James Swan

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Episode 538: Weekend with JoAnn Locktov

Joann_Locktov_Weekend_Million_Dollar_Decorating 2

Delighted to have JoAnn Locktov back with us today, sharing what her life is like “away from the office”.  Listen and read over her interview here then explore her Website here


Join me now as we get to chat with a good friend and a former guest on the show JoAnn Locktov. JoAnn, welcome –


JoAnn Locktov:          Hi.


James Swan:               Back to Million Dollar Decorating.


JoAnn Locktov:          Thank you so much. I’m really delighted to have a chance to talk to you again, James. Thanks.


James Swan:               Well, it’s my pleasure. So great to have you back on. For our listeners who may not know who you are, give us a quick 411 on who JoAnn is and the work that you’re doing these days.


JoAnn Locktov:          Sure. I live in California, just north of San Francisco and I work out of my home. So, I’m one of those very fortunate people that can sort of roll out of bed and get to my desk. And for about the last 12 years, I’ve been a publicist and I work primarily in the areas of design and architecture. And for the last four years, I’ve added a second hat to what I do. I’ve become a publisher sort of by default. But that’s what I do now; those are my two professional jobs.


James Swan:               Your two hats.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yes.


James Swan:               I have to ask. How does one by default become a publisher?


JoAnn Locktov:          Oh, that’s a funny story. I had done – I’ve written two books before and I had this idea of doing a book on my heart city which is Venice because I’ve met this wonderful photographer. And I thought that publishing now was similar to how it was when I did my first two books which were on contemporary mosaics. And much to my amazement, the industry has changed radically and even though I felt we had a brilliant proposal and incredible people involved, there wasn’t one single traditional publisher that felt there needed to be another book about Venice, Italy.


And so, at that point in time, I had to make a decision. I either had to abandon the project or I had to become a publisher. And in my prior books and this series of books, I do this work really out of my own curiosity to figure things out and I was not willing to abandon the project. I thought it was a beautiful, beautiful book that we could make. So, I had to teach myself had to publish a book.


I’m still teaching myself how to publish a book. So, it’s cute. I just published a post today within the Independent Publisher’s Group about becoming the accidental publisher because it’s not what I set out to do. But I absolutely adore it, so I’m grateful to all those publishers who said, “We don’t think the world needs this book,” because now I get to do it.


James Swan:               Isn’t that interesting how the universe orchestrates things?


JoAnn Locktov:          Yes, it is. Yeah.


James Swan:               That brings us to those crossroads just where we need to be, just when we need to be.


JoAnn Locktov:          Right, right. No, it was a gift. It’s wonderful.


James Swan:               So, now you have – if I’m not mistaken – is it three books that you’ve published now?


JoAnn Locktov:          Two are out and I’m just now working on the third book. And the third book will be out – we’ll launch September 2018, but it takes a while to put these little babies together. So, the work has just started on the third book.


James Swan:               Well, good luck.


JoAnn Locktov:          Thank you.


James Swan:               I’m sure they will be every bit as good as books one and two. And we will look forward to celebrating it when it happens and that the third one is out into the world. Speaking of the world, curious question here. How do you believe the people around you perceive you, JoAnn?


JoAnn Locktov:          Oh, it’s probably depends who you ask.


James Swan:               Okay. Let’s ask –


JoAnn Locktov:          Are you asking a really good friend or are you asking an –


James Swan:               Let’s go –


JoAnn Locktov:          Ex-friend.


James Swan:               Let’s go a little further afield. Let’s go with the people that you work with sort of on a daily basis. I mean I don’t think you have staff. Do you work on your own or do you –


JoAnn Locktov:          I don’t. I work totally on my own –


James Swan:               Okay.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah. I’m terrible at delegating. So, it’s just easier if I take care of it myself.


James Swan:               Just do it all yourself.


JoAnn Locktov:          The people I work with – my clients, and all the incredible editors, and bloggers, and people. Once client once called me a quarterback and she actually meant it in a complimentary way, but since I don’t watch football it was kind of a – I had to ask her what she meant by that. But I think if I had to say how they perceive me, I would say that I’m a very honest person and I think that honesty really plays a very big part in what I do.


My clients, and the editors, and even the people – the photographers, the contributing writers to my books in both arenas that I work – there has to be a sense of trust because if there isn’t a sense of trust, you literally can’t move forward. So, I would hope that the people that I work with consider me a very honest person. And sometimes with – in terms of my clients, that means telling them things that they don’t necessarily want to hear, but I feel they need to hear. Yeah, I would say honest.


James Swan:               That’s big word and a powerful one. And as you point out, not always an easy one because that sometimes mean you get to be the bearer of uncomfortable news maybe.


JoAnn Locktov:          Exactly.


