Sept. 15, 2021

Changing Construction from Within - Meredith Meyers

Meredith Meyers is a strategic business development and marketing leader experienced in architecture, engineering, and construction. Meredith is a brilliant strategist, enjoys learning, and naturally helps people play to their strengths. She is talented in developing strategies that honor the team while serving the customer.


Meredith Meyers is a strategic business development and marketing leader experienced in architecture, engineering, and construction. Meredith is a brilliant strategist, enjoys learning, and naturally helps people play to their strengths. She is talented in developing strategies that honor the team while serving the customer. Her strengths include acquisition of new businesses, account management, and collaboration for multi-hundred million dollar-sized projects. Meredith’s strategic partnerships include Kaiser, UCLA, UHS, and Hoag.

Show Acronyms

OSHPD - Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

AGC - Associated General Contractors of America

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Connect with Meredith via

LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meredith-meyers-7098176/

Website at https://cuningham.com/

Connect with Felipe via

Bio Link at https://thefelipe.bio.link

Subscribe on YouTube to never miss new videos here: https://rb.gy/q5vaht

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Today’s episode is sponsored by Bosch RefinemySite. It’s a cloud-based construction platform. Bosch uses Lean principles to enable your entire team, from owners to trade contractors – to plan, communicate, document, and execute in real-time. It’s the digital tool that supports the Last Planner System® process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. Bosch RefinemySite empowers your team, builds trust, creates a culture of responsibility, and enhances communication. Learn more and Try for free at https://www.bosch-refinemysite.us/tryforfree 

Today’s episode is sponsored by Construction Accelerator. This online learning system for teams and individuals offers short, in-depth videos on numerous Lean topics for Builders and Designers to discuss and implement, just like on this podcast. This is tangible knowledge at your fingertips in the field, in the office, or at home. Support your Lean learning at your own pace. Learn more at http://trycanow.com/

Today's episode is also sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). This non-profit organization operates as a catalyst to transform the industry through Lean project delivery using an operating system centered on a common language, fundamental principles, and basic practices. Learn more at https://www.leanconstruction.org

 

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Transcript

Meredith Meyers  0:00  
I think my colleague Dan said he's listened to this before.

Felipe Engineer  0:04  
Oh, yeah. What's Dan's last name?

Meredith Meyers  0:05  
Olic.

Felipe Engineer  0:06  
Dan Olic!

Meredith Meyers  0:08  
He's actually he's the one who's kind of like our lean champion internally, at least in our studio. He is an architect. He's now our business unit leader, our new one. You know, one of the things I feel about being here is like, I just work with really good people. And Dan is one of those. And so, you know, and I love that he's really, you know, on this Lean journey, and, you know, kind of taken the initiative to delete it for us. And I mean, him being an architect is actually helpful, right? Because he can implement some of the things he knows or has learned in his projects. You should become a therapist of case that's not already one of your businesses.

Felipe Engineer  0:43  
I am a therapist. I'm a construction whisperer.

Meredith Meyers  0:47  
When you've got needs, like things hanging behind you, and yes, somewhat, maybe that's what Dan said. Dan said like, oh, you're gonna have to talk about Scrum. I go, Oh, well, probably not because Felipe knows me. I have seen him talk about Scrum before though. So okay.

Felipe Engineer  1:03  
When I sit here and just listen, I'm just practicing being a therapist. I'm not. I'm not frozen.

Meredith Meyers  1:09  
Okay, that's fine. Well, that was it. I was waiting for you to tell me that it was starting and then I looked and said, Hmm, it's we've already been recording this whole thing has been recorded.

Felipe Engineer  1:18  
Welcome to the EBFC Show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer-Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by...

Sponsors  1:32  
Boshrefinemysite is a cloud based construction collaboration platform that applies Lean principles to enable your entire team to plan, communicate and execute in real time. It's the digital tool that works in tandem with your last planner system process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. This easy to use platform is available in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French and can be used on desktops, tablet and mobile devices. According to Spencer Easton, scheduling manager at Oakland construction, refined my site, in my opinion, is the best cleanest tool on the market the last, here's what our users have to say. We've looked at three other digital scheduling platforms and none compared to the straightforward approach refund my site takes from milestone planning all the way down to daily tasks. This program gives every general contractor and their trade partners meaningful collaboration, accountability and KPIs. Register today to try refine my site for free for 60 days.

Felipe Engineer  2:44  
Today's episode is sponsored by construction accelerator,

Sponsors  2:47  
The design and construction industries come up with and build great things. But we also build in waste in how we do those things, in our interactions in our contracts in our logistics. So what does this do for our bottom line, or our next project, the best firms maximize their value by removing that waste, and only doing what's essential to the work what makes them money. Construction accelerator will train you to see the waste and give your teams the lean tools and experience to remove it immediately. All online. Construction accelerator is made up of three to nine minute videos that can be watched again and again, in the field, at the office and at home. All broken down by topic. need to learn pool planning, we have videos on the process, how to set up a room and how to kick off a team need to set up a target value delivery project, we discuss all the aspects of TVD especially cost. Or maybe you just need to brush up on five as well. We have videos on that as well. You can download and print reference materials to use on site to immediately translate watching into doing subscribe today at tri ca now.com. Let's build an industry, not just a project. 

