Who Is Amanda Hamilton?
Amanda is not your everyday entrepreneur. She has an incredible energy about her that immediately draws people to her. Coming from the artistic space, she transitioned into interior design work and is now one of the top interior designers in Canada. Because of her diverse portfolio of work, she was able to continually thrive in business despite Covid. She is a big believer in applying certain life hacks to manage challenges and have a better sense of focus. Her advice applies to anyone that wants to make their dream a reality. Hope you enjoy the podcast and please check out her work:
Business Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ahidstudio/
Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandamhamilton/
Palette Archives Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/PaletteArchives/
If you had to pick one word to describe Amanda Hamilton, it would be energy. Hamilton is inhabited by an unquenchable thirst for new adventures, new ideas, and more importantly, new knowledge. The Calgary-based, serial entrepreneur behind Amanda Hamilton Interior Design Studio and Palette Archives is constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity to redefine interior design in every single project. It’s that magnetic energy that helps Amanda Hamilton thrive through eclectic projects in business. Amanda Hamilton’s diverse portfolio draws new clients and challenges to her business path, which has played a significant role in her growth despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Amanda Hamilton Interior Design Studio
The talented and versatile interior design entrepreneur builds on her artistic background every day in her business. Amanda Hamilton is a trained interior designer, with a bachelor’s degree in applied interior design, who looks for inspiration in the cultural and social references around her. She is no stranger to uncovering unusual and unique design influences in popular culture, including music, literature, cinema, and fashion. As she puts it herself in describing her work at Amanda Hamilton Interior Design Studio (AHID studio for short): “We seek to purposely explore and creatively elevate space with intelligent, thoughtful and soulful design.” As a result, the intentionally eclectic projects for residential and commercial clients rely on a purposeful and resolute narrative that brings the depth of her multifaceted inspiration together. When Amanda Hamilton talks about the soul of her interior design, she refers to the way meaningful social influences are woven into the work to capture the unique character of each client and embody their individual values. That’s why she has become one of the most sought-after interior designers in Western Canada, bringing her unique vision and process to projects as varied as office and retail, residential homes, multi-family development, and restaurant design.
A master of life hacks, Hamilton applies her savvy know-how and energy to tackle a variety of interior design projects and business challenges. Her dedication to creativity and education and her passion for interior design are inherent to her brand extension. It’s no wonder the serial entrepreneur can run both an interior design studio and an interior design collection business, Palette Archives. With at heart the desire to make meaningful and life-enhancing designs more approachable and accessible, Amanda Hamilton launched the interior collection that encourages individual homeowners to take control of their interior decor and create beautiful and purposeful space at a fraction of the cost. Many consider the Palette Archives collection as an essential design hack for enthusiasts who can’t afford the services of her interior design studio. The prolific entrepreneur loves to explore new ways of elevating space at home, in the business, and between people. Ever so busy, Amanda Hamilton also has a book that is coming out in 2021, “Not That Likeable, At First,” which is expected to share her vision and experience as a master of life hacks in her entrepreneur lifestyle.
Amanda Hamilton’s unyielding enthusiasm and commitment to continual explorative evolution and education are part of her constant professional and creative development. The serial entrepreneur became a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Accredited Professional, and a Certified Designer through the NCIDQ (National Council for Design Qualifications). She is also a respected member of the AAA, Alberta Association of Architects, Interior Designers of Alberta and the Interior Designers of Canada. But Amanda Hamilton is a serial entrepreneur who champions career development through education for young women. This woman who supports womxn, as she explains on her Instagram account, is the current chair of the World Choices committee for Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta. She is also dedicated to sharing her life hacks and business tips as well as her positive energy with others as an active mentor with the Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship Program. It comes as a surprise to no one in those circumstances to learn that Hamilton has received countless notable business and entrepreneurship accolades, including the “Avenue Magazine’s” 2017 Top 40 under 40 Award and Silver Stevie Women Entrepreneur of Canada Award 2017.
At the heart of her professional expansion, the interior designer with over a decade of experience uses her extensive portfolio to share her tips, know-how, and inspiration with a broad audience. She has written for various magazines and has even held a regular column, Cookies & Vodka, which appeared in lifestyle magazines. You might have come across her profile in some of your favorite interior design magazines, such as “Western Living” or “Style at Home.”
Amanda Hamilton Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey, what’s up guys, my name is Charan Prabhakar, and this is the Lemonade Stand podcast and I am here with Amanda Hamilton, who we recently met just last week really. We’ve been kind of exchanging emails left and right. Amanda is an interior designer in Canada and she owns her own company and she kills it up there. I guess just all kinds of residential property, business properties, and truth be told, if people were to approach me and look at me, they would not think, oh, Charan’s an interior designer. I know nothing about that space at all. And so, I was very intrigued by the opportunity to talk to you, Amanda, because it’s something completely foreign and new to me.
Charan: But the thing that really intrigued me as we were talking last week was your business processes, the way you go about doing things, your philosophy behind business because it’s very unconventional. And you’ve kind of gone against I guess typical philosophy. And as a result, you’ve succeeded, which I think is super fascinating. And so, I would love to kind of dive into that, learn a little bit about what makes you tick, some of the future projects you got going on because you were also doing a bit of nonprofit work I believe as well. So, yeah, let’s kind of get into it.
