Before I joined the team at retrofit, I worked for a nationally circulated residential remodeling publication. I would attend Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders’ Remodelers and Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Association of the Remodeling Industry meetings regularly. At these meetings, the remodelers were adamant about “working on your business rather than in your business”. They often said that it wasn’t until they joined industry associations that their businesses became successful. Before, they had been buried in the day-to-day requirements of their positions, but by taking a few days away to attend association meetings, they were suddenly learning from their peers and were able to use the ideas they gathered to improve their operations.
In September 2017, John Riester, retrofit’s publisher, and I followed this advice and attended a digital publishing conference, called the NICHE Digital Summit. I had heard about these NICHE conferences from other publishers while at our printer’s holiday party a few years ago. It finally worked with John’s and my schedules to attend the digital summit and we both learned so much about online publishing for a niche industry not only from the speakers, but also from other attendees. I took copious notes and came back to my office with quite a few ideas that John and I thought would be easy to execute.
Among the ideas was to send a survey to learn what our readers like about retrofit (print and digital) and what we can improve upon. To encourage readers to answer the survey, we offered a $200 American Express gift card to one respondent. The winner was Barbara Catlow. Congratulations! And thank you to everyone who responded; we know you are busy and receive a lot of emails per day, but your answers are helping us to better serve your needs.
In addition to learning from your peers at conferences, sometimes a change in your own life can help you execute your professional role in a new light, as demonstrated in our “Cover Story”. Julie Robertson, interior design practice leader in HDR’s Minneapolis office, happened to be pregnant when she led the design that integrated a Mother Baby Center and NICU at United Hospital, St. Paul, Minn. “I was pregnant during these projects, which allowed me to see through the eyes of the patient. It actually changed the way I thought about design,” Robertson says in the article. Read about how Robertson and her team created cohesive and special spaces for mothers and babies.
Professionals at Elevate Energy, a non-profit organization in Chicago, recognized that a different perspective could better help them achieve their organization’s mission. Elevate Energy designs and implements programs to help building owners and managers complete energy-efficiency upgrades for properties. Energy-efficiency programs rarely are created to meet the specific needs of multifamily buildings, so the organization completed an analysis of 143,000 multifamily properties in Chicago, segmenting them based on age, size and other traits to better understand the city’s multifamily sector. Elevate Energy’s goal is to help energy-efficiency program implementers to better grasp the market they serve and identify opportunities to customize energy-efficiency services to buildings’ and owners’ needs. Read about the analysis in “Business”.
Hopefully reading retrofit offers some new ideas for you each issue, but if you need further inspiration to garner a new perspective and better your professional role, check out our events calendar. Then, take a few days to get out of your business to help take it to the next level.