Arianna is a Consultant & Furniture Refinisher
Arianna Campbell, a consultant at Boomer Consulting, talks about her furniture refinishing hobby, how her family can be her toughest critics, and how it makes her better at her job as a consultant!
• Getting into furniture refinishing
• How furniture refinishing translates to her consulting work
• Why she was initially reluctant to sharing her hobby
• Why it is both on the organization and the individual to promote an open workplace culture
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Pictures of Arianna’s furniture
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Welcome to Episode 367 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
If you like the podcast, you can go even deeper into my research. The book’s available on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, Bookshop, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading the book and writing such great reviews on Amazon, and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love hearing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Arianna Campbell. She’s a shareholder and consultant with Boomer Consulting, and now she’s with me here today. Arianna, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Arianna: Thank you so much, John, for inviting me to participate. I’m excited to be here.
John: Of course. We’ve known each other for years, and I’m just excited to talk refinishing furniture, this new, super new talent. This is cool stuff that you have on Instagram and everything. I’m just excited. First we have rapid-fire questions, things I probably should’ve asked you the first time we hung out at the BTC Summit, but, hey, this is all good. Here’s an easy one, favorite color.
Arianna: Favorite color is going to be, let’s do green. You heard the decisiveness, green.
John: Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?
Arianna: Least favorite color, maybe orange.
John: Okay, yeah. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Arianna: Favorite adult beverage is water because you have to make sure you are staying hydrated.
John: There we go, especially as an adult.
Arianna: Aside from water, a glass of red wine, most definitely a great thing too.
John: Okay. All right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Arianna: Actor or actress. I don’t have one that comes to mind off the top of my head. I’ve been binge-watching more of the nature shows like the Planet Earth and things like that because the kids love those. Those are the first things that come to mind are cheetahs and lions and elephants.
John: Right. They’re on the screen.
Arianna: That’s the world I’m in right now.
John: They’re on the screen. Yeah, as a parent, it is hard to know who even is an actor or actress anymore. Yeah, exactly. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Arianna: Early Bird all day. I would rather get up at 3 am to work on a project than try to push at 10 or 11 at night. Hands down. Hands down.
John: Wow. Okay. Would you say more diamonds or pearls?
Arianna: Probably diamonds. I love both, but I’d probably say diamonds.
John: All right. Or maybe alternating. Why not, if that’s the thing. I’m not sure if that’s…
Arianna: I think it is. I think it is. It’s our world, and it can be both.
John: Exactly. Puzzles, Sudoku or crossword.
John: Neither. Okay.
Arianna: No. Neither one. I’ll come away from those just feeling completely defeated.
John: Right? You just flip to the back where it has the answers.
John: Yeah, I didn’t even know that was a word. Okay. Star Wars or Star Trek.
Arianna: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too.
Arianna: Hands down.
John: Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: PC. Yeah, me too. Oh, this is a fun one. How about your mouse, right click or left click?
Arianna: You can only right click.
John: Well, click or right click, I guess, is the…
Arianna: Click or right click? Click.
John: Click. Making decisions, boom, there it is.
Johhn: All right. Because right click is the one that opens up all the folders and the who knows what happens.
Arianna: Yeah, no.
John: Exactly. How about, this is a fun one, summer, winter, spring or fall?
John: Fall. Yeah, I love fall too.
Arianna: Yeah, absolutely. I live in Charleston, South Carolina, originally from Wisconsin, so winter is out. Live in Charleston. While it’s a lovely area, summer is hot. Fall is perfect, in my opinion.
John: Yeah, there you go. This is a fun one, balance sheet or income statement.
Arianna: Income statement.
John: Income statement. Doesn’t matter. Whatever. Just something. Oceans or mountains.
Arianna: Definitely oceans.
Arianna: I’m a beach-chaser. Interestingly enough though, I can’t swim, but I am a beach-chaser. Our favorite place to travel for my husband and is to the beach.
John: There you go. Nice. Okay. How about a favorite sports team?
Arianna: Favorite sports team, well, I have to go with the Badgers since I am a Wisconsin Badger. You got to love them. In our house, we’re 49’er fans and Tar Heel fans.
John: Okay, a little bit of everything.
Arianna: It’s how we roll. We’re all over the place.
John: That works. That works. How about a favorite number?
Arianna: A favorite number. One.
John: Solid. Is there a reason?
Arianna: Because you just asked me and I had to come up with one.
John: Okay. There we go. It’s the best. It’s number one. It’s the top. Two more. Kindle, real book or audio version.
