How did I get to meet and speak with Kevin McCloud? And remind myself that anything is possible? Read on …
Undercover Architect meets Kevin McCloud (and pinches herself)
I recently was reminded of the power of intention, and being really mindful about what you put ‘out there’ in to the universe. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that anything is possible – anything! This all may sound like woo woo to you, but here’s a lesson I received, and why I believe this …
In mid October 2014, I had the privilege of being invited to Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA) Women In Focus Conference. This is an invitation-only, 3 day conference CBA run at Port Douglas for members of the Women in Focus Community (anyone can join online and it’s free to join). My first time attending this event was last year, and it changed my life. It’s where I made the decision to leave my business that I was a co-owner of at the time. It was the kickstart I needed and the beginning of the Undercover Architect adventure. It’s 3 days of inspiration, connection, learning and joy. Serious joy.
During my time there, I had lots of fantastic conversations with other businesswomen. However one in particular stands out. I met Kate Sutton, whose business is Uberkate (they make personalised jewellery – gorgeous stuff, gorgeous woman, check her out). I asked her over lunch to please give me some advice about how to market when you don’t have much (actually any) budget to do so.
MARKETING ADVICE FROM KATE SUTTON OF UBERKATE
Her advice was this:
“Amelia, find someone in your industry who you really admire … who thinks similarly to you … and who has access to a network … and get them to take you under their wing. You’d be surprised what people are willing to do when you ask them for help.”
And the first person that came to mind – and the only person when I kept thinking about her suggestion was – Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs.
Quickly followed by “You’ve got to be joking, Amelia. On what planet would you ever be able to meet or make a connection with Kevin McCloud.”
I’ve been a big fan of Kevin’s for a long time now. I really appreciate his assessment of the projects he presents, and how he builds such trusting relationships with homeowners so that they give him access to such an intimate experience in an unparalleled way. And he just gets right to the core of what building a great home is all about – ensuring a quality of design, and a quality of execution. And he has absolutely no issue with calling people to account when they fail to do either (and gets away with it beautifully whilst making his message clear).
But still, he’s Kevin McCloud, and – well – I’m me. Meet? Connect? Get him to take me under his wing? Not likely …
BUT HANG ON, AT LEAST I’LL BE IN THE SAME PLACE AS KEVIN McCLOUD …
It just so happened that later in the month, I had tickets to attend Grand Designs Live in Sydney, including hearing Kevin speak. I recall thinking, well at least I’d be at the same venue as him.
Enter Nicole (Nik) Watson, who is part of the Women in Focus team for CBA. I call Nik “the Ultimate Connector”. This woman seriously gets the connection currency and has an amazing ability to facilitate connections between people in a way that helps them, personally and professionally, to go on and make massive differences in their industries and in their communities. Nik just unlocks what is possible when you put people together who may have different methods but the same goal of helping people and improving the world … and then magic happens. Time and time again I’ve witnessed it, and time and time again I’ve been the recipient of her generosity and encouragement as she’s supported my personal and professional endeavours. She’s amazingly generous, and a beautiful spirit – just one of those people you’re always really grateful to have in your corner. And someone I’m very fortunate to call my friend.
I mentioned my impending trip to Sydney to Nik. Ends up she was going to be there too, as her fiancé is in a senior position at Foxtel and the Lifestyle Channel, which is closely affiliated with the Grand Designs Event. And whilst she was very clear she couldn’t promise anything, she said she’d see what see could do about facilitating introductions to some of the Lifestyle Channel personalities who were in attendance, and she knew personally.
SO ROLL FORWARD 10 DAYS … AND TO GRAND DESIGNS LIVE – SYDNEY
Here I was at Grand Designs Live Sydney. I attended the morning session I had a ticket to and heard Kevin McCloud speak about “What Makes a Grand Designer”.
Not knowing what Nik was going to be able to make happen when we met up later that afternoon, I had thought up a question to ask Kevin – partly because I was interested in his answer, and partly because I thought it might help me then later, somehow, be memorable.
