“The Give and Take of Mentoring in the World of Luxury Homes,” held last Monday as part of Boston Design Week, was a magical afternoon of inspirational mentoring stories, expert insight into the challenges of mentorship, and wisdom from some of the shining stars of the Boston design world.
Celebrity moderators Patti Austin and Taniya Nayak kicked off the event. Nayak, red-faced, admitted to the nearly two hundred–person audience that she shares a unique bond with her Grammy Award–winning co-moderator: that although she has “the worst voice ever,” she always sings Patti’s hit song, “Baby Come to Me,” in the shower when no one is listening. Patti pounced, and made Nayak serenade the panel with a few bars—a perfect, light-hearted start to the day.
The two moderators introduced the esteemed panelists—Meichi Peng, founder and principle of Meichi Peng Interior Design Studio; Andrew Goldstein, retired CEO of Thoughtforms; David J. Hacin, founder and principle of Hacin & Associates; Cheryl Katz, owner and co-founder of C & J Katz Studio; and Sean Clarke, general manager of Clarke Distribution—asking each of them a few questions about leadership and mentoring: What is the biggest challenge you have face mentoring your team? How do you manage inter-generational similarities and differences in your company? What qualities are needed to become a respected leader?
The experts talked about the 24/7 schedule of the cellular era and the impact this might have on your creative staff; the difficulty of leadership during the great recession; ways to be a better mentor in the fast-paced design industry of the 21st Century; and the most difficult setback of their careers.
“There were actually a few moments that really caught my attention,” said designer Eric Roseff, who was in attendance. “One that stood out was Cheryl Katz recalling that she asked one of her staff to do something once, and the young woman replied that she thought that wasn’t how the task should be done. I loved the way Cheryl’s initial reaction, frustration, turned into something else: true respect. She’s secure enough to realize that we don’t always have the right answers, or know the best thing to do—we need that input from others. She obviously taught that girl well, and then had the chance to learn from her.”
“It was nice to hear that even these industry leaders face the same issues or challenges as we do at Cumar,” said Carlotta Cubi of Cumar Inc. “I found it really interesting to hear how they approached situations and I could really relate to what they were saying. There were more than a few instances where I had found myself saying to myself, ‘We went through that!’ or ‘I know how that feels!’ So for me it was interesting to hear how they handled it or what their thoughts about it were.”
Stay tuned to the Cumar blog for more. The panel was filmed, so you’ll have the chance to hear some of the most respected design professionals discuss life in the captain’s chair, navigating turbulent waters, and leading their teams to success. Until then, enjoy these fantastic photos from the event.