Designer Insights

Great CEOs are not born, they are made.

How are they made you ask? There are many components that go into becoming a great CEO, and one of them is to be a life-long learner. Gaining knowledge to keep taking you up the ladder of success can be found in different avenues, including joining a peer or Mastermind group, getting feedback from team members, and by reading books. While all ways of collecting knowledge are valuable, I am going to focus on books, and give you an inside look at what CEOs like myself are reading, and why I believe books are an essential part of any great CEOs tool-kit.

To many people, books are just words strung together to create a story. To great CEOs, books are inspiration. Books are powerful tools that have the lessons and messages within the pages to help catapult those, who take the time to really dive in deep, to a higher level of success and potential. When CEOs are continuously learning and growing through reading books, these practices trickle down to the rest of the team. When you have both a CEO and team that continuously grow and learn, a more engaged culture and a more successful business is formed.


Books also help move your business forward into the demands and expectations of the future. The world is ever-changing and growing; technology is everywhere. Because of wanting to stay ahead of the times and stay on the level with other successful businesses, I have most recently been reading Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail. This book offers an expert look into the new form of company organization that will soon become an industry standard, and how your company can accelerate growth by leveraging opportunities such as technology, community, algorithms, staff on demand and many more. For your business to survive, you will need to continue to adapt and be open-minded to new ways of doing things. COE is always working to be innovative and modern, which is what helps set us up for growth and and success now and in the future. 
I also choose books that help me learn what to look for in successful team members. In the book The Ideal Team Player, written by Patrick Lencioni, the three essential characteristics that all employers must look for in new hires is laid out and explained - Humble, Hungry, and Smart. After reading through this book by myself, with the leadership team, and later within the book group, implemented with all team members of COE, I realized that in order for my business to continue to grow and succeed, I need the right people in the right positions. Now when interviewing new candidates for a job at COE, they are evaluated using the Humble, Hungry and Smart chart. Current team members are also evaluated, and given the help to grow within all three characteristics. 
Even when you hire team members that hold the characteristics of humble, hungry and smart, there are still sometimes areas or "dysfunctions" that will need fixed. Teamwork starts from the top, with the leadership team, and works its way down to the bottom. When executives are not working together, the rest of the organization is effected in a negative way. In the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, written by Patrick Lencioni, we learn the five areas where teams often struggle, and how to address them individually to become a stronger unit from top to bottom. Identifying that absence of trust, fear of conflict. lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results are all areas that need groomed and maintained. 
Becoming Your Best, written by Steven Shallenberger, is also a must read for any leader that has the desire to reach his/her full potential and the drive to turn good companies into great companies. This book was one of the first I read, along with the leadership team. I got so much out of this book, that all COE team members read the book twice, in small groups, to really gain as much as they could. One of the main take-a-ways from this book is that you can succeed in business and still live a happy life. This goes along with one of COE's core values of work/life balance. This book also gives you the insight on how to create a strong work culture, that is essential for any successful company, which include being true to your character, leading with a vision, prioritizing  your time, innovating through imagination, being accountable, living in peace and balance, and being an effective communicator. 
The Executive Team and myself have also worked our way through Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish. This book was also what inspired me to join a Mastermind group and work my way through the first Growth Institute program, which I graduated from recently. This book goes through the four areas of business that are most important, including hiring and keeping the right people, creating a truly differential strategy, directing flawless execution, and keeping cash reserves to weather the storms. This book also helped COE to develop their very own One-Page Stategic Plan, that helps keep the company on track to fulfilling all goals. 
I am one of those people that truly believe that books are more than just words. Throughout the last two years, I have been inspired by the books above and have believed in their messages. These books have changed the course of both the company and my life.

I have also seen the effects these powerful tools have on the entire team and culture. Working for COE, you are pushed to becoming your best everyday, and you are given the tools necessary to turn into the ideal team player. And while there will sometimes be dysfunctions and confusion within a team, if you work together, starting from top to bottom, you will scale up the ladder of success and become an exponential organization that is ready for the demands of the future. 

I will leave you with this final thought:
"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."
Take a look at the rest of my book collection. Maybe you will find some inspiration for both your business and your life. 

Open workspaces have been a trend for many years, and they continue to steadily grow in popularity. In fact, more than 70% of employees in the United States now work in an open office environment. Open layouts foster communication, teamwork, and approachability. I work daily on researching what the top trends are in the office furniture world, and the open plan concept continues to cultivate its place in the business environments. In short, just like rock and roll, it’s here to stay! Though the benefits of this concept can be felt throughout a company, this layout is especially attracting attention within specific departments.

