Don’t Leave the Architecture Profession Until You Try This

We are about to go up the steepest street in the world. No, it’s not in San Francisco. The trophy goes to my native New Zealand. Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the world’s steepest residential street according to Guinness World Records. In this little known university town we have a major tourist attraction … and you’re going to find out why people care so much to walk, drive, and race here. Don't leave the architecture profession until you implement the Secret of Baldwin Street. 

Driving to the top, I can only hope I won’t slide backward. Little by little, it gets steeper — even some of the houses are angled dramatically to cope. 

Daredevils snow-board down the slope in winter and mountain bike in summer. Our little gem on New Zealand’s South Island even caught the attention of Cadbury. For years, thousands gather for the Cadbury Jaffa Race and World’s Steepest Street Party.

What that means is, well, what it sounds like. Jaffa candies roll down the 19-degree gradient track. Bouncing on the pavement, as if birthed alive by the excitement of it all, first 25,000 red Jaffas race to the finish line, then yellow, then their secret variety. The person who bought a ticket for the winning Jaffa gets a prize. Turns out the candy brand loved around the world paired with a #1 location raises more than a million dollars for charity. 

“It was a sight you had to see to believe,” wrote the New Zealand Herald, and I agree. 

So why do people make so much effort to tackle this short residential street? 

It’s because of that plaque at the top (don’t worry I made it in one piece). When you make it to the top, your prize is the validation that, yes, I drove/walked/ran/biked/raced the steepest street in the world. 

My point is, there’s nothing spectacular about this street other than its award. If it was the third-steepest, nobody would care. But everybody knows Baldwin Street because it’s #1. 

The human brain gravitates toward extremes — the lowest, smallest, cheapest or it goes to the bigger or best. We all know the first man on the moon. Becoming known for something specific is a massive game-changer when running an architecture firm.

While you may be feeling frustrated, before thinking of leaving the architecture profession, try this: Find your niche, own it, and market a story that shows your ideal clients why your passion is your passion. That's the Secret of Baldwin Street: Be the best. What can you be #1 in?

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