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Key Idea: Volunteer

Ron is the immediate past president of the American Institute of Architects.

Key Question:


Do nice things for people who don't expect it from you.

Q:  There has been much said here at SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL about the power of trade associations. Do you think Ron would have spent the time needed to become president of this very large and prestigious group if he didn't gain anything from membership?

A: No. It's almost as if someone has to do it. We have never seen a professional firm that does not have at least one member who is active in the appropriate trade associations. In fact, in many companies they divide and conquer. There's too much to gain to ignore these groups but you may never feel you need to hold an office.

Even if you only join to receive all of the publications and then tap in only to what intrigues you the most, it will be worth the price of membership.

Think about it

What kind of groups should you donate your time to that would inform you and perhaps bring in some business?

Clip from: Architects Altoon + Porter

Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Amsterdam : They worked for Frank Gehry and found that it had limits. So, architects Ron Altoon and Jim Porter started their own firm and today they are quite literally changing the world.

They do not try to cultivate "star power" but brain power. The result? This professional practice went global virtually overnight. Brain power translates into  extraordinary product power in any language!

Every customer and every architect is a star. Keep your egos in check.  Focus on customers and  growing your team. The result?  This firm now has ongoing work in 16 countries with more international work on the drawing boards for the future.

Like so many of our businesses that go global, they have proving that the world does want American products and services!

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Altoon Partners

Ron Altoon, Senior Partners

617 W 7th St #400
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Visit our web site:

Office: 2132251900

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1984


HATTIE: Let's talk a little bit about AIA, the American Institute of Architects, in that you are the immediate past president.

RONALD: Yes, that's right.

HATTIE: What is that organization, and why is it important for architects to be involved in it?

RONALD: The American Institute of Architects was founded in 1857 in New York. It's now a 63,000-member organization, headquartered in Washington, a block and a half from the White House, with a staff of 155 people. It does everything from governmental affairs, writing legislation, lobbying for legislation. It has a continuing education program, mandating 36 units of education per year, per person, in order to maintain your membership in AIA. So we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We've really set about to build bridges to other associations around the world, to educators, to the Mayors' Institute, many different types of things to inject ourselves into society in a more positive way.

HATTIE: So when you get up on a platform like that, people in the audience say, `Hey, maybe we should talk to them about doing our business.'

RONALD: Well, they see a value structure, perhaps, that maybe correlates to their's. And I tend to get up and not talk about our work. I tend to talk about the issues that the people in the audience are embracing in their work. And I try and build a compatibility with our understanding of their issues and how we respond to them, than talking about my baby pictures.

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