Designing Women

Gail Davis, 16 December 2011

The deal closed and I found myself in a panic. How was I supposed to research all the design options, explore the best deals, ensure that I was making wise investments and know that the look would all come together?

Most of you understand my laser focus on a task. I worried that designing, furnishing and recreating my home would take my focus away from the business. The idea of my business not doing well would have an adverse effect on the choices I could make in my new furnishings. I was starting to feel stressed.

Then I went back to my corporate roots. EDS was the birthplace of outsourcing. Why not find someone whose expertise was interior design so I could focus on making the money to pay for it … and, as a bonus, actually enjoy the process!

I began to collect names of designers from friends. Of course, all were highly referred. Some for the creativity, some for the cost savings approach. But those most passionately referred were those who “connected” with their clients.

It made me think of my own clients. I have identified with being a planner and needing a bureau partner that was dependable and responsive. But now I identified as a business owner who needs expertise. I realized the importance of connecting on a shared vision.

I interviewed designers who said I would need to take off days from work to go to market. What? What is the benefit on my time if I have to take off work and tromp through market?

I wanted someone to jump inside my head. I wanted that instant understanding of all my expectations. Then take it and run with it. And because it was a big investment decision, I wanted someone who would make wise choices.

During this process, my oldest and dearest childhood friend said, “I know you and I know exactly who you need.” Which is how I found my trusted partner, my designer.

When I met Breanna, I was impressed that she was not pushy. She did not have an agenda. She understood being held accountable to a budget.

And she was flexible. I wanted to show her my space. As we compared busy schedules, the only time we could find was Sunday morning at 7 a.m. I liked her willingness to do that.

She came to my empty condo. She measured and she listened. After some time to make thoughtful decisions, she laid it all out. It made sense. It flowed. It was a smart use of resources. She did not push me for a decision.

You know what? I bought it because I believed it. She had somehow pulled my vision and put it on paper. She laid out a road map on how to get there. That order was placed two months ago and my business has been on fire ever since.

I love the decisions we've made together. Best of all, I am not distracted because I have a partner I trust.

My business is in its 13th year. The current composition of my team is all women. This was not really by design. We just ended up this way and it works. I believe the reason we are so successful is because we all get “why” we do what we do. We trust each other.

My personal design experience changed my perspective. It had been a while since I was in the client’s shoes – in terms of making an investment like this and trusting a partner to make it a home run. And it will show in the way GDA delivers.

We do what we do because we love speakers and events. The value we bring to the table is our expertise, connections and knowledge.

But all that is for naught if we do not listen and connect with our clients. Only then can we bring true value. Which is why I can say without reservation that you should let us design your next speaker experience.

Happy Holidays – may your home be full of peace. I’m looking forward to that myself.