CEO lessons & january goals

Marian ParsonsBalance, my business story, Running a Business

Sunday night, I was conflicted.  We had just flown in from our trip to the Vintage Whites Market.  I had been “working” all weekend and I really wanted (and needed) to just spend Monday at home…cleaning, hitting the grocery store, unpacking, etc.  You know the drill.  I own my own business, so I can do that, right?


Yes, I could.  But I wasn’t going to.  I’ve declared 2016 as the year I’m going to lean into growth and work on filling out the role of “president” of Mustard Seed Interiors LLC.

I recently saw a preview for a movie, The Intern.  I don’t know if the movie is good or not.  As I said, I just saw the preview, so my mention of it isn’t an endorsement.  But in the preview, a young entrepreneur and CEO of a company she built was threatened with being removed from her position as the one in charge.  Teary-eyed, she asked if there was such a thing as “CEO lessons.”  An otherwise ho-hum movie trailer suddenly hit home.

Man, if there are, I need those!

I was just mentioning to Kriste that I should look into some sort of business-y class that teaches me to do the things I’m clueless about, like hiring a publicist and developing a strategic business plan.


I feel like I tripped into being in charge.  A series of opened doors and opportunities.  Ones I went for and worked hard for, but it does still feel like there is an element of providence/destiny, whatever you want to call it.  That something that is beyond anything I did or didn’t do.  And it often feels like I am ill-equipped for where I find myself.

 Between the tap dancing, stage craft and musical theatre history I took in college, I didn’t take business development, marketing or accounting.


And this little-blog-that-could has grown to a business that spans the globe and has pretty impressive gross retail sales.  And that realization makes me want to shrink into a Netflix marathon and shut it out.  Put my head down in a piece of upholstery and just do my thing.  To shrink back until I don’t feel like a little kid dressed in her mom’s business suit, hauling a briefcase that’s just a little too oversized for her little hands and petite frame.

So, Monday morning, instead of staying home, I went into the studio to meet with Kriste and Heidi, the two people who work for me despite having real job titles and descriptions.  (We just call Heidi the “administrative ninja”, which is a pretty accurate description of what she does.  We sort of shrug our shoulders at what to call Kriste, which was awkward when I needed to validate her employment as she applied for a mortgage.)

In the meeting, we focused on how we do things now, how we can do things better, how we can grow and how I can stand a little surer on my shaky CEO legs.  What are the goals?  What projects and opportunities make sense from a profit standpoint?  And how do we tackle all of those ideas and still leave me time to be me…to give neglected furniture a facelift and write about it here on the blog?

The creative ideas bubbled up all through the meeting and it was exciting, but as I closed my laptop and packed up my bag, I felt that tight lump that I get in my throat when I’m stressed.  I stretched my neck out and tested my swallowing.  “My throat is tight!”  I exclaimed to Kriste.  She’s been with me enough to know what I’m talking about.  “I feel like I just added a lot to my to-do list…”

She encouraged me and assured me that she’s there to help with it all.  Even if she wins the Powerball, she said she’ll still work for me.


Now that I’ve digested the ideas and goals and plans for a few days, I still feel too small for the job, but I also feel a hopefulness and determination.  We’ve gotten this far on organic growth and hard work.  We can get a little further.  Just one foot in front of the other.

So, I’m putting short-term goals in front of myself in the shape of a monthly to-do list and I decided to share it on my blog…for accountability, transparency and perhaps as encouragement to others.

These aren’t in the order of priority, but just in the order I happened to write them down…

  • Finish my mom’s room makeover (we’re so close…)
  • Put a design plan together for Sally’s living room
  • Launch a small advertising campaign for the milk paint line (already done!)
  • Make a video promotion for Farmhouse White
  • Make a short milk paint commercial to showcase all 25 colors
  • I have some exciting design work I need to finish and submit in
  • We’re hosting a creative workshop for about 30 retailers and I want that to be really special for them.  I need to do a lot of planning and prepping to make that happen.
  • Schedule studio workshops for March-April
  • I am on an organizing and purging kick and I want to continue that in the studio and at home.  I want to sell/donate/pitch as much as I can.  This is something I’ll be chipping away at for a few weeks, so you’ll probably see it on February’s goals/to-do list, too.
  • Reupholster the two sofas in the studio stash (because I need furniture to work on as my therapy.)
  • Develop a regular routine for work, exercise, eating, sleep, etc.  I tend to shy away from schedules, but I feel better when I set boundaries.


Whew!  I was just planning to write about dissecting a tufted sofa and what plans I had for January and this is just what spilled out.  It’s all been brewing inside me and there’s a real comfort and freedom in sharing it.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I want to improve myself.

So, one foot in front of the other and we’ll see how far we get in 2016…

CEO lessons & january goals

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