Marketing and sales are just a couple of examples, where an open environment allows teams to bounce ideas off one another and more efficiently share information. Beyond departments, more executives are endorsing the open office strategy as they watch it increase communication and help make a team more cohesive, as well as provide them, as leaders, with a better, clearer picture of what’s going on within their company.
Just like every other trend, this concept does receive its fair share of criticism. The two most common complaints about an open office concept are distractions and privacy. However, make no mistake that the benefits by far outweigh the negatives. There are solutions to better mitigate distractions and secure employee privacy, that allow everyone to succeed in their space. 

With open offices on the rise, the re-birth of breakout rooms also happened. Typically break rooms were known as places to eat lunch in or a hub to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in. However, break rooms have now become a spot for employees to get a moment away to clear their minds, make a personal call, hold a small group meeting and of course enjoy a snack or meal.

A newer trend is bookable rooms, which are pretty self-explanatory based on their name. Bookable rooms are locations that can be used on either a first-come, first serve basis or scheduled in advance for a specific time. There are many options of software, that can assist with bookable room scheduling and availability. 
Finding a private space is easier for companies to manage than the issue of distractions. More than 10,000 workers from across 14 countries were recently surveyed, and the findings showed that office workers are losing approximately 80 minutes a day due to distractions. If solutions aren’t provided to lessen these distractions, many employees find themselves unmotivated, unproductive and overly stressed. 

It’s no surprise that having an open office layout can allow noise levels to rapidly escalate, which once again points to another great benefit to having a company breakout room(s). While distractions in the office lead to unproductiveness from employees, a breakout room can help create a more dynamic space where people have the freedom to enjoy the peace and quiet or chat to their colleagues in specially designed zones. These rooms not only mitigate distractions but are effective in helping boost the mood or morale of your employees.
Simply allowing more personal control over the physical workspace (e.g. open office or breakout rooms) and providing easy access to meeting places, encourages group cohesiveness and job satisfaction. Knowing there are private, quiet rooms available, where you won’t get kicked out when you’re focused, promotes a strong psychological sense of privacy and control. This will keep employees from worrying about a workplace environment where they are abruptly shoved out of a space or invaded by sudden, interruptive discussions. Knowing they can focus and complete tasks that require concentration, streamlines productivity.

There are many products to help with finding that balance of openness and privacy. Featured below are just a few of the many options OfficeSource has to offer. 
Our Variant Collection offers an array of options that can be built to suit for open office layouts while still having the ability to offer some privacy. With the privacy panels that can be mounted to both the top and underside of desks you will have the feel of an open office but with the privacy of a traditional layout. 

Trendy, modern, and comfortable furniture that not only looks good but makes a great space to work privately, eliminating any surrounding distractions.  Create unique seating solutions in your workspace that can serve more than one purpose. 

Durable and lightweight, the Spry Mobile Whiteboards are great to use as mobile dividers in open office spaces. Go from a collaboration session to individual spaces in a matter of minutes with locking casters and a magnetic surface.

Explore the endless possibilities of configuring your office space through the use of office partitions, office dividers, and panel systems.
Now that you have the common spaces up to date, why not look at some break-out room options? With all the options out there it may be hard to decide what you would like your breakout spaces to look like. OfficeSource offers many options that are multifunctional that are perfect! 
Choose a base style, color and even the chairs and accessories you would like, but we don’t just have options when it comes to tables, we also have many styles of chairs that will work in anything from break room to boardroom. 

One of the easiest ways to transform a room into feeling larger is with mirrors.

Prior to my education as an interior designer, I thought mirrors were only useful as standbys over the fireplace, in bedrooms, or in bathrooms. However, as I began to work in the design field, I found that their presence in homes and offices made a dramatic impact on the way a room feels, in regards to the size.
When used in the right areas, and creatively, mirrors can create quite the optical illusion. Creating light, texture, space, and character, mirrors instantly open up what feels like a cramped area, and also gives any room the ultimate WOW factor. Aside from soaring ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, there is no better friend to a small space than a well-placed mirror.
Large mirrors, either hung or propped up, can brilliantly boost the sense of space. Placing furniture in front of the mirror will soften any glare and enhance the reflections. The bigger the mirror, the more space it will appear to create. A pair of large, window-like mirrors bring a sense of balance to a neutral space.

 Bowery Collection.

Small spaces are not usually packed with windows, so why not a fake one! Place a mirror in an area you wish had a window. Create ‘multiple’ windows in a room by placing a mirror next to or across from a real window. The reflection maximizes the effect of natural light and exposure, creating pleasant door views, that can be appreciated from multiple angles.
Mirrors don’t have to be hung on the walls to reflect light. You can brighten your interior spaces by placing them in other areas. Lining the back of a bookshelf can add great reflection and depth to a room. Adding glass to a table top, and then placing a candle or lamp on top of the glass, is one of the quickest ways to add reflective light to brighten a space.
Heritage Collection 
Norsons Collection Bookcases
So, don’t just limit your mirrors to the obvious bathroom, bedroom and fireplace; branch out and use them to enhance and compliment your office space, or give any room a sophisticated and brightened appeal. After all, mirrors are always a good idea!