Charan: But, Amanda, can you tell us a little bit about your journey into first getting into business from a little girl to right now?
Amanda: Yeah, so, it’s actually funny because my very first business was a lemonade stand.
Charan: No way.
Amanda: Probably like most kids, right?
Amanda: It actually is the opening chapter to the book that I’m working on right now. I basically chronicle me trying to do this lemonade stand. But I open it up at five o’clock in the morning or six o’clock in the morning. And the only customer I have is the mail woman who comes by. And then on top of that, I don’t have lemonade. I don’t have lemonade. And then I also don’t have orange juice or any juice. So I’m literally selling water at six o’clock in the morning to the mail woman.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Amanda: Yeah. And then after that, I sort of would pull all the things out of my grandparents’ garage and make obstacle courses for the neighborhood kids. At one point, I had a library in the basement complete with the little cards that used to get stamped and filled out. So despite doing all of these things, I never grew up thinking that I was going to be an entrepreneur. I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. And in many ways, I kind of call myself an accidental entrepreneur, but hindsight, when I look back at my skill set and sort of my leadership ability, it was just a natural very organic thing for me to do.
Amanda: And so, how it actually happened was I graduated from interior design in 2005 and I moved to Calgary to take my degree in interior design [crosstalk 00:04:18]
Charan: Did you go to college doing interior design? Is that what you did?
Charan: University. Okay, cool. Very cool.
Amanda: I had no idea what interior design was. Much like you, I come from a background of the arts where I was heavily involved in music, I was playing instruments, I was singing, I was in musicals and things like that. Interior design just seemed like this really nice meld of my skill set. And of course, I was scared of going into all of those other things. I was like, I don’t want to be a starving artist.
Charan: Yeah. I guess I just got comfortable with starving, which is why I did it. The thing is, I know what you mean. It is nerve-wracking to be like, wait, where’s the stability in some of these passions that we have.
Amanda: But it’s interesting because I still see my work as art. I used to work in the 2D, I used to paint and sketch a lot. All I’m doing now is taking that skill set and moving it into the 3D and I’m creating space to me, which is art. You’re still using the exact same values. You still have to manage color and reputation and scale and form and shape. And so, I’m kind of doing it in this 3D world, which is really interesting and super challenging.
Charan: Keep going.
Amanda: I started my firm in 2009 in the middle of the recession.
Charan: Oh, gosh, okay.
Amanda: No money, no savings, no business experience. No business starting business really. I had a client who really encouraged me to do it, and I had projects lined up. I just took the leap. I had no idea what I was doing.
Charan: I love the fact that you kind of leapt into the dark. You had the art background and you enjoyed interior design. But having an art background, having the passion for interior design is way different than starting your own interior design business, where now you have to manage clients, you’ve got to hire employees. How was that shift for you and what did you have to kind of switch in your brain to be like, okay, now I have to learn these skill sets?
Amanda: That’s a really interesting question. I have some very strong opinions about how the school system is set up because I come from a family of teachers. Everyone in my family is in the education system. And so, I just actually think that that side of me was really suppressed. I went through school thinking that I was no good with money, that I didn’t know anything about science, I wasn’t good at math. I originally was going to go into architecture and was like, oh, well you need to know so much math. And then you realize you get into this industry and it’s like, math is quite simple. And also we have engineers that do the complicated calculations for us.
Amanda: So I really didn’t come into my own I think until I was in my 20s, really understanding that one of my greatest strengths is strategy. I’m really strong from a marketing standpoint and a branding standpoint. I really leveraged that skill set to create awareness around my business. So, I think we have these ideas about what we’re good at because we’re going through school, and it’s like you’re getting an A or a 95% in a class. But ultimately, you’re allowed to explore things a little bit differently when you’re an adult. And I just started diving into business and really found a passion there.
Amanda: I would say that I am more passionate about business than I am about interior design. I don’t say that lightly because I love interior design. But I’m in the business of interior design. I think artists in general, we have a tough time believing that we deserve to make money, and we have a tough time demanding that we deserve to make that money too. I just feel like this was a really nice blend between being creative but then also making money.
Charan: Man, I am so fascinated by what, just everything you said. Really quickly going back to the education space, I totally know what you mean because I was always told, hey, you’ve got to get good grades and you’ve got to do this because that’s when you’ll get another opportunity here and another opportunity there. And the truth is I learned that good grades all came from cramming, for me anyway.
Amanda: I did the same thing. I was a last minute crammer.
Charan: I worked hard. I did my papers and stuff and did math, I was like pretty good at math. But the truth is, yes, I got an A in calculus. Ask me to do calculus now, I’d be like, dude, I have no clue. I have no clue how to do anything. So, how is it possible that I got an A in my late 18, 19 or early 20s and now I know nothing about it? And I think you just taught me, hey, I think if I crammed and if I just focused at that point, I could learn. And I think school that’s kind of what it taught me was all about, maybe perseverance really. But especially when I was in university, I started realizing, oh my gosh, so much of my education of this material that’s kind of coming in and the narratives that are being presented about it and getting an A and getting a diploma and all that stuff has nothing to do with my actual career, my actual path.
