139: ‘The Importance of Knowledge Sharing’, with Nicolas Catellier

A conversation with Nicolas Catellier.

139: ‘The Importance of Knowledge Sharing’, with Nicolas Catellier

About this Episode:

Nicolas Catellier of BIM Pure joins the podcast to talk about his transition from being an architect to becoming a BIM consultant and content creator. From his early passion for tech to his journey of specializing in BIM, Nicolas shares his insights and experiences. Tune in to learn more about the power of content creation, the value of being a specialist in the field, and the importance of sharing knowledge in the AEC industry.

Connect with Evan:

Watch this on YouTube:

Episode Transcript:

139: ‘The Importance of Knowledge Sharing’, with Nicolas Catellier
[00:00:00] Welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel in this episode, I welcome Nicolas Catellier. Nicola is an architect, BIM specialist and founder of Revitpure.com. He started using Revit in 2011 and quickly became passionate about BIM. He worked at Atelier21 Architects for almost 10 years, where he participated as a designer and BIM manager on multiple large scale projects.
In 2021, he went full-time on his business, BIM Pure Productions where he teaches Revit and acts as a BIM consultant for a wide variety of AEC firms.
Nicolas also teaches a BIM optimization course at the Limoilou college in Quebec City, Canada. And he's been featured as a speaker at multiple conferences, including Autodesk University, BILT, and BIM Quebec Group. In today's conversation. We discuss his shift from working in the profession as an architect and BIM [00:01:00] manager to becoming an entrepreneur, digital content creator, and BIM consultant. We talk about his current and future endeavors, including his next course and his ongoing YouTube live show to understand what's involved in self producing, launching and promoting his efforts in content creation and delivery in the architectural industry.
And speaking of Nick's BIM pure live show. If you're listening to this episode right when it's coming out, you can catch me on that show tomorrow, November 29th, 2023 at noon Pacific time. There's a link to it in the show notes of this episode so you can set a reminder when it's happening, or watch a replay afterward.
This was a fantastic conversation about topics that are near and dear to me. And so without further ado, I bring you Nicolas Catellier.

Evan Troxel: Nicolas [00:02:00] Welcome.
Is that, is that the way I should say
it? Nicolas
Nicolas Catellier: Yes. Yeah, that's good. Nick works as well,
Evan Troxel: Okay.
Nicolas Catellier: Nicholas is fine. All, all variants works for me.
Evan Troxel: All right, Nick Nicolas, welcome. Welcome back to the TRXL podcast. We've had our, our share of technical difficulties today, and so we're
doing this again. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out
Nicolas Catellier: No,
gonna be fine now.
Evan Troxel: It's gonna be fine now. Yeah. This time.
I mean, we've already warmed up the conversation, so I, I love what you're doing.
I love the, the live stream. You're also doing consulting, you're doing, uh, products, you're selling courses. You've got a lot going on, and so maybe you can introduce yourself to my audience if they haven't heard of you and your show and all those things, and how you've gotten from where you started in AEC to where you are now.
Nicolas Catellier: Sure, yes. I'm a trained and licensed architect based in Quebec City, Canada. [00:03:00] I, when I first got in the workplace, uh, the firm that hired me was already doing Revit and BIM back in
2011, and I started working on some pretty complex project like historic renovation, and I got good at Rivet quite quickly. Uh.
Then I moved to another city and like to try to better my chance of being hired at this, at a firm. I tried to put my BIM scales at the forefront of my, of my, uh, my CV of my resume.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: And so the firm that hired me, I promised them I will help you transition from CAD to Revit. So that
was one of my pitch.
Like to help me get hired.
And it, I, I, I think it worked and I did a transition and it went well. It was about a 25 people firm with, you know, lots of old timers that have been using cats forever. [00:04:00] And were a bit hesitant to jump to bim. But, uh, we did it and it went well. And after I became a licensed architect in 20 14, 20 15, I started to think, okay, what's next?
You know, now that I had, I finished all my exams, it's like I needed a new challenge.
And when the, the course of the transition kept to being transition, I've started creating content for my teammates because they didn't like these super thick rivet books.
It was too much for them.
Evan Troxel: Right.
Nicolas Catellier: And I started creating learning content and a few colleagues of mine told me, well, that content is pretty good.
You know, maybe you should put it online or something. And. Yeah, I was trying to, to play with that idea in my mind. And in 2016, I launched, launched this, uh, this blog, this rivet learning website called Rivet Pure. And that has been going on, [00:05:00] uh, since the last seven years. Now, at first it was a side project, and in 20, the beginning of 2021, I quit my job and went full-time as a BIM consultant and content creator.
Evan Troxel: So during that time though, like you had been building an audience, like there had to be a, a comfort level that you had achieved to quit your job and feel like you were able to, I. Sustain a business, right? And so, I mean, you're It's interesting to me that this started out as a side project
and it ended up becoming the project. Right. And,
and so like that it doesn't just go from one to the other overnight. So what, what was the, how long you, you, you said some dates there, you said, you know, you started in 2011, you moved to another firm in
2016, you launched the blog and you said in 2020, or was it 2021, you started the Revit Pure.
Nicolas Catellier: uh,
Evan Troxel: The,
Nicolas Catellier: pure. Started.
Evan Troxel: the YouTube stuff.[00:06:00]
Nicolas Catellier: Well, Revit Pure started in, in 20, uh, 16,
uh, as, as, a blog at first
and then with some videos as well, but like a more of prerecorded videos.
And in, at the late, the first live show that I did was late 2020.
And so basically a few months before I decided to go full-time
Evan Troxel: Wow. Wow. And, and so, so that is not an overnight thing, right? Like there's a lot going
on in there
and you're diversifying, you're, you're adding, and, and I, I'm, I'm interested to hear like if you masterminded all of those things up front or if this was an organic thing that happened, just one thing after another based on feedback and input and your own ideas about where you thought this should go.
Nicolas Catellier: It was completely organic. There was no, uh, master plan. I would say for the first three years of Rivet Pure, it was, I was mostly doing. Content probably more aimed at like [00:07:00] beginner and intermediate level users,
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: uh, through the blog and started selling courses as well. And somewhere in 2019 I attended the A Build conference and someone told me, oh, you're the guy from R Pure.
