Author Archives: Lloyd Princeton

ideas

I recently read the book “They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine” by Harold Evans, Gail Buckland, and David Lefer.  I am truly amazed at how much of our society has been created by so few people. Everything that we use today from electricity, communication equipment, oil, farm equipment, brassiere’s for women, guns, medication, you name, was imagined and made profitable by one or a handful of people.

What’s significant about this is not the initial ideas themselves (because frequently, many people have conceptualized a breakthrough), but the creation of the idea into a workable and profitable concept. In many cases, a market had to be created for the invention to even exist. Take electricity for example: the idea of electricity was terrific, many experiments happening with it around the world. However, there were no stations to convert electricity in a form that would transmit over long distances, no boxes to receive and convert them into usable energy at a home/office, no switches to flip to turn-on the light bulbs that required the electricity to glow. EVERYTHING had to be created and the market and distribution systems needed to be created as well.

The amount of sheer will, determination, investment, persistence, and hard work, often in the face of relentless, negative public perception, personal loss and deprivation, and utter despair, makes the accomplishments of the men and women in the book simply staggering! I stand humbled and in awe of the many that have come before us in this amazing world we live in.

With respect to our own design industry, I am constantly amazed by clever creations that designers and architects imagine and attempt to bring to market. It takes courage to design and sell an idea, especially to people who lack the ability to see something in the conceptualization stage, but who require the physical object. So, hats off to the creators, marketers and sellers of ideas!

blogging for SEO priority

I recently attended the Chapter Leadership Conference (CLC) for the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.). I will be the Communications Director on the Board of the Los Angeles Chapter for two years starting in October, and went to learn what’s new in the area of communications for non-profits. Interestingly enough, it’s not terribly different than marketing/communications for for-profit businesses. There are different constituencies which need to have messages tailored to them and applied over different mediums including advertising, public relations, direct response marketing, the internet, and during events. Knowing your audience and determining how to appeal to them at a specific time with a specific medium is key to success of a campaign.

Perhaps, one of the more interesting insights that was shared was about blogging. It was suggested that one must contribute at least 200 words, three times a week, in order for search engines to consider the blog (and your website, if attached), active enough to increase your prominence in search listings. In checking with a colleague, it was countered that this would be overly aggressive, but once every week to two weeks should do the trick.

So, get your blogs going and make sure they are linked to your websites!

I think I can, I think I can

A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal talked about successful entrepreneurs and made reference to the fact that they all possess confidence. The question posed by the article is whether confidence can be taught. The answer: yes (more or less). When people are in children, parents and other adults have tremendous influence over their self-esteems and ability to confidently ask for what they are worth. So, whether or not a child’s ideas are realistic, it doesn’t hurt to hear them out and let their creativity shine forth with loving support. That support will one day, hopefully, lend them the confidence they need to make some endeavor a reality.

Does being a mother count as a career?

Many design professionals have worked in other industries, have taken time to raise families, and pursued the design industry in different ways, from part-time to full-time. I applaud a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that that suggests ways to turn stay-at-home skills into career-track assets. The items they mention for mother’s who want to return back to work include:

·        Stay abreast of changes in your field

·        Ask good questions

·        Show confidence and enthusiasm

·        Showcase relevant skills

·        Don’t apologize for time off

I would like to enhance this list and suggest that you translate the skills of motherhood into the vernacular of the design field and show how being organized and on-time relates to project management abilities, and that negotiating with children can often be similar to relations with vendors!

Be proud of what you have done with your families and demonstrate how this has helped make you a better designer!

Amazing Grace

I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Amazing Grace this weekend. I was stunned by the story and the message! There are two aspects of this which I find compelling. The first is the fact that one person could have the virtue and courage to stand up to accepted practices of society in a time (200 plus years ago) when human life was treated like garbage. William Wilberforce fought for decades to install the abolition of slavery in England, speaking out against the absolute depravity and grotesque treatment of captured people from Africa.

I walked out of the theater with my second thought: what will I do with my life to make a true difference? I ask this as a person of many inconsistencies, someone who wants to do more to help other people, and still manages to upset a handful at any given time. I primarily live in New York City, a place that is insulated from the greater sufferings of the world–it’s fantasy island! And yet, I do want to do more and hope that people watching this wonderful film will feel the same way.

Lastly, as a person who enjoys singing in church (Episcopalian hymnal, thank you!), I encourage everyone to sing Amazing Grace, it is a lovely hymn and does not tax the vocal ranges, making it an easy one for everyone to enjoy! It was written by a reformed slave trade boat captain, John Newton, who realized after 20 years and thousands of souls lost, that he was wrong and needed to ask forgiveness. "Once blind, but now can see"……..I feel that way sometimes….