Felipe Engineer  4:00  
Today's show is also sponsored by the lean construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone. Check the show notes for more information. Now to the show. Welcome to the show. Meredith Meyers from the time that you saw me jumping off the stage in Napa at a DBA conference all the way down. Did you think that this stage jumper would eventually have you on a podcast, Meredith had no idea. 

Meredith Meyers  4:37  
And when I heard about the podcast, I still didn't believe it was going to happen. So I'm excited about it. 

Felipe Engineer  4:42  
I'm also excited too long as I've known you, you've always embodied this idea of being a phenomenal learning human being and you've you've had forward in you all the time, this very high level strategy about you. You're very intentional in the things that you do and the places You show up and how you show up. And I want to make sure that when you are telling your stories to the audience, that we get some examples of that strategy that's guided your life in the construction industry. So Meredith, welcome to the show.

Meredith Meyers  5:13  
Glad to be here. I know everyone says that when they're on a show, right? It seems a little cliche, but it is the truth. And I think that's one thing you know about me is, probably wouldn't say it if it wasn't.

Felipe Engineer  5:23  
So we're banking on a zero filter from you today. While you're on luck, we'll start with a toast to that. So let people know a little bit about yourself and what got you involved in the wonderful world of complex construction?

Meredith Meyers  5:42  
Well, it is complex, I can tell you that. It's a very interesting business. It's one either people enter I think very intentionally or somewhat by accident. And I think I was somewhere in the middle. My name is Meredith Meyers, strategy director for director of strategy at at Cunningham. And our firm does architecture. We do interiors, and some landscape design as well. I lead strategy for our health care group, and we call that our heal studio. I'm super thankful to be a part of this team. It's a really talented team. It's a really good team of people who really complement one another. And I and, you know, obviously, we're not just always, you know, saying, hey, you look great today. But that joke, but we do really, you know, the strength in our studio, I've noticed are just, it's something you kind of can't, you kind of can't purposefully craft, I mean, it's sort of something that fell into place, it's something you want, but it's also something that kind of just falls into place for us where we have a very strong, strong team and you know, where someone is very strong and very good in, say, like planning, or someone's a great project manager, or, you know, any other number of things anyone can do, whether it's you know, technical skills or soft skills, you know, there's someone else who who does, you know, another thing that's needed to kind of complete the whole project, or the whole team in their own way. So a little bit of a diversion there. But as I said, my name is Meredith Meyers, my dad actually was an architect. So I can't help but think that it was a complete accident that I landed in this industry, I actually started doing marketing. So that's a tough job. I think, as we all know, lots and lots of proposals, and lots of deadlines, lots of heads down work. My I think my skill set my passions, my personality, have always lent to my doing some of the external things as well, or organizing events, and really just being in communication with clients. And I think for a while during that, during that marketing, kind of a series of those marketing jobs, for engineers, for architects, for a landscape architect, I really got to learn the industry a lot better. The kind of parts and pieces that make up our industry that help us actually do what we do, which is, you know, constructing or crafting, buildings, successful buildings. And so I learned a lot along the way. I also learned in that marketing job that I didn't have to do it. As I've grown in this industry, and in my role, and in the things that I do, and the things that I do well, and I'm able to lend to a firm, I started really just becoming a business development and strategy leader. And that is, you know, when we met, right, I mean, part of part of that role is, and that was actually we met in San Diego. So we knew each other and Napa and we've seen each other several other places through LCI through DBIA. And I do love to learn, I mean, that's, you know, I don't just go to those conferences to talk to people I really actually enjoy sitting in and listening to the right, panels and the right topics. I mean, I learned that's how I'm better at my job, because I'm not a technical person. So on some level, I'm an anomaly. I mean, I'm sort of like, Okay, I'm sort of, you know, the odd odd one out, right, I don't do the work. But I should have, in my opinion, a very good understanding of how we do the work. So that I can help us to grow and help us to find the right clients and help us to find the right contractor partners and the right consultants. I think it's all it's it's kind of circle, you know, or it's maybe it's more like a sphere where it's, you know, you're only as good as your team. And I know that we believe that at Cunningham, and that's how we operate with our clients, with our contractor partners, when it's designed build with our consultants and you know, our company patents are just as valuable as anyone. So you know, I think we treat everybody with respect. And we try to be very communicative and very responsive. And you know, it's not common in this industry. It's tough. And so that's one of the things I absolutely love about being at Cunningham and doing the job I do.

Felipe Engineer  5:54  
And I think it's a testament to your skill set. Meredith, you are definitely very strategic. And I've seen you on the edge of your chair at some of these different conferences learning, so I'm vouching for your, your learning. I've observed it firsthand. I've seen it. And I think also your ability to network sometimes I feel like everyone on my show is just one of your contacts.

