Now vs Later (or What It Takes to Be An Industry Leader)

I had a mentor who once told me, “The thing about you, Liene, is that you see things about three to five years before other people start to.”

I rolled my eyes at him. I was frustrated because the board of directors I was serving on at the time just flat out didn’t get the urgency of moving on a particular situation. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see what I did. His words didn’t really make me feel better. We didn’t have three years. 

Except that we did. Well, no, actually we didn’t. It is true that we had the time in that we waited the three years to start to even think about taking action. But because of the board's reticence to move on anything, we ended up missing a key opportunity to set the community’s pace and tone of solutions, hurt our position as leaders in the field, and ultimately paid the price of "too little, too late."

The saying, “everyone wants what everyone wants” is generally true and the bills that need to be paid today, this month, this year tend to drive strategies that reflect that adage. The problem with this is that people often don’t know what they want until you show them.

The bigger problem is that if you’re playing where everyone currently is, they (and you) are being led by someone else. This means your long-term strategies are ultimately being driven by someone other than you. 

There is a bit of "both/and" at work here in that the reality is you do have bills that have to be paid both this year and in twenty years. It’s simply not an either/or scenario. If your strategy only reflects the first though, you will ultimately be the one playing catch up. You will be the one experiencing the painful reality of too little, too late.

If you’re a visionary, you’re both a trendspotter and a trendsetter, and you see things before others do. This means doing things that people don’t necessarily understand now, but will later. It means that, for now, others may get louder applause, or more followers, or more features in Vogue than you do. It means you’ll spend money on things with no guarantee that they’ll work. It means you're willing to do things differently than everybody else is now because you want to be the one who is around later.

Being the leader who sets the standard for the rest of the industry can be risky, frustrating, and not always an ego boost. It’s worth it. Don't settle.

Originally published February 2015

The Two Qualities You'll Need to Survive Working in Weddings

  Artwork by Benny Kanofsky (left) and  Anthony Burrill  (right). 

Artwork by Benny Kanofsky (left) and Anthony Burrill (right). 

If you've worked in the bridal industry for more than twenty minutes, then you know that a person is not always their best self when planning their wedding.

There are several reasons for this: unseen family dynamics at play, emotions long buried now bubbling to the surface, fear and uncertainty at this new season of life and, of course, daily conversations about money, which is generally not a comfortable topic regardless of purchase size.

If you expect your clients (or their families) to be saints all the time, you're in the wrong line of work.

Being generous doesn't just apply to material resources. Sometimes it means being generous with our patience and empathy as well. It means extending the benefit of the doubt when you'd rather make a snap judgment. It means not expecting people to be fully rational when making decisions about an emotional milestone event. It means listening on a deeper level, beyond just what your clients say aloud. It means asking for the story and leaving space for it to be shared.

If you want to make it in weddings, you'll need these qualities – gracious generosity and deep listening – in spades.

A Small Way to Make Your Day Run A Bit More Smoothly

how to get more of what you want.jpg

I picked up Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin at an airport bookshop while on a layover several years ago, back when the book was first released. I don't remember too much from it, but one thing that stuck with me is her recommendation to intentionally add small things to your daily routine that bring you joy. 

I decided there, on the plane during the next leg of my flight, that from then on fresh flowers would be included in my weekly grocery budget and that French-pressed coffee would be part of my morning routine. And, six years later, I can attest that both things continue to make my days a little brighter, even if the coffee is decaf these days. Plus, I truly feel that fresh flowers bring a room to life in a way nothing else can. The ten extra dollars added to my budget each week (I generally just pick up whatever is pretty, cheerful, and on sale at the supermarket) has been money well-spent. 

This principle – choosing to add something to your day that makes you a bit more happy, allowing the day to go a bit more smoothly – can apply to both home life and business life. And it doesn't have to cost much, if anything at all: your happiness addition could be starting the day reading the news old-school style with coffee on your front porch, or it could be unwinding in the evenings with Coltrane and a cup of chamomile tea. At work it could mean adding a favorite piece of artwork to your office wall that brings up a cherished memory whenever you look at it or setting aside 15 minutes a day to connect by phone with colleagues you haven't seen in a while (only talking to people when you need something from them is a terrible way to network). 

I find that many entrepreneurs are pro implementing these tiny life edits when it comes to others but tend to skip them when it comes to themselves. While the additions may feel frivolous, they lead to a better mood which boosts productivity and optimism – and staying optimistic, of course, helps keep you open to new ideas and opportunities.

The little things matter in life, and being intentional about adding good things that bring more joy to (and don't distract us from) our daily routines is both a practical and doable form of self-care.