Motivational Monday: Giving Back ….

Port of Oakland - edited

The above pic is Oakland.  It’s where I live.  Here is a little story on how I came to be an “East Bayer”.  You see buying real estate in the Bay Area is sorta like buying Berkshire Hathaway stocks – you spend alot to get very little but what you do own is worth its weight in gold.  Simply put, even with the combined incomes of me and The Partner, we could not afford to live in San Francisco.   So we expanded our search to include the “East Bay” which pretty much means Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville (sorry Richmond).  Eventually, we found ourselves in Oakland and purchased a fantastic 3-story loft in 2008.  While I went to the East  Bay, kicking and screaming I quickly came to be one of its biggest proponents …. or so I thought.

Melissa Davis, owner of Ruby Press PR, has me beat.  Not only is she a long time resident of Oakland (since 2003) she even moved the headquarters of her business to a historic building in downtown Oakland.  Her roots run deep on this side of the bay and it’s one of the reasons she is upping the ante by publishing a book all about Oakland aptly named This is Oakland…..

This Is Oakland

A photo-driven guide book to the city that explores all the wonderful nooks and crannies of one of the most underrated cities in America.  Well actually I take that last part of the sentence back since last year, The New York Times published a list called “The 45 Places to Go in 2012″ and Oakland ranked #5.  Did I mention that the city I call home fell nicely between London and Tokyo. And oh Oakland was the highest ranking city in North America: higher than New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Booyah!

Enough with the bragging but in This is Oakland, Melissa explores all the wonderful businesses and people who make Oakland so special and unique.  With stunning photography by Kristen Loken, you get the sense of life and vitality of a city that at one time was on the brink…..

Miss Ollie

Esqueleto

But all this awesomeness comes at a price.  To help fund the publishing of the book, Melissa has started a Kickstarter campaign.  During this time of giving, I ask that you look at her video and think about donating to her fund.  She has some amazing gifts for those who donate and honestly, many exceed the cost of the donation!  So open up your hearts (and your wallets) and help Melissa and myself celebrate the city we both call home!

[photo credit: port of oakland authority//kristen loken]

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Motivational Mondays: Autumn ….

Autumn Quote_Albert Camus

I think it’s true that you always want what you don’t or can’t have.  For me, that is a true Fall season.  Living in California has a multitude of perks but true, distinct seasons is not one of them.  Yes, it’s 70 degrees in October and we only get one real rainy month, but I would trade many of those things for three months of clear skies and crisp air.  The ability to layer on sweaters and coats and enjoy a glass of hot cider to chase away the evening chill.

More so, Fall is really an inspiring time for me.  Maybe its the leaves changing colors or all the combinations of color and textures that emerge from people’s closets but I always find myself inspired and excited for this time of year.  Combine this with my recent trip to London and I my head is swimming in a delicious stew of concepts and design snippets ready to be brought to life.

So this week, I am going to fully embrace Fall and all the inspiration it has to offer.  Heck, I may even pull out a turtleneck or two to get into the mood!  Okay, I probably won’t but it is a nice idea……

[pictures courtesy Courtney Lake]

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Motivational Mondays: Taking a Nap …..

Bob Hope Quote

I know…I know.  Everyone says that you need to battle through the jet lag but Poppa is tired and needs a nap (and a shower)!   But I have stories and so many goodies to share that I am just bursting from my time at the London Design Festival!  I promise, it will be worth the wait …..

[photo credit]

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Motivational Monday: Brand Awareness…

Jeff Bezos BRand Quote

This week I am in Seattle participating in a workshop with friend and talented lifestyle expert Kelley Moore on how to extend your brand to television and print.  I have been thinking for a while about the blog and the business trying to figure out exactly what they represent.  What is it about the blog and about my design business that make them unique, interesting and appealing.  After a serious bout of brainstorming, I realized some of the aspects of the blog I have strayed away from and I am okay with that.  I always said that the blog was a diary of my thoughts, aspirations, fears and dreams with a healthy dose of snarky humor for good measure.

However, when I applied that same focus to the business, I am seeing that there are aspects that have yet to be flushed out and fully realized.  I now know there are some things I need to do to get myself on track for success.  Some of those are scary for a variety of reasons but needed.  I can’t have the brand I want if I am not willing to do the work.  If I can’t stand behind my brand, then who will?  So I am excited for the next several days to take some time to really delve into what makes me brand tick and see how I can push it to the next level.