James Swan:               Yeah.


JoAnn Locktov:          Exactly. But the relationships are fairly intimate with the work that I do –


James Swan:               Sure.


JoAnn Locktov:          And I think that if you can’t be honest, you just can’t move forward. So –


James Swan:               Exactly.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah.


James Swan:               You’re stuck. Okay, let’s shift the circle of influence and let’s go with family members. People who are a little closer, maybe intimate friends. How do they view you?


JoAnn Locktov:          Wow, my friends and my family. My friends, I think, would consider me a creative person. I think if you ask my friends, they’d say, “Yeah.” Even though I’m not a painter, I’m not creative in the traditional sense, I think that word might come up. With my family, they think I’m completely pazzo which is crazy in Italian.


My family would probably tell you that I’m a workaholic, they would use that word and not in a good way because they see me working all the time. So, their perception of work and what work means to them it’s like, “JoAnn, take a break. Go out and do something fun,” and I’m like, “But I am having fun, please leave me alone.” But – yeah. My family would probably consider me a workaholic I think. Yeah, so –


James Swan:               Interesting, interesting. And that’s an interesting segue into the next question that I want to ask you and that is or that has to do with this idea of work life balance. We read a lot here about – a lot about that in the press today. What’s your take on that? I mean how do you approach creating work life balance in your life? It sounds to me like, well I don’t want to put word in your mouth. You talk to me.

JoAnn Locktov:          The first thing I would do is I would never use work life balance because you’ve now segregated your work from your life. And I think that whenever we try to balance things is when we’re asking for trouble. And I know that sounds like a very contrary viewpoint, but I’m going to tell you – and I’ll do it really quickly – a story with how I came up with this philosophy. When I was a student at Berkley at the university, I was studying economics, and I had this wonderful economics professor, and he was from China.


And we were chatting on a Friday and as I took my leave, I said, “Have a great weekend.” And he stopped in his tracks and he looked at me and he said, “Why did you just say that?” And I was so shocked and I said, “Well, because it’s Saturday and Sunday and you can go play. You don’t have to work; you don’t have to teach, so I want you to have a really wonderful weekend.” And his response was so fascinating, James. He said, “Only in America would somebody wish me a good weekend.” He said that he didn’t understand why our culture separated Monday through Friday from Saturday and Sunday.


And he felt that it was so imperative to live your life well to have every day count and have every day be an expression of what you love to do. And it struck me so hard. I was a very impressionable 20-year-old, but I’ve really tried to adapt that philosophy. So, I feel – what I strive for is one life and that life has arisen to it, but I try very hard not to take the things that give me tremendous joy and save them for Saturday and Sunday. I actually try to integrate them every single day. It’s not always easy and I don’t always accomplish it, but that’s what I strive for.


James Swan:               So, let’s dig in a little bit deeper. How does that manifest itself then? Walk us through a day – a hypothetical day – and show us how that works.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah. It’s looking at – I know for myself that one of the things that I don’t enjoy are crowds. So, all those things I love doing out in the world whether it be eating, and dining, and going to – whether it be going to theatres, or art shows, or the museum – for me, they are – I enjoy them more if there are less people. If I’m fighting less people. So what means is I don’t do those things on the weekends. I do those things on Tuesdays, and on Mondays, and on Thursdays. So, I don’t save those kinds of things that other people – it’s part of our culture that we do to sort of reward ourselves – I don’t save that up for the weekend.


I usually on the weekends – the really quiet time when I’m not getting that input, and influx of calls, and emails that I traditionally do during the week because that’s how our culture is setup. So, for me on the weekends, I like to very purposefully stay home. It’s my most creative time. It’s when I do most of my writing. It’s when I do most of the work on the publishing, again, because that is something that’s much more challenging for me to do because I’m simply so new at it. And I’m learning all the time.


So, I will use the weekend to do the bookwork and this goes back to my family and considering me a workaholic because I’ll never forget what my sister said, “How can you work on the weekends? Why aren’t you out doing something fun?” And I said, “Well, Robin.” I said, “Why are you gardening on the weekends?” And it’s this exact same thing. If you choose to garden or you to choose to hike, or ride your bicycle, or paint, or cook – those are things that bring you great job. And for me, the work that I do is the exact same thing.


It brings me tremendous joy and in terms of having that work every single day, I think despite everything that’s happening, so many things that we can’t control. And so many things that cause us frustration and disappointment, I always try to look for – I think there’s three things that I try to look for every single day. And that would be a sense of joy, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of gratitude. And so, I look for that every single day and I don’t wait until Saturday or Sunday. Does that help –


James Swan:               Oh –


JoAnn Locktov:          Explain it a little bit?


James Swan:               Helps incredibly. And I’m taking notes as fast as I can.




