WHY GENERALISTS SUCCEED IN A SPECIALISTS’ WORLD
I was inspired by David Epstein’s book: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World https://www.amazon.com/Range-Generalists-Triumph-Specialized-World/dp/0735214484 Epstein proposes that despite the pressure to start kids on violin or golf at an early age to guarantee mastery, there is another path to success: letting kids try many different sports and/or instruments and even musical genres. Specialists who have achieved at the highest level include Tiger Woods, who first picked up a putter at the age of 7 months and who was on TV showing off his golf swing at the age of 2. Generalists who have achieved at the highest level include Roger Federer, who played every sport available before choosing tennis. (Note to self: was Tom Brady a specialist or generalist when he was young? I am guessing he was late to football, since his mastery actually came late.) Epstein’s article in the May 24, NY Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/opinion/sunday/kids-sports-music-choices.html goes into more detail.
This point of view, that generalists can succeed, was reassuring to me. Our firm feels like a generalist’s dream: WORK (offices), PLAY (restaurants and retail), AGE (independent/assisted living and nursing homes), LIVE (private homes and multi-family), and LEARN (religious and educational institutions) are our project types. Basically, we have “tried” many different project types and we found out that we like them all! Marketing consultants have always asked us for our specialty and I have had a hard time coming up with one. They hate that.
But I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, all of our “trying” has one common specialty: RENOVATIONS. Almost all of our projects are within existing buildings, or within existing buildings, plus an addition. We commonly take existing spaces/buildings and RENOVATE them or ADD onto them to fit the needs of the people who use them. We have worked in buildings while they were occupied and in buildings that were empty before the people moved into them. Renovations are our specialty and we can say that we can renovate spaces at the highest level of competency. We know how to allocate construction budgets: splurging in a few spaces, and being frugal in most of the spaces, and holding a reserve for the unexpected. We know that every renovation comes with surprises. At this point with our extensive renovation experience, we are facile and quick problem solvers as each challenge arises, keeping our projects on track.
Sometimes we provide Interior Design services for other architects who are designing major new buildings. Even then, we are focused on the inside of the building and the people who will be using them. Okay, so maybe our real specialty is Interior Renovations for PEOPLE who WORK, PLAY, AGE, LIVE, and LEARN.
Our generalist and specialist status keeps our staff happy and engaged (read “not bored.”) We have found that our clients benefit from the varied project experience as well. I have written previously on the topic of how our various project types are getting blurred these days, with offices that are more like homes and vice versa, (resi-mercial is a new term that describes this.) and with assisted living facilities that are more like resorts. Our varied clients and projects keep us fresh, curious, resilient and persistent. We stay in love with what we do, renovating and adding onto existing buildings, as well as designing their interior finishes and furnishings, all in the cause of achieving new and updated spaces that wrk well for the people who use them.
If you have a building or space that needs an update, please call us or contact us on our website. https://lesliesaul.com/. We would love to show you what a design firm at the top of their game, performing architecture and interior design services at the highest level, can do for you!