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Paul Allred: Career Reflections & Valuable Advice – Part 3

November 12, 2021 by admin

The following is the third and final article from an interview with recently retired Paul Allred, former Community Development Director for Holladay. The interview was conducted and edited by Michael Maloy, AICP, for APA Utah.


  1. Given your experience, what are some of the “lessons learned” you can share with us?


  1. While there are many, here are several of the most valuable and—I hope—helpful:


  • Average people skills generally won’t cut it with employers and the public. I was not a valuable public employee until I really listened and was genuinely concerned for those I served—especially when I disagreed with them.
  • It is difficult to accomplish worthwhile objectives without courage and tenacity. I thought I knew how to work hard before I began my public service career. Wrong. The communities I worked for stretched me and challenged me more than I could have anticipated. Thank goodness.
  • If you want to make a real difference in your career, it will not come without real effort. Make the effort.
  • Speak the truth as effectively as possible regardless of the situation or audience. A favorite quote that has influenced me is, “Be completely honest while being completely kind.”
  • I learned to think comprehensively. Urban planners know by experience that people, including Commissions and Councils, are often governed by fear of change. They can become irrationally convinced that even the most routine application before the Planning Commission or Council will have dire consequences for their quality of life. For me, it was of utmost importance to learn how to consistently address collective fears with logic, fact, and reason. Humor helped too. As a planner, I needed to effectively explain the critical interconnectedness of past and present land-use decisions and their implications on the future. A firm understanding of complex geographical concepts related to the impact humans have on the land proved more than useful.
  • I wish I could go back in time and advocate for myself more with my employers. I routinely failed to ask for what I was really worth, and the resources my staff and I needed to be more effective. Planning tends to take a back seat to other municipal departments. That must change.


  1. What additional advice do you have for city planners today?


  1. Thank goodness for the gift of “foresight” and “hindsight” during my career, which produced the following list of advice that I gladly share with my fellow planners:


  • If you don’t like people, don’t be a planner because you’ll be dealing with a lot of them.
  • Be genuine and kind. Never be a “bureaucrat” with the public.
  • Be completely ethical. Period—even if it means getting fired. Don’t ever break the law or put your employer or yourself at risk. (Thank you, Jody Burnett!)
  • Become indispensable by knowing your duties and doing more than asked.
  • Mentor and encourage other planners. Someday, someone you mentored will thank you and “pay it forward” with others.
  • Continuously learn and improve. Get an advanced degree, if possible.
  • Educate, advocate and promote best planning policy and practices. Be a leader.
  • Balance home and work life. Work to live, don’t live to work.
  • Avoid a sense of job entitlement. Be grateful every single day for a place to be and someone to help. Think about this: if another “Great Recession” or similar event occurs, and your employer resorts to reductions in force, will you be in or out, based on your performance and value?


  1. What are your plans now?


  1. Improve my health, spend time with family, travel, develop a hobby (other than work) and give meaningful volunteer service, among other things. I will stay involved with city planning in some form and give back to the profession where possible.


Thank you again, Paul, for your gracious, honest, and generous responses to our questions, and on behalf of APA Utah, we wish all the best for you and your family.


Paul and Ann Allred, ready for whatever comes next!

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