Investing in yourself is essential for continued personal growth. Learning new skills. Networking with peers. Building confidence. Feeding your passion for the work you do. As the format of business continues to change, so do our educational opportunities. Which learning strategy works best for you?
In this podcast, Sharon McGukin and Jackie Lacey explore the pros and cons of in-person, virtual, and on-demand classes.
Why invest in yourself? At the fast pace of business today, can you really afford not to?
Click into this podcast for more insight on how you can continue to grow your skills by investing in yourself.
Invest in Yourself with Jackie Lacey
Jackie Lacey (00:10):
Investing in yourself is one of the best ways to continue growing to change just like the market is.
Sharon McGukin (00:20):
Welcome to How we Bloom an Oasis of flower ideas. I'm your host, Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI. I believe that every great success story starts with one simple idea. That's why we interview those who 'dare to do things differently.' People who plant seeds, grow ideas, and bloom to their full potential. In this podcast, we listen, learn, explore new opportunities, and that's How we Bloom!
Sharon McGukin (00:59):
In this podcast we'll explore the importance of continuing to grow by investing in yourself. Learning new skills. Networking with peers. Continuing your education in your chosen field. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to introduce today's guest, Jackie Lacey AAF, AIFD, PFCI, CFD. If anyone knows the finer points of continuing ed, it's Jackie. Currently the director of education and industry relations for Floriology and Bloomnet, Jackie has been actively engaged in the floral industry for over 40 years. He is a past-president of AIFD (the American Institute of Floral Designers). A fun fact of Jackie's career is that he has owned three different flower shops in three different states. He's designed gorgeous flowers for thousands of weddings. And if you're a fan of reality on TV, you may have seen Jackie in his episode of Platinum Weddings
Sharon McGukin (02:09):
This week, I'm in Jacksonville, Florida teaching a wedding hands-on class for Floriology. It has been such a pleasant experience to be with students in person again. To be able to read in their eyes when there's a challenge in their understanding. To read from their body language when they're excited ... they get it. Or, maybe they don't. It's so nice to be with them again. In doing so, I was with Jackie Lacey director of education for Floriology. Jackie and I were discussing the importance of continuing ed for designers. Jackie, thank you so much for being with me tonight to share this conversation with our audience.
Jackie Lacey (02:52):
Thank you so much, Sharon, for asking me to be part of your podcast and for allowing me a little time to spend with you.
Sharon McGukin (02:58):
It's been great and so much better than just online. Don't you think?
Jackie Lacey (03:02):
Absolutely being in person cannot be replaced by online in any way.
Sharon McGukin (03:07):
I like working with video, but there's just not the energy that comes back from the camera that you get from the audience. And, you don't have the ability to read their body language and redirect the information in the area they need. I know there's a lot of purpose for virtual. And, you and I work alongside each other in that quite often, but there's also a place for personal connection. So, tonight let's just look at the differences and see what the advantages are in each area and how that might play a role in a person's getting the information they need to grow as a designer.
Jackie Lacey (03:43):
That sounds great. I look forward to it.
Sharon McGukin (03:44):
Perfect. Now, one of the first things that we wanted to discuss would be the difference that we encountered once we went into the pandemic. We did resort to video and it just went straight up and everybody was doing video. Everyone was contributing video. And, then as you mentioned earlier, we saw the rise, but we're seeing a little bit of the fall. Where do you think that is going?
Jackie Lacey (04:10):
Well, you know, it's always a challenge whenever you are presented with change. People don't welcome change often. In fact, they resist it at every opportunity that they can. So, we were presented with this incredible challenge that went around the world with the pandemic. And then, how do we respond to being segregated, separated, and told that you can't be in person. And, finding a way such as virtual was one of the first things that came up. It was already started in that direction anyway. We'd seen Zoom already out there and a lot of these platforms were available. So it was a perfect time for them to latch on to grow. And grow they did! It was just unbelievable. Like you said, people came out of the woodwork with finding a way to connect. And that was great for the first few months when we were truly separated and trying to decide where do we go from here?
Jackie Lacey (05:06):
And then, as people got into that, and spent more and more time in front of the computer, they found that they liked it less and less. Or, it was just so different that they wanted something else to enhance that. And then it became how do we make the videos that we present even better? And, this is an area where we're still looking for the right answer and that perfect combination. And I think a combination is one of the things we'll find will lead us out of this. But we're going to have to go through just a bit longer to really see what's on the other side.
