Make it work!


As mentioned in earlier posts, I am currently hooked on the show called Project Runway.  It’s maybe like calling ketchup a vegetable to  argue that a reality show can teach us some things BUT  STILL, I am going to share with you some good ideas or concepts brought to life by Project Runway.

1. Make it work!

“Make it work” is the favourite saying of Tim Gunn, the mentor to the competing designers. When you think about it, saying “Make it work!” is simply another, more upbeat way of saying,  “stop whining and making excuses”. When things get tough, it is easy to come up with reasons why the initiative is doomed, the staffing schedule is too tight, there isn’t enough time or money or the model is heavier than the dress form. Okay, great – successful people now just make it work which doesn’t mean it will be perfect, it just means that they won’t throw in the towel, give up, start over or call in the army. They’ll do their best to put something together as a solution which likely will have gaps but will work somehow.

2.  Feedback without a wake

Giving feedback without leaving a wake is a concept I read about in Fierce Conversations, a good business book I mentioned here once. The idea is that you can share your opinion with someone with a lot of anger and emotion attached (i.e leave a wake, an emotional tsunami that shakes the person up)  or you can just  say, openly and frankly, that you think something isn’t good and that he or she could have done better. The difference between the two delivery styles is that with the first approach, the recipient may often think that you’re both unhappy with their result AND you’re mad at them personally.  If you want to see a person giving straight up feedback without leaving a wake, watch the Project Runway producer and former supermodel, Heidi Klum, deliver her thoughts to designers. She has a friendly but detached demeanour that is straightforward and honest but not cruel.

3. Time limits

Everyone has creative ideas – we have ideas for improving our personal lives, our homes, our job performance and our wardrobes. I think good ideas come to us all many times a day. The problem is that of course we think we have all day today, all this week, next month and really our whole lives to implement them, so the truth is that many great ideas just never get done. You can make fun of reality shows all you like, but there is a lesson to be observed when you see what can be done in a  specified amount of time whether that is 20 minutes to make an appetizer (on Chopped!) or 8 hours for a dress. Are they the best appetizers or dresses ever? No, but they are better than the appetizers or dresses floating around in people’s brains, undone. Once we have set – and met – a deadline for an initial draft, in real life (rather than starring in a reality show :)), it is then easy to revise and improve. The hard part of bringing great ideas to life is breaking the back on getting started.

In my next post I am going to tell you about a former PGB team member who did just what I have recommended in this post: Carolyn had an idea for a vintage clothing business and starting in January of this year, she brought that idea to life.


About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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