Glen Coben, owner and principal of his namesake New York City-based Glen & Co. Architecture, founded the firm in 2000 in order to provide customized designs that realize a client’s vision while also engaging their customers. Glen’s projects demonstrate that brands can seamlessly integrate into the lives of others. Coben and his team continue to challenge brand standards, redesigning them to meet the demands of urban locations such as New York City.
How did you find your grey?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I found my grey. I have always sought out experiences, both personally and professionally, that would challenge my status quo.
Professionally, when I decided to leave a great job as a Principal at Rockwell Group signified the biggest leap of my life. Black and white. Should I stay or should I give this a go? Going on my own was the only way for me to pursue my own grey.
What motivates you to grow and do great work?
My family is one of my greatest motivators in life. For example, my dad has inspired me not to settle, my wife inspires me to be compassionate and take time to listen, my daughter inspires me to teach and learn as much as possible and my dog inspires me to run five miles on Saturday mornings!
What is your favorite part of your work?
With each new project, I like to use different textures, colors, and materials that transport guests as soon as they step inside the space. I love creating spaces that people will enjoy-—to meet, to fall in love, to live their lives or even to escape their lives for a little while.
How did you become qualified enough to do what you love?
Trust. I trusted that if I followed my heart, I would become qualified to do what I was passionate about. When people see that passion it’s contagious.
How has your work helped you live a more fulfilled life?
Loving what I do makes each day a joy. A life that is not fulfilled would be torture!
What’s one thing you do every morning to get ready for the day?
I feed Lefty and PJ (our two Jack Russell Terriers), make breakfast for my daughter and figure out what her game plan is for the day. All that and a strong cup of coffee.
What advice do you have for someone seeking mentorship and to build their network?
Take classes, attend industry events and try to network with people from different backgrounds and cultures—for me it’s not just other architects and designers, but also artists, writers, coders, bankers and baristas. It’s important throughout your career to learn from others.
What are three things you try to do everyday?
Read The New York Times, take a deep breath, and say I love you to my wife and daughter.
How do you ensure your intentions become actions?
I have a little Buddha and I rub his belly every day!
In all seriousness, I try to build trust in each relationship including the ones with our clients, consultants and our vendors. We are like conductors in an orchestra—if the musicians don’t trust the conductor, chaos will occur. But when there is trust, the orchestra pulls together and creates magic!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Cooking, gardening, playing golf, and spending time with my family.
How do you support and help people on your team to live grey?
I love offering my team, and people in general, the opportunity to push their own limits. In my perspective, if they are willing to work for me, I have to give them the room to grow.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Control the controllable.