What is your reaction when you hear the word “homework”? Do you cringe? Get worried? Or maybe you think homework is the best way to reinforce a new lesson (are you a teacher…?). I certainly have my opinions about homework for kindergarten and first grade – really? Can’t our 5 and 6 years olds come home and play after school? But I digress. This post is not about homework for school children. It’s about homework for adults. At Leslie Saul & Associates, we give our new clients homework assignments before our first meeting. Homework is another word for preparation. The more prepared our clients are for their first meeting, the more we can accomplish in the meeting. For our clients who are homeowners, typical homework assignments include:

  • Look through design magazines/books/catalogues and mark everything you like and even what you don’t like. Use Post-its: “I like this style”, “I like this color”, “and I don’t like how this looks with that”, etc.
  • Go to Houzz.com and Pinterest.com and look for more inspiration or even start your own Pinterest boards
  • Feel free to show any proposed plans, site plans, fabric or paint swatches if you happen to have them

What do you call it when you check out a company’s website and LinkedIn profiles before you meet with that company? Isn’t that called “doing your homework”? When I first started teaching in the 1980’s, I created a course called, What is Design? Our goal was to expose 1 st year students to the concept that Design is Everywhere (yes, we were ahead of curve, Design Museum). I followed this theory of homework as preparation, and we asked the students to do a project each week before the subject expert spoke to them. We had designers of all types speak to the students: a landscape architect, an architect, an interior designer, a graphic designer, a fashion designer, and even a scientist. By doing the homework in advance of the speaker, students learned enough about the subject to be able to ask good questions of the experts, made them more appreciative of the experts and what they do, and more importantly, they learned to be resourceful (this was way before Google!). Curiosity, once sparked, leads to real learning. It seems curious to me that homework can either be mindless repetition or a creative way to investigate the unknown.

I am working on a book about the characteristics of the best clients, because we think that the best project results come from the best clients. Would you do a little homework right now and take our short survey here? We will compare the results of this survey with the same one done 10 years ago. You will really help us prepare for a useful book for clients in all industries. No grades for doing the homework, but we will share results with folks who participate. Thank you!​

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