Inspiration. It’s at the heartbeat of the flooring industry and what keeps us all in the cycle of evolution. What inspires you? How are you inspired? When are you inspired?
Being a “creative” today is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we are all constantly infiltrated with new perspectives, fresh ideas, more accessible travel, and, well, ideas. Within an instant, my newsfeed is taking me to an emerging high-rise project in Dubai; I’m in a train buzzing through wine country during harvest in an Instagram story; I’m watching a blogger’s design journey as she renovates a midcentury bungalow in San Francisco – while I am on Wi-Fi and in the air from LaGuardia to Paris. Information – too much information – is at my fingertips at breakneck speed.
Market Watch recently revealed that the average American adult spends 11 hours per day consuming digital media, which is up from 9 hours and 32 minutes only four years ago. But I did not need a study to tell me this news. My newest iPhone XS Max reveals my screen time usage, and the daily notification is staggering, to say the least. It leaves us all wondering, “Did I really look at my phone that much today?”
Do I Need Digital Detox?
While we’re consuming all of this media, how is our brain processing it? Studies show that the overconsumption of digital makes us feel differently, react differently, think differently, and sleep differently. According to a Mashable article from just a few years ago, some cognitive experts have found benefit in digital exposure and its effects on the human brain, whereas others worry that too many distractions have left our brains uncreative and impatient.
Digital has its place in the creative process; let’s be honest. After all, it’s 2019. Sites like Pinterest, Houzz, and the world of influencer marketing have made interior design and the floor shopping process engaging and attainable, and for that, the industry is grateful. But as “creative” professionals who are focused on pushing the design envelope ever forward on behalf of both the industry and our brands, how do we cut through the noise?
Slide to power off.
True creativity is not happening behind the screen. While the screen may reaffirm our ideas and give us a sense of belonging, the creative process does not begin or end on the screen. At the risk of sounding unapologetically cliché, the creative process is all around us in the most present and current sense. The creative process is sitting on the ground surrounded in paint swatches, white oak slices, frayed pieces of fabric, and a team of experienced professionals with sawdust in their eyes. It comes from digging deep in the parts of our minds, our hearts, and our souls, which technology cannot power up or power on.
Creativity is connectivity – with the human spirit, not a cable.
My most recent and prevalent example of unplugging for authentic creativity to prevail was during an African safari this past summer with my family. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the journey allowed us to soak in the majesty of nature in all its raw splendor. From the journey, one of my newest collections was born.
Unplugging has become key to my creative process. And my wish is that it becomes key to yours as well. Keep that pen and notebook in your bag. Pull it out when an idea or inspiration strikes. Start up a conversation with the person in the plane seat next to you. Sit in a local coffee shop and people watch. Walk through a museum and read every exhibit marker. Laugh out loud with your chin up. It’s within all of this living and all of this connecting and the moments unplugged that creativity – true creativity – will flourish.
Whether or not we unplug from digital, the world isn’t going to stop. But as the future of the flooring industry and as “creatives,” it’s up to us to quiet the noise – so that we can create and continue to propel the industry forward. So, when you see me in the airport chatting up a stranger, sketching in my journal, or soaking in a beautiful moment, you’ll know it’s intentional.
Let us power off and create.
Where do you go from here? How do you power off more often? Here are some simple tips from Digital Detox to help you unplug:
Start your day right: Get up, relax, and eat a healthy breakfast instead of reaching for the phone.
Go old school: Get an old-fashioned flip phone instead of a smartphone.
Do more: Pack your day full of person-to-person meetings where you commit to not reaching for the phone.
Bring a book: Pick up a good read.
Download an app: Get some tech help in monitoring the time you spend on the phone.
Go on a digital diet: Reduce your time online by 10 percent.
Take a mini break: Leave your phone at home for a day.
Streamline your work: Ask that people connect with you only through one medium.
Get active: Jog or bike to work, phone free.
Leave your work behind: Consider a work phone and personal phone and utilize out of office.
Involve your friends: Invite your friends to keep you accountable.
Lock up: Ask a friend or partner to take your phone for a bit.
Set a strict technology bedtime: Your technology needs a bedtime, too.
Schedule some free time: Schedule tech time and then turn it off.
Be more in the moment: Go for a walk and soak in your surroundings.
