Motivational Monday: Power of “No” …

Maxwell Saying No Quote

I was uncomfortable.  It’s always awkward to write the professional equivalent of a “Dear John” letter….

Thank you so much for your inquiry.  After reviewing your design needs, I believe our firm is not a good fit for the services you desire…..

Holy Scooby snacks Velma, did I really say “no” to a prospective client that had money?  Am I really at the point in my career that I can so flippantly leave cash on the proverbial table?  Am I balling so hard that I can get the pick of the client litter?  Well the short answer to the above questions is yes and no.

Yes, I did say “no” to a design inquiry and yes I am hand selecting each of my potential projects.  But then I think everyone should be selective with whom they do business.  I look at it the same as dating … you wouldn’t date someone who you didn’t think a good fit for you, so why would you enter into a business relationship?  It’s not a matter of “like” as a matter of ensuring that you can develop a good long-term relationship.  In the past two years, I have had what I would several “hot and fast” design relationships where I enter into a business arrangement with a client that goes hard and fast, leaving me under paid, under appreciated and over worked.  It’s not a sustainable model for long-term growth for a variety of reasons but the most important ones being:

  1. Clients refer other clients:  Get into a cycle of attracting your not ideal client and it’s extremely hard to get out.
  2. Balance:  Those types of working relationships can only be done (and should only be done) on the rare occasion.  Make a business out of them and you risk burning out and ruining not only the business but yourself
  3. It’s Not Fun:  Work isn’t always fun but darn it, shouldn’t you enjoy it for about 80% of the time?  So why take on clients you won’t enjoy spending significant time with?

And thus I said, no to ensure I could keep saying yes to those projects and clients I found enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling.  To be honest, I am not sure I will ever get use to saying no but like the quote infers, you have to be ready to pass on the mediocre to leave room for the extraordinary.  So my friends, I am learning to pass up on the “design bread basket” of life and will continue to fight for the truly meaty design jobs.  Scary but way more filling in the end…..

[photo: source]

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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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Motivational Monday: Entertaining …..

venetian-front-door_quote

Entertaining guests is one of my favorite things.  I love touring folks around San Francisco and wine country, cooking fancy meals and having the opportunity to open the “good wine”.  Guests mean I can splurge on cut flowers, spruce up the guest room and indulge myself a day or two to rediscover the area I call home.  I wholeheartedly believe that being a good host is part of paying it forward with friends and family.

Well for three days…… On the fourth day, you get cold cereal in the morning, directions to the airport and a bus pass.  I say this in jest, but I do believe that there is an art to being a good host and I share my tips and recommendations in my June column for SheKnows.com where I discuss how to prep your home for the inevitable summer visitor…..

Special thanks to Kelley L. Moore for allowing us to shoot in her beautiful San Francisco home and my partner in crime Adza for capturing the images.  Writing this month’s column got my itching to spruce up my guest room but alas I think I need to turn my attention to the master bedroom.  So many designs and so little time and money…..

So this week, I ask that you be gracious and kind to those who visit you whether it be at home or work.  Once a stranger but your actions may soon make them your friend!  Have a great week!!!

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Motivational Monday: Pride….

paulocoelho_Voltaire Quote

I had the opportunity to spend yesterday with my dear friend Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 as she debuted her design work as part of Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Week Concept House.  Truth be told, Erin isn’t a designer by trade but she is a fantastic stylist who has an amazing eye for detail and can curate a space like nobody’s business.  When she first was approached for the gig, we had lunch and she asked if I would be “annoyed or upset” with her since she isn’t a designer by trade.  Here was a friend with an opportunity of a lifetime and she was asking me if I would be okay……

I paused for a moment because for a second I was totally envious.  I wanted that gig.  I wanted to be the young designer getting his big break.  But then that passed and what was left was pride.  As much as I want my own “big break”, I want to be there to celebrate my friend’s accomplishments and revel in their success.  My time will come.  I  know it.  Patience is something I have in spades these days.

For the moment, I am going to be proud of a friend and join her in her celebration.  So this week, I task you to be uplifting, be supportive and be proud of your friends and family as that only will strengthen you in your endeavors…….

[photo credit: Paulo Coelho]

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