Twenty five years in a luxury business can turn one into a perfectionist.
I remember a moment in the beginning of my career; I was a new department manager at Nordstrom in San Diego. Each morning the store manager, Eda Baldauf - a woman I admired deeply - would walk the store, checking to see that all was in order and I; driven and ambitious as I was, would make it my business to be at the front of the department to greet her. One morning as we were standing, talking about new merchandise, business, staff, I saw her eyes wander across the department and suddenly, she focused. There, far in the back of the department in a small section of a display case, one of three light bulbs had burned out. And she saw it. It was a tiny detail and a lesson that I never forgot. It became my mission to achieve that same level of perception and attention to detail. In short, I began to practice perfection as a fine art.
Twenty five years later it is practically impossible for me to do anything else. Wherever I go there is always a part of me that is assessing details, minutia, looking for imperfections in the visual landscape and it is only by deep practice that I can ever let go of what I see; refrain from commenting, fixing... When I am out shopping, frequently I find myself straightening hangars and sweater stacks.
I am a perfectionist who may also have control issues...we have talked about this already. Now I'm the co-founder of an art and design business. We are starting at ground level...with a very tight budget.
What this means in practical terms is that Todd and I are doing everything; business design, website, branding, marketing, etc. And although we both have a strong grounding in business with experience coordinating all of these elements; always in the past there have been experts backing us up. In the corporate luxury business there is always an army of web designers, graphic designers, marketing and sales specialists, photographers, makeup artists, not to mention the less glamorous but equally important structural disciplines like controllers, accountants, lawyers, human resources.....
All of this backup can give one delusions of grandeur. And through my association; through working with all of these talented people, I have also developed a fine eye for design that is well done. I can spot a beautiful, professionally styled and produced advertising campaign with one eye closed; from across the room... I am always noticing and assessing beautiful products, clever advertising, effective branding, versus ineffective branding. I can look at something and say with a high degree of accuracy " that will work" or "that misses the mark".
But now I am in the driver's seat. No longer am I sitting with that army of professional collaborators making judgements, decisions, commentary. Now I have to produce. Everything. From the initial idea, to the branding, product development, execution, through marketing and all the way to delivery...its all me/us (because none of this could ever happen without Todd).
It's an enormous challenge....and a very naked place to be. In the back of my head, now there is a voice which always whispers; "Its not good enough yet", "No, not yet", "No its still not good enough". Its so tempting to hold back, to wait to listen to that voice; "Let's go back to the drawing board", "Let's start over". "Let's tweak it one more time" .....
Since we "launched" the idea back in the Spring of 2013, sitting on bar stools in the kitchen of my west Providence loft where Todd proposed "Find Your Cool" as a name, began developing Find Your Cool, in early Spring 2014, Todd and I have spent thousands of hours discussing our vision, developing and re-designing our web site, learning how to market products on the web, learning about social media and how to use it, working with artists and designers on product development, proposing ideas, rejecting ideas, coming up with new ones and refining those ideas, approaching designers with our vision, proposals, vision-questing and conceptual riffing on whiteboard....
Now we have something that is beginning to look like a business. And we know that we are on the right track. And much of it is good. The problem is that I know what I want it to look like. I want it to be perfect. And I know that its not yet perfect. In my head I know that we begin every endeavor as an amateur. I know that we still have much to learn, I know that we will learn as we go; we will get better, the vision will become more clear and more refined. I know we will add more products, more artists, more designers, and as we do these things it will all look better, feel better, be better. I also know that its time to put it out there and let it grow organically. I know we have to begin somewhere.
And yet that voice; the perfectionist in my head keeps whispering; "Stop. Wait. Redesign one more time. Wait until we have more products on the site, wait until we have a more polished image, wait until...."
And just as it happens so often since I have begun this journey of "finding my bliss" help appears. I come across something in my files that I copied back in the early days; when none of this existed and the only thing I knew was that I wanted to build a future life in alignment with my values and dreams. I find in my collected bookmarks a set of directions from Deepak Chopra about how to design a "conscious life"
"Work on your project every day"; check. "Remain flexible and open to opportunities, mentors, ideas"; check. " Focus on your vision, passion, values so that your project will become a reflection of your creative truth"; check, check, check. "Let go of perfection." Oh.....
So now I'm sitting at my computer. I'm having a vision. Whenever one uses MailChimp to send an email campaign, the final step shows a graphic with a big chimpanzee moving his finger up and down asking if its "time to push the button?"
I know its time to "ship"; that web design, that product offering, that blog post, newsletter, Pinterest campaign, Facebook post.... Now I'm envisioning Deepak Chopra is in there beside that voice inside my head. He's saying; "Go ahead. Push the button."