Sharon McGukin (05:46):
I think at the moment, we've found that a blend of in-person classes along with virtual classes is a balance. Sometimes people can't afford to travel to see people that they would like to learn from. They can do that online, but some also need the connection of other people in a class situation. For example, in the class I taught today it was so nice to see the students helping each other. And, the fact that we all learn from each other. Many years ago, when I first began to teach, I would go back to my flower shop and I would say, "I learned this" ... "I learned that." And finally, one day my staff said, "we thought you were the teacher." I was the teacher, but every single time I learned from another person. I learned a lot from the students today. They learned from each other. It's an opportunity that's really a good balance against just seeing things by yourself online. Do you agree?
Jackie Lacey (06:43):
Well, I mean, that's very true. You know, we learn from each other. I learn as much from the students that I teach or an audience that I'm presenting in front of. I hope they take away from me as well, because we're visual learners. And seeing that happen right in front of us will, prompt us to grow in a different way. Continuing your education is continuing to grow. I always look to learn from you every time we're together and from the students. When we're here we're feeding off of that energy that we each share, whether it's good or bad. Because sometimes we'll pick up from students when we're teaching that maybe they're receding and they're not learning. That the challenge that they're working with right then in- isn't quite sinking in. We can see that.
Jackie Lacey (07:40):
And then we can respond in that way. And that's really challenging to see in a virtual situation. Now don't get me wrong. I purport and support virtual learning. Because I think, like you said, the combination is really that magic way to continue to grow and to balance out the budgets, so to speak. But being in person and together is a different learning, because you learn from your environment and from the way that things are working together right there. The way that you're working with the instructor, or working with other people, or working in the containers that you happen to be using at that particular time. It can be a different experience every time. I want to touch on something that you mentioned though. Affordability. Because, I think that that's really the way you have to look at this.
Jackie Lacey (08:34):
This is a time to invest in yourself. I hear people quite often say, I can't afford to take a class or go away to learn. Because, I have to put someone in my shop or I have to have someone take care of my family, my children, my pets. Whatever the case may be. But can you really afford not to? Because, when you stop learning, you stop growing. And in today's society with social media, that's gonna pass you right by. Because the education is going to continue. Whether you're participating in it or whether you're picking it up online, or learning it on demand. So, investing in yourself, and it truly is an investment in yourself, is one of the best ways to continue growing. To see you not plateau, but to continue to change just like the market is.
Sharon McGukin (09:33):
And that's where I see the value of virtual. Because if you can't afford to travel to someone's event, or if the, the timetable doesn't work for your particular schedule, you do have virtual opportunities online. One thing that I would caution people to do though, is really pay attention to the professionalism of the person who who's doing it. It's not all about newest trend. It's not all about hype and excitement. There's serious learning to be done, whether it's from a book, from a video, or a hands-on class. You really want to follow a professional instructor, so that you learn to do it the right way. Not just the faddish way.
Jackie Lacey (10:20):
Well, you and I have both been around for a little bit <laugh> and we have worked with some incredible designers in the industry all over the world. We have been very blessed, but we also have seen a lot of things that maybe we would not want to share with other people. And I only say that because like you said, you have to sort of vet the person that you're following. Some people can be really entertaining and provide you with a lot of useless information
Sharon McGukin (10:50):
Jackie Lacey (10:52):
Absolutely. And, I've said this before, too, there's a lot of designers that should never, ever pick up a microphone. And, a lot of speakers that should never pick up a knife. Because, we all have our expertise. Some people can talk about things really well and convey that message. And, some people are just really incredible designers that we like to comment on and work with. But, they might not necessarily know how to convey that message. So making sure that those you're learning from are providing you with quality, correct information is one of the most important things you can do.
Sharon McGukin (11:27):
Absolutely. We've seen a lot of things come and go. And some of those things - we were glad when they were gone. <Laugh>
Jackie Lacey (11:34):
Sharon McGukin (11:35):
If you're going to invest in yourself, look to see what is best. In terms of events, whether it might be something in person or whether it might be something online. Then another thing that you can do is look toward books, magazines, florist chat rooms - where you can get information online. Also, you and I know very well, the on-demand type of instruction that we have with Floriology. Could you give a brief synopsis of that to our listeners?
Jackie Lacey (12:10):
Well, sure. On-demand is a good way to learn for everyone because it's just what it says. It's on-demand when it's convenient for you on whatever device you happen to be comfortable with. We both are comfortable with paper and pen and have been for a number of years and have grown to accept the computer, the laptop, the phone, the iPad, all of the other various devices. The watch. All of those devices. And, being able to utilize them when it's convenient for you is really something you don't often have the opportunity to do. So, I think that's a great way to supplement your learning. Then, looking at what can you afford in your budget to do in person. And asking "what can I learn in between that might be virtual, either virtual watching, or participation." Or, enjoying some of those great entertaining influencers that are out there. And, combine those three aspects to meet your goal.