Amanda: Yeah. It teaches more about discipline I think more than anything. You tend to retain the information you’re most passionate about. So you may have been very good at calculus, but if you’re not passionate about it, it’s like that information just disappears. I think your brain is intelligent enough to go, “You’re not using this, I’m not going to allow it to take up space in here.”
Charan: Yeah. I think my brain’s like, “Hey, there’s a lot of things you’re not using. I’m going to shut off a lot of space,” because there’s so many things, I look back and I’m like wow, yup, don’t remember statistics, don’t remember accounting, don’t remember any of that stuff. But I love what you’re saying about discipline and focus because I think that’s a really crucial aspect of business, running a business, and strategy. Being able to manage people. It does require discipline, it does require focus, it does require perseverance, especially when things get tough. So, I am extremely grateful for school for teaching me that. That’s almost like a byproduct. It wasn’t even the actual material that was coming in, the byproduct was perseverance and working hard.
Amanda: It’s preparing you for what you need to do in the work world and in your relationships and in life.
Charan: Absolutely. I love the fact that you said that, and you don’t take this lightly, but you said that you are more passionate about business and interior design, and that you felt that a lot of times artists don’t feel like they deserve to make the money but we owe it to ourselves to say, “Hey, I am worth this, I am worth that.”
Charan: Thankfully for me, I have an agent that takes care of all of that so I don’t have to worry about it. But it’s an interesting thing because sometimes we’re so passionate, we just think like, art just needs to be out there and bless the world. And sure, that would be amazing.
Amanda: You have to advocate for yourself because if you don’t share your art with the world, I truly believe it’s not worth anything. You can do it for your own personal passion, and that might make you feel good, but how wonderful it is to share it with other people and have it affect other people?
Amanda Hamilton Talks About Amanda Hamilton Interior Design
Charan: Absolutely. Absolutely. No, I love that, that’s awesome. So moving on, you’ve been doing your business for some time. How did the clientele grow and how did that all come about?
Amanda: Amanda Hamilton Interior Design, it was launched in 2009. It’s like we’re doing flashback right now, right?
Charan: We are, we really are.
Amanda: Like I said, I had a client who was working on a couple of hospitality projects. I take a lot of pride in the fact that the firm that I was working at, amazing firm. I left a very cushy, safe job that I was doing incredible work. But something was just missing for me and I was just needing a little bit more challenge and so I built my clientele all on my own. I did not take any of my previous employer’s clients. And so, I sort of slowly grew, and there was something really interesting that happened during that time. And I’ve since seen it again and again. Recessions are a great time to build businesses. It’s also a time when a lot of people do unfortunately lose their businesses. But it teaches you a lot about resilience, it teaches you about how to keep an eye on your business. And I would say now at this point, if you consider coronavirus a recession, which I think it really is, it has caused, this is about the fourth recession I’ve been through as a business owner in the last 12 to 13 years.
Amanda: It’s a great time to build a company because people still need your services, but they’re willing I think, they need to spend a little bit less, they may be willing to take a little bit more of a risk on somebody who’s a bit younger so that they can save some money or somebody who’s like newer to the industry. And that’s sort of how it happened. I just started building the clientele slowly and really made a niche for myself and then really started sort of vertically stacking our business. A lot of designers focus on say, just residential or just commercial, or they might just focus, even in those industries, focus on just one or two things.
Amanda: We work in probably 10 to 12 different markets. And so, when the economy ebbs and flows, certain markets ebb and flow. So you might not be doing as many projects there but then something else will grow. Like as an example, in recessions, people tend to not build custom homes, they tend to renovate their home, because they don’t want to sell their home and lose money, but they still have money put away to do a renovation, and they want to refresh their house. So, those are sort of trends that I’ve noticed.
Amanda: We grew to about, we’re about like eight or nine people when things are really great. When the economy flexes a little bit, we’re more like four to six people. So you have to remain pretty agile in terms of what’s happening, especially in the last decade.
Charan: Well, not only that, I love what you’re saying about like understanding your landscape, the economic landscape as well, and realizing, hey, some people just need to renovate their home right now instead of actually building a custom home. Well, we can do that, and we can do this as well. And you kind of gathered the work, you kind of figured out, hey, where the needs are, because that’s the important thing I feel is like, no matter where in this spectrum of life you’re in, people always have needs. And if you’re able to identify those needs and target those needs, you can make a successful business happen.
Charan: I love what you said about building successful businesses in recessions because recessions, it’s interesting because in a weird way, it’s like suddenly you get extremely limited, you become extremely limited. But in that limitation, I find the greatest creativity can happen and flexible. And if you’re flexible and if you’re able to say, okay, these are the parameters, these are what we’re working in, what can we do to make something happen when we’ve got nothing going on.
Charan: I’ve seen that in film, which is my industry, and it’s great that you’re doing the same principle in your industry of saying, okay, we’ve got limitations, we don’t have the budgets that we used to have, we can’t have as many employees we used to have, but we can still make great work happen.
Amanda: And it’s interesting because to some extent, it goes against some traditional business values. The idea being that you do your 10,000 hours or your 100,000 hours and you really focus in. And I think there’s a lot of business owners interior design aside that have made their mark by finding a niche. It’s all about trying to find that niche and being the best in the world at that thing, or the best in your city or the best in your province or your country.
