Welcome to HMC Architects’ Five in Focus blog series, where we explore the latest trends, ideas, and innovations shaping the future of architecture and design. This series asks our design professionals to tell us what’s capturing their attention and offer some insights.

Brian Staton is HMC Architects’ president and CEO. Here, he shares his thoughts on building resilience, leadership strength, the new workplace, the infinite mindset, and holiday celebration.

1. The Pillars of Sustainable Business: Building Resilience

According to the dictionary, the term “resilient” encapsulates a dynamic quality that signifies the ability to spring back or rebound, returning to the original form or position after being subjected to bending, compression, or stretching. In contemporary discussions, resilience, particularly in business, has gained significant prominence. At a recent conference, the concept resonated with me as I recognized the resilience ingrained in HMC, making it a standout firm. The speaker at the conference outlined three fundamental areas that contribute to a firm’s resilience.

Firstly, fostering trust with employees emerged as a cornerstone. HMC adopts a transparent approach by regularly sharing vital information, including quarterly financial results and marketing and project pursuits. This commitment to open communication cultivates deep, meaningful relationships within the organization. Secondly, a shared understanding of the firm’s mission, vision, and values unites HMC’s workforce. Our Design for Good mantra, a collective aspiration, resonates with every employee-owner, fostering a connection to projects that contribute to the well-being of the communities in which they operate. Workplace values and behaviors are clearly articulated, guiding how individuals should be treated and, equally importantly, how they should treat others. Lastly, a well-defined firm strategy with clear short-term and long-term goals solidifies HMC’s resilience. Collaborating with practice leaders, the organization sets annual short-term goals, ensuring consistent growth. Additionally, the entire leadership team and board of directors engage in annual strategic planning sessions, charting the course for long-term objectives such as mergers and acquisitions and exploring new business avenues.

2. Unleashing Leadership Strength: Embrace Authenticity and Full Presence

Repeatedly, I’ve emphasized the crucial notion that to attain your utmost potential as a leader, authenticity is non-negotiable. Yet, being true to oneself remains a challenging feat. The human inclination to seek approval often leads us to assume different personas or play roles. However, the key to unlocking your leadership potential lies in embracing your true self, allowing you to be fully present in every moment. The essence of being yourself is intricately linked to leveraging your ETHOS—tapping into the mental and moral qualities that make you unique. This authentic self-presentation fosters the emergence of your character and lays the foundation for building credibility and employing ethical persuasion.

Supplementing this, consider the power of your PATHOS—the ability to infuse emotion into your conversations. For instance, envision moving a nurse station closer to patient rooms for more efficient emergency care. Connecting emotionally by emphasizing, “Imagine if that were your loved one,” allows you to use your passion to persuade others to see the merit in your perspective or proposed solution.

Furthermore, the strategic application of LOGOS introduces logical reasoning and evidence to your arsenal of persuasive tools. Citing studies demonstrating the positive impact of reduced travel time for nurses on patient well-being adds a compelling layer of rationality to your argument. Logical coherence and evidence-based reasoning contribute to a more convincing and impactful leadership style.

Incorporating these three facets—ETHOS, PATHOS, and LOGOS—allows you to present yourself fully, authentically, and persuasively. By being true to who you are and embracing the power of your character, emotions, and logical reasoning, you enhance your leadership prowess and foster a deeper connection with those around you.

3. Rethinking the Workspace: Crafting a Vision for the Future

The discourse surrounding the future of the workplace has been extensive, with discussions and debates echoing through various industries. In architecture, where collaboration often thrives on shared physical spaces, the evolving landscape has been significantly shaped by the enduring effects of the pandemic. Notably, at HMC, a three-day office week—primarily on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday—has become the prevailing norm, prompting us to reconsider the purpose and optimization of our office environment. With annual rent expenditures, it becomes imperative to reimagine our office philosophy strategically. The envisioned approach involves meticulously evaluating how we design and utilize our workspace, acknowledging the need for adaptability and efficiency.

