Business Lessons from Landscape Architect Andrea Cochran

Content Creation, Editorial Calendars and Becoming More Time Efficient. These are on my extended to-do list and get some attention everyday.

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Andrea Cochran article in San Francisco Chonicle Jan 25, 2012Today I found business – and blogging — inspiration from an unexpected source: An article by John King in this morning’s Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s a feature on Andrea Cochran, a landscape architect.

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Interesting article. Nice pictures. Sadly, if you do not have access to a San Francisco Chronicle print edition, you will have to wait until the wee hours of Thursday, January 26, morning to read it. The delay to online access is part of the “really — you should pay to read” strategy the Chronicle employs. Here, though, is the link to the Andrea Cochran article use when you can.

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Thanks, in part, to our family’s interest in the Sporting Green section, I get a jump start today because the picture of Cochran caught my eye as I was eating breakfast at the kitchen counter.

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The Andrea Cochran article pushes the outdoors into my office, offering these 3  business lessons for the rest of us, no green thumb required:

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(1) Creativity Rules. Focus on what’s really important and find a way to make it happen with the resources you have. My translation: Budgets (personal and client) last longer when you focus on spending those resources well, and that doesn’t necessarily mean fast.

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(2) Recast Limitations as Challenges: “To do something for less money and to do it well is a learning process all its own,” King quotes Cochran. My translation: Doing a lot for a little is a challenge, and the lessons I learn to make that happen for one client also translate into additional value I bring not only to that client but to the next. The difference is the currency in question isn’t only money, but also includes time — theirs and mine. You make that limit a challenge when you pit it against a goal — so keep the most important goals top of mind as you spend.

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(3) Inspire Your Work Life: Mix it Up. “Without it, I would get bored,” said Cochran of her work with both private residences and more public spaces. “It’s always good to try different scales, different materials.My translation: So true — and a good reminder. Even as larger project opportunities present themselves, I’m very willing to consider smaller ones, too. To me, how interesting the project will be to work on, whether I think I can make a measurable difference in its success, how well I think the client and I will work together, whether it’s an opportunity to tackle a new task that will help me do other projects that much better — these are the drivers of my new project decisions. In truth, they should be the same reasons someone wants to do business with me.

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Where did you find renewed business inspiration today?

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