Ep #206: The Value of Design Part 2: Are You a Thinker or a Doer?

The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley |

When you think about how you spend most of your time in your business or how you spend your time in your work as a designer or creative, it really comes down to one question: are you a doer or a thinker?

I used to be much more of a doer, but it was never really easy for me. It didn’t feel in alignment with my nature and my skillset to be a doer but I continued to do it anyway. And y’all, it was exhausting. It truly took its toll on me because I’m a visionary at heart. But establishing which one you are can really help you work in a way that aligns with your values.

In this episode, discover the differences between a thinker and a doer and how to establish which one you are. We are all a little of both to some degree, but knowing which one you are in nature can do wonders for your business and completely change the way you work, so I’m exploring it further this week.

If you want help creating a business with thriving revenue streams so that you can design the life you really want, get on the waitlist for the next round of my Design You Coaching Program. Inside, you’ll get access to a whole new course where I share my complete design system with you. You’ll receive every template, tool, SOP, worksheet, downloadable, video, and more that I have created and used myself, and receive a complete step-by-step for how to run your full-service projects. 

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • Some different terms and definitions around being a thinker or a doer.
  • How the great resignation has impacted the design industry.
  • A period in time that led us to losing a large part of creativity.
  • How being the doer led me to two bouts of burnout.
  • Why being a doer on a deadline is unsustainable.
  • How to think differently about the design industry as a whole.
  • What we often get wrong in the design industry.
  • How hustle culture and bootstrapping mentality have impacted the way we work in the design industry.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to the Design You podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 206.

Welcome to the Design You podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey, hey, friends. I am just loving that the days are getting longer, are you? I know, I know, I just can’t help but talk about the seasons. I get that you don’t always listen to these right when they’re released. And you may be listening in fall and I’m over here talking about winter, or spring, or whatever. But I can’t help myself because I love the changing of the seasons. I love all the seasons actually. I guess if I had to go in order I’d probably say fall is my favorite, maybe spring second, winter third, summer last but I don’t know. I kind of love all of them.

So, it’s not really totally fair. It’s a little misleading for me to rank my seasons like that because they’re all amazing. But I think my favorite part is the changing of the seasons. I’m always so grateful when the new experience happens. So, for right now that means spring’s on its way in and I just love, except for the pollen of course, that’s soon going to be all in my swimming pool. But except for the pollen I love the days are getting longer and we’re going to soon have hopefully warmer temperatures and flowers blooming. So, I’ll tolerate the pollen, I guess, since I get all the rest of that stuff.

Okay, so welcome back this week and no, this episode is not about seasons or weather, it’s about the value of design. And it’s our second episode in this series. So, if you listened last week you heard the series introduction where I started to consider the difference between being a designer first as being a creative. And how being the designer and for our purposes, that really means as we defined it in that episode a lot of implementation, and execution, and installation, a lot of doing really is what design involves.

And so, it’s often more easily devalued because the doing part can be replicated by many more people than the creative part or the creative work can. The creative ideas are those truly unique, one of a kind or imaginative solutions that solve the problem. And if you are a creative or spending more time in creativity you’re really doing that truly unique work. So again, as we talked about last week, when we say design, I’m talking about the creation and implementation.

And when I say designer, I’m not just talking about an interior designer, this is true for all design and designers. So, product design, fashion design, web design, graphic design, event design and so many more variations in the design fields. But as I began thinking about this concept more and this series more it really led me to consider that how you’re spending most of your time in your work as a designer or creative really comes down to another question. Are you a thinker or are you a doer?

And of course, the answer’s both for all of us to some degree. But I’ve noticed in myself and in others that people tend to fall more into one category or the other oftentimes. And there are some other terms that I use interchangeably sometimes in my business and in my teachings that are around the same idea that might help further differentiate these concepts of thinking and doing to help you see where you fall. So those terms are visionary versus integrator or strategist versus tactician.

So, let’s break all these down, thinking, doing, visionary, integrator, strategist, tactician so that we really understand them. So, I think you get thinking versus doing. One’s more in your head, one’s more an action, laboring. But then when we start to think about the terms, visionary and integrator. Let’s go a little deeper, let’s make sure you know what these mean.

