85 episodes

Two good friends who also happen to be the two co-founders of a creative consultancy for designers, Gail Doby and Erin Weir share how their long and enduring friendship impacts the way they inspire each other and work through whatever life and business challenges come their way. In their own honest musings, and also in their open conversations with speakers, authors, and influencers, they further their own journey as friends and founders, causing us to further our own journeys, too.

Creative Genius Podcast Gail Doby & Erin Weir

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

Two good friends who also happen to be the two co-founders of a creative consultancy for designers, Gail Doby and Erin Weir share how their long and enduring friendship impacts the way they inspire each other and work through whatever life and business challenges come their way. In their own honest musings, and also in their open conversations with speakers, authors, and influencers, they further their own journey as friends and founders, causing us to further our own journeys, too.

    When Spouses are Business Partners (Karen Wolf & Matt Brown)

    When Spouses are Business Partners (Karen Wolf & Matt Brown)

    With two working spouses, finding a career-marriage balance can be difficult. When taking on a business partner, negotiating work styles and roles can be tough. So when spouses decide to go into business together, one might expect the challenges could be exponentially greater. Some couples, though, find a way to make it work. Some even find it rewarding.

    In this episode, Gail talks with Karen B. Wolf and Matt Brown of K+CO Living interior design, based in Short Hills, New Jersey. Karen is the owner and creative principal. Matt is the chief operations officer. They also are wife and husband. Karen recently rebranded her firm from KBW Interiors to take her name out of the firm’s name and position the firm as a modern coastal look leader. Having decided to leave his business in the food industry after more than 20 years, Matt joined the firm to provide much-needed managerial support and free up more of Karen’s time to do what she does best—create.

    Gail asked Karen and Matt what sorts of issues they had to consider when deciding to go into a business partnership together. On the plus side, said Karen, their personalities and skill sets are uniquely different and complementary. At the same time, they share the same common values and their personalities are compatible. Also, they have clearly defined roles in the business, so they don’t compete with one another.

    The COO role is to support the CEO and their vision, explained Matt. His job is to take care of the back office and let the designers do what they do best. He has no facility for design, he said, and stays out of that side of the business. On the other hand, he has more than 30 years’ operations management experience and knows that Karen trusts his expertise and judgment in those matters.

    As partners and a married couple, it’s important that they maintain a united front when interacting with the rest of the team, said Karen. “We need to be on the same page and avoid having disagreements in front of the staff,” said Matt. Karen added that they also have to be careful about how much personal information they share in the workplace. They are partners at work and spouses at home.

    Karen also talked about some of the challenges she’s had to overcome in building her firm into a multimillion-dollar business and about her future plans for the business. For that and more insights into what makes for a successful couple-partner relationship, listen to the entire podcast.

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    To learn more about Karen, Matt and K+CO Living, visit the firm’s website at kandcoliving.com.

    • 43 min
    Nurturing Productive Partnerships (Christi Barbour)

    Nurturing Productive Partnerships (Christi Barbour)

    Business partnerships have something of a bad reputation. And not without good reason. An estimated 70 percent of all business partnerships eventually fail. On average, partnerships last no more than eight years. A majority last five years or less. However, with the right formula and constant care, partnerships can survive and thrive for many years.

    In this episode, Gail talks with Christi Barbour, founder and partner, Barbour Spangle Design in High Point, North Carolina, which specializes in both residential and commercial design. Christi and her partner Christi Spangle started their design firm 24 years ago and are still going strong. Over the years they’ve learned how to draw on and complement each other’s strengths to drive and grow their highly successful business.

    Christi told Gail that in the beginning she and Christi both tried to do everything. But in time they realized that they each were good at very different things. They shifted their approach to focusing on their respective strengths, which proved to be a more effective way to run the business.

    The one area in which they constantly coincide is their values. “You have to know your values align,” said Christi. That applies to the members of their team as well. When everyone believes in and shares the same values, then you can work together to achieve common goals, she said.

    “You have to treat it like a marriage,” said Christi. Partners have to have a high level of respect for one another. You need to know how you complement one another, where your respective strengths are, and how you can support one another. Moreover, you need to truly care about each other’s welfare, be willing to take the bad with good, and be compassionate.

    Christi also talked about some of the things she’s learned along the way that have contributed to the business’s success. “Initially, I didn’t listen to my gut,” she said. “When I started listening to my gut, there was a shift.” In addition, she mentioned learning to have hard conversations for the greater good and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you and share your values.

    Gail and Christi touched on a number of other topics during their conversation. They include how she has created an award-winning workplace culture, her role in the firm, her future plans for the firm, and her charitable activities. For all that and more, listen to the entire podcast.

    If you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s9e6-shownotes

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    To learn more about Christi and her work, go to the firm’s website at www.barbourspangle.com.

    Christi mentioned a book Gail had recommended to her, Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters. It is widely available through online booksellers.


