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style + work
Job title and industry:
I am the founder and CEO of the two companies. If
we're trying to state a specific category, it's workspace
and furniture consulting. We're predominately furniture
focused, but we don't really have a bucket. We like that.
We're kind of creating it.
OK, so what initially drew you to focusing on
environments for work spaces?
So very cool. Who or what do you believe has been a strong influence of your style?
How would you describe your style?
It's my style. I don't fit in a box at anything, not with the house, not with how I do business, or even in how I dress. I am very personal, yet very comfortable. I want to be comfortable in the clothes I'm wearing. I want people to be comfortable in my home. I want my customers to be comfortable with me. The best way I can help clients achieve their goals is for them to trust in me. Authenticity is also a major factor, whether it's authentic design, authentic pieces for the workplace, or authentic pieces on my person. I like going to an antique store. You just never know. I'm kind of an old soul.
If you had to say your favorite color, I'm guessing it would be white, but then you have this old soul side to you that likes antiques and vintage ...
I do. It comes through in what I wear. It comes through in my house. I love the comfort of vintage and antique. I think I enjoy the history. I love to know the history and the journey and how hard it was for this piece to survive, but then I love the new and fresh designs in new materials. I really love white, but orange is my signature color.
How do you determine what you're going to wear to work each day? What does your typical wardrobe look like?
On most days, do you wear pants or skirts?
Heels or flats?
Where do you shop for work outfits, and when do you find the time?
I don't like to shop, at all. I don't have the bandwidth; like I can't go to the mall and shop. It drives me bonkers. My favorite time to go is during the day, because I know I have a very limited amount of time - I need to go in, I need to grab something, I need to get out. I don't linger, so it's either there or I shop online a lot. When I go shopping, I have my list and I map where I park, where I'm going, and what is my exit strategy.
What footwear brands do you like?
What's on your wish list for this fall's wardrobe?
What type of daily tote or bag do you carry every day, like when you go out and what is inside?
Where would it be, by the way? Have you already mapped it out?
What is something that you wear that instills more confidence on days when you don't quite feel yourself?
Lipstick or lip gloss?
It's really natural looking, and looks pretty.
What is the most important part of your beauty routine that you feel helps complete your look?
I'd have to say, it's the moisturizer and all the skin care that I put on right after I wash my face. It makes me feel fresh, and it kind of plumps up my skin. Whether I wear makeup or not, I think good skin is always ground zero.
What's your mani/pedi style?
Do you go towards the Essie or the OPI brands, or do you even care?
What's your approach to jewelry? Do you have standard go to pieces that you wear most of the time, or do you mix it up?
Yes and yes. I always like to have studs and a necklace on, even when I workout, but I change my jewelry all the time. I wear something different every day. It ranges from pearls to bangles, to a chunky ring, to something vintage. But, during the workday, I'm very simplistic. I'm presenting a lot, and so I don't want it clinking, clanking, and distracting. I want clients focusing on the material and content, not on me sounding like I have cymbals on my arms.
Do you have favorite jewelry designers?
What does your typical workday
When you meet with clients, what essentials do you need to have with you?
Do you have a specific method that you use to run meetings?
We always start with an agenda that covers what we want to accomplish, decisions we need to confirm, timelines of deliverables, and follow up on anything that needs clarification. If we're meeting with a large group, I will write our agenda on a white board, so we can stay on task. Depending on the type of meeting, I might also send out an agenda beforehand, so everybody knows what to come prepared to discuss. If we're meeting with the CEO, because we normally only have one shot to get his attention (and he normally does not have much time to be focused on furniture), it's a very focused yet quick meeting. “Let’s get our shiitake together. We have to make decisions.” At the end, to wrap it up, "We’ve made a decision here, here, here, here. Our action items are this, this, this. Are we good? Good. Let’s go.”
There are a lot of decisions being made around the table, information that I need back or information our team needs for the project. We have to stay on point, make sure everybody is clear of the direction, make sure that client is physically giving you a nod or a verbal because they are normally on their phone. Then wrap it back up and make sure everybody knows the expectation, the completion dates, and then we're done.
How is that different from how you run your own internal team meetings?
