (butchered) beyond all recognition, and then you will realize that it's all bullshit and that you sacrificed your humanity for something that wasn't worth the cost.  JMHO.

 · 
archinine
Interesting point chris. One wonders if the boomers will be the first last and only to achieve this elusive retirement.
Aug 3, 17 11:47 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

That's the problem with people who work towards retirement instead of enjoy their work...any changes and they are screwed. If you enjoy your work, who cares if you have to do it for a while longer or until you die of a happy old age. I don't think I can ever retire properly, but that's okay because I just make sure I enjoy the work I do so I don't mind...that's the beauty of this field :)

 · 
geezertect

^ The problem with that approach is that, while you may always love your profession, it may not always love you. Losing your gig when you are pushing senior citizen status can be a career and financial death sentence. Do what you love but have plenty of rainy day money on hand, just in case.

 · 
archinine
archanonymous these people sound pretty inefficient if they have to work 80 hours to do what I and most others do in 40 - and honestly could easily do in 30 if given the chance. It's probably because they are so tired and have no social or family life.

What a bleak existence.

A very wise and very successful architect (owned his own profitable firm for years) once made it very clear - have a family, have a life, this is the single most important thing you can do for the success of your career.

Otherwise you wind up 45-50 over stressed, no friends/loved ones, and drop dead of a heart attack in the conference room with no one to find you as you're of course working weekends.
Aug 4, 17 8:29 am  · 
 · 
yarchitect

Weltschmerz: Back to your original issue:

You are minority owner (shareholder I assume) and you are being offered majority stake in the company. Does that mean 51% or more? How many other partners are there and are there to stay? In a company that makes $50 Mill//year, you can afford to hire the people you need to figure out your work-life balance, and you should also be able to take time off. You clearly have a "machine" that will keep running while you are away. If you don't, then there are bigger issues.

Before you even consider accepting a majority stake in a company, you first have to understand your risk. You'd better have access to the books (ALL the books, dating back several years - at least 5!), and you should have access to the operating agreement. Also, what is the corporate structure? PLLC or LLC? S-Corp? C-corp? Partnership? All this makes a difference and has different personal risk implications. The upside is typically that you collect a bigger share of the profit as majority partner, however you also suffer the consequences in an economic downturn. Do you have the stomach to be responsible for so many people's employment and job security? Do you enjoy running a business or do you prefer practicing architecture? Do you trust your fellow partners?

There is SO MUCH you have to consider before accepting a majority stake in a larger and established company. Is there debt that you don't know about? Do you have to pay in to take on majority partnership? If so, can you afford it or is the company forcing you to take out a loan?

First and foremost, look at the financial risk profile of this venture. I was surprised to hear that the company instills 50hour minimum work weeks. That to me is a red flag. The culture needs to change. Could this be a function of the majority owner funding his retirement?

First and foremost, look at the books. That alone will help you determine whether you should accept it or walk away. If it's worth considering, then get yourself a lawyer to negotiate your deal. Good luck. And just ignore the ignorant and judgemental comments made above. It appears to have become trendy to tell people to stop whining and complaining. Sad world where people can no longer vent and receive even a bit of sympathy. Not much of a "community" anymore...

Aug 4, 17 9:10 am  · 
 · 
yarchitect

last but not least, how will the exit of the current majority owner affect the company's business, business model and client base? Will you lose business? Will billings go down? Leadership transition is not easy and takes time. Think carefully about whether or not all of this interests and excites you as a new challenge or if you'd rather just keep working on projects. Once you are majority owner and don't like it, it may be difficult and costly to get out of that role.

 · 
geezertect

Sounds like the OP doesn't like the business well enough to keep doing it, much less to buy it.  No sense paying a toll to go down a road that leads somewhere you don't want to go.

 · 
tintt

When I was in my 20's I worked every night, every weekend, and most holidays just to keep up. I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. I was due for a heart attack or stroke at an early age. In my 30's when I worked for a firm that was suffering and eventually failed, I was diagnosed as bi-polar (it turned out to be a false disgnosis) and prescribed heavy anti-psychotics. I wasn't bi-polar, but I was stressed out. I took almost 7 years off, did a different job, took a bunch of classes in other fields to find myself again and turned it all around and now at almost 40 have a perfect bill of health that I didn't have in my 20's and 30's and have returned to architecture as a self-employed where I am not assigned to work on projects not suitable for me but am able to be selective and can take care of myself and my family because I HAD to. I sacrifice stability with no 8 to 5 but I have my health. And I'm not even a millennial! There was a long time where I was the person who was going to have a heart attack and die early. It is no longer the case. You can turn it around.

