I love fashion. It doesn’t necessarily show in my daily outfits, but when necessary I can undergo a red carpet worthy transformation. And while I’m not into reality shows, Project Runway is one I have consistently watched since Season 1. Aside from the analysis of the weekly challenges, Project Runway provides lessons that can easily be applied to the business world in general. Here are a few I’ve gleaned over the years.
I am not a risk taker.
All this bungee jumping, parkour, crazy downhill mountain bike racing is not for me. I’m much more methodical in my approach to life. Before making a major decision, I think about the overall dream, my corresponding mission, my existing commitments, the effect on my family, ruminate on finances, but mostly consider the level of “new” and “fun” involved. Some might call that a risk assessment, but I’ve watched clients with all green lights still say ‘no’ to a great marketing/promotional opportunity that would seriously advance their company’s image, profitability, or morale. I hear all sorts of reasons from “we’ve never done it that way” to “no one will attend something like that.” When I ask for specific concerns, or ask to brainstorm a solution the usual reply is “I think we should keep our options open.”
About 4 years ago, my friend Jessica and I were walking in Times Square, la touristas on our way to Central Park via 7th Avenue. Sidewalk entrepreneurs were pedaling their wares—vans displaying basketball jerseys, painters with racks of originals, and stand after stand of every accessory out there. Rap music blared out of a stereo; a song I’d never heard and didn’t seem interested in. Out of politeness I must have nodded to the artist hawking copies of his CD because he suddenly stepped right in front of me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Now hold up sweetie,” he said with a charming smile. “Don’t rush off so fast. No need to fear the black man.”
I looked down at his hand and then back up at him. “I have not fear of the black man,” I said. “I am from Compton, California.”