Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Remembering What You Want

Discipline is remembering what you want. -- David Campbell

We eat this, not that and commit to exercise because we remember that what we want is to feel and look good.

We say no to certain types of projects and clients because we remember what it is we want to have more room to say yes to.

We create personal boundaries surrounding our businesses because we remember that we want to have more focused time with family.

We schedule in time for reading/exploring/art museum visits because we remember that what we want is new ways of thinking and that will only come by exposure to varied and new ideas.

We schedule in time for marketing tasks because we remember that their benefits accumulate over time and that it's best not to wait until the well is dry to start looking for new life-giving sources.

Discipline isn't a dirty word nor an impossible feat. It is making choices, day by day, hour by hour, that keep in mind what we really wanted in the first place.


Originally published October 2012

Monday, July 21, 2014

Yes, You Have To Fight For It

You may have seen this quote making the rounds on Pinterest: "When it's real, it's effortless."

It's terrible advice.

These concepts of "easy having" and "easy living" have permeated our culture to the point that many of us believe that good things -- real things -- should show up magically and without much fuss. Then when they don't, we decide they're not worth pursuing and write them off as "not meant to be."

This is one of the most toxic lies we believe and it prevents people from experiencing sustainable joy.

Parents fight for the well-being of their children.
Couples fight for their marriages.
Societies fight for their values and ideals.
The oppressed fight for their freedom and voice.
Entrepreneurs fight for their companies.
Artists fight for their ideas.

Anything and everything worth having in life requires tenacity and grace. If you want something real -- something that matters and stands the test of time -- you will have to pursue it. You will have to fight for it.


Friday, July 18, 2014

What You See Is What You Get

I'm always amazed at how Beka Rendell of Styled Creative and Kimberly Fink of Treatmint Box see things. They can walk into any dilapidated venue and see it transformed into something magical. They can take a piece of what the rest of the world would consider garbage and turn it into art. They can take a handful of seemingly disconnected items and combine them into what becomes the next must-have trend (their hanging ribbon escort card "table" --  once published in Martha Stewart Weddings -- is now recreated at weddings every weekend by planners across the United States).

This industry is full of people with this kind of talent: Todd Fiscus, Marcy Blum, Calder Clark, and Preston Bailey to name just a few.

All of these people can look past the dirt and stains and see a beautiful end result. They can see the cohesion that the bigger picture provides and are able to see where things fit in the grand scheme of things. This skill transcends events and design.

We see what we look for. If you look for cynicism, you'll find a cold, hard, gloomy world where everyone is completely focused on themselves. If you look for the silver lining, you'll find a world of joy, creativity, generosity and simple pleasures.

This isn't to say that looking for the good erases the bad. Far from it. Looking for the good simply allows the bad to be viewed in the appropriate context: as a part, not the whole, and often as something that can be restored or given a second chance.



Originally published March 2012

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Wedding Statistics from Splendid Insights

New wedding market reports with unbiased insights and wedding statistics are now available from Splendid Insights!

The reports include the four regions of the United States: Southern, Midwestern, Western and Northeastern and include responses from over 14,000 straight- and same-sex couples who married in 2013. The states included in each region were determined by the US Census for consistency in cross-referening other data.

The 2013 US Southern Wedding Market Report is 39 full-color pages and includes unbiased wedding statistics and bridal research from brides and grooms in the South who were married in 2013. States included in this region were determined by the U.S. Census Bureau and include Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. || Purchase for $79

The 2013 US Midwestern Wedding Market Report is 39 full-color pages and includes unbiased wedding statistics and bridal research from brides and grooms in the MidWest who were married in 2013. States included in this region were determined by the U.S. Census Bureau and include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. || Purchase for $79

 The 2013 US Western Wedding Market Report is 39 full-color pages and includes unbiased wedding statistics and bridal research from brides and grooms in the Western United States who married in 2013. States included in this region were determined by the U.S. Census Bureau and include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. || Purchase for $79

The 2013 US Northeastern Wedding Market Report is 39 full-color pages and includes unbiased wedding statistics and bridal research from brides and grooms in the Northeastern United States who were married in 2013. States included in this region were determined by the U.S. Census Bureau and include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. || Purchase for $79

Other wedding market reports from Splendid Insights can be purchased here, including reports segmented by wedding budget range.

The Must-Have Trait for Wedding Pros (And Everyone Else)

My first job was in high school as a receptionist and shampoo girl at a hair salon. I learned many
important skills at that job but the most valuable was learning how to listen to people on a deep level.

It's a universal law that hair salons are some mysterious safe zone where people open up about their most vulnerable feelings while reading gossip magazines. As the professional, you're suddenly entrusted with a piece of their heart, whether you asked to be or not.

It's like this in weddings, too.

If you expect everyone to be rational, logical and approach decisions with level-headed analysis, the wedding industry is not for you. Every engaged couple and every wedding brings with it a lifetime of family dynamics and subtext that you must learn to navigate almost immediately.

Some of it you'll recognize right away: the emotional loss of identity when two financially independent people are looking at merging accounts, a mom who can't seem to cut the apron strings even though her son hasn't lived at home in 14 years, divorced parents who will be in the same room for the first time in decades, crazy Aunt Mary who doesn't fall off the wagon, she jumps every chance she gets.

And then there's the stuff that's less obvious: the sibling rivalry only heightened as adults because of differing life choices, the unspoken social expectations passed down through generations, the years of dinner table conversations and the perspectives they shaped, the hours of therapy the bride or groom has sat through as an adult because of family circumstances.

Sometimes I'll "assist" a colleague on an event in order to observe the behavioral dynamics behind the scenes. At one wedding in Chicago a couple years ago, the mother of the bride made a tear-filled comment to me about how frumpy her arms looked in her sleeveless dress. On the surface this seems like a common insecurity every woman has had at some point in her life. What mattered, though, was that the mom wasn't looking at me when she was talking to me. She was looking across the room at her ex-husband's much younger (read: bride's age) new wife, whose arms could have given Michelle Obama's a run for their money.

There, in the middle of photographs and makeup and hair styling and laughing over champagne, was a woman who was simultaneously excited for her daughter's wedding and grieving afresh her own shattered dreams. She wasn't interested in hearing that her arms looked fine and she looked beautiful, she wanted to know that she was still lovable and worthy of being pursued.

These are tricky waters to navigate and require the ability to listen and pay attention on a level most jobs do not. They require building a team that practices empathy and isn't solely concerned with their own art, fame, timelines, Instagram updates or checkmarks on a to-do list. They require a thick-skin, grit and a willingness to forgive and forget when people's emotions prevail against their better judgment.

They require consistently paying attention to a world beyond ourselves.


Originally published January 2011