Home Interviews Scott Hamilton Harris of Building Construction Group: How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur

Scott Hamilton Harris of Building Construction Group: How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur

by Christina Gvaliant
Scott Hamilton Harris of Building Construction Group: How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur  we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Hamilton Harris.

After weaving 24 years of construction, architecture, and interior design experience, as COO, Scott Hamilton Harris co-founded the multi-million-dollar company Building Construction Group in 2005 with stellar AIA architect, William Hefner. Scott places the client’s needs first, bringing a welcomed, well-rounded, luxury five-star product & service experience that has been sought out by many of Los Angeles’ elite. Scott’s been interviewed and featured in a wide variety of top-tier publications, talk, and news shows and looked upon as the “go-to” expert for all things re-building, design, and beyond.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Scott Hamilton Harris: From my earliest memories, I recall when I found something I cherished and named my own, it became more valuable to those around me. Realizing objects were hard to hold on to, I found security in something that couldn’t be stolen, the Art of Creating. Creating “home” has always held a special place for me, as the home is where my heart is, and so started a journey 45 years in the making!

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Scott Hamilton Harris: That’s a good question … As I pause to think of the “Aha Moment” I realize that perhaps there wasn’t one. It was more a life’s progression. I found that our environment makes us, warps us, betters us, and so profoundly impacts us. After weaving 30 years of practicing architecture, interior design, and building, I found someone that shared the same dream to not only offer a single service under one roof but to combine them into a product. And, not just any product, but a product with a roof called HOME. A home that heals. Maybe better said, the Aha Moment was finding the right team that had a shared vision to start this symbiotic, needed company.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

Scott Hamilton Harris: While I never understood at a young age what the term “entrepreneur” meant, I think it’s fair to say, I may have born with a good portion of it. I had a deep passion for creating more than selling. But, creating took funding, so what better way to move a dream forward then to sell what was being created. I started selling meals. I would cook one meal to fund two more to sell. I used that money to buy simple tools to make furniture to capture higher profits. I then used the proceeds to buy larger tools to make homes of escalating scales. Ultimately, I used the funding to start up new companies. Given that I accomplished this before turning 17, perhaps I may fall closer on the scale of ‘natural born.’ Yet, I wouldn’t say it has been easy or feels natural, as I’m someone always trying to explore the depths of my aptitude.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Scott Hamilton Harris: There are countless special people in my life that have inspired me to push past my own boundaries, to push past my fears, to quiet the voices inside, whispering “Can I can do this?” It wouldn’t feel fair to name one person, as there were many, but I would honor and name my father here, and say Roy Harris started me on my journey in every possible way. He was an example of a man that believed in his son while pushing my limits. While I wish he could have taught me more about the mechanics of business, I now realize he gave the most important things one needs to be successful. He taught a son the value of hard work, the value of integrity, honesty, and the joys found through the pursuit of perfection.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Scott Hamilton Harris: What a poignant question. I ask myself that all the time. If your company doesn’t stand out, it stands in a field of ‘likeness and quickly fades into the tall grasses. I believe what makes our business model stand out, we put people first before financial gains. We realized, the journey for the client is as important as the final product being created for them. We realize that we are here to serve our client’s needs first, and when you understand that, your company naturally stands up as the tallest tree in the forest deserving a place in the light.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Scott Hamilton Harris: 

Honesty: While this may sound obvious to most, it starts with being honest with yourself and telling a client what you can give, and what you may not be able to offer. To name one memorable event, I recall when I first met Ed Begley Jr. He was interviewing companies to help him create the “Greenest Home in America,” I told him I had to be honest. I confessed that I had very limited experience in the environmental sector, but I would be willing to learn. I shared with him that I think that the ‘Green ‘movement, for which he is such an icon in supporting, can be too often used to take the other kind of “green” from people’s pockets. He looked at me… paused…smiled slowly and said “Buddy, I understand what you’re saying. Scott, you’re the first person I met in a long time that didn’t try to sell themselves to me and instead chose to be honest! Scott …I still have lots to learn too… let’s go build a home together!”

This project was ultimately awarded international honors and a LEED Platinum rating from the United States Green Building Council. While many have achieved this status for commercial structures, it is a rare honor to receive the same for residential homes. I did find being honest, has led to some of the most instrumental changes in my life.

Intuition: Understanding that to become a successful business leader, we have to accept we are followers of our client’s dreams and wishes. We have to develop our ability to hear what a client wants. Sometimes, that may differ from the words we hear audibly spoken. While doing a project for Victoria Principal, I recall my first meeting in which she spoke so concisely for 20 minutes. She so confidently and articulately called out her menu of wishes for her new Master Suite to come. As she was finishing up, she looked at my notepad and realized it was blank. She stood a little upset and equally curious as she said, “Honey…I’m concerned. You didn’t write a single thing down I told you!” I said, “I listened to everything you said, but more importantly, as you spoke, I heard another form of information contrary to what you said. I want to follow what I felt you saying, as opposed to what I heard you saying.” Her made for TV eyes opened wider than I thought possible, and she said “Honey…WOW…ok…take off your shoes and lay on my bed with me. When a man speaks to me that way, he needs to lay with me for a moment.” Of course, it was her way of being funny. But at that moment, I realized that when we work with our clients, we are working for them and we have to listen to them on a deeper frequency to truly hear their needs. We have to listen to our intuition to ultimately give them the product that they themselves, may not have the tools to fully express.

