Design is transcendent but business is necessary

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote a few years ago. I am revisiting it and adding more insight in to the the business aspect of running a creative based business.

This first book was all about how we use our language as creative to succeed in our endeavors. I wanted to revisit and make sure I still had it right. I’m trying to work on this blog from my iPad. Of course everything has changed on how to execute a blog post from how I do it on my computer. Please bear with my editing capabilities on iPad.

Design is Transcendent

We know that Universal thought has for its goal the creation of form, and we know that the individual thought is likewise forever attempting to express itself in form. We know that the work is a thought form, and a sentence is a combination of thought-forms; therefore if we wish our ideal to be beautiful or strong, we must see that the words out of which this temple will eventually be created are exact, that they are put together carefully; because accuracy in building words and sentences (and art work or any creative modality) is the highest form of architecture in civilization, and is a passport to success.͟ Kojin Karatani Architecture and

Metaphor

Baba Hari Dass, an Indian Yogi says the best ways to really learn something is to teach it. As a busy working Mom and wife this can be a challenge. When I decided to go back to school with small children I did not realize just how challenging it would be. Now 7 years later with a new direction in my life and children becoming more and more self-sufficient, I can return to what I missed. When I first started my design firm I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I wanted to offer something to potential clients and get the word out about my new business. At the same time I want to integrate the design principles more into my soul. I wanted to know these principles so well I would use them inherently with everything I created. It was something

I felt I had been missing for years as a professional artist who was not formally trained. I was certainly creative enough, but never knew the basis from which to work and create and therefore really take my work as an artist to the next level of refinement. So I threw myself into studying the principles and created a seminar on them, presented them a few times to small audiences and then got so busy with work I could not continue with the seminars.

Principles are our foundation for success in Life and Art/Design

It has been a few years and our firm is doing very well, again I am looking to remind myself of my artistic principles with which to work from and sinking back into really defining and deconstructing the thought process I came to realize that these principles are the same intrinsic ways of thinking that create abundance and prosperity in our lives. The thought process that goes into designing, creating homes and spaces, artwork and developing our business all stem from the same system of principles and thought. If we continue to practice these principles in a systematic way our lives become more abundant, our work reaches new levels of excellence and brilliance, our relationships become more deep and meaningful, and we gain a sense of discernment for what is good and hopefully what is great. In the process of all of this happening we also gain an understanding of how important it is to gift what we have learned so our entire community can rise to a higher level of consciousness and abundance and our lives full of integrity can reach out and touch others and encourage them to walk with a light in their heart as well.

When we talk about what it is to have principle, we are talking about a manner in which

someone acts or a system of beliefs by which they live their lives. A set of principles is almost a

systematic approach to making all the little decisions in our lives that will shape our future. We

can have great principles and create an amazing life. We can lack principles and use little

judgment and create havoc in our lives. Living our lives based on a set of principles allows us to

act with integrity without any effort. This ability frees our minds and our hearts to create and

share with more people on a higher level.

Using Principles for art or design and creative endeavors works in a similar fashion. If we use

a set or group of principles for design we can create something that is unlimited, creative,

sensible, stimulating and serves us well. We should run our lives with the same goals, to create

a life that is unlimited, creative, sensible, stimulating and abundant as well as being of service

to others. This is a full life, this is an amazing design. The language is almost interchangeable.

I believe that the language we use to speak of Design and how we choose to live our Life

are transcendent, they are one and the same. Our lives are inter-dependent and are woven,

intermingled with people, experiences, places, time, etc. We can use the terms we use in

design as well as art to relate to our lives; In design we speak of scale, how the use of the size

of something, a pattern in a wallpaper or a sofa in a room, in life we measure the scale as we

compare what we believe our lives to be in relation to those around us and what we want to

achieve in our lives. There is proportion in our experiences. We try to achieve balance with how

we spend our time with emphasis on differing things over time. All of these principles will

create Harmony in our lives. These are the same principles used in Creating great Art and

Design.

We use the elements in a design to affect our principles. These are a finite and can be used

in very specific ways, far less conceptual. Elements are used more like tools. In design, element

refers to shapes, line, form, mass, texture, pattern, light and color. When I speak of success, the

elements I will use are the small tools that will allow us to manifest our principles. What I have

found is in the breadth of our lives there is always design. We are building our life with the

choices we make. We build our life with whom we choose to spend our time, with what we

work at, as well as all of the everyday smaller choices, like what we had for breakfast. We are

working from a blueprint of how we were raised, our paradigm. Architecturally metaphorically

speaking, all of these day to day choices we make are the building blocks, the 2×4′ s that are our

walls , and rooms, sections of our lives; they are the canvas on which we create our

masterpiece. .

