At Work with Colleen Waguespack

Colleen Waguespack Influential Women in Business
(Photography by Collin Richie) Colleen Waguespack

Between managing three kids, a home decor line, an interior design firm and her work with the Emerge Center, Colleen Waguespack has a lot on her plate. Working efficiently is key to keeping the New Orleans native on track for getting done everything she needs to in the workday before zipping to the carpool line at 3 p.m. She manages it all by staying organized, delegating tasks to staff and through the help of a few technological conveniences. Here, the entrepreneur and one of Business Report’s 2019 Influential Women in Business shares with The Network some of her tips and tricks to tackle the day.

Current computer: Macbook Pro

Current mobile device: iPhone 10

One word that sums up how you work: Efficient

How did you get to where you are today?

I graduated from interior design at LSU in 1997. From there, I worked for interior design firm doing corporate interiors in D.C. We lived in D.C. for 10 years. In 2007, I moved back to Baton Rouge for my husband’s job. At that point with three kids, I moved into doing residential interiors with a firm in New Orleans. In 2015, while still working, I started Fig & Dove. As Fig & Dove grew, I my started my own interior design practice operating out of the same office with the same staff. 

Take us through an average workday.

I get up at 5 a.m., which is awesome, because I’m the only one up. I get cold brew coffee—a must for me every day—and sit at my laptop at the kitchen table to go through all my emails from the day before. That gets mentally organized for the day. At 6 a.m., my husband and kids wake up and we get into school mode. Everyone peels out at 7:20 a.m. and I’m typically in the office by 8 a.m. We work at a fast, breakneck pace from 8 a.m to 3 p.m. I think everyone is mentally done at 3 p.m. and I think this is why I have such high quality employees. I carve out time on Sunday to look at my schedule, my husband’s schedule, the kids’ schedules, plan exercise and figure out dinner for the week. Truly on Sundays, I have to spend a good amount of time organizing all that. 

What are some apps, tools or tricks
you can’t live without?

The iPhone to me has become so sophisticated. I can merge calls and keep separate calendars for business and family that employees can access so we don’t end up double booking things. The Life 360 app is great. I open it up and know exactly where everyone in the family is. Podcasts have also been a game changer. You can plug into these interviews with top business people. The power of hearing someone talk about their own business in their own voice completely changes how you’re learning something. 

Describe your workspace.

We’re at the LSU Innovation Center set up with three separate offices in a hallway, all in a row. It allows us to compartmentalize Fig & Dove and Colleen Waguespack Interiors. The last office has our desks and workspace, which is kept clean. I need a very clean blank space to work in; otherwise, I get too distracted too easily.

Best advice you’ve ever heard?

‘You can have it all in life, but not at the same time.’ 

What’s one management trend
you can’t stand? 

Micromanagers. Personally, I feel if you hire competent people, you should be confident they can go out and execute. 

How do you keep track of what you need to do?

I have a never-ending Word document that lists kids’ schedules for the week, every project I’m working on for Fig & Dove. After every meeting with a client, I edit the Word doc. And every Monday, we make an assessment to see what we can scratch off and what we need to add that week.

How do you recharge?

Either walking the LSU lakes with a friend or with my husband in the evenings. 

Top book recommendations?

My top recommendation is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. When you hit a bump, it’s not over forever. Grit, passion and persistence—I think that’s a great combination. Those three things will bring you a lot further than grades on a test. I’m currently reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday and The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.

Favorite productivity hack?

I always schedule long phone calls, whether for interviews with the media or someone asking for business advice, before the work day. I will sit in the parking lot on the phone or when driving to the carpool line. I’ve also gotten really good at saying no. I quickly access every situation and if I can’t bring value to something, it’s a quick no.

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