JoAnn Locktov:          No.


James Swan:               Sort of applying that in my life because as it turns out, much like you, I work seven days a week –


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah.


James Swan:               And I love every minute of it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but –

JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah, it’s really apparent that you love it by the way. It’s very clear to me that you love it, so I believe you.


James Swan:               Thank you, but this isn’t about me. This is about you. So –


JoAnn Locktov:          No.


James Swan:               Let’s talk more about you.


JoAnn Locktov:          Okay. Next time, we’ll do the reverse interview and I’ll get to interview –


James Swan:               Oh –


JoAnn Locktov:          You, how’s that?


James Swan:               Okay, deal. That’s a deal, JoAnn. I would trust you with that, I really would. Let’s go hypothetical here for a second, if you could trade places with anyone, anywhere, and at any time who would you pick and why, JoAnn?


JoAnn Locktov:          I can go back in time too?


James Swan:               Yep. Anywhere, anyplace, anytime.


JoAnn Locktov:          Wow, that’s – if I go back in time and trade places – just for a short period of time, I would want to trade places with Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim – when she decided to live in Venice and bring her art collection to Venice, in her home. I think her life was very difficult. I think – I’m not sure that it was necessarily happy all the time, but it was so purposeful and I love art. I’m incredibly passionate about it and especially about the collection that she was able to put together in her – they call it The Unfinished Palazzo because if you’re on the grand canal, you’ll see all the beautiful palazzo and how tall they are.


And the family that built that never had the opportunity to finish it, but it’s only one floor. And the terrace that she had – and Peggy was the last resident of Venice to have her own private gondola and gondolier. So, she was living at a time where the gondolier actually took you to where you wanted to go and I think to be able to – have you been to the collection – to the Guggenheim collection Venice?


James Swan:               I have, yes.

JoAnn Locktov:          So, you may have remembered that one room was setup where her bedroom and she slept under an Alexander Calder silver headboard. And just to have one night to sleep under that headboard would be incredible. So, for me it would Peggy.


James Swan:               So, JoAnn, is there a hobby in life? Something that you add to the mix that is non-work related, but something that brings you great job?




JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah, there is.


James Swan:               Paint, do you do yoga?


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There actually is. And what’s so interesting about it – I’ve been doing it since I was a child and I still do it. I discovered beading. How did I discover? I don’t know, maybe when I was a little girl scout or something with wooden beads. But for a very, very long time I started in high school – I believe – is the first time I went and studied with an American Indian tribe which is renowned for their beading skills. So, I learned very traditional ways of beading the Peyote stitch and weaving on a loom that I made myself. And as I grew up and became an adult, I have always used beading as my go to – some people go to a therapist when life is sort of not working.


James Swan:               Sure.


JoAnn Locktov:          I go to my beading. Very, very, very therapeutic. It’s very meditative and I’ve changed a lot in my process of beading. I work now with pretty much also my precious beads and it is truly all about process because if you ask me to show you something that I’ve made, it would be impossible. Because as soon as I make it, I give it away. My poor girlfriends –


James Swan:               Wow.


JoAnn Locktov:          They get these necklaces from me in the mail and they’re stuck with them. But – yeah. I still do beading, and when things get really tough, and things feel very ominous, and I need to sort things out – I pull out my beads and I create some things. That’s my hobby.


James Swan:               How beautiful. Do you wear your own creations?

JoAnn Locktov:          I never wear them. I don’t ever wear necklaces. And so, I tried to start a necklace – I do primarily necklaces – with my friend in mind –


James Swan:               Okay.


JoAnn Locktov:          That I’m going to give it to. So, it’s a very meditative process on that friendship, and how much I love this friend, and what the friendship means to me, and what colors she might like, or stones. And so, it’s very much the gift starts when I pull out my beads, and my metal work, and all the little fixings, and things that you need. And then I just send it off.


James Swan:               Wow. A very purposeful experience it sounds like.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah, it’s nice. I really enjoy it.




James Swan:               Thanks for sharing that with us. If you had guests coming in, either for a traditional weekend or for maybe a more nontraditional weekend – but just guests. One from the past, one from the present, and someone from the future. Who would you pick? Who would you invite to join you for a day or two in your home?


JoAnn Locktov:          To come to my house for a dinner party kind of thing?


James Swan:               Yeah, yeah. Let’s do dinner party, that works.


JoAnn Locktov:          Well, I love people that tell stories. I find that story telling is sort of like a – become a lost art in our culture. When I think at something who was very adept at telling stories my mind goes to – the first person it goes to – this is really funny – it goes to Marco Polo because Marco Polo sort of traveled at a time, and went places, and discovered, and was an insanely curious human being.