Aug 4, 17 9:17 am  · 
 · 

Great backstory.

 · 

Wonderful that you shared this, tintt!

 · 
tintt

Archinect is like group therapy sometimes. AA - Archinectors Anonymous. Except its not all that anonymous.

 · 

Thanks for sharing. There are lessons in there for all of us.

 · 
geezertect

Does that mean there is 12 Step program to leave the profession?

 · 
tintt

It's longer than 12 steps. Much longer.

 · 

Hotel California - you can check out but you can never leave.

 · 
tintt

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.


 - Rumi

Aug 4, 17 9:55 am  · 
 · 
tintt

The wound is the place where the light enters you. ~Rumi ..*

.

Aug 4, 17 12:33 pm  · 
 · 
archinine
I'm wondering from OP or others at partner level if you feel that implementing changes you want to see and addressing the problems mentioned are possibile as a majority stakeholder/partner.

If not, what is the obstacle? Just an ingrained bad culture? A feeling of not being able to? No support? After all that time with this company it would be a shame to have to run away or start your own practice to shape how things are done.
Aug 4, 17 1:09 pm  · 
 · 
Weltschmerz

Architectural firms are a lot like people.  They develop habits and behaviors.  Some habits are beneficial, but many are not.  When someone says "habit" most of us probably think of "bad habits" like smoking.

As a person, changing a bad habit requires commitment and perseverance.  You only have yourself to account for.  Now think of an organization with 200+ employees.  Those "habits" are ingrained in a very large organic body of collective behaviors.

Being a partner does not make you omniscient or omnipotent.  A partner can "dictate" whatever they chose, but the collective organization has to "buy into" the idea or it will not work. Just like with an individual, habits are hard to break.  Even if you succeed many people backslide into their previously held bad habit (e.g. smoking).


Aug 4, 17 4:56 pm  · 
 · 
Weltschmerz

Regarding the broader recommendations:

I've re-read this thread several times, and in spite of typical millennial haughtiness, I agree with the overall concept of personal change.

I would love to work 9am to 5pm with a 1-1.5 hour lunch.
I would love to delegate more responsibility, and play golf more often.
I would love to work from home one day a week.
I would love to not take before (contractor) or after (owner) hours calls.
I would love to employ technology in a manner that allowed my virtual presence to replace my physical presence.

These are all great and notable ideals.  NOTE: I intentionally utilized ideals (not ideas).

The reality of partnership in a robust organization is different.

How many of you have been the lead on $40M projects?
How many of you have lead multi-national design-build projects for EXCEEDINGLY WELL KNOWN manufacturers?

When a client entrusted enormous sums of money (and their organizational growth) to you - they feel you're indentured to them.  I suspect many of you haven't been involved in projects of this magnitude, and therefore don't understand the work dynamic.  If you're unwilling to work the way the owner wants - they just select the guy standing behind you.  I'm not talking about small-town redneck organizations.  I'm referring to industry giants like General Motors.

While your ideals may apply to small scale work (financial, retail, etc).  It does not interpolate well to large scale medical ($100M+ campus work), industrial work, $40-50M post-secondary educational work, etc.

Regarding inefficiency in work..... and the millennial attitude ....

I manage all age ranges.  I've had everything from freshly graduated (millennial) to end-of-career (boomer).  I'm sorry to disagree with all of the millennials who think they're some how "more efficient" (read: better at what they do) than everyone else.  You really are not.  You are the laziest age range.  The hardest working are the boomers, followed by Gen X (my age group) and trailed a distant third place by millennials.  I'm not picking on you or trying to burst your bubble wrap.  It is an honest criticism by someone who supervises a lot of people.  I applaud your desire to shape the world (and profession) into something more rewarding, but you should back off of the pontifications.  It is unbecoming and you sound childish.  When you hit middle age you'll likely look back upon the way you acted in your 20's and 30's with embarrassment.  Every generation does this, but you all are absurd in your self righteousness.  You're doing a great job of identifying problems in the world and market.  If you don't present your solutions as condescending edicts the people that employee you may actual listen instead of instantly muting you.  I know you all come from the participation award generation, but your bosses came from the "earn your stripes in the trenches" generation.  If you want to be heard try imparting some humility or at least read the Dale Carnegie book "How to win friends and influence people".  If you behaved the way you've behaved in this thread - I would terminate you on the spot - in front of your colleagues as an example.  Your superiors are SUPERIOR to you.  I am sure you will not approve of this criticism. I am honestly trying to help you.

Regarding actual change in the work place ....