Amanda: But what it does with that happens is all your eggs are in one basket. And then when the economy goes sideways, you see, you look at an example, at the events industry, if you only do in-person events right now, your business is really suffering. But if you had diversified your business and you already had a digital model and you already had a few other sort of avenues for revenue to come into your business, when they economy ebbs and flows, you can do that. So we might make probably less money on our projects because we have this very diverse market that we work in, which means we’re always having to learn and we’re always having to pivot in [inaudible 00:16:56], but it does allow us to be very agile when things don’t go how we want them to go.
Charan: Yeah. I think that’s a beautiful thing. I have a buddy, you’re talking about the event space, my buddy, he sells medical equipment by going to events. That’s how his livelihood is. And he would just tell me “Dude, my income has been annihilated. It’s just annihilated.” And I felt so bad for him but I was like, dang, man, that’s the thing though, if your energy was all about events, and what’s crazy now is because of that, he’s having to redefine himself, which is cool.
Amanda: Which is also great too.
Charan: It’s great, it’s great. It would have been cool like even beforehand, that preparation, having that diverse portfolio beforehand of multiple streams of income and multiple avenues of doing things, having a digital model, having this happen. So it’s like, oh, this happened, great, I’m going to focus on the digital model now.
Amanda: Which is, which is really interesting because our second business is totally an online eCommerce platform. We really didn’t have to pivot during COVID because we already had this online platform, which basically, the economy was primed for it to work well. So, we created that about three years ago. It’s pre-curated, finished-as-materials palette, so it really democratizes design. It bridges the gap between hiring an interior designer, which can be very expensive, but then doing yourself, because often for most people, their home is their single largest investment they make in their entire life. And yet, they have no help when it comes to the renovation.
Amanda: So they’re running all over the city picking out hardwood samples, cabinet samples, countertop samples. You often can’t take those samples home. And just sort of guessing that all this stuff is going to work great together, I always align it to the fact that I wouldn’t have my bank teller do my corporate taxes. They just don’t have the knowledge. And I’m not going to do my corporate taxes either because God knows what would happen if I did that.
Amanda: It’s really there to bridge the gap and help people. And so, that business was already an eCommerce business. We had seen a problem before it happened. And I think that’s where strategy comes into play, really understanding all of the different things that can happen while you’re in business and not just thinking like, oh my gosh, this is so great, things are going so well, because I’ve also been in that position. When you’ve been in it long enough, you’ve sort of seen it all.
Charan: And the problem with success is it sometimes blinds you. You get to this point-
Amanda: You can’t lose sight of your business.
Charan: You can’t lose sight. Yeah, exactly, because you get so blinded, you’re like, oh my gosh, all these great things are happening and you’re riding the wave, which isn’t bad, but it’s like if you don’t have the safety precautions, the other avenues as well just to say, hey, listen, let’s just be safe, let’s be conservative. If anything happens a certain way, and this is gone, we’ve got all these other avenues.
Charan: I feel like those are the type of businesses or those are the type of people that have succeeded when Corona happened, because it has been sad to see several businesses and people that I’ve known go out of business.
Amanda: It’s so sad. As an entrepreneur, I so feel for those people because I know that, I know that they’ve probably put every single penny into their business. It’s really tough to recover from that, I so feel for other entrepreneurs because I’m like, it is a very emotional thing. Your business is your baby.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely. So you’re talking about your business being your baby, how have you been able to manage during the struggles? Every entrepreneur goes through struggles. What are some of your struggles and how have you been able to kind of go through all those things?
Amanda: I suppose the traditional archetype of the artist. I was a very creative, not super organized, wasn’t on time for anything. Artists tend to be a little bit more “fly by the seat of their pants.” We’re open to risk, we don’t tend to need a lot of organization. Right now I’m running three different companies and I’ve really had to teach myself some tools because what I was finding is that my stress levels, our mental health and our stress levels and our well being or self-care, we really have to watch those things. So I was seeing myself spiral a bit and I was seeing that there can be really simple solutions for me to clean up my day, clean up my schedule, become more organized.
Amanda: And when you do that for yourself, it is such a gift that you’re like, it just becomes a ritual now. So now I have daily hacks, or weekly hacks or things that I do, and I’ve learned a lot of them through books or podcasts, and I’ve just sort of melded them all together to create something that really works for me.
Amanda Hamilton Shares Some Life Hacks
Charan: Yeah. And that’s awesome because you’ve personalized it for yourself. Are you open to sharing some of those hacks?
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely.
Charan: Let’s go with daily hacks first.
Amanda: So, one of the things that I’m really big into is creating a block schedule. I really, really found a deep love for Excel spreadsheets in my 20s and 30s. And now I’m pushing 40 and I’m like, I could marry Excel spreadsheets. Be like in an intimate relationship with Excel spreadsheets.
Charan: Is Excel single? I don’t even know if it’s single or not.
Amanda: Somebody let me know. Drop me a line, drop me a DM. So what I do is I create a block schedule. And what I like to do is creating, I create my perfect schedule. And so, what I mean by block schedule is I try to do things in about 90 minute work cycles, which again, I think a lot of people have read about the value of a 90-minute work cycle, focusing your attention on that. And then also making sure the things that you need to be most creative and most focused on, doing that in the morning, you tend to be fresher in the morning.