Jackie Lacey (13:13):
And you really want to set a goal of what you want to achieve and then select which platform is going to help you continue to move in that way. I do want to share one thing that helped me when I was learning, I decided very early on that I needed to make a budget for education, for magazines, for books, we didn't have all of the social media that is now available. Then when, I was going through it back in the day. Let's not talk about how long ago that day was! But, I took 25 cents of everything I sold and I designated that as an education fund. And that allowed me to travel to AIFD to various symposiums and learning opportunities in person. I would've been able to purchase video and things like that at that time. It came out of that specific budget set aside that was only used for magazines or books or what was going to at me. And then to take it a step further, I invested 30 minutes. I started once a week, 30 minutes to teach myself something or to learn something. And then that grew to two times a week, then three times a week until at the end, every day - the last 30 minutes of my day was spent on me. I left the shop feeling so much exhilaration and happiness because I was growing every day.
Sharon McGukin (14:45):
And growth is so important to keep your interest and your passion alive. Now, you know, I'm a strong proponent of setting goals one-year, five-year and 10-year goals. Because if you want to arrive at a destination in 10-years, the first steps start today. So, you have to know you have to be midpoint in five years. So that means at the end of one-year, you have to be headed in that direction. So, in that one first year, what do you do? You break it down monthly, weekly, daily. As you said, you're 30 minutes a day. Every day. You are moving in the same direction. Does it stay the same for the whole 10-years? Not usually, but because you are guiding yourself in a direction - it's a focused growth, not just whatever comes my way. So, I think that's really important for people to look at their business goals. Also your personal goals, your personal growth goals, and then your personal business goals. And I think if more people paid attention to focusing on where they want their journey to take them, there'd be more arrivals at the right destination.
Jackie Lacey (15:53):
Well, planning is really an important part of everything. We do, you know, "plan your work and work your plan" has been said forever. And, no matter whether it's your business or your personal growth or your career growth - all of that has to have a goal. Have a plan and work towards that.
Sharon McGukin (16:15):
Are you wondering, who's partnering with me to bring practical solutions to you? This podcast is brought to you by Smither's-Oasis North America. Why is Smither's-Oasis investing in your business? Helping you to meet challenge with change? Smither's-Oasis North America understands that you need fresh ideas to inspire new growth. Oasis carefully plants the seeds of your success by offering a balance of traditional and on-trend products that enhance your designs. Simply visit your wholesale supplier for your favorite Oasis products or view the online selection of direct-delivered-to-you products and seasonal inspiration. Now available from oasisfloralproducts.com. While you're on the website, click into the podcast page for more insightful interviews with innovative guests. Also, check out our blog. Scroll down to the featured post section for a collection of design tips and flower ideas or weddings, holidays, in-store or online businesses, and lots more. After you enjoy each Floral Hub blog or How we Bloom podcast episode, please share them with your flower friends. Another thing I think you can invest in yourself, in terms of learning, is to find a mentor. Someone who's willing to hear your plans, hear your thoughts. Not to tell you what to do, but to give you a little guidance in - "Did you think of this?" or "Have you considered that?" Maybe helping you see the picture from the outside. So, I always recommend that people find a mentor that's a sounding board, if nothing else.
Jackie Lacey (18:05):
Well, and a lot of times you may not recognize that the information someone is giving you is going to be that one key that, sometime down in your life, kind of comes back to you and says, you know, they were exactly right in the way they delivered that message to me. So, you can find mentorship, and a lot of the just sharing that people naturally do, on a day-to-day basis - if you're looking for it.
Sharon McGukin (18:33):
One of the students today reminded me of myself because she was making copious notes. And then she was making note cards of things she needed to. "I've heard of this." Or, "I need to look it up there." And, "I need to do this." I thought back to years ago when I did that, always just trying to learn everything. I recently ran across some of those notebooks. Where I had taken just note after note of people that we were so blessed to be trained by. Because they were such professionals, both national and international. And that learning curve I saw in her, what I remembered feeling within myself, you just can't get enough of the knowledge. And I encourage people to look for that. We also had a 14-year-old in our class today and to watch her in her learning journey, it was just so much fun. I mean, that's our future. I was really excited to see her passion just grow with every hour.
Jackie Lacey (19:30):
I'm just impressed that someone was using a pen and making note cards. <laugh> because that's back in the day! We used to do that and I still do that a lot. Because I find that having something I can physically hold in my hand and that I can read and that I can check off. I think one thing that people don't do enough is to go back and visit those 'to do' lists or those goal lists. Like we've been talking about, in person learning. Go back and mark through those lists too, to show that you've accomplished something. I liked highlighting mine because I liked having different colors and we work so much with color. I knew if it was this color it's done, or this was a yellow - which means it's in between. Or, whatever the code might be.