Just switch it off: Enough said.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood, a div. of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Here at Emily Morrow Home, we’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on our beautiful new hardwood products and our theme this year is “Design Journey.” If you find yourself in Las Vegas this coming week, please plan to come visit us in Booth #925 at Surfaces 2019! You won’t be disappointed in our gorgeous new products, unmatched craftsmanship and designer-inspired color palette.
Also, we’re very proud to announce that Emily Morrow Home is nominated for three Floor Covering Weekly Dealers’ Choice Awards. Visit ourCampaign Page for more information on how to post to our selfie “Snap and Give” campaign. For every selfie submitted Emily Morrow Home will be making a $3 donation to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.
To find out more about what FCIF is doing for those in the flooring industry click here. Please #VoteEmily!
While considering what to write for the “40 Under 40” issue of Hardwood Floors, I was reminded of some vital life lessons, ones that we all can learn at any age, and at any level of success. Typically, my articles focus on topics such as color, consumers, or design trends with titles like How to Use the Mega Trends or How to Design Your Interiors. This time, there’s a different insight I’d like to share, How to Design Your Life.
In my hometown of Dalton, Georgia, I am surrounded by some amazing success stories of industry icons. Known as the “Floor Covering Capital of the World,” Dalton is famous for entrepreneurial, hardworking, forward-thinking individuals. It’s also one of the most productive manufacturing areas in the U.S.; our hometown values emphasize “going to work and rolling up our sleeves,” according to the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. There is an energy and a sense of community pride. Dalton is not unique in the number of individuals who are in their encore careers, but it is special because it’s the heart of the floor covering industry and our enterprises.
How many of you have wondered if your career path was the best direction? Or was your decision made out of necessity due to your circumstances? Regardless of your answer, my experience has taught me that each path you take always helps to build and prepare you for the next one. We all experience moments in our lives, either following graduation or a geographical move, when we accept a job where we don’t feel we are fully utilizing our skills, passions, or abilities, or the culture is not a good fit.
Look inward and think about your journey. Mine, for instance, began with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design with a concentration in textiles. After I graduated in December 1989, job openings for college graduates were down 13.3 percent, and the job market had become one of the most competitive times since the early 1980s. Lucky me, right?
It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention, and so I took a job with a womenswear company in West Georgia, where I did everything from emptying the trash cans, to answering the phones, to assisting at sales meetings, to helping choose fabrics, patterns, and accessories for the collection. The owners, a husband and wife team, were the second generation of a menswear manufacturing business, and they gave me an opportunity at a time when I needed it most. I was and will always be grateful for that year because those experiences enriched my resume and expanded my skill set, even though that job had nothing to do with interior design.
Next, I took another opportunity with a retail furniture company that was expanding to Carrollton, Georgia, from their base in Rome, Georgia. They needed a professional interior designer on staff to organize their resource room of fabrics and finishes, to put together vignettes for their store, and to sell well-designed rooms to their customers who expected a white-glove experience. The store owners, another second generation family business, were well-versed in how to treat their customers with the highest level of attention. I have adopted this white-glove service mindset as part of my work ethic and infused it into my daily approach.
In year three, I was finally able to start my own interior design business, doing both commercial and residential projects. It was hard work, and I did it while being a mother to two young children. Life has a way of throwing us curves, and I found my children and myself back in my hometown of Dalton, Georgia, as a single mother with a heavy responsibility. After a few design projects were completed, I realized I needed something much more reliable. So I transitioned from an interior design business to the corporate world for the much-needed stability and benefits.
Enter Shaw and PatCraft. From the entry-level Associate Colorist to Senior Stylist, and eventually Director of Color Style & Design for Carpet and Hard Surface, I consider this the fourth chapter in my journey. It was in this chapter that I could finally look back and appreciate each of the previous steps. Every step allowed me opportunities for exposure to new things, professional and personal growth, as well as platforms from which to fine-tune my strengths and passions. After 13 years working at Shaw, I found myself at a very happy crossroads with some hard decisions to make. I ultimately decided to wrap things up with a neat bow and say my farewells to my Shaw family, with a wink that I might want to return someday, and retired early.