Arianna: Kindle, definitely, because then I can read at night, whether the lights are on or not. I’m definitely a reader more than an audio listener, so I love my Kindle.
John: Okay, all right, like around 7:30 or 8 pm, when you say at night. No, I’m just kidding.
Arianna: Bedtime right there.
Arianna: Got to get up at 3 am to finish that project.
John: Exactly. I was like, woo. All right, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Arianna: Favorite thing I have or own. The first thing that came to mind for the favorite thing to have, what’s in my life, is my family. I don’t know that owning the things as really that important. It’s about the people and the memories and things like that. So, favorite thing that I have is my family.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool. I know that it’s become family projects with the furniture refinishing. How did that get started?
Arianna: It’s crazy. It was one of the blessings of 2020. I know that 2020 definitely had its challenges, and it’s just unexpected surprises. One of the blessings that came out of it is that I was home more than I’ve been in the past five years. I typically spend a lot of time on the road within my job. Obviously, having the pandemic, was grounded starting back in February, so a lot of time at home.
My husband and I — I think everyone was in a spring cleaning, sprucing things up around the house kind of fix. We wanted to have some different furniture, and we looked at what was out there. Nothing was really fitting our needs. We saw an antique piece. It was really pretty, but it needed some work. It needed some paint. We were like, could we do this? Fortunately, I was home long enough for us to be able to find out. That is how our furniture refinishing started and then it’s blossomed since then.
John: Was it watching YouTube videos, or did you guys already have a knack for being crafty or woodworking or any sort of background in any of that?
Arianna: I didn’t think that I really had a knack in anything related to this. I hadn’t done anything like that. My husband is a little bit more handy when it comes to woodworking and things like that, but when it came to the actual painting of it, it was doing research. It’s crazy. I never knew that I’d have my favorite primer or my favorite sandpaper grit or my favorite wood filler.
John: These are questions I should have asked in the beginning, favorite sandpaper grit.
Arianna: I could have told you that. 320 because I can really get down to the fine detail.
John: Yeah, that’s when you’re making it shine. That’s where that’s at.
John: Of course for regular paper, that’s so fine. That’s so cool though. Yeah. It’s like, what? I have a favorite, all these things.
Arianna: I didn’t even know. I’d have to say that while I’ve been excited about our furniture refinishing skills, I didn’t know that I was also going to have to develop furniture moving skills. Because when you get the furniture, even if someone helps you load it into the truck, when you get home, it has to get out of the truck and then it has to move around to where it needs to be. So, now, I’m lifting weights, not just for my health and exercise. It’s to make sure that I can move this furniture.
John: Which is something that you didn’t think about. That is not in the brochure. They did not tell you that at the beginning. That’s for sure.
Arianna: It wasn’t at all. So, now, there’s this new motivation. I’ve got to make sure I’m getting my workouts in so that I can do my part.
John: Yeah, because one of the more recent pieces I saw was a full-on dresser. It was huge, old school dresser. That thing’s big and not easy to maneuver. That’s impressive. That’s relationship-building, I think, is what they call it.
Arianna: It totally is, me and my husband, the relationship-building.
John: Right? That’s awesome. Are there any more favorite pieces that you’ve done?
Arianna: I have to say that I really enjoy the custom pieces that we’ve had the opportunity to do. It started off as something that we just did because we enjoyed it, and it allowed us to customize what we wanted furniture in certain spaces to look like and to have that old sturdy furniture.
We did a custom piece for a set for a friend. It was her childhood set that she had given to her daughter. Her daughter was now 18, wanted something with a different look, more modern, more sophisticated. That was the gray one that you mentioned. It was really dark gray with gold accents. I got to do some hand painting on that one. To be able to do that for a friend and to have her entrust us with refinishing her childhood furniture was pretty awesome.
John: That’s also cool that it went from something that you guys were just doing for yourselves, to friends and other people saying, “Hey, can you do that for me,” sort of a thing. That means that it’s legit. If other people are asking you, then it must look good, type of a thing, which doesn’t really, totally matter because you were doing it for yourselves in the beginning. It’s just cool that there’s some validation from others like that. Then you can see them light up in what you’ve done, and they can celebrate it with you.
Arianna: Exactly, and they’re lasting pieces. When you’re getting furniture redone, it’s something that you’re looking to keep for a good while, especially when it’s those heavy, sturdy pieces. That’s exciting too, to know that you’re doing something for someone that’s going to be a piece in their home that is going to be part of their everyday life, especially when it became one of those unexpected things.
