Posts Tagged ‘education’

The Joy of Learning

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Are you a learner? A seeker? Well everyone who knows me knows that I would rather be learning and studying above almost everything else. I have even been known to stay home from a fun event including a broadway play in the big apple, to watch a webinar in my PJ’s with a glass of wine. Yes, it’s just my 4th week of my 52 weeks of Joy and learning has already been a big part of my 2017.

You also may remember that I went to college for 9 years and got 3 degrees–accounting, interior design and an MBA. My parents thought I would never get out of school. And though I didn’t really plan to get all these degrees originally, in hindsight the combination has turned out to be a pretty good plan for my design and consulting career.

I am always reading–I have about 3 business, self-help or parenting books going at all times on my kindle app with about 10 (or 30) others purchased and waiting for me. And at any given time I am working through one or two webinars or online courses and have a laundry list of classes, courses, webinars and live seminars that I want to attend.

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I have a lot of interests but I typically focus my learning and education on things that benefit me personally or that I can use for clients or both. Over the last 7 months I have been part of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s program to become a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. This is as much for myself and my family as for clients. But I love the way it integrates into my design and consulting businesses because wellness and balance is a huge need for the design clients I work for as well as the entrepreneurs, CEO’s and small business owners that I coach and mentor in my consulting business. So this knowledge plays right into my work and you will be seeing more and more of this wellness focus in both my design and consulting businesses in the future.

If you read my blog about the Joy of Whitespace, you know I want more free time in my life. And it’s not all so I can lay around and do nothing. A lot of that space would be filled with learning, because it’s something that really fills me up. It feeds my soul. And it helps me help others, which is one of my favorite things to do.

FullSizeRender.jpgI even have another topic or two that I could see myself studying through an online college curriculum once my daughter is in college in a few years, or maybe I’ll enroll in a local college again. She and I could be students at the same time.

I think learning keeps you young and at the rate I am learning, I’m going to be around for a long time.

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So how about you…are you a learner? What do you want to read or study and if you aren’t, what is holding you back from that? If you enrolled in courses, would you use it to change your life or your career? And for those of you who study like me, what are your favorite books, teachers, webinars and sources of information. I’d love to know.

Happy Learning, friends! May we all become smarter and wiser together this year.

Joyfully yours,

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5 Tips for Dealing with the ‘Messy Middle’

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When you start a project, there’s that magical feeling of excitement and possibility. You feel super-creative and full of ideas and energy – it’s amazing and so much fun! And at the end of a project, you have a sense of accomplishment, and you can’t wait to unveil your fabulous design or solution to your clients and to the world. But then there’s the middle of a project

That’s the tough and messy part of our business – that middle part where you’re dealing with headaches and issues. You’re slogging through what seems like a mountain of problems, and feeling completely chicken-pecked by your staff, subcontractors or collaborators, and your 5-mile-long To Do list. Ugh.

The middle is tough. It’s hard to keep up your excitement level, or to be motivated to tackle everything with enthusiasm. It’s like the shiny part wore off your favorite toy. But that is exactly the time when you need to kick things into high gear. In the middle, you have to communicate even more so your clients don’t wonder what’s going on. You have to keep your momentum going so your staff doesn’t lose their motivation, too. And you have to keep juggling everything so it doesn’t all come crashing down on you. The middle is messy, but so very important!

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The middle is also a key part of your career as a creative professional. When you start out, you are starry eyed with the possibility of amazing clients and incredible projects, ready to show the world how amazingly creative you are. At the end of your career, you hope to look back on a fulfilling and long creative path, full of happy clients and dazzled editors. But the middle is where you can lose focus, or worse, lose all your motivation. Have you been there? Or are you there now?

Call it burnout, call it a mid-life crisis, or call it stress – the result is the same. You are exhausted from running your business, you feel like you wouldn’t recognize anything creative if it hit you in the head, and you struggle just to have your head down slogging through your To Dos. We all hit this wall in the middle of our careers, and we have to recognize it and deal with it, otherwise it could be the end of our businesses instead of the middle.