    • 29 min
    The Business Side of Renderings (Jing Johnson)

    The Business Side of Renderings (Jing Johnson)

    Drawings, plans and renderings have always been an integral component of the interior design process. Beginning in the early 2000s, advances in computer technology and software made it possible to create stunningly realistic detailed renderings of architecture and design projects. Soon followed 3D, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) renderings. These allow viewers to immerse themselves in a space before any construction has started. They can be a powerful tool for presenting your vision to clients, funders and stakeholders.

    In this episode, Gail talks with Jing Johnson, president of PRISM Renderings in Houston, Texas. Jing has degrees in architecture and design from both China and the United States. After 10 years of working in A/E/D firms in the U.S., Jing recognized that there was great demand from realtors and developers, as well as from architects, engineers and designers, for high-quality, precision renderings. In 2000, she started PRISM Renderings, which specializes in serving the commercial real estate market and high-end residential A&D market.

    Jing has seen demand for her company’s services grow over the years. Although the images today are startlingly realistic, “renderings are beyond pretty pictures,” she explained. Many of her clients use renderings to raise funds for their projects and to expedite the design process.

    “For designers and architects, renderings can save costs and also increase client satisfaction,” Jing said. Clients can better understand the materials being specified for the project. And they can see how they are being combined to create the overall design. That makes renderings a powerful sales tool. They also often help clients to make decisions quicker, saving time and money.

    As an added benefit to the designer, said Jing, clients usually pay for the cost of producing the renderings. Some firms also charge a fee for the time involved in providing documents, reviewing the renderings, and walking through the renderings with the client.

    Speaking from the perspective of an A&D professional, Jing urged designers to use not only renderings but all the resources available to them to ensure the long-term success of their business. Those include coaches, like Gail, consultants, specialists, and outsourced services like hers.

    Jing spoke in detail about the process of producing renderings and also about some of the limitations of renderings. For those insights and more, listen to the entire podcast.

    If you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s9e5-shownotes

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    For more information about PRISM Renderings and its services, visit the firm’s website at www.prismrenderings.com.

    About Jing Johnson:

    Jing Johnson, the founder and CEO of PRISM Renderings since 2005, leads an exceptional all-women team that produces advanced 3D renderings and animations for the real estate and architectural industry. Our work enhances project viability and marketability. With bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture and years of experience in architectural firms, Jing's expertise is foundational to our success.

    Beyond her business, Jing is passionate about helping young mothers achieve work-life harmony, reflecting PRISM's commitment to professional and familial dedication. Actively supporting the design industry and the community, Jing's efforts span sponsorships, volunteering, mentoring, and aiding non-profits, underlining her impactful and meaningful contributions.

    Jing balances her professional achievements with her roles as an architect's wife and a mother to two sons ...

    • 17 min
    Compensation Dos and Don’ts (Sarah Lieberman)

    Compensation Dos and Don’ts (Sarah Lieberman)

    Decisions around compensation are some of the most difficult issues employers have to deal with. How do you determine what is the right level of compensation for a given position? How do you ensure compensation is equitable and fair across your entire team? To what extent should external factors such as inflation and market conditions bear on compensation levels? Aside from salary and basic benefits, what other forms of compensation should you be offering to attract and retain the best employees for your firm? A compensation specialist can help you make the right choices for your business and answer these tough questions.

    In this episode, Gail talks with Sarah Lieberman, partner and chief human relations officer with The CEO’s Right Hand, headquartered in the Greater New York Area. Prior to joining The CEO’s Right Hand, Sarah was vice president of human capital services at TriNet, a national provider of human resources services and served as head of human resources at Brooklyn Academy of Music. She holds degrees and certifications in organizational development, human resources, coaching, and leadership development.

    Gail asked Sarah about the most common mistakes that firms make in how they manage compensation. Sarah said,

    Not having a compensation strategy, OR

    Having a compensation strategy but not having a good implementation plan around that strategy, AND/OR

    Not having the compensation strategy documented and not having consistent administration around the process.

    Sarah also said that it was essential that the strategy and policy are communicated to everyone in the firm who is being compensated in some manner, through offer letters, policy reviews and the employee handbook. “Always be consistent, document everything, and communicate clearly to everyone,” she said.

    Preferably, said Sarah, firms should be evaluating their compensation strategy and policy on a regular basis. But, it is especially important to do so as the business grows and other personnel are added.

    In addition to salary and basic benefits, employers can offer other types of compensation or incentives to attract or retain employees. These include bonuses, flexible schedules, additional healthcare or financial benefits, professional development opportunities, profit sharing, and stock options.

    Gail and Sarah covered a number of other compensation topics as well, such as how best to attract and retain employees, how market competition impacts compensation, how to determine the proper level of compensation for your firm, policies for establishing commissions, what a typical salary increase might be for 2024, and what services a compensation specialist can provide. For all of that, listen to the entire podcast.