So, the very first time I heard the terms, visionary versus integrator, these concepts were from the book, Traction by Gino Wickman and also from the book, Rocket Fuel by Wickman and another guy named Mark C. Winters. And Wickman and Winters say the easiest way to think about integrators versus visionaries is this. The visionaries see the future and know where they want to go with a product or a service. The integrators actually get them there. They draw the map and make sure others are following that map. They execute. The roles could not be more different they say.

So, the visionary is not the person who executes for growth. You might start to recognize the commonalities here between visionary and integrator and how they align with what we talked about last week. So visionary is more like the creative, or that creative work where the designer definition we have discussed and its commonality is really aligned with the integrator, the doer, the execute person, the installation person. And so, as I started to think about this recently, I wrote three sentences in my own journal.

Designers are the integrators. Creatives come up with the ideas. I’m an idea person. So basically, I could have said designers or integrators, creatives come up with the vision, I am a visionary which is so true. Okay, so a little bit more on visionaries versus integrators in a moment but let’s also define this other concept I gave you which is strategist versus tacticians.

So, these are terms I’ve heard over the years and most recently I was reintroduced to them from a couple of coaches that I know and love, Kris Plachy and Brooke Castillo. And I have a course where they teach about entrepreneurial management. And they were discussing the differences in the two types of people, the strategist versus the tacticians. So, let’s get a definition real quick of each of those types of roles or people.

So, a quick Google search finds that a strategist understands the nature of a long term goal and invents an innovative plan to achieve it. I’d probably call that a vision, sounds familiar from above. And note that innovation is one of the things that we discussed in last week’s episode about true creativity and a strategist has an innovative plan. They innovate. A tactician is skilled at responding to situations as they arise and developing sound plans to win. But a tactician is not useful for long term planning, which again we could substitute there for the vision.

A little more Googling around these two terms, I also found that the difference in strategy versus tactic, because a strategist uses strategy and a tactician uses tactics. So, this is what I found, while strategy is the action plan that takes you where you want to go, the tactics are the individual steps and actions that will get you there. So again, I could say the strategy is the vision and the individual steps, the tactics are the doing.

So, in a business context tactics are the specific action steps teams take to implement the initiatives outlined in the strategy. So, the strategy is the plan, the tactics are the steps. I hope this is all making sense. And you’re seeing how all these terms, thinking, doing, creative, designer, visionary, integrator, strategist, tactician. There’s kind of a line right down the middle and some of them fall on the vision side, the thinking side and some of them fall on the doing side.

Now, in a recent Forbes article that I found, or I’m not even sure how recent it was but it was a really good article, it was written by someone named Jo Miller. And it was called The 3 Ways to be a Strategist and not a Tactician. And in that article there is a quote by Donna Munsch, she is the Vice President of Cloud Operations at NetApp.

And Donna said, “I started out as the ultimate tactician. I had this continuous drive to enjoy the intoxicating buzz of checking off things on my list. It’s immediately gratifying to conquer a to-do list, but if you aspire to move beyond your current role, you need to think and act more strategically.” I think this sums up tactician so well. If you are constantly checking things off your to-do list you’re a doer. You’re a tactician more than anything else. If you get, as she said, that intoxicating buzz of drawing that line through those things on your list you’re a doer.

And I believe that a thinker is synonymous with creative, or visionary, or strategist. So, if thinker is that, a doer on the other hand is aligned with our definition that we’re working from just again, I know I’ve said this, I’m not trying to beat it to death, but it’s aligned with that definition of designer. Who is mostly an implementer, a doer, an installer, a schlepper, an orderer, all the things. So, it aligns with the terms integrator and tactician.

Now, this is not to say that designers and integrators don’t ever think strategically or creatively, they absolutely do. But what I’m getting at here is where are you spending most of your time? Are you spending most of your time in your business as a thinker or as a doer? I think it’s also not even to say that as a thinker you aren’t doing anything. You are doing something, you’re doing a lot but it’s in your mind, it’s with your ideas, it’s your intellectual property, sometimes even your hands if you’re creating a work of art or a design. But it’s less about the to-do list.

