Kristen Kalp Article Archive

The rabbit hole: every article, ever.

I've been crying and dismayed and despairing this week. Partly about the latest news, but partly because all those memes going around about silence finally got to me. You know the ones. How your silence makes you complicit in X horror -- where X = xenophobia, racism, sexism, police brutality, and/or the systematic destruction of endangered species, to name a few. How your silence means you agree with the atrocity of the week. How your silence means you're bad/evil/standing on the wrong side of history/etc... The introvert in me is appalled at the thought that my silence makes me a kind of monster. My silence is many things, but it's not monstrous, and my sense is that your silence is complicated, too. My silence is trying to process vast volumes of information and sort the wheat from the chaff. My silence is a conscious effort to keep from adding to ...
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You come to find your voice by speaking Not by planning to speak or reading transcripts of speeches or buying courses to make your voice sound best when you finally open your mouth at some point in the distant future. You come to find your voice by uttering the truest words you have in any given moment. I hurt. I'm struggling. I can't. The first words are the hardest. You've been silent for so long. I need help. I want some more. I'd like to try. The words grow more precise and powerful. I need. I want. I am. You'll waver, here: the world will say you don't have the right. I need, I want, I am. I need, I want, I am. By now you've come too far to honor any sound save the steady drumbeat of your own heart. I am, I am, I am, and you are, ...
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grandma
In honor of Women's History Month, a poem for the ones who came before. Dear Grandma You never once got to stand on a podium and make everyone listen. You buried your husband and your son, and you worked all day every day until you retired to the old brown chair. No one was ever weighed down by your opinions or objections or your voice in the world. You never once got to stand on a stage and hear everyone's ears turning toward you. You never got to be paid for your work: shuffling laundry and sons from the dresser to school, burning a line between the sink and the stove so deep you couldn't see your way out. Your husband married you not out of love or even something like affection, but because your sister was already taken, and then you settled down and lived in the same house ...
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mouse
You might imagine that a Special Education facility for socio-emotionally disturbed students in Philadelphia would have lots of rules. You would be correct. The first thing you learn at new teacher orientation is how to successfully restrain a student without causing any harm to the child. (It's a grip don't twist scenario, in case you're curious.) Each classroom has a teacher and a full-time aide. Each classroom has no more than 10 students for the safety of all involved. Students regularly lash out, flipping desks or tossing books or throwing punches -- at other teenagers, at therapists, at supervisors, at me -- and all the rules keep the chaos to a minimum. There are protocols for everything. Protocols for when a student brings a razor blade to class and protocols for when someone has a meltdown during lunch and protocols for verbal lashing out. Every staff member knows the general ...
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stay on it sales graphic
Today can we talk about why I hate selling stuff, even though part of my job is teaching people to sell stuff? I hate selling because you have to stay on it. You have to keep selling and marketing far beyond the point where you feel any reasonable person would have purchased, bought, added to cart, or checked out. When I like stuff, I buy it. Period. On sale, not on sale, 3 left, 37 left, don't care. The vast majority of people hem and haw and put off decision-making and "think about it" and ponder it and ask questions and talk to their friends about what they should buy and then, eventually, buy the thing at the last possible second or when the 'deal' runs out. I'm still learning this after 8 years, and it's still frustrating as hell, but I want to reiterate: most people hate making decisions ...
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order of the phoenix bio photo
Owning your own business while the rest of the world goes off to a 9 to 5 is lonely. It's even lonelier when your brain tells you no one wants what you have to offer but you wake up and do your work anyway. It's lonely to live without a dynamic group of interesting maker-people in your neck of the woods, even if you're an introvert or a hermit (or both). Dispelling the inherent loneliness of bringing your best work into the world is one of the most vital steps we can take toward wholeness right now. Because whatever comes next, personally or politically, not one of us can solve it, fix it, or change it alone. (DAMMIT I'VE TRIED AND IT APPEARS THAT WE NEED EACH OTHER.) The resistance takes all of us, and community is the start. Maybe you're lucky enough to have a giant group of artistic ...
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Nick McArthur headshot
I first met Nick McArthur in 2012 as Nicki, mother of (then) 2 -- now 5 -- and I've watched with absolute admiration as Nicki transitioned to Nick over the course of the past year, with all the complication and bravery that entails. We dive deeply into that gender transition in this hour-ish long podcast interview. We also discuss whether male privilege is real, what it's like to transition on the gender spectrum as part of a couple, the most surprising parts of leaving being a female behind, the sales messages he wishes males and females would learn to communicate more clearly, and what it's like to have serious leg hair after spending about the first few decades of your life as a woman. We talk highs, lows, and serious sales advice for your listening pleasure. The audio is a biiiiit hard to make out at times -- I guess ...