The Art of Perfection: Perfection in itself, is not perfection, as it’s not achievable, but the art of being in search of it IS! For this, I don’t have the perfect story, as one does not exist, but I hope that when we talk again, I will strive to have one.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Scott Hamilton Harris: I recall hearing from someone that I greatly respected, you have to “Fake it until you make it.” I put on my costume, and proudly wore my ego daily after hearing that. I thought the one that speaks the loudest and speaks with the most confidence, would be accepted as being the one to follow. While it did work for a while, I realized you truly never “make it” on that path, and so I took a work hiatus for one year. As I came out of that year, I learned that the advice I was given made me stop believing in me. I realized that while I thought I was “faking it”, in many ways, I was actually “making it,” but I didn’t give the proper respect to what I was accomplishing at the time and so it stunted my growth. After years of soul searching, I found that hard work and self-honesty is the truest path to “making it!” and “faking it” had to be removed from my vocabulary.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Scott Hamilton Harris: Burn out and being overwhelmed in my opinion is a direct result of feeling we gave more than was returned to ‘our person.’ Receiving back is more than being rewarded financially, it comes from internal satisfaction. In a healthy work culture, we like to check in regularly to see what our team’s needs are. We ask how we can help them achieve their goals. And, ultimately, we care enough to follow through. We find that we spend more time with our team than our family, but if we think of them like family, it only grows our clan that we give back to and has been a key in avoiding team “burnout.”

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Scott Hamilton Harris: Simply put, as the Nike slogan so well said, “Just Do It.” Don’t exhaust your efforts selling and telling others that you are building trust, credibility, and authority. Just Do It! A person is ultimately judged by the accomplishments of their actions, not their efforts.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Scott Hamilton Harris: So many businesses are focused on the perception of what others think of us. While valuable, when you are focused on truly building your company as a credible industry leader, you will find more value in staying focused on what you and your team do best, and less time devoted to asking “if my customers think we are the best.”

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Scott Hamilton Harris: The most common mistakes I’ve seen, CEOs and founders can be more focused on what they want, and less on listening to what the people want. Many, first-time business owners have lofty dreams of success as they dream up an overwhelming business plan. They then feel overwhelmed and let down when it doesn’t happen quickly. They forgot to focus on the value of bringing a single, simple item to market that can initially make them profitable. While I think of some of the most successful and groundbreaking CEOs and founders of our time, Jeff Bezos comes to mind. It’s good to remind ourselves that even Jeff started out as a virtual, modern-day, door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, selling other people’s books online.

Find that one simple product that is profitable and needed and build success around it.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Scott Hamilton Harris: As Elon Musk captured it best, “Running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the Abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends.” Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. It’s not romantic. It’s not initially filled with a life of caviar being served to you on your private jet. It’s a life of full-time service. The irony is, only when you give up everything to serve others and surrender all fear of losing everything you value, do you start to earn back what you’ve given up tenfold. In contrast, working for others, we are actually just working for ourselves. We carve out a fixed amount of time to our day job and receive back a fixed amount of funding for our lives.