Amanda: So just to give you an idea of my block schedule, I actually even color code mine, I color code it based on whether it’s work, whether it’s in transit time, whether it’s social, whether it’s personal development. And so, I’ve got my morning block and my meditation block, my getting ready block. My team and I set up our big threes, so we share via Slack our big threes every day so that we know what our team is focused on for the day, where there might be some roadblocks or where somebody can help someone else.
Amanda: If I look at my week, I basically do like admin day is on Monday. Tuesday and Thursday are really devoted to clients as well as Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, I work on Palette Archives. And Friday all day I work on business development. And I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that owners make or it takes them a long time to get there is recognizing you need to take time outside of working in your business to work on your business. That’s the only way that it grows.
Amanda: And so, even in the evenings, I have reading blocks, I have a block for personal development, I have a block for professional development. I know this all sounds like crazy OCD, and I am not like that, but what it does, it creates flexibility within a framework. So you go, in a perfect world, what would my beautiful, most successful fulfilling day look like? The hack is that you put those blocks right into your calendar. And that means if you miss it, you know you miss it. It’s right in your face. I check my calendar a million times a day. Or you have to move it.
Amanda: It’s the same thing with a workout, right? Don’t set a goal or a KPI that I’m going to work out three times this week. Go into the Mindbody app, book your yoga sessions three times a week. And when somebody asks you, can you take a meeting at 5 o’clock on Wednesday? No, I’m going to yoga. And you say no, you have already allotted that time to yoga. Don’t make those things secondary, make them a priority. That sort of block schedule thing is a really big thing for me. But the hack is really making sure the schedule isn’t something tangible that you’re looking at every single day.
Amanda: So if you’re more data, well, have it written out in front of you so that you can reference it. But that’s a big one. And one of the girls in my office said that once I started scheduling things into my calendar like that, I will even schedule and send so and so an email regarding this, even though it’s a five-minute task. She said my completion ratio has gone up dramatically since I started doing that.
Charan: Man, Amanda, I feel like we’re like the same person except you’re in Canada and you’re female and I’m Charan and I’m here in Utah. I love what you said right there. As an artist, I’m more of a present, just like live in this creative space and enjoy energy and yada, yada, yada, whatever. But as a producer, as the one that creates the thing, it’s like, oh, no, I need to schedule, I need the framework, I need to know when things are happening. So I have to go back and forth, back and forth.
Charan: What I’ve discovered for myself is kind of what you’re saying, I’ve got to have the schedule. The thing is is once I have the schedule, I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to think about it.
Amanda: And you can be flexible with it, it’s not like you’re being rigid about it.
Charan: Yeah. And then once I’m in my schedule, and I’m like, okay, this is when I’m doing this, I can have fun and be present and stuff within that framework. My own personal life that came to me about this was I have a friend and she’s a dear, dear friend of mine. I think now more so she’s a little bit more organized, but when I knew her, she was just like present, like just going with the flow and stuff. And we were planning a trip to go to India.
Amanda: Oh no. And you don’t just fly by the seat of your pants in India.
Charan: I know. And here’s the funny thing. She and her boyfriend were going to meet us there. We were all getting to India at separate times because we all had different things happening before we could go there. So she was getting go beforehand. And then I was going to join up with them a couple days later.
Charan: And I remember asking her, hey, do you know where you’re going to stay? Do you have certain things you guys want to do? And she’s like, “One of the things that like my boyfriend and I like to do is we just like to go there and just kind of get the feel and find the place as we go and just kind of go with the flow.” And I’m like, “That is a great theory. That sounds amazing in theory. But I promise you, India is not a place that you want to do that. Have certain things kind of planned out, and then within that plan, you can have a lot of fun and be present and all that stuff.”
Amanda: I feel like I have both in my life because sometimes it’s like yeah, I could be like, oh, I’m going to fly to New York tomorrow. And I would just up and do that. And then other times I have trips booked nine months in advance, every flight, every hotel, that’s all booked. I don’t know what I’m doing during the day but I’ve blocked that time off for myself.
Charan: Yeah, and that’s exactly kind of like, to your point. Anyway, she got there with her boyfriend, and it was just utter hell for a few days because they had no idea where they were going. It was a crazy place in India, just so loud and chaotic, and all that stuff. And when I got there, just because I’d been there enough to know, okay, there’s certain things I have to have planned like at least where I’m going to stay. It was just so interesting because when you were able to plan, when we plan certain things, we were also able to relax a lot more. There were times when we got on the trip and we were able to do stuff that we could actually relax. We’re like, okay, we planned this, we got here, and now we can just kind of chill out and relax and it’s awesome.
Charan: I think that same mentality, I have this thing called relaxed intensity, which is like, I like to be relaxed in the way I do things but I’m intense, not intense as in I’m an intense person but I like to get stuff done. I don’t like to be lazy.
Amanda: It’s intentional. You’re being intentional about your decision. You’re going with the flow, but you’re being very thoughtful about what you’re doing.
