Big News & Secrets of Successful Collaborations

Let's talk about some big news I have and then, some tips on how to collaborate with others successfully. First, I'm working on book #3 with Chronicle Books and Jacqui Small Publishing! This time, I'm teaming up with my friend, stylist and photographer Leslie Shewring (and Color Me Pretty columnist), and together we're hoping to create a book that will blow your creative mind! ha! That's the goal anyway. We have a lot ahead of us, but we're determined to get this book finished in October so it will have a Spring 2014 release. BIG NEWS on my blog today!

Leslie and I have been discussing a book collaboration for a few years now but only recently found the time and energy to devote to making our dream a reality. After getting the book deal, we had the grueling contract stuff to deal with but now that we're over the hump, we can work on the fun part - pulling together our ideas, scout and organize shoot locations, call in our props and other necessary bits.

Of course, no project comes without a ton of challenge. For one, we have physical distance to deal with - she lives on Vancouver island and I'm wayyyy over here in northern Germany and then, the time zone difference (9 hours apart!), so we will need to stay pretty organized to get through the loads of work ahead!

Now that I've shared my big news, let's talk about collaborations  When it comes to partnering with others I thought I'd give you some helpful tips because lots of people ask me about how I go about working with others. Ready?

1. Trust your gut. If it feels like a MAYBE it is a no. If it feels like a NO, it is no. If it feels like a positive YES, proceed ahead.

2. If someone shows signs of being a poor communicator, beware! If you've hired them to work for you and they don't reply to phone calls, emails or text messages, something is up - if you have opened up your business to someone else and trust them to take care of it, and they don't, this can create some huge tension. You have to be selective about who you team up with, don't take the red flags lightly.

3. If your potential partner wants to know all of your ideas before you have agreed to working together, beware. You should have a non-compete, non-disclosure contract between you before you reveal all of the details on any project or before you begin working together. I'm only working this way going forward and advise you to do the same.

4. Draw up a contract with the help of an attorney so that all parties know what is expected along with due dates. Then no one can say they didn't know or were misinformed. If you have it in writing, and they've signed it, they were informed.

5. One major reason why I wanted to do a book with Leslie is because I love working with her. You really should feel good about the people that you work with. They should lift you higher because then your work will be elevated as well. You'll work harder and put in all of your heart if you're working in a supportive environment - at least that is how I've come to learn how women work best.

6. Leave your ego at the front door. You cannot work with others who allow ego to get in the way of producing the best work. No ego. The work needs to be separate from your emotion.

7. If you have hired someone or are managing a project and you've asked others to contribute, watch how well they follow your instruction. If you tell them what you need and they deliver something else, that's a bad sign. If you have specific points that you're hired them to deliver on and they go off and do their own thing and return with that instead, it can cause huge problems and tension. When you freelance for anyone, a magazine, a small business, etc. you have to listen to your "boss", the person who is paying you for the work. Of course, you can give them creative ideas and solutions but ultimately they call the shots. This also has to do with ego. Sometimes people won't listen because their ego gets in the way. Other times, they are very insecure about delivering what you've asked them to do because it falls outside of their comfort zone so they decide to deliver what is comfortable for them.

8. With Leslie I've noticed that we also really value and understand the importance of regular communication on the job. When we run into something challenging, we discuss it right away and respect even our differences in opinion because lots of times those differences push us out of stagnent thinking patterns into fresh new waters. Creating magic with someone can only happen if both are communicating honestly and openly.

9. Have a sense of humor. I also like that when I screw something up, Leslie laughs at me or if she does something that doesn't quite work, we sorta of know at the same time and look at each other and burst into laughter. That's the magic I'm talking about. It's beautiful when you work with people who can step outside of their ego and look at their own work as a separate entity and be objective about it. We also know how to have fun on shoots - also important to me because I need FUN to feel creative. If the mood becomes too serious on a shoot, I can't be creative, my brain just shuts down.

10. When issues arise, talk about them. These days most of us are talking through email and text messages. It's best to talk via email or the phone if you can. Better yet, in person face-to-face. Everyone makes mistakes. Be willing to forgive, forget and move past them. Also allow for some problems to arise because it's only human to have slip ups. On the other hand, if you keep reaching out to someone and they refuse to handle issues responsively, move on. There are far too many talented and creative people in the world to work with you - you don't need to devote time and energy on those who don't want to be happy and work with you in a positive and productive way.

I hope my collaboration tips have helped you! Do you have any of your own?

I can't wait to tell you more in the coming months but I'm very happy and hope you are excited too. Another nice thing that happened to be recently is that my work and tips have been featured on Oprah.com - Here are two that already ran, with more on the way!

6 Decorating Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them 12 Ways to Enliven Your Home with Green

It's so exciting to be part of Oprah.com sharing my decorating advice, a big honor!

Have a nice day! I'll be back later on with a yummy cookie recipe that Jillian baked up for you for her March column. See you soon.

(image: leslie shewring)