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Let me start by saying that I love my job! But even those of us who love our job, can become overwhelmed with meetings, tasks and deadlines. For many of us, when Friday comes, the work week feels like a blur. I recently read a report from the Bureau of Labor, stating that the proportion of workers spending more than 40 hours a week at work, has been on a steady increase over the past five years.

As a population, we are spending more and more time at our job. However, does that mean we are more effective? Could the digital distractions and mindlessness actually be reducing our productivity and make us less happy along the way? Could the solution be as simple as implementing just a few mindfulness practices at work?

I have been taking a deeper dive in to this topic the past few months, and have compiled a list of five mindful practices that can help you better accomplish all those tasks on your ever-growing to-do list, be happier and even boost your brainpower!
Throughout the day, we find ourselves slumping into our office chair for yet another day. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests that sitting on a backless stool or chair can help you be more mindful of your posture and your breathing, which helps to increase focus. Also, an added bonus, is that you can burn calories and increase your core strength. (link to the spool here)

View the Spool Collection Chair —> HERE

How do you control unwanted thoughts throughout the day and stay focused? One of my dearest friends, Dr. Kelly Donohoe, has a great solution. She calls it the Grounding Technique, which is something great to practice on your breaks or during your lunch time.

“One thing I love to teach people – for kids too! – is called a ‘grounding technique’. It’s a positive way to ‘get grounded’! You can do it anywhere – sitting or standing. If you are sitting, you turn your energy to the chair. Standing – focus on the literal ground beneath you. This act of refocusing makes it impossible for your mind to keep whirring and buzzing. When you notice your mind wandering away from the ground – you gently bring your attention back. That’s it! Cognitive magic!

Our minds can only do one thing at once and focusing on the here and now will bring calm and peace. It can happen anytime, anywhere. No one knows what you’re doing, all they notice is your renewed calm. If it feels scary to let go of your worries, you can remember that they will always wait for you – though you may not need to revisit those thoughts, letting them go for a minute will never make the situation worse. “

Dr. Kelly Donohoe, Licensed Psychologist 
Follow Dr. Kelly Donohoe on Facebook —> HERE 

You probably would not drive somewhere new without some planning first; determining the best route, making sure you have enough fuel, figuring out how much time it will take you to arrive at your destination, and how many pitstops you will need to take along the way. Why not look at your work day as a ‘new destination.’ Develop your daily trip plan, write down what you want to accomplish that day and make a plan of how to accomplish it. Planning your day with specific amounts of time assigned to each item on your to-do list can help you remain more mindful and focused on the task at hand. You may feel like you’re getting more done when you multitask, but odds are, you aren’t. According to the American Psychological Association, multitasking reduces our productivity, in many cases, as must as 40 percent, which clearly makes us less mindful in the long-run. Enjoy your daily journey and don’t forget those pitstops to refuel your mind.

I recently read an article with the opening statement of: “sitting is the new smoking”. The article stated how recent research proves that sitting for too long at your desk makes you more likely to contract heart disease, cancer and Type II Diabetes. The suggestion is to stand at least 10 minutes every hour. My tip is to sneak in a yoga pose while standing! I am not suggesting to greet your co-workers with a Warrior Pose, but it is easy to get in a side stretch at your desk. Even the simplest of side stretches will extend your spine. This posture even gets into the muscles around your ribcage, which allows you to take deeper, more relaxing breaths throughout the day. Relaxing breaths create deeper mindfulness. So how do you perform a proper side stretch? Either bring your feet together or place them hip-width apart, depending on your flexibility, reach your arms into the air, interlace your fingers and stretch to the right. Be mindful of your hips and shoulders, both of which should stay in one line. Hold for a few breaths on each side and then release. 

View OfficeSource Standing Desks Collections —> HERE

You may not realize that to be more mindful AT your workplace, starts with setting limits when you are NOT AT your workplace. Turning off notifications for your work email, and reminding yourself that you will not respond to work related tasks during certain hours. This will actually increase your productivity, focus and commitment to your work when you are actually at your workplace.
So, let’s take some of these steps to becoming more mindful at work. Not only will your body thank you, but your mind will as well. Become an even better and more focused worker, by implementing some mindfulness practices at work, whether it’s the ones I suggested above or some that you create yourself. It’s time to become a happier you!

