BOOK REVIEW | Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance: Angela Lee Duckworth

After hearing Angela on a TED talk podcast I was interested in reading her book – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance: Angela Lee Duckworth. I found the first few chapters interesting but felt that after about 70-80 pages I had gotten the main points of the book. I perceived and read to the end, however I found the book had fallen into the same practice that many books in the business/self-help category. It was repeating the same points in two or three different ways, which can become frustrating and make the book seem to move slow and actually take longer to get to the points the author was trying to convey to the reader.

Overall, the book did provide some useful points about why people succeed at different stages of their and levels of their careers and that passion, perseverance, patience and grit get you through many stages of life and more successful in your careers. I would recommend that you watch Angela’s TED talk and read or listen to some her interviews and you will obtain the same amount of knowledge and insight as you would reading the book.

Angela Lee Duckworth – TED Talk

Angela Duckworth on Passion, Grit and Success

The Limits of “Grit” – New Yorker



Design regulations against terrorism – a catalyst for change

Over the last year there have been several terrorist incidents that have seen the loss of life in our cities and due to this acts we have seen governments have turned to security experts, police departments and intelligence experts to offer advice on how to make cities safer. This is a continuation of the ever increasing change in the way we live our lives over the last few decades as we have secured airports, train stations, bus stations, border crossings and tourist attractions.

Due to recent events the Australian government has sort advice from security experts and recently, the Prime Minister of Australia launched the Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism. A document which seeks to “…assist owners and operators to increase the safety, protection and resilience of crowded places across Australia.”. This strategy is similar to the Crowded Places Guidance recently published by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office(UK) and the FEMA – Site and Urban Design for Security.


Read the full post at World Landscape Architecture

Deep Learning is set to help herbariums identify more plant species

Herbariums around the world have large collections of sample sheets with dried plants pressed ready for  taxonomists to annotate, classify. This process often takes time and many herbariums don’t have the resources to catalogue the sample sheets, however researchers at Costa Rica Institute of Technology recently undertook a study using deep learning to analyze a big dataset with thousands of species from herbaria to see if they could setup a full autonomous to help identify the thousands of plants in collections around the world.

By using convolutional neural network(CNN) and various datasets from the iDigBio portal and other sources (Costa Rica & France) they trained the CNN to learn discriminant visual features of the plants from thousands of herbarium sample sheets. They found that they”….could potentially lead to the creation of a semi, or even fully, automatic system to help taxonomists and experts do their annotation, classification, and revision work at herbarium.”[1]. The researchers also found that the learning could be transferred between regions when they tested a dataset from Costa Rica against another dataset from France. Also that to improve the learning and classification it would be best to remove the handwritten tags, barcodes, logos and other markings on the sample sheets. During the research they also found that the learning does not transfer across to field images of trees, leaves, flowers, but it is best used for herbarium sample sheets.

Read the full article at WLA –

Solving the crowding and the associated impacts on National Parks

Over recent periods there has been an increase in visitor numbers to National Parks in several countries including China, USA(+7.7% 2016), Canada(+7% 2011-2016), South Africa (6%). Seeing people enjoy the natural beauty and conservation areas is encouraging when we often hear about the disconnection of people from nature. The downside is increased numbers is the impact on the nature and the associated problems of traffic jams, parking, pollution and more. Of course, there are many other issues that hamper conservation including poaching, unauthorised clearing, illegal uses, however this post was to provide solutions for crowding issues raised recently.

How can we all everyone to enjoy nature but minimise the impact?

Limiting Access
Limiting the impact on the parks through limiting access by ticket numbers is one method of reducing the impact. There are some parks that have a limit to the number of visitors per day to the whole or part of the park to minimise the impact.

Allow people to reserve a day they wish to visit or camp in the Park when used in conjunction with limiting access can encourage people to pre-book and

Read the full article at World Landscape Architecture

What are the stages of a Landscape Architecture project?

Landscape architecture design projects differ in scale and complexity, however they are separated into various stages to allow for ease of management. Due to the variation in project types the staging of landscape architecture projects requires a flexible approach to project management. The project stages often follow a similar pattern however, they may be shortened or not undertaken due to various factors including scale, complexity, client requirements, budget and so on.

