Posts Tagged ‘coach’

The CEO Mindset

Posted by

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in this business for years, we all know how stressful owning a design business can be. Not only are we the senior designers, but we’re the CEOs of the company. We have to handle the financials, the employees, our brands, our home life, and try to fit some designing in there somewhere.

Too many designers forget that this is a business, not a hobby. You have to commit to that idea – even if you may have started your business as a side job to begin with. You are the CEO of a company – say that to yourself over and over. Take it very seriously, or you won’t be successful.

It’s tough to be an entrepreneur and a small-business owner. Most of us get into this business by focusing on the parts we love – maybe for you it was a love of color, or the idea that you are transforming people’s homes with gorgeous interiors.

The part we don’t focus on, in most cases, is the enormous amount of hard work, of tough financial times, and of serious business management that it takes to be a CEO. So how can you act like a CEO? Here are a few things you must do:

  • You have to have a business plan. Do you have one?
  • You have to pay yourself – what business leader or CEO do you know that works basically for free?
  • You have to be clear on the goals you’ve set for your company and how you will achieve them.
  • And you must set financial benchmarks that your company has to hit to be profitable.

I can hear you saying: “Wait a minute, I just want to be creative and showcase my talents for the world. I don’t like all of the talk about working on financials or focusing on marketing. Where’s the fun in that?!” You’ll get to have fun in your business – but only if you aren’t constantly stressing about money or where your next client is coming from. And that takes hard work. It takes being a CEO.

In any business, creative or otherwise, a good 80% of your time will be spent on things that are not necessarily at the heart of the reason you started your company in the first place. Instead, you’ll be managing your business, working to attract new clients and customers, researching new revenue streams, and taking a hard look at your financials. If that doesn’t sound like something you can do, then you might want to think about working for another person or at a larger company.

Because these are the facts of owning a business. It is not a hobby or something that you can do halfheartedly. And yes, you can hire people to do some of that work, but that never excuses you from knowing every detail of your company at any given moment. YOU are the CEO.

I’m giving you this reality check because we need to take ourselves, and our business goals seriously. Think of yourself and your company as a start-up that is every bit as important as a Fortune 500 business. The CEO’s vision and commitment are critical to the path that gets a company onto that list – and your vision and commitment are critical to the success of your own company.

That is how you lead a company. That is how you act like a CEO.

Tell me what you think about these ideas in the comments section below! How do YOU take charge and lead your company?







Run Your Own Race

Posted by


Business is hard. I’ve owned my own business for 17 years this month and I definitely couldn’t have made it this far without the help of a few key people including my business coach. And whether you call it a mentor, a coach, or a consultant, I am a firm believer that small business owners (and probably all business owners for that matter) need help from someone who can guide them through the difficulty of running a business, or at the very least to be a sounding board for ideas and issues that come with owning your own company. I’ve had a business coach for years, and I honestly can’t imagine that there will ever come a day when I would be in business without one!

It makes all the difference to have someone help you take a step back from the daily issues and concerns of your business and get some perspective. We often need to define a new path when things aren’t working the way we expected them to. Or we need a support system to give us a boost when we’re feeling worn out or worse, burned out. And I love bouncing ideas off of my coach and to have him say: “That’s great, but what about…” It helps me open my mind to other possible solutions I hadn’t envisioned and to focus on new revenue channels and ideas. Plus he keeps me on track when I have too many great ideas and want to try them all at once. Yes friends, I coach other people in business, and even a business coach needs a business coach.


But here’s the thing – you only get out of business coaching what YOU put into it. Advice and guidance are great, but the coach isn’t actually going to do the work for you. That’s YOUR job. Trust me, there are plenty of times when I wished someone else would make the hard decisions for me, or would take the “not fun stuff” off my plate. But that’s not what a coach is there for.

You can have a lot of people cheering you on, or coaching from the sidelines, but this race is really YOURS to run. We all have to remember that. If you aren’t willing to put in the hours and hard work that it takes to run your business, certainly no one else is going to do it for you.


You are the one that has to buckle down and get your finances under control, work on business development, market your services and products, and decide on your company’s branding and direction. Yes, others can give you their opinions and ideas, but they can’t – and shouldn’t – be the ones making the decisions.