Did you try some of these mindful practices? Let us know which work best for you, or share some of your mindful practices that you used to be more focused at work. 
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Is anyone else slightly obsessed with Maria Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up? The series is based on her bestselling book, that takes you down a journey of determining which items you own that ‘bring you joy” and which items ‘do not bring you joy’. Since the first of the year, I have spent quite a bit of time getting organized, based on Maria Kondo’s suggestions, which has me deciding what items of mine I should toss or keep in my home.

I have found success with the decluttering and organizing process in my home life, and decided it would be beneficial to carry over these ideas into my professional workspace.

There is actually scientific evidence that supports the idea, that an organized and clean workspace, helps us to better focus. “The capacity of the visual system to process information about multiple objects at any given moment in time is limited,” according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. This suggests that the more focused we can be in a shorter amount of time, is beneficial to achieving a successful work day. However, there are some contrarians that like to argue that a “messy space is a sign of genius.” My children like to use this philosophy as well.

So, where do you start? After all, getting organized is a big project to take on. However, treat decluttering your space the same as enjoying a lovely seven course meal; the meal is never served all at once. Instead, you are encouraged to take your time and enjoy every course as it comes. Do this when organizing your home or office. Take it one ‘course at a time,’ enjoy each stage as they come, and then move on to the next, until you are done and satisfied.

I am going to try and help you Maria Kondo your space, using three questions to get you started on the decluttering process.

Touch every object in your space and decide its fate. Surrounding me right now are four pen holders, six piles of papers, file folders bursting at the seams, several empty binders, printer ink and paper, notebooks, eight different types of cords, and the list goes on. Did I paint a vivid picture? It’s cluttered! I began to touch each item surrounding me, and asking myself Kondo’s question, “does this bring me joy?” However, that statement really did not help me in my office space, so instead, I physically touched each item and asked myself, “do I use this item daily, do I use this item weekly, or do I use this item occasionally”? The items that I did not use daily, I moved to my side desk. Finally, my desk was starting to look a lot more organized.

After you have decluttered your primary work space, and rid yourself of what is not needed, you can then continue the organizing process, by deciding on which objects make your work day easier, and how regularly you use each item. From there you can decide on the perfect location to store the items you use daily or occasionally. Maybe you keep the items you use daily on your desk, or close by, and maybe you store items you need, but only use occasionally, in a storage cabinet in your office. That way, you are organized and unnecessary space isn’t being taken up, when it does not need to be. For example, my external drive does make my life easier, but I don’t use it regularly enough for it to justify taking up space on my desk all the time. When the time comes when I do need that drive, I will be able to easily locate it and pull it from its stored location. Once you properly store and organize items, you no longer have to worry about not being able to find what you need, when you need it.

While it’s tempting to buy office supplies in bulk, sometimes we really don’t need 1,000 red pens at any given time. We really don’t need a thousand envelopes, notebooks, or post-it notes either. Well, maybe I do need that many notebooks. I’ll admit, that I am a notebook hoarder and use them almost daily for my ever-growing lists of ‘things to do.’

In any case, find a new home for all those unnecessary office supplies, taking up your precious desk space. You can even share them with your coworkers. I decided to place all my unneeded red pens in our office supply cabinet, to share with all the employees. Maybe they will grow to love red pens as much as I do! Not having all those unnecessary items around, frees up your physical and mental space, which are both things that will make you more productive in the long run. I know it has helped me.

Now that you have determined you really don’t need those 1,000 red pens you ordered to get such a great deal, what do you do with them? Bookcases, Storage Cabinets and File Cabinets are a great way to keep everything organized but still within reach for when you need it.

Make better use of your hutch shelf space with OS Laminate Center Hutch Divider.

Do you have binders that you would like to line up for easy access, or do you just want to add a few smaller sections in to keep important documents together. With the ability to change the Support-Vertical Hutch Organizers to go horizontal or vertical you will have the ability to customize your hutch to perfectly fit your needs.

While there is some clutter that you can find a better location to store, there is also the visual clutter of power cords computer cords and chargers that you need to stay for you to be able to work at your computer. Wire Management, Cell Phone Charging Grommets and Grommet Power Centers are a great way to keep everything organized while still being easily accessible.

Do you find yourself writing to do lists or reminders to yourself often? Or maybe, you just like to keep important documents within’s arms reach while still being out of the way and off your desk Magnetic Whiteboards and Tackboard Panels are a great addition to any desk, they keep things organized and out of the way but still withing view.

So, what is the lesson you can take from all of this? The more clutter you see, the more distracted you will be. It’s as simple as that.

Over the last couple of days, my desk has been much cleaner. However, before decluttering, I spent a lot of time moving things around, looking for items and getting overwhelmed by all the stuff around me that I did not need. Once my desk was cleared off and organized, all my mind had left to do was to focus on the task at hand. I think I easily gained back two hours per week of actual productivity.

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