I heard a speaker this week who knocked my socks off. She introduced herself as Deborah Rumens the founder of interior design firm called Chinese Jesus. Her customers pay her between $35M to $50M to implement her creative designs and projects. Her clients are billionaires. She manages teams of 120 people per project. And no matter how demanding these clients may be, every day she turns her phone off at 5pm, walks on the beach, goes home, gets up to meditate in the morning, and does not look at her phone in between. She opens her emails at 8am and is excited to see what needs to get done.
Now she had my attention. But that wasn’t nearly enough to knock my socks off. So far I was very impressed – she had mad time management and client management skills for sure. And she was running a heck of a great business. But what she said next absolutely blew my mind.
Someone asked her how she deals with conflict; surely when working directly with high-maintenance and demanding clients who are used to getting their way, conflict arises. “Absolutely,” she said – “all the time. “ Especially since she also manages a team of about 120 contractors implementing these huge projects and 99% of them are men. Tempers flare, deadlines approach, and lawsuits are sometimes threatened.
She said that to manage the conflict, she leads with her heart.
“What?” I thought. “Is this one of these woo-woo LA things?”
When tempers flare, she said, she sits everyone down and talks it out. She looks for how things make people feel, and tries to explain to one another the different positions and reasons behind the angry words. She always, she said, approaches conflict and resolution from a place of love. And it works. She said that time and time again, the men thank her for intervening, for talking them out of the lawsuit. For getting the project back on track and on time.
Ok. I thought. She’s also a great mediator. I’m impressed.
But what about when someone yells at you? Or when a client goes too far and says things that are out of line?
“Yes,” she said. “That happens too.” People get angry and they say really nasty things. So when she leaves the site, she pulls over on the side of the road and will not let herself go one more mile until she can conjure up and hold a positive thought about that person. And then she can let it go. She looks for the good and the light in everyone. She leads from the heart.
Deborah has my full respect. And here’s why.
Do you know what she did? She just told a whole community and room full of women that it’s ok to be true to yourself and who you are. It’s ok to lead like a woman. And not only is it ok, but you can also be wildly successful in doing it.
How many women want to be like her? All of us. We all want to know that we can be true to who we are, and build incredible businesses. And that’s why she blew my preconceived notions to another planet. I see things differently now.