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EA192: Earl Parson – The Entrepreneur Architect Series [Podcast]
3rd November 2017 • EntreArchitect Podcast with Mark R. LePage • EntreArchitect // Gābl Media
00:00:00 01:08:43

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The Entrepreneur Architect Series: Earl Parson

At EntreArchitect, you’re encouraged to share your knowledge. When we share with other architects, we all benefit. We are able to learn from one another and the profession will grow. One of the goals of EntreArchitect is to provide a platform for other entrepreneur architects to share their stories.

We want to interview you! What’s your story? Do you want to share your knowledge or the story about how you were inspired to pursue this profession? How do you become an entrepreneur architect?

Join us for our series called The Entrepreneur Architect, where each guest has the opportunity to share their story and answer some questions that will provide value to each of you.

This week on EntreArchitect Podcast, The Entrepreneur Architect Series featuring Earl Parson.

Background

Earl Parson is an architect based in Los Angeles, California practicing residential architecture as Parson Architecture and is the founder of CleverModerns.com, an online platform empowering DIY owner-builders with plans and coaching.

Origin Story

Earl was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana, and his life intersected with architecture as a kid when his best friend’s dad was an architect. He saw the giant drawing boards and electric erasers, which may not have directly inspired him, but was a role model in his life of an option when he grew up.

His dad owned a two story, three storefront building downtown as an investment and hobby, and there were constantly projects to fix it up that Earl was around. In addition, they added on to his house while he was growing up. There was a moment where he began falling in love with the old buildings.

Though he knew he wanted to be an architect, he wanted to get out and explore the world. He spent time in St. Louis for his undergrad and ended up at SCI-Arc for grad school. He worked for some architects around town and then ended up on his own after the recession, and never looked back from there.

After graduating, Earl and a friend took a summer off doing design work, building furniture, and other odd jobs. Later, he worked for Marmol RadzinerW3 Architects, and Studio Works, and eventually got a full time job Pasadena City College teaching drawing and Keating.

After the recession, he started Parson Architecture. In 2009, some friends connected him with a gallery in Chinatown where architects and designers came together and had a show of furniture and other objects.

Earl started doing some work for daycare facilities that required a certain amount of professionalism, creating a great growth opportunity to establish business practices.

Where and when did you start welding?

When Earl was a kid, his grandparents lived on a farm in southern Indiana. His grandpa made everything he had on his farm. He had a lightbulb moment seeing his grandpa create and realized that everything that had ever been created was first thought of and built by someone.

Once he bought a house and had the space, he bought a welder and started accumulating equipment. That creative outlet kept him sane during the recession.

What big goal did you achieve? 

Earl entered the Charrette Venture Group Business Plan Competition. He received an honorable mention, but the real achievement was the mental and psychological hurdles it took to enter.

Thought it took courage, Earl worked to develop his plan and put it out to the world. He would sit down each morning for about an hour to develop his ideas. Earl relearned how to have an idea and develop it so that it’s something worth considering.

What is Clever Moderns?

It’s a platform that Earl is currently developing. The idea is to be a passive income strategy to grow a community around people supporting each other in the home DIY owner-builder world.

Not only do they want to sell the plans, but Earl wants to provide coaching and support for people who want to build the homes themselves. There are a lot of people out there that love the idea of having interesting architecture and design who may not go out and hire an architecture. In there is the hidden market for those who want help and encouragement to do it themselves.

The lightbulb moment came when it dawned on Earl that rather than charging a better fee for his services, he just gave the plans away for free. If the plans are free, how does the rest of it work?

Currently, Clever Moderns is building their first prototype houses. In northern Arizona, Earl is building Quonset huts.

What has been your biggest struggle?

For Earl, putting his ideas out there is terrifying. The fear of creating a newsletter was holding him back. Earl’s friend Halelly Azulay at TalentGrow LLC encouraged him to get at it and offered support.

His secret method to focus is to put his phone in airplane mode. It becomes a psychological barrier that says he’s focusing his time on the most important thing in his immediate present.

 Quick Questions

What's your target market? For Clever Moderns, it’s DIY Quonset people. 
What's your fee structure? Parson Architecture is a stipulated sum generally based on a percentage, for Clever Moderns is more of an hourly consulting fee
Other than architecture, what makes you happy? Playing the piano.
What's the best advice you've ever received? 
Get your architecture license.
What's one personal habit that contributes to your success? Meditation.
What's a recommended app or internet resource? Google Chrome internet browser, Speed dial 2 to open various windows and easily go where you want, Trello and LastPass password manager
What's a book you'd recommend? Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business tomorrow?

“If you really want to improve your business for tomorrow, you have to do the hard work of sitting down with a blank piece of paper and develop the ideas that are going to shape your business.”  – Earl Parson

Connect with Earl online at Parson.Architecture.com and CleverModerns.com. Follow his  on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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Referenced in this Episode

Download the Profit For Small Firm Architects course for FREE.

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