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Press for Maria Killam Colour and Design

Mistakes Teach You so Much Faster than Success

By 04/16/2013February 20th, 201710 Comments

Mistakes Teach you so Much faster Than Success

Hey everyone, I’m speaking at The Canadian Decorator’s Association’s annual general meeting coming up on May 3. If you are a decorator in the lower mainland, this is your opportunity to come and get a sense of what it would be like to be a member and to hear me speak!

When I spoke at Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design Conference this winter in January I made a huge mistake in my presentation. . . I gave everyone samples of the undertones of fabric – courtesy of Robert Allen Fabrics (they are so awesome). My thought was, “Let’s make this really special. . . I’m speaking to a bunch of designers, it’ll give them a taste of my workshop, this will be so fabulous. . .!”

Robert Allen Fabrics


Well, it wasn’t.

As soon as I directed the attendees to the samples on the tables and started talking about the fabrics, I totally lost everyone. They started talking amongst themselves and I might as well have ended my talk right about then.

When I spoke at the Home Show in Vancouver and Calgary last fall, there were no samples in sight and I held everyone’s attention until the very end with people lined up with questions.


This did not happen in January.


It’s funny how true it is that when you do something right, you pat yourself on the back, have a glass of champagne and move on, and you really have no idea what you just did. When you do it wrong, that’s where there’s opportunity to learn and put in what was missing.

I did it right the first time I spoke in front of that many people but didn’t know it, and then the second time, BOMBED. If you’re really paying attention, you might have noticed I did not say much about that conference afterwards. I was too embarrassed.

Kimberley herself was totally charming and entertaining as usual and it was a great conference with 100 people in attendance.

And this May, I will be doing it right, so look, if you’re a decorator or a student, you should be there.

Sign up here.


The Canadian Decorators’ Association (CDECA) is a professional not-for-profit Association representing both Student and Accredited interior decorators and interior designers, and Affiliate businesses across Canada.  By choosing a CDECA Member you are guaranteed that you will be working with a qualified professional. CDECA Members are graduates of recognized academic institutions in the field of interior decorating and design and/or have established professional decorating portfolios.

They are also committed to ongoing education through CDECA professional development training.  CDECA Members ensure that you have access to the most current trends and innovations so when you are decorating, renovating, buying or building, choosing a CDECA designated professional to assist you will result in professional results.

CDECA National Website:

To find a decorator Find a Decorator


In case you can’t read the above copy, here’s what it says:

With so much advice on the subject to choosing paint colours (“Just choose your favourite!” and “It’s just paint. . . paint again if you don’t like it”) it’s not wonder people are confused. Maria’s straightforward, no-nonsense colour advice will take the stress and confusion out of the conversation. Through her groundbreaking system of Understanding Undertones ™, she’ll show you what colours really do, and what you absolutely, positively need to know about them.

Here’s the link again to sign up.

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. Fall Dates now open for registration.

Hope to see you there!

Related posts:

Happiness is. . . A Little Magic

Do’s and Don’ts on Decorating an Empty Room

10 Best Designer Secrets

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!



  • You will do great, of course, Maria! When I do speaking engagements, I want something else for people to look because I get less nervous if they aren’t staring at me the whole time! I think the problem is that they were milling around, which made it easy for them to start talking with each other. I’m sure you’ll do it all just right this time – good luck!

  • Alison Hodd says:

    I thought the samples were great. It made the presentation very interactive and gave us a taste for your workshop. I think you’re being really hard on yourself.

  • Franki says:

    It always amazes me that many so called “well educated” can be so “ill mannered” – especially at conferences, etc. Live and learn to deal I guess. Good luck! franki

  • Lauren Tyson says:

    You’re really good at engaging people in your blog, and that engagement is also needed for teaching/presenting. It’s just a matter of technique in controlling the group. If people were “milling around” instead of sitting, that makes it harder. You can set up an “exercise” next time by giving them a time limit to view the fabrics, and then report back to you with their thoughts.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Lauren,
      They were definitely not milling around, but having had advice since that talk I was told to never give people something to look at or that’s what they’ll be looking at instead of listening to your talk. Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Lori Fischer says:


    So true! I wish somebody had explain that to me much earlier in life. It is come in so handy understanding of failure is a true teaching opportunity. Thanks so much as always!

  • Lesli says:

    Maria, I asked my son, the soccer tam captain, the other day..what makes a GOOD coach? he said a few things and then he said something that has resonated through my mind ever since.
    He said, “A good coach tells a kid what he is doing things right-because we know when we make mistakes – but sometimes we have no idea what we did right!” I have been thinking about this ever since. xoxo

  • Well, you held our attention the whole time during your workshops! And we used samples for some things. It is refreshing to see you be able to evaluate yourself and not be either too hard on yourself or ignore a mistake. That is something we all need to do more of! It will make you (and us) better in the long run. Thanks for sharing. (PS:I think that is why your blog readers love you so much. You’re not afraid to admit mistakes but you are also able to pinpoint what they are and HOW to correct them!)

  • Nancy B says:

    Maria, let’s hope the attendees also learned a lesson from that conference…That they missed a terrific presentation and good information. Seems so silly to pay good money for a class or seminar and then not pay attention.

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