Charan: I’m being very mindful, I’m not just kind of wasting time because I believe that time is very precious and you can do all kinds of important things and accomplish a lot of things if you schedule things out. So I love that. I love that hack and I’m so grateful that you shared that, because it’s something that speaks to my soul, and I love to talk about that with people. I love that you said that.
Amanda: I have one more hack that we have to talk [inaudible 00:30:00] because we’re talking about traveling. Again, I picked this up, I was at a conference and the guy that was speaking said he did this. Basically for the year, January 1st, I pre-block off all of my travel. And that doesn’t mean that that doesn’t necessarily change, but I do a quarterly retreat. So at the end of each quarter, I go on a quarterly retreat, which is usually four or five days. I either do personal writing, I do business development. I spend a lot of time reading.
Amanda: But then I map in vacations for myself as well, because I think that’s another thing that people often put off to the side, and it’s very easy to go well, I’ll plan it later, I’ll plan it later. And then all of a sudden, they’re like, two years has gone by and they haven’t been on a vacation. And I’m like, I go somewhere every six to eight weeks. And it doesn’t even have to be expensive, it literally can be in your own state or province and you do a weekend out and do your little retreat somewhere.
Amanda: I think that you can plan the things, and it really gives you something to look forward to. Like and I go to the point where I will book flights and it’s like, again, that time is blocked off. That was very confusing and difficult during COVID because I had a lot of Airbnbs and flights I had to cancel. I think those quarterly retreats, especially for entrepreneurs, is a really beautiful gift to give yourself.
Charan: I love that. I have a group of friends that we have a text thread, and we always have like, hey, when are we getting together next? When are we getting together next? And so sometimes it’s like a week, or not a week, excuse me, like a month or a month and a half, two months. But when we get together, sometimes we, like you said, we block off just a couple days even. And it really does make all the difference. Oh, sweet, we have that cool thing coming up. I love that you’re doing that.
Amanda Hamilton Talks About Perseverance
Charan: Now, I want to kind of shift topics just a little bit. We talked about hacks, we talked about things that you can do, especially when you’re facing struggles. Has there ever been a point in your life during your business ventures where you’re like, I want to give up? It’s just too tough. How do I keep going?
Amanda: So many times. Honestly, so many times. Those are few and far between now. I’ve been now running this company for, we’ve been officially incorporated for about 12 years, and then I ran it for two years prior to that. I’m almost coming up on 15 years of doing this. And so, it’s not that the problems and the challenges go away. Is that you develop a different type of resiliency and sort of way of managing stress. And so I’m just much better at managing it now.
Amanda: But there has been so many times where I have come home and felt like the world was ending and have cried my eyes out. And you know, it was usually wrapped around unhappy clients. Especially when your name is on the door. My name is literally on the door. When somebody is not happy with something, I really had a tough time separating who my business was and who I was as a human being, and understanding that I am not, as much as I am, I am not my business. My mistakes that are made in my business or by my team, yes, I take responsibility for them because I’m the leader of the company, but they don’t define me as a human being, they don’t affect my worth as a human being.
Amanda: That’s a really tough thing. I think a lot of business owners, especially when their name is on the door, struggle with that. And then finances can be really tough in a business. There was a time when I had to cash out my RRSPs, which I guess is probably equivalent to what your 401k is that we call them in the States. I had to cash them out to make payroll. I’ve had to sell property. When you don’t know anything about running a business in the first couple of years, you may not be managing your finances the way that you should be. And so, I learned a lot of hard lessons that way. And luckily, over the last 15 years, have been able to get myself in a position where I have much better control over those things, and can react to the market, understanding how I need to react to the market with the type of money we’re spending, what we’re investing in, the types of clients we’re working with. You name the struggle, I’ve had it.
Charan: It’s so interesting because, and I would love to learn what you did about separating who you are as an individual as a human being versus the business owner, right? Because you’re right, so many times our identity, we kind of place our identity on the thing that we’ve created. And if things kind of fail, it’s like, oh my gosh, our name’s online and our name is now associated with this thing and this thing is tanking. Not maybe because of, no fault of our own, maybe it’s our team, or maybe it’s just the product of the environment that we’re in, like COVID for instance.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s hard not to feel responsible for those things. And even still now, I would feel it. I’ve just learned to get better at letting it go and going, how do I solve the problem? We really focus on being solutions-based. We don’t sit in the problem for very long. Our goal is always to go, let’s come up with three different solutions that we can work through and figure out how we’re going to fix this situation. And also, what did we learn? What did we learn? What did we glean from this, because all of those mistakes are gifts for us, that’s how I look at them now.
Charan: Absolutely. I like the fact that you said like, hey, you know what, let’s come up with three solutions. That’s a very logical step. That’s a very I guess manageable, logical step that you can do, instead of just swimming in this overwhelming feeling of problems, where you’re like, I can’t do, and then like, if you don’t have active actions to do, then I feel like our minds keep letting us be in the spiral of problems. I’m like, oh my gosh, this happened and that happened and yada, yada, yada.