Well how come you, you know, you, we don't see your face and we don't really see your name anywhere on the website. And I realized, yeah, that's true that I, I've set up
everything to be not anonymous, but I didn't showcase myself a lot.
Evan Troxel: Uhhuh,
Nicolas Catellier: And then at, at that moment, and I was speaking at Build and I had a great time.
I decided to be, to try to participate at more conferences, local conferences, and that's when I had the first, I thought it would be nice to do some sort of live streaming or podcast or something. So it, it took, um, maybe one more year before I get that started. But the, the seed was planted.
Evan Troxel: It is interesting that you have transitioned from Revit Pure to bim Pure, right? And. The Revit technology conference has transitioned to built right
And I mean, it's [00:08:00] because it's an ecosystem. It's not just about one product, but that one
product is a big product. Right. And it has a name recognition and it becomes a thing that people search for specifically.
Right? And so you gotta get your keywords right in the titles right, as we know as
content creators, right? So it's interesting to. To see that happen, uh, you know, from the sidelines, but also for you to make that decision to switch. And obviously there's, there's trademarks and there's all those kind of sticky things in there as well.
But, but to go to BIM Pure Live and, and on your website too, BIM Pure, right? I, for your consulting services and for your courses and all those things, have you gone beyond Revit or is it still very Revit focused?
Nicolas Catellier: Uh, well there's, the main website is still rivet
pure.com for the courses. So like the transition is ongoing and you know, for like, if you have a blog, it's very hard to transition to
move a blog to another URL and
Rivet Pure gets a lot of organic traffic. It's like. [00:09:00] Born in 2000, uh, visitors that come through Google on the blog each day.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: So it, it's a bit hard to switch to URL completely. But in overall, I'm working on a new subscription based platform for all the courses
that's gonna be at BIM Pure. But it's still ongoing. It's not finalized.
But yeah, for, from the GetGo, when I started doing consulting in 2021, it's clear that I wouldn't do it under the name of Revit Pure because it's, I'm not just doing Revit and of course, anyway, you don't want to use a trademark in.
You know, for a consulting business like this.
Evan Troxel: Right.
Nicolas Catellier: Uh, but, uh, actually at the, at, when I got started with, uh, with Pure, the company was registered, the business was registered under BIM Pure Productions for a couple of reasons. One of them I thought to myself, if Autodesk ever sends me some sort of letter, well I'll be ready for, for the next move.
And I know some people got in trouble with that, with Autodesk, so, but. They've been nice to most content creators, but it's slightly tolerated. Like if they decided they [00:10:00] could, uh, decide to shut down your website basically.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. I mean, they, they recognize the value that you provide
on one level and on another level. Yeah. You gotta be careful because they're giant and, and you are not. Yeah.
Interesting. So, so you have gone through this progression of And, not, not really like from one thing to another in an evolutionary kind of way, but you've added on to your platform over time and the thing that underlies that completely is why you do what you do.
So I. Maybe before we get into more of the other stuff that you're, you are doing, like why Revit? Why, why was this you, you said you, you, you gave a hint, I think, you know, like this, this became, it was like a natural thing for you in the progression of becoming an architect or right after you became an architect and. And so what, what, what do you get out of this? Like the, there's gotta be something that's really driving you, because, because I can tell just with [00:11:00] your energy and with what you're, what you're bringing to the table that you're passionate about this, what, what is that all about?
Nicolas Catellier: I think I always had a big passion for tech as long as I can remember when I was, there's a picture of me when I'm like four or five years old playing at the. Called Macintosh computer. And so that was always a big interest. And then when I started in architecture school, I remember the first time we've tried Form Z on the second
semester, uh, I was hooked, you know, even it, it crashed all the time, like when I wouldn't use the software again, but I was like fascinated by, uh, by that tech and spend probably a bit too much time, like just playing around Form Z.
I time that I should probably have been better spent refining the design instead. And
Evan Troxel: very
much like you. I've gone down all these other rabbit holes and pathways to like visual effects and
animation. A lot of stuff that never really technically applied to project stuff [00:12:00] in
architecture, but it's just so interesting learning after effects and compositing and video editing, and a lot of that serves me well now, and I can speak that language, which is really important when I have a visualization expert come on from Neoscape or something like that. And, and they want to, we talk about rendering pipelines and materials and how you build up all the layers of materials at the same time. It's like, I probably should have spent that time doing something a little
bit different, more focused on architecture, but it, it's kind of interesting where you just kind of start going down these pathways, not knowing where they're gonna lead, but you're just doing it because of the pure enjoyment of it.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, exactly. And you know, as an architect, you're always trained as a generalist. But when I, I started working, you know, the first few year even, it was when I was hired as a BIM manager to help firm transition. You know, it was a medium sized firm, so that was part of my job, but I was doing everything else as well, and.
I was doing like design work and so on, but I, [00:13:00] what I realized at some point, it was a designer I was working with, and for that designer, she just made a quick que sketch and came up with an amazing design in a few minutes. And for me, I did enjoy doing the design work, and I'm
proud of many designs I did.
But it takes me so much time to create a good design. Like I'm super slow with it. And, and so it was not frustrating, but I would see that designer work so quickly and it was the other way around when it came to tech
and it came to Revit and using bim, I was super fast and I could, I enjoy teaching and helping my, my coworkers with Revit and with BIM and like for that, you know, power designer.
She was struggling with the tech and she didn't like it very much. In fact. And so, and I remember one of my college professor who specialized in energy analysis as an architect that I remember, she, she said that, uh, architects should specialize more. You know, they should accept their, when they realized [00:14:00] they're really good at something they should specialize in, that we need more specialists in architecture.
So I, I remember that when, you know, it was time to take some decisions with my career, when I started
thinking about doing consulting, at first I was hesitant about it. Like, I'm gonna miss doing design work or you know, all of the parts, regular parts, video architecture. But I realized that we need, and in BIM consulting, I think we need more, more architects because I think it's important that you understand everything about a project.
