ARE Hacks

✱ On the Other End of the Microphone by Evan Troxel

I've been sharing on a couple of other podcasts lately. 

First, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Enoch Sears who is an architect and the publisher and founder of the Business of Architecture website and podcast. We talked about the Archispeak podcast, ARE Hacks, and lots of other fun stuff. It comes in two parts, and you can listen to them or view them here:

Part 1 - Behind the Scenes of the Archispeak Podcast: Intervew with Evan Troxel
Part 2 - Passing the Architect Registration Exam: ARE Hacks with Evan Troxel

I was also interviewed on the Entrepreneur Architect podcast by Mark LePage where I discussed my origin story, my projects, my day job, and my book. This one was a lot of fun. Mark asks great questions. 

We got into some things my book reveals in a candid conversation:

It’s very easy to schedule a test and show up to take it, but the hard part is to prepare: diet, nutrition, how to deal with distractions, learning to study, choosing to study with others or without, how to study around your family, etc. It’s less about hacking the ARE and more hacking your life.

Listen to episode 135 of the EntreArchitect Podcast here.

✱ Make 2017 Your Year to Become an Architect by Evan Troxel

My book, ARE Hacks, is all about choosing yourself: you have to decide to get your license for you; to make yourself more valuable; to finish what you started; to make our profession better in the future. Within the chapters of the book I give practical strategies, advice, tips and tricks, resource recommendations, and what to expect throughout the process of sitting for the exams. I talk about the psychological affects of passing and failing, and it includes the consolation of knowing what you're going through. Like I say in the book, passing the ARE is the hardest thing I've done, and I want to help you however I can to ensure your success.

Our profession needs you! 2017 is right around the corner and you might be thinking about making a resolution. Or you might be avoiding it like I did for so long.

I know... I was there not so long ago

  • I know you are sick of hearing the persistent voice in the back of your mind that keeps telling you to get your license.
  • I know you are pissed-off that you can’t legally call yourself an architect yet. You keep dreaming up new titles that don’t get you in trouble with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) or the state you work in, yet honor your talents and hard work because you’re not a “real” architect.
  • I know that you aren’t even sure you want to officially join the profession of architecture and become a liable professional. It’s so screwed-up, right?
  • I know that you say you’re going to start but you keep putting it off. But I also know you want to be done with it more than ever. Why else would you keep putting “GET LICENSED” in your best all-caps architectural lettering on your New Year’s Resolutions? Year after year, it’s the returning goal that is quickly forgotten.
  • I know that life gets in the way. I know you don’t have time. I also know you want to move on and elevate your career.
  • I know it’s difficult. It certainly was for me.
  • I know you’re this close to starting. Next week, probably. Yet next week never comes, does it?

Why now?

It’s a huge commitment, no doubt. It’s a task that requires the kind of perseverance you might not know that you have. But with the launch of ARE 5.0 by NCARB just a few weeks ago, there has never been a better time to become licensed, especially if you've already been authorized to test for version 4. You have the unprecedented opportunity to take just five tests instead of the six in ARE 5 or the seven tests that ARE 4 demands. You read that correctly, and NCARB outlines the process on their website. Because of the way exam content has been mapped to bridge between the coexisting versions of the exam for the next year and a half (until June 30, 2018), candidates can use this 3+2 strategy that takes advantage of the transition like never before. This means you can take fewer tests. After that final date, all candidates will be automatically transitioned into ARE 5. 

And while my book is not about what to study to pass all those tests, it is about how to make the space in your busy life to accomplish your goal of passing the ARE. It's not easy. We all have commitments and lots of excuses. I've been through all of it—the good and the bad—and have laid out an effective plan you can use so you don't have to figure it all out by yourself.

With the end of 2016 quickly approaching, it's a time of reflection and planning for what you'll conquer next year. I hope you'll take the next few weeks and do some introspection about getting your license and ultimately decide to become an architect in 2017. Make it your year. Allow me help get you motivated and give you the tools and the plan that you need to succeed. That is the reason I wrote ARE Hacks, and I know it will help you achieve your goals. 

Find out if ARE Hacks is for you. Read the reviews here and sign up for the email newsletter to get a free chapter by entering your name and email on that page.


ARE Hacks live: Save the date – Nov 10th at AIA Orange County by Evan Troxel

My first talk since publishing ARE Hacks is happening in Southern California on November 10, 2016 at the AIA Orange County office from 7pm – 9pm. I'll be talking tips, tricks, strategies, and hacks so you can conquer the Architect Registration Exam and help make our profession better. 

Head over the the AIAOC website to register for the event. I'll bring a few copies of the book if you want to buy one. I'll even sign it if you'd like!