I hope to assist those interested in landscape architecture by providing general information about the stages of design projects. The stage names and terminology may differ from country to country and region to region but there is a common process of managing a project through stages.

Before, the landscape architect gets to the exciting part of designing the project there are few stages that often occur prior to putting pen to paper. The client has contacted you and agree to provide a fee or proposal for landscape architecture services.

Read the more of my post at World Landscape Architecture

Free yourself by hiring a manager

For landscape architecture business owners there is often a point when the that they realise that they are stretched too thin and not serving your clients as well as you could or you’re just not enjoying running the business and miss spending time on design or with the team or client. This is due to the fact that running a business requires a lot of overtime in administration of the business whether it is finances, insurances, hiring, labour laws, marketing.

Hiring a manager is the best thing you can do for your business whether it is full time or part time and a general manager or someone to do accounts and HR. It allows you as the owner to concentrate on working with clients and being creative which is why you most likely setup your business.

There are a few different types of manager or assistance you can hire.

  • General Manager (Office/Studio/Business Manager) helps run the business and takes care of the operation side of the business.
  • Bookkeeper/Accounts helps run the accounts, payroll and some HR functions.
  • Business Development/Marketing Manager – depending on the job description they assist in driving new business for you. It maybe getting a new type of customer or a new area but they will bring in the work. You will still have to do the operations side.

Who you hire as your manager is up to you, some will hire someone from inside the industry and others will hire a manager with no ties to the industry.
However, I have one piece of advice if you hire from a manager from the landscape industry, let them manage and don’t make them design or run projects.

Running a business is hard work requiring management skills to keep track of invoicing, payables, insurances, etc and hiring someone to do that and run projects creates a business that slowly grows or when a downturn comes is not ready because the manager was too busy on projects. I have seen some job ads for Landscape Architecture Business Managers that have a job description that is a wish list of business skills and design skills, the person who gets hired for this position end up being pulled in too many directions.

The best thing you can do for your business is to hire a manager to take over the tasks that you don’t enjoy or those that you have the weakest skills leaving you to enjoy creating and designing.

Too many landscape architects can’t see the value of non-billable staff, but often managers are the ones who free you to create and enjoy designing, which is worth far more than the salary you pay your manager.


Publishing a Magazine

I have been publishing a magazine (WLA) for the last 6 years it has been a labour of love. There is no money in self-publishing especially in the field of landscape architecture which is a niche of a niche.

Publishing is very much a rollercoaster of emotions, first you send out the call and the emails for submissions and sometimes it is wave after wave of great projects and others times there are extremes in quality of landscape projects.

After the initial review, the first cut of projects and then the final selection it is time to start the creative process of laying out the projects and often some projects flow easily onto the page and others it is hard to make them work and you end up with several drafts before you get to the best possible layout.

You think that you’re almost there but then comes the proofing, the checking, the errors and omissions and it’s off to the press(or pdf maker) and you get all excited and you send it out into the word and within minutes of the submitters receiving it you will get the next round of errors and omissions and rush to redo and republish.

It is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes it is worth it and other you feel a little downcast as it doesn’t sell. But you have little time to rest as the next round of submissions have already started hitting your inbox weeks ago and its time to start all over again.

Creating plans for your landscape business in 2017

Another article on WLA to assist landscape architect businesses prepare for the coming year.

Although 2017 has started and we’re all back to work it is still a great time (during the slow period) to plan for the year ahead for your landscape business (existing or planning to start).

Business Plan
Business Plans are key for a business as it sets out goals for you and the team to know what the year ahead brings. As a starting point answer these two questions, Do you have a business plan? When was the last time you reviewed your business plan? Business Plans do not have to long documents and can be formulated using online templates. Often a simple 4-5 plan that sets out the key information (who you are, what you do, where, market, finances, etc) about the business is enough to get started. When reviewing or creating a business plan you need to be true to yourself and not to over enthusiastic and set expectations (sales or business initiatives) too high for you or your team. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident writing your business plan then speak to your government business department as many of them have guides on how to write a business plan and also offer free seminars on business planning, marketing, people management, finances and other areas of running a business.

Read the full article at WLA