Meredith Meyers  10:49  
I hope the topic has not been discussed at length.

Felipe Engineer  10:54  
Yeah, that's just one one phone call away from anybody. Thanks to you. I think well.

Meredith Meyers  10:59  
Andrew, I appreciate that. I mean, I know you know, a lot of people to you, I think you and I share a lot of similar values, which is really how we bonded immediately. You know, I mean, we had a conversation, we were both comfortable in the conversation we had context we had, you know, firms and people we knew in common that we could kind of refer to as we made those introductions. I believe, no, I met you before your presentation, actually. And as much as I talk, and as much as I love networking, and as much as I love seeing people, I like to do it kind of spontaneously. I like you know, a lot of times when people go to conferences, they'll say, Who do you want to meet? Who do you want to do, and I say, you know, I'll take a look at the attendee list in advance. And there might be some people I would be interested in meeting, but I find that when I meet them in passing, or without such intention, as some others might do, that, it just creates a more organic relationship and a more organic situation. And so as much as I like to talk to people and relate, and really just connect, I think you learned right away about me, I do not like to speak in front of a group of people. So my role when we met was to introduce your panel, to a large group of people at a DBIA conference. And, you know, you were really, really helpful with trying to kind of get me to feel more comfortable about doing that. And then after your panel, we spoke and your panel was good, it was entertaining, it was exciting, it was dynamic, I did learn, you know, you knew how to capture a group, you shared something that is I'm very passionate about which is a team dynamic that really worked and how you created a successful project based on that team dynamic. So you know, the the fact that I did get to learn right away, but was also very captivated by what you were talking about. was definitely a plus.

Felipe Engineer  13:01  
Yeah, and I've loved your, your introduction, it's nice sometimes to be introduced by other people. And so like I was I introduced you today, how would you rate my introduction of you today so far?

Meredith Meyers  13:12  
I think it was great. It's fun. I mean, you know, it's one of those things, you know, I'm not I'm also not as many people as may know, me, I've been on this show. I'm not necessarily for everyone. And I think it took me a while to you know, it's just my style, my energy, my, you know, my vibe, some people can really jive with that, and, and vice versa. how I feel about them, and some, I'm just, it's not, I'm a little much. So it's exciting and fun and nice. When I hear someone give me a nice introduction like that. And honestly, like, I, I really, I think, I've succeeded doing what I do, because I like it. And because I'm very passionate about what we do in our industry, and particularly in healthcare. I mean, what we do I, you know, sounds a little bit, you know, arrogant, but it is, it's important, you know, I mean, it's important work, you know, we we design and build the hospitals, I mean, people, it's life and death, I mean, literally, and you know, the things that happen in a hospital that even the people you see, you know, women about ready to give birth or you know, families, you know, maybe coming out of a tough meeting and congregating and consoling one another it's it's real life. And it's it's experiences that happened to everybody. And, you know, we need those buildings, we need those spaces. And we need to be intentional and thoughtful about how we create those spaces so that the users who work there can use them well, and that they can therefore in turn, provide better care for the patients and be better to the families. So you know, it's it's an incredible, you know, and just kind of an aside, I knew someone who worked in advertising and she has to walk around like it was like the Most important job in the world. I just was like, Huh. And at the time, I was actually working for a builder. And I was thinking, like, we build buildings, like, actually people need buildings, like they don't need advertising. It brings in money, right, you know, it runs the world, and in a way, but it's definitely, when you talk about doing meaningful work, this is it. And, you know, one of the things I think, also, you know, kind of back to your question about the intro is, I am very flattered, and I'm very appreciative of your introduction. But you know, something I really admire in people and strive for his, his humility. So, you know, if I can convey that I like to learn or that I'm interested in someone, and that I'll remember, you know, something about them, or whatever, just by kind of being and doing, then that's, that's the way I'd rather have people learn about me. That's, I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a nice compliment. But at the same time, I, you know, I'd like to, I'd like to feel like you know, I, I have come a long way. And I have learned a lot of things and I have carved a path for myself in a place that I really enjoy being and that does meaningful work, and that others will kind of learn that just by experiencing, having a conversation or, or something like that, though.

Felipe Engineer  16:25  
You're a trailblazer, Meredith, I mean, it's hard to pack it all in like, like we were talking about the show started in such a small little window, your ability to network and connect with people quickly. And like you said, your your flavor is not for everyone. But for those that I'm one of the people that enjoys your company, and I can I can talk to you. For days, I think I called you the other day for like a 10 minute thing or two minute thing, and we talked for like an hour and a half, yep. or close to it. And that's, that's like, every time we talk, we are connected on our values. And we do both really appreciate high value of respect for people in the construction industry, it doesn't just advertise itself as a high respect environment at times, like every day. Yes, that was diplomatic. But the most we're gonna get we've got people working in the industry to change them. And it's the change is happening from within, not from without. And I definitely count you among those people making a difference in our industry to show another way to be that you can be very successful, you can even blaze a new trail, Uncharted, and still achieve without damage to people. That's one of the things that I love about your stories, you're telling your introduction of how you started in different places, and you kind of knew kind of fell back into the industry. Even though your father was an architect, it wasn't obvious that you were going to come into the business not even close. 