So let's a BIM consultant that is, doesn't have architecture training can do a lot for sure, but I think it's a little extra. And an asset if I'm being, if I know about architecture and I am an architect when doing that beam consulting work.
Evan Troxel: I totally agree. It's same thing in school, right? Like you want to learn from architects when you're in school
because you want to gain, there's a difference between data and knowledge and, and [00:15:00] wisdom, right? And you've got data, which is just kind of like the raw pieces and parts. Then you've got the knowledge, which is like, okay, well here's kind of maybe. You know, a, a workflow, but then there's the wisdom part, which is like, through hard fought experiences, here's what doesn't work. Here's what does work, here's why it works, you know? And, and, and a good example of that that I've heard is just like fire. Hot. Like that's data, right? Wisdom is, okay, well here's all the ways you can use fire, you can internal combustion engines, cooking like, and, and it's different applications and very different workflows that use to achieve those outcomes. And it's interesting to me to, for, to hear that from you too, because I agree, like we need, I think we need more architects everywhere. Like architects
are just amazing problem solvers. We've learned how to solve or we know how to do that. We kind of don't care what the challenge is. And so if you find a passion, a, a, [00:16:00] a particularly satisfying way to provide an outlet for that. That skillset, that is a great way to specialize in something. Right? And it doesn't mean you have to do that just for the rest of your life, right? You could pick a new one every few years or 10 years or something. But at the same time, like it's super valuable to have that kind of a mindset applied in different ways, right?
Just like you became a great collaborator for that designer and she. Valued what you added and you valued what she did. Right. And you guys were able to work together. I, I, I assume to create a great
outcome. That to me is like, there is a point, I think where the, when the wisdom's getting applied, that's where you kind of step back into generalist, right?
Because you have to connect the dots between all these different things. But It's great to go to kind of fluctuate between generalist and specialist, uh, in, in different ways throughout your career too, because you can really get deep [00:17:00] into something where your passion lies and then you can step back and teach people how that applies to all the other things that are kind of floating adjacently around it.
It's, it's pretty interesting.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, completely. And when, you know, as a consultant, I have a variety of clients. I'm working with the
wood industry a lot,
Evan Troxel: mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: and with public sector clients. I also have a few architects. And when I, whenever I, I work with architects, it's . The easiest for me because it's like I can read their mind. I know what they're obsessed about.
I know they really care that they're,
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Nicolas Catellier: uh, .I know that they want their drawings to look good. So it's, yeah, working with architects, it's, it's pretty easy. And then when you work with other people, I'm working with the prefab wood shop, for example,
then ha, it's a little different. They don't necessarily have the same priorities.
They don't think exactly the same way. So I get to see multiple mindsets.
Evan Troxel: Yeah, and then you can apply that back when you talk to an architect who's working on a project that might use a system like that to add value to their process where it's gonna [00:18:00] be a better outcome because you know about this other thing. Right. I think that that, that's key. I love that you brought that up. Let's talk about where this. Courses and where the live show come into play, right? Because consulting is one thing, and that's like one-on-one, it's trading hours for dollars, right? And then there's this other level of, um, I. Value that you can add to the industry in these other other ways by providing something that you put in the time for, and then hundreds or thousands of people can then get value out of that. I know you've thought about that, so like, like talk about that part of bringing information and knowledge and your wisdom back into AEC through these kind of on demand courses and the livestream show and, and YouTube and things like that.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. To me, consulting and content work together. So consulting inspire my [00:19:00] content work and
the other Voer around as well. And I think if, if I was I was not doing consulting, like I'm, I'm worried I would run out of ideas for videos and so on, but like currently with all the consulting I'm doing, I'm constantly facing new novel problems that I have to solve every single day.
So that generate a lot of ideas for the content. And something else is just. I think at some point I understood, started to understand the, the power, the leverage of doing content when compared to consulting. consulting like, like for example this morning I was doing one-on-one training, which I love doing, but it's, you give an hour and the person receives one hour with content, you give one hour, and let's say that someone watched a YouTube video, there are a thousand views.
So it's, you multiplied your leverage by a thousand when
compared to doing consulting. So of, of course consulting. It's maybe a little more customized [00:20:00] while content, maybe it doesn't directly solve their, their exact situation. But still, even considering that like the leverage is, is pretty powerful. So to me it's almost like I, I feel like I have, when you know that and knowing that I have the audience for it.
It would be crazy not to do content
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: that.
Leverage and realize that's the way I can be most helpful for the industry.
Evan Troxel: And you can do that in a very public way like you are, but you can also do it inside a firm. Right. And, and
to me that is where the ball gets dropped So much in our profession, in this industry is a lack of ability to, I. See that value because if you saw that value, you can execute on it very easily.
Right? It does not take much to do a screen recording with somebody talking over it and then posting that on an intranet to deliver similar value to what you're talking about to your people in your culture. And yet, like [00:21:00] doesn't happen, right? It just
doesn't really happen and I think that that is such an in, I. I've always been interested in this, like though I've, I've been in a team that was in charge of implementing an intranet for that very reason, right? For knowledge capture and sharing and searchability. And I think it comes back to kind of the way that people value or don't value their time. It's like, yes, we build dollars for hours in a service industry like architecture, right? And so our time is worth money, but at the same time, like we'll work 60 hours, 80 hours in Bill for 40 on a pro, you know, per week on a project because that, that's what it takes to be profitable in many cases, right? To quote unquote be profitable on paper
in many cases. Um, and there's no more time left over to. Teach and to capture
and to post and to [00:22:00] categorize and catalog this kind of stuff. It's really an interesting conundrum that we're in. And, and because of that, like if I go approach a senior architect with a question about a wall assembly, I get that one-on-one time. How much more valuable would that have been if
it could have been shared with everybody?
And, and so like, you see this opportunity in the AEC industry, I see this opportunity in the AE, C industry. The whole point of this podcast is for more people to tune into a conversation exactly like this so that more people can hear it and share with the these ideas, share them with other people. Reply, communicate, you know, send me an email, send me feedback, send me a tweet, whatever those things are to continue that conversation. And, and yet, like our industry just struggles with this so much, I talk a little bit more about that from your point of view and like the value maybe even of, of your live show where people can actually interact with you while you're [00:23:00] doing it. And then people can obviously come back later and still watch that content.