It’s less about checking boxes, less about busy work. I think knowing where we spend most of our time really matters when it comes to this conversation about the value of our work as designers and what we can charge. And it also matters with the roles we’re playing on our teams and what other people we surround ourselves with.

I used to say when I was first teaching my designer MBA course probably 10 or 12 years ago that, gosh, I know, I’ve repeated it a million times since then. But I used to always say that my role as a designer was 10% creative and 90% business. Or I would say that all of our roles if we’re a designer, I would say just the design profession is 10% creative and 90% business. And people would be like, “Yeah, that’s so true.”

But I think I want to revise that statement here a bit because I think this is actually more important to the conversation we’re having, to say instead of that it’s 90% business. I feel it’s more accurate to say it’s 10% creative and 90% integration, or maybe we’d say 90% operations, or 90% tactics, 10% vision, 90% tactics, 10% creative, 90% integration. Really the doing of all the stuff is 90% of the job.

And the way that design professionals most of us work especially in the interior design business and event design, things with a great deal of procurement, and coordination, and installation. We spend a very small amount of time in the creative at the beginning, maybe at a couple of spots along the way when we’re creating that vision, that strategy. But we spend most of our time in the coordinating, and the ordering, and the fixing problems, and the chasing things down, and repairing broken stuff, and talking stressed out clients off the wall. And all the doing of the design.

So, in other words we’re 90% in the doing, 90% in the completing of the task. And I think that understanding this really should be an aha moment with regard to the value of design. Because if it’s true as we established or considered last week, that the creative work is the most valuable part of what we do, yet it is where we spend the least amount of our time across the life of any project, no wonder we have trouble charging what we would like or what we need to in order to run our business.

90% of what we do is the most repeatable and therefore, potentially less valuable, more replaceable, more commoditized part of our business. Just a couple of weeks ago my team and I had our quarterly meeting with our Design You advisory board. And it’s a group of designers who were racially, and ethnically, and gender diverse, and who also work in different parts of design, and architecture, and scalable product offerings, and other things.

So, in this meeting we were having a discussion about what they are most struggling with in their businesses and right now what their biggest challenges continue to be. And I wasn’t at all surprised to hear, I was actually expecting it that the biggest challenges were mostly fatigue from the hustle culture of all the doing in their business. And the inability to charge enough to make this amount of hard work pay off for them. And there were also a lot of discussions about how difficult it is to hire right now.

There are very few people looking for jobs working in design companies these days, especially in interior design, there is a shortage it seems of senior interior designers. And so, we could chalk that up probably to the great resignation really. And I think the fact is that post this two year period in COVID a lot of people are really reconsidering what’s important to them. Fewer and fewer people are willing to work as hard as we have to work and as we’re expected to work in these design industries for so little pay off financially.

And really not only is there so little pay off financially there’s a huge cost emotionally and physically. So, so many people that are part of the great resignation that are in creative fields are the people who are like, “It’s just not worth it to me anymore to be such a doer because it’s just not valued enough, it’s not paid that well.” And I think that hearing the biggest challenges for design entrepreneurs continue to be getting everything done, including finding other people to help get it all done and charging enough to make that that make sense really leads us to an important conclusion.

I think these challenges prove in essence the argument that the value of doing or we might even call it the value of design as we know the profession to be 90% doing, 10% creative, the value of that is not that valuable meaning yes, it’s valuable. People need beauty and design and our houses to be functional and their weddings to be planned and all the things. But at the end of the day, they’re not willing to pay a whole lot of money because there’s a lot of options for doing that including doing it themselves.

And so, it’s mostly the implementation, it’s the really hard work, all those millions of things that are part of the tacticians’ to-do list. But we aren’t paid that well for that manual and emotional labor. It’s replaceable, it’s replicable. There’s so much competition. And this fact could be what drives both the value of design and the price we can charge for it down. But we hadn’t really thought of it this way before. We didn’t know that the problem was that the doing for people just isn’t that valuable so we just kept working harder to try to make it work.

But if you think about it, if we took any of those jobs independently like an executive assistant, or a delivery person, or a courier, or an auto processor, or data entry person. None of those doing jobs individually pay that well. And if the lack of people to hire is part of the great resignation where team members are no longer willing to work that hard as tacticians for other people’s companies while also not being paid that well as a team member. Because let’s just be clear we don’t pay them that well either which I think is a lot of the problem.