The obvious option is to leave a large scale organization in favor of a small firm with limited reach.  The trade off would be: smaller and less rewarding projects (I would be very bored with $5M bank branch or $3M office buildings, etc); less income; and less established clients.


Aug 4, 17 5:23 pm  · 
 · 
Weltschmerz

Millenials ...

If you're so much more efficient, intelligent and wise than your superiors ... why aren't they working for you?

 · 
shellarchitect

So the choice is exciting projects that consume your life or boring projects that don't. Not sure there is a right our wrong answer. I can only suggest that change can be good or bad, but if the current situation is untenable than you must choose "change."

 · 
( o Y o )

What a whiny bitch. No wonder you hate your life.

Aug 4, 17 5:50 pm  · 
 · 
Weltschmerz

This post was profound. I need to meditate to fully comprehend the dearth of wisdom you've shared. Thank you.

 · 

A word of advice for anyone reading this thread (Millennials, Boomers, Gen X, Xennials, kangaroos, etc.). If you find yourself working for someone like Weltschmerz ... quit and find another job. 

There are better people to work for. They will encourage you to have a healthy work-life balance. They don't think that forced overtime is normal. They'll recognize and utilize your strengths, and help you work on your weaknesses. They won't act superior to you, even though they are your superior. They will mentor and train you. They won't complain about the responsibility they have in supervising you, training you, running a firm, etc. They won't make excuses or blame anyone but themselves. They're professionals, and they will treat you like one too, regardless of your experience level or hierarchical position in the firm. You should also strive to be one of these people whether or not you intend on being an employer one day or are content being an employee.

Aug 4, 17 6:46 pm  · 
 · 
Rusty!

This whole thread has devolved to 40 versus 50 hour weeks. I wish I only worked 50 hours.... Actually I am OK with my long hours because I get compensated correctly. I even get a little uneasy if it drops close to 40. If I was still freelancing I'd want that number well over 60. There is a tactile feedback in effort versus compensation when you work for yourself. But there isn't for a salaried professional (in the US). Would more money make most people be OK with working more than 40 hours, or is this a fundamental rejection based on work/life balance. Because if later, you entered the wrong profession. Top tier lawyers and doctors work their butts off. If you want to be called a professional service as well, then something has to give.

 · 

Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but it is possible to be a good employee and maintain a good work-life balance in this profession. I have title, certifications, peer reviews, appreciation from superiors, awards, timesheets, and paychecks to prove the work part. And I have my health, happiness, friends, and family to prove the life part. 

More to Rusty!'s point though, I think it overly simplistic to boil this down to 40 vs 50 hours. A good work-life balance will work out to be slightly different for everyone. Maybe requiring 50 hours is fine, but it should be expected that those requirements would be spelled out and understood when accepting the position and negotiating compensation. I still wouldn't work for Weltschmerz even if the compensation and hourly demands were appropriately balanced and negotiated. Sometimes it just isn't worth it.

 · 
Weltschmerz

Everyday Architect. I read your blog. As a non-licensed individual you may want to reconsider using the title "architect" even informally...especially on a forum dedicated to the profession.

 · 
Weltschmerz

Everyday Architect. I read your blog. As a non-licensed individual you may want to reconsider using the title "architect" even informally...especially on a forum dedicated to the profession.

 · 
Weltschmerz

I am unaware of any jurisdictions that permit, even informal usage, of the title by the unlicensed.

 · 
Weltschmerz

Just trying to mentor here:

 · 
Weltschmerz

Just trying to mentor here:

 · 
shellarchitect

I believe all parties are correct, everyday architect got their license sometime fairly recently

 · 
Rusty!

OK now everyone is coming across as dickcheese. Good luck to all of you lads.

 · 

Oh my, Weltschmerz is sounding like Rick here....

 · 

Rick at least knew to verify licensure status. If Weltschmerz took the time to read my blog you'd think he'd figure out that until recently I posted under "Everyday Intern" and that my current use of the title is completely legal as a licensed individual.

 · 
archinine
Not sure why OP repeatedly feels the need to call out the millenials. Perhaps one has forgotten what it's like not knowing everything and being a noobie? The fact that that process is also stressful and not easy and involves spending a few years not being nearly as productive as those who are supposed to be teaching/mentoring/advising. No one ever said the younger generation is wiser nor more efficient so I don't know where that's coming from. Intelligence is variable at any age so yeah there are some millenials bound to be smarter than some boomers and of course the inverse, but I don't think anyone (young) on here claimed to be that either.