So how do we “deal” with it? Here are 5 tips for dealing with that “messy middle”:

1. You have to take care of yourself. This isn’t me being all “woo woo,” it’s a simple fact. Entrepreneur magazine has hundreds of articles that talk about how self care is absolutely critical for small business owners – and that’s you! You need to slow it down, get your rest, exercise, and eat the right things. Stress is literally a killer, and you need to make yourself healthy enough to deal with the stress that comes with the job. After all, you are the most important thing in your company.

2. Deal with your emotions. Are you scared that your company might fail? Are you angry at a vendor (or two)? Are you nervous that clients aren’t coming your way? This is all normal – every CEO from the biggest company to the smallest has these feelings. The key is to recognize them and address them instead of shoving the emotions down where you don’t have to look at them. Facing your worst fears and saying “what is the worst that can happen” is the best thing you can do. You’ll find that even if the worst case scenario comes true, you can deal with it. Doing that takes a lot of the sting out of the fear and allows you to stop blaming yourself. You can also then come up with a plan to help you keep those fears from becoming reality.

3. Ask for help. We ALL have to to do this at some point – and sometimes more than once. No single person on earth can do every single thing all alone. Whether it’s moral support, financial support, coaching, or additional employees or contractors, ask for the help you need. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your future success. Even if it’s as simple as hiring someone to help with your financial paperwork, or getting advice on how to handle time management, do it today.

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4. Rediscover your passion. Too often it’s the business of doing business that wears us down. I ask my consulting clients this a lot, and I want you to really think about it now: Why did you get into this business in the first place? Whatever it was – creativity, wanting to help others, creating gorgeous interiors – how can you get back to focusing on that more? There is no reason at all to be in this business if you aren’t enjoying any part of it – and trust me, everyone from your clients to potential partners can tell when you’re burned out and lacking excitement. Here’s a big secret about being a small business owner: You are in control. So find a way to put the passion back into your company. Stop doing the things that drain you and start doing the things that ignite you!

5. Smile, laugh, and have fun! This isn’t brain surgery – it’s a creative business that’s supposed to be enjoyable. You need to have fun, to laugh, and to create joy for yourself and others. That is what life is all about! Smile more – it’s infectious and will be contagious. Have a laugh with your clients! Spread joy in your office! Think I’m off my rocker? Well would YOU rather do business with a stressed-out grump or with someone who makes you smile? Exactly. Even if you have to fake a smile for a bit, I promise you it will become genuine in no time. Life is meant to be enjoyed!

Try these tips to help get you out of that messy middle rut that we all fall into. Give yourself permission to take steps to reduce the stress that comes with our jobs. If you’re happier, I promise your clients, your team and your family will be happier, too!

xo,

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PS – If you need help dealing with any part of your business, then my Business for Creatives: Designer MBA course is for you! From financials to time management to client outreach, I’ll show you how to transform your business into a lean, mean, money making machine! You can learn more here, or you can join me for a FREE telecall at 3pm EST on March 15. On that live call, I’ll tell you why Designer MBA is a can’t-miss event for creative business owners not just interior designers. Click here to register for that call right now!

The Learning Process

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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!

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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!

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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,

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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 info@tobifairley.com!

 

School Is Back in Session with Tobi U!

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If you’re an interior designer like me, I know you’re incredibly busy just running your business. Sometimes you’re so busy that you feel like you don’t even have time to stop for anything – even if it’s something that can help improve your business systems so you don’t have to work as hard!

That’s why I created Tobi U, my online learning center for interior designers, with courses that will streamline your processes, rev up your creative engine, help you learn how to charge what you’re worth, and how to sell your services!

These online courses are there for you when you need them – so you can work through them in your own time and at your own pace! These are the foundational courses that I’ve been teaching for years, and that have transformed interior design businesses across the country!

Here’s a quick video to tell you more about what Tobi U can do for your business:

With the relaunch of Tobi U, I’ve added a whole new semester of 8 additional courses, and interior designers now have the opportunity to earn up to .8 CEUs! For most recertifications, that’s almost all you need for a two-year period.

With Tobi U, you can now choose between:

  • Semester One – The Essentials
    Created for designers at any experience level, these 8 modules focus on the essentials for your business, including branding, niche strategy, financials, time management, selling your services, and marketing.
  • Semester Two – The Solutions
    Building on Semester 1’s courses, the 8 modules in this semester offer next-step solutions for finding your ideal client, charging what you’re worth, building processes and systems, perfecting presentations, and getting published.