You mentioned earlier, my husband and I, being able to work on that together. It’s our weekend thing that we work on. The kids come out and help us with — well, they actually more supervise and ask, “Are you doing that? Are you sure that’s the way you’re supposed to do it? I don’t think that looks right.” I’m like, it’s just primer. It’s just primer. We’ll get there.
John: Right? Patience, children, patience. That’s amazing. Yeah, I can only imagine, when you have the critic over your shoulder and then you have three of them really.
Arianna: Yes. It’s a high quality process. They don’t let anything get by them.
John: That’s awesome. Does any of this translate over to work at all, maybe from a mindset perspective? Obviously, you’re not going into the office and painting all the furniture. It’s like, excuse me, Jim, I’d like to paint your desk.
Arianna: If you don’t mind, so just step out of the way. First, I’m going to lift it for you. First, I’m going to lift it.
John: Sandra, that bookshelf, got to go.
Arianna: I can help you with that.
John: My kids told me about it. Does any of this translate over?
Arianna: Interestingly enough, it does. I spend the majority of my time helping firms with their processes and really helping them to find ways to make their processes more effective so that they can find the capacity to focus on what matters. Because if we are spending time on wasteful activities, then we’re not able to really give our clients our best as experts and as professionals.
I’m Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, huge into process. Interesting part is that my husband works in manufacturing and also is a process expert. He’s a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. A majority of his job is all around process. You have the two process people coming together, creating a completely new process of refinishing furniture.
I will admit that we are both process geeks, but it’s been interesting, working together to create, for us, what’s been a process from scratch, trying to figure out what in there is adding value, what is duplication of work, what’s going to be valuable when we’re actually giving it to someone. Are they going to notice this part versus this part? Really trying to see value from the end client’s point of view.
Then we end up, inadvertently having, conversations about work. We don’t spend much time, when working on projects, talking about work, but it does really make you trigger things about, thinking about what matters. What’s important to the client? How can we be more focused on that? How can we build in more quality? How can we really just make sure that we’re also doing it in an effective way? There are definitely direct correlations that I was not expecting, and I wasn’t expecting to get to partner with my husband on so many different, what, essentially, in a lot of ways, are process projects.
John: Right? That’s just cool to hear because you’re exercising that muscle, outside of work, and just getting stronger, looking at things differently, and looking at something totally different because there are processes to everything that we do. That’s cool to hear that you were doing it for the love of it but, accidentally, because of my book, you were like, oh crap, I’m learning something here. This is work-related.
Arianna: It does tie together, John, and that’s what I love about just your message with What’s You’re “And”? is that we’re not just who we are at work, who we are as people and the things that we enjoy. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence. Well, I don’t know that I would have picked furniture refinishing, but given the space that 2020 gave us, I guess it ultimately, being reflective, doesn’t surprise me that process is really something that’s driving me in my hobby, when it’s also something that drives and inspires me at work, and connecting those dots.
One of my biggest things to focus on is continuous improvement. That’s what I talk with clients about so much is we’re not striving for perfection. We want to make sure that we’re making progress, that we’re getting better every time that we do this. That’s how we approach our furniture refinishing as well. We’re way more effective than what we were on that first project that we did. We look back at that, and we’re like, I can’t believe we did it that way. That’s also how I look at things at work often.
It is exciting to see the continuity between the two, and that’s why it’s important. Because then you can connect with people authentically, through hobbies. I’m not just talking to you about some nerdy process stuff at work. I can talk to you about process when it’s related to furniture refinishing, and you get that. It’s a lot more relatable.
John: I love that so much, and you don’t get better unless you do it. You weren’t doing it to be on HGTV or some Old World something. You were doing it just for fun, and something that we wanted. We want to make it a different color, and we want a piece that’s going to last. Over time, you get better at it and then people start to ask. I love how the social media, the Instagram stories and everything, it’s so fun to follow along on that. Was there ever a time where you’re like, hey, maybe we shouldn’t put this out there? Or were you always just like, this is who I am, why not?
Arianna: Well, I did have hesitation in the beginning because I felt like, well, I really like it, but what if it’s just my own personal style or taste. Not so much from not putting that part of myself out there, but I do think that you wonder if people will be as excited about it as you are. You want to put it out there, whether you’re excited about it or not, but it was more of the curiosity of, is it just something that I’m really fired up about, and it’s like, nah. I received really positive reactions, again, which lead us down the custom path and to have it be something that we love doing, so it ended up being a benefit.
That’s why people should share their hobbies because it’s created a lot of additional conversation also internally, at work. It gives something else to talk about with my teammates, and then they start talking about their hobbies. So, just encouraging people not to be afraid to share the hobbies that they do have. Again, it’s all about connecting as humanity, and we need that now more than ever.
