Keep Your Peace while Staying Productive with James Stanley

September 23, 2022

Keep Your Peace while Staying Productive with James Stanley

September 23, 2022

About This Episode

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we need to be well-rounded and holistic in our personal and professional growth. We need to continue pursuing new knowledge, honing our skills, improving our strategies, and building the right character and mindset to support our growth. 

That’s what I talked about with James Stanley, Founder and Principal of James Stanley NY, and today’s guest for this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, a Success magazine podcast.

In over 14 years in the architectural and design industry, James has had his fair share of challenges to overcome in order to achieve success. He’s worked on projects with some big names, such as designing the private showroom of Tiffany & Co. and the Centurion in Midtown, where he met Donald Trump years before becoming president.

Not just anyone can add those projects to their portfolio without a lot of tenacity and perseverance involved. And one can’t go through all that without learning something life-changing about themselves and their business.

You need to know the basics of running your own business.

Starting out, James’s firm was strictly architectural and interior design. After four to five years of butting heads with subcontractors, he decided to pivot to a full Design-Build business model and got a license to build a full-size general construction arm of his business. Growing two businesses side-by-side isn’t easy, and James learned a lot from the experience.

His advice for all entrepreneurs out there, especially those just starting out, is to get enough knowledge on how to run a business. Take a business course at your community college. It pays to know the basics.

The staples in any form of business are the same: you need to know your goals, as well as your financials, HR practices, insurance, labor laws, etc. — all of the things business owners wish they didn’t have to deal with but can’t afford to not take care of.

You can always hire people with expertise in these areas, but as the one steering the ship of your business, you need to know enough to assess whether those you hired are moving your ship in the right direction.

“There was a time I didn’t know… I was so busy working and so busy looking down that I wasn't looking up to see ‘where are we going?’” James shares. “I was focused on the day-to-day down here. And there's a difference when you look up and you have a 360 view. But it takes experience or schooling or something to do that, you know?”

When he was starting out, he faced similar challenges we all face when building a business from the ground up: lacking the funds to hire top-tier talent to take care of other business processes and getting screwed over by some of the people we hired.

If you know the basics of how to run a business, you have the wisdom to judge whether the people you are hiring know the job and can gauge well what they can contribute to your growth.

“Do not rely on anybody to try and tell you how to run your business,” James advises.

You will burn out. It is inevitable.

After over a decade in the industry, James learned that burnout is a matter of awareness.

“I come from a generation where working 24/7 was what you did,” he says. “‘If you work hard, you’re going to achieve great success’ was the motto I grew up with in my home, and I come from a family business.”

There was a point where he was working, not taking vacations, pushing his team, and growing his business, and he started to burn out. “I’m not creative anymore. I’m not happy. I don’t care what the check says, meaning the amount of zeroes on it,” James shares.

That’s how James discovered meditation and became an advocate of taking time for oneself.

As someone who had to deal with anger management, meditation has helped him get a clearer mind that allowed him to see things better. He says it is like training mode.

He also discovered that traveling helps him recharge and inspire himself. “If we travel, we open the mind to different things, right? And I come back strong and new and I can give to my team and give to my family and give to my clients and give to self,” he says.

Over time, he learned how to take things in stride and see situations for what they are rather than be reactive to them. It takes pausing, calming the mind, and learning to look at the reality of the situation, as well as knowing how to deal with things head-on. And, according to James, we also need to learn how and when to let go.

You need to build confidence in yourself.

A lot of high-achievers suffer from the "imposter" phenomenon, where we feel like we are not good enough. James wasn’t a stranger to that feeling. “I know what it’s like to work from a place of fear,” James shares, “but the place you should never work from is fear.”

One way to build confidence, according to James, is to throw ourselves into situations that force us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to figure things out for ourselves. The more we see that when we give our all, we can figure it out, the more we can build that confidence in ourselves.

Another is by giving things our all. “If I tell you ‘I can do this,’ whatever this is, you can take it to the bank. I’m gonna do it. I pride myself on that,” James says. “I’ve always been that way, and that is what I tell my team and interns: Give it your 110%. If you are not going to give it your 110%, you are in the wrong business…”

A lot of us still find it scary to apply ourselves fully to something, because we fear giving it our best and failing—or at least not getting the results we expected. It is easier to say, “I could have done it if I pushed myself hard, but I didn’t.”

Having the courage and confidence to do things and give it your all, even with the possibility of failing, positions you in the right place when opportunities arise.

And if you do fail, James also has some advice: Allow yourself to wallow for a day, reflect on why you failed and why it upsets you, and let go. Look forward to what’s next, and how you can do things better.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more.

Follow James Stanley

You can follow what’s next for James on his website,, and follow him on Instagram: @jamesstanleyny

DISCLAIMER: The people interviewed are well-trained experts and highly skilled in their areas of practice. They take many safety precautions prior to attempting the activities described. The activities or research discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.

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