It is really really hard work to build a successful business. And working with coaches and mentors can help lift some of the stress that comes with it. But ultimately, reaching your goals and your business potential is your responsibility. If you want fame and fortune or even just fulfillment and financial freedom, you need to make it priority and really commit to doing the work.

So get your business in great shape and commit to running the very best race you can! Plus find that perfect mentor or coach to guide you and cheer you on all the way to the finish line! If you do that, I know you will be a winner in every sense of the word.

And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck!







PS – If you’re interested in private coaching with me, I would love to help you develop a gameplan for your business today! Learn more here!

The Learning Process

Posted by

stress (1)

Recently, design icon Richard Mishaan spoke to my Mastermind Consulting Group about inspiration and motivation, and he said something that really resonated with me. He said that the one thing that he thought was the most critical for his success, and for his enjoyment, was to continue his education.

Not only has he studied architecture, fashion design, and interior design, but he also recently completed a management program at Harvard Business School! Richard said that continuing to learn was really the secret to his success. And I feel the same way!

stress (2)

I recently was talking with someone who was surprised that I have a business coach, since I also coach and consult with others. But I believe that there is always something that I can learn to help my business! And since my coach isn’t involved in the design world, he gives me different perspectives and strategies to help me up my own game.

Education used to be something that we thought we needed to do just to prepare us for being adults. But really, it’s a continuing process of growth and development that never actually ends! If you aren’t challenging yourself and pushing yourself to learn new ideas and concepts, then not only are you not taking advantage of your full potential, but you’re also missing out on opportunities to make you a better designer and businessperson!

stress (3)

If it’s been a while since you’ve challenged yourself, think about what you can do today to kick-start your education again. You could read new business and marketing books (click here for a few of my faves), you could learn a new language, take an art course at a local museum, learn to draw or paint – the ideas are limitless!

You could take interior design or business courses to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date, or even add a coach/consultant like I have. But you need to keep pushing yourself and expanding your knowledge base. It will make you a better designer in the long run, and as Henry Ford says, the bonus is it will also keep you young!

Educationally yours,






PS – If you want to continue learning new ideas and strategies for the interior design business, check out my online learning center called Tobi U, created specifically for interior designers!

And if you’re interested in challenging yourself to take your business to the next level, join me in my Mastermind program! I’m happy to talk about how I can work with you – just email me at!


A Significant Review

Posted by


Can you believe that we are already halfway through 2015? The time is flying by, as it always does, but it just seems to move faster the older I get. I think it’s so important to slow down our “busyness” every now and then and review or look back to see how far we’ve come.

At the beginning of the year, I decided on a word for 2015, and that also set an intention for my year. My word, as you can see above, is Significance. My intention was, and is, to go for Significance as in Intention, Meaning, Essence, Magnitude, Heart, Soul, and Spirit. All the things I choose for 2015 must be “significant” or important – really important to ME. They should touch my heart and fill my spirit. That has meant being VERY honest with myself about what I want and, more importantly, what I don’t want. And it means having the guts to say no to things.


This is such a HARD thing for us, particularly for those of us who are women, to do in our lives. We’re either saying “yes” to every single thing at work because we think it will make us more successful, or we’re saying “yes” to insignificant things out of guilt or a false sense of obligation. In business and in life, we think there will be some judgement held against us if we say NO. So instead we find ourselves saying yes and as a result, we’re frazzled, burned out, and crazy!

And the problem with saying YES to everything, is that we cannot be SIGNIFICANT – we can’t really make a difference if we’re stretching ourselves so thin that we’re about to snap. You may remember that one of my favorite quotes is “You have to say no to the good, so you can say yes to the GREAT!”


Now – how am I doing with my intention so far this year? Well, I have definitely started saying “no” more often. And I have found great joy in reaching MAJOR goals that I’ve wanted to achieve for years…Significant goals! I launched my first product lines with CR Laine and Soicher Marin, and I also unveiled Tobi U, my online learning center for designers and creatives. It is incredible to see those dreams come true.

