Client Case Study:
A lot of business owners feel their mission is to get their business running super smooth so they can sit back, relax, and bring home the bacon. That’s exactly what my private coaching client Tim Clothier thought his mission was. He hired me over seven years ago to help him get his fabrication company Illusion Projects running much more smoothly so he could sit back and relax with his family for a lot more quality time instead of staying at the warehouse late and on weekends to get his work done and run the business. Mission accomplished.
What Tim realized though, is although getting his business to run more smoothly was his goal, it wasn’t his end goal. It wasn’t enough. He was bored and yearned for more. More excitement. Bigger thinking. Greater challenges. Smooth sailing just isn’t how he wants to operate. Tim’s more of a get-things-to-a-smooth-sailng-point-then-drop-a-major-bomb- that-his-team-has-to-deal-with guy - a bomb like open another business or buy another business.
So, Tim did what Tim does. He dropped the bomb that he wanted to open a side business while continuing to run Illusion Projects. And not just any old side business but something that was far outside his comfort zone and had never been done before. He wanted to open the only exhibition of historic Barbie dolls in North America. He had been toying with the idea of opening his own exhibition, he knew a guy who knew a guy who had an impressive Barbie collection, he knew his team could create the exhibits, and it was on Mattel’s to-do list, so why not? It was a Herculean task, so it was right up his alley.
Tim made the deal with Mattel and got to work building his freelance team of curators, writers, and designers, and planning out all the moving parts with his employees. Every step of the way, he had to get approval from Mattel on each little bit of copy and display. He quickly learned how working with a corporate juggernaut such as Mattel demands proceeding at a slower pace than what he was used to due to all of the necessary brand and marketing approvals. It was an eye-opening experience for Tim. Despite Mattel not truly thinking Tim could pull it off, he kept pushing forward and opened Barbie: A Cultural Icon Exhibit at The Shops At Crystals on the Las Vegas Strip. The successful exhibit ran for 14 months and he will be taking it on tour across America in 2023. A tour through Europe is also in the making. While Tim is proud of what he has been able to accomplish under the name of Barbie, that undertaking was never about Barbie for him. It was always about bringing an exceptional exhibit experience to the public from start to finish. Barbie just happened to be the vehicle.
Once the Barbie exhibit was up and running and the kinks were quickly ironed out, the waters started feeling a bit too smooth for Tim again. He couldn’t resist the idea of growing more so he dropped another bomb. He decided to buy an established business because he wanted to see if he could do it. When he made the deal, he truly didn’t know if he would succeed or fail and that was part of the allure. It’s a newer venture but Tim knows if he does fail, it will not be for a lack of effort, as 110% is all Tim knows how to give.
Tim has come a long way from when we first started working together over seven years ago and balked at the idea of getting an assistant to help lighten his load. He has made numerous hires, and started and bought other businesses since. He was able to do so, largely in part, because of our coaching work together that helped him become better at time management, be more efficient, lighten his workload, be more productive, and free up time to be with his family. Seven years ago, Tim was totally bottlenecked in his one business. He was neck-deep in every aspect of it, both in time and energy, which prevented him from exploring other business ventures. At that time, it didn’t seem possible that he could even be a business owner and a good dad.
Over the years, Tim put the work in, became a master delegator, and led his team effectively. An experiment at working remotely was miserable for Tim but it proved that he had brought Illusion Projects to a point where it could run itself in his absence. That epiphany gave way to more time off, more vacations, and a total transformation of his role in the business. Jill now runs the front-end, Trevor runs the back-end, and Tim’s role is more of a freelancer by choice - not as far as pay goes, but in terms of which projects he takes on. Reimagining his role helped Tim realize how much value there is in seeing his team take projects from start to finish and how that letting go gave him the space to dream bigger and open additional businesses while still serving Illusion Projects in the capacity he desired. Tim no longer has to be the guy who jumps in to save the day all the time and that freedom feels great! He’s able to be a super present dad who takes his kid to all of his extracurriculars and even turns his work phone off at home, knowing his team can handle whatever comes their way and continue moving the business forward. Tim’s reached the point where even while pursuing new ventures, he can truly prioritize family time.
It would be an understatement to say working with Tim for the past seven plus years and seeing his incredible growth has been a joy. Our partnership to help him overcome the many challenges of being a driven business owner and growing his businesses while maintaining healthy relationships with those he holds dear, is one I will always cherish. I am so proud of Tim for what he’s accomplished and what I already foresee is to come as he continues to drop bomb after bomb, disrupting smooth waters and achieving greater success.
What You'll Discover In This Episode:
In this episode of Productivity Straight Talk, I sit down with my long-term client and CEO of Illusion Projects, Tim Clothier, to discuss how he’s been stepping up his CEO game during our years of working together. We cover his magic power of jumping back and forth between creative and CEO, what hadn’t been working in his business, what he had to release to see better results, and what he’s doing now to stay on top of his game and run a successful international business. Yes, it’s a replay but it's packed with so much insight that I just had to reshare it. Plus, it tees up next weeks’ special update episode with Tim!
Episode Links & Resources:
Hear A Clip From Tim Clothier:
As CEO of Illusion Projects, for over 14 years, Tim and his team have collaborated extensively on projects with industry leaders such as Meow Wolf, Caesars Entertainment, Blue Man Group, Royal Caribbean and Cirque du Soleil, winning the ADDY Award for Best Out-of-Home Installation design in 2017 and 2018.
Tim produced the successful Stratosphere hotel experience
'Dr. Havocks Sideshow of Curiosities'. He has created interactive exhibitions for the international tours of the 'Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N' exhibit and 'Jurassic World the Exhibition'.
Partnering with Mattel, Tim created and produced
‘Barbie : A Cultural Icon Exhibition’ for a Vegas residency, followed by a national tour in 2023.
Tim's creative style and expertise in constructing a whole visual narrative is regularly sought after by brands including Audi and Intel, celebrities such as David Copperfield and Mike Tyson, Broadway shows and museums, exhibitions and top theme parks.
Tim is a designer, producer, consultant, writer and speaker. He is a husband and a proud father. He is also pretty good a loading the dishwasher.