Meredith Meyers  18:02  
I mean, you know, with all due respect to my father, and you know, unfortunately, he's not with us anymore. But, you know, I didn't appreciate what he did when I was a kid, and he was terrible with money. So, I definitely didn't think doing anything in this industry. I also just didn't understand, you know, all of the education that he had to have, or the incredible, immense amount of talent that he had, you know, I grew up in the Bay Area, and he designed a house for our family. So you know, I was going to a private school as a kid. And, you know, I think I always compared myself to the other kids, and you know, their families had a lot more money and a lot. And you know, I look back now and go, how many how many people's dad could design their house? And so, you know, some of the things we did have were incredible. And my dad was a very, very, very resourceful guy. You know, they say that thing about the winery, how do you how do you make a small fortune in the wine business is start with a large one. So I think my dad did that. Because his father was successful and had some money and property in LA and all kinds of stuff. And my dad really, you know, one of the things he always said to me was, have fun. And I mean, every almost every time and sometimes I took that a little too seriously. Other times I didn't take it seriously at all. But you know, he that those values, I think that he instilled and, you know the things that I learned once I got to college, and I saw that, you know, because I went to the same university as my father, and my friends that very first week, were in the studio, you know, at least two nights until 5am. And I'm going like, Wow, my dad did this for five years. He got a professional degree, he got licensed. And unfortunately for architects, they don't typically make a lot of money. So it's a profession where actually I think you have to know the most I mean, if you're going to become a doctor, right? You're gonna know science pretty much or you know other other, or if you're a lawyer, you go to school for three years, right? I mean, granted, you go for five total. But, you know, to get a professional degree in architecture as an undergraduate, you go for five years, and it is grueling work, and you are ripped to pieces by your peers and your teachers. And, you know, and I look back, and I say, I just didn't respect so much what my dad did, because I didn't get it. But going back to also what you said about this industry is, you know, again, I sort of fell into it, I did a lot of proposals. And you know, this is a little bit sad, but I just didn't have the confidence to know that I was worth more than sometimes the way I was being treated. And I've had that happen at a couple of places, it's kind of unforgivable. But you also have to take a little bit of a responsibility at some point and look back and say, Well, what can I do differently? How can I learn? How can I change? How can I not repeat this, if I'm in a situation that I, where I don't, I don't feel I'm being treated the way that I should be, then I don't have to stay here. I don't, I don't need that job badly enough. You know, to your point, I'm really very touched by what you said about kind of being a trailblazer, or trying to make this a better place is I kind of, you know, some people will take those bad experiences and, and pay them forward in the wrong way. As in, you know, they've been treated poorly. So they go and treat other people poorly. And I just absolutely, like, I made a point to go in the complete opposite direction, how can I make life better? This is a tough industry, and and what are the things I have learned? What kind of panels have I sat in on and listen to so many owners say, like, oh, the communication is terrible, or, you know, all this kind of stuff? How can I try to make this a better place to be for everybody? So in my studio, in my firm, how can I help us? I mean, you know, we have, you know, I'm going to brag a little bit, but I'm also seeing in this firm that, you know, and I'm here, I'm relatively new, you know, I've seen people, not that many times in person, because I started at the end of January of last year. And so, you know, we all, you know, came in came home, pretty much. But I've been given a tremendous amount of opportunity. You know, my position is new within Cunningham, they didn't have business development or strategy before. I've always been treated like a leader. I've been told I'm a leader, and that's, you know, that basically, you know, because I, I, a lot of times, like, Oh, well, what do you think, or I want to be very sensitive, or I want to pay reverence to someone who is my boss, or who is above me, but I have a role, you know, kind of goes back to that complementing one another. So some of the ideas and concepts that I come up with, even though I'm not a creative or technical person, are actually very welcomed, you know, people say, wow, you know, because I bring a different perspective. And because I can offer certain thoughts on things like, how do we how do we show the people who are here who worked so hard, that they're valuable to us? How do we treat them with kindness and respect? How do we bring some levity into, you know, our lives, but the place where I'm really going to brag is Cunningham is a is a firm that not that many people know because, you know, and and we really are working very hard on telling stories, right? Because we feel this touches on also, what we've been talked about earlier is, you know, when you share that project, right, I mean, there were stories, the thing that was captivating, probably was listening to that team, tell their story and tell their stories. And so, we're storytellers and we have a quite a large hospitality and Entertainment Group. And, you know, that's, that's what we do. We we design stories, right? So one of our projects, for example, is the galaxy's edge at Disneyland. We were the executive architect, and I wasn't at Cunningham at the time, it's not my it's also not healthcare, obviously.