I’ve also been able to take my mom and my daughter on my business trips, which makes that travel much more fun. My top priority is family, and the only way I can be really happy is to make sure I am there for all the important things at home and then take them along every chance I get. I know I will look back on the significance of having the people I love with me for many highlights of my career and hopefully they will, too.

But yes, I could do better in some of the other areas, like finding time to relax and spending more downtime with friends. And I just happen to be taking care of those two things this month with a fun trip to the beach in Florida with friends and family! And I know my work will be more significant when I get back because I will be rested and refreshed.


The best thing about doing this mid-year review, though, is that it refocuses our attention on those goals that we’ve set for ourselves. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the daily challenges and responsibilities of life, that we forget what we really wanted this year to be. And we find ourselves falling into old habits that are not aligned with our intentions at all. We can often find ourselves missing out on the fabulous forest we desire because we can’t see past those pesky old trees!

So far on the BIG things this year, I am doing really well. Knocking them out of the park to be exact. And now that I have given myself a little check up, I can re-adjust some of the details in my life so at the end of 2015 I can have all those little things whipped into shape, too. Because it’s the little things that can often have the biggest impact, isn’t it?

I just need a few tweaks and then I can truly say that I lived with SIGNIFICANCE this year. So how are you doing with your 2015 goals? Let me know in the comments below! Meanwhile, I hear the beach calling my name!








Dreams Do Come True – With Hard Work and Great Partners!

Posted by


Setting up my area of the CR Laine showroom at High Point Market!

I can hardly believe that by the time you are reading this post, I am realizing a dream! Well actually two of them – I am launching my two new collections with my fabulous partners CR Laine and Soicher Marin at the High Point Market today. In some ways, it seems as if it happened overnight, but of course it has taken months (and years if we’re being totally honest) of hard work!

When I was a child, I was always doing something creative. It’s in my blood. And even in design school I somehow knew that in the future I would have product lines. I saw visions of furniture collections and fabric lines instead of sugarplums dancing in my head. I didn’t know when, and I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know who I would work with, but I just knew that these launches were in my future. I never doubted that for a moment.


Still “playing” with design after all these years!

So how did I get to today? I talk a lot about how we can often know the “WHAT” that we want in our lives, but not necessarily the “HOW” to make it happen. So although I saw that product line (the “what”) in my future when I was in school, I had no idea at that time how I would get to this point…how I would get to the how.

You see, when you have a goal or dream, it’s a waste of time and energy to try to figure out every step before you take action. You only need to know the first step. And thankfully along the way of my design career, I figured that first step out!

tf-4862 (1)

Love these Alexander dining chairs – part of my new collection with CR Laine!

So today is the big day. And the secret to making my collections happen really isn’t a secret at all. Just like with many things in life, getting to these fabulous product launches is all about building meaningful relationships with good people.  You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but you do need to find the people who have the knowledge you need. And if you are like me, those people have to be kind and collaborative and share a vision with you that you are both willing to work hard to execute.


Supervising picture hanging is very tedious and hard work (ha!).

Some of the people who have helped me get to this place have worked with me for years, and some of my partners and collaborators I’ve only known for months. So it doesn’t always take a long time to create something spectacular. But I think it’s best to remember that you can’t rush a dream. When you meet the right people, and the timing is right, it can all fall seamlessly into place.

This has all been a collaborative effort – my very favorite way to work. Yes, I am having dreams come true for me this week, but I couldn’t do this by myself, and I am so thankful to the people who helped me get here. I am so lucky to have fantastic partners in CR Laine and Soicher Marin. And I am so very proud of what we have created together.


Love my Soicher Marin collection of art – also debuting at High Point Market!

I hope you enjoyed a bit of sneak peek here of the new collections – and I can’t wait to tell you about a few more things we have in the works. Meanwhile, keep plugging away at YOUR dreams! Keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep your eye out for those people that can help you move to your goals! Remember, it’s about the WHAT, not the HOW.

Hooray for my big day. And if you’re a designer or retailer, I sure hope you will join me in High Point this week for a fabulous celebration with CR Laine and Soicher Marin, because celebrating is something that I definitely know “How” to do!