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I had a panic attack on Saturday. One minute I was driving through the city, admiring the cute little shops and the gorgeous weather, and the next a set of invisible hands had grabbed my neck and I was hyperventilating while I pulled my car into a McDonald's parking lot. I spent the next ? minutes -- who knows how long, when every minute is endless? -- with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my cheeks, while I tried to catch a full breath. ...and when the panic attack ended, I felt only shame. Asshole brain didn't step in and let me recover, it just started kicking me while I was down. (Asshole brain's commentary in ALL CAPS.) I felt shame that I 'can't handle' modern politics. THIS IS JUST THE WAY IT IS. GET USED TO IT. Shame that I'm 'not strong enough' to exist today. QUIT WHINING, ALREADY, ...
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You know how sometimes, you see a person going through something really difficult (like cancer) and think, 'How is she doing that without losing her shit?' When I saw that Natalie Moser was diagnosed with cancer, I expected to see endless chemo updates and requests for prayers. Instead, I saw a woman who continued to teach yoga and make art and do the right thing, just without hair when the cancer took it. The whole thing was simultaneously a very big deal and NBD. How. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. Since the new administration has taken office, Natalie has only gotten more passionate, more intense, and more inwardly gorgeous -- she's basically the living embodiment of the 'Be the Human' philosophy -- so I took the time to chat with her one-on-one in this interview for the That's What She Said podcast. We talk about her biggest gifts of the past ...
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Rebellion is often portrayed as Princess Leia risking life and limb to sneak around with Death Star plans, but everyday acts of rebellion can help us advance our ideals in a sustainable way. Rebellion and resistance are often most effective when they keep us sane, happy, and capable of empathy in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It's our job to keep our joy, to do our work, and to resist in every small and large way possible. ...and if you're tired and out of energy, start small. Rebellion can be small, but vital; seemingly insignificant, but capable of moving the needle forward today. Key word: TODAY. 1. Subscribe to a newspaper. 2. Read a book. (One of mine, even!) 3. Get and then use your library card. 4. Buy an album or a record instead of downloading a single from iTunes. 5. Support local music. 6. Boycott homophobic restaurant ...
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There is no name for a nation undoing its moral underpinnings, freeing itself from the constraints of the democratic experiment the same way a woman sighs with such relief when taking off her bra before bed. There is no name for the dreams that come after: drowning, climbing, plummeting to a certain death and waking to find only faint sunlight making its way through the window. There are no maps for this place, this soft burning that is not hate but keeps trying to be. There is no name for the uprising of the human heart. P.S. 69 more of my poems here ...
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You're not the only one who feels as if the world is, in some way, ending, while a new one is being born. You're not the only one who's scared, or the only one who's tired, or the only one who's walking around in a daze going, 'DEAR GOD, HOW DID I GET HERE?' Whether that 'here' is in your business or your home life, in the arrangement of your basement clutter or the arrangement of your community's politics. You're not the only one who sees fires burning everywhere and doesn't know which one to put out first. It's important to remember that, since your brain will naturally try to convince you that you're the only one. The only one who's scared. The only one who's having a tough time. The only one who wants to sink into despair. The only one who's overwhelmed. The only one who's struggling to ...
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You have tremendous power. You spend money every single day, and where you spend that money matters tremendously. Your dollars can be spent to make giant corporations even larger, or they can be used to keep currency in circulation locally, to keep people who safeguard our democracy (i.e. journalists) working, and to keep artists, makers, thinkers, and rebels doing their respective jobs each day. (I suggest the latter.) Here are quick and effective ways to use your dollars to shape our world for the better. Subscribe to forms of media that pay journalists. At a recent political conference I attended, subscribing to a physical newspaper was described as a political act. Pick a paper and get it delivered. If you want to overachieve, get a local and a national paper subscription. Best of all, newspapers are delivered without a comments section. No angry trolls lurking at the bottom of the ...
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There's this new thing going around: angry people on the internets. 😉 People are angrier than ever, it seems, and the articles and videos they're passing around amp up the anger because clickbait gets clicks and outrage is the easiest way to get someone else on your side. Only I grew up with a yelling Mom, and by age 5 I could keep reading my book while she screamed about the dusting I needed to do or the laundry I needed to hang or the playing I needed to do outside, and don't come back in until it's dark. I learned early on to tune out screaming, and I didn't even grow up in a particularly aggressive household. We humans tune out anger and outrage quickly and effectively. (Which brings us back to Facebook.) When we keep anger and outrage in circulation by passing along an article or a video ...
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If you've ever sabotaged the crap out of yourself, your work, your desires, your plans, or your waistline, this is the class for you. I've shoved and pushed and stuffed everything I know about stopping self sabotage into a single hour-long class, then delivered it live so that peeps could ask questions and I could answer 'em. In Stop Self Sabotage, you'll learn: + the name for and nuances of what you're feeling as the U.S. descends into an unparalleled political space -- and why that matters for your sabotage-y bits + the single most important factor in stopping the sabotage-y habit + the four sneakier-than-a-wily-raccoon elements that conspire to undermine your best attempts at getting your work done + the everyday, seemingly insignificant acts that make all the difference to living a bigger, braver life + why 'earning' your play time is the worst idea ever (really, EVER) + ...
