A friend recently told me that “execution is a strategy”.
I’ve thought a lot about that statement and although it conflicts with my comfort level and instincts, I know in some ways he is right. I am a planner. I love it when things fit flawlessly with my vision. I like to dream up ideas and design everything down to the minute details. I like to complete what I believe is the perfect final product before I share it with the world. This is not realistic or productive when you are an entrepreneur and this preference will create barriers when trying to build new things in unchartered territory.
As an artist, vision is dynamic.
The final product is almost always different because of the opportunities and constraints we encounter through the design process. We only have a certain amount of time and resources to complete our design. We innovate, modify and tweak our design but it is always within the constraints of producing a finished product. In my entire career I have never missed a design deadline, and my clients have always walked away styled. Is it always perfect? No. Was my vision always perfectly executed? No. Were there flaws and things I wanted to change in hindsight, almost always. But it was completed and out there for the world for all to see. I was fortunate to learn from these experiences and refined my design process for the next client. These constraints give parameters, create challenges and force us to push our creativity to the limits. So why can I complete any design concept within these constraints yet I experience challenges meeting my business development deadlines? Through some deep diving with my coach we have figured out my triggers to execution and developed strategies I now use to get shit done. These strategies seem pretty straight forward yet when faced with challenges it’s funny how quickly we can forget what we’ve learned and fall into old habits.
I am more likely to reach a deadline if it is attached to other people’s expectations. When a client books a shoot and needs to be ready by 10am, they are walking out my door at 9:45am. I respect and honor other peoples time more than my own. I know this is kind of screwed up, but I think it is part of why I have been successful. I work hard to help other people achieve their goals. If I create a firm deadline for myself and I know other people are counting on me, I will get it done well and it will be on time.
Remove Distractions (be present in the moment)
Family, friends, and maintaining a household are my favorite distractions. All of these things are important to me and are priorities but they can also become excuses and distractions because I attach my values to them. My family is the #1 most important thing in my life, hands down. I can justify 100 different ways why I should go to a movie with my kids rather than work on my business goals. I need to make time to have fun with my kids, that’s important, but I also need to stay present in the moment when work needs to be done. Work-life balance will never be both as flexible and challenging as when you work from home. When I am working with a client, I am 100% present and in the moment (interestingly this is also when I am most happy & fulfilled, but that is a different blog post!). Creating a space (my office) separate from my family space and client/design spaces helps me to focus by removing distractions.
I used to prioritize other peoples needs over my own. I thought they were more important and wanted to scratch the tasks that affected others off my to-do list first. This was short sighted, there were so many great initiatives that aligned with my goals that I never prioritized or made the time to develop, so they kept getting pushed off. I needed to look at the business holistically and see what was happening within the whole system to realize that some of these tasks would actually improve client experiences and grow our business in the direction we wanted. Sequencing, prioritizing, and assigning value is important to avoid getting caught up focusing on things less important to the big picture.
Tap Into Your Network
I have spent so long trying to solve my own problems that I forget to look to my community when I experience challenges. We all have these amazing networks of friends, family and contacts that are untapped resources. I have found that most people love to share what they have learned, especially if they get to talk about themselves and their experiences. Learn to listen. Ask questions to clarify and ask yourself “how could this work for me”? It is incredible how strategies used in other industries can be adapted to solve your problems. My best business advisers are not in the beauty industry. They operate in modular construction, the military, window treatments, and IT. New business innovation requires adaptation. Learning the way others operate can inform and create new exciting opportunities for you.
Do Your Research
Are you a subject matter expert in everything? No? Well neither am I. However, I know I can solve problems because I know how to investigate and research. A growth mindset is key to developmental learning. Positivity and being open sets the stage for novelty. Research can be done by going directly to the source, if you know where to look. For me, it usually starts with a Google search. From there I keep digging until I learn what I want to know. Vetting the sources of your information is really important. If you can find actual research to support your findings, even better. Recognizing the difference between a proven fact and opinion are part of the critical process of establishing the integrity on which you operate.
These are just a few of my truths and strategies. I have barely scratched the surface here, but I’m sure I’ll dig into more about these topics. They are central to my development and journey as a leader at this time.
Astrid Woodard is a certified freelance hair & makeup artist with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, who actively pursues industry training. She has designed makeup in various creative genres including television & video, with a focus on photography, beauty and destination events. Astrid is driven by helping other artists grow their beauty businesses and achieve their career aspirations. The pursuit of lifelong learning and supporting other artists aligns with her vision of elevating the integrity of the beauty profession.
Astrid’s past experience includes Regional Educator for MAC Cosmetics and makeup educator at MC College. Astrid holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, as well as a journeyman in hairstyling and her red seal certification allowing her to work across Canada.
She also holds a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Studies blending communications, leadership, learning and technology from Royal Roads University.