Felipe Engineer  24:09  
However, as preventative health care...

Meredith Meyers  24:12  
Right, I was gonna say it's entertainment. It's actually good. Laughter is the best medicine so apparently, you can go drink those weird drinks in the little restaurant bar, the blue drinks that that you know, have steam coming out of them or whatever and, you know, rides and all that kind of stuff. But you know, that was a team of people that's a difficult client as I'm sure you're aware, because you know, they are one of the foremost users of IPD and they can also be very you know, that they require you know, your like your project can not be perfect.

Felipe Engineer  24:47  
Very discerning.

Meredith Meyers  24:49  
Correct. And so you know, and I don't mean like a you know, a bad client just you know, that your, your challenges are cut out for you. And I know, you know, in our work with Disney on some of the other big entertainment Companies like universal or you know, where we do similar types of work where we tell these stories, and that's our job. There's a lot of confidentiality, right. So there's not a lot we can always talk about. But the stories that I've learned subsequently, since joining, from the contractor from others involved is, you know, I always just hear these glowing reviews. And it's very rare. It's very uncommon. And so if there's a place where I can go out and say Cunningham is amazing, is we love rolling up our sleeves and sitting down with the client with the other members of the team. We thrive on solving the problems. I mean, you know, I don't, a lot of times, you'll see people not want to raise their hand to do something. But you know, certain things even like OSH, you know, asking people to do research, for not the most exciting things like OSHPD, or, you know, I mean, the Oh, can I get back to you in a day? Yeah, that's fine. You can take a little more time than that. And I mean, they'll come back in an hour, you know what I mean? It's just like these people that I work with, they love to learn, they love to solve problems, they continue to stay on projects and with clients. They're just become embedded. And, you know, we work with some of the larger contractors, one of which you might be very familiar with. And that's a tough one. However, however, you know, every so often, hey, Bob, how are we doing? Hey, how are we doing? How are we doing? sharp? How are we great, no problems. And I mean, it's so rare that you even hear that, let alone, you know, oh, gosh, you know, this guy, this pm or this person or whatever, you always hear something, you know.

Felipe Engineer  26:46  
Sometimes mirrored if you just hear the right, and you know, something's up.

Meredith Meyers  26:52  
And I'll tell you, that's another place where I've grown in kind of my career and in this kind of strategic role as well, as I've learned to, to, to ask, you know, if someone does do that, you know, Hey, could you elaborate? You know, I'd love to know really how we're doing. And if there's something that I can help, by bringing this information back to my studio leader, or the project team and help you to make this a better experience or a better project? Can we do that? Absolutely. You know, we don't we tough questions.

Felipe Engineer  27:29  
You definitely don't hide from tough questions. There's a lot of competition in the space that you're in, in architecture, especially for that high impact specialty entertainment, with those types of discerning clients. And in the healthcare space as well. There are not a lot of very large healthcare players in the market. So there's a lot of consolidation. And on the general contracting side, where you know that I make my, my day, I spend my days, we actually appreciate good competition. I need good competition, in order so that we can make inroads and improve the industry as a whole. Because the competition works inside. You've recently changed roles I've worked for, believe it or not, I've actually worked for two other general contractors before like, what? Yeah, surprising, but I've worked, you know, for government entity as well in the past. And a bureaucracy, which was unlike anything else I've ever talked about ever. I hope that you are helping them now. Good practices in organizations. Go ahead. Yeah, I don't I don't give them any money. That's how I know they need to give you money for your consultation services. So competition is good. And the storytelling is critical. The sharing that that happens, and I want you to share more about some of the stories like what your galaxy's edge team if you if you don't mind or on your your team, your studio team, you call it the heal team. Yeah. How did that name come about? Have you found out as to how that name came to be?

Meredith Meyers  29:13  
Well, I will tell you that but I'm going to step back for one second to something that you just said about the stories and the galaxy's edge and all that kind of stuff. is you know I didn't complete that thought too, is that you know, one of the things that we are working on is telling the stories. This is seriously also one of the almost two humble group of people. I'm like, you guys, you're great. Share it. Let's get out there. Let's share it right because one of the things that I think makes us better than said competition that we do need to for improvement in places we've also been for point of reference or whatnot, is that's where I think we really shine is you know, a lot of a lot of firms will go they'll win the big project and you'll get the B team or the C team or whatever, or they'll drop the ball and they Don't have as keen of a desire to do the work well, and be good team players as they did in the pursuit. And I think it's all one thing. The other thing I think, too Is he can't, for me in I can't, in good faith, lead a pursuit or lead us through a pursuit where I don't believe that the people that we're proposing to be on the project are the right people. So I mean, I take what we do so seriously, and I care so much about what we do and what we have to offer, that it's built into that strategy as well. And I mean, let's, let's be honest, I mean, at the end of the day, of course, you have to build a tangible design and build a tangible structure. But the people I mean, it sounds, it sounds a little trite. But the people are really, ultimately what you're selling, and so, and their skill sets and their abilities to work with you and to solve problems. And so, you know, we have this great group of people super humble, right? Like, again, you guys, let's get let's get out there. And let's show them you know, what, what you're made of, and people don't need to do much it's complex, because to that, just being again, right, you know, if you talk to someone and they know what they're talking about, you'll you'll pick that up, right? They don't need to tell you. So the heal studio, actually, to right before I started, they, they introduced a new platform, and the business development and strategy, which I mentioned before, that were positions that didn't exist Cunningham it was seller doers, and I respect that model, right? Those are the people who are doing the work. Those are the people who know how, but let's just be honest, a cellar door, if given a choice, what do you think they're gonna do?