No one told me how much our identities and self-esteem are wrapped up in our profession. I didn’t expect to find myself longing for work, but after a few months off, I created a grand plan to make my personal life and my professional life come together in a way that dovetailed all of my strengths and passions with my husband’s. I formed a corporation, EF Floors & Design in September 2015, which quickly evolved into a brand, and thus Emily Morrow Home was born, aka my fifth chapter. I have loved every step of this chapter, even the hard ones. There have certainly been unseen challenges that have come along, but they’re also some of the most significant opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow.
The best part is that I’ve found myself looking around seeing others who are in the fifth, sixth, or even 10th chapters, later-in-life career changes or altogether new pathways. Some close friends have gone from respiratory therapists or accountants to interior design. Others have gone from stay-at-home moms to heading up large foundations and executives in corporations. You may have been noticing articles and news stories on “encore or second act careers;” they’re fascinating. AARP is one of my new favorite magazines (don’t knock it till you try it). Two of the best headlines they’ve featured are 70 Is the New 65 and New Rules of Retirement. They are worth pausing to read.
One that I’ve had on my desk for a week is titled Really Ready to Retire? by Jeri Sadler and Rick Miners, co-authors of Don’t Retire, Rewire! They compiled a list of seven things to consider before retiring, and these same questions apply to all of us at any age. Some of them include:
What ambitions are you waiting to fulfill?
What will make you rise each day as excited as you were at the high points of your career?
To what extent will you be in service to other family members once you retire?
So many young and “less young” professionals change careers and ask themselves if they’re making the right decision.
The good news is that we have generations of mentors surrounding us that we can look to for examples of how, in retrospect, each step is critical in building a career. Obviously, for those highlighted in the December/January issue of the magazine, you’re doing quite well and are to be commended for taking the initiative and learning all you can in your current chapter. If you are on the “Fabulous 40” list, you might consider taking on a mentoring role with someone less experienced or not as connected as you are as a way of paying it forward to those who have helped you. We all have so much to learn from one another; the 20 somethings can teach the 50 or 60 somethings a thing or two and vice versa.
I once had a handful of direct reports who were twice my age and possessed 10 times more experience than I did and yet each one of them was incredibly gracious and shared their knowledge when and where it was appropriate. Take some time to think of all those who walked before you to open a door, or worked shoulder to shoulder with you to teach and train you so that your journey was better. We should not only give them some credit, but we should also give ourselves some credit for having open minds, eyes, and ears to their wise counsel and example.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some compelling reports on the subject of careers and choices of work, income, culture and priorities:
Forbes: Job-Hopping Millennials Offer Benefits to Employers While Being “Selfish”
Job-hopping is in, and being stuck in a dead-end job is on its way out — and that’s good for everyone. Job-hopping millennials are more likely to earn a higher wage, develop their career on a faster track and find a better fit in work culture by changing jobs more frequently. The stigma is lessening as the positives are revealed. One CareerBuilder survey shared employers expect 45% of their newly hired college grads would remain with the company for under two years, and the study showed that by age 35, about 25% of young employees would have worked five jobs. Employers are aware they’re hiring job-hoppers as millennials find their footing in their career development, learning to make healthy choices rather than staying stuck and unmotivated in a job that’s not beneficial for either the employee or employer.
Generation X — not millennials — is changing the nature of work
Demonstrating loyalty, a willingness to take on a heavy workload, and a powerful combination of digital and traditional leadership skills, Gen X is producing highly capable leaders that are in danger of being overlooked. Organizations that want to retain and develop their Gen X leaders should:
– Provide leaders with more external guidance. While Gen X leaders are loyal, they are craving insight and knowledge from mentors outside of their organization. In fact, 67 percent of leaders said that they would like more external coaching, and 57 percent wanted external development. Employers should invest in helping Gen X leaders participate in outside professional organizations, industry conferences and other groups to foster relationships with external peers and mentors who can provide coaching.
– Encourage leaders to challenge the status quo. Many organizations may look to millennials to lead innovative projects, particularly those that are tech-based. But Gen X leaders are likely to thrive when given the opportunity to experiment with new approaches and challenge existing methods. Ideally, a cross-generational team — perhaps led by a Gen Xer — may deliver the most innovative solutions.
– Leverage technology to support traditional development. Like those in other generations, Gen X leaders said they still want traditional learning methods, such as formal workshops, training courses and seminars. However, they also enjoy the personalization and convenience offered by technology-based tools. Blending traditional learning methods with tech-enabled tools to enhance and solidify learning will help them make the most of their development opportunities.
