Archive for the ‘Design Business’ Category

An Attitude of Gratitude

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Now that the holiday season is about to hit full swing, chances are that you will soon be giving and receiving and thanking up a storm! It can be inspirational, and it can be overwhelming. But when I think about gratitude in the context of my business and my life, I remind myself that it should be the keystone both.

Some people think of gratitude as a burden. Imagine a 12-year-old sitting down to write a stack of thank-you notes after his birthday, and you’ll get the picture. But I prefer to think of it not as a burden but as a blessing. Or more specifically, I really think of it is as a practice. Gratitude is a way of seeing the world.

And gratitude is so much more than a thank you note or sending flowers. Don’t get me wrong, those things are wonderful and it does feel so good to send gestures like these. In fact, giving gifts for a good reason or no reason at all is one of my favorite things to do. But gratitude is a feeling first; and how you express it comes second. Feeling gratitude on a daily basis completely changes how you see the world. It keeps you from becoming offended so easily. It helps you give people the benefit of the doubt. It makes you not take yourself or others so seriously. Gratitude is really like a miracle drug. It greatly impacts your outlook on life.


Now this all sounds great, right? But the hard part is the consistency or what I call “practicing” gratitude. Yes, it requires practice to maintain a spirit of gratitude in the midst of a demanding schedule, in the face of unexpected challenges. But if you are willing to make your gratitude practice a priority, it will definitely support you and guide you through all your life’s moments of both joy and sorrow.

Some suggestions from my own experiences that help keep me centered in a place of gratitude include:

  • Living in the present moment. This means no dwelling in the past or missing out on today for “one day” thinking about the future! One day is TODAY, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!
  • Counting my many blessings on a daily basis. For me that’s through keeping a daily gratitude journal and numbering them sequentially through the year. By this time of year, I am into the thousands of things I am grateful for this year. And it makes an impression on your when you write the #1199 reason you are grateful this year. It proves to you daily that you truly are blessed. Trust me, you’ll love this approach.
  • Turning obstacles and challenges around and seeing them as opportunities for growth. I have made this an art, but it took years to get there. I now have very short “Pity Parties” if I have one at all, and I am able to shake things off quickly and look for the silver lining. This is a habit that ensures I am happy 99% of the time.

When you begin these or other gratitude practices, the power of gratitude will move beyond your personal life and will seep into your work life. You’ll quickly see how transformational it can be for your business. And, there is a key link that I want you to see between gratitude and abundance. When you are able to recognize that you live in a world of abundance, that there is enough for everyone, then you are feeling gratitude.


How many times a day do you say to yourself or someone else, “We/I don’t have enough ________!” Fill in that blank with time, money, information, or things. If you start to notice and acknowledge how much time you spend focused on what you don’t have, you’ll probably be surprised. Developing a strong sense of gratitude counterbalances those scarcity beliefs and keeps you on-course to your goals for an abundant life. It helps you believe there is enough time, money and everything else to go around, and it gives you confidence to go after the life you have imagined!

So now that you feel gratitude bubbling up inside of you and you are ready to express it, go for it! It is a gift that you share with the world. But it is an even greater gift to yourself. How are you showing or telling your family, clients, employees, friends, craftspeople, vendors, EVERYONE that you are grateful? Now might be a perfect moment for a self-assessment. Are you expressing gratitude in ways large and small? If so, how? Let me know in the comments section below!

Thank you for being here with me – for reading my blog and for commenting! I appreciate each and every one of you!

In gratitude,







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!


Thinking Like a CEO

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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 also we are 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 will not 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 the 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!


The reality is that 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 this is the REALITY 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.

If you’re a designer, tell me what you think about these ideas in the comments section below! How do YOU take charge and lead your company?







PS – If you want help getting into that CEO mindset, getting your financials in shape, or setting up systems for your company, I can help! I have a live-session event Nov. 10-11 in Dallas called Designer MBA that helps guide you through the process of transforming your company for success! Or if you prefer moving at your own pace and on your own schedule, try Tobi U! I want to help you get your company in shape for a successful 2016!