It behooves us as the designers and creatives to look at this whole system which is broken. And I don’t blame team members and people that work for us for feeling this way. Many believe that if they’re not going to make a lot of money, at least they want to be building their own thing instead of working for someone else. I thought the same thing years ago.

If I’m going to starve to death, I’m going to have to go eat at my parents’ house. I’m going to have to get roommates and all kinds of other things to make ends meet. At least I’d like to be building something that I own later, that seems like it has more valuable for me. So, I get why they think that way. And a lot of people, including those people that potentially work for design firms or even some of us get to the point where we want to leave this type of work and profession entirely altogether which is also a portion of the great resignation.

The people who are just like, “I am done, this is exhausting and I don’t want to do it anymore.” The doing is excruciating, it is exhausting to the point that it’s just not worth it. And to make matters worse hustle culture requires that we do not just at our own pace but that we do on a deadline. So, it’s not even that there’s a lot of doing. If it were a lot of doing but at a sustainable pace it might be a little bit better. But this profession or these professions of design require doing at a breakneck pace. Anyone want a dose of burnout?

Doing at a breakneck pace is burnout, that is the way to get to burnout. So back to the question. Are you mostly a thinker or a doer in your company? I used to be much more of a doer. But it was never really easy for me to be a doer. It wasn’t really ever in alignment with my nature and my skillset to be a doer. It was exhausting. It took a toll because I am a visionary at heart. I don’t enjoy managing. I’m not great at integrating or handling all the details of implementation. I’m very impatient when things are broken or require a lot of nurturing.

As I wrote in my journal I am an idea person and a lot of you are too because we are the visionary. Yet when I opened my interior design business 23 years ago I fully bought into the roadmap for how a design company works. The definition of the profession of interior designer, which is not unlike other design professions, is created by those who would come before me and I totally believed that what they said which was that especially in residential interior design that the doing is most of what’s involved.

We have to come up with the ideas of course but most of our work was spent bringing those ideas to life. So that’s exactly what I did. And it wasn’t helpful at all. A good dose of hustle culture, an anti-laziness lie that was indoctrinated into me by my family and our culture, that champions productivity above all else. It wasn’t good that I had a whole big dose of that on top of a roadmap that was full of doing. So that’s why we did doing on steroids, doing on a deadline, it made things worse. Being the doer literally almost killed me.

Being the doer led to two major bouts of burnout, one at aged 39 and one at aged 44. Being the doer took me away from my family, it almost ruined my marriage. But even more important than that, if you can imagine anything more important than my family and my marriage, is that it took a major toll on my health, both physical and mental.

I don’t actually really ever talk about this but I have a lot of chronic pain and autoimmune issues now at aged 50 that I struggle with. And I try to keep them under control. And I have a lot of flare-ups. And I believe that they were at least partly created from the stress, and the pressure, and the burnout from being a doer in my business and my life the last 25 or so years. Being the doer on a deadline is unsustainable. It’s kind of unsustainable even not on a deadline. But especially on a deadline and especially when you aren’t being highly paid to be the doer.

When you’re barely making ends meet, when you aren’t paying yourself well, when you don’t have extra funds to hire other people so things can be taken care of by someone besides you then you are the only doer or the main doer. And guess what? Most of us still have to be the doer at home. Being the doer at this level at work and home is downright impossible. And I would even consider it dangerous for a lot of us, if not all of us.

For me the part that is maybe the most frustrating about this whole scenario is that being the doer isn’t really in my zone of genius or how I want to be spending my time. Now, I can get a lot of stuff done. I’m not saying I don’t know how to do and that I’m not a hard worker. But being the doer in the way of the integrator, handling all the little tiny details, that is not my zone of genius. But I didn’t know that I had a choice not to play that role for my company.

I just followed right along behind the other examples I had in the residential interior design field. And I just started doing and schlepping and making things happen. It also didn’t help that the patriarchal society we live in also teaches us that our achievements are our worth and our value. That laziness lie, you’ve heard me to talk about, the productivity lie, the hustle culture that we’ve talked about in previous episodes are really telling you that you are most valuable when you’re checking many things off your list.