If everyone were an entrepreneur, we wouldn’t have the workforce to create the dreams of visionaries. It’s ok in life to choose either path, but make sure you’re being honest with yourself on what the highs and lows are, and the benefits and costs of each road taken.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Scott Hamilton Harris: Yes! I would love to. For someone that started out at age five, hacking up moldings for fun for his own bedroom, and following a career path considered blue-collar, which didn’t carry the same prestige as being a doctor, a lawyer, or a financer, I put my head down and worked non-stop, not caring what others thought about my career choice. But I do recall one of the moments when I raised my head and smiled. In 2020, I was recognized as one of the ‘Top 100 Most Influential People of the Decade’ by a major media outlet. To see my name on a list with Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart Gordon Ramsey, Robin Williams, for the contributions I made through my career and business, with the help of my teams, was an exciting moment and reminder that hard work does pay off.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Scott Hamilton Harris: That’s a great question, as I can’t recall a day waking up where I didn’t feel vulnerable and some form of a low in my company. I believe the day you wake up and expect you should be riding an ongoing high, and you’re not vulnerable every moment, is a day when you have to rethink your business strategy. Toy ‘R’ Us, Kodak, Blockbuster, and many others felt that they had a superior business plan. Feeling vulnerable in business, and accepting the lows on which we can build on, isn’t a negative, it’s a reality we have to embrace which allows us to practice what we do, another day.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Scott Hamilton Harris: Given that I feel this daily, I’ve found power in not giving this feeling the wrong consuming energy. As Albert Einstein said it best “Energy cannot be destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” Taking the cue from one of the great minds of our time, I’ve found that you can simply harness the power of defeat and vulnerability, change it, refocus it, and bounce the ball back in the right direction of success.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Scott Hamilton Harris: 
  1. Being patient: The rewards of Patience far outweigh those of being impatient. I recall from the many, many years of hard work, I dreamed of that ship of success arriving. While perhaps it passed by in a foggy night, I didn’t see it. I dreamed of instant success, but it stayed that, just a dream. Ironically, it wasn’t until I gave up that dream, and patiently put my head down to work hard, did the fog start to lift. As I lifted my head again, I realized I had been on the ship of success but lacked the earlier patience to see it.
  2. Harnessing the Power of Frustration: Frustration is another powerful source, fueled by our own internal motivation. Frustration is testing our limits before we take the next level. I like to tell my team that every breakdown, it’s simply clearing the way for our next breakthrough. There were many days in my career that I had to step outside, and scream, cry, yell and stare in the heavens and want to surrender to mediocrity. But I found in those moments, I felt the most power I had ever felt. I learned if you could simply harness it, as Einstein said we could, you can put the wind back into your sails. I’ve come to find that those moments of pain in business, are a reward given to us, so we can recall the milestones of what an authentic breakthrough feels like.
  3. Listening: From someone who started out wanting to be listened to, thinking I had great business ideas, you learn quickly that if you want to be heard, you must first listen to others. Listening is one of the strongest keys to success. Steve Jobs created a company in which it listened to what the public wanted and in turn, became one of the most successful, iconic business empires of our history. His famous talks that everyone listened to, while dressed in his iconic black turtleneck, came only after he spent a lifetime listening to the needs of his customers. In business, the goal is to receive more than you expend. Understanding that listening is akin to receiving as a business strategy, helps puts you in alignment with the top thinking companies of our time.
  4. Surrendering: To surrender is the beginning of finding the boundaries that ultimately bring us strength. And, to surrender is to be comfortable knowing what your weaknesses are. Just as they say it takes less muscles to smile that it does to frown, equally, it’s less effort to see honestly who we are than to work on having an inflated vision of who we are not. The beginning of knowing where to celebrate the highs is first surrendering and gauging the lows.
  5. Self-Motivation: This may be for many, one of the hardest things to consistently do. Some of us were inherently born with this instinct, but for many, it’s a practice we have to remind ourselves of daily through various forms. The question becomes, what do we do when our self does not feel motivated. This term comes more into mental play when we feel we are personally out of fuel. Where do you find it, when you feel your car is parked on the side of the road with no gas station on-site? Just as cars are moving toward hybrid fuels, so do we, have to build hybrid thinking into our lives to restart our engines. While there aremany moments in which I don’t feel self-motivated, I keep them just like that, moments. It’s then when I shift into first gear, which is being Patient, revving into second as I Harness the Power of Frustration. I cruise into third, and then fourth while Listening, and then Surrendering. A final gear shift change with little effort and I’m flying into fifth with a new fueled sense of Self-Motivation.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Scott Hamilton Harris: Being resilient is having the capacity and personal forgiveness to recover from difficult challenges we are faced with. The value of resilience comes from understanding that every challenge we face and fail, it brought us one step closer to success. I’ve spent 95% of my lifetime learning “What not to do” while capturing the 5% of knowing “What to do,” which made it 100% worthwhile.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Scott Hamilton Harris: Growing up was quite tough for me. It felt like an eternity of feeling “different.” An eternity of not belonging. But once I accepted that feeling and realized that I found peace in pursuing the Art of Creativity, I realized that any difficult situation can be solved through creativity. Ironically, I’ve come together in my life with so many others that felt the same way growing up, and I realized that we weren’t alone, we were resilient, and had yet to find our community we belong to.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Scott Hamilton Harris: My first thought is nope! But, I realize that accepting the situation that I’m in and saying it’s “OK” and something can be learned from what most call failures, lifts me into a positive attitude.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Scott Hamilton Harris: To be a leader is to be someone that listens to the needs of others. Emotions are expected, but I’ve found that almost without being aware, we can mirror the feelings of the leader we are following. Negative emotions filled with fear, while we all undeniably experience them, they ultimately are not productive and are contagious. Similarly, a positive attitude is even more contagious and profoundly productive. I recall times feeling internal fear before I’m about to step into a meeting giving what I feel, is not “news they want to hear.” But I’ve learned that if you step into that meeting with integrity and honesty while offering a solution of options to present, it can often make a positive impact for clients and teams alike.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

Scott Hamilton Harris: 

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

As someone that is ruled by a creative spirit, it’s in my nature to self-soothe by visualizing how to make what we call the norm, better. And, how to make what is accepted as “better” to be “great.” While those visions play in my thoughts like a series on Netflix for hours on end, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my visions to become memories that fade. I rely on this quote and after every vision, and ask myself, “did I take action”, and if not, I need to accept it’s a daydream and it’s time for a reset. Equally, if I’m taking action, but I did not predefine the vision, it is a nightmare that is time to wake up from.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Scott Hamilton Harris: The best place to follow our company Building Construction Group is through our website: buildingcgroup.com. Or, if you want to see more of the fun, real-life, day-to-day events, please follow me on Instagram at scott_harris_building.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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