My 2014 Word of the Year

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I am so excited about 2014 that I can taste it. My excitement is real, palpable. I am serious about making this year AWESOME. I am certain it will be my biggest year yet. I have no doubt.

cb28ba73e3badcbec5a481f36a840201Did you hear that? I will MAKE this year awesome. Not “it will be” awesome. I will MAKE it that way. I am on a mission more than ever before.

I love picking a word of the Year each January as my intention…to set the tone–No, to define this year. It will happen. I put it out there and the Universe meets me. And it’s critical that I pick the right word that will define my attitude, my energy, and my approach to life for the next 12 months. It becomes part of who I am. It makes a difference when the going gets tough. It directs my self-talk.

The last two years have been BIG years for me in many ways. In 2012 with the word Discipline I got healthy mentally, physically, and financially.

In 2013 with Inspire as my word, I invested in building my team and my new multi-faceted Design and Consulting business in a way that allows me to inspire many people to be their best in their homes, their businesses and their lives. My new online presence that we launched this week brings all our efforts of 2013 together in one place so I can do the work I am called to do and can live my passion inspiring the world around me.

So now for 2014–(drum roll please) This year my word is … ACTION.


Here are some of my favorite definitions of Action:

1. The most vigorous, productive, or exciting activity in a particular field, area or group (Wants to be where the action is)

2. An act of will

3. Initiative, enterprise (A Man of Action)

4. Financial gain or an opportunity for financial gain (A piece of the action)

5. The way the body moves.

6. The accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages or with the possibility of repetition

And action will take many of these forms for me this year…Massive Action at work, massive action moving my body for my health, and massive financial action just to name a few. Plus I’m hell bent on crossing things off my bucket list, spending more time with friends, and doing many of the things I have been putting off “until I have time”.  No more waiting. I’m taking ACTION!


I am a doer. My top strength from Strengthfinders 2.0 is Activator. The synopsis for the Activator personality says “You are impatient for ACTION. You constantly ask…When can we start?” So it’s not that I am trying to accomplish something that will be impossible this year, but rather I am LEANING IN to my top strength. This year I am taking it to the top, baby!


In my job as a consultant, I coach many talented and creative people who are certainly a success in their own right but that just aren’t experiencing the sort of flexible schedule and financial freedom that they dream of. And in almost every case, I find that they already have and know everything they would need to be living their dreams, there is one missing piece…ACTION.


There is something holding them back from taking action, often something they can’t even verbalize. Of course it is fear, but what does that mean? Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of knowing what they want but not how to get it, fear of what others will think, fear of taking risk, fear of not doing it perfectly, fear that they will regret it or that a better option will come along…there’s a litany of possible fears. It’s endless really.


But at the end of the day, there is just one solution. Taking Action. Not perfect action. Just action. And any action is better than inaction. Because at least if you do it wrong, you get feedback on what doesn’t work, right? You have to start before you’re ready. Take the leap. Don’t think, just do. None of us who take action and achieve big things have any more certainly than anyone else that what we are doing will work. And many times it doesn’t. We just trust our instincts, use our experience, and at some point we GO. And we have more successes than all those people who never even try.


So if I am so great at taking action then why do I need to focus on it more you ask? Well here’s why. Even though I make tons of things happen each year, I have never had a focus, or a mantra, or as my daughter would call it a “catch phrase” associated with action. I have never made it my mission to live my life to the fullest.


I have never made an extreme effort to totally eliminate procrastination , to stop saying I’m tired or I’m busy, and to wake up daily with an attitude that helps me attack the day with gusto. And that is where I am going this year. I want a different sort of zest for action and for life than I have ever had before. I will have a sense of urgency about my goals and my dreams. Urgency yes, but panic, No! This is about peace and happiness. About doing more of what makes me feel great and doing it right now.


And I don’t just mean about work. I want to take massive action with my family time, with my home renovation, with my hobbies like cooking and photography. I want to have gusto in all parts of my life and I think focusing on taking massive action obliterating procrastination will be fabulous, fun, and fulfilling.


If my normal way of life already looks like a success to me and most everyone else if I am already not a procrastinator 90% of the time, I am curious to see what massive action and zero procrastination looks like. Exciting stuff, huh?