Same. “This is what we’re going to meet about. Here are the topics. If you all have other things, let’s discuss them. If it’s something big, let me know ahead of time.” We meet, we go through them, and then there’s that wrap up. “Okay, I’m going to call this person. You need this from me …”
Do you have a certain day for your team meetings, or are they really more as needed?
Normally, for the Monday calls, the consulting team is pretty much with me or on the calls. I like to meet with the product side on Tuesday mornings, and say, “Okay. Where are we with quotes, or design firms, or dealers, manufacturers? What are you struggling with? Whom are you visiting with?”
What are some of your office pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve, in general, is coming to me with a problem without thinking through a possible solution. I really enjoy being with intelligent people that can think through a process. We’re all going to get stuck. We’re all going to get into a place where like, “Ooh, how do I do this?” If you come to me with a problem, come to me with a handful of solutions. We can talk through the best one. Don’t come to me with a problem that you have not thought through. That will send me through the roof.
How do you handle job-related stress?
I like it. I have found the more pressure I have, the better I perform, and the more I have going on - not to an insane amount, but the busier I am, the better I am. I don’t enjoy downtime. I just like being proactive. I like being pushed. I like knowing I have things to accomplish here. This [work] is for me, and it’s selfish, but I love it. It makes me better for my kids, and better for my husband.
This is my livelihood, and I take it very seriously for myself, my team, and for my clients, but I am not a heart surgeon. We are dealing with complex issues that impact thousands of employees on projects. You are impacting somebody’s life, but it’s not life or death. A lot of people want to hit their deadlines. I want to hit my deadlines, but nobody’s going to die over the arrival of a desk.
I always have to keep that perspective. We are going to lose deals. We’re going to screw up. We’re going to win some big deals. We’re going to enjoy some great accomplishments. You’re going to do them all, so I never get too high on the wins. I don’t get too low on the losses. It's just a part of it.
What is your happiest moment at work?
My happiest moment is when I see someone on the team have a success. Seeing them get excited because they had a big win, or they helped solve a problem, or for example a client just emailed today saying, “She is awesome.” Those are my happy moments. I love to see them grow and learn. You do that, and you’ll make money. The money will come, but I love to see them grow, and learn, and the “Aha” moments, when they feel success, and when they feel pride. That’s my happy place.
What do you do in the morning,
prior to your office hours, that helps
you prepare for the day ahead?
What kind of transportation do you use to get to your in-town client meetings?
Do you have a favorite song, artist, or playlist that you listen to while you are out and about or while you're working here?
Yeah, I do. I do like music, but in my car I'm listening to news. I'm listening to KRLD or news talk. I don't have time to just sit and watch the news or sit and read the paper. I have to look for multiple sources to stay current, so that is a great opportunity for me to listen to satellite radio, even sports. I'll do that even before making a call.
When you travel for work, what do you do while you are in the air?
I work the whole time. I think it's a horrible idea for them to allow any kind of phone service on a plane. That will be disappointing. I love traveling, and I love traveling for business. That is the best two to four hours of uninterrupted work for me - great for working on contracts, or if I need to really read and focus. I'm a paper person. If I really need to absorb information, and retain it, I will print it out. I'll either have papers to study, or I'll just start responding to all my emails and leave them all in my inbox to send once we land.
Yes. That's how I process. I have to write it out for me to really absorb it ... and so I'm writing a book in long hand.
When you travel, what type of carry on bag do you use?
I have a beautiful black leather, very slim briefcase. It's tall and narrow, so your computer goes in vertical. It's beautiful. It's a unique shape because it's taller, not wide, and it doesn't tip over, so I can lay it flat.
What is your method for keeping track of business expenses?
Oh, it's challenging because I'm keeping track of seven people, and accounts payable, receivable, the whole nine yards. One of the first things I did, when I knew I wanted to start a company, is that I hired a bad-ass lawyer. I found a great, independent CFO company, hired a bookkeeper, and hired somebody to handle marketing.
I have a CFO company that helps every month with P&L, cash flow statements, outstanding invoices, all of that. I love reading balance sheets, but I don't want to create them. I have somebody manage that for me every month. For our normal expenses, we have expense forms that each person completes, with their receipts attached. I keep track of and consolidate everything, and send it over.