So, when we learn that the way our job works is to check a bunch of things off our list, and then we get external validation for checking a lot of things off our list, that’s a recipe for disaster. We pride ourselves on busyness. And let’s be clear, busyness is almost a 100% doing, or as Donna Munsch said in that article in Fortune, the intoxicating buzz of checking things off my list. You know what that feels like and so do I. So, we are indoctrinated into thinking what we should be doing is being busy, being productive. We glorify busyness, we brag about it.

As I’ve said in past episodes, it’s how we describe ourselves. Someone says, “How are you?” And we respond with, “I’m so busy.” Yet, what is really valued, what is really paid well, and what many of us were designed to do, what we were born to do really was be visionaries, be creatives, not doers but thinkers. I have to be honest with you all here for a sec. I’m going to go on a little bit of an indulgent rant so bear with me, you all, this really pisses me off when I think about. This realization makes me so mad.

I was really mad when I was working with my own coach, Suzy just a few weeks when I was putting all these ideas together and telling her, I’m just freaking pissed. I’m so resentful. I’m really angry to realize that what the world values is the thing that I am the most, the visionary, the creative, yet I’ve spent the last 20 something freaking years being the doer. What in the world, I could have been doing what was most aligned with me for years.

I could have been being the scientist as my Sparktype quiz told me. I’ve told you about that great book, Sparktype. It told me my zone of genius was being a scientist, a thinker basically and a learner, solving the world’s problems or our industry’s problems like I’m doing right here for you. Yet I have spent the last 20 something effing years being a doer. And the only good news, okay, rant sort of over, but the only good news is I survived. I did, I’m still here, I’m alive.

And well, barely survived but survived, but I’m alive now to be the scientist, to study this life sized problem for us creatives and figure out how we can think differently about this industry. The whole global design industry, not just interior designers, but all of us as creatives who do design for a living. We have to think about this differently. So maybe there’s more good news. The only good news is not that I survived, although that is really good news.

The other good news is that I also realized that if I hadn’t lived through that process, that 20 to 25 years, that burnout, those struggles with charging, and with profits, and with all the things, I couldn’t possibly have the perspective or the wisdom that I have today right now on this podcast to show you what I learned. Because the view is so much more clear from here. It’s that old hindsight is 20/20 damn it. But it is, and I see so clearly from the other side.

So, before we wrap up this episode I think it’s really important to circle back to the thinking side of things because we’re clear on the doing. We’re likely far too familiar with the doing. That’s the role we’ve been indoctrinated into our whole lives especially if we’re Americans, the old bootstrapping, rugged individualism, work hard under the guise of meritocracy mindset. We get it. It’s there. But rarely have we been taught to spend time as the thinker.

Thanks to the good old industrial revolution and the people that were around during that time that we’ve talked about here on the podcast before like Henry Ford who helped make us into basically machines, into doers, the assembly line. Thanks to that period in history, we really lost in a lot of ways the art of creativity.

Yet so much of what our art, our design, our craft came from was before that, even way before that, during the renaissance period where philosophers, and painters, and architects, and writers would spend time thinking, and innovating, and ideating. And they would work an average of four or five hours a day. And then they would think, and nap, and take long walks, and have long lunches but their ideas evolve and marinate. We must have room for our ideas to evolve and marinate.

We must have room for creativity and thinking. They aren’t something you can just squeeze into a one hour block on your perfectly color coded time blocked schedule in between the doing. The breakneck hustle culture we live in engineers the creativity right out of our days, and our lives, and our businesses, unless we set the boundaries to put it back in. Or as I’ve done in my life now, unless we shift out of the doing almost entirely and create a role like I’ve done in my company that is almost purely thinking, visionary, strategic.

That is in alignment with my true nature, my zone of genius, my talents, my strengths, it is who I am. But it took a lot of unlearning, and deep personal work to allow myself to create this kind of role and life, and to create the company that supports it. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need tacticians on our team. We need integrators on our team. They are all equally as valuable as the visionaries. We’ve got to have strategists. We’ve got to have visionaries. We’ve got to have operations or integrator people. We’ve got to have the tacticians.