I will do more cooking fun new recipes, more baking and giving it to neighbors, more painting with my daughter, hiking with my friends, starting that veggie garden I’ve been talking about, trying new types of exercise, traveling to places I’ve never been. It is really about this–“life is short, don’t waste a moment”.


Talk is cheap. 2014 is the time to stop talking and start doing.


Actions speak volumes and the person I am speaking to this year is me. My mental loop is saying “Come on Tobi, show me what you got!” and boy do I love a challenge.


So in a nut shell, here is what my life will look like in 2014…


What about you? What word will you choose to define your 2014 and why? I can’t wait to hear.


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p.s. Speaking of taking action, another of my goals as been to get more of my consulting out to the world at a great value. And so starting January 30th, I’m taking action and doing just that with my first ever Tobi’s Teleseries which is the most affordable course of this caliber that I have ever offered. And this course isn’t just for designers–it’s for designers, creatives, small business owners, really anyone who wants to skyrocket their business this year.

If you are ready to take massive action this year and want my tips and techniques that have helped me stop procrastinating and build a business and a life I love, join me for my 6 week teleseries Build Your Dream Business. To get more information and to sign up, go here.

I hope you’ll join me in building your dream Business in 2014. This time next year, you could be celebrating BIG Business Actions and Success and experiencing financial freedom like never before.

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

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Today I am so excited to announce a brand-new way that design professionals can hire me as their business coach: I’m launching a six-week teleseries that’s all about how to Stop Procrastinating and Build Your Dream Business NOW!

email-BuildYourDreamBizThis is an important announcement for me, because, as I look back to the very first business coaching group I led and to my very first live trainings four years ago, I can so clearly see my own development and how it has prepared me to be a guide through the wilds of owning your own business. And, as they say, “It’s a jungle out there!”

You entrepreneurs  know what I’m talking about, for sure, but I think this applies to everyone! True and lasting success in business requires real vulnerability, total authenticity, and massive ACTION. And all of those things are scary. Really, really scary. It’s a lot easier and it feels a lot more comfortable to keep your walls up, avoid the tough and touchy work that you have to do to before you can begin to 1) believe you’re worthy of success 2) access the power you have when you’re working in your passion, and 3) take each and every terrifying step required to build the business the LIFE you’ve always dreamed of.

So we procrastinate. We find other people to “do” for, first. Or maybe we are refiners, stuck in the planning phase and never taking the first leap into uncertainty. We play small; we play safe; we stay comfortable. Until one day…we realize that our dream is still there, waiting to be LIVED. We see that we’ve just been “playing” business, not doing business.

And that is a terrible feeling! The courage it takes to declare yourself an entrepreneur is HUGE, but it’s only a drop in the bucket of all the HEART and HARD WORK it takes to choose that same dream every day that follows. And a very big piece of my own life’s purpose is to encourage all of us who are together in this trench to not lose sight of our individual visions and to keep driving hard toward our ultimate goals.

And that’s what this teleseries is going to do for anyone who takes the leap with me. I’ll offer you the clarity, insights, and strategies I’ve gleaned from 15 years in the industry and from the work of countless mentors, gurus, and experts. I’ll give you the push you need to take that very next step. In each call, I’ll be talking straight and getting down to the nitty-gritty on topics like financials, effective marketing, and ideal clients. And I’ve never before offer this type of AMAZING content as such a great price!

So if you’re feeling stuck, like you’re spinning your wheels, over-worked and underpaid, OR if you’ve been sinking money into a “hobby” business and not really giving it your all, this teleseries may be EXACTLY the supercharge you’re needing. I want you taking your business and YOURSELF seriously!

Don’t wait another minute. The timing is just right to take FULL advantage of 2014. This time next year, you could be living your dream life and dream business if you take the leap with me. So don’t procrastinate on learning not to procrastinate. Take action now. I promise you it will be worth it.

It’s a major step in my own business journey to be able to offer this kind of coaching opportunity, and you–my blog readers–have been such a pivotal part of that evolution. Cheers to us!


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