The oldest Gen X workers will likely still be in the workforce for at least 10 years, and the younger members of the generation may still be working for more than 30, meaning that Gen X will be forming the backbone of organizations’ leadership for quite some time. Those that overlook Gen X in favor of focusing only on the youngest generations entering the workforce will miss out on a deep and valuable source of leadership potential.
Now is the time to focus on strengthening the skills of Gen X and further developing their broad range of skills.
The saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is one of my favorite sayings. In fact I used it just today and can’t help but smile each time the words pass my lips. Why you may ask, it’s because it serves as a reminder that there so many things most people “sweat” and stress over that really don’t phase me much. In 1997, a book was published using the quote as its title, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” written by Richard Carlson, and it was followed up with a sequel “What About the Big Stuff?” in 2002. In short, the books’ messages are: 1) don’t waste valuable mental energy worrying about things beyond your control that haven’t happened yet; and 2) there are some big things in life that one should worry about when it happens, the biggies, death, divorce, illness and other similar life-changing events. Suffice it to say, being the “over-achiever” that I am, I checked off a few of the “biggies” within one year of my life, and lived to tell the tale. One of the biggest that I faced was the big “C” word, cancer. When faced with the big stuff, the giants in life we don’t know if or how we’ll have the means to get through it–we don’t know what we’re made of until after our “mettle is tested”.
At age 35, while going through a major life-changing event, starting a career with a wonderful company, PatCraft, I found a lump in my breast which was ultimately diagnosed as “malignant”. My first thoughts were solely around my two children who were ages nine and five at the time…who would care for them if the worst happened to me…all the while stating emphatically “I’m going to be just fine”. The diagnosis and subsequent surgeries, treatments, experiences and expenses did not define me…they did however reveal to me the inner God-given strengths and blessings in my life. For starters, I already loved and cherished my family but never before had I realized that without them, my children could somehow suffer as a result of my medical condition. As a newly single mom, new to the corporate world, new to being head of household and new to having the entire weight of my children’s world on my shoulders, I surprisingly felt the load lightened without ever having to ask, a weight lifted by my family. We made it through that year and believe it or not, today we don’t look back with sadness. My children and I look back in awe at the joy we felt, at the happiness and peace we were given and at the indescribable feeling we experienced as a direct result of friends’ and families’ prayers and encouragement. Each morning before leaving our driveway for school and work, I’d say “What do we choose today?…We choose JOY!”. That year was our first Christmas as a family of three and I was in my final days of chemotherapy treatments. As you might imagine, treatments can leave your body feeling fatigued and I was also feeling mentally and emotionally drained by the weekends. My mother never failed to come and literally look at me “eyeball to eyeball” to see how I was doing. On one particular weekend she came to see what gifts I needed for my children’s Christmas. I had not done any shopping, this was before Amazon.com, and once she saw my defeated expression, she knew what had to be done. She said “put on your wig, we are going shopping”…and that is just what we did.
Each year since then, not only did I get stronger, but my children grew wiser and more mature…and the story of how “Grandmommy saved Christmas” became one of our Christmas morning traditions. What would have happened to us if my family hadn’t been there in our times of need? What happens to families who don’t have “Grandmommy” or a secure job with medical insurance like mine at PatCraft? These questions have haunted me over the years and it was not until my 50th birthday and my 15th Cancer-free Anniversary that I decided to do something meaningful about getting those questions answered. In July of 2017 The Kiker Morrow Finkell Foundation for Cancer Care was founded to be an integral part of the Emily Morrow Home. To me, each entity is as significant as the other…each entity serves a greater purpose. Emily Morrow Home was established in the fall of 2015 to merge my professional passions with my newly married life in a way that dove-tailed and complemented the two worlds. This past Christmas our foundation, with the guidance and help of another organization, was able to make Christmas happier and brighter for a family whose mommy was going through her own cancer diagnosis and treatments. Tying my enterprise to a cause that is so personally meaningful helps make it all the more of a challenge to see it succeed and grow, knowing first that there must be a thriving business before “proceeds” can go to a cause. The definition of what “success” is becomes a little more complicated but the end result, if and when the enterprise succeeds, is a blessing to many!