✱ Why I made a paper version of my book by Evan Troxel

I originally didn't plan on writing a paper version of my book, but I ended up doing it. I started with the idea that I wanted my book to embody the spirit of how I studied for the Architect Registration Exam myself, meaning, whenever possible. I wanted the reader to have the ability to bring up my book at any moment of the day, and the only way to do that was to get it on their device that is already in their purse or pocket.

But I love real books. I love them for many reasons, and I was reminded of a lot of them when I read CJ Chilvers' blog post this morning about the reasons to buy paper books. Take two minutes to read the list and remind yourself why paper books are so important. I love reasons number 3, 9 and 13.

✱ How Does it Feel? by Evan Troxel

I can't even begin to tell you how cathartic it is to hold my book in my own hands. I set on a journey at the end of 2015 to write what I thought was going to be a series of blog posts but found out along the way that the writing had other plans of its own. It became apparent it needed to be a singular thing, and it had to be done in a way that was different than I had done before.

I like to choose new tools and mediums to share what I know, and for this project it made sense to do it in a single volume. Even once I began, I originally had plans to simply create an eBook, but making something physical holds much more meaning to me—this is why holding it in my own hands is so important. I made this thing.

Of course this project was much more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I've written many things in my life, but nothing like this. Whenever I try something completely new, there is a naïveté that comes along with it. Where this came into play was when I was trying to will myself to finish the project. I had been working on the book for many months, a little chunk each day, slowly chipping away at the writing and the editing. It got old. 

But the things I learned when taking the ARE, and then writing a book about that process of figuring out how to make the time in my life to do it, are exactly the same skills I used to finish ARE Hacks. In other words, what I learned by taking and finishing the ARE is the same thing I used to accomplish this other huge project. And that's how I know my strategies work—because I've used them for more than one thing. Cool.

This gets me to how great it feels to be done, and to have a real thing I can hold in my hands as the product of my work. As I wrote earlier, my original plan was to write an eBook, which I obviously can't hold in my hands (unless you count the device it's viewed on the thing the reader holds in their hands, and to me that doesn't count). Creating physical objects is something fewer and fewer people are doing these days in an age where knowledge work is highly valued. Yet to me making something tangible is so much more valuable. It's easy to critique something (like a book) that we see hundreds if not thousands of every day, but to actually make one brings my appreciation to another level.

So how does it feel? Allow me to answer in two ways: First, IT'S REAL. It's not a bunch of bits and bytes arranged on a screen. It's paper that comes from living things. The cover feels amazing and it makes me smile when I touch it. The cover the graphics are printed on has a great tooth to it. And the book smells like a book. It's awesome. I can flips through real pages, I can fold the corners, and I can write in it with my fountain pen. Second, it feels fantastic in a personal accomplishment kind of way. I never thought I would really like being an author, but I do. I don't know many other writers. It's different, and I like it.

Today I shipped out several signed copies to new friends. I was writing personal messages inside, and it was all kinds of surreal. It's something I never thought I would be doing. It's a new way for me to connect with, motivate, and inspire people, and I like that aspect of it.

Creating ARE Hacks has been an experiment in putting my art out into the world in a new way. I've done it before with my architecture, my music, and my podcast. I encourage all of you to do the same. Write something; build something; make something real. Put it out into the world for others. Get out from behind your monitor and share your art. 



✱ ARE Hacks – The Winners! by Evan Troxel

Without further ado, here is the announcement of the winners of my ARE Hacks giveaway! Why not make a video announcement? That's exactly what I was thinking.

Congratulations! You will each receive your choice of either a paperback or eBook version of ARE Hacks: Learn to Pass the Architect Registration Exam. I hope it serves each one of you well. 

If you didn't win, please consider picking up a copy of my book. You can see all of your buying options by visiting this link.

✱ ARE Hacks – Book Launch and Giveaway! by Evan Troxel

It is with great pride (and relief!) I can finally announce both the paperback and Kindle versions of ARE Hacks is now available. I've held it in my hands, and it's wonderful. The feeling of having made something that I hope can help people get licensed and make the profession better for all of us is awesome (and humbling). If you haven't been following my blog recently, you can learn more about the book by visiting its dedicated About Page here on this website.

There are a few ways to get the book depending on what you want, so choose your own adventure:

  1. Amazon Kindle – works in all Kindle software which means you can read it practically anywhere and the page location is automagically synced between devices.
  2. Paperback on Amazon – the book is 6"x9"x.5" with a very nice matte finish on the cover (that I designed). I don't know how they do it, but it feels fantastic to touch. If you have Amazon Prime, use this option.
  3. Paperback on Createspace – it's the same paperback as on Amazon for the same price, but I make a little more money if you buy it here. Yep!
  4. Paperback, signed by me + digital epub version combo package (works in most ebook readers and on all devices) – I'm happy to add a personal note, sign the inside cover of the paperback version and mail it to you. For this option, I'm also going to email you the ebook so you have both versions! I don't know about you, but I love to have both the analog and digital versions just in case the power goes out. Shipping within the lower US is included, email me for costs outside.

