Take 5 Traits from Troy...

Every month, our firm has a company-wide fireside chat to celebrate successes, receive updates on our projects, and enjoy the casual conversation that exists around the table. Recently, we experienced a treat, as Troy Hamm shared life's lessons on his career and success. Troy's focus at VLK Architects is in Client Relations. He is a retired teacher/coach, principal, and superintendent. As an educator, he possesses a unique way of delivery that uses his coaching techniques to inspire others in our firm. It is these learned techniques, and a strong belief system that he utilizes in his work to ensure anyone success_regardless of their profession.

Troy decided in junior high school that he loved basketball. Worried he would never be able to make a living at the sport as a player, he made up his mind to coach the sport. He has acquired much wisdom over his 32 year career in education, and now 7 years at VLK Architects. He made it known during our fireside chat that he did not invent the traits he wanted to share with us, but 'got them' from successful people that were willing to share with him, and allow him to 'pick their brains' to know what made them stand out as leaders. The five prevailing traits that he feels serve him well in life are the same ones that he recommended for all of us, regardless of our profession or role.

First, Troy shared that passion makes the difference when you love what you do. He recommended that we share our passion outwardly, and not be afraid to let it prevail in our personalities. Never allow fear of being singled out to prevail because your passion shines as a part of who you are. He knows he was a strong coach and educator because he loved being at work, and never dreaded it. He also recognizes that you should help someone discover their passion. In our business, if architecture is not your passion, perhaps you should reconsider your path.

Commitment and dedication was the second set of concepts Troy asked us to consider. Commitment and dedication are not enough, as we all need to be striving to be the best! For Troy, he realized early in his career that he wanted to be the best teacher and basketball coach. His desire to be the best continued to drive him as he shifted to wanting to be the best principal and then superintendent. He learned that he must take care of the details, or the 'little things,' so that they did not become big things. He received some very good advice as he became a teacher, 'If you're not in this to do what's best for children, you will not be happy and probably will fail.' These were strong words from a mentor who was dedicated and committed to helping Troy be the best.

Troy has a strong belief that 'success only comes where there is an expectation for it.' High expectations were always prevalent as Troy coached. He envisioned his team as state champions_and they were on more than one occasion. He charged us with the challenge of never being satisfied with average; 'just OK' is not enough, as complacency means you have begun to regress. Progress is the only way to move, and with it allows the success of hard work to be achieved. He also challenged us with the idea to not be outworked. Success has never come to anyone who was afraid to work hard for it.

Listening was the fourth trait that Troy shared; it was also the one that he struggled with the most. However, careful planning to ensure listening allowed Troy's teams, campuses, and district to find the successes for which they were striving. Listening, even when you may be the expert on the topic, makes you remember that the opinions of everyone matter. Troy also learned throughout his career that he did not always have to have all of the answers, and that conversation helped to provide strong solutions when listening was employed.

Finally, Troy reminded us that reputation is earned, and not given. Applying the Golden Rule, he asked us to always remember to treat everyone with respect, even when it isn't always deserved. He talked to us about the difference between respect and agreement. Ultimately, he warned us never to get into a situation where both sides lose because respect is not applied. It is never about you, but always about the team.

Hour constrains are reality, but working smarter, allowing our given passion to shine while applying our commitment and dedication, and high expectations for winning will make us stronger individually. Strong individuals with these characteristics provide the basis of our firm. Thank you, Troy Hamm, for being the valued leader you are in education, for making the positive difference for so many lives, and for sharing your beliefs and experiences with all of us. Coaching us all to be better!