Felipe Engineer  31:46  
They're gonna default To Do.

Meredith Meyers  31:48  
Correct. They didn't go to school to learn how to sell. I mean, I didn't either. But let's just say communication. And social science, with the Spanish minor is slightly different than getting a construction management degree in architecture degree, an engineering degree. Okay. And obviously, yeah, right. I mean, obviously, I'm tongue in cheek, you know, being facetious, because it's nothing like it. And actually, when I used to work for contractor, I said, Oh, that would be so fun, you know, to meet a contractor, and I did live with one. And I hear about architects a lot. And I share some of my thoughts on contractors a lot, but, but seriously, it's, um, you know, they're so fun, they go to all these events, and you know, someone who understands what I do, and, you know, they could appreciate it. And then I realized, like, well, they don't always love going to those events, and a lot of contractors are actually civil engineers. So not typically signing up for all the events in town. So anyway, going backwards. Prior to my arrival, they had created a platform, and they put strategy and business development on the platform. And I think during that time, they also renamed the studios. So I think what, you know, it used to be was we had, so for example, you know, heels is healthcare. And, you know, and that encompasses, obviously, all types, right, you know, we do behavioral health, we do, you know, large hospital towers, we do women's and children's, we do cancer centers, you know, all kinds of, you know, whether it's an MLB, or whether even it's like continuous tenant improvements for an existing client, you know, we do a lot of that table, we do really kind of run the gamut. And, you know, you mentioned government before, too, we do a lot of VA work, smaller projects at the VA, but it's kind of a cool concept. Because you we take, you know, a lot of people's Oh, you're always going to work with this one contractor, or you're always only going to take this type of project or this size of project. And I'm like, not really, we kind of use our, our portfolio and our skill set and our experience and sell that we typically don't go after things that we don't have a good chance at. It's not it's a waste of time. It's a waste of money. It's a waste of a client's time. So if we don't we don't feel we can check those boxes adequately, we won't. But you know, one of the things we do is we try to balance it out, you know, we're not just going for the big tower, you know, let's look to the next big one. And we have a good balance because we do a lot of towers in in Phoenix. And then we do a lot of kind of ongoing projects for you know, large clients in San Diego in LA we actually have a couple of towers for common spirit, one in Bakersfield and one in San Luis OBISPO. But you know, we have some of those. We do a lot of ongoing work at Good Samaritan which is now PIH, and you know, those are really tough, really messy projects. We work well with OSHPD you know, we they recommended us to a client for a county client actually in Santa Clara County or they recommended us actually to another architects, so we partner a lot to do OSHPD five. And we are now one of the only firms that does that. So our other studios, we have a place studio, and that's where kind of the, you know, obviously, the entertainment fits. But that was also hotel retail. We do a lot of tribal work, we actually have an in house consultant who's a part of Cunningham, who has his own firm called full circle, and that, that and he goes in and helps with all aspects of getting some of that work and the knowledge of the tribes and that kind of stuff. So but you know, last year, a lot of that stuff suffered. And I don't know, I can't honestly say what play was called before or if they just said, Okay, well, it's hospitality, it's retail, it's this, it's that, or if these studio names were supposed to kind of like, you know, offer umbrella for all of the different kind of types of work that might fit under it. So we have he'll play, work, and live.

Felipe Engineer  36:07  
And they're sitting here right now, Bear, if that makes total sense, how they're organized.

Meredith Meyers  36:13  
Right? But you know, I don't know, again, what how they used to say it, right? Like, oh, yeah, we also do hotels, and we also do them these restaurants. And we do this entertainment. I mean, you know, it didn't I don't know if it if it fit neatly, somewhere. Or if you kind of had to try to talk about a bunch of different things. You know, we also do casinos and gaming, and you know, that kind of stuff as well. So it's very diverse. And that's it, you know, we have these wonderful, you know, epic, for example, was one of our our largest clients, the one that do the medical records. And we've done a lot of campuses for them. And you know, just we have some great stories and some great projects and some great work. And it sounds to me, like a lot of really solid connections have been made between owners and the people who do the work here over the years, and a lot of them continuously. Come back for more we have grow. I didn't mean to forget grow. Don't forget self explanatory.

Felipe Engineer  37:10  
What is grow do? I was just messing with you.