Sow a thought, reap and act,

Sow an act, reap a habit,

Sow a habit, reap a character

Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny

Great Success and Great Design are based on layering of Principles. Like a great cake

each layer gives you more to enjoy. Success and Design work the same way. You have to add

layers to achieve a level of excellence and discernment. My goal with this set of principles for

design and success is to create a foundation of thought. This will be the foundation from which

you will make choices for your home or work space to elevate your design and so elevate your

experience. We will learn to work from a set of principles to create a foundation from which to

make our life choices that will generate abundance and much more in our lives.

The success system I have put together for you will guide you to be able to create not only a beautiful space

to live or work in but also to create a life of abundance, clarity, health, creativity and service.

This is a system of principles that if practiced regularly will get you everything you want in your

Without reviewing how we have lived, practicing self-reflection, how we will be able to

recognize what works and what isn’t working, we are doomed to continue our not so great

pattern of choices we make. We all have issues. There is no perfect life, at least not these days,

and not even on t.v. We have moved from the June Cleavers to the shows like ͞The Middle͟. I

don’t want to really spend a whole lot of time rehashing what we already know about our lives,

but if you are sincere about making it to your goals you need to be real about what you do, how

you do it and with whom you are doing it.

I have already introduced the idea of the paradigm

or blueprint. This is an idea that through our childhood experience we are more or less trained

to think, be and act. We are heavily influenced by not only our parents, but also our friends,

teachers and society at large. The expectations and rules we are taught, if we are uber blessed

or even a little lucky is healthy, supportive and encouraging. I would say that for the majority of

us, not so much. I would say the majority of us have backgrounds that are relatively

dysfunctional; at the least we have some complaint about our original situation. What I am

saying to you now is that you have a choice. I am officially informing you that you have all the

power in your life to make it what you want. You have to believe!! You have the power to

change your blueprint!

5 hacks to stay innovative

It’s not so much the work that keeps me going. Honestly the work can be truly mundain. And it’s not the amazing ways I spend my time off that keeps me going though it is a reason I work so hard to be able to have a certain lifestyle of world travel with my family.

What keeps me going is the craving to be innovative. It started with the pottery. Each year we would return to a city our customer and our galleries would ask, “what new offerings to you have for us this year?”

I had to practice forcing myself to make sure I could give everyone what they needed, more stuff and new stuff. To keep up with the demand I would have to appease them and keep them collecting our work.

This is a practice. I have been doing this since 1998. Every single year, typically if and when I hit a time in production that is slower, I practice these actions.

1. Renew yourself with the quieting if your mind. This is something from the Bible. if you follow me at all I am a confessed terrible Christian. I read books by others about the Bible, attend church sparsely, but love the wisdom, strength and grace God gives me. I am blessed to have a pastor who reminds me of the God I love, he is kind, forgiving and non-judgmental.

I take time for myself early in the mornings to read something positive or simply sit and imagine everything I can be and do.

2. Set a goal to find 5 new ways, things, styles, people to incorporate into your business. This can take some thought, and time but keep a list and think hard about what you might want to incorporate in the next year into your work.

3. Copy like a creative- research others in your field and copy them. Once you try something new you will find ways to make it yours and work for you.

4. Find a seminar or networking event outside your field and ask everyone at your table how they do business, what is their model. Just do it. No excuses.

5. Take an online course to learn a new skill and then find a users group and meet others doing those things you want to learn. I’m taking a coding class now and just have to find the time to make it to a users group meeting about an hour away, ugh.

Try these hacks and see what works for you. I found that over the years I end up with 2 or 3 that stick and take us to the next level. Even just doing the research will set you apart from others in your field, area, what ever. Don’t make excuses, don’t wiggle out of it, just get into the first three and you’ll feel the momentum of change under your feet. Others are attracted to those moving forward, you’ll find new people coming to you for no obvious reason other than you are the light of change.

TET: A Lesson in Hiring and Retaining Great Employees

I am a very small business owner but I have amazing vision for our future. I’m just not always sure how to get there. So I read a ton of business development books, go to seminars and workshops and mine as much information from my loosely knit circle of mentors as possible

The economy in Florida is staying steady on a nice slow rise. I feel confident that when the slowdown does occur it won’t kill business like it did in 2009. We are positioned to offer enough service and product that we will continue to be ok.

I have hired a Design Assistant and taken a new route or adopted a new culture similar to what I am reading about currently. After the last 2 years of hiring and either firing or people leaving after a short period of time I felt I had to take a new approach.

“Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham, is about small companies, who had the opportunity to go wild, deciding to stay small and really perfect their product, client experience and improve the lives of their employees.

All of the companies in this book are far bigger than mine but the theories stand.

It is simply this: Teach- Equip- Trust (TET)

Invest in training employees so they can rise to their potential. Give them the tools they need to do the job. Check in with them quarterly to be sure these first two objectives are met. Finally simply trust they will use their knowledge, training, resources and tools to not only get the job done but also provide and exceptional experience for our clients.

