2019-2020 Session #5: Closing the Deal

Date: February 7, 2020
Location: Workplace Solutions
Session Sponsors: ACME Brick, Co.; Workplace Solutions
Leaders: Marcia Eddington, Sandy Veras
Documentation: Scott Dailey & Lara Richard


The 2019-20 CKLDP class met at Workplace Solutions to hear from a variety of presenters on the art of negotiation. Speakers included developer Ian Rosenberg, consultant Sofia Fronseca, and a panel featuring Sheila Condon, Daimian Hines, Lisa Louck, and JD Ramseur. The presenters and panel worked with scholars to sharpen their skills in negotiation and presentation.


Managing the Message and Relationships: The Investor/Developer Perspective, Ian Rosenberg, INFILL

Ian is a Houston-based historic rehabilitation developer. He worked on a master plan for Sawyer Yards with Sandy (Session leader) and has a lengthy project repertoire in central Houston.

Key Takeaways:

  • Worked at Federal Reserve after graduating from undergrad
  • Began doing facilities improvement project management, developed an affinity for building and construction
  • Federal reserve allowed volunteer opportunities during work. Using this time Ian got involved with a number of community organizations.
  • His community involvement grew to include the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the Midtown Management District, the Main Street Coalition, and the Memorial Park Conservancy
  • Went to Architecture school and got a job at a firm. The relationship didn’t work out.
  • From there he started INFILL, his development company that has partnered in projects including 13 Celsius, Mongoose vs. Cobra, and Weights and Measures
  • “Architecture is a graphic version of math”
  • Feels owners get more well received in permitting
  • “As long as you pretend you know what you’re talking about that helps”
  • Likes working with non-profits for their more open-minded approach
  • Connections enable you to accomplish things beyond your own capabilities
  • “Own the project…then get pushback”
  • Most developers do “plopitecture”
  • Foster relationships with consultants who think like you
  • Don’t trust blindly. Understand everything. 


Connecting the Dots: The Strategist Perspective, Sofia Fonseca de Nino, KYO Consulting

Sofia founded KYO after spending years on a consulting team for a large corporate firm. KYO is a pre-design services firm that works on the front end of projects with developers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Negotiation can be pleasurable
  • It is important to set and maintain boundaries and know when to walk away
  • Negotiation is discussion aimed at reaching an agreement
  • It is better to negotiate with people who you have a relationship with
  • It is okay to ask for internal communication before making a committment 
  • Large groups can lose connection, excitement with project/client
  • “A plan is useless, but planning is everything” -Eisenhower
  • “Don’t give away your value”
  • “A healthy ‘no’ is important”
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities are important

Group Activity: “Pitch Anything,” Responding to an RFP and the interview process

Key Takeaways:

Shaking hands is good!

Never tell the client you’re missing a person

Incorporate the values and priorities of the client

Spin negatives into positives. Don’t solicit negative traits.

Don’t say “down and dirty”

Face shortcomings head on, but don’t dwell

Round Table Discussion: “Closing the Deal”

Sheila Condon, Clark Condon Associates
Daimian Hines,, Hines Architecture
Lisa Louck, Esq.
JD Ramseur, Hoar Construction

Q1: How to position yourself for opportunities

JD: Be Genuine

Sheila: Love people. Build relationships. Face to face is best. Don’t be afraid to fire a client.

Lisa: Show interest and meet more people.

Daimian: Personal brand is stronger than business brand. Only act in ways that fulfill your brand. Collaborate with people you like.

Sheila: Pick a day to schedule calls and meetings. Keep track of prospects.

Daimian: “I’m a good, authentic listener.” Met with Jamaican Prime Minister and addressed his concerns. Adjust and redirect quickly and adaptively. A small firm can pivot faster.

Sheila: 30-70% of her time is invested in marketing. Address distinct client groups to show cross section in resume. Uses education as a marketing approach.

Q2: Social Media

Daimian: A lot of normal work is marketing. Clients want to see social equity on social media. There is value in building a brand on social media. 

Sheila: Social media isn’t her world. She delegates to people more qualified. Has a good corporate instagram following. Social media is a “shotgun” approach.

Q3: The Pitch

JD: “It’s better to lose early”

JD: Be genuine, don’t oversell

Lisa: Provide value / interest to clients

Daimian: Clients appreciate the truth

Sheila: It is your obligation to bring up concerns to the client

Q4: Tale of a drastic turn

Sheila: Presentation turned into town hall attack on plan. On the fly her and her team turned it into a community input meeting. 

Daimian: Have a plan B. Bring boards in case a presentation fails. Take advantage of creative expression on presentation. 

Sheila: Listen to your gut when it tells you to avoid a project.

Q5: Best advice for turning people into business

Lisa: Know your connection. 

Daimian: Provide skills to fill in gaps in groups. Use expertise to build trust.

Sheila: Show what capabilities are.

Q5: Changes in Architecture

JD: More GMP and CMAR work. Work with people you know, like, and trust.

Lisa: People are becoming more aware about litigation and the legal process. Bring in appropriate experts for issues. Have appropriate cyber protection, indemnification, and data management.

Q6: Biggest mistake Architects make

Lisa: Assuming everything will be fine. Architects should attack issues up front in the contract. Provide framework for wiggle room, escalation, and timeline.

Sheila: Many people don’t even read their contracts. 

Lisa: Make sure contracts are appropriate and fair.

Daimian: Structural firms usually look into liability the most out of all consultants.

Q7: How to approach fee discussion

Sheila: Start with scope. Don’t provide cost until scope is laid out. Don’t give anything away! Some prospective work is okay, but be confident of your value.

JD: Balance “free work” to build relationship and get paid

Daimian: Provide realistic construction expectations. Do things that you’re passionate about.

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