Meredith Meyers  37:18  
Yea, Kindergarten through 12 and higher ed as well. Very exciting.

Felipe Engineer  37:22  
It is very exciting. It's like, a lot of us spend so much time there on our journey to where we are right now.

Meredith Meyers  37:28  
Right? Like That is true. And you know, one of the things also i love about my job is I became this strategy leader, and there are strategy leaders for each of those studios as well. And we have a group that meets regularly and we share ideas and we you know, talk about sometimes banal seeming things like you know, CRM, some of the necessary evils, but you know, how are we going to use this CRM? Where are we going to put our notes, what are we going to do? But you know, a lot of the conversations are just very, very, kind of, I don't want to say spirited, because I feel like when people use that word, they mean they're kind of, like, tempers are showing, it's thought provoking. People are respectful. People are you know, I mean, I don't know if you've ever sat in on a team, where people if you look at them, and they just don't even acknowledge that you've just spoken. Yes. how that feels. How's that feel?

It's the the silence can be deafening. Right? And it feels kind of demoralizing, right, you're putting out a thought you're putting out an idea. And people just stare at you. So especially in a zoom world, or a team's world, right over the last year. If you're sitting with, you know, 20 other people working on an awfully large pursuit and you speak and nobody even acknowledges that you've spoken to the point that you're like, Can you guys hear me make just stare at you? It's not the most. It's not the most confidence building of experiences. Also, on the flip side, the spirited conversation sounds much better, where you speak, and there's debate and dialogue and yeah, and forth. 

And that's another thing I think sometimes, you know, in this industry, a lot of people don't want to hear what you have to say, right? Or they want to basically just kind of like, you know, okay, we're gonna, you know, just just keep it down, like, let's not, you know, rock the boat, or let's not give an opinion or let's not, you know, kind of challenge the status quo or whatever. And one of the things I've noticed actually at Cunningham is that we are encouraged to speak up and we know that we learn from each other. And it's a way that we help grow. I mean, it's a way that we all grow and that we all continue to be passionate about what we do. And you know, another thing is, that's our, I think everyone wants to move away at this point. From headquarters, because no one wants to make it sound like they're, you know, centered somewhere and whatever association that may be, but our firm started in Minneapolis. And so, you know, obviously, in May of last year, with the death of George Floyd, we actually, you know, it was soon after COVID, right, about a month and a half or so. And we do these things called spirit hours. So we will get on, you know, zoom together, and, you know, at four o'clock on a Thursday, or, you know, four and six or whatever, different time zones, right, but it was right when the riots started happening, and right after this happened with George Floyd and our CEO said, well, it's kind of a sad day here in Minnesota. And, you know, people started talking, and we have, I don't know, the best way to say it, I always want to be very sensitive, but like a African American or architect of color in, in, in LA, and he really just started speaking up and he really started sharing the times when he you know, has been pulled over or, and it was, it was a very intense, potentially dangerous conversation to be having at work, you know, kind of political, there was a lot of stuff a lot of feelings and the way that that conversation went, and, and how appreciative everyone was, to hear other people's experiences and to offer compassion and empathy. It actually spurred some other conversations, we started having kind of like these diversity and inclusion meetings, where everyone could come. And there were a few parameters that were said, like, you know, don't have like a political agenda, don't you know, whatever. But to have them really encouraged that we talked about some of these things are a little bit tougher, and and to actually do this type of thing during work hours, and kind of just made me See also how things like that even shape, creativity. And I think the value that people get, you know, if you have a conversation like that, that has meaning and significance, and you are allowed to share where you're coming from, even if it's tough, even if it's not something you've shared before, or, like we have a woman who was a lesbian, and she she started speaking up during these conversations about her partner and stuff like that, and she later was was like, I never share. And it was just so neat to see people feel this level of comfort in a space that was safe for them. And you know, it's not something it's so far from what you talked about, right? Like this industry being not only not supportive, but but you know, oftentimes a very negative type of a scenario. And so it's just been a spin quite a journey. And I've just been incredibly thankful and appreciative of the people that I have, that I work with, and the leadership that we have, and the experience, the projects, the balance, you know, it's just really great.

Felipe Engineer  43:06  
That's a very unique culture that you're describing. Meredith, I think a lot of people listening might not be able to appreciate one of the acronyms that you just dropped in the last 15.

Meredith Meyers  43:17  
Oh, no. They might not appreciate OSHPD, even if they know what it means.

Felipe Engineer  43:25  
We'll put, we'll put the acronyms in the show notes. So check the description, it will write out all the acronyms for your benefit, so you can look them up. But I think it's very important to pause and what you were just sharing, Meredith, that making that space, that's real leadership, because you're you're in an environment now where people can show up their whole selves to work every day. And for creative work, I think you nailed it, it is incredibly important. That to bring your full self and turn your creativity all the way on. You got to be able to be you.

