Décor Mentor – Leading with her strengths
We’re honored to welcome Lisa Ferguson, interior designer, collaborator and mentor. SocialNorth welcome submissions from everyone. Visit our Writer’s Guidelines and share your expertise with our community.
Finding a new business in her passion
Dana Helms: You’ve come a long way since your last interview (read Lisa’s 1st SN interview). What was the moment that changed for you in 2013 that helped define this new chapter in your journey?
Lisa Ferguson: Years ago a friend twisted my arm to take the StrengthsFinder test. I thought I was already pretty aware of my strengths and weaknesses and didn’t need another method to pile it on. Oh contraire. My insights have been significant and all from a positive perspective.
Here are just a few….
I discovered my several unsuccessful collaborations were because I had been trying to partner with people that were like me. Recent collaborations with people who complement my strengths have been completely different.
My top strengths say I bring innovative, individualized and thoughtful strategies to the table. Being able to articulate this succinctly to potential collaborators and clients has been game changing.
Strategic thinking is my domain. Suddenly I understood why it was taking me three times as long as others to complete some projects. This knowledge was all I needed to adjust my business model to allow for collaboration and delegation for tasks that were taking me to basement of my strengths.
I feel I must share a lie that I carried forth in my career for far too long. I was constantly being affirmed with comments like “you are so great at getting things done.” It might have been true but a lot of execution is painful for me. Seeing the absence of execution and dominance of customized ideas and strategies helped me shift what services I offer and how I spend my time.
DD: What do you love most about what you do?
LF: I can barely sleep the night before I have a day full of innovation and strategic thinking planned. And I get an incredible burst of energy in affirming other people’s uniqueness, helping them to see what their full potential may look like and collaborating on a custom implementation strategy.
DD – Do you think this new project will be your best yet?
LF: I do. I’m planning to still design interiors for a very select few, but to be honest, I get even greater joy journeying with others and witnessing them soar when they lead with their strengths.
DD: Who has helped inspire you to bring this new journey into the light and help you make it a reality?
LF: My dear friend, Jennifer Brouwer has had a front row seat to the wonderful world of my strengths in action. And firsthand experience. Actually, it’s her strength of “activation” that got me out of the gate pronto to get trained as a Strengths coach as my strength of “weighing the risks and rewards” before I move forward would have meant a whole other timeline. A little out of my comfort zone, my word for this year is “courage.”
Also, almost serendipitously, I met Lesli Scott. Her team brought passion and beautiful visuals to the story of strengths for our new RISE Sessions debuting at High Point Market. I am deeply grateful for the passion and talents of these collaborative women.
DD: Clearly social media changed how you do business, do you think it has helped grow us closer or create a divide in our industry?
LF: I do see both, but fortunately, more of the closer. It’s a beautiful thing to see peers sharing best practices, resources and elevating each other. In the world of design and home furnishings many professionals pre-social media had a fortress mindset – very scary. Today, with those walls being torn down, sharing, elevating and intentional and strategic collaborating is creating unity and many are benefiting financially.
DD: What advice do you have for others struggling with social media?
LF: While many desire to be transparent and vulnerable, there’s a time and a place, so we often just see beautifully crafted messages. Sarah Walker of The Curated House says “Don’t compare your reality to someone else’s highlight reel.” A really great reminder.
I joined Google+ in 2011 and haven’t really invested my time there until recently. There is a mass movement back to this platform, in part because of the SEO benefits, and in part because of Facebook’s algorithms. If you are newish to social media, G+ almost levels the playing field once again. The chances are good your ideal client will be there soon, if not already. Have you updated your ideal client profile recently? Is your strategy aimed at building relationships with them? And to quote Gail Doby of Design Success University , “build relationships with those who service your ideal clients.”
DD: What’s the best advice you can give to follow your dream when it doesn’t match what you are currently doing?
LF: Track everything you do every week. Highlight the things that bring you great joy and are easy for you. This is usually very enlightening and a great start to changing your direction to include more of what leverages your strengths and to create a strategy to minimize what doesn’t.
If you’re working for someone else, show them what you bring to the table based on strengths and how changing your role can be a mutual win. If you’re an entrepreneur who’s stuck, I’d look at changing your business model and services to better align with your strengths.
Another tip would be to ask those who know you really well for specific examples of when you are at your very best. Often they’ll share specific stories of your genius that you overlook, because it comes so naturally to you. You may want to explore creating a strategy that has you leaning more into repeating those types of things. If you aren’t of the strategy mindset, and a coach isn’t your preferred options, reach out to a peer who is. Most will be willing to give you time, especially if there is a mutual win. Maybe there is something you do really well that could benefit them?
DD: If you won $1 million dollars how would you use it?
LF: This is an easy one. My business models have always had a huge element of peer sharing and giving complimentary mentoring to those who have the passion and determination, but don’t have the means yet. I would offer this on a much larger scale.
About Dana Helms
When someone says social butterfly, they’re likely referring to Dana Helms. With her ability to wander through conversations online as if she’s hosting a cocktail party, Dana brings awareness and excitement to the social media party. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Catch up with Lisa Ferguson online