Winner winner chicken dinner!
It's a Giveaway!

UPDATE: I've opened this up to include posting on Facebook and Instagram too. I don't know why I didn't include them when I wrote this last night (it was 2am) so I can only blame myself. 

Here's something special I'm doing over the next seven days: I'm giving away 5 copies of my book! Here's what you have to do to get in the running to win a copy:

Post/tweet/share about the book on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Using your social media account, share about the giveaway with these three ingredients: Use the hashtag #arehacks in the post, include my twitter/instagram name @etroxel or tag me (Evan Troxel on Facebook), and copy and paste this link in the post. If you're using Instagram, use one of my photos found on this page. Simply save it to your camera roll and use it in your post.

Here are some examples for Twitter and Instagram:

Hey @etroxel I want to win a copy of #arehacks because I want to get my architecture license and change the world!

I want to win the book #arehacks by @etroxel so I can learn how to pass the Architect Registration Exam.

I need to get motivated to pass the Architect Registration Exam so I want #arehacks by @etroxel

I'm choosing myself to take my architecture career to the next level with #arehacks by @etroxel

I need to learn how to create a strategy and a plan for success to pass the ARE with #arehacks by @etroxel

See the three ingredients in my examples? There you go. Mix it up if you like, but you get the idea.

The giveaway entry period ends 9/30/16 at noon PST (here in California). I'll be randomly choosing the winners and contacting you on 10/1/16 on whichever social media platform the winning posts are selected from, so keep an eye out to see if you win! Don't worry, if you don't see it I'll keep trying to contact you until you do.

The fine print:

  1. You can enter once every 24 hours for the duration of the giveaway. 
  2. Valid entries must include all three ingredients in each entry before noon 9/30/16 PST to be eligible.
  3. Five winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  4. Books will be mailed to the winners on 10/8/16 or close to it.
  5. If you win, you can choose either the paperback version or the eBook version.
  6. Each winner gets a maximum of one digital or one physical copy of the book. In other words, you can't win more than once. There are only 5 copies to go around, don't be greedy!
  7. I reserve the right to modify this page and the giveaway if I need to. It's late, and there's a good chance I missed something.

Good luck!

✱ ARE Hacks – Kindle Preorder NOW! by Evan Troxel

The "final" files for the physical version of my book are in the hands of the printer and now I'm waiting for my proof copy to ensure everything is set correctly for printing. Once I receive the proof, I'll scour it for anything that might be a problem. If I don't find any issues, I'll give the printer the go-ahead and the physical copies will be available for ordering online. I'm not exactly sure how long this process is going to take—hopefully just a few days. Please remember, this is my first time doing all this.

Suffice to say as of right now I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It feels good to be done writing, editing, proofing, designing, submitting, finding more problems, and resubmitting. Look over there on the right—I even added "author" to my byline. It's official now!

What about the eBook? We do live in the future, after all.

It's true, and because the Kindle submission process is quite a bit more forgiving than the print one, I'm very excited to announce that my book is now available for preorder on Amazon's Kindle store. It's set to be released on the 16th, which is a few days ahead of the print version. Click the "Buy on Amazon" button to preorder your copy today, and it will be digitally (and magically) delivered to your Kindle app and device of choice on the 16th. 

I'll also have a very special announcement very soon to go along with the book launch, so stay tuned! 

ARE Hacks on the EntreArchitect Podcast by Evan Troxel

I had the pleasure of being on Mark R. LePage's EntreArchitect Podcast to talk about my book ARE Hacks, my origin story, and many other things. Mark is so great to talk to, and I truly appreciate his hospitality and thank him for allowing me to talk to him and his listeners. As usual, Mark was a class-act (and his show notes are amazing).

There was a good discussion about the book itself, why I wrote it, and why hacking your life (and the ARE) to become an architect is worth it. 

You can listen here.


✱ I think I see the finish line by Evan Troxel

Kolob Terrace Road, Kolob Mesa, Zion National Park. Photo by Evan Troxel.

It's just around the corner, right?

In my last update, I said that I didn't plan on visiting the text of my book again for a long time.

Well, that didn't last.

I re-read the entire book (it's a fast read) and found all kinds of things that needed to be fixed and changed. As it has been every time, I'm glad I made another pass at it. The final product will be much better for the extra love and attention.