But I, I love this idea of leverage and value and, and how you're How you really see that and why that's important,
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. Uh, like, just quickly to come back to something you mentioned, you mentioned internally at a firm too. It's true. I've been working with firms and I, I'm trying to get them to use, like for onboarding for example, or training.
Evan Troxel: right?
Nicolas Catellier: Like to use, I like Loom
and there's, you can get a free account at Loom to record your screen.
It takes about one minute. You don't have to export a video. You can just send a link
and to use that with the database, you can use Notion, you can use something else too, but combine that together. Instead of constantly doing one-on-one with your teammates, you can quickly record a few videos and that's content.
It's internal content, but it's still content.
And let's say there are even 10 views of Vol balloon videos. Well, it's, that might not seem like much, but it's, you still leverage your time by 10,
Evan Troxel: It's 10 x. Right,
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: right, And there's people who [00:24:00] are just gonna have downtime and they're gonna, I mean, architecture in particular is a profession where you're always learning and people just love learning. Right.
In architecture for sure. And so there are gonna be be people who just would open up those videos during lunchtime or, and just go through 'em and, and just. Sponge it up, right? Because it is going to influence them in a be for better to do something, I would think, uh, over time. So there's, there's a ton of kind of value to be unlocked and, and stuff like that. And yet it just, it's so hard to get people to actually do it because
we're also perfectionists. We also want it to look really good.
We want it to sound really good. And, but, but a Loom video, it could be, it's more about the content than the presentation of the content by far.
Nicolas Catellier: Y Yeah, to totally, you know, it depends on the medium. For example, I wouldn't necessarily use Loom for a video that I put on YouTube. I would try to refine it a little more, but for internal content, like a quick video, a Screencast, it's, it's perfect. [00:25:00] It's all you need, I think.
And go. Going back to the, the live aspect you mentioned, so I had
Until 2019, all my content was prerecorded. But in 2019, I've started teaching a course in a local college here. I started attending conferences, both, uh, international and in, uh, local conferences as well. And my words. The words, uh, started opening a little bit and got bigger because I started meeting people.
When you speak publicly, you realize that people start contacting you and asking questions, and you get to start meeting a lots of interesting people. And so that's when I think I first had the idea of a live show. I would have these one-on-one conversation with people. I'm saying, wow, that's, or they would show me something on screen, like, that's really amazing.
I wish more people could see it. And so it took me a while, but eventually in late 2020, I started doing a live show, the first episode, which is by myself. So it was similar to the videos I was already doing, but doing it [00:26:00] live instead of prerecorded
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: and I. So at first it was like, let's try one or a couple of episodes and, and let's see, maybe it's something I'll do a few times a year, but I've had a blast doing it and people were showing up both live and watching the replay and you know, it was like to give.
To put into perspective with Rivet Pure, I managed to get a pretty big email list, so getting the show started and, you know, a decent sized YouTube channel as well. So I already had some leverage to get a decent viewership when I got started, you know, starting completely from scratch. Doing live might've been a bit harder, so I already had, uh, an audience to get started, so that helped a lot too.
Evan Troxel: That's cool. What kinds of stuff do you share on that? I love for you to tell the audience. I know you've had some recent videos that I've particularly enjoyed. You had one with Tim Fu and uh, talking about [00:27:00] AI and image
generation, design generation in architecture. But I mean, it really is kind of a show and tell, right. YouTube's a great platform for you because there's a lot of showing. And conversation. And so
it's a very visual in, in that regard. And you're sharing Revit stuff and you're sharing rendering stuff, you know? So talk about that, that side of it, because I think that, that, it makes a lot of sense, but give people an idea of the kinds of things that you're sharing on there.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, well since I already had, you know, decent sized YouTube channel, my first instinct was I gotta do something on YouTube. So I didn't even think of, now in retrospect, maybe I should have put them on the podcast platform, but right now none of my live show are, they're only on YouTube. I. And, and also there's a big visual aspects.
I like to say that my show is kind of a mix between a webinar and a podcast.
Depends. Some episodes they're more, uh, we'll, we'll spend more time talking, but most episodes they're a webinar ish [00:28:00] version. I don't really like the word webinar, by the way, . So I, I never use it,
but I'll just say a live session.
But like someone is presenting on the screen, let's put it that
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Nicolas Catellier: And showcasing
Evan Troxel: you go.
Nicolas Catellier: And I, I would say the first, probably the first year or uh, was mostly focused on Revit workflows. So just someone who's a Revit schedule specialist, come on the show and talk about it. Or Revit's landscape specialist. So I was trying to pick out the experts, like the niche Revit experts on a wide variety of topics.
So they would explain, uh, talk about specific topics.
But then I also, every once in a while I got, uh, guests that were not necessarily Revit experts. So, for example, uh, Clifton Harness, I think you had on the show to talk about test fit and, uh, other people talking like about the good computers for bim.
And I was enjoying this conversation too.
And for example, the last season I did, which I renamed the show from [00:29:00] Rivet Pure Live to Bim Pure Live, I think there was one episode that was mostly focused on Revit. . And all the others. I wanted to expand a little bit.
So we talked about, uh, generative ai, a discussion with Martin Day about the future of bim,
another one which is about onboarding and company culture.
I. So I'm, I'm trying to expand a little bit. I realize a lot of people are mostly interested, or I got started talking about Revit and showcasing Revit. So I'm, I'm trying not to steer too far away from it,
but I'm very curious to see where the industry go is going. I'm mostly following my passion
Evan Troxel: yeah.
Nicolas Catellier: and if I'm interested in something, I think, ah, it's gonna make a good life show.
