What do Nora Jones and Rap Music Have To Do With AEC Marketing?

Who inspires you? Who do you look up to? Is there someone you’d like to be in five years?

My biggest professional inspirations are two beautifully and talented women, who are taking the Central Florida AEC marketing world by its reigns. Carrie Davis of Hensel Phelps and Alycia Pollock of H.J. High Construction are SMPS SUPERwomen! Carrie is currently the President-Elect for SMPS Central Floridaand Alycia is the Director of Communications for SMPS CFL. Both are extraordinary ladies who are dedicated to their profession and also to the AEC community. They care about the people they work with, they even take newbies under their wing (like myself) and mentor them through this crazy, fun business.

I got the chance to ask them some questions about themselves, their marketing experience and they shared some advice for new and fellow marketers.

Favorite part of working in the AEC industry?

Alycia Pollock
The beautiful Alycia Pollock

AP: What I love most about our industry is knowing about the developments that shape our community before most people. It’s like being in on a very exciting secret! So often developers come to architects, engineers or contractors with an idea that our teams get to bring to life. Those ideas go on to be iconic Central Florida establishments like Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Amway, the Orlando City Stadium, SunRail, theme parks and so many more places that our community lives their lives in.


Do you listen to any podcasts or read any blogs that you think others in our industry could benefit from?

AP: Yours! J

CD: I enjoy both podcasts and blogs. My top three are…

  1. Communiqueso – https://communiqueso.com/
  2. Help Everybody Everyday – http://www.helpeverybodyeveryday.com/
  3. Circle S Studios – http://circlesstudio.com/blog/tag/aec-marketing/

Any trade secrets or tips?

AP: Proofread, proofread, proofread! Typos look lazy.

CD: Something that has helped be tremendously is keeping lists and prioritizing things on those lists. Having a game plan or plan of attack for everyday is a huge time saver and you will surprise yourself with how much more efficient you become.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally and how did you overcome it?

AP: Being a woman in the AEC industry is difficult. Our generation has a lot that past generations didn’t but the unfortunate truth is that women still have to fight for respect in a predominately male-filled industry. I’m a big advocate for women in business removing “just” and “sorry” from their vocabulary. Don’t accept disrespect. Take your seat at the table and speak up. If the firm you’re working for has a problem with that – find another firm.

Carrie Davis.jpg
The gorgeous Carrie Davis

CD: By nature, I am not an outgoing person. So being in the Marketing Industry was a strange choice of profession for me. When I would walk into a room full of people my first inclination was to hide in a corner somewhere and hope no one noticed me. It was a struggle of mine long before I even started in the A/E/C industry. When I started at my first job in the industry my boss at the time saw this in me and I am sure that is why I was “volun-told” to join SMPS. Which scared the heck out of me but ended up being the biggest blessing. Slowly, but surely, I gained confidence in myself and my fears disappeared. Get engaged, put yourself out there, be vulnerable and you will reap the rewards tenfold.

What do you look for in a Marketing/BD/Communications coworker?

AP: In any coworker I look for someone I respect, can learn from and can laugh with.

CD: Trust. You can have the most technically savvy co-worker in the entire world but if you can’t trust them nothing else matters.

What’s something you do to help you get in work mode? 

AP: Starbucks Tea Latte (soy) and gangster rap.

CD: I have several different habits when I need to really focus on something but the one that remains constant is music. I turn on iTunes Radio and choose a station depending on what I am in the mood for, usually some variety of country music, Nora Jones, or John Mayer.

How do you keep yourself motivated and engaged?

AP: For me to stay engaged, I have to remember to disengage periodically. Take walks to break up the day. Keep a book handy and read a couple pages every now and then. Use your vacation time! It’s all about perspective.

Favorite event you’ve attended?

AP: I think my favorite event hasn’t happened yet. The SMPS Central Florida AEC Art Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art in August 2016 is going to be one for the books!

Advice to someone new to the industry?

AP: Join SMPS! Find your people. There will be others like you that want to get involved and grow. Find them, befriend them, and before you know it you’ll be vacationing together and find them to be in all your photos. There’s also a good chance you and your people will be the next generation of SMPS Central Florida leadership.

CD: I couldn’t narrow it down so here are my top four tips to someone new to the industry:

  1. Ask Questions.
  2. Be a sponge – soak it all up!
  3. Find a Mentor.
  4. Get involved on a committee.


-Courtney Franklin, Marketing Strategist


Graduating from the Default-Setting

The emergence of groups of interns in our offices marks the beginning of a new season—it’s graduation season and the time has come for high-school and college students alike to don their caps and gowns and prepare to walk across a stage to lay hands on a long-sought piece of paper marking the successful completion of their formal education. Before this ceremonial conclusion can occur, these students, along with their friends and families in attendance, will listen to a commencement speech likely filled with lines of inspiration, noting the students’ accomplishments and looking ahead toward a bright future of boundless opportunity. This past weekend I listened to such a speech while attending my cousin’s high-school graduation in Lakeland, Florida. The speaker who addressed my cousin’s class admitted to not remembering a single word of the commencement speech from his own graduation and acknowledged that these students were unlikely to remember his words in the years to come. Aside from this admission—I don’t recall anything this speaker said, nor do I remember who spoke at my own high-school graduation or what presumably encouraging messages he or she shared. However, a particular graduation speech, delivered by one of my favorite authors to Kenyon College’s graduating class of 2005, and subsequently shared online, has stuck with me since I first heard the words spoken in a video on YouTube.