Amanda: I think it’s like being in the construction industry. We’ve run a lot of construction sites. We often will get pushback from some of the tradesmen, like that can’t be done. And then we would present like three different solutions. And they’d be like, hmm, interesting, didn’t think about that. I think I even gained confidence in knowing that like, there’s basically nothing that can’t be solved. For the most part in our world, we can figure out something to make the client happy or to continue with the decision we were supposed to be doing. There’s always things in construction that are unknown, like construction sites are a moving target at the best of times.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely. This is so helpful. And it’s so great because your industry might be very different than my industry, and a lot of other people’s industries. But the way you’re going about solving the problems is so universal. And way to go about facing struggles is very universal. So I really thank you for your advice.
Amanda Hamilton Talks About Finding Joy
Charan: Shifting topics again, what do you do right now to have joy?
Amanda: It reminds me of, if it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it out. For me, I really learned that I was an introverted extrovert, if that makes sense.
Charan: It totally does.
Amanda: I’m very good at being extroverted. I do public speaking. I think in general people would consider me to be an extrovert but it actually takes a lot of energy for me. So the things that bring me joy honestly is I spend a lot of time reading. It’s really relaxing for me, it really gets my mind going. I love to write so I spend time doing that. I love music. So I collect vinyl and that’s kind of fun to do that. And honestly social time, so I do better in smaller one-on-one groups where I can have really connected conversation. That really feeds me.
Amanda: I was chatting about this with a girlfriend last night, I have so little tolerance for small talk that it’s like to a fault. If somebody talks about the weather, I’m like, I can’t do this anymore.
Charan: I totally get that too because I’m the same way. I love being social and talking to people and engaging with people. I’m an actor, I have to go and talk to people, auditions, yada, yada, yada. But at the same time, I really, really cherish genuine relationships. I don’t have like tons and tons of those. So, the ones that I have, I really cherish them, and I love spending time with them. I love going on walks or hikes with friends.
Amanda: Being out in nature is so key.
Charan: Absolutely. I think there’s just something about that human connection, that real genuine connection or that connection to nature, where you feel you can just kind of, not that you have a facade because your public persona is still you, but it does require energy. And when you can go to nature and things like that, it’s almost like I don’t have to have a persona right now. I don’t have to put on-
Amanda: 100%. That’s why those retreats are so beautiful. You go somewhere remote, I generally like it when there’s no Wi-Fi or just minimal. You just get to get in touch with a side of yourself that doesn’t have to be on all the time. I think in your world, you got to be on a lot, you’re making impressions. In my world, same thing. People are looking to you to be stylish and to have opinions about design and style and aesthetic. And sometimes it’s just nice to not be on.
Charan: Yes. I love that. I also am a big reader. I feel like I’m an introverted extrovert as well because I find that I derive my energy by myself. When I’m at home and relax, I can rejuvenate and everything. Then I can go back and do social things and stuff. But when my battery runs out, it’s like, I got to check out. I got to check out and go back home or go to my quiet place and just relax and close my eyes or do my meditations and whatever I need to do to kind of recharge.
Amanda: Yeah, exactly. I think getting to know yourself to that point where you understand what your body needs and what your brain needs, it took me a long time to get there. And even still, sometimes, I mean, I looked at my schedule this week and next week, and I’m like, what are you doing? You know that is too much. You need to find a pocket a time, even just one night where you just have some space to yourself.
Charan: I love that. I love that. And it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff we have going on.
Amanda: The FOMO is real.
Charan: The FOMO is real. If you can’t just chill for a little while and just relax and do nothing, then you are going to get exhausted.
Amanda: That’s why we call it JOMO, the joy of missing out.
Charan: I like that.
Amanda: So if you ask me what brings me joy, JOMO.
Amanda: Learning how to have the joy of missing out. Stay off Instagram, don’t look at what’s going on, ignore it all. Next day, just like, I had a lovely evening.
Charan: I’m almost 40, I’m 39, and I remember when I was in high school and everything, we didn’t have cell phones or anything like that. And yet every Friday night, I would have major FOMO if I wasn’t doing something because I was almost like, my identity was based on where are my friends, what are they doing or why am I not with them?
Amanda: It’s a Friday because you’re like, I’m supposed to be doing something on Friday because cool people do things on Friday.
Charan: Cool people do things on Friday. I’m hoping I’m a cool person, I don’t know. Now, I love what you just said about JOMO, the joy of missing out. I think that’s great because you can kind of let go, you can kind of let go of expectations. You can kind of let go of boating trips or whatever your friends are doing and stuff and you can just kind of just be and be centered and realize that within yourself, you are completely enough and you are completely whole and loved. But you have to internally go there and realize that for yourself.
Amanda: I think that was a really beautiful lesson that this whole period of COVID has at least taught me, and the lesson I’m taking away is how much stress the sense of obligation caused for me to go to social events. And so, you always go, what if there’s a potential client? What if there’s a really great connection there? What if my friends are there and I’m the only one that’s not there and they have this really great time. I realized how much I don’t miss those events. And so, I’m hoping, as the world returns back to normal, to be able to try to maintain some of that sense of JOMO of being like, it’s okay. I don’t need to go to every event. The universe is providing. I’m not going to miss out on like that one thing that I was supposed to get that was going to change my life. We can’t go through life thinking that way or we’re going to burn out.
