In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to continue to highlight entrepreneurs who are making changes in their communities as well as the small business world.
This week I selected to interview Tiffany Cook, celebrity/NFL wedding & event planner. She transforms ordinary ideas into fabulous multi-dimensional events.
Tiffany Cook is the CEO, owner and driving creative force behind Tiffany Cook Events, a full service planning, design, and production company specializing in the luxury wedding & event market. She is the planner of choice for NFL professional athletes’ and celebrities, with many of her brides appearing on reality shows such as Hard Knocks, Jack of All Tastes, and a popular Housewife franchise. Tiffany’s name and brand have become synonymous with artistic vision, elegant style, and luxury lifestyle. Tiffany sets the platinum standard for weddings and events.
Q: What/who inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A: My father who raised me was an entrepreneur. I was exposed to his business from a young age. Seeing him put together deals and watching them come to fruition was intriguing. I realized at a young age that with my own business anything was possible. There were no salary caps or any ceilings to break through. I could call my own shots. I liked being in control of my own destiny. My nothing is impossible approach I often referred to as “Planet Tiffany” as I am the master of my universe.
Q: What drove you to focus on the wedding industry?
A: My first business was based in New York in the music and celebrity event arena doing production for large scale events and concerts in Europe and Asia while my children were young enough to travel the world with me. When they became school age they could no longer globe trot with me. I gave up my very successful business to take a few years off to be a Mommy after relocating to Florida. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I was chatting with a friend over coffee about what my next business would be that would allow me not to travel as much so I could be home and raise my children while using my production design and event background. I wanted to create the income I was accustom to and continue to do something that I love. My friend suggested wedding planning which I giggled at and didn’t even consider at the time as a viable option. My friend wouldn’t let it rest thank goodness reminding me that weddings were event productions. Her persistence prompted some research on part that peaked my interest. Days later I created my company and the rest is history, 17 years of amazing history!
Q: What is your purpose?
A: To be a creative force in my industry, inspire people with my work, and hopefully along the way enrich some peoples lives by sharing the life and business lessons I have learned.
Q: Fall or Summer?
A: Fall hands down.
Q:What are your most influential habits and why?
A: Routine. For work I never deviate from what works for me. In my business a working open items list is essential. I start the morning and end my evening the same way everyday. I make my daily To Do list first thing in the morning on my old school yellow legal pad and cross things out as they are completed. At close of business items that were not completed are added to the following days list. I also email myself to do’s every evening before I go to bed all the abstract to do’s floating through my brain so they can be added to the list for the following day and to clear my mind so I can sleep. This may seem extremely simple however there are so many moving parts to our wedding productions I have found that this is the best method to ensure everything is completed for our clients. Additionally, I keep the same lists for each of our clients to ensure a checks and balance system.
Q:How do you set goals and manage time?
A: As far as goals, I have a 1 year, 5 and 10 year plan as to what I want to accomplish. I write them down and determine the best plan of action to achieve them and yep I make a list. This list I keep on my phone’s note pad. My iPhone note pad is miles long with ideas, goals, etc. On the short term, I determine the steps needed to achieve these goals; write them down and work to do one to two elements of the to do list weekly to complete them. I do the same for the longer term. I feel that writing them down setting a realistic time frame for the plan of action needed to achieve each goal is what makes the difference between thinking about my goals and achieving them. Time management can be tricky in this day and age with social media notifications, texts, emails etc. First off, when I am in the office I have all my social media notifications turned off on my phone. Each day when I start work I set a timer on my phone to complete a set number of items usually around 2 hours. I put my phone on silent and won’t answer texts, calls, or emails. When the timer goes off I take a break and answer emails call and texts. Then I set the timer again and continue the same process. When I travel for work I use my flight time to work and at least two hours in the hotel at night so I can get in at least 4-6 hours of additional work.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
A: Not utilizing social media to as an effective marketing tool.
Q:Breakfast or Lunch?
A:Breakfast. I love, love, love, breakfast!
Q: How do you meet and connect with people?
A: LOL ! Anyone that knows me knows I am a workaholic, so other than business I don’t meet people as often as I would like. However, as I am back to traveling a ton; I meet more people on my flights than anywhere else. I have had great conversations with some great people on airplanes.
Q:What books, people, experiences shaped your thinking?
A:Books: The Effective Executive. It was written the year I was born and is based on principles of business prior to the technology age. Giants of Enterprise is another book that shaped my ideals in business. The rest was the hard knocks and knowledge I gained each year in business. From the tender age of 19, when I started my first of 3 businesses to present (30 years later) I am still learning and striving to be better each year.
Q: What was your biggest failure? How did you handle it?
A: I am extremely humble but I can honestly say I have never had a business failure. With every wedding or event there are always things I critique and take the opportunity to learn from but I have never felt like I had experienced failure in business.
To learn more about Tiffany Cook visit: www.tiffanycookevents.com