I tend to shy away from large groups, trade parties and large social events, but ever since reading about the Design Leadership Summit in Ronda Carman's blog: All The Best in 2010, I have been intrigued by the quality of this Summit.
I applied for membership this fall, was accepted and off to Marrakech (a city I have a great love affair with). At first, I was incredibly shy as I am more of a "behind the scenes" type of person and putting myself out there is a strange and constant battle for me. This being the 7th summit, groups were already formed, people greeting each other, so glad to meet again. I had no idea of what to expect nor how to navigate a large crowd. Needless to say, I was rather nervous.
It did not take long for me to see known faces, old industry friends whom I had lost contact with and meet new fascinating people. Over cocktails, dinners, tours, I talked with such interesting and talented members of our industry. I met fellow wanderlust travelers and trekkers, talked about gardens, cities, arts, loved seeing Marrakech through Mitch Owen's eyes who has lived there for a few years. I was thrilled to meet fellow blogger Maryam Montague whose blog My Marrakech I have been following for a couple of years. I made new friendships, kind of instant connection type of friendship, met Architects and Landscape designers who actually are my neighbors and was enthralled by the talks and lectures of amazing leaders in their industry.
I left Marrakech on an incredible high, filled with promises to push myself more outside of my comfort zone, to reflect on the experiences and analyses of others and implement changes in the way I think, by pushing forward. Most of all, I felt empowered to drive my business in the direction that will suit best my clients, my lifestyle, my associates, to give clarity and value to my INTERIEURS brand and communicate with the tools of the new media.
In a nut shell, these are some of the key elements that I took in:
Communicate the value of your design or product: your value is your pride and soul which need to be communicated through your story,your talent, your designs, your products and services Spend money, time and energy into communicating your value rather than cost cutting, which will results in deteriorating your perceived value and your brand
Technology: The age of brick and Mortar is becoming obsolete. Adapting to the new media is a must.
Websites are critical and must be clearly reflect the brand, with easy navigation, professional photography, clear interesting layout.
Twitter: is a powerful broadcasting tool as well as the extension to your brand, your personality and in 140 words is a gateway to your website or your blog.
Visual sites: Pinterest and Flipboard have opened the doors to a worldwide presence for your designs or products.
Megatrend: Mobile applications. Apple projects sales of 600 millions ipads in the relatively near future. Shoppers want instant gratification and are shopping from their mobile devices.
Philosophy: Be very clear about what you are communicating, how you package the information, and how you deliver it.
The bad news is the U.S. real estate market: Be ready, the worst is yet to come with 1/3 of real estate sales being distressed sales, a 34% decline in housing sales and lowest recorded mobility in US history. Twenty-five percent of home owners in the US are under water on their mortgages! The 2nd home market is faring the worst. The bright light in this mess: The home improvement market is the largest sector for growth.
Editor at large was at the conference and I suggest you check out their post here.
Alas, I did not have any free time to absorb the scents, colors and beauty of Marrakech. At a glance, I noticed how the city has evolved, it exploded outside of its fortification and golf courses are appearing where once the desert was...in a midst of a terrible drought.
Here is an older post I had written on venturing into the Moroccan Sahara.