Professionals on Design. A Series — Part 1: Sharon Fawcett | speaker, author
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We thought it would be interesting to do a series on our blog that is comprised of email interviews with professionals who’s businesses/positions have let them form an opinion as to how design may or may not lend to the growth and success of their products or services. We are doing this to both learn and educate about the role design may or may not play in the success of different businesses. So far, we have received very interesting, enlightening, and inspiring responses from both clients and non-clients that we have requested an interview from. Hopefully, this will be as interesting for our readers as it has been for us.
Here is our first interview of the Series:
Sharon Fawcett | sharonfawcett.com
Please share what series of major decisions, circumstances or goals led you into your present career and in-turn, the position you hold within your business.
When I emerged from a nine-year battle with major clinical depression, I had a strong desire to bring hope to others dealing with the illness. I came to realise that most depressed people don’t even seek treatment (often due to stigma) and those who do usually receive only treatment for the biological or emotional roots of the illness. Though I received excellent medical and psychological care for depression, my healing finally came through identifying and addressing the spiritual roots of my illness.
I began my writing and speaking ministry to educate others about the relationship between physical, emotional, and spiritual health and in so doing help others find their own path to freedom from depression. By openly sharing about my experience with clinical depression I hope to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness that leads to discrimination and prevents those afflicted from reaching out for help.
Please explain some history and interesting facts about your business and/or its products and services.
I have been interviewed on national television and radio in the USA and Canada, and speak regularly in other venues. A recent radio interview I did (November 2008) reached six million listeners. I’ve published stories and articles in numerous anthologies and magazines, and my first book, Hope for Wholeness: The Spiritual Path to Freedom from Depression, was released in October 2008 by NavPress publishers. I also spend time reaching out to people with depression through social networks and I am currently a writing mentor to a Nigerian man studying in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
How important is the role of design to the overall image, brand, and success of your business?
Writers are notorious for having bland websites and promotional materials. Well designed websites, business cards, and other materials give a writer an advantage in the publishing world. Good design reflects professionalism and attention to detail which is important in gaining the attention of editors, agents, and others who can help advance a writer’s career. I’ve been told by editors and agents that my website (or business card) is one of the best they’ve ever seen. I hope people remember me as more than just the woman with the great business card, but in any business being remembered is an important step toward success.
Because my ministry is such a personal one, it’s important for me that others get to know a little about me and my message through the design of my website and promotional products. I think that who I am is reflected in them because the designers took the time to explore my tastes, my message, and the image I want to project. I want people to feel hope and possibility when they visit my website or hold a promotional postcard for my book in their hand, and I think that the designers have achieved that.
Do you believe that design, perceived as well executed or not, has been beneficial or detrimental to the success of your business? Please explain.
Well-executed design has been very beneficial to my success. First impressions really are everything. Early on in my career I was amazed to discover that even though I was an unknown, not yet published writer from rural Canada who had a very small platform, when editors and agents viewed my website they assumed that I was far more accomplished than I actually was. From the comments I received from many people I firmly believe that the professional website and other well-designed materials contributed to my later success, helping me acquire a literary agent and a publisher for my book.
As part of our own business’ brand, we quote the findings of a specific report that determined design to be the second most important factor in the rapid growth of successful businesses. Although you may or may not agree with these findings, what do you believe is the first most important factor of growth and success in your business?
I believe the most important factor in the success I have achieved is networking and relationship building. I’ve made many beneficial connections with editors, agents, and other writers at writers’ conferences. I also do a great deal of networking online through social networks and other avenues. Sharing my life story and encouraging others are things I love to do. The reward for me is making a difference in someone else’s life, but I also gain friends and “customer evangelists” who champion my work among their own personal and professional networks.
If you could suggest one piece of advice to someone working to achieve their career goals, what would that be?
Don’t lose yourself in the process. I think it’s easy to make the mistake in assuming that we are our career, or to work so hard to achieve career goals that we lose balance in our lives. I’ve had to pull back on the reins a few times when my ambition exceeded my energy and I found myself drained and depleted. Nothing is so important to me that I am willing to risk another crash-and-burn like the one that precipitated my depression. Remember that your career is what you do, not who you are.