Top Challenges for sole proprietors

#1        Inability to focus on generating new business (35%)

#2        Spreading time across multiple projects/roles (27%)

#3        Limited resources (23%)

#4        Running business more effificiently (23%)

#5        Not having enough time to focus on own passions (23%)

These finds are compliments of a survey taken by Visa of a 1000 people. Seems pretty obvious that Sole Props try to do everything on their own and wind up not doing what they love. My thought is that people need to figure out when to turn to other people for help, know when to let go, and when to trust that someone else can do something better then they can. I have started using my business coach again, Ron Charnock out of Alexandria, VA, and I am grateful to have the support of someone who knows more than I do and who is not emotionally attached to the outcome of my decisions. His perspective allows me to make better, more accurate decisions for my ­long-term success.

Remember, I in this for the long-term….are you?

Beyond Satisfaction

Customer Service departments are created to solve the problems of customers. But, is this being proactive or reactive? The real definition of CS is to anticipate the customers needs so that problems will not arise. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think “what would I be experiencing right now, what would my needs and desires be?”. If the answer is anything more than what the customer is receiving, then you may want to offer to make up the difference……in advance! If you really want to exceed expectations, then you need to proactively satisfy your customers—fix the problems before they happen and you will have a customer for life!

Perspective–Ruminations from 24,000 AGL

I just finished watching the movie Tsotsi, a story of redemption. It is, perhaps, one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. It tells the story of a young man in what I believe to be the shanty towns of South Africa, who was raised knowing only violence and neglect, and who developed the traits of compassion and decency. At the end of the movie, he did the right thing.

This made me think of two books I recently read, “The Kite Runner” and “A Fine Balance”, the first about Afghanistan and the second about India. They each describe the brutality of regions where people are inflicted with circumstances that they cannot control and who do their best to live their lives as best as possible. I suppose they are stories of adaptability, the human quality to accept even the most deplorable conditions and continue living.

While all three of these stories brought fear into my heart of the world I cannot control, this last movie made me cry with the understanding that everyone has the capacity to change. So, when I think about the day-to-day lives that people in my sphere live, I am reminded that what we consider challenging is a mere hiccup compared to other people, perhaps the majority, in the world. By no means do I diminish anyone’s pain or problems, but just want to keep perspective.

400,000,000

I recently read an article in the WSJ by Joel Kotkin titled “400,000,000”. That is the number the population in the United States of America is supposed to reach 2050. What’s significant about this figure is that this growth in inhabitants stands in stark contrast to the anticipated populations of many other nations including Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and other parts of the world. While we are growing, many countries are slowing and/or declining. There is another element to this as well; we are a young nation, not just in history, but in citizens. “By 2050, roughly one-third of the population in these countries will be over 65, compared to around one-fifth in the U.S.”

What does this mean to us? Economically it means that we will have more workers paying into our system than taking out of it. This will bode well for our position as a super-power, one we have held for many decades. Moreover, ours is a country that will continue to morph from one that was predominantly Caucasian to a very mixed, melting pot indeed. It is also anticipated that people will move out to the suburbs and the country in order to avoid over-crowding in the cities, “that the vast majority of Americans—upward of 80%–still prefer single-family homes over apartments, while no more than 10%-15% want to live near the central core.”

What’s the net-net of this? Times are changing and the playing field is evolving, keep your eyes open so that you don’t miss opportunities to position yourself in front of the people you want in your life, professionally and personally.

Why I do what I do!

Why do I do what I do? Because people respond to me and make me feel as if I am contributing something to this world. I know this sounds kind of heady in the scheme of things, but it is true. When I think about what my clients, interior designers, do for a living, I am often envious of their ability to influence the way people live. Well, that is what I do as well. The first few times I had someone approach me and say that I had "changed their life", I thought that they were exaggerating and was embarrassed. Now I recognize the power and impact of my words and conviction and am proud that I can influence thousands of people a year.

For the most part, I am working with audiences that are largely comprised of women who do not know how (or don’t feel comfortable) to ask for as much money as they are worth. What is fascinating is that these are generally professionals who are very talented and very good business people, but who also need to be told that it is ok to ask for more than they have in the past and that is does not matter what other people are doing or settle for. I mean, think about it, do you want to emulate the business practices of someone who settles for less or do you want to find a guiding light in your industry and take their lead? Better yet, why not take the lead yourself!

So, in my own way, I make it my business to push other people to take inventory of their abilities and then to gain the most that they can from them. This makes me happy and brings me satisfaction. This is the same satisfaction that I would like others to experience as well!