Fingers crossed.

Here is to each of you realizing the power of your own personal brand and taking the steps to invest in it!

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Thank You……

Tortoise and the Hare wind-up Toys on a Track.

I think the above quote really explains perfectly the last 72 hours.

To give a brief refresher, the team over at Modenus gave five bloggers the opportunity of a lifetime.  Simply put, we were given 36 hours to garner as many votes as possible to win a week-long trip to the UK to attend the London Design Festival.  So starting Friday through Saturday afternoon, it was a flurry of tweeting, emailing, Facebook posting, texting and tried and true groveling to garner as many votes as possible before the deadline.

And guess what?  I won…..by 24 votes.  Literally a handful of votes and I am overwhelmed by the sense of tenacity, love and support that I received from everyone.  I always knew you were supportive, but you all became my team — strangers were texting their friends asking for support.  Readers were tweeting and posting on my behalf.  Friends were asking mere acquaintances to vote for me.  My dream and goal became the unified goal of everyone else and it was amazing.  It was your tenacity to the end that helped me win and I don’t take that for granted.

I am touched beyond belief and actually quite emotional.  While it is great to win and be able to spend time in London, the win is deeper than that.  The sense of community I felt this weekend was nothing short of amazing.  Working for yourself can feel very insular at times and this was a huge wake-up call to me.  I am part of this amazing community of caring, dynamic and kind individuals who value my journey and are adding to my story.

So as London approaches, lets start writing this new chapter and see where it takes us.  Thank you again with all my heart…….

[photo credit]

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Motivational Monday: Looking Back……

Robin Williams Quote

July is the anniversary of me starting my design business.  Mind you, I didn’t get my first client until several months later, but July was the month that I told myself I was going to “do it” and hang my shingle for the world to see.  Since then I have made mistakes, hit roadblocks and seriously doubted if I was cut out to do this line of work.  Being the boss is scary and a place I never thought I would be but I am better for it.

I say all of this because over the last few weeks a few people have reached out to me for business advice and counsel.  I went into each meeting with apprehension on what I could offer them in the way of career advice, but as we talked it became clear that they were at specific points that I too had to navigate.  As we talked, their questions were similar to ones I had.  Their thoughts were similar to those I pondered.  I can’t say that my answers were filled with pearls of wisdom but they were filled with lessons learned from making a lot of wrong choices.  As the quote says above, I learned what was eventually right by seeing what was left on the field after making my other choices.

Life, work and all the things between are about choices — many we will make correctly and some we won’t.  When those wrong ones came up, I rarely allowed myself to survey the landscape to see what was left — I was too caught in myself for making a “wrong choice” that I often missed the learning opportunities they presented.  I now know that those wrong choices have informed me as a person, a businessman and a designer.  When they do now, I still freak out (its habit) but I take a moment to see the whole picture, take notes and then move forward because in the end, I think only fools relish their successes without acknowledging their failures…..

So with this short week, I challenge you to look at your mistakes and view them as equals to your triumphs because both will serve you well.  Have a great week!

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Motivational Mondays: Multitasking ……

Phone Juggling

 

I have tried for a very long time to fool myself into thinking I was a good at multitasking.  I have done the eat lunch, take a call, write an email trifecta.  And guess what, I suck at it.  Those experiences leave me frazzled and worse for wear which means I typically need to take time to refocus my energies and thoughts before trudging ahead.

When all is said and done, I think I waste more time trying to multitask than if I just did each task at once and gave it my full attention.  With the business growing, taking on one of the biggest projects to date and potentially getting an intern, I realized I can do more in a day by spending more time on each task.  Sounds strange right?  But if I give more of myself to each project or task, I have found I can flow quickly through a series of items because I am focused and committed to finishing each.   At the end of the day, I may not always be through my to-do list but I am now rarely at my end of the rope — a nice trade-off if I do say so.

So this week, I task each of you to follow a single task through to completion and then start another.  Give your time, attention and yourself to each task at hand.  I think you will b amazed at your productivity!  Have a great week!

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