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Part One introduced you to Sandra Diaz-Velasco, AIA. Part Two of our profile of the Miami-based architect and designer focuses on limits - when to keep 'em and when to forget them.
In The Tip Jar section below, she shares what will help you at various stages.
Enjoy getting into your best mindset as you start the workweek.
YOUR ONLY LIMIT
“To women out there, I can say, the only limit is our mind.”
Sandra Diaz-Velasco creates with her mind - and with her pens, pencils and markers. There, her ideas have no limits.
She knows she’s a minority in the architecture field – not only because she’s Colombian, but also because she’s a woman.
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
“Not many people seem aware of the beauty of this country in that you choose – you have the freedom to choose where you’re going to go… how you want to see yourself in life. It’s up to you. You can decide.”
And so, Diaz-Velasco decided she’d open her own architecture and interior design firm, EOLO A + I Design.
She did it in 2008 – in the thick of the Great Recession.
GOOD WISHES, BUT…
“My friends told me, right out there in front of me, oh my God. Poor girl. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. Oh my God. I wish her the best. But she’s going to fail.”
But she had her husband, Andres Velasco, right there by her side supporting her. He is also an architect, as well as a general contractor. The two have been supporting each other, even back in college when they were dating and both in architecture school.
Andres has his own general contracting firm. But he is also the project manager for EOLO A + I Design.
Still, make no mistake. Sandra is the principal architect at EOLO A + I Design.
I asked her about how that works out since she’s the one in charge at the firm, especially since she and her husband both come from the traditionally male-dominated Latino culture.
HOW WE SEE LIFE
“Maybe it’s because we are both artists. You know, we [have] love for the trade and passion for what we do that we don’t see… a difference if it’s a man or a woman… We’re a team… and we support each other. And whatever decision each one makes, we support it. And if it’s something the other one wants to do with his whole heart, we support it… It’s the way we see life.”
Diaz-Velasco is also candid about the lessons she learned from wanting to do it all as an entrepreneur.
In this case, it has to do with placing limits.
DOING IT ALL
“I didn’t want to ask for help because I thought I could do it all.”
She thought she’d be saving her firm money and that her business would grow faster if she didn’t outsource anything.
“I learned very [quickly] that I needed help – that I cannot be wearing eight hats at the same time.”
Diaz-Velasco also learned the value of trust.
“I’m a control freak. And I want to control everything. I wanted to micromanage everything.”
She found out that letting go was a better way of avoiding burnout. It was also making better use of her time and talents.
“It’s amazing how innovation can [catch] us off-guard really fast… technology, professional self-development, brand development, business development – many, many other things that I need to be focusing on other than micromanaging.”
VALUING YOUR TIME
In other words, the biggest lesson, and daily struggle, was valuing her time as a businessperson.
“If I am doing what I love, I am not thinking about charging… What I do is not a job for me… I don’t put limits to my production. And I have had to learn to do that [place limits], if I want to be successful in business.”
She’s especially grateful for the advice she got in the beginning from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives).
“SCORE gave me the way to begin framing my mind… as a businesswoman.”
Finding friendship and professional support from other female architects and engineers in the Association of Women Architects and Engineers also helped her. They bonded over feeling like they were pushed aside, not just because they were minorities and were under-represented, but because they spoke up in meetings.
She says, “No one wanted us in the meetings because we were always asking questions.”
But the women in that group built each other up and helped each other.
And that’s why Diaz-Velasco is sharing her struggles – to pay it forward.
“We are so powerful – women. We have it all inside of us. But so many of us don’t know it.”
She says women don’t treasure what they have in their hands and inside their minds.
“Realize that and own it. And once you do that, you know, there’s nothing stopping you. Because God is within you… Once we realize it, nothing is stopping us.”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Sandra Diaz-Velasco)
STARTING OUT: “Whatever you study, put some business course[s] on it [class schedule].
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Diaz-Velasco calls herself an artist who did not have a business background – so she had to “read like crazy” to figure out the business-related aspects that are necessary to becoming an entrepreneur.
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): “You don’t have to apologize for being successful… because you’ve worked hard – or if not hard – with all your heart… Own it. But be vulnerable, as well.”
STARTING OVER: “Do not leave your main source of income right there and then. But begin taking advantage of… free time that you have to polish and hone the new skills.”
“If it is something new that you are learning that suddenly you found… kind of learn to balance and organize first. Organization is the key to me. And I’m a very disorganized person because I’m an artist.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
All About Finding Customers
You already know setting goals is important. Attaching a deadline increases the chance you will achieve it – or at least will be that much closer to attaining your goal.
This FREE Coffee with a Leader webinar teaches you how to find those new prospects, avoid a critical mistake in advertising and schedule an appointment with yourself to get you on the right track. The goal: To help you find more customers in 30 days. It’s led by sales expert Tobi Moyle. Check out the details:
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
“How to Reach More Customers in the Next 30 Days”
Thursday, January 27, 2022
8 a.m. EST – 9:30 a.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Mentoring - Get Involved
Many entrepreneurs will tell you they benefited greatly from being mentored and becoming mentors. But do you know how to optimize the mentor/mentee relationship, on both sides?
This discussion will explain who should get a mentor, how to find one through SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and how it works.
The webinar will even provide a case study so you get a real-world example of mentoring in action. If you’ve been wanting to make mentorship a priority, either as a mentor or mentee, here’s your chance to take that first step:
Thursday, January 27, 2022
“Getting the Most Out of a SCORE Mentorship to Help Your Business Soar”
1:00 p.m. EST – 2:30 p.m. EST
INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS ISSUE:
You may know your value or think that you don’t sell yourself short.
But making sure you’re properly compensated monetarily for your talents, skills or actual work is something that can be difficult to reconcile for people, especially women.
Anecdotally, I notice that my male friends and colleagues seem to insist on higher pay or raises more often than my female friends. Again, those are just my personal observations.
But according to a 2019 Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, the Economic Anxiety Index findings actually showed that it’s not that women weren’t asking for raises as often as men. They just weren’t as successful at receiving raises.
What was encouraging from this same study was that the under-40 crowd seemed to have had about equal success in asking and receiving raises. Younger women were beginning to close the gap.
In this issue, Sandra Diaz-Velasco noted that, in the beginning, she was “giving away” her time by putting in extra hours and, in essence, undermining her value because she enjoyed the work so much.
This is something we don’t seem to talk about often enough.
I’m guilty of doing it. Or the converse, feeling guilty about charging the full amount or for overtime put into a project.
I really appreciate Sandra putting this struggle out there. She even shared with me that her husband would get after her about how much time she gave away.
She's, of course, not talking about going the extra mile to win over a new client. Sometimes, you have to do that. I’m also not talking about putting in those extra touches that make you a standout professional.
I’m referring to consistently undercharging or undervaluing the work you bring to the table or on a project.
As an entrepreneur, it really is a balancing act.
Keeping an eye on trends and spotting inequality, either self-induced or perpetuated by the system or socialized norms, is important.
Let’s keep sharing our stories – to keep ourselves and those who hold the power and the pocketbook - honest.
🌴 Hope this issue helps you focus on your goals and gives you guidance on achieving your entrepreneurial dream.
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🌴 I appreciate you joining our growing community and wish you a productive and happy week ahead! 😊