Jackie Lacey (20:16):
But, it's just as important to show what you've accomplished and take it off of that list and add something that's placed to allow you to continue that path of growth. And I know that we are giving a lot of fun and poking for all the devices that we have now and having to learn all of that. But, it really does help us supplement what we do on a daily basis. And education is one of those really important things that we should do on a daily basis. So if you can take your phone and research and review something you want to learn that day and then possibly write it down on that notepad, you're going to accomplish both. And you're going to have that feeling that I've also met both generations.
Sharon McGukin (21:05):
"I can do this!" <Laugh> that is so true. I read this article and it made so much sense to me. It described me as a person. It said we get so busy in making our plans, completing our goals, that when we finish a goal, we do go back and mark it off, but then we just move to the next one quickly. We never take the time to come congratulate ourselves or appreciate ourselves for having done that. We expected that we would do it and we did it. So we just moved to the next thing. And that there is a point when you need to show gratitude for yourself and appreciation for yourself for the fact that you've accomplished it. That's a key that's really builds a positive attitude too. And I'm very guilty of just saying "Okay. Done. Move on. Next." And I'm really trying to say, "Wow. I do appreciate the fact that I got these things accomplished."
Sharon McGukin (21:59):
And I think that's something that everyone could add in. Remember to reward yourself even mentally for a accomplishing your goal. What we've said here - just to recap, is that it is important that you have an investment in yourself and in your learning. Actually, also in finding time for yourself and finding joy in everyday life. It is important that you do what fits your needs. Can you do it in person? Must you do it virtually or do you have access to on-demand? Because, I know for example, with our Floriology Now platform, you can do it anywhere, anytime, and you choose any part of the class that you want to learn.
Sharon McGukin (22:45):
Smithers-Oasis North America also offers some easy-to-access options. They're available on the website - oasisfloralproducts.com. During the pandemic, our Smithers-Oasis Design Directors team members were unable to travel. National and international in-person design events were canceled. While we waited for in-person events to return, we repurposed our skills to fit the customer's needs. We increased our number of online videos. Presented webinars. Offered floral tips on social posts. Added a podcast for listeners, to go along with our blog for readers. We suggest that you begin your plan of growth by considering how you learn best. Are you a visual learner? An avid reader? Do you like to listen to podcasts while you drive or design? Enjoy watching a how-to video? Or do you need the energetic connection of an in-person event? Decide what works best for you. You can most importantly set aside the time to invest in yourself. Now, Jackie, I'll ask you before we close, can you offer just one last bit of advice to our audience?
Jackie Lacey (23:58):
I just want to go back to using a really good combination of that. You're going to learn because we know how we learn best. Some people are scared when they get into a group and they recede and they don't learn as quickly as others. But they tend to open up when they're with other people. But then some people do learn very well virtually or through a class. Reading a book. On the telephone or an iPad. Whatever the case may be. Take that combination of what will work with you, with your time, with your budget. With that combination, the main point is you're going to continue to grow. And that would be my final thought is to continue to grow. I've been in the industry for over 40 something years. And every day I try to learn something. I try to learn something from every person that I'm with. And I try to learn good or bad from every situation, because that means I've learned something.
Sharon McGukin (25:03):
Yes. And I've been in it for 47 years. In looking at every situation, I look at it and think, "What is the challenge?" or "What is the opportunity?" And looking back, "What did I learn?" I just find that when you stop to recognize what you've learned, it tells you what you want to learn next. It gives you that guidance. Now for your fans, Jackie Lacey, we want to know what is your superpower?
Jackie Lacey (25:33):
I wish I did have a superpower, but I do start every day with "Thank you for the gift of another day," because I think gratitude and appreciation is the best way to start your day.
Sharon McGukin (25:44):
And I think we're very blessed just to even work with of flowers. The flowers are beautiful and they lift our spirits and just to spend every day in some aspect of being with flowers, we're really lucky in that.
Jackie Lacey (26:00):
Absolutely. Blessed in so many ways that I could spend the rest of the night just thinking about it. Well, to be surrounded by beauty. Now, what could be better than that?
Sharon McGukin (26:12):
Yeah. It's a wonderful thing. So, thank you so much for joining us today and I appreciate your insight into investing in yourself for personal growth.
Jackie Lacey (26:22):
Thank you so much for having me.
Sharon McGukin (26:23):
Sharon McGukin (26:28):
Smithers-Oasis North America and I want to thank you for joining us today. If you've enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend and be sure to hit subscribe. You don't want to miss the inspired solutions our upcoming guests will share with you for your personal or business growth. If you have topics or a guest that you would like to hear, please message me. We'd love to hear from you until next time. I'm Sharon McGukin, reminding you that like the unfurling pedals of a flower, we grow by two changing form, soaking inspiration in like raindrops absorbing energy from others, like warmth from the sun. This growth opens us up to new ideas and that's How We Bloom.