As a proactive step, we anticipate a shift towards a nuanced seating arrangement, including assigned desks for individuals who spend significant time in the office. For those present sporadically, a hoteling system will be implemented. At the same time, workstation sharing becomes integral to accommodating varying schedules—perhaps one employee on Monday and Wednesday and another on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. To foster collaboration and teamwork at HMC, designated TEAM rooms will be set for group meetings, complemented by various conference rooms in varying sizes and collaborative areas. The emphasis lies on creating an adaptable and flexible environment that encourages teamwork, ensuring the success of this new working paradigm.

4. Embracing the Infinite Mindset: Shaping the Future of HMC

Life unfolds through two distinct games—finite and infinite. Like sports or movies, the finite game is characterized by known players, fixed rules, and predetermined objectives with a defined start and finish. In contrast, the infinite game encompasses known and unknown players, ever-evolving rules, and the overall aim of indefinitely sustaining participation. At HMC, we aspire to embody the essence of an infinite-minded firm, a concept elucidated by Simon Sinek in his transformative book, “The Infinite Game.”

This transformative mindset was further explored during an HMC leadership retreat this fall led by Heath Slawner from The Optimism Company of Simon Sinek. Slawner distilled the infinite mindset into five pivotal categories that serve as guiding principles for our firm:

  • Just Cause: Our Design for Good ethos serves as our just cause—the deep-seated why that propels our belief, commitment, and dedication. It is the moral compass that guides our actions and decisions.
  • Trusting Teams: Recognizing that success is a team effort, we cultivate intentional, trusting teams. In the infinite game, collaboration is not just encouraged but fundamental. We support and root for each other, fostering a culture of shared success.
  • Worthy Rivals: We actively engage with our competition in the spirit of continuous learning. By following our rivals, we leverage their successes and shortcomings, constantly pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones to learn, adapt, and innovate.
  • Existential Flex: Embracing the need for profound shifts in business, we commit to perpetual improvement. We challenge established norms, rewrite rules, introduce new players, and strive for innovation that propels us toward better solutions.
  • Courage to Lead: True leadership demands the courage to address challenges head-on, even when tackling uncomfortable truths. We encourage ourselves to pivot when necessary, listen to diverse perspectives, and remain open to change for the greater good of the firm.

5. Embracing the Joy of the Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, I reflect on the cherished traditions that make this time of year special for my family and me.

  • Melodies: Music sets the festive tone in our home, with holiday tunes playing every evening. Our playlist is a melodic blend featuring the timeless voices of Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Andy Williams, Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Vince Guaraldi. The jazz-infused renditions, such as Tony Bennett’s soulful performance of “My Favorite Things,” add a delightful and upbeat touch to our celebrations.
  • Movies: Our love for holiday movies runs deep, and we revel in revisiting classics whose dialogues we can recite by heart. From the animated charm of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966) to Jim Carrey’s iconic portrayal in the 2000 adaptation, as well as the enduring humor of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989) and the nostalgic allure of “A Christmas Story” (1983), our family embraces the magic of the season through cinematic favorites.
  • Traditions: Christmas Eve holds a special place in our hearts, marked by the warmth of family and the tantalizing aroma of homemade tamales. The night is filled with laughter and games, with Five Crowns being a perennial favorite. Some years, we embark on a journey to Chicago, immersing ourselves in the diverse holiday celebrations of our eldest. We also continue the timeless tradition of driving through our neighborhood, marveling at the festive decorations that adorn each home. We indulge in movies on Christmas day and gather with family. Baking cookies, a cherished tradition, involves an array of delectable treats, including my wife’s signature fudge, Oreo truffles, gingerbread cookies, and peanut butter blossoms.

Warm wishes to you all this holiday season.

Brian Staton // Associate AIA

President + CEO

As President and CEO of HMC Architects, Brian’s collaborative leadership and commitment to partnering with clients to improve lives and communities through architecture is fundamental to setting the company apart as a leading design firm. With over 27 years of experience spanning all aspects of the architecture industry, including project management, programming, design, and construction administration, he leads with humility and is known for creating a diverse, positive workplace environment where others are empowered to do their best work. Brian’s passion is the intersection of architecture and people, and he believes that HMC’s success is attributed to its talented staff and clients.

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