Skyscrapers, bridges, wireless technology, etc. are all things that most of us ponder from afar with some fascination. Glen Coben, however, grew up with a father whose engineering projects caught his imagination and passion early in life and inspired him to be part of the building process. Coben, however, was intrigued by the idea of collaborating with people to extract their vision and dreams and bring them to life, so he decided to study architecture and design.
My Definition Of Success | Success for me has a few “buckets” to fill. Personally, being in love with my wife and being married for 22 years is a sign of success. Raising a grounded, loving and caring daughter is a huge success for me personally. Being a good son, brother and friend leaves me feeling that my personal life is rounded, rewarding and filled with love and joy.
Professionally, I used to think getting press was a validation of success. That is fleeting. I used to think getting more projects and growing my business was a sign of success. But today, my biggest success is my joy in creating spaces for people to sleep, dine, meet, fall in love, break up, celebrate and cry in. Creating moments of joy and wonder. That is success to me.
The Difference Between Good And Great | The great ones do the little things right. They are hyper focused on every detail.
A Key Talent | Wow, I haven’t really thought about this. I think my success has had a lot to do with persistence and patience. Never accepting mediocrity and setting an example through one’s actions. Over the years I have been blessed to work with some amazing clients and have had tremendous designers and architects to collaborate with on my teams. If each person accepts responsibility while being given an opportunity to succeed and push their own personal limits, I truly believe people will succeed. They have to be willing to take the risk…and I have to be willing to give them chance to fail in order to succeed!
The Characteristics Of Success | Again, I think being super persistent and setting reasonable and unreasonable goals allows me to stay focused on both long-term and short-term solutions to problems. Design is a funny thing…we stay away from trends and attempt to guide our projects towards solutions that are timeless. Design needs to be smart, believable AND sometimes transport people to a different place and time period.
Critical Skills I Develop | I have struggled to learn how to say “no.” Over the years, I have accepted projects because they sounded “cool” or just needed the money. I have learned that if my heart is not in the right place, or if I have a concern about who I am working with as a client, I need to say, “thank you, but we are not a good fit for this.” Life is too short to not enjoy every moment of every project!
Lessons I Have Learnt | Embrace change. Change is something we should count on, so embrace and celebrate it! It is normal to be afraid of change….but I like to think of it as my friend – when something is not going particularly well I try to remain positive knowing that it will eventually change!
Performing At My Peak | A lot of caffeine! Seriously, peak performance is determined by the environment, the projects we work on and the team I surround myself with. That being said, I am a big believer in always getting some “perspective” in my life. If we are going to design spaces for people to gather, play, dine or drink…we need to experience such places ourselves. Seeing images on a computer screen or in magazines just doesn’t fulfill all of the senses we need activated to be great at what we do. Perspective also requires time away from what I do. Spending time with my family travelling or playing golf clears my head, giving me the freedom to solve problems on a clear mind.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would like to run a marathon, play golf at Augusta National, live in Paris for at least a year and learn to cook. My professional goals are met often because I love what I do!
The Best Advice I’ve Received | Say please and thank you. Look people in the eye when you talk with them, and always treat people the way you wish to be treated. Step back and look at the big picture. It’s really easy to get caught up in daily details. Stepping back to revisit goals and aspirations and accomplishments allow me to know where I am in my journey.
On Inspiring Others | Give people an opportunity to reach beyond their perceived abilities. Coach them by treating them with kindness, respect and always say thank you. Finding people who have that killer instinct when it comes to design, process and the ability to create is a challenge…but fortunately I have been blessed to have a great bunch surround me!
I Am Inspired By | There a few chefs with whom I work with that I find truly inspirational. They have entrusted in me the design of their restaurants. This is such a personal statement for them and take this role with a tremendous amount of responsibility.
My role models are my Dad for giving me the courage to follow my dreams. James Wines of SITE taught me to “never turn the light out!” He worked around the clock and never, ever settled for mediocrity. My wife and daughter inspire me to keep moving ahead and never take no for an answer. And lastly, my team of designers and architects in the office inspire me on a daily basis. Their passion, dedication and spirit makes each day a treat!
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would love to be remembered as a caring and compassionate son, husband, father, brother, friend and mentor. As an architect, I have been blessed to create spaces for all different kinds of people. It would cool if people remember some of these spaces and what they did there.