Evan Troxel: Yeah, I, there there're definitely, I igl I'm glad to hear you say that because like, there. There's definitely the risk that you could go down the rabbit hole of just responding to the feedback that you get in the comments on YouTube,
which could be all [00:30:00] over the place, right? It could be.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: And, and, and like you said, uh, people subscribed early because of the type of content and you don't wanna let them down and, and, and just
go in a different direction. But there is a bigger ecosystem. You even acknowledge that by renaming your show right to Bim, pure Live rather than Revit Pure Live. So there, there's all of these other things, tools, people, workflows, um, ways of thinking about things that influence how AEC works. And so I I, I totally get why you're doing what you're doing because it, it, it's important to acknowledge that. There's a lot of other ways to do things rather than just in the one tool anyway. And the one, the one tool to rule them all is rarely the best tool to do any one of the things, right? It's, it's hard for the tool maker to, as we have all witnessed, it's hard to make that. Really good in every way, right? As a designer,
like, I don't want to use Revit to design [00:31:00] I, period.
just don't, right? Because it
forces me to make decisions that I'm not ready to make at the early
stages of design, just
to state it very plainly. Upfront, right? So, uh, while there are other people who are so deep in that one tool, they don't understand why you would possibly quote, unquote, waste your time translating from one file type to another or from one tool to another. Um. But they're also not the ones doing that job. Right. So it, those are the kinds of things that we're constantly weighing in AEC and, and kind of, you know, there's, there's different, uh, currents in different directions, kind of, kind of competing or, or, or not com, you know, coalescing together. It's, it's interesting as we kind of try to navigate all that in AEC and, and I think it's great to just have these conversations publicly. That to me is really the value of what you're doing. What I'm trying to do with this show is to bring it up to the consciousness level, right? , like, let's acknowledge, [00:32:00] let's talk through these things, because it's important to talk about them out loud, and even if you don't agree with what somebody is saying, or it's not exactly the content that you originally signed up for, it's still adding value to the ecosystem because it's not just about that one person.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, for sure. Even in, in the live, you know, mills. I have, I think, a very smart audience, at least from what I
can see on the chat. They ask very good
questions. It's like lots of like Beam Manager experts and they're, they seem to be by nature, very curious,
uh, people.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: So of course, when, when I do a show about something that is not about Revit, maybe I will get less viewers.
But like the, the amount of fun I have and the quality of the discussion on the YouTube comments, uh, the, the live comments is, is as good because. Uh, these people are still curious and they want to learn about the future of industry and
exploring the new tools. And, you know, it's, [00:33:00] it's a bit of a wild time.
I'm trying to figure out what, what's coming and, you know, we also talked to Martin Day about the, the future of bim. You
know, is, is, Rivet still gonna be the, the main player in 10 years? I think it's completely up in the air at this point. I don't know. I've read a lot about it. I, I try to speculate about it, but it's, uh.
Unclear to me,
what, what is the future?
Evan Troxel: Right, right. Well, one thing that I don't think we've talked about in this session, but I would love to get into is that transition from working in practice to working for yourself. And because I think I. People are, would be interested in knowing how you did that. Right? Because you, one thing you, I think is really hard to do is to work in the profession and do this amazing amount of content creation on the side.
You know, and I put that in air quotes, the whole side hustle thing. Like, we already work ourselves to death, right? So, um, I know that you're not, you, you, you made a switch and so can
you talk through like what it took to, [00:34:00] for you to. Realize that switch, that it, you were able to sustain yourself in that way because we talked a little bit about the diversification, right?
You've, you're doing several different things to, to keep the business sustaining and like you said, there's kind of a feedback loop going on in there. The things that you're doing in consulting or informing what you're doing on the show and in the blog and in the content creation, and you're, you're, you've got this great little system set up. What was it that triggered the actual switch where you actually did quit from practice and go off into doing what you're doing now?
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, there are, uh, a few things like the, the, the first course I released in 2017. Uh, I made a couple of thousands of dollars, which felt nice,
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm?
Nicolas Catellier: not enough to be self-sustaining. Fast forward a couple of years later
in 2019, I, I mean more from selling course than I did. As an architect on my day job.
Uh, even with that, you know, [00:35:00] I was being so conservative and with it that it took me two more years until I had enough courage to quit my job.
Evan Troxel: That, that does take a lot of courage, right?
Like it's, I think a lot of people struggle with that because it's, there's always the what if, like, uh, and,
and there's always, architecture is very cyclical, right? And there's, there's Good times and there's bad times and there's, you know, recessions and then, and then there's, you know, huge amounts of backlog and we, we kind of see that.
And so maybe, maybe during a downtime in, in architecture, but you're still employed. It gives you the opportunity to do some of this other stuff. But then now you're, you've, you've diversified yourself in so much that it's hard to pick which direction you want to go. Uh, and, and so I, it's interesting. To hear a success story in that switch, and a lot of people do it, but, uh, uh, what you're doing specifically interests me because I think a lot of people could be and should be. Creating [00:36:00] information, knowledge, wisdom, sharing for the industry. But they're really, you know, they're, they're either working for a startup or they're working for an architecture firm, and that takes all of the time. And, and for you to create a course on the side while you're working in a firm, that's a big, heavy lift for a lot of
people to be able to do.
How did you pull that part of it off to even get started down this road?
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. Yeah. When, when I got started thinking about it, I was, you know, I'm in surprised I was dis disciplined, but, uh, I remember waking up at like five 30 and working like 30 to 45 minutes every morning to, uh. To create my first course and to create content for Red Pure, and I did that for a while. I will, I should also mention there are probably some political reasons, believe it or not, that it helped me.
I'm, I live it Canada, in Canada, Quebec specifically, and we have a
pretty, uh, generous, uh, parental leave. So when I had my first daughter, [00:37:00] uh, I could take a couple of months off, which I, I took most of the time to take care of her of course. But during our naps, I, I could work on. On, uh, Revit Pure as well, and I would use that time to create some more content,
Evan Troxel: Hmm, Hmm. Every
employer's a nightmare. Every employer's nightmare right there. It's like, I thought we had them locked up in this contract, but, but yeah. I mean, if, if somebody has this hunger to do this stuff, we can't stop it. Right. And, and
I mean, I actually think the industry's better for it. I think that's another important thing to recognize for some employers out there, it's like. If you've got somebody who's so motivated to make this stuff, like it's, it's, it may not be good for you specifically in that moment, but it is good in a, in a larger picture sense.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Anyway, I did that and I think like even quitting your job, like in Canada, I don't, I talk to friends in the US and like, well, you know, uh, healthcare insurance
and all of that, [00:38:00] and I. It's not something I have to worry about
really here because of, uh, healthcare is, is covered by the, the government.
