Business Matters: Dream Big!

Contributor post by Rena Tom

(Yours truly dreaming out loud in front of a ballroom full of people at ALT Design Summit 2012. Photo by Justin Hackworth. )
I just came back from Salt Lake City, Utah, where I spoke at Alt Summit on a panel with my fabulous hometown ladies Anne Sage, Liz Stanley and Lisa Congdon. The title of the panel was “Kickstart Your Next Project” and it was fun to talk about creative projects, how to get them going and why one should do them - for more reasons than the fact they are just plain fun to do!

Anyway, I felt rather silly to be spilling my guts about my personal goals at a blogging conference, since none of them had to do about blogging, and since my biggest, craziest goal open a design-forward boutique hotel, the kind of place I would want to stay at, in San Francisco.

(Lost and Found, a hotel/publication concept in Melbourne, Australia.

Woo! I just said it again, in public. I truly feel like you have to dream big, really big, to motivate yourself. A goal should be attainable - maybe not all at once and maybe not without help, but definitely doable with a lot of hard work and planning.

During the panel, I also explained that I plan to take several steps to get there. I am going to open a social club/event space first, to hone my skills at building a community and to meet the kind of people who would want to support, stay at, and invest in a hotel. I am going to continue to think up (and execute) smaller creative projects to increase my visibility in the world. And I’m going to keep reading blogs and books and pull all of the best ideas that others have, and let them shape my vision for these physical spaces I want to create. For all of you readers who are dreaming big, definitely do the reading, and collect all of your resources in one place. Pinterest works, and Evernote does too.

What were the results of my talk? First of all, the act of saying you will do something brings you that much closer to achieving it. It encourages accountability and for many, that is what helps you to get things done. I am always telling my clients to ask for what they want. A corollary to this would be: say what you want to happen, in order for it to happen. It’s part visualization and part clarification.

(Creators Inn, a project that offered free accommodations to visiting creatives in Sweden.

Another result is that people are interested in helping others fulfill their goals. Maggie Mason’s life lists and Erin Loechner’s resource parties are based on that premise. It’s a very lovely, very human trait - why not take advantage of it? I have been sifting through a flurry of business cards, emails and tweets from people who are excited about what I want to do. One Alt attendee even told me her husband worked with a hotel group. Score! When you share your big dream, it becomes smaller and more manageable. If I need help in the future, these are the people I’m going to call.

OK, time to spill the beans. What’s your dream, the one you’ve never told anyone before?

Dream Big - Then Do It


Rena Tom is a retail strategist for creative business owners. She previously owned Rare Device, a boutique and art gallery with locations in New York and San Francisco that was renowned for its carefully edited collection of design objects, books, housewares and accessories, and for supporting small, innovative designers and artists whose work was not easily found in stores. Rena blogs about personal projects as well as retail trends and small business tips at She lives in San Francisco with her husband and baby boy in an apartment filled with too many laptops, Sprecher root beer, half-finished craft projects and overdue library books.

Jan Halvarson


Chrissy said...

Wonderful! It's always hard to say it out loud, but once you do, everything seems a lot easier! We have to dream big, we only live once! xxx

Laura said...

Very timely post for me to read. Last week I decided that I was going to go back to my roots as an artist who paints and try and to produce a series of work in my evenings and weekends without getting distracted. After all you never know if you'll be able to make a living out of it till you give it a real try. It's a small dream, but very significant for me.

alix said...

Just got back from speaking at ALT as well and had the supreme pleasure of meeting Rena and hearing her speak. She was terrific....and hearing about her desire to open up a very funky/cool little hotel was impressive. Like "WOW....a hotel? Really??? But that's such a big goal." and then "Shoot, she's right!! Why the hell not!!!"" Dream big.

Not to just plot my dreams.....

Thank you Rena!

lindseybee said...

Mine is to quit my full-time job as a grphic designer, move to Boston & live in a small studio, & be full-time illustrator & calligrapher through etsy or freelance. Phew, I feel better, now :)

If that doesn't work, I want Samantha Brown's job from the Travel Channel.

Okay, I better go before I make a longer list--
great post--you're right, Dream Big!!

Araya said...

So true. I wrote a blog about starting my own brick and mortar showroom focused on nature inspired pieces by artists last year. After not being able to put together enough funding for the showroom, I am launching an online shop Mid-Feb. The first step on my way to my dream.
Once it is out there it seems that there is some accountability which is a great motivator.

rena said...

Thanks all (and hi, Alix!) - yes, I feel a little ridiculous about wanting to do this but what the hell :) Everything I do gets me a little closer to my goal, every day!


Tania said...

Wow, that is a big dream. As in B I G!
My dream is to become a WAHM who does what she loves for a living. I'm taking little steps every day to make that dream come true.

Unknown said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately, thanks for the post. It's nice to know you're not alone in big-dreaming!

Sandra Schwab said...

Thank you for this post -- this is exactly what I need right now! In the past few years my life has been a bit of a mess, and I let myself be persuaded to disregard my creative side with the result that I went through a major bout of depression and gained 55 pounds. I'm now in the process of reclaiming my life and my creativity.

My big dream? To get another publishing contract, and to get a nice one. My even bigger dream? To become a full-time writer. That's been my dream since I was a child. :)

Brianne said...

I'm sad I didn't get a chance to introduce myself at alt - This is a great recap of your talk, I'm definitely going to start putting dreams into words as a first step! Side note: If you ever need an architect for your new venture, I'm your gal ;)

Cindy said...

i would like to see one of my photos published in a print publication i respect. good luck with your hotel ... i would stay there for sure! said...

Wow - wow - this post really spoke to me this month since I have big big big dreams too and I recently have started to question the viability of these dreams. This post reminded me that you should DREAM BIG - thanks for sharing - I keep seeing other bloggers talk about ALT SUMMIT - wow what a great gathering

Carren said...

Great post! It's so true. It's hard to verbalize your dreams for fear that someone will just laugh or scoff. I'm still working on it myself. It takes practice to say it out loud and believe it, for sure.

elm said...

Awesome post! This is always a conflict for me because one article says don't say what your goals are; keep it to yourself. And then one article says exactly what you posted so I'm going to bite the bullet and just say it: I want to become an Interior Designer - creating a space and then using my skills as a current Graphic Designer to create the collateral (if there's a need for it e.g. restaurant, hotel, office).

Phew! Got that all out.

feathermar said...

I want to quit my fulltime job and resell and make things as a fulltime job. That sounds like heaven.
I try to do something every week to expose my online shop a little more...hoping that wholesaling and advertising pay off in the long run!

Stepford said...

Firstly I began following your blog after seeing a contributor post here on PoppyTalk and I find it incredibly informative and interesting to read.

I have recently decided to bite the bullet, brave all criticism and let my creative side flourish! It feels great but I still get those days where my confidence is lacking - I have so many ideas but have no idea where to direct them.

My one consistent dream has always been to run a country estate hosting weddings, family reunions, getaways etc all the while being as self-sufficient as possible

It's a long way off but I will get there :)

Lana said...

Thank ypu for this inspiring post! Ok, I will say it: I want to move abroad, open a tiny gallery where I would sell my own products and have a small graphic design studio. Phew! I actually stayed alive by saying it! ;) Good luck with your dream, go for it!