In his address to Kenyon College’s graduating seniors, David Foster Wallace shared a message that, while not inspirational or all that encouraging, is extremely important nonetheless. Wallace spoke to these seniors about the monotony of day-in, day-out living: the tedious, oftentimes boring routine of adult life that most of us are all too familiar with and graduating seniors have yet to experience. Upon completing our education and entering the “real world,” we experience an existence in which we wake up, drive to our challenging jobs, work a long day, drive home, make dinner, clean up, and get ready to repeat the whole thing over—over anAverage Adult Dayd over and over again, while somehow finding time to buy groceries, clean the house, take care of the kids, hit the gym, go to the dentist, service our cars, etc. Throughout this routine of everyday living we place ourselves at the constant center, and this self-centered approach that Wallace calls our “default-setting” has us automatically programmed to view those around us as being in our way. In this tedious existence, the petty frustrations brought upon us by the people we encounter too often stand in the way of our happiness.


How often do petty frustrations form a roadblock to your pursuit of happiness? How often do these annoyances occur in your work, affecting your productivity and job satisfaction? Our jobs are challenging, and we will all encounter computer or printer problems, late nights in the office, difficult clients, feeling unappreciated, dirty dishes in the break room, or those people who don’t read your e-mails, have loud and obnoxious personal conversations when you’re trying to focus, or make you cringe when you catch them clipping their finger- or toenails at their desk. Decide.pngWhile these grievances are an inevitable circumstance of work life, the way we respond to them, Wallace asserts, is entirely our decision.
In every instance we have the ability to operate apart from our “default-setting” that automatically pits others against us and holds life’s irritations to be great injustices. Instead we can acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe. We can approach others from a place of compassion and understanding, even when we find them rude, obnoxious, or cringe inducing.

While this may seem like moral advice, it isn’t. This call for a greater awareness in our thinking is a means of navigating life’s waters so that petty problems are pacified in our minds before they become infuriating. It is a disciplined effort that we can choose to not become bogged down by the monotony of day-to-day life and the unavoidable frustrations that come with it. Our personal happiness, our satisfaction in life and in our work, hinges on our willingness to reach beyond our automatic, “default” way of thinking, and open ourselves to a more conscious, controlled way to address problems as they occur.

Wallace’s message was not the typical inspirational speech most of us have come to expect from a graduation commencement. While he may not have left the Kenyon College graduating seniors feeling encouraged to take on the world, he nevertheless provided the students with an important message, a message that applies not only to young professionals entering the “real world” for the first time, but those of us who have lived the reality of adult monotony day after day, year after year. Wallace’s words have stuck with me longer than those spoken at my own graduation commencement, and will likely stay with me longer than any future graduation speech I hear, while serving as a constant reminder that the way I think about life’s petty frustrations and how they affect me is entirely my decision to make.

-Michael Porter, Marketing Coordinator
PCL Construction Services

Referenced speech / video:

This is Water by David Foster Wallace



SMPS Member Spotlight | Scott Nichols, CPSM


Meet Scott

Scott Nichols is a Senior Graphic Designer and Animator for Brasfield & Gorrie. Scott has over 15 years of experience designing and implementing marketing, branding, and graphic communication strategies. He constantly looks for innovative ways to implement and apply new technologies to A/E/C marketing pursuits and client communications. In addition to a solid foundation in graphic design, motion graphics, 3d printing, and animation, Scott’s background is in organizational communication, which encompasses corporate communication, message development, marketing, public relations and branding.

Fun Facts about Scott:

If you could trade places with one person for a day,  who would it be and why?

Toss-up between Sir Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple and Bruce Mau of Bruce Mau Design and the Massive Change Network. Both have a keen sense of design and both have been successful in raising awareness of the use of design to solve business and social problems.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?  

So far… Paris, France… in the future, possibly Kauai.

Your greatest extravagance?  

Anything that enriches my daughter’s life.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?  


What’s one question you always ask a potential employee?  

What was/has been your most rewarding career experience?

What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant and why? 

Hawkers.  Great food… great concept

Your most interesting deal? 

P3 Proposal for the New Long Beach Courthouse.  Managing the proposal production for a 2,000 page submission, including 7 binders, a custom telescoping box, 30 large format design boards and 10 full size sets of drawing. The submission had to be shipped on a shipping palette.

One thing you’d teach someone in your industry? 

The importance of storytelling in marketing.

Best lesson from a mentor? 

You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.

Your worst subject? 

Victorian Literature

Favorite book?  

Good to Great by Jim Collins

One thing you wish everyone knew about your job?  

Design thinking is a tool for solving business problems… just look at Apple. Design-driven companies outperform S&P by 228% over ten years – THE ‘DMI DESIGN VALUE INDEX’