So I think it, it helped, maybe there are a few more structures here that I am, I'm lucky to have,
Evan Troxel: Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: uh, that made made it a bit easier to, uh, to quit my job and start my own business.
Evan Troxel: Yeah, yeah. Interesting. I mean, I think that that, that is a good point that you bring up because Yeah, I mean, healthcare is expensive in the us
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: like,
like if you have to pay for it yourself, that that's a big deal.
Nicolas Catellier: But, but even then, you know, the, but even then, by 2021, like the, the, uh, you know, revenue generated by the, the courses and I started doing some side consulting, I, I think even in the US it would've probably worked. So, uh, I cannot all say it's because of where I live.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. But overall, I mean, it sounds to me like you're extremely happy with the just decision that you've made and.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: The organic growth or the changes, maybe not just growth [00:39:00] because there's, there's a lot of people who are totally obsessed with, with just pure growth and more, and
more and more, but you've navigated this and you seem like a really down to earth person and you're not too worried about numbers. I, I'm really interested kind of in that side of things as well, because we have all seen. Podcasts and YouTube channels and things with, with millions of viewers. Right. But
to your point earlier when you said, you know, you could trade an hour for an hour, you give an hour, somebody gets an hour, or you could give an hour and a thousand people could watch it. And there's that whole idea, uh, that Kevin Kelly said a long time ago about having 1000 true fans.
You're aware of that, right?
Nicolas Catellier: yeah. I'm, I'm aware of it.
Evan Troxel: They'll follow you wherever you go and, and consume whatever you make because they're, they're fanatical. Like that's the, that's where fan comes from, right? Like that they, they're all in and those, those people might leave and more might come in and take their place, but you [00:40:00] don't need a ton of people to sustain the kind of thing that, that you're doing.
I, I'm interested to hear what you think about the whole numbers game when it comes to audience and content creation and views and all those things.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. I remember reading about, uh, 1002 Fans by Kevin Kelly. It's a short blog article. You can read it in a few minutes, and it's basically, yeah, if you, if you have 1,002 fans, you can live. Financially you should be okay
because you have these thousands people, whatever you release, a course, a book, whatever, they'll just get it because they're a fan of the work that you do.
Evan Troxel: right.
Nicolas Catellier: And so that's something I've kept in mind. For example, I think almost every single day, maybe you get that too. But people ask me, Hey, can we, uh, advertise something in their website or would like to do some, uh, sponsorship? So I did sponsorship for the live show
specifically, but other than that, like Revit Pure website, there are no ads.
I don't want ads. Like already sell the courses, there's no point. So I've like, for sure, I try to avoid anything that would've been a quick, making a quick buck. Like I [00:41:00] really, it long term and, you know, putting ads everywhere is definitely not, not part of my plan. Having, you know, uh, sponsorship with companies that I trust for extremely specific things like live show, that makes sense to me.
But e even that, that's not, you know, the, the main . The main part, part of the growth. I'm trying to keep it mostly to the courses. So the, the quality is the, the content, and that's where I put the most energy. And I'm trying not to get, let's say, corrupted, but you know what I mean, regarding, if, if there was too many ads and too many sponsors on everything I do.
Evan Troxel: Yeah, it's good to have guardrails on that. Right, and,
and your audience trusts you to.
Nicolas Catellier: Exactly.
Evan Troxel: Curate the right people for them to hear from too, right?
And so
Nicolas Catellier: exactly.
Evan Troxel: they, they wanna trust you and you wanna bring them value, right? And so it like that idea of corrupting that it can definitely happen, right? If, [00:42:00] If,
it's just becomes all about that.
But I think this gets back to why you do what you do and why you do
what you do is more important than these kinds of transactions, right? Like, you want to deliver something to more people in a bigger way than you could do without Doing this, and it does cost money to do it right. At the same time. Another thing I'll add is that like, I feel like the architectural community in general is pretty cheap, right? So it's like the, the, the, the tools that we use, we wanna stick with them for a very long time. The subscription
models bugged a lot of people, right? Where they feel like they're just continually paying.
Um. And so it's important to acknowledge that as well. I just, and I don't mean cheap as in a, in a derogatory way, but it's just like they're thrifty, right? The, the architects don't make a lot of money, right? I mean, there are a lot of architects doing just fine, but recent graduates make very little compared to their counterparts in other professions, right?
So, uh, I, [00:43:00] this is something that, you know, we, we struggle with as well, I think as a, as an industry. So, uh, you do have to. Pay for the things that you're making, and so advertising is definitely a viable way to do it. I'm sure there's tons of people out there who hate ads, but at the same time, like. And so actually, interestingly, let's segue into this whole new idea that you've got with the subscription based stuff.
you're, you're, you're toying or you are, you are moving in this direction. You're not toying with it.
You are doing it. So talk about that shift, because before you've sold courses, right? And I assume that's kind of like buy once, get it forever kind of a thing. Right? Access.
Um, and so now you're shifting to a new model. Why, why do that? And how does that change what you're doing?
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, well, it's not yet available so people can still, uh, at the moment of, uh, recording this purchase courses, uh, individually on Revit Pure
website. But I've been thinking for so long of launching a subscription service.
I've thought about it for [00:44:00] years. One of the challenges, it feels like you constantly have to add.
Uh, content, right? If it's a sub subscription,
it can be a static, but at the same time, I have had content that like, it wouldn't make sense to like sell as an individual course. I'm not sure what I. Or maybe it's a small piece of content, like how do I even market it? And then when you set courses, there's always a question of launch.
You constantly have to launch courses, and when you update, you launch. And then there are promotions, and I'm kind of bored of it, , and I would rather spend energy creating content than doing marketing for a launch and launch and launch with which get, yeah, it gets boring after a while if it's a subscription.
It's like, well, if you want. To get our content, just subscribe and that that's it. There's, uh, one price point and you get all BIM pure content, period.