All visionary and no strategist, and no tactician, is like too many cooks in the kitchen and too many head chefs and no Sioux chefs. Or as Gino Wickman says, when asked what happens to a visionary without an integrator, he says, “Nothing great, honestly.” We’ve probably all worked with people who have had a ton of ideas, some of them even potentially revenue awesome ideas, but they have no idea how to execute on them or move others towards the goal.

There are millions of dead start-ups in this pile, great world shifting ideas with no execution plan. I think what we often get wrong in the design industries is not that we don’t have the ideas. I think we get that. Most of us have a ton of ideas.

But the thing we get wrong because of productivity culture, and hustle culture, and bootstrapping mentality is that instead of carving out our role as the visionary with our ideas, and staying firmly in that role. And then filling the role of an operations manager, or integrator, or even for a bit larger firm, maybe you call that role a COO, those are kind of all variations of the same thing. Ops manager, to integrator, to COO, but with a person basically who is best suited to bring our ideas to fruition.

We don’t get that, we don’t get that we should put a person in that role. So instead, we evacuate the visionary role and we assume the role of doer, of integrator in our own firms even though we are not good at it, even though it’s so fatiguing to us, even though it’s exhausting because it’s not our natural ability to be the integrator. And in turn we devalue our whole company, and our work, and our output in the process. Let me explain a little bit more.

How many times have you said, “I wish I just had time to be creative? I feel like all I do now that I have my own company is manage people and handle problems. And can hardly even remember the days when my designer role was actually fun and fulfilling.” I hear it all the time. It’s how I believe most designers feel and it’s how I felt. And when we have a lack of time for creative work as we’ve said it in the last episode and a lot in this one too, that’s when we do a lot less innovation.

And when we do a lot less unique work. And when we’re more inclined to replicate and use mass produced items out on the market. And just mark selections off our to-do list for our design and to just crank it out. When I personally go to the interior design worktable under a deadline, especially if I’ve procrastinated like we often do, because our to-do list leads us to do that. It’s not like we’re just sitting around doing nothing, we just have so much else to do that we put the design off till the last minute. What happens?

There is almost zero room for real creativity because the mission becomes crank something out before this client gets mad. Meet the presentation deadline at all cost. Let me say this again, you all. Truly creative work needs time and space.

Even just creating my podcast series like these, when I’m leaning into my thought leader role and really thinking, and crafting, and writing, these don’t happen in a day. I don’t just show up and start talking. I spend hours, days, sometimes even weeks thinking, and writing, and studying, and doing research to create unique ideas that culminate in one single episode. They need time to marinate and to evolve, that happens with my thinking. But since I set the deadline for my own podcast, not an outside client or builder pushing to me hurry then I can be truly creative and in the zone.

And even if I want to not miss publishing every week, if I’m crafting something like this series, I might push it back a few weeks and plop an easier concept in the middle that doesn’t take me as long to create. So that I can make sure this series, or a different series, or a different episode is really right, and really good, and really creative, and my best work. I watch other designers all the time that I work with who say that they want more relaxation, and more margin in their lives but they struggle to detach from a lifelong habit of doing.

And I see those same people try to fix the problem by deciding to create say a scalable product or replace their doing yet they force that scalable product idea through, cranking it out under a great sense of urgency and scarcity to try to hustle their way to relief from hustle. And it doesn’t make any sense. I often say to them, “You said you wanted to rest but you’re believing you have to keep pushing until”, fill in the blank is done. Until my course is done, or these jobs are done, or I just get through this certain thing and then I can rest.

But here’s the thing, that’s just more of the same lie you’ve been telling yourself. That is still the hustle lie, that is still the doing. Cranking out a scalable product is still not great creativity. When I was creating Design You, I allowed myself almost two years to develop it, just the ideas. It wasn’t like it was some technologically difficult app or something. I used an app that was already created.

But just the thinking, and the crafting, and how it would work, and what the courses would be, and all of that. I spent two years creating. And I’ve been building it now for another three or four. And I’ve spent so much time in that what, five or six years total, thinking. Thinking about my program, thinking about my customers, thinking about your real problems and how I am best positioned to serve you. That doesn’t come from doing, it comes from thinking.

