Posts Tagged ‘learning’

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.


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.


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,

Tobi Signature






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!


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.


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!







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,






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!


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!








Focus on Your Business with Mastermind

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It’s hard to believe that the 4th quarter of 2015 is quickly approaching! I always find this to be a great time to set goals for the last part of this year, and to start planning where I want my business to be in 2016. So where do you see your design business in the coming year? What are YOUR goals?

Like most CEO/owners of a small business, I’m sure you’re wondering how you’re going to get it all done, how you can improve and grow your company, and what it will take to refine and improve your client roster and your income. That’s where my Mastermind Consulting Program comes in!

This is the 5th anniversary of Mastermind and in that time we’ve completely transformed hundreds of design businesses and set them on the path to make more money, to attract ideal clients, and to get published! I want that same thing for you!

My theme for 2016 is FOCUS – and what we’ll be doing in Mastermind will help you get laser-focused on the critical ideas, systems, and tools that will take your business to a whole new level next year!

Let’s look at a great testimonial from one of my former members on how Mastermind impacted her business:


Denise is just one of the many designers that have found success with Mastermind:

“I just gave a proposal presentation today for DOUBLE my fee from last year! I would have taken much longer to have gotten to this point in my business if it wasn’t for you!” – Michelle Lynne, Michelle Lynne Interiors Group

“If it were not for Tobi’s business advice in Mastermind on how to create Marker Girl into a brand, my business would not have become as successful as it has today! She taught me that Marker Girl needed to be my entire business brand and from that I gained a better business model by generating multiple streams of revenue for myself.” – Karen Davis, Marker Girl

“The lessons I learned in Mastermind taught me how to increase my income level while decreasing my workload, which allows me to be more discriminating about the projects I choose to design each year. Mastermind equipped me with the skills I needed to streamline my business, introduced me to opportunities, and forged relationships that would have taken years on my own.” – Lisa Mende, Lisa Mende Design

Let’s make that kind of magic happen for YOUR business, and let’s do it NOW! In Mastermind, we have 3 live sessions with instruction and fabulous speakers, with presentations that earn you those valuable CEUs! In 2016, the themes and locations are:

  • Feb. 9-10, in Florida. The theme will be Developing/Refining Your Unique Point of View, including branding, niche, promotions and more.
  • June 14-15, in Chicago. The theme will be Putting Your Business Under the Microscope, including client management, selling your services, project management, and logistics.
  • Sept. 20-21, in Boston. The theme will be Focus on Revenue, including the best strategies for making money, new revenue streams, developing products, and ecommerce for designers.

In addition, members also receive:

  • One semester of Tobi U, my new online learning center
  • Weekly accountability emails
  • Monthly telecalls from me on a hot topic for that month
  • 6 Book Club telecalls a year, on my favorite new biz books
  • Members-only Facebook forum
  • Admission to Designer MBA where you can earn .8 CEUs!

As you can see, Mastermind truly is FOCUSED on changing your business and setting you on the path for success! So what are you waiting for? Email me today at and let’s talk about how we can make 2016 your best year ever!