One thing that hasn't been addressed is wealth as barrier to entry. Sure no one ought to get into architecture to get rich but there's a difference in simply picking your battles. With the increased cost of education an unwealthy young person is more debt saddled than ever. Even if this person is truly passionate and a 'hard worker' (which arguably the less wealthy tend to be as they often have little choice) this person is also smart enough having gotten that far to choose to work in a place that treats them well and provides opportunities for upward mobility and mentorship.

I was interested in hearing OPs perspective from 'the top' but it's clear he isn't interested in affecting the status quo, only looking at who to blame for his troubles, apparently the young. To clap back your clap backs if I had a dollar (not a dime inflation is real) for every time a boomer couldn't navigate a PDF or set up an email in outlook without my help I could pay off my student loans. Yet I never call them stupid, I don't assume they're lazy either, and I know they've got lots of other experience I'd like to learn from and absorb.

I've met plenty of very hard working young people and every one of them would avoid your firm like the plague. I know I did - the minute I realized I was in a chaotic mess I sought something reasonable. Your firm sounds so uncannily similar to the one I left I wonder if it's the same one. Couldn't keep any talent on hand because the pay sucked, turnover was rampant, communication was abysmal, hours were grueling, and day to day constant finger pointing - from all ages. Meanwhile client expectations were severely mismanaged, as was internal delegation, resulting in countless hours of unbillable reworking, unnecessary (unpaid) overtime, and straight up being fired off projects for the 'next guy in line'. And yes these were $50mil+ plus projects so no not everyone on here works for tiny firms with tiny clients on tiny footprints.

Both past and current firms I've worked for have huge projects with high profile clients. The difference is management taking ownership and fostering development in their young people to actually help do the work rather than to use them as scapegoats/scare them off whilst nothing gets done.

Maybe you should stay put and not bring your crappy attitude to infect a well run firm. Cause you know there's more than one firm with large high profile projects. Oh wait you only worked at two firms your whole life! No wonder you're miserable. Seems like you've been drinking so much of that koolaid you truly don't believe it can be any other way. That just isn't true - amongst many of the other statements here.
Aug 4, 17 8:27 pm  · 
 · 

Thank you Weltschmerz for providing us with schadenfreude



Aug 4, 17 10:00 pm  · 
 · 
shellarchitect

I was wondering if anyone would pick up on the name

 · 
Rusty!

Weltschmerz definition linked here is not the true meaning. It's a term from very specific romantic revival period in German literature. All bad literature. Think of an emo response to 19th century. OP is emo. The original millennial.

 · 

weltschmerz (n.) "pessimism about life," 1872 (1863 as a German word in English), from German Weltschmerz, coined 1810 by Jean Paul Richter, from Welt "world" (see world) + Schmerz "pain" (see smart (n.)). Popularized in German by Heine.

 · 
Rusty!

I am very familiar with the term. Y'all are still misusing it. It's a lot cheesier than anything Google will spill out.

 · 

That's not google, it's the online eytmology dictionary, which is pretty well researched.

 · 
Rusty!

Even wikipedia has a more meaningful interpretation. Don't start shit with me Miles. I just returned here from my time in the slammer.

 · 

Wikipedia is a crowdsourced dicktionary. You want to get it on? I just went toe-to-toe with a guy who owns 7 high rises in NYC.

 · 
Rusty!

Oh Miles, never change. Some things never change.

 · 

I think that's well beyond his conceptual ability.

 · 

It's easy to hate on the Millenials and bemoan how they see  the world so differently from us older people (I'm 50; I'm firmly Gen X, NOT a Boomer, and I think the OP is the same age as me) and how they just don't "get it" when it comes to the real world.

The problem is:

What I see a LOT of in architecture is older people like me thinking that younger people have to do it the same way we did. But they totally don't. We are on the way out; Millennials - and the generation behind them - are on the way in.

The 20-30 year olds in architecture will eventually remake the profession in the way that suits them. This is as it should be. 

I know we all bash on AIA here but what I have seen - from a semi-insider's view of National in the last decade - is that AIA has invested heavily in trying to reinforce the narrative that *the way architecture is practiced is changing* and we older people in the field need to adapt to that fact and allow for the knowledge and way of navigating the world that Millennials have to come into play more seriously.

Construction firms are adapting to technology, supply chains are changing, the ways society uses built space is changing...we architects need to get the fuck over the Beaux Arts and move on, yes?

Aug 4, 17 10:11 pm  · 
 · 
tintt

Whenever anyone complains about millennials having different values about things I just laugh. Good thing they do! Somebody has to fix this profession, the old folks can't do it.

- young gen-x'er

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