The content for each module includes videos, webinars, podcasts, and downloadable PDFs that will help you plot your course to success! Each semester has the Early Bird Price of $999, and you can purchase them separately – or you can buy BOTH semesters together and for a limited time I’m offering them for the crazy low price of $1,299 because I want don’t want you to have any excuse for not signing up for both semesters of this business-changing content! That’s close to $700 in savings, but again that price won’t be available long.

Click through this link to download the syllabus for either semester or to purchase these amazing courses!

Sharpen up your pencils, get out your notebooks, and let’s put you on the path to success!

xo,

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Mastermind Spotlight: Laura Lee

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portfolio picOne of the great things about my Mastermind Consulting Program is that the members are from many different backgrounds and careers – but they are all passionate about design! Laura Lee began her St. Louis-based design business, Laura Lee Home, in 2012 as a second career and never looked back! She joined my Mastermind Program in 2014 after attending Design A-to-Z and Designer MBA the previous year.

Laura’s niche is helping to direct her clients’ resources, both time and money, to help them get the very most for their investment. “Tobi really helped me see that my financial background is a unique benefit to my clients, and I love that I get to do what I love every day,” Laura says.

“Decorating and renovating are expensive and I help my clients achieve their goals without the stress of an open-ended cost structure,” Laura says. “We are vigilant about communicating every step of the way. When I approach design projects, we get very clear about budgets and timelines. I help direct clients on where to splurge and where to save.”

Laura also specializes in bringing fresh, classic, edited interiors to older homes. From the first 1920s bungalow Laura and her husband John painstakingly renovated, to the 1930s colonial and two 1920s Tudor homes she’s also worked on, Laura knew she loved historic architecture and design.

“My expertise helps to make the most of the wasted space found in many older homes and to support 21st century living,” she says.

DSC_8741Laura says that 2014 was a big year of transition for her business with the launch of her first website in June and evaluating everything about running her business.

“I worked to streamline my design process, documented my systems, renovated my office-to-house samples as well as paperwork, and addressed my financials,” Laura says. “Design is the fun part and getting really serious about the business side of running the design business took discipline.”

Elevating her business and her transition year was not without its challenges.

“The biggest challenge I have faced was realizing that not every client that calls our office is right for my firm,” Laura says. “We do a lot of work in Mastermind on identifying our ideal clients and what differentiates us as designers. Educating people on the design process and what I am able to do, as well as not able to do, sets the tone for a successful partnership.”

Laura’s goals for this year are to continue to grow her business and to hire an assistant to allow her to spend more time on the design work. She is also investigating options to work on a show house as well as developing a focused social media strategy.

“I am looking forward to some exciting new design projects, including a first-floor renovation and a mid-century modern home,” Laura says.

familyroom2 When Laura isn’t working, she loves to cook, spend time with her friends and family, read, walk and garden. “My favorite place to spend time away from home is the beach, especially Sanibel Island in Florida,” she says.

Laura says it has been a challenge to strike the right balance between work and personal commitments since starting her business, especially with two teens at home, Audrey and Jack, and their oldest son Eric in college.

“My husband and I start each morning having coffee together and playing with our dogs Charlie the Golden Retriever and Lucy the Shih-Tzu,” Laura says. “That time is sacred and keeps us connected. I have learned that exercise has to happen very early in the morning and that I have to be more structured about appointments, errands, and commitments. John and my kids have been so supportive – pitching in and taking on more responsibility, especially when I need to be out of town.”

Laura says her biggest takeaway from the Mastermind program is to be 100% authentic in everything she does. “Tobi really helped me lean in to my niche and the unique perspective that my financial background brings to my clients and business,” she says.

Laura is an amazing designer, and a fantastic businesswoman! She does have the discipline and drive to really succeed in this tough business – and I look forward to seeing what she achieves in 2015!

xo,

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PS – If you are interested in seeing how my Mastermind Consulting Program can help you transform your business for success, just click here to learn more!  Or contact me at info@tobifairley.com!