I'm very in tune with my cash flow. I use ADP for all of our payroll, our taxes, unemployment insurance, and quarterly taxes. They even handle our insurance program. It has been nice to have that resource. They help you think even outside of just your front line cost of finances.
What would you say is your favorite office supply and why?
That’s my favorite office supply. I keep one in the kitchen,
in my office, and also in my briefcase. That’s probably the
easiest answer I’ve had all day other than my Chanel lip gloss.
You've also mentioned your Moleskine notebooks ...
I have always used Moleskine. I love them.
How do you manage the transition from old notebooks
to new ones?
I have a very specific process. When I am with a client, and
we’re working on a project, I take notes on my legal pad of
paper. Then, typically on a Friday or if I have any downtime,
I will sit down and go through my client notes, and if there’s
an action item for me to do, it goes into my Moleskine.
Anything that’s a to-do item for me, I put it in my Moleskine,
and I even put a little box by it.
I keep notes as records of how I’ve got to a certain solution,
and I’ll either put it in the client's project binder or I’ll file it.
It helps me remember how I came up with that number, why
was the fee based that way, what was the logic. I keep all of
these meeting notes in sheet protectors, because the client
is making million-dollar decisions and it's important to keep the details of those decisions together. I also print any important client emails and keep it in their project binder. So, the logic information will get filed with the appropriate project; and any action item goes in my to-do list Moleskine. When I have to start a new Moleskine, I transfer unchecked action items over and keep going to stay on track.
Do you have a certain pen that you use?
What is a work tool that's a must-have for you (app, hardware or software)?
How would you describe your office space?
Then, do you have anything on your wish list for your décor?
A back-painted glass marker board. I’m the writer, so I want to be able to write. We have all these fun acts that we use, but I just want to see it.
How do you organize your desk space?
Projects that I’m working on immediately are right on my desk. Things that I have to tackle before the end of the day go in front. Projects that I need to file or get to, I put behind me because otherwise, it’s just visually too much to see mounds of paperwork that I have to do. Before the end of the day, I have to get through the things on my desk. Then when it’s complete, I immediately file it, or put it in a binder, and I separate personal from business.
Do you use your iMac and AirBook for different things during the day?
How do you prioritize and manage your email inbox?
By project. (I mean, shocker - ) I have folders for everything; just like my legal pad notes - the exact same concept. If it’s in my inbox, I have to deal with it; then, I put it in a folder. If it’s in the folder, I’ve done it. That’s my record.
What is your secret to achieving your daily objectives?
Between referencing my to-do list and looking at my inbox, that's how I know what I need to get done and how I'm starting my day tomorrow. Then I check my calendar, what do I have the next two, three days out that I need somebody preparing now so that I'm ready.
How do you stay on top of industry news or your career?
Do you use Evernote Premium or Evernote For Business?
What is your method for networking?
What advice have you received in your professional life that has really stuck with you?
My old mentor gave me a beautiful crystal and it says, "Finesse the shot." I'm a golfer, so he would always talk to me in sport terms, which is great, but that is my reminder that it's a human on the other end, and you don't always know where they're coming from, so with everything - say it with grace. Sometimes you have to be a little bit more forceful than others, but just finesse it. I'm very passionate about what we do, and so that is my constant reminder.
The other advice that resonates with me is, "You can only do three things well at one time." When things are a little in overdrive, I focus on dealing with three things only until we get out of crisis mode, and then I know that we can manage everything else.
Do you have anyone who you look to for career inspiration?
I'm constantly getting emails of encouragement, or success stories, or things that my classmates are struggling with, and it's like looking in a mirror. As you're making decisions, or as you're wanting to do things, it the most amazing feeling to know that I have this wonderful group of people to reach out to for advice and support.
About your mentor - how did you find them, or did they find you? How did that work out?
I think when you are wanting to mentor or to be mentored, I think it's an organic thing. It's a relationship that has to develop, not just "I want to be your mentor," or, "I want you to mentor me." It's such a two way street that it has to be, in my opinion, a very organic relationship that builds through trust and respect. The ones that I have developed have been through the professional setting, people that were either in the industry, or within the organization at a higher level, and we shared a mutual respect, a mutual appetite for business, and we would collaborate. They would show me the ropes, or I would say, "This is what's really going on street level."
