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SDA National President's Message - October 2019

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 21, 2019
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2019

The A/E/C community is full of passionate, smart, and influential principals, C-level, and other business industry experts. They help build communities, employ thousands of people across the country, and create living legacies that span decades. We honor their contributions to the industry and our communities.

Still yet, we all face similar challenges, regardless of the size of our firm(s), and for our firm(s) to be sustainable, our businesses need to be profitable, influential, and impactful. Over the next year, Brooke will be exploring some of these challenges and opportunities with a few Principals that represent our member’s firms.  

She is sharing the interview with the above video blog, and if you would like to read the full interview, you can read it here.

Tags:  SDA  SDA National President Message 

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Word Nerd: Price versus Cost

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2019

I manage the Seattle Chapter’s events on its website and if one has to pay to attend one of our events, I also have to set up the mechanism to allow people to pay for the event. And that brings me to this: Do I set the attribute as “Your Price” or as “Your Cost” – that is, which word will be displayed when one goes to pay for one of our chapter events: Price or Cost?

I had been setting up the payment page using Your Cost.

Then Seattle member Kurt Wong, CDFA, told me the correct way is to display Your Price instead.

I’m like, “Okay, but does it really matter?”

And you know what? It does matter.

If you’re the person registering for a Seattle chapter event, for example (insert shameless plug here ;o>) this event that’s coming up: Are you more likely to say to yourself something like, “What’s my price to attend this event?” Or, do you say something like, “How much does this cost to attend?”

I tend to lean toward the latter (whether that’s right or wrong).

As the person who is creating the payment page on our chapter website, I also tend to think, “I need to tell them how much this is going to cost them to attend.” So I had been displaying Your Cost on the payment page. My perspective was this: I’m telling the person who is paying that the chapter’s cost is X, without looking at it from the viewpoint of the person who is paying, which would be their price.

Kurt’s way prompted me to learn a little bit more, so I clicked the Difference Between link he sent, which basically says that the two terms shouldn’t be confused with each other, and that the two terms are often switched in normal conversation.

Kurt was right; we really should be using Your Price on our website’s payment pages. (And to add even more value – because that’s what SDA members do, you know – Kurt suggested I remove “Your” from the payment page to tidy up the page to make things cleaner and better aligned.)

Leave it to another SDA colleague to help set things straight . . . thanks, Kurt!




Judy Beebe, FSDA is our resident 'Word Nerd'  and

serves as the 2019-2020 SDA Seattle Chapter Vice President.


Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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Work/Life Balance?

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What is work/life balance? It’s an interesting question, in this age of cell phones and digital everything. We are now issued a laptop on the first day at a new job. The first inclination is to say – “Great!” Wow, I must be important - I get to have a shiny new laptop. Some folks are even luckier – they are provided a company paid cell phone. How fortunate am I? Or, am I…

Now I can log in from home on the weekend. Great, catching up on email, or following up on that meeting I attended on Friday afternoon becomes so easy. With my cell phone, I can connect to my work email address, so I can check those emails all the time…waking up at night because I can’t sleep, I can check my email…before I go to bed after the news I can check email…while I eat breakfast I can check my email…at my grandson’s soccer game I can check my email…

We are all in this crazy working world for a good part of our adult life. We are caught up in the digital mayhem. We’ve got to find time to turn off…shut down…disconnect…find pleasure in watching a grandson’s game, or find the time to enjoy conversation with good friends – digital-free.

Here’s another example – I have the “Find Friends” app on my phone. It is definitely a nice way to keep close to my daughter. But…as a new attorney working in Manhattan, my daughter has this ingrained feeling that she needs to work long and hard to bill as much as she can each month. She leaves for work by 6:30 am each morning. She usually works through lunch, eating a protein bar at her desk. She is generally still at work when I check the app at 9:00 pm. And then, she continues to work when she gets home while her dinner is cooking. Work/Life balance? In my opinion, not even close…

What does our employer expect? Is it reasonable? What do we expect of ourselves? Are we being reasonable? Do we need to overachieve in today’s job market just to survive? How can we satisfy our own work/life balance and still stay competitive, happy and satisfied? What do you think?



Marie Tamala, CDFA is an Associates and the Data/Project Analyst at Cuningham Group Architecture in Minneapolis, MN. 

She currently serves as the 2019-2020 SDA National Vice-President.






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Are You Playing the Wrong Game?

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: 10 hours ago

My family enjoys playing board games.  One of our favorites is Scrabble.  We have fought many a battle over this game.  My sister Stephanie consistently gets higher scores than the rest of us.  We think Scrabble is a word game.  But I think Stephanie understands the premise put forward by Michael Katz in his LinkedIn article entitled “You’re Playing the Wrong Game.”  He states Scrabble is not a word game, but rather a numbers game.  You win by paying attention to how the numbers add up.  He applies this idea to the way professional service firms try to attract clients by emphasizing their experience and qualifications.  However, that’s not how people hire professionals.


 Michael Katz offers some interesting insights on how people make their decisions and what you can do to better market your firm and yourself.

What steps do you take to attract new clients and to retain those you already have?





Marsha Witherspoon, CDFA serves as SDA National Treasurer for the 2019-2020 term. She is a Member-at-Large from Columbus, Ohio.

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The Importance of a Records Retention Policy

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Writing many office policies, I cannot count the times that having a template or base document would have proven valuable. I am amazed at how little people are willing to share outside of SDA. However, sharing our experiences, information, and knowledge is a valued benefit, and I am glad to have the opportunity to partake.

A Records Retention Policy may not be what most of us are eager to write; however, they are important. A good policy can help you increase efficiency, productivity, help maintain compliance with the ever-changing regulatory requirements, and minimize storage costs and risk of fines and penalties due to keeping outdated information past its lifetime in the event of a law suit. 

We all can agree that using shared information and templates do not eliminate our responsibility to ensure compliance with our state statutes and regulations. They are not meant to be all-encompassing. Nor is the template that is I am sharing today.  It is merely a good place to start.

If you are developing a policy for your firm, it is advisable to have a Principal/Owner review it, and if possible, have your legal advisor "bless" it too.

You can find a Sample Records Retention Policy Template here.


What policy templates do you need or do you have that others might benefit from? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. 




Brooke Simcik, CDFA is the Business Manager for VAI Architects Incorporated in Dallas, Texas.

She currently serves as the SDA 2019-2020 National President.






Tags:  Records Retention Policy  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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