That's My Jam

That's My Jam - An Inspiring Workspace

I am constantly rearranging items and art in my house. I am a firm believer that your environment impacts your mood, productivity, and happiness. I don't have an office or consistent workspace at my job. I work in any space I can find which includes sitting in the floor in the hallway of schools, camping out in a teacher lounge by a refrigerator, crashing open conference rooms, and keeping office supplies in the back of my SUV. For my startup I have a co-working membership to a workspace but also don't have an assigned space that is mine there either.

While this has made me very flexible, collaborative and a pro at making small talk, not having a personal workspace does impact me negatively at times. I had the desk below set up at home with the intensions of making it a workspace but was just letting mail pile up on it. So I spent a weekend clearing the space and organizing it. Having a workspace that is just mine and inspiring to me has made a HUGE difference in me wanting to work when I got home so I thought I would share it.

I put up two huge cork boards that I got for a few bucks at Menards. I made one of the boards an inspiration board. The other I use for organizing my to do-lists which I will talk about in another post. Here are some close-ups of a few things that are currently on this inspiration board although it is ever changing. I described the pieces below.

  1. I have cut things out I like from magazines since I was in middle school. To this day I cut out photos and articles from magazines and collect them. This photo of will.i.am was from a recent issue of Success that featured him, I just loved the article. 
  2. This is a page from a Vogue magazine that Taylor Swift was featured in. While I do like Taylor Swift, I have it up there because the rocker on the left is a friend my high school, Grant Mickelson. He was her guitar player for years and traveled around the world with her, been on every award show, and played with the greats. Everything he does is inspiring to me but this particular shoot in Vogue really hit home for me that he worked hard to make his dream of playing guitar for a living come true.
  3. My grandpa owned a grocery store for his whole career. This is a photograph of him  in front of his store from when he was young. This reminds me that hustle runs in the family. 
  4. In college I stood in line for three hours by myself at a tiny bookstore to meet David Sedaris one of my favorite authors. I had a great conversation with him. He told me he thought I was dynamite and drew dynamite on my book at the signing. This reminds me that DAVID SEDARIS LIKES ME!  (Next to that book page is a napkin from one of my favorite place in Omaha, Havana Garage a cigar bar.)
  5. When Pinterest first came out I bought these paper mache letters from a craft store and wrapped them in yarn. I named our dog Pax because the word means Peace in Latin and I need peace in my daily life.
  6. This a small print from one of my favorite online art stores Society6. I love the word fuck, what can I say? The little Iowa banner above it I found at a local thrift store. I was so sad about moving to Iowa City and have grown to just love it here and that banner reminds me of that personal evolution.
  7. Years ago Starbucks had a campaign where all the cups had quotes on them. I collected all of them, cut them out, and laminated them. I am considering starting a petition to bring back this campaign.
  8. "Yes And" is my new mantra. I found these stick on letters at Lowes for 30 cents a piece. 
  9. When I was in 5th grade, I would act out SNL characters on the playground instead of playing kickball. My grandma wrote into SNL and got Molly Shannon to autograph a photo for my sister and I. Mine says "Allison, I hope I can meet you someday." (Next to it is a greeting card I liked, so I bought it for myself and hung it up.)
  10. Solid typography. 
  11. This is a photograph from the first group I mentored at HOBY's World Leadership Congress (WLC) in front of The Bean in Chicago. WLC is a large part of my life and this photo reminds me of where it all started.
  12. I was just drawn to this Miley photo. Attitude.
  13. This is a quote I have had from a long time, not sure where I first cut it out from. I just like it.
  14. This is one of my favorite photos of a group of my girlfriends. It was taken at one of our famous themed parties, a $5 prom where we all bought thrift prom dresses from under 5 bucks.

What inspires you?

That's My Jam - Family Photos

I love the idea of family traditions. Bennett and I had a few but the schedule of a resident has definitely gotten in the way of most of them. For example, my favorite tradition we had was that we used to go to brunch every Sunday morning together. Now Bennett works nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning during prime brunch time. It comes with the resident territory I suppose. 

One family tradition I have refused to give up on is taking a yearly family portrait. I have a black and white family photo from every year displayed on the mantle of our fireplace. I love looking at we have changed even these past five years and imagine having a wall filled with these photos years down the road.

 This year we had BirdsDream Design snap a few photos of us at a tree farm for a mini session (as that is all the time we could even fit into our crazy schedule). Here are a few of them. 

That's My Jam - Venture School

I am behind on the blogging front as my life as been taken over by a program called Venture School. In short Venture School is a six week program at the University of Iowa that helps startups develop and vet their business plan and pitches. Over the course of the program you interview at least 100 people to get feedback on if there is a need in the marketplace for your idea and listen to what potential customers really want from you and modify your plan accordingly. Each week you present your findings from interviews and modifications to your business plan to a room full of business mentors and professors who provide you with their immediate feedback and insights. At the end of the course you pitch what you have been working on to a room of investors.

Here is a video about Venture School -

For Venture School I am working on Axle Rev- a consulting firm that helps organizations and individuals maximize their creative potential and build workplaces that promote innovation. My dad and I are pursuing this venture together as it has been a dream of ours for a few years to start such a business. 

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We just completed the Venture school three day boot camp and are one week and 22 interviews into the process. Even with just a week under our belts, I feel like we have gotten so far.  I love learning about business and connecting with other entrepreneurs. I feel like I fit in and have found the tribe of thinkers that I have been searching for. 

This process has been a grind and an emotional one at that. After putting in a full day at work, I basically start another full time job of reading, interviewing, and researching this plan each evening. It can be difficult to hear honest feedback, especially when it is negative, on something I have dreamed about for so long but it has helped me immensely to work through that feedback and alter my plan accordingly. Then, there are other days when I am dancing around the house excited about a new a-ha moment I had talking to people that I know will make my business plan stronger. 

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So stay tuned on Axle Rev and let me know if you would be willing to let me interview you or if you know of someone who would be interested in my idea!