(I know – who was I kidding right? Ask amazingly memorable question. Follow later with email …. “Hey Kev, it’s me Amelia … remember I was that random chick who asked you that incredibly memorable question in amongst that sea of people you spoke to whilst you were in Australia recently?” Mmmmm, interesting strategy Amelia.)
But I chickened out anyway – got too nervous, and didn’t ask my question. I find public speaking challenging. There were a LOT of people. And it’s Kevin McCloud.
So, shortly after, I met up with Nik, and she had managed to get me access to the Green Room (basically a small room that acted as the backstage area for the various presenters from the Lifestyle Channel and associated staff).
ON THE INSIDE
So, here I was, standing in the Green Room, and there was Kevin McCloud, getting miked up for his afternoon presentation. There he was … just metres away. And Nik had already introduced me to Andrew Winter from Selling Houses Australia, who’d been really interested in hearing more about Undercover Architect. I was pinching myself. I’m not one for getting gooey around ‘famous’ people – but put me near people I have a lot of admiration for and that’s a whole other story.
Kevin headed on stage for his afternoon session presentation.
So Nik, her family and I snuck in to listen to it. He spoke more about his favourite Grand Design projects and really implored people in the audience to use a designer in helping them deliver theirs. As it drew to a close, I geared myself up to ask my question. Because I was REALLY interested in his answer now, and hey, what did I have to lose? He’d seen me in the Green Room – I had that hilarious photo with Nik – who knew what connection I could make with that? Remember – he was the ONLY person I could think of in my conversation with Kate Sutton. And I still thought that perhaps that hilarious photo might be the closest I get to him.
HOW TO FIND AN ARCHITECT OR DESIGNER AND WORK WELL WITH THEM – BY KEVIN McCLOUD
So I put my hand up, and with my heart in my mouth, spoke into the microphone …
“Kevin, thanks so much for your presentation. So, in Australia, of the 150,000 homes built every year, only 3% of them are created using a traditional client/architect arrangement. So it’s clearly not part of Australia’s culture to use an architect. How do you recommend people find an architect or a designer to help them, and then how do you suggest they work with them to get the best outcome?”
Kevin gave a fantastic answer about looking for a designer or architect who is likeminded … because at the end of the day, you’re handing them your vision, your dream, your time and your money and asking them to deliver you an outcome. So it’s important that you find someone who thinks similarly to you about life, who’s outlook on life resonates with you, and who (if not for the professional nature of your relationship) you could actually picture being friends with.
I think of the best client/architect working relationships I’ve had – and the qualities Kevin outlined pretty much nails why they worked so well.
We quickly made our way back into the Green Room after his presentation, and moments later, Nik was introducing me to Peter Maddison from Grand Designs Australia …. And then … wait for it …. Kevin McCloud.
Look, seriously, I can’t remember a lot of what I said over the next 15 – 20 minutes, except that I was talking passionately about Undercover Architect, and listening to and sharing opinions on the accessibility of design and the importance of creating homes that work well for their owners. I remember that Peter had to head off to his next obligation, and that I was left on my own with Kevin to talk in more detail about things. And I remember his grace and generosity in listening to me, and giving me his time, interest and attention, as I rattled and rambled about my journey, and my vision for Undercover Architect. And I remember him sharing his thoughts on my plans and his experiences of his trips to Australia over the years.
He was ushered away to book signing, but before he left, he asked me to keep in touch and gave me the means to do so. Now, I have no idea what that actually means, looks like, or what (if anything at all) will come of it. The simple fact that he said it blew me away in that moment.
I spent the next hour in the Green Room chatting with Andrew Winter and Charlie Albone from Selling Houses Australia, who were very generous also with their time and just really fantastic gentlemen, and a lot of fun to talk with.
As we left the Green Room, and as soon as I was out of sight of those inside, I just had to ask Nik to stop. Just so I could do a happy dance and squeal on the inside for a moment.