Evan Troxel: So
is it, is it a shift? Is it a shift in like the type of content? That's what it sounds like it is to me. [00:45:00] You're, you're shifting from, because creating a course is not an easy task. It's a, it's a huge amount of. Production, recording, planning, launching, marketing, promotion, all those things like that. And that and it, it's kind of this self encapsulated thing and versus the subscription thing, what I'm hearing from you is that it's more like now you can just focus on creating content and not worrying so much about that, all of that stuff as intensely for such a long period of time, you can actually spend more of your time Making the thing that people want to consume, and it doesn't have to be this big giant course, right? It can be little pieces, more esoteric stuff, more connecting this to that. And maybe they've got those tools, maybe they don't, but their eyes are now open to that. It just seems like, I, it's very interesting idea. I, I'd love to hear kind of your thought process behind it.
Nicolas Catellier: When I started Revit Pure, I had ideas for four courses. I had [00:46:00] this vision, you know, each different topics, each with their color team and so on, and I thought, huh, maybe like in a year I can have all of four courses
released. And then it took me like a year and a half to raise the first one. Then our two years to release the second one, it takes forever writing these courses, these big courses take so long.
Evan Troxel: They're a big,
Nicolas Catellier: it's pretty wild.
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Nicolas Catellier: And now I'm working on a new course about Rivet families, and I think it's gonna be my last huge course that like, covers
like in depth and yeah, it, it took so long to create. Um, uh. It, it's too long. And I'd rather work on small chunks and, for example, release the course by, by dripping.
Here's the, the part about, uh, creating Doors and Windows family, and it's basically mini courses. So I'm launching this, maybe not final, but for the moment at least. Yes, this, the last time for a while I did a huge course, but then after that I want to release mini chunks. [00:47:00] Mini courses and one of the plan is also work to with other people.
You know, right now in Rev, pure all the content is by myself. And by doing the live sessions, I've realized that, uh, I feel it would be in really interesting to take ideas of other people and try to format it. I realized I'm pretty good at formatting, uh, content, so it's easy to digest.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: Easy to absorb.
It's visually appealing, so take content from other people and taking, uh, charge of the presentation, but taking the, the ideas from other BIM experts. So I want to work with other people as well. And, you know, new content release every month or So
So that's part of it. And also doing, uh, live sessions and q and as on, on the platform.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm. sounds to me like you've got kind of bored with doing the one thing and not, not that every course is the same, but, but that work style is the
same, [00:48:00] right? It's like, do a big project. This is how architects work, right. We do a big project and then we move on to the next pro project and it's
really hard to. Even take a time to completely shift into a different mode of marketing and promotion, right? Like that is
a very tall order for one person to do that cycle, that huge cycle over and over again. So it sounds to me like you wanna just kind of a fresh way to work and this
is a great, what's cool is there are other ways to do it right, and you can see if this is
gonna work for you, if it's gonna work for your audience. There are Different things that you have to be concerned about. Now, like you said, you have to continually be
creating new stuff. If people are subscribing, they want new content all the time. Right? And so now that's your challenge, right? It's coming up with, it's probably not hard to come up with the ideas, right?
But, uh, it, it's still just now you're on this release schedule that you have to hit right? As, as much as possible.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. But for sure, [00:49:00] like, uh, working full-time now, I was in a position to doing it as a side hustle,
uh, makes it possible.
Evan Troxel: This is your job,
Nicolas Catellier: it would've been too much.
And also I've already created content. You know, for the blog there's a, a lot of free stuff. There's a publication that I call pamphlets.
I'm now 30. These are small PDF guides about the specific Revit or BIM topic.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.
Nicolas Catellier: I've released these by emails, so I've thought, well, I could do something like that. It's more of a chunk,
so I don't think it's a problem, like I'll just have to, to, to schedule it and make sure that people get something fresh in you every month.
And I've also realized, you know, with uh, people attention span and the time they have available, the schedule, people love like these one hour content.
Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm?
Nicolas Catellier: So like I'm working to create a bunch of mini one hour course that at the end, people feel like they've learned a lot, but it's not like a huge time commitment.
Evan Troxel: It's interesting because the one hour thing I think is really more based around commute times, [00:50:00] and things like that. Uh,
of course there's, there's lunch and there's before work and there's after work. And I think that
that time length and of course, uh, any of these can be paused and picked up later.
Right. Um, so I'll be interested to hear from you from like a, a learning how to use a tool standpoint. If it's as effective as you think it is, because when I, I've also made a course, and I, I think I shared with this with you before, like my, I made it out of many modules and every module was made of many short videos because a short video could be consumed. I. Anywhere, right? Basically. And you could learn how to do something. And it's not, it's
not an hour commitment to figure out how to do something, and it's easier to go back and find what you were looking for later if you're really good with your titles and keywords and things like that, so that when somebody, if If they have to scrub through an hour video, that's hard, right? To find what they were looking for. And I know you're not specifically saying you're gonna make one hour long videos and that, but, [00:51:00] but the idea of these are the kinds of things we have to think of as people who make this kind of stuff is, is how, how is it gonna be the most useful for that audience to, to consume it and to find what they're looking for later? Like architecture, like anything. There's a lot of times that are not well. There's a lot of thing subjects that come across that are not well timed. You get that email from that product manufacturer, you go to that lunch and learn, you see something on YouTube, and it's not something you're gonna use now, but it's something you might wanna use later, and you've gotta be able to find it.
And these are the kinds of things that we're kind of juggling as content creators as well. Finding ways to make it easy for the audience to find or to go back and find something later that they. We're barely paying attention to when they heard it the first time, you know,
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. . Yeah. Yeah, yeah,
Evan Troxel: So let's talk about those courses that you've made. You said you're, you're
maybe on your last one at least for the, for the time being. So what did
you start with? And then what have you done? And to get up to the [00:52:00] Revit family one.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, well I, I was trying to have these super short names for my courses, so it's the basics, design and manage. These are the three courses I've released so far. And yeah, I think it's pretty self explanatory.
Like the first one, you know, I thought to myself, let's start with the beginner's course. I. It's gonna, it's gonna be a, a bit of practice for me to get started.