Meredith Meyers  44:03  
And inspired. That's right. So something inspires you. And allows you to be you write a terrible event like that. A spontaneous conversation that turned into multiple set up conversations about diversity and inclusion and a place where people could come and share.

Felipe Engineer  44:22  
What you're describing was difficult. Have you ever led a difficult conversation? And if there's somebody listening, think about somebody like yourself, Meredith listening to the show, what advice would you give them if they're in a difficult place at work?

Meredith Meyers  44:37  
Have some self respect, have some you know, understand that you're more valuable than the way people might treat you? Try to be fair, right? Try to be communicative and one of the one of the most important things I learned somehow somewhere was to learn how to be assertive. So if if someone says something that you don't like Like or something happens that you don't like, respond to it, um, you know, thoughtfully, respectfully. And don't let it sit there, don't let it linger, don't let it build up and build resentment, don't let it collect with all of the other things that you feel might have happened, that might not be right for you. It's up to you to advocate for yourself. And I don't mean over advocate. I don't mean be difficult, I don't mean, you know, tell everyone what time you're going to come to work and what you're going to wear and not wear. And, you know, all those kinds of things like, respect the rules, have some reverence for the people above, you have worked hard to get where they are. But feel free to challenge them. And also know that you belong in a place if that's what you feel you want to do, where people are open to that, and respectful. And, you know, it's interesting, we have, like our former business unit leader, and I probably couldn't be that much more different in terms of you know, he's originally from Tunisia. And then, you know, by way of Minnesota, and obviously, he's a he, he's an architect, there's a lot of stuff, right. But we connect, and collaborate on so many things. And we agree on so many things. But bear in mind, too, he was also our business unit leaders. So when I would come sometimes with an opportunity that I thought would be great for us. And we'd sit we'd talk about it as a studio with our principals and our studio leader. And he would say, Well, I don't agree with that. And this is why, and he would share that. Now, I didn't love that. But I always respected where he was coming from, because he was willing to say it. And he was willing to explain why he felt that way. And I think that we all owe it to ourselves and to others to be that way. You know, we don't need to try to cover things up, we don't need to try to hide things, we don't need to try to, you know, throw other people under the bus, because it makes me think it's going to make us look better, or it's going to cover up a mistake, you know, it's a really powerful thing to be able to say, you know what, I screwed this up. And I just wanted to let you know, so maybe we can work together on fixing it. Or maybe you can give me some advice and suggestions on how to fix it. But I just got to be very transparent about what happened. And you know, to your point, also about the just kind of the the learning, right? And going to conferences, I once went to a conference. And it was presented by a health system that's on the east coast. And they talked about having that they built into their culture, accountability. And they talked about how you know, if a surgeon makes a mistake, it's it's potentially deadly. But because there was such a culture of fear there. Everyone was always afraid if they made a mistake to tell anybody, and that they actually built into their culture and change their culture so that people could feel comfortable owning their mistakes. 

Felipe Engineer  48:05  
Oh, I love that. Meredith, thank you so very much for spending your time with me. This has been a pleasure.

Meredith Meyers  48:12  
No, it's been great. It's been a lot of fun. I can't say I've ever done this complete novice. So. But it's been awesome. And I'm so, so honored and flattered that you thought of me to be a part of this.

Felipe Engineer  48:26  
It's impossible that you're not a part of it. Meredith, you're making the industry better every day that you wake up and go to work. So thank you so much for your contributions. I appreciate you.

Meredith Meyers  48:37  
So well, you know, I believe it or not, I do I do follow directions for the most part, I believe. I also sometimes do might or might not have broken a rule or two here and there. But I do try to follow directions and I am so also want to say thank you for all that you do to make this a better industry. I think we can definitely agree that it's a tough one. And I think you know, if we're gonna be here, then we may as well do whatever we can to make it a better place for ourselves and others. 

Felipe Engineer  49:05  
Let's take a page out of your dad's book and let's have fun every day. 

Meredith Meyers  49:08  
Yes, I love it. Thank you. 

Felipe Engineer  49:10  
Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC Show is created by Felipe and produced by a passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe everybody. Let's go build!

Meredith Meyers

• Over fifteen years of professional Business Development and Marketing experience in Architecture/Engineering/Construction.

• Specific strengths include building strategy, acquisition of new business, account management, interview prep, Account Management, Strategic Planning, Event and Tradeshow Organization and Participation, Marketing and Proposal Preparation.

• A strategic Business Development and Marketing leader with over fifteen years of business development and marketing experience in Architecture/Engineering/Construction. Specific strengths include acquisition of $100Ms of new business, account management, event and trade show organization and participation, collaboration with internal and external partners, interview orchestration, along with preparation of proposals, qualifications packages, project sheets, project lists, presentations, interview materials and team resumes.

• Build strategic campaigns to bring in new clients such as Kaiser West LA and UCLA, UHS and Hoag
• Work with leadership and technical staff to identify new opportunities and strengthen current relationships

Education

• University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, Bachelor of Arts, Communication and Social Sciences, Spanish Minor