Charan: I think the problem is a lot of times we have like this hole, this emptiness kind of in our heart. And we think that the outside role or a situation or something is going to take care of that. And it might may be for a fleeting moment, but if you can’t go internally and work on that by yourself, then nothing on the outside will really, really help fulfill that. It might give you a fleeting thing but if you’re seeking for that, then it’s like, oh, I need this, that’s my identity, or I need that, that’s my identity, or I need my business to succeed, that’s my identity, or I need to make a lot more money, that’s my identity or whatever, right?
Amanda: Yeah. It’s like where are you in all that? Where are you actually?
Charan: Yeah, exactly.
Amanda: And you are none of those things. You are not your business, you are not your social circle, you are not your friends.
Charan: So who are you, Amanda? Who are you? If you’re not any of those things, who are you?
Amanda: I’m a badass entrepreneur.
Charan: Oh yeah. I love that. I love that. The thing is, is you love to create and you love to put forth your work out there. I think that’s amazing. Being able to create and think, my identity is not completely attached to my outcomes is a beautiful place to be because then you [crosstalk 00:44:39]
Amanda: … so much joy, like sharing the work brings joy to me, but also recognize that it brings joy to other people. Ask our clients who have spent time building a custom house for their family or doing a renovation and going through that stressful process, having a home they feel amazing in afterwards brings them joy and in turn that brings our team joy.
Charan: Yeah. I love that. I love that because you literally are bettering the world. You’re creating something that’s very exciting for you. And then when someone else can see it and appreciate it and be super happy about it, it just kind of fills you up. And it’s like, I want to keep going.
Amanda Hamilton’s Advice to Her Younger Self
Charan: So, last question, last question. What would you tell younger self? The self that didn’t know anything about business, that was thinking, okay, maybe I wanted to do something with interior design, what would you tell that person?
Amanda: From a personal standpoint, an emotional health standpoint, I would probably teach younger Amanda or a younger entrepreneur to be kind to themselves. I think we generally can be very, very hard on ourselves. I think it’s important to stop and take a moment to appreciate those things. I’m no good at it, I’m still learning how to do it. I wish it’s something I was better at.
Amanda: From a business standpoint, I always have this, it sounds very cliché, but it’s a mantra, it’s one of two mantras that I use all the time, is “This too shall pass.” And I don’t know why that sticks with me but it’s like, you talked about those moments where it’s like, you just felt like you wanted to quit. You know what, I got a good sleep, I woke up and I meditated and I went for a workout. And guess what, the next day, I’m fine. I’m excited to start again. And so it’s like, anytime there’s stressful moments in my life, it’s like sort of, “This too shall pass.” I’ve got this kind of mantra that I use and that I share a lot with people is, “Will this matter in five seconds, five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks?”
Amanda: And you generally find by the time you get to five days or even five hours, you’re like, this thing that is hurting me right now is not going to matter. So those are kind of two mantras that I repeat to myself. One of them is very cliché and the other one is one that I sort of made up and has been really useful for me over the years.
Charan: Yeah, I love that. I love just being able to recognize things for what they are because I think a lot of times the problems that we have are really just the thoughts in our head.
Amanda: We are our own limiting beliefs, we are our own worst enemy. 100%.
Charan: And so, even when I get overwhelmed, I’m like, okay, I really think that the next day, everything is going to be just fine.
Amanda: And it generally is.
Charan: And it really is. And then you’re like, oh, man, why did I allow myself to suffer for so much time? So that’s great. Well, I really sincerely appreciate chatting with you. This has been so fun, to not just to get to know you, but to understand the way you think and the way you focus and do things, I totally resonate with it. I’m really appreciative of all the stuff you’ve done, and I can’t wait to have interior design done on my house even though I’m in Utah.
Amanda: You know who to hire now.
Charan: I know, I know. Exactly. Exactly. Do you ever come to out of States, I mean, out of Canada, I mean, to the States?
Amanda: Oh yeah. I’ve traveled the States extensively. I have not been to Utah yet. I’ve been to all of the major cities. Love the US. There’s something special about some of the cities there that you just don’t get in Canada. Of course, I love Canada, I’ve done lots of traveling over Europe too. I think that it’s really interesting to see how other people live and function. It’s like sitting down and people watching is, it’s fun.
Charan: I’ll tell you what, I love Canada. I’ve loved going and traveling up there whenever I can. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Calgary, but I do love Canada. And I love Canadians just in general.
Amanda: Yeah, you do.
Charan: I seriously do. I seriously do. And I’m not being overly biased or anything like that. Besides you, I’ve had two or three other people I’ve interviewed that are Canadians. And they’re just the best people. You guys just know how to be good people, I’ll tell you that for sure.
Amanda: Well, thank you. It’s an interesting time right now. So of course, it’s really lovely to hear that. I feel pretty lucky to be living in Canada right now given everything that’s going down.
Charan: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think you guys are great. I’m so grateful that we’ve had the chance to chat today.
Amanda: For sure.
Charan: Any last words?
Amanda: Meditate. Meditate, it’s so good for you. I went this morning for an hour and I just, it was so good. There you go, last words, meditate.
Charan: Meditate. I love it. Well, thanks, Amanda. You’re awesome, and I’m really excited-
Amanda: Thank you so much. This is really lovely.
Charan: Absolutely. Hey, thanks again.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand Story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.