That is the end goal.

This is the practice I have been working in for a year. It feels taxing at times because of the field we are in and there is so much to learn on my assistants part. But it is my responsibility to try this method vs the previous of just showing a few things and making them figure out the rest. That did not work out well at all. 😳 it was strictly trial by fire. It had worked previously in my pottery business but not here.

We are 6 months in and it’s going well. She has even mentioned she is learning more here at the school of Mangrove Bay that at her college.

We are currently in the look out for our next victim and we are ready with training protocol and procedure manuals to streamline the process of getting the next assistant up and rolling much faster.

It is a true challenge to be a business owner, on your own, winging it at times. In the end it is well worth the effort for the flexibility and ability to create and live to our potential.

RePost: Holiday Dreaming

A Stoic Guide To Navigating The Modern Workplace

The image of the Zen philosopher is the monk up in the green, quiet hills, or in a beautiful temple on some rocky cliff. The Stoic, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this idea. The Stoic is the man in the marketplace, the merchant on a voyage, the senator in the Forum, the soldier at the front. In other words, they are like you.

Those jobs might not seem like one well-suited for “philosophy,” but they are. And so are you. For in even the most modern seeming professions, a Stoic is able to peace and clarity. For thousands of years, Stoicism has been a tool for the ordinary and the elite alive — from slaves to emperors — as they sought wisdom, strength and the ‘good life.’ It was philosophy designed for action — for doers — not for the classroom.

More….

What Does Marketing Mean to the Business Owner?

I do a lot of research on how to market my business. I know a guy who has a paver business. He told me something I never let go of. He said the truth of being in business is that we are all in the service industry, we just happen to be selling pavers. I would take this a step further that you keep the mindset of not just being a designer, but a business owner. You have to constantly be aware of the larger concept of owning a business.

There are the four P’s of marketing. I know this sounds boring, but you have to remember you are a business owner first who just happens to be blessed enough to do what you love. You are the first of the four P’s : Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. You are selling you. This will lead to your branding. What is your brand? What are you selling that about you that is any better than what the other 10 “designers” are selling. I will talk about this a little more, but you want to really take a moment here if haven’t already built one and create a mission statement for yourself. I want you to start this marketing journey and get a spiral notebook, this is going to be your “Marketing Dojo” book. You will make notes and plans and keep them all in one place. I have several of these. I have my daily notebook on my desk for phone calls and lists. I can always flip through and review what I may have missed at the end of a busy day. I have my website notebook, I build all of my own sites, yet another creative outlet. I have my book idea notebook, etc. My system for keeping the right thoughts in the right place. I realize I could do all of the in Evernote, but at some point I had to put the technology down and I feel when writing down my ideas it is more visceral for me to do it with the physical motion of hand writing.

You should already have one of these but I do recommend rewriting it once a year to get a grasp of where you want to go and who you want to be. You can start this by considering others you admire and what qualities they hold. Then think of who you are and what you think as being your ideal self. How do you treat people and what legacy do you want to leave? In business these need to apply as well as your personal life. In business, who so you admire and why? What qualities do they own that you would like to emulate? I don’t mean for you to think of what they have accomplished in a physical manner, like how big the firm is or what car do they drive. You need to think of the traits they exhibit and the principles they live by consistently to have gotten them what they do have. Don’t focus on the stuff, focus on the journey. The stuff will come if you are coming from the right place.

Then consider how you want your clients to remember you and talk about you after their project is done. The design will be wonderful, that goes without saying. Any designer can do that, we are trained for it. What other qualities do you have or service can you offer to your clients to make them thrilled to tell their friends about you and refer you to others? When you are thinking of this consider what your abilities are in and around your previous experience, what your other skills are. Clarify your aptitudes and turn them into your purpose. Then step away for a day, come back and refine your message. Print this out and hang it above your desk. Your mission statement is reminder of what you are really after and what goals need to be accomplished to get to that place of leaving an amazing legacy.

Feedback Can Map Your Future

It’s January and time to re-read my favorite guide to life books. The list includes: The Success Principles; The Obstacle is the Way; The Compound Effect and a few spiritual guides.

Self awareness is a goal of mine. This year I’ll be asking for feedback to help me in my journey. I just ran across this little nugget in the Success Principles: “if one person tells you you’re a horse, they’re crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle.”

When I send out letters to clients to ask for feedback I will be looking for patterns. I’m going to make it a game with my family and see what comes back at me. I’m hoping to be a better mom, wife, designer and business owner.

Canfield suggests to ask “was this week a 1 or a 10?”, if it’s not a 10 there is a follow up question, “what would it take to make it a ten?”

It’s going to be a tough year of becoming g more self aware.