2017 is well and truly here! Each new year I try to challenge myself by thinking differently, exploring new horizons, and extending myself both professionally and personally. Over the holidays, I stumbled across a wonderful TED TALK by Jia Jiang: “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection." I was blown away by the wisdom of his simple exercise. What if instead of accepting “no” as an answer and running in the other direction, we were able to pause, delve deeper, and somehow turn that “no” into a “YES!”? This approach can apply to any facet of our lives, and certainly to my experiences as an interior designer trying to make it in the big city…
Several years ago, I was looking for a respected interior design trade organization to affiliate with. The major group in town had scorned my application and, as a result, I was feeling low, unappreciated, and somehow undeserving of my professional aspirations. Rather than running the other way, I picked up my bruised ego and explored other alternatives online. I discovered that the Interior Design Society (IDS) had an active chapter in Long Island. I applied, despite living in Manhattan without access to a car. I happened to be taking my Feng Shui training at the time when one of my classmates asked: “well, what’s wrong with starting your own Manhattan-based chapter? You can do this!” She was challenging me to think outside the box I’d found myself stuck in. After speaking with IDS National Headquarters and reviewing my application, they came back with an enthusiastic YES – embracing the idea of starting a local chapter and increasing my qualifications while working within the organization. Now we not only have a successful Manhattan Chapter, but I’m also serving as President – turning one devastating “no” into a resounding “yes!”
A second experience springs to mind. At my first interior design firm, the principal had very strong ideas about how to work with clients and bill for services. She taught me a lot about how to gain clients, sell them on our services and much more, but she felt strongly that the initial meeting with a client needed to be gratis – as a way of gaining the opportunity to "pitch.” Needless to say, in the beginning of my business, I attended a lot of pitches with people that were not especially serious about booking my services – they were just shopping. It was an incredibly frustrating time! In my Feng Shui business training, we were taught about building a price-package for services that included a commitment to going forward BEFORE spending time advising or even meeting. So, I changed my tactics and began advising prospects that I was charging a small consultation fee to meet with them for the first time; which I would roll into my fees going forward if retained by them. Potential clients still push-back with a “no” from time to time during initial conversations, but I have learned to invest my time in prospects who come back with a YES – because, ultimately, they are the kinds of clients that understand the value and importance of time and energy.
In 2017, I challenge you to take a no – and turn it into a yes! I guarantee you’ll be better for it. All best wishes for a prosperous, positive New Year.