Friday, March 18, 2011

You look like your Gazebo

You know how “they say that people look like their pets? Well, here’s a question…..Do people also look like their backyards? Metaphorically speaking of course. Cuz that’d be just weird to look like a yard!

For example……my wife and I love to entertain during the summer months. Our personalities tend to be free spirited, inviting and friendly, and just a little bit wild! We have a wide variety of friends as well (variety being the operative word)…….some are more low-key ,serious and cocktails, while the others are more “loud music, tequila, and patio-turned-dance- floor!”

So our yard….(the one that is still in the works), reflects and accommodates all these needs.

If you are wanting to create an area in your yard that will reflect your lifestyle, ….. then take a look at your life!

Do you have children? What are their ages?

Do you entertain?

Who do you keep company with?

Do you enjoy yard work and gardening? Do you even have time for it?

Do you want to be able to almost “live” outside?, reading, hanging out?

Will you want fire? Gas or wood burning? How about a water feature?

Do you need a bar? Kitchen? Shed? Treehouse?

Pool? Hottub? Gazebo?

Music? Piped throughout your yard…….

Ahhhhh, but do you have nasty neighbors? Or dogs…messy dogs? Maybe your yard is built on a massive slant? Now that can be tricky!!!

So all I'm saying is really give your lifestyle and needs some focus! Our yard can accommodate almost every circle we run with….from tea time with the in-laws to the friends who sing out loud over a couple of vodkas, to our 19 year old’s crazy crowd.

Our neighbors are not great fans of ours, but in our defense….we live across from a retirement home and in a neighborhood full of retirees! That wasn’t well thought out….so I speak from absolute experience!

So yes…..I guess I DO look like my yard….minus the dog poop!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Relationships and Red Wine

After my last blog, I started to think about relationships. Relationships in the context of my work. Like what kind of cheese I will have with my wine?

The longer I sat and thought about this whole idea, halfway thru the bottle, the more similarities I discovered that there were between my marriage, and the relationships that I develop with my clients on a professional level.

Now, there are obvious differences, and I’m sure I need not explain those to you…..but the similarities are probably what makes working with my clients easy and rewarding.

So, this week’s question is……if I treat every client relationship , with the same amount of dignity and respect, as I do my own personal relationships……would the experience and outcome always be positive?

I’m a relationship guy. Always have been. I mean let’s face it…….they are what make the world go around. At any given moment, on any given day, we are interacting with someone! Some are great experiences….some not so great! The trick is, to make each encounter work for you in some way, shape or form. Learn from it. Grow from it.

We all know that relationships require work. Some of us are only discovering this after many failed partnerships. We’re a little slower than the average Joe! (no offence Joe!) Ya know what they say though…’s not the destination that matters…’s the journey there!

Now that I’ve got this whole “love relationship” stuff all worked out……(for the most part)…..I can apply some of the same strategies to my client relationships.

Doctor Phil would soooo appreciate this……..

First word of advice….. You have to love what you do….with a passion!!!

We all know what happens when love and passion leave a relationship!

So I look at what works for me in my partnership at home. I’ve learned to be a good listener. To “hear between the lines”, looking for subtle hints or information about wants, needs, likes/dislikes etc. I acknowledge that I’ve heard them, because EVERYBODY wants to be heard.

TRUST! I think that once the client trusts me, and can appreciate that I know exactly what I’m doing…….a tight partnership develops. If you keep them abreast of what is happening and what is going to happen, their anxieties melt away! Imagine if you took off for a couple days without telling your wife/husband where you were and what you were doing?!?!?!? Ohhhhh the doghouse is not the most comfortable place to sleep!

Consideration and compromise………both very tricky when there are budgets to follow, and tastes to appeal to. When a client has a particular desire, it can’t always happen the way they want it to. So here is where compromise comes in handy. If your communication ability is in tact….there should be a happy ending. The customer is happy, and I get to do my job within the budget, and by-law restrictions.

I like the fact that I develop relationships with my clients that allow them to feel free to ask questions, give input, accept feedback and tell me when there is something that they are not pleased by. But by far, the best part of my job, is the part where we stand in their gorgeous outdoor living space, and toast it with a glass of merlot.

So back to the original question…….I would not be able to sleep at night if the outcomes and experiences I had on a daily basis were negative. Like a marriage,….I work at it!!! The alternative? ……… Keep one eye open while I sleep.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I think that if my wife had a dime for every sympathetic smile that followed the statement, “the cobblers children have no shoes”, she’d be on a perpetual shopping spree.

I’m pretty sure that she’s frustrated and confused about the state of our own yard. On several occasions, she’s suggested that I NOT park my work vehicles in front of our home, for fear that the public would judge my design abilities…. by what they saw in our yard!

We have had many- a- laugh discussing this issue. And really…truth be told……..I think she’s been a pretty good sport about the whole yard thing! Things ARE getting done! The pace is just not conducive to a stress-free, happy wife. So my challenge is to find other ways to compensate for my turtle-like pace in completing the plan for our own backyard. Shoes!!! ……..she loves them as much as she loves air……shoes might buy me a bit more time!!!

The sarcastic little “digs”, and the “off the cuff” one-liners she makes, are not lost on me! I get it! So the question is……what is a reasonable amount of time to finish a project in my own yard, that clearly, I am able to accomplish in a client’s yard in a matter of a couple weeks?

Everyone with a job knows, that in order to keep that job, it must be done in a timely manner and it should be accomplished to perfection. Besides….it’s how I earn my living!

I have friends who are chefs. When they get home at the end of the day, the last thing they want to do is cook dinner. I have friends who own cleaning services……I would not eat off of their floors! I have friends that are gynecologists…… get the picture. My dilemma is…..Where do I find the time? How can I possibly balance my work, and “shoes for my own family?”

The answer to that is……I can’t! This business is unpredictable. Timelines don’t always happen as planned. When I get home at the end of the long, long day, I’m exhausted. I’ll BBQ some chiken, but doing more of what I’ve been doing all day……im not really feelin’ it!!!

So, I’ve resigned myself to the turtle- like pace that our own yard is moving at. It’ll get done whenever it gets done. In the meantime…….I will continue to park my company trucks around the corner from our home……..and remind my “Lovey” that there’s an awesome sale on shoes at the mall today!!!