And then the second one was, it's called design, but it, it's mostly about using Revit as a pres presentation tool. And it was mostly from at work. I was, um, we had a few simple projects and there was always this SketchUp model and the Revit model. And then we'd always have to work double,
right? And I thought, well.
Or, you know, you've exported the plans from AutoCAD to Photoshop to add colors.
It was like, Revit is not, it's not designed as a presentation tool, but it still has
some really good features [00:53:00] that if you know about them, it can do
a lot and it can remove some of this boring back and forth. So, I'm not saying that it's something you should use for all projects, but we had a few more simple projects where creating renderings from Revit, uh, creating presentation documents, colored elevations.
Uh, stuff like that can be done, um, directly from Revit.
So that was the purpose of the design course, like to showcase how to use Revit for our presentation. And the final one, manage, it's the, the, the catch line is the, the course I wish I had when I got started is a bi manager in 2012, because I spent, and I, I'm sure people can recognize themselves in this, but.
Spend evenings scrolling through message boards, obscure
YouTube videos, trying trying to find what's the best way to organize a project browser.
Evan Troxel: Try to piece
Nicolas Catellier: How do I set up my filters? What, what should I include in my template?
What should I not include? And that I couldn't find a single book about this, or even a course, or [00:54:00] you could, you could only find like tidbit pieces of little pieces of information here and there.
And like over the years I created this documentation. You know, some of them was, uh, free pamphlets. But at some point I've realized that I've had started to have a good chunk of information and with some extra research that I could put them all together. . For basically everything you need to know if you're being promoted to a BIM manager or you want to organize your firm with Revit.
So it's not really about modeling, it's just how do you organize your project browser? How do you create a template? How do you keep healthy Revit models? How do you deal with phases? How do you deal with work sets? How do you deal with coordinates? That's a big one. And a little bit about Dynamo two, just getting
started, like to automate some boring stuff.
So yeah, that's the one I released two years ago. And now the final one. That I hope to release. You know, my hope was to release it in September, but it's always late, always late.
Uh, this one's gonna be called, uh, Herrick Families, uh, because in a lot of [00:55:00] my consulting work, I've been creating these really sophisticated families
and, you know.
I've already knew a lot about families, but I've learned even more, and I realized there are a lot of really obscure tools you can use and just workflows the way of creating families that can make them super efficient. And I call them Herrick families because I. Uh, in a position to what I call poisonous families.
If you have a few really bad families that you picked online from the internet on some manufacturer website, they pollute your model.
They make it more slow. They corrupt it. They confuse everybody.
Evan Troxel: They'll take it
down. They'll,
Nicolas Catellier: take it
Evan Troxel: man, the stories, there's so many horror stories
about that, right?
Nicolas Catellier: So, yeah, these are poisonous families
and I'm teaching instead of heroic families. It's the opposite. Like they're, they're well-made, they're simple, they're efficient. They find the right balance between having, you know, enough options that they can, uh, contain lots of information and options, but not being too much at the same time.[00:56:00]
I think it's easy to go overboard and
try to do too much in the same family. So yeah, lots of rules like, uh, using formulas, using arrays. Uh, talking about, uh, doors and windows and also preparing the family for the end user. That's the one of the endpoint. Like let's say I'm a Revit user, what do I want to see in a Revit family?
Like to make it, uh, intuitive. So I don't need to have a guide just looking at the family, looking at the parameters. I should know how to use it.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. I love that idea of what you said about you. You can go too far and I think
a lot of people go way too far when it comes to this stuff, and that's probably one of the larger problems in shift to BIM is just that, it's just opened up the door to, to not know when to stop. Right? And, and so people like you who are championing that balance that you're talking about achieving in a model so that it performs well and graphically looks good and gives you useful
data and it gives you the deliverable and all those things, and achieving that balance for a lot of people, that's, that's a [00:57:00] huge struggle in our industry.
So, uh, that
Nicolas Catellier: yeah. That's.
Evan Troxel: great course.
Nicolas Catellier: That's why I called it, uh, superpower. And the name of the course is Herrick Families.
Evan Troxel: Heroic families. I love it. I love it. Well, what, what are we missing here? I, I would definitely want people to go check out the, the live show on YouTube and subscribe to your channel so that they get notifications for when those come out. Of course, they can go back and look at the episodes that you've already recorded, and I know you do 'em in seasons, right?
So, uh, you've got, when does your next season start and you can tell people where to go find it.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah, next season is gonna be at, um, next year. So I just finished one with, uh, seven episodes. I, I, I like to do them in
chunks, so maybe there'll be about, uh, 20 episodes a year or something like that. And when I finish with a season, I like to take a few weeks break
and maybe I'll have a couple of one-off episodes.
I usually do a year end episode with, uh. Gavin Crump. [00:58:00] I'll have to talk with him to see if he's up for it. Again, the Ozzy BIM guru.
Um, else it's the next one is probably gonna be January or February and you can go on the Pure Revit channel to, uh, subscribe and
find out when we've got a new episodes.
Evan Troxel: I'll put a link to that in the show notes for this episode, and I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to, to what, who, who you have on there, because this is, again, great information and wisdom to share with the industry. And, uh, YouTube's a great place to do it because of the visual aspect of the things that we're talking about.
And then of course, you've got the website, you've got the blog. People can sign up for your newsletter, you've got courses. You, you've got it all. I, I'll put links to all
that in the show notes.
Nicolas Catellier: Yeah. Uh, I've just realized we have one together, like on, let me check the date. It's on November 29th,
so I haven't announced it, uh, publicly yet, but it's gonna be the next episode of Impure Life.
Evan Troxel: Awesome.
Nicolas Catellier: Uh,
Evan Troxel: Looking forward [00:59:00] to it. It's gonna be good. And that'll be after Autodesk University, and I'm sure there's gonna be a whole lot of things that happen between now and then, so we'll have plenty to talk
about. Yeah,
it's gonna be good.
Nicolas Catellier: absolutely. Yeah, it's gonna be good.
Evan Troxel: Well, Nicholas, thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me today. I've really enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to our next, live show together. And so we'll put links to all that stuff in the show notes and where people can find you and follow along with what you're doing online. And until next time.
Nicolas Catellier: a lot for hosting me. This was really fun.