And every time over those last five years or so that I would get sucked back into doing, the real creativity, and the real value of my work, and my impact on the world would diminish every single time. So, I want you to get clear for your own sake today. Are you mostly a doer or are you mostly a thinker? And is that because doing is your zone of genius? Which could be true, maybe you’re more of an integrator. Or is that because the world tells you that you have to be a doer instead of allowing you to stay in your visionary sweet spot?

Now, if you are more of a doer or an integrator, would you consider working with a visionary, somebody that’s more of that creative mind, to elevate the value of the work you are doing in your company? That would be a smart thing to think about. For me as a visionary I needed the integrator.

And my COO, April, who actually used to be an interior designer, you all, she was an integrator basically working as a designer. And she got tired of that role and having to do probably the vision work and a lot of the COO work. And so, she wanted to go to work for someone else. So, when she came to work for me we both took the test in the book, Rocket Fuel to find out what our natural inclinations were as far as visionary or integrator.

And I am 94% visionary, 51%, I don’t know if it’s percent but it’s a score out of a 100, 51 on the integrator test. April is 51 visionary and 89 integrator. So, we’re almost exactly opposite. And according to Wickman and Winters who wrote the book, Rocket Fuel, an integrator needs to score at least 80 to really be suited for that role. You all, my integrator score, 51, no wonder all those years of doing and trying to integrate led to two huge bouts of burnout. I’m 94 visionary.

April on the other hand is 89 integrator, she’s quite a lot more than 80. So, note my skills barely above 50, her skills 89. That is important. That’s the reason we are such great partners in the work we do together. And life is infinitely more fun for both of us than when we were running our own firms without working together. April, she used to run her own design business and was actually a member of my Design You program.

And when she decided to close her business before the pandemic hit actually, probably in the fall of 2019, I had happened to reach out to her independently of knowing she was quitting her business. And said, “Hey, would you ever think about coming to work for me?” And she was like, “Actually yes.” So now after almost two years of working together we are such a great fit. It’s so much more fun than it’s ever been to work in my business.

She is a wonderful combination of strategy and doer. And she leads a lot of the other strategists and tacticians in our company while I stay firmly in the visionary role. It’s ideal. And the value of our work and our impact has increased so much since we made these hires and these shifts for our company. And we are all so much happier for it being in the right roles. And no one on our team is overworked. In fact, we take mental and physical health super seriously.

We have policies for no night work and no weekend work, everyone works about 35 hours a week or less but most of the team that’s full-time works around 35 hours. And we have so much fun. And the work that our team members are doing, and the things they are creating is incredible and some of it’s so creative and it’s all really important. So, in other words, our value went way up in every way, especially because I spend so much more time in the visionary role as the thinker.

Okay friends, so I’m going to leave you with that for today. It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot to build on last week’s episode about designer versus creative. This week we were visionary versus integrator, or if you’d rather think, versus doer. And I’d love it, I’d love to invite you to carve out some thinking time this week and chew on these ideas a little bit, maybe journal about them a little bit, maybe figure out really what your perfect role is and how it is going to add value to your company, or maybe how your current work is taking away value. It’s really important.

And in case you missed it, April did a training actually the day I’m recording this, she just did the training in our Facebook group, the free one that we have so you can join if you are just out in the world and want to be a follower and a community member of ours on Facebook. So, she did a training about integrators and visionaries. And it was really about how her role and my role work together. So, check on our Facebook group, it’s called The Design Biz Disruptors because we’re all about disrupting the way things work.

And so, check it out, if this is your interest at all. And you can go potentially snag the replay if you message us on the integrator to visionary presentation that April did and really learn how that combination could benefit your firm.

So next week I will be back with part three of this series. And I don’t promise I won’t have another rant. I might. I’m known for being pretty provocative and kind of ranty. And next week’s show is equally or maybe even more so provocative. You might get uncomfortable but it’s so important. It’s called Women’s Work. And it’s all about how the patriarchy is messing around with our value and it’s going to blow your mind again. So come back same time next week. Let’s do it again. I’ll be here. I hope you’ll be here too. See you then. Bye for now.

Thank you so much for listening to the Design You podcast, and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model, there has never been a more important time than right now. So, join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at TobiFairley.com.

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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