ART'S PRINCIPLES

Excerpts and quotes from Arthur Gensler's book on building a world-class professional services firm.
  1. Your job as a leader is to be right at the end of the meeting, not at the beginning ... You get evaluated on whether you made a good decision and not whether it was your idea from the beginning.
  2. You must check your ego at the door when you come to work. No one is above doing dishes.
  3. If you don't start a project right, you can't finish it right.
  4. Efficiency and effectiveness require equal commitment.
  5. Support careful experimentation.
  6. What you measure gets done -- to measure is to get results.
  7. The six skills of a leader: Focus, Decisiveness, Imagination, Commitment, Excellence, and Communication
  8. Every leader in your organization should be a guardian, champion, and protector of the brand.
  9. With better-quality solutions, better service, keen attentiveness, and more knowledge of the customer's industry, you win.
  10. True strength is the will to be consistently better, to adhere to high ethical standards, and to support your team.
  11. On grit: Down times and periods of uncertainty ultimately demonstrate what kind of culture you have built.
  12. Long-term relationships with clients and low turnover in your team are two of the best possible returns on respect. Combined, they are the bedrock of building a long-term business venture.
  13. If you want to live a full life and build a business or career, it is inevitable that you will experience some failures along the way. Do not be afraid of it. Fear makes you a slave -- it stops you from experimenting and expanding.
  14. Getting it wrong is part of getting it right.
  15. Your clients often go through the same rough periods as you. Stay focused on serving them in any way you can. They will remember...
  16. Focus on strengths. Coaches show only winning plays, not where failure has occurred. Visualize winning.
  17. Make sure that a passion for self-improvement is part of the culture. By doing this, you lay the groundwork to activate everyone as an educator.
  18. The most frightening reality about building a professional services firm is that your most valuable assets walk out the door every night. If you want to retain your talent, invest in them.
  19. By skipping the filters and feeding my curiosity, I stumble upon unanticipated discoveries. Year after year, these discoveries produce a more complete map of the world, which positions your firm as a problem solver to potential and current clients.
  20. What you do with your billable time will determine your income for the year. What you do with your nonbillable time will determine your future.
  21. Successful careers are built on two simple building blocks. The first is creating value. The second is sharing it.
  22. Be more concerned with your character (what you really are) than your reputation (what other people think you are).
  23. Identify a niche and own it. I am a strong advocate of having a broad range of interests and skills that you acquire through curiosity and the exploration of unknown territory. I am equally a champion of mastery.
  24. On giving back: Do not wait until you are old or hit some magic number in your bank account. Your communities need you now.
  25. Building an enduring brand means focusing your energies on establishing trust with clients. Trust signals that you are client-focused, consistent in quality, and exceptional at service.
  26. You want to be known for your method of value creation.
  27. Listening carefully to your client helps you understand when a project is a showcase endeavor or when it is time to be boldly in the background while sticking to your quality standards.
  28. The more you understand your clients, the harder it is for others to compete against you.
  29. Quality work generates two compounding effects: repeat business and client-generated leads
  30. When you stretch a rubber band slowly, you know when you've reached the farthest it can go. Avoid stretching clients too far or too fast.
  31. Be the best, not the first. Pay attention to new ideas or improvements, and plan to be a swift second.
  32. Sleep on it. Yes, you will miss some business by requesting time to think about it. This is okay. It's far better than to say yes, make a terrible decision, and sink as a result.
  33. Professional services are not a commodity and are rarely used to solve generic problems. The best way to serve clients is to engage in a dialogue, become a trusted advisor, and then create solutions customized to meet their needs.
  34. The building block of all luck is curiosity.
  35. There is no such thing as a little project or an insignificant client.
  36. The only tables you should walk away from are the ones that constantly demand free work and endanger your firm. At all the rest, keep a seat and find ways to create value in the future.
  37. Your clients don't care how much you know until they know much you care.
  38. Don't guess at what a client's problem is.
  39. Design thinking invests energy into finding the right question to explore. First, define the problem, frame the problem, and then solve it.
  40. Constraints are a positive influence because they drive us to be more creative and more thoughtful
  41. Work first from the needs, then the aesthetics.
  42. Great experiences are designed with imagination, inspiration, and innovation.
  43. Lead by example and always encourage your teams to do their best. The positive impact will follow.