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Oh, it was an interesting year. It was a challenging year, but challenging in a very good way. As 2015 unfolded and took me down many strange paths. I basically have a completely new life from where I was at this time last year.
This blog post is a look at what happened in 2015.
In the next post titled: New Year, New Life, I’ll my plans for 2016.
The ARE Book
The year kicked off with the ARE Book.
From November 2014 till April 2015, I worked my butt off writing my first book about the Architecture Registration Exam. Writing this book was never my original plan. In fact, I originally only intended to write 3 or 4 blog posts about the ARE, and then never say a word about it ever again.
Unexpectedly, in 2014 those blog posts went viral, and the unlicensed architecture community kept begging me to talk more about the architect exam. So I did.
Then I started kicking around the idea of writing a book. I decided that if I was ever going to write a book about the ARE, it would be me telling my story and sharing step-by-step How To Pass the ARE. But I wasn’t too serious about wanting to write it.
Then one day while wasting time on Amazon, I came across a book that claimed to be the book I’d considered writing about How To Pass the ARE. And it even had good reviews.
I bought it for $50, and it was 150% crap. Someone took some free ARE study notes off the internet (which I already had on my hard drive), added some lame generic advice about passing a test, which wasn’t written about the ARE—and packaged them into a book. They literally copied and pasted the words “The ARE” anywhere it generally mentioned the words “exam” or “test.”
I demanded a refund, realized the Amazon reviews were all fake, and discovered that they sell the same exact book (with the same shitty content) for about 100 other professional exams. A few days later, I started writing the ARE book, and writing my first book dominated the first few months of 2015.
From November till March, all I did was write. And then I hired 2 editors to help me finish it up and make it shine. How to Pass the Architecture Registration Exam was released on April 21, 2015. It started out being sold as an electronic PDF, but it’s now being sold on Amazon. And in a few days, I am releasing it as an Audiobook, which is read by yours truly.
At this point, the ARE Book has sold around 350 copies, and I am very proud of this book project.
Here are some of the reviews I received from some old friends:
Corb loved it. He said, “You’re a funny man, Mike Riscica! Keep up the good work!”
Mies called the ARE Book, “A valuable contribution to the profession!”
Phillip Johnson said, “I had a hard time putting it down. Definitely a very informative read! Mike, I don’t think you’re charging enough for the value of this book!”
Even Angelina Jolie picked up a copy. She wanted to give it to her husband as a present. Apparently, he really wants to become an Architect and has expressed an interest in learning about the Architecture Registration Exam.
2015 was the year of Yoga. I went to 218 yoga classes in 2015, and 20 of those classes were 4 hours long. I did more yoga in 2015 than most normal people do throughout their whole lives.
For years, I had wanted to deepen my practice by taking a training program to become a certified yoga teacher. It’s not that I actually want to teach yoga; I just needed to learn more. I have had a very intense experience practicing yoga. The more yoga I do, the happier, healthier, and more successful I am in all areas of my life.
In November, I signed up for a program that would start in March. I started writing the ARE Book, rearranged my life, and said no to many projects and invitations. The training started on March 31 and ran through June 2. In the end, I completed a 200-hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training program.
The yoga program was life-changing. In a very positive way, it detangled a lot of my social programming and shifted how I was viewing the world. The physical practice of doing this much yoga forced me to reopen a lot of emotional baggage, which I have been carrying in my physical body for years. While moving through the postures, I basically cried on my mat every day, and I couldn’t even tell you why. It was intense.
After the yoga training was over, it became very evident that I needed to make big life changes. Much of how I was spending my time, money, energy, and career was serving other people, but not really myself.
Quitting My Job
After I came out of yoga teacher training, it was very clear that I needed to quit my job. It was a great job, but I felt like I’d hit a wall—with growing, learning, and being excited about the work I was doing every day.
Meanwhile, I was moonlighting with architecture projects like crazy, and constantly pulling building permits for personal projects during my lunch break. My silly Amazon business was doing very well. Young Architect was also growing like crazy. Traffic was way up, and opportunities to work on fun projects were opening up left and right.
I started to feel like I was showing up at the Portland Building every day to be punished for all my good deeds. And at the end of the day, I was exhausted and had no energy for the work that I was truly excited about and was begging for more of my attention.
After 4 very interesting years, my last day of work as a City of Portland Employee was at the end of September.
Onto The US Custom House
Shortly after I gave my notice to the city, I heard through the grapevine that the most beautiful building in Portland (which had been abandoned for 12 years) was being renovated into co-working office spaces.
I took a tour while it was under heavy construction, and I was one of the first people to sign up. The WeWork US Custom House opened in November, and it has since become my home away from home. Molly even hangs out here sometimes.
Basically, I moved my office from the worst office building in the history of architecture (The Portland Building) to the coolest office building in Portland (The US Custom House).
Moving up in the world!
ARE Boot Camp
In late September 2015, I designed and launched a program to help guide 5 people as they prepare for their first Architecture Registration Exam. I basically took my book How To Pass The ARE and turned it into a 10 week program. I have had a ton of fun with it both times I have done it. I am getting reading to run 2 ARE Boot Camps in January 2016.
Mark LePage called me an Entrepreneur Architect!!! #Winning
What else happened this year?
Hmmmmmm, Let’s see….