    If you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s9e4-shownotes

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    For more information about Sarah and her contact information, go to the company website at theceosrighthand.co/about-us/our-team/sarah-lieberman

    Access a brand new resource from The CEO's Right Hand, Human Resource Infrastructure 360°™ and get the following:

    The 5 components of HR infrastructure

    Insight into why human resource strategy is vital to business success

    Examples of real-life and preventable HR infrastructure breakdowns

    A behind-the-scenes look at the critical components of HR360°™

    An HR infrastructure checklist for self-assessment


    • 39 min
    The Design World is Changing (Kaitlin Petersen)

    The Design World is Changing (Kaitlin Petersen)

    Four years ago the interior design industry came to a grinding halt as the pandemic swept the globe. And then, almost as quickly, the industry began to bounce back. Again, to most everyone’s surprise, it went from bounce to boom. Amongst all that turbulence came a lot of changes. Today’s interior design industry is not the same as it was four years ago. With the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, designers can expect more change ahead.

    In this episode, Gail talks with Kaitlin Petersen, editor-in-chief of Business of Home. The website describes itself as the daily media of record for the home industry and the voice of authority for interior design professionals. Kaitlin has been with Business of Home for seven years but has been writing about the style and design trade for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Metropolitan Home and Veranda, as well as Chicago, Texas Monthly, Time Out New York, and the international editions of Vanity Fair and Vogue.

    Gail asked Kaitlin what changes she’s seen in the industry during her tenure with Business of Home. She said the biggest change she’s witnessed is that clients are getting smarter. They are more knowledgeable about design, products and the design process. They are well-versed in Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, and other online sources of design information. As a result, they want to be more involved in decisions about design or aesthetics, budget and how the project should be managed.

    A big challenge for designers, said Kaitlin, is that as a result of doing their own research, clients are not always well or properly informed. They may come to a project with misinformation and unrealistic expectations. Designers have to be prepared to educate or re-educate their clients so as to counter their erroneous preconceived notions about design and their project.

    On the flip side, Kaitlin said, these more knowledgeable clients have forced more designers to re-think and justify their value proposition. More of them can now articulate and defend why they are billing as they do. They can draw a straighter line between what they bring to the project and their fee structure.

    Looking to the future, Kaitlin said she thought the big thing for designers to watch is AI. She does not see AI as a threat to replacing designers’ talent and experience. However, it could have some upsides, as a useful trigger for inspiration and potentially to help streamline routine business operations.

    During their conversation, Kaitlin also talked about how she had to overcome her anxiety about “impostor syndrome,” the 50 States Project she’s undertaken, and recent hiring trends in the industry. For all that and her advice for design business owners, listen to the entire podcast.

    If you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s9e3-shownotes

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    Gail has been contributing articles to Business of Home. You can read Gail's articles here.

    You can take the 2024 Interior Designers Survey here.


    • 48 min
    How AI Will Change Small Business (John Jantsch)

    How AI Will Change Small Business (John Jantsch)

    The launch of ChatGPT to the general public in November 2022 ushered in a new era in the ever-expanding reach of technology into the workplace and our daily lives. Suddenly people with no technical skills or knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) could easily query an interactive assistant to perform various types of research, to synthesize large bodies of information, to generate content and images based on existing models, and more. Today, ChatGPT and other AI tools are used in many industries and are changing the way business is done, including marketing.

    In this episode, Gail talks with John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, which specializes in marketing advice for small businesses. John is the author of seven books on marketing and business strategy, as well as the Duct Tape Marketing blog. He is also the host of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

    Gail asked John what changes he has seen in recent years in small business marketing. He said the most obvious change is the use of social media platforms and online communities like TikTok for marketing. The bigger shift, however, has been in how customers shop and choose to buy. Because of those digital resources, they can now more easily do their own research. They tend to rely more on influencers and reviews they find online than on providers themselves for information. Consequently, they have already progressed fairly far along in their decision-making before they ever contact a manufacturer, seller or service provider.

    Now, with ChatGPT and similar AI tools, customers can ask the tool to do their research for them. By doing so, they can skip having to do an internet search. That also means they no longer encounter the ads and optimized listings of sellers and providers who market through those search engines. Businesses need to adjust to the new ways customers are getting their information.

    John recommended that interior designers become informed about ChatGPT and other AI tools to understand their basic functions and how others are using them. Then, he said, start playing with them to get a feel for what they can do and for their limitations. “Think about them like hiring an intern,” he said. “They can be an incredible assistant.”

    Once comfortable with the technology, use the tools to expand your marketing outreach. He suggested producing a video first. Make a transcript of the video. Then use AI tools to produce that content in multiple formats and distribute it in a variety of ways throughout the various digital media platforms, exponentially increasing your exposure.

    John also talked about the importance of having a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) function to strategize and coordinate all marketing activities for the business. For more information on that and other marketing tips, listen to the entire podcast.

    If you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s9e2-shownotes

    Mentioned in This Podcast

    To learn more about John and Duct Tape Marketing, visit the firm’s website at ducttapemarketing.com. You will also find articles, a newsletter, and John’s blog and podcast on marketing for small businesses.

    John mentioned the title of his first book, Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide (revised and updated in 2011). He also mentioned the title of his most recent book, The Ultimate Marketing Engine: 5 Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth, published in 2021. You will find information about all of John’s books on the website at ducttapemarketing.com/about/books.


Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

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