I needed a moment.
You have to remember, 10 days prior, I had completely dismissed the notion that what just happened was even possible.
And I also was fortunate to meet a myriad of other people I admire and respect for the work they are doing in the sphere of teaching people how design makes the difference, and helping people make their homes great places to live.
I didn’t tell Nik the back story of my conversation with Kate until the next day. She gave me her side too which I won’t share here, but made both of us realise how amazing it was that everything came together the way it did.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CREATING YOUR HOME?
Now, why am I sharing this story with you?
Trust me, it’s not to boast, or brag about the fact that I met Kevin McCloud and the other fantastic people at the Lifestyle Channel. Honestly, I’m still pinching myself that it even happened.
It’s to demonstrate the power of intention.
You know, if someone had said to the 30 year old me – in fact, even to the 38 year old me – that “come your 41st birthday, Amelia, you’ll be living on 77 acres in the Byron Bay Hinterland, with a small mortgage” … I would have told you that sounds amazing, because that’s where we REALLY WANT TO BE! I know I would have told you I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but that I believed it could … because that’s what we were working towards. We had set our intentions on it.
See, you may say you want a really great home.
But then you dismiss it as not being possible.
You think you CAN’T afford the home that you want.
That you’ll NEVER be able to afford it.
Or that you DON’T know enough to make it happen.
Or that you DON’T have the time to find it, or create it.
Or that it will be TOO MUCH WORK.
Just quietly, I’d like to call “bullshit” on that.
And as Henry Ford said – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
On October 15th, I thought actually meeting Kevin McCloud was as likely as me heading to Mars.
However, once it became internally real to me that it was him who I wanted to meet, and share my vision of Undercover Architect with – well – the wheels started turning. And hey, stranger things have happened right? (At the time, that was what my internal cheerleader was saying, anyway!)
On October 25th, I was talking one-on-one with him. In person.
It taught me a massive lesson, and one that I’m holding close … and I hope that you will too.
Be really mindful about what you put out into the universe … Why? Because – it could just come to you.
Anything is possible.
Even you achieving your dream home.
Other blogs you may find useful …
Do you want to know how to create a family home that works now, and always? I share my key tips here.
Don’t want architecture with a capital “A” but still want great design? Here’s how.
You need to know this about your project budget. Head here for more.
I’ve just discovered your blog and wanted to let you know how much i am enjoying it! This was a particularly great post and very motivational.
Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying Undercover Architect, and hope you’re finding it useful if you’re designing, building or renovating your home. I also appreciate your kind words regarding this post – and thank you for posting your feedback here! It was great for me to read this post again too and remind myself that anything really is possible!
-Amelia, UA x
AMANDA Burnett says
THIS. POST. IS. FANTASTIC. Congratulations on your journey so far, and thank you for all your help with our reno. We look forward to working with you for a good while yet!
Thank you for such a lovely comment and your congrats. It’s my pleasure!! I can’t wait to see your beautiful home come to life and be a fantastic place for many more generations of your gorgeous family!
– Amelia, UA x
Loved this post! So honest and inspiring. And very true – 4 years ago I took a snap of a landscape as a daily reminder of where we wanted to be (few acres out of town with a killer view) and we are now living right next door to that pic! Working with an architect now for our alts and adds. Love your blog – so many useful tips and advice, so generous with your experience + insights! Huge fan.
What a sensational story about setting intentions and bringing them to life! Congratulations to you for making that happen!
Thank you for your kind feedback about the blog – I’m so glad you enjoy it and find it helpful,
– Amelia, UA x
That is a cracking story Amelia. Good for you. Amazing world we live in.
Thanks so much Peter – really pivotal moment both personally and professionally. It is an amazing world we live in!
– Amelia, UA
Curious to know if those stats about using an architect/designer have changed???
Thanks for your comment. Not as far as I’m aware. It’s generally cited that under 5% of residential homes in Australia involve an architect. It’s a low percentage isn’t it!
– Amelia, UA