Jamie O’Brien Got Married to Angela Jones
True story. In June, I flew out to Boston and officiated the wedding between Jamie and Angela on Grape Island in the Boston Harbor.
With new friends and old friends, when I left Boston my chest hurt from laughing so hard.
While I was in Boston, I gave a lecture at the Boston Society of Architects about getting started on the Architect Exam.
I went to some amazing conferences in 2015. I’m becoming a conference slut. I don’t do anything for weeks, except work. Then I go to a conference to overcompensate for all my introverted architect behavior.
In July, I attended The World Domination Summit for the second time, made many new friends and had a ton of fun.
Dressed up as a penguin and having breakfast in bed with 600 people.
This picture is the final round of a 250 person game rock, paper, scissors.
In October, I attended an entrepreneur conference called Pioneer Nation at a resort on Mount Hood. Having left my job a few weeks prior, I walked away from this conference totally pumped and very clear about what I needed to do over the next few months.
For New Year’s, I flew to San Francisco and attended the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) conference. I had no idea what the hell I was showing up to. But after hanging out with architecture students for a week, I walked away with a bunch of new friends and was completely reinvigorated about my passion for architecture, design, and projects.
This conference reinforced that the “old man profession” of architecture is about to be over taken by the millennials, and everything about this profession is about to get turned upside down.
I Went to Mexico!
Back in the spring when I was cold, wet and overworked. I put a deposit down on a trip to Mexico with my favorite yoga instructor, Jill Knouse. Unfortunately, the trip wasn’t until October.
A few days later, I made the mistake of telling one of the General Contractors working for me about booking a trip to Mexico in October. He said, “What are you, nuts? October is hurricane season in Mexico!” I told him to shut-up and tried to forget about what he said.
But when I was on the plane, about to take off, and yelled at to put my phone on airplane mode, I learned that there was in fact a massive hurricane headed straight for Puerto Vallarta.
I showed up in Mexico and arrived at my hostel. In proper form, I dropped my bags and went out for a very fun night of drinking with everyone from the hostel. In the morning, we were all evacuated up to the hills.
This is what the worst hurricane ever recorded. Long story short, nothing happened. The real disaster was in the media. They freaked out everyone back home.
Hurricane Patricia never hit Puerto Vallarta. The rain was no worse than it is in Portland, and you couldn’t even fly a kite in the wind. Basically, I sat in an elementary school for 14 hours, hung out with my friends from the hostel, drank a lot of beer and wrote 3 awesome blog posts for Young Architect.
After a shaky arrival in mexico the yoga retreat went on as planned. The few days early I planned to hang out before was eaten up by the hurricane. I reconnected with my friends, and we had an amazing week-long yoga retreat in Yelapa.
We did 4 hours of yoga a day, laughed a lot, and ate amazing food. And I didn’t see a car for a week.
After the Yoga retreat was over, I took a bus Sayulita to hang out on the beach for a few days and got to experience a real mexican Día de Muertos.
In 2014, I quietly figured out how to become an Amazon Prime Seller. In 2015, I sold $43,000 worth of merchandise on Amazon. At the very end of 2015, I decided to quit while I was ahead, and am completely shut down the Amazon business by February 2016.
Selling on Amazon helped finance Young Architect for a long time, but for many reasons, I just can’t do it anymore. I need to make space for new things.
I have avoided speaking about my Amazon business publicly, but now that I am no longer in that business, I am writing a tell-all blog post called The Easiest Money I Have Ever Made! It explains in detail how I played the system.
Molls is doing great this year! She is turning 8 years old on March 30. She gets more hilarious everyday, I am so proud of her.
Molls enjoying the summer.
She is actually really mad at me for taking her to the vet.
Bananas are still her favorite food.
She ate a lot of treats in 2015.
Hamming it up on her 7th birthday!
Our 2016 Yellow Lab Calendar
Camouflaging herself in the leaves.
I bought her the giant T-Rex for her birthday.
This is Molly’s best friend Martha.
I got into selfie sticks in 2015.
People make fun of me all the time when I talk about selfie sticks, but guess who always starts lining up to get in my shot the minute they see my selfie stick in action.
In 2015 I made many new friends and got to spend time with old many friends. Here is a small portion of the wonderful friends I hung out with 2015. I wish I could put everyone in here, I just don’t have all the photos.
My homies from Texas A&M School of Architecture
New Friends I made at the AIAS Conference in San Francisco. These 3 guys are all up to amazing stuff.
Last week I had lunch with my friend Nick Loper for the first time in real life, after hanging out on the internet once week for 2 years.
Chuck visited Portland and had brunch with myself, Jenna Bee and Sonya!
I did a lot of 7 am yoga with Ryan VanDordrecht in 2015.
Michael Knouse and I became very good friends this year. He was a huge supporter and contributor to helping me figure out how to make 2015 be awesome year. I don’t know where I would be without this Guy. I am truly grateful for him!
I also took a yoga quite a bit from Tony Roberts and got to know him much better this year.
That’s all for 2015.
Twenty Fiftteen was a great year! Thank you for participating in it. Visit the blogpost New Year, New Life to learn about whats in store for 2016.
All of the images for this blog post came from my archive of photos that I post every month on Young Architect.
Checkout the past months
2014 Year In Photos