First 0ff, a heartfelt thanks for all the very lovely comments, emails, phone calls, flowers, offerings of cooked dinners, babysitting, etc. on the arrival of Leo. Seeing his name in print makes me so happy- he makes me so happy. He’s already been broken in as a mini project manager.
Having some quiet moments has allowed me to reflect on my business and my strengths as a designer. In the hospital, I re-read a little book called Strength Finder 2.0. I recently took the test that reveals my top 5 (of 34) strengths as part of a business coaching program I am participating in. And what it has revealed to me has been very eye opening, on a professional and personal level. I’d like to share my top 5 strengths, and how they apply to my interior design business.
1. Empathy. People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
Renovation and decor projects can bring stress and disruption to a home owner’s life. It’s my job to manage the process and make it as seamless as possible by ensuring my client is well informed of the process & knows what to expect at various stages. In 5 years I have experienced many surprises and put out many (non literal) fires. Experience has taught me how to educate clients in the process of the implementation of design projects- and empathy helps in making it as stress free as possible.
2. Strategic. People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
This strength allows me to help you spend your money wisely. I’m very strategic in the way I balance a budget. I’m very cognizant that regardless of how large a budget is, it will ultimately run out. So if I think it’s better to use an IKEA mirror so you can afford $300 pillows (and yes, I think it’s worthwhile to spend $300 on a pillow) I will suggest it. In general, I like to spend mucho dinero on window treatments, textiles, custom upholstery, and wallpaper. I tend to save on accessories, picture frames and depending on the client, artwork. Of course everything is tailored towards the aesthetic and interest of each client- and this will impact where the budget gets allocated- but in my office we do it with intent and a heck of a lot of strategy to get the most out of whatever budget we are approached with.
3. Achiever. People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
This strength essentially means that I need to get stuff done all the time. Being bored is not something I do well (or often). This strength lends itself well to managing a timeline. All our projects are broken down into pieces and shared with a client in a critical path that gets updated and sent to our clients on a regular schedule. I get a serious high crossing things off the list. The timeline often gets changed based on trade availability, product availability, client decisions, etc. but we sincerely do our best to manage and meet timelines when possible- the achiever in me needs to get things done!
4. Input. People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
My obsession with blogs, design publications and reading in general is how this strength impacts my business. The way I view the world now compared to 5 years ago is incredible different. I am constantly thinking about how good design can make the quality of a person’s life better. I’m also constantly sizing up spaces (wish I could turn this off sometimes but it’s ingrained) noticing random details that my husband thinks I am weird for (yes, how many inches a baseboard is high makes a difference!). Soaking in all of these details informs my design aesthetic and ultimately helps in making each project we do beautiful, unique and functional.
5. Relator. People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
I must say this pretty much sums up how I like to treat clients- like friends. But not the “OMG you are so pretty” all the time kind of friend. More like- because I care about you and your quality of life I am going to be honest & transparent in what we can achieve together in our design related relationship. Integrity is very important to me personally and to the way my team does business (same goes for the way I work with trades and the types of trades I like to bring in). It’s my goal that every client I work with comes away with a great looking home, but also with an amazing experience to speak of.
So those are my strengths. If you need help with a project you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in learning what your strengths are I highly recommend this book- it’s been so helpful for me : )