John: Yeah. No, totally, I totally agree with that. It’s cool to hear that there was the positive affirmation from that because I think it’s 99.9% in our head of don’t share because people are going to judge. Why did you paint that gray? It’s like, I have three kids to tell me that. I don’t need the whole social media world to also tell me that.
Arianna: I have my biggest critics at home. They’re 10, 10 and six. They’re very well-experienced.
John: Right? Why do I need to go out for this? I’ve got it right here. It’s cool to the right people. Maybe there are people that scroll past and are like, well, whatever, but then there are people that do. They’re like, wow, that’s awesome. Really cool. I messaged you several times. I was like, what? This is so awesome, and just random things. I think it’s just cool to see those different dimensions of who people are.
Arianna: I agree.
John: Then when those conversations happen at work, those relationships just get stronger and deeper and richer than before.
Arianna: I agree with that completely. It gets other people talking about it too. It gives me an opportunity to say, “This is my “and”. There’s also a great book about that called What’s Your “And”?
John: Thank you so much. You’re too nice. You’re too nice. How much is it on an organization to create that space for people to be able to share their “and” versus how much is it on the individual to just be, “Hey, this is what I did over the weekend. I refinished a dresser or whatever. What do you like to do?” Is it more of a bottom up or top down, or does it matter? If you have a grumpy pants at the top, can you still share, type of thing?
Arianna: I think it has to go both ways. Especially now with the increase in remote working, it’s more important than ever before to have it bubbling up from the top and the bottom. I am a firm believer in the importance of the tone at the top, really opening up and sharing and creating that culture of, again, looking for ways that we can be connected through who we are as people, not just who we are at work, is important. Even if you have that strong tone set at the top, you still have to have people who are willing to share. I do think that it goes both ways, but I’m a strong believer in the importance of establishing that culture from the top.
John: Yeah, it does definitely make it easier. That’s for sure. It’s not impossible, but it makes it a lot easier. Even then, I found that the tone, even if you’re just a manager level person with your little team, you can set that tone.
John: Even if the tone at the very, very top is different, you can set that tone even within your small group.
Arianna: That’s a great point about defining what does the top mean, as far as from a leadership perspective, and remembering that there are opportunities at multiple levels throughout the organization to make that difference. I will still tell people, even if you’re the only one in your firm who’s talking about it, I think it adds to your authenticity, to your relatability, to be able to connect with people and build relationships, which is even more of an emphasis within the profession than it’s ever been before. As you’re focusing more on being more advisory and consultative, being authentic and being your true self is important, so show up that way at every opportunity you get.
John: Right. No, I love it. I love it so much. Those are perfect words of advice to everyone, and encouragement, as we wrap this up. It’s only fair that I turn the tables since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the very beginning. This is now the Arianna Campbell podcast, first episode. Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
Arianna: So glad to have you here, John. I need to know, dogs or cats.
John: Oh, dogs, hands down.
Arianna: Okay, peanut butter or jelly.
John: Oh, wow, that’s a hard one. Yowzers, that’s a tough one. I’ll go crunchy peanut butter.
Arianna: Okay, Coke or Pepsi.
John: I’m not a soda guy. I’m really not. I guess if I had to choose one of those two, yeah, probably Pepsi. Coke, for some reason, when I was a kid, my mom used to stir it up when I was nauseous, and would stir it up. So, I equate it —
Arianna: Oh, for upset stomachs.
Arianna: Yeah, I can feel that. Okay, one more is, the glass half full or half empty.
John: Oh, man, that’s hard too. I’m going to probably say half empty. Just the comedian in me is just always the pessimist. Just, everything’s wrong and just the lens. Just the comedian in me is that way, unfortunately.
Arianna: I appreciate that answer. It’s not unfortunate, but maybe we can make your glass refillable. How about that?
John: Well, it’s unfortunate when I’m looking at my own glass because then it’s super hard. I don’t even have to have kids to have the critics. I’ve got them in my head. Brutal.
Arianna: We all do to a certain extent. That’s why you need the glass to be refillable.
John: Exactly. There we go. See, now I’m walking away enriched. Thank you so much, Arianna, for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? This was super, super cool.
Arianna: Yes, I agree. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s always great when I have a chance to spend time connecting with you and sharing, and looking forward to the next time we’re able to do so.
John: Yeah, thanks so much, Arianna. Everybody listening, if you like to see some pictures of Arianna outside of work or some of the pieces that she’s refinished with her family, or maybe connect with her on social media so you can follow her along on some of the stages, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to get the book.
Thanks again for everyone for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.