Toward the end of 2017 I decided I needed a Professional Sabbatical. It’s pretty much a term I made up or at least never heard anywhere else before. The scope of the sabbatical was to lessen my work load and focus on a new project: me.
When I moved to Rome in 2013 after graduating from grad school and becoming engaged to my boyfriend, it was already an unstable time in my life: my plan was to move to Rome and “see what happens”. I immediately enrolled in an English language certification program, so I could be eligible for legitimate teaching positions – but shortly after working in an English school I realized it wasn’t for me. I had already dreamed of “doing my own thing”: starting my own company and making money doing what I just spent 7 years studying. So I took my first big risk. Sure the idea of forgoing a steady income was unsettling, but the thrill of owning my successes was tantalizing.
We entrepreneurs tend to get so caught up in the “hustle” that we forget to spend time on ourselves and our mental health. I’m not ashamed to admit that I suffer from anxiety and a slew of stress-related ailments. In fact I’m proud that I’m constantly trying natural remedies and relaxation exercises as treatment. I pour so much passion into my work, the stress is an unfortunate but common side effect. However it’s one I plan to deal with responsibly. So in January 2018 I decided to take a beat, reflect, plan and organize all in an effort to Manifest 2018. So how did it go?
Well first of all, my time frame was ridiculous.
The fact that I thought I could “fix” anything in 30 days was pretty much nonsense. I know this now. I tend to work around the clock; the days blend into each other and the passing of time is relative with approaching deadlines. Evidently a month seemed a sufficient amount of time to reset, but I was very mistaken.
Instead I’ve decided to continue my efforts of balance, taking breaks, exploring the city, socializing, etc. further into the year. It seems silly I have to force myself to do these things. But it just goes to show how unhealthy my lifestyle was that I do need prioritize such necessary activities.
Second, I created a manifest.
I challenged myself to identify 3-5 things I wanted to achieve, remind myself, or MANIFEST in 2018. I wrote these down first in my notebook and then in some design software.
I have a way of speaking to myself, I guess it’s similar to how I speak to others, but I like this voice. I like to use allegory and metaphor rather than be direct. To each his own.
Honestly, the exercise of creating a manifest isn’t totally new to me. For the last 10 years or so, I’ve celebrated the new year with a new Moleskine notebook and on the first page I’d jot down a handful of lofty goals for the year. Every now and again, I’ll come back to them to read them, maybe make a change or add one. The point was to at least be cognizant that each year should yield growth, and inevitably these goals showed that.
This time I approached my manifest more seriously, designing it to have a presence and something I could frame and hang on my wall in my workspace. I also shared the exercise with a few friends both in Rome and the states. The collective effort means we can support each other, remind each other, and congratulate each other when we are making progress. It’s one of the most invigorating things I’ve ever done.
Third, I reflected.
I know this sounds trite, but it was so incredibly helpful. For the first time, I objectively looked at my life and my career, where I’m at and more importantly where I want to go.
The previous 6 months or so I was intensely involved in the opening and launching of the Costaguti Experience, an incredible luxury accommodation in the heart of Rome. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done. The noble residence is decorated with museum-quality ceiling frescoes from the 16th and 17th centuries, looming 26 feet above your head, crowned in gilded ceilings. For nearly 400 years the same family has owned the building and established themselves as one of the most important historical families in Rome. The owner entrusted my client who turned to me to curate the guest experience – the welcome sequence, the quality standards, the touch and feel of the place and the top-notch hospitality delivered. As with every project I become passionately invested, pouring my ideas and expertise into every detail. It’s true what they say, when you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.
But even a labor of love can be taxing. So it only made sense that as my hospitality consulting was coming to an end I would take the opportunity to examine how to do more of what I love without exhausting myself and my resources. This is what I reflected on. And so much has come from it:
My list of services has broadened to incorporate the new partnerships I’ve created as well as responsibilities afforded in this last experience. My portfolio of hospitality consulting services include:
- Experience Curation Out of the box approach to building unique, personalized experiences for your guests. We work closely with your concierge and team to develop comprehensive experiences, taking into account selling attributes and content, profitability, seller incentives, and logistics
- Operations Analysis + Consulting Formal report of your operation with detailed action points detailing areas of improvement and key competitive advantages
- PR Services Liaise with international press (print and media) to arrange events and press visits
- Creative Services (Photography, Videography, + Social Media Content) Content creation for social media and traditional press, including professional photography and videography as well as social media consulting for building and engaging your online community.
- Web Design Turn-key web design solutions that translate the experience the guest can expect from your property or services to their first interaction with you on the web
- Graphic Design Develop a graphic language for your brand including logos, packaging, and print paraphernalia
I started my SAYHELLO Creative Tea Time series. This ongoing series will explore hospitality through the world’s High Tea experiences. With three afternoon teas accounted for so far (St. Regis, Babington’s, and the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw) and several others slated in the next weeks, it’s a fun and exciting project that I plan to use ultimately as research for the Official Guide to Launching a Successful High Tea Experience in Your Hotel.
February will see the launch of SAYHELLO Creative-ly, my online marketplace where I’ll begin adding tips and tools, printed goods, and bespoke design objects that facilitate creative hospitality. It’s a dream of mine to find an outlet where I can merge my interests, talents, and passions for both hospitality and design, while providing creative solutions to hospitality companies. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates on the launch of my online shop, promotions, and more!
As a final note, I’ll leave you with my most favorite quotation of all time by Hugo Ball, one of the leaders of the Dadaist movement, that continues to inspire me on my journey to self-actualization. Enjoy.
All dreams of childhood are unselfish and deal with the well-being and liberation of mankind. Men are all born as saviors and kings. But only very few are able to hold their own or, once they have lost themselves, to find themselves again. Anyone who wants to liberate life must liberate dreams.
Hugo Ball, Flight Out of Time (1974)