Management Tips

What does a professional know? You can figure it out!

Let me ask, how observant are you?

Have you ever noticed when a place or space is fully designed to when it is not, where each object relates to its immediate surroundings and the immediate surroundings relate to the overall space painting a complete picture?

We attended a lecture recently that featured a new book released on the career of Finnish-American Architect Eero Saarinen. The speaker mentioned that Mr. Saarinen enjoyed describing his work in that way. He spoke often about entering a place he designed describing it as feeling harmonious.



Mr. Saarinen was a highly trained Architect with many years of experience. His exacting nature and attention to detail, form and the relationship between the parts and their whole was inherent in his nature as an Architect and the interesting thing is that Mr. Saarinen was not limited by scale. He took the same approach to a designing piece of furniture as he did for his buildings.

Do you notice if a space, place or object was that well thought through? Is there a subconscious understanding of harmony when it works?

Do you sense it?

The next time you are in a building or public space close your eyes for a few seconds. When you open them take a good look around.

How does it feel to you?

Can you see the nuanced relationship between the parts that make it whole?

That analogy, to me, is similar to how a conductor or musician hears music or a sommelier can discern the subtle differences in a bottle of wine.

A trained ear, a trained palate or a trained eye.

As professionals we all have certain learned skills which give us an advantage in our daily lives but the beautiful thing is that we can’t be experts at everything. We can try many things, passionately enjoy hobbies that bring us happiness; however, we live with the notion that our expertise will be limited in some aspects of our lives because we choose to focus our effort in specific ways.

I truly believe anyone can learn whatever they choose to put their mind to.

Just not everything.

You may be a writer, an accountant, a graphic designer, an architect, a marketing professional, a coach whatever you do you have likely become an expert at it. Have you committed your 10,000 hours to your profession? If you work at 100% efficiency and full time for 50 weeks a year it will take you 5 years to become what Malcolm Gladwell calls an expert.

Only 5 years!!!

We all know that a level of efficiency and focus on any profession is not necessarily achievable at that level. It’s almost myopic to think so, however, if you have been focussed on doing your thing for any considerable amount of time you surely are close or have become an expert at it.

Mr. Saarinen practiced Architecture for about 25 years before his untimely death in 1961. Based on Mr. Gladwell’s estimation he was certainly an expert at Architecture.

My hobby is writing this blog.

If I consider the time I have researched blogging and written posts, interacted with other bloggers over the past 18 months to learn the art of blogging I would say I have spent less than a 1,000 hours blogging. Am I an expert blogger? Based on the numbers alone, not even close.

Did you notice (rhetorical question, of course)?

I am an expert of another kind though.

After 26 years working in the Interior Design profession I have gained the knowledge, objectivity and experience to understand whether a place is in harmony.

Choices, choices, choices.

Perception and personal preference play into most decisions we make wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why, in many cases, we make the choices we do.

I often go back to the choice that comes with selecting a wine or beer. Most people enjoy either beverage and they know what they like. Can you (or do you even care) select the best in its class or inherently understand why one choice is better than another? Like many things in life we go with what we like or what tastes good to us but if a professional points out the nuances to you do you trust their judgment? Do you gain a better understanding or appreciation for the flavours?

Well, I don’t know about you but I sure do.

Are you always going to get an expert to advise you in the choices you make?

Probably not but I would guess that if you are making a big enough of an investment you may consider a professional to guide you through the process.

Enthusiasm and passion go a long way but there really is no substitute for real world experience.

Is there?





About this Author: Ralph Dopping (199 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday:

Jacob Yount
Jacob Yount 2 Like

Hi Ralph, first time stopping by the house....  I appreciate it when folks here from an expert and take their guidance into heavy consideration - like you mentioned, in order to gain an appreciation or better understanding. It can be frustrating when others don't recognize others' skills and take their professional comments as if it's just another opinion. That's something I've tried to work on; i.e. recognize another person's skill and honor when they give advice in that area. Do we always have to take it? That's a different story....


Enjoyed the post, thank you.

rdopping moderator

@Jacob Yount Hi Jacob. Thanks for stopping by and even more for being compelled to leave a comment. I appreciate each and every one. There is a big difference between fact and opinion and as any professional knows we need to back up our opinion with fact. It's a challenge but if you are worth your weight you can find a way. I suppose opinion is why so many of us are challenged in the choices we make and at times why DIY is a popular choice. Cheers sir.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes 1 Like

Sometimes the hardest part of finding an expert is related to how much or should I say how little you know about a particular field. When your knowledge is limited it is harder to identify who knows much and who knows more than just a little.

rdopping moderator

 @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Great point. Identifying or being able to see through the BS takes some skill. Asking the right questions helps. Thanks. That should really be my next post.  Cheers.

bdorman264 1 Like

I'm the expert 'just show up' guy, I have it down to a science....


I would say I don't have the trained eye to know when everything fits, but sometimes you can certainly tell when it doesn't. 


Did you know Florida Southern College in my home town has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in the world? If you didn't, well now you do, huh? 

rdopping moderator 1 Like

 @bdorman264 Bill, you make me howl. A trained eye to know when it doesn't fit? Just as good, if not better, that a trained eye that knows when it does fit. 


Didn't know that about your college. What do you mean by collection? Drawings, images and the like? Can anyone go see it? How long of a drive is it from Tampa? Questions, questions......I would love to see that exhibit.

bdorman264 1 Like

 @rdopping It's the buildings on the campus; the original campus is entirely Frank Lloyd Wright designed structures. Over 30,000 people a year come just to see the campus. From Clearwater/St Pete it's about a 45 minute drive. It's well worth the trip.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR 1 Like

This is a really good post, Ralph. One area that bears mention is a website. We can tell if someone has a free skin and is just starting out or has sunk $25K into an awesome site to look really polished and incredible. Impression. That's the first and last factor.

rdopping moderator

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing OMG! Where have I been. You posted your comment on Thursday and it's Saturday morning. WOW! It has been a helluva week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


First impressions. Yes. They weigh heavily in the blogging world as well, don't they. We have always known that a pretty package gets you though the front door and on the other hand a well presented package can offer the same impression. To me, as long as the first impression is as presentable as possible, then the rest, what's behind the package, has the opportunity to shine.


Regardless, first impressions, to me, are just that. I have had to struggle most of my life to get noticed and time and time again what has occurred is that people have accepted me on what I bring to the table. Consistency, hard work, professionalism. I might not have the prettiest package but I sure do take the best care of it that I can and present it in the best way I can.


Whew <wipes brow> a bit of a rant. Sorry, I am still winding down from a big, big week! Hey, did you see my post on Spin Sucks?