What is your work motto?
I have two mottos, or probably three, that I really live by. The motto that I live by is "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and a work motto from one of my mentors, this was his, but I use it all the time, "Stay contemporary." That's how I approach everything. You don't question yourself to the point you can't move, but always evolve. Listen. Learn.
Just when you think you know something a new piece of technology comes out, so it's that constant state of evolution and the pursuit. Can we do it cleaner, faster, better? Learn, push yourself.
What do you do during your downtime
to refresh yourself?
My downtime is not like most people.
We like to exercise, and our goal is to
exercise at least five times a week. We
want to get a good sweat on and burn
some calories. It's a mix of going to
the gym, but we live in a beautiful
part of Dallas, so we also love to go
down to the lake and either run or
bike. You see people out there and
it's social, in its own quiet way, so I
love to do that. My house is my
happy place, so love just to walk
through it, pick things up, and clean
the kitchen. I enjoy piddling around
the house. On nights that the kids are
gone, where it's quiet, I love a great
candle, beautiful magazines (not
Street Journal - that's for the day!), but
mindless, pretty pictures or Pinterest.
What are your favorite magazines?
Right. It's not over-stimulating.
That's right. It just looks like my mom's house.
How did your parents influence your career?
I'm from Louisville, Kentucky originally. My mom came from a social family. My grandmother enjoyed the social scene and it was not proper for women, when my mom was growing up, to attend college. My mom wanted to be a large animal vet and she was not allowed to go to college. I think that my mom could have been a financial broker. My granddaddy was part of National City Corp and so she has that brain. She's a very smart businesswoman and she always hated the fact that she didn't have a career. She would work, but she never had a career. She was highly capable, yet discouraged to be anything more. That was it.
My dad could have been an engineer. My dad can look at anything, can tell you how to break it apart, build it back, and construct it. If you played Trivial Pursuit with him, you would feel like the dumbest person in the world. It's like he has Google right in front of him for just about any random question. He's so intelligent, yet nobody encouraged him to do more, or be more. He was a machinist. We had a wonderful childhood, never went without, but I think watching the both of them not have big careers drove me to want it even more.
Do you have any hobbies?
I have lots of hobbies. I was a golfer in college. I love golf. I love to mountain bike. I love to be outside in general. I love to cook. I'm not a chef by any means - I have to have a specific recipe and I have to have the exact ingredients, but I love to cook. I love to have fresh food for the family. I feel a personal sense of accomplishment when I prepare them a meal. I love to shop for the house, not for me, but for the house. I also love having friends over.
Are you a reader?
I am and I have friends that are authors, and so I enjoy reading a book when I know the author. It's like hearing them tell the story. I love that. The last couple of years, I haven't read as much because I'm reading more industry specific things for my companies, and I'm working a whole new skill level of running a small business versus managing a large section of the organization for a publicly traded company. Two completely different worlds, so I'm having to hone a new set of skills, and my personal reading is more business related which is not nearly as fun, but I love to read.
How important has traveling been for you personally?
I really enjoy it, but I also need to have a global view for the consulting business. It's so important to my clients. How can I educate a client about current trends if I'm not looking beyond Dallas, Texas? I think traveling, and learning about other cultures, is crucial in this global economy. We're dealing with companies that are sourcing products from all over. Our clients are trying to attract clients that are outside of the States, potentially. It's such a world of global business. My job is to know what's out there, know the cultures, and know the trends. Maybe that is just a really great way to justify travel, but I think it actually is really important. I love it.
Where are you looking forward to going next?
"I don't fit in a box at anything, not with the house, not with how I do business, or even in how I dress. I am very personal, yet very comfortable."
Beth's tips on creating a workspace that works for you:
1 - Keep it simple, and if in a corporate setting, keep it office appropriate. Bringing items in from home sometimes signals the wrong message.
3 - For graduates just entering the workforce, find note-taking/filing system that works - quickly! Always have a professional notebook and pen for
meetings, but develop how you manage notes for easy recall and distribution if required.
4 - Pictures. This is always a tough one on every project. Our motto is less is more. Select an image or two that inspires and drives you. With technology
there are many opportunities to visually display the family tree, but keep only a few images out to motivate and inspire you.