Over the long weekend, I redesigned the cover and formatted the entire book for the print edition. I didn't write the book in Microsoft Word, but now that I've used it for formatting I have to say I hope to never use it again. While it is a powerful tool, it has so many idiosyncrasies and problems that it's maddening. I should have used InDesign; duh. Once I was too far down that road, there was no turning back.

I also checked off a few more boxes on my book's to-do list. Of course, more things have also been added. It's seemingly unending.

I'm hoping to submit the file to the printer this week and upload the digital version to Amazon shortly thereafter. All of the pieces are falling into place... just a few more to take care of. These are just a few of the things you never have to do when you're writing a blog.

Once I get the manuscript submitted I'll be receiving a hard proof copy for approval. If all goes well, the print version will be available in a couple of weeks. The eBook version should be ready much sooner. 

I'm so excited to share what I've made with you. It won't be much longer.


✱ Are we there yet? by Evan Troxel

It's the question all parents hate because it usually comes up within the first five minutes of the trip. Within the context of writing (and finishing) my book, I keep hearing myself ask the question. Honestly, I had an idea it was going to be like this because this kind of project has taken me out of my usual stomping grounds. Becoming an author is new territory for me, but it's been important because 1.) I love trying new things, and 2.) I'm intensely interested in widening my experience. 

I've just finished my sixth revision to the main body text, and am now tidying up all the loose ends that come along with a project like this. Let's just say it's much different than writing a blog post. I'm so glad I took the time to review it again and again- it's a much better product because of my obsession with the craft of writing. I've learned so much over the last seven months, not only about how to write a book, but simply how to write better. I have to say I am amazed that I'm still excited to share the book with everyone even though I've read it at least ten times now. It's loaded with good stuff. But in my pursuit of perfection, this book needs to be done and it needs to ship. 

This week I'll be designing the cover and tightening everything else up. I don't plan on revisiting the text again for a very long time. That's not to say it's perfect, but it's good enough. If all goes as planned, it should be available in a couple of weeks. If I didn't have to worry about all of the other moving parts of my life, it would've been done much sooner. That's just not my reality.

ARE Hacks has been a labor of love, and I can't wait for everyone to read it.

✱ Finishing ARE Hacks (my book)... by Evan Troxel

Finishing my book has been one of the more difficult things I've done lately. The to-do list only seems to get longer, but my excitement is very alive for this project. I've heard that the last ten percent of a project is another ninety percent. So first you do ninety percent, then you do another ninety percent, or something like that.

Today I'm doing my final read-through* and taking care of formatting. As I mentioned in my last post, I've written longish things in the past, but nothing like this. At this point my book is just over 40,000 words, and that's just what made it into the final document. There have been many other words and ideas written that didn't make the final edit. 

It's been a roller coaster ride. Curiously enough, here's a post by Seth Godin that diagrams what it's like writing a book. It's been an incredible journey, mostly involving just showing up to do the work day after day, which is much like what's involved in studying for and passing the ARE's. 

Not only have I learned a new program to do my writing in, I've also learned how to self-publish. There is a lot involved in the process of creating printed and eBooks that I've never done before. I'll be writing more about how I wrote the book in future posts here on my blog, but for now I need to keep my focus on shipping

Sign up here to be notified when it's ready.

* Fingers crossed. No, really. This is it.

✱ I've been writing a book by Evan Troxel

For the last seven months, I have been working on project that's been taking up a majority of my early morning project time and other down-time. I've been writing a book, and it's been much more work than I initially thought, but entirely worth it. Besides a couple of medium-length manifesto's, this is my first foray into long-form writing. As I wrap-up the final details, I thought it might be a good idea to let you know that it's coming and to give you everyone opportunity to know when it becomes available. 

So what is the book about? It's about a subject near and dear to me—how to pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) so you can call yourself an architect and practice architecture. It teaches you how to hack your life and create the space necessary to have the time needed to study, how to turn the best strategies into habits, and it gives you many other tips, tricks and resources you can use to become licensed.

Who is it for? This book is for people who crave freedom. It's for people who want to become "real" architects and elevate their careers. I waited seventeen years after graduating from Cal Poly to get my license and call myself an architect. Now that I've done it, I want to help others get theirs (in a much shorter time period!). Getting licensed gave me freedom and it finally quieted the nagging voice in my head to finish what I had started so many years earlier. Getting licensed is an important piece of the puzzle that many graduates forego, and because of it the profession has suffered. 

There's still much more to talk about. I'll be posting about the book leading up to the release over the next few weeks. For now, you can head over to the landing page where you can sign up to be notified when it's available.