Tina Larsen | Crain's Orlando

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tina Larsen

Background:  

 

Corgan is an architectural firm with offices in Dallas, New York, Houston and Los Angeles. The firm designs everything from airports and commercial offices to hospitals and data centers. The company designed the new North American headquarters for Toyota in Plano’s Legacy West development and the new terminal at Dallas Love Field.

Tina Larsen specializes in designing medical facilities of all sizes. Technology has changed the way Larsen does her job over the years. She’s gone from hand drafting to computer aided design to 3-D designing all the way to 360-degree virtual reality.

The Mistake:

 

I didn't believe I could lead a project.

 

Early on in my architectural career, I was given a monumental assignment that was outside my comfort zone. I had to lead a team of designers, many of whom were more experienced than me. I was extremely nervous about it and was desperately looking for direction on what I should do.

 

I met with a friend for dinner that night so I could vent. I explained how I didn’t think I could do the job, let alone get others to buy in. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There were so many details that it scared me. Where would the landmines be?

I’ll never forget my friend’s response.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure you can do it,” she said.

I felt even more deflated and wondered what I would do next.

It wasn’t my lack of experience that was a problem. It was my attitude toward the project.

The Lesson:

Luckily, my friend, who was wiser and older than me, knew what she was doing. She continued.

“If you don’t believe you can do it, then the people you’re leading won’t believe either,” she said.

It wasn’t my lack of experience that was a problem. It was my attitude toward the project. I had to change that.

This was a pivotal moment in my design career for two reasons:

First, I had an inspirational moment that would follow me for the rest of my life. And two, whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right. I completely changed my approach by just changing my attitude. No matter what external forces hit me, it’s my reaction that matters.

You have to have confidence and know what you’re doing no matter what. Get guidance from others. Whether it’s a friend or a coworker, you don’t have to do it alone.

During my career architecture has evolved from drafting by hand to computer aided modeling to 3-D modeling. Now, Corgan is using 3-D virtual reality so our clients can put on VR goggles and walk through a digital rendering of their building. 

With every technological advancement, the job has changed and it impacts how we go about doing our job. I’ll never forget the lesson I learned early in my career and how it’s helped me meet challenges head on. 

 

Follow Corgan on Twitter @CorganInc

Photo courtesy of Corgan.

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