I’m thinking of Marco Polo, although – I have to tell you, James – I may have a really warped vision of Marco Polo. I think it’s really romanticized because of so much – when I think about Marco Polo, I think about how Italo Calvino – the writer – wrote about Marco Polo, and invisible cities, and this whole conversation sitting with the Kubla Khan. So, maybe the guest I really need to have is Calvino, the writer.



James Swan:               Or maybe have both, and then you can compare them.


JoAnn Locktov:          I’m sorry?


James Swan:               Have both –


JoAnn Locktov:          Sure –


James Swan:               And you can compare them.


JoAnn Locktov:          Sure. Have both. So, Calvino’s not with us anymore, so if I could have both, that would be great. I’d have those two guys from the past and from the present – oh, I would just have to have Hillary. I can’t imagine a more unbelievably, wonderful person to have for dinner than Hillary Clinton. So, I’d ask Hillary.


James Swan:               Lovely. And one from the future.


JoAnn Locktov:          And from the future – from the future – so, this is someone I’ve never met, right? If they’re from the future – what about my not yet conceived granddaughter. And we can’t have my kids listen to this interview because they’re going to feel immense pressure. So –


James Swan:               Oh, yeah. No pressure, kid. Grandma is not putting any pressure on you –


JoAnn Locktov:          Right, right, right.


James Swan:               But she does want to have dinner with her not yet conceived granddaughter.


JoAnn Locktov:          Right, right.


James Swan:               I think that would round out the group rather nice.


JoAnn Locktov:          Don’t you think?


James Swan:               I really do.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah.


James Swan:               Yeah, absolutely. A winner for sure. I know travel is a part of your life. You frequent Venice, I think – if I’m not mistaken – every chance you get, would that be right?

JoAnn Locktov:          Yes and no. It is right –


James Swan:               Okay.


JoAnn Locktov:          I do go, but I have a very specific period of time when I go.


James Swan:               Smart, smart traveler I would imagine.


JoAnn Locktov:          Well, a spoiled traveler I think.


James Swan:               Spoiled traveler. I think they can – they’re sort of interchangeable, you know?


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah.


James Swan:               You get to be spoiled when you’ve paid your dues and done it enough.


JoAnn Locktov:          Yeah.


James Swan:               Let’s think beyond your normal destinations, your normal experiences. What’s a trip that you would love to take, but you haven’t taken yet?


JoAnn Locktov:          Oh, that’s really easy because I have a trip that’s very much on my mind. I have not yet been to Wales, and Scotland, and Ireland. And I’m fascinated with those countries, and the tradition of literature, the music. I have a thing about castles. I think I lived in a castle in a prior life because I just adore them and my heart sort of stops when I see castles. So, I need to do that trip and I just – when I think about Wales and the tradition of literature that’s come out of little, small, tiny, little country. And of course, Ireland and the people. And I love beer and I love whiskey. And I think that’d I be very happy – oh, and I’m a pluviophile –


James Swan:               Oh.


JoAnn Locktov:          Which means – I’m a pluviophile which means I love the rain. My favorite, favorite weather is rain and grey cloud because the first thing people say, “Well, if you’re going to go you better realize that it’s going to be raining and grey.” And I’m like, “I hope so.” So –




JoAnn Locktov:          That’s my next trip on the agenda. I’m just not sure when to go, but yes. I need to and I want to do it as a walking tour. I really want to walk the land, so I need to figure that out. And that’s where I will be headed.


James Swan:               Okay, exciting. I’m excited for you. Wales is probably one of my favorite destinations. I was –


JoAnn Locktov:          Oh, you’ve been.


James Swan:               A hair away from moving there at one point, yeah.


JoAnn Locktov:          Really? Well you know – that is so – good, I’ll be talking to you about that.


James Swan:               Please. Feel free, I’ve got – in fact I’m looking at a row of books on my bookshelf that –




JoAnn Locktov:          Really? Oh, great. Good. I will ask you about that. Yeah. I actually could see moving there. I know that sounds very strange, but I have –


James Swan:               No, not to me.


JoAnn Locktov:          Very strong, intuitive thought about that.


James Swan:               It’s a marvelous and I will say it with all sincerity, it’s a marvelous and magical place, it really is.


JoAnn Locktov:          Oh, wonderful. I’m so glad to hear you say that. Great.


James Swan:               Yeah. JoAnn Locktov, what a joy getting to speak with you today. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us today.


JoAnn Locktov:          You are very welcome and equally for me. It’s always a pleasure, but I am going to take you up on that interview one day. We’re going to have to hear your ideas.


James Swan:               Okay, deal.


JoAnn Locktov:          Alright?


James Swan:               I will be held to that.



JoAnn Locktov:          Thank you, James.

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