July 31st 2014

egoing concern

Comments: 18 Topics: , ,

If you’re not wholly familiar with the popular mercantile site Amazon (and if you’re reading a blog, I doubt that is the case), shoppers are allowed to post reviews on items they’ve purchased.
UntitledI was perusing the reviews of our latest book, Art of the House: Reflections on Design, and was struck by a review that said simply “Get over yourself!”. At first, I laughed, thinking this was the greatest and most succinct book review ever but then I started thinking about this – pride set in and defense mode immediately followed. I decided to research this reviewer as she had reviewed other items she’d purchased. Surely, this would discount and discredit her opinion in my mind. I was dismayed to find she’d given a glowing 5 star review to “Advion Syngenta Cockroach Gel Bait 1 Box (4 Tubes)” while we were granted only 1 lone star. How disillusioning to find our hard work and artistic offerings had been so disappointing in someones eyes when compared to roach poison. And do we truly need to get over ourselves?

This critique continued to haunt me. I think its because designers’ egos are at once epic and fragile. We omnipresently orchestrate and dominate our clients’ physical lives but, in the end, always look to our patrons for adoration and validation. This self-worth-balancing-act has seemingly existed ever since the first fateful marriage of artist and benefactor. All you have to do is watch Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II and Charlton Heston as Michelangelo go at it in the campy, but entertaining, movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy” to see this creative chess game in full CinemaScope glory.

In all this, the question remained. Was our ego truly out of control? I place great importance on the qualities of humility and gratitude and work to maintain these in both my working and personal life. As a matter of fact, these virtues have been preached in our office since its beginnings. On several occasions, we’ve been told by Builders we give Architects a bad name because we’re so easy to work with (I told you designers have a bad reputation). When a red flag arises, as this review did, it’s always good to step back and remember the reason we receive any accolades (Ms. Johnson notwithstanding) is due to the wonderful and humbling opportunities our clients offer us. We consistently receive grand invitations and always try to remember to say thank you for that fact. Self esteem comes from doing esteem able acts.

So, as the (not-so) old song goes, I had to check myself before I wrecked myself. I’ve always found self reflection healthy and balancing.

And, as a result, I can now recommend a great pest control product!

Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. P.T. Barnum was right. A riff: You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. And you just cannot please all of the people all of the time.

    And then there’s my favorite: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Same goes for something that pleases all the people all the time…it is meaningless!

  2. JanHoenk says:

    I cried. I laughed. I checked myself in the mirror. I checked because I didn’t want to wreck.
    You bring beauty & joy to so many. I may never live in one of your homes but your books allow me to dream. And to want to live in a place surrounded by things I love.
    Whatever they may be.
    Bobbette might have a loose bobbin or two.
    In my humble opinion.

  3. Emily says:

    Loved your comments on ego. Once again y’all inspire me. I remind myself daily of the lesson I learned first from Bobby: Our greatest gift is humility. It gives birth to restraint and appropriateness. So please, learn what you may from the comments but, as we all know, your work stems from the very essence of humility. There is a crowd out here hungry to learn more about precisely that. So … please, get over the comment quickly, and write more books!

  4. Cyndy says:

    Love it, y’all are the best!!!

  5. Bravo!! I have NEVER left a comment before….yet your Egoing Concern was priceless. Thank you for your wonderful writing ability, the laughter that came forth, and the recommendation for a great pest control. Your Architectural Design Firm remains in my top 5!!

    Carry On….

  6. Christine Lehnhoff says:

    I give your review of Ms. Johnson’s review 5 stars.

  7. After blogging for almost 5 years, I am better at it.
    WhilE we are interested in making homes more beautiful, she is chasing down roaches in her house. I don’t like that vision.
    This was funy. You have a great attitude.

  8. Christine Stanton says:

    I love reading your blog and seeing your beautiful work. I said to my friend the other day, I would love to just make the cups of tea in that office. To be surround by your kindness and talent would be so uplifting. Keep on keeping on.

  9. I love this post..!! Its very charming and funny.And touching.Its so true self esteem comes from doing esteem able acts…and that gratitude and humility should be the foundation of how we relate to the world.
    Whatever you are doing is with a spiritual intention..hence the fact you are successful.
    Just so you know..what other people think of us , is none of our business.!!

  10. Keith Granet says:

    Greg – beautifully written. Anyone who truly knows you guys knows we NEVER want you to get over yourselves. Your talent shines through in your work and is good to remember as you get more and more recognition there will always people out there that want to knock you down, it means you have arrived. This reviewer should remember Maxine Greene’s quote “a critics job is to point and not to judge” her review does nothing but judge. Keep creating your beautiful work, the world is all the more better with your paint brush on its canvas.

  11. Susie says:

    Greg, If your book is half as good as your writing, I’m rushing to purchase it on Amazon right now…!

  12. Susan S says:

    I will simply echo the comments from all the above as they nailed many points. As I was reading your post, the Theodore Roosevelt quote popped into my mind and seems apt here: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

    Oh, and thanks for the belly laugh as regards your last sentence!

  13. d2zen says:

    Greg, you da bomb. Over and out.

  14. David Braly says:

    The criticism posted on Amazon was directed toward this one book, not toward the work of the firm at large, or as a whole. And, while it is wonderful to read such supportive comments about the firm, they fail to say much–one way or another–about the book itself.

    • Flo says:

      Exactly. And I’d even put a finer [fussier] point on it, adding that Amazon permits all of us [including its “reviewers” – read: commenters] to thumb through selected book pages online without ever even buying/holding the book in hand!

      Moreover, since all Amazon comments were negative about this book in particular [as opposed to the previous one], and since this volume [as opposed to the previous one] focuses more on Ms. Ferrier’s interior work than on the structure of the architecture itself, can’t we conclude that these negatives are responding on the interiors rather than the architecture? I’m a designer, I don’t care for Ms. Ferrier’s aesthetic, but my respect for the output of the firm as a whole supersedes my own aesthetic bias.

      I’m sure the members of the firm will take their measure via the #s behind the book sales as to whether they need to “get over yourself.” My guess is the firm is turning away so much work for lack of Time and Personnel, that “get over yourself” is a complete joke.

      Carry on!

  15. Linda Spiese says:

    If she had had the opportunity to hear Bobby speak, she would have a better understanding of his wit, intelligence, charm. I hope he never “gets over himself”. I hope he stays himself, just as is.

  16. Phyllis says:

    Love you all and what you do even more after this. Wouldn’t have thought it was possible but there you are.

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