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There's a thought process you can absolutely count on when you're bringing creative work into the world. You make a thing. It's available for purchase. And then your brain gets involved. It whispers, "No one wants this thing I've made." Not "some people don't want it." Not "a few people think it's dumb but most people will think it's pretty rad." "NO ONE wants this thing I've made." In just the past week, I've had this come up with two clients. In our first case, a photographer has booked over 50% of the year's sessions in January. Fifty percent. In January. We made a plan for when she actually starts marketing the sessions later in winter. (She's still sure she can't book the sessions. I told her for sure for sure, she's fucked. Hosed. SCREWED...;) ) In the second case, a photographer has booked weddings again and again with no ...
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The clouds are miles thick. My voice is squeaky and ugly in that way it gets before I cry: "I just...think...my work doesn't matter to anyone, and..." "WAIT." Ron pauses me there, halfway through my opening sentence, to say that without my work, he and his wife wouldn't be doing what they're doing. He tells me that even though we hadn't met until 48 hours before, that he counts me as a rich blessing in his life, and that I've done more to change his life and his family than I can possibly imagine. Before I can stop it, that sentiment rolls around the porch and everyone is nodding, telling their stories about me, tears leaking from their eyeballs and awash in love. This should be a redemptive moment. Oh, yes. Of course. My work matters. This is not a redemptive moment. I know that on the other side of ...
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1.) Give up on having a perfect launch. Things are going to go wrong, and all you can do is roll with the punches as gracefully as possible. I say this not with dismay or sarcasm, but with the acknowledgment that life is imperfect. Preparing for imperfection means your day won't be 'ruined' by a glitch or two. Last week's launch of Calling to the Deep, Introverts at Work, this new website, the free-for-you Fuck Yah magazine, and the Brave workshop went off without a functioning Paypal account to take the monies. My selling Art for Aleppo raised a red flag that required further investigation for weeks(!!!!). The launch also happened without a new e-mail address, since getting a fancy one proved to be a multi-week saga that still hasn't ended and that involves working closely with Google's tech support in a never-ending game of phone tag because they call ...
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It wasn't until I was about two weeks away from launching this new website, two books, the Brave workshop, and Fuck Yah magazine into the world that I considered what a terrible, stupid thing I'd done. "Um...I think I took on too much." "...ya think?" ::awkward silence followed by eyes brimming with tears:: Luckily, I DID IT. While I'm by no means through this particular bout of being unreasonable -- it being launch day and all -- I can tell you a little bit more about my good friend and conspirator, the U-word. Unreasonable-with-a-capital-U works on a few basic principles and is capable of surprising you with the magnitude of your own accomplishments. First, being Unreasonable takes faith. Can you do it? YUP. Your friends and loved ones will look at you funny. Even your best friends might say you're trying to do way too much. Only you know the ...
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After burning Brand Camp to the ground and taking a multi-month sabbatical, I wrote this as the keystone for beginning again. Before the website and the sales pages, the plugins and links and SEO, there were only these words. It's the prayer/poem I offer for every visitor to this space, and it's my deepest wish for you today. Invocation Help me breathe life into the space between who I am and who I'm becoming. Help me transcend the path that is merely obvious for the one unfolding through the things I can't not do. Help me choose to follow those breadcrumbs and in the process to make something solid in the soul, something lasting, something holy. Help us breathe life into the space between who we are and who we're becoming. Help us transcend the path that is merely obvious for the path calling to us through the things we ...
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I don't want to feel this. There are tears springing out of face against my will and I want them to stop. Help me out, brain: I don't want to feel this. Options? I take a mental run through the refrigerator, the freezer, and the pantry. No sugar, no salt, no alcohol. STUPID WISE GROCERY DECISIONS. Okay, distractions! I need some of those! Let's bust out some social media and click away on the interwebs for an hour or three! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child just came out and I don't yet have my copy. If I see a spoiler on social media, I'll be angry at myself. Human distractions! I need some of those! I think of friends to call to get out of the house at this moment, but it's 7:32 p.m. on a Sunday. They're all busy working or winding down for the evening. (I asked.) ...
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When you narrow yourself and your work to solving one specific problem or creating just one product or offering just one service, you naturally sell more because you have clarity. Clarity is vital to your mission and helps people make easy assumptions about what you do. You're a carpenter and you make benches. You're a photographer and you photograph weddings. You're a real estate agent and you sell homes. The whole 'what do you do?' question gets complicated (and far more interesting!) when you decide to use the word "and" followed by something we wouldn't expect. You're a carpenter and you sing songs. You're a photographer and you rebuild motorcycle engines from scratch. You're a real estate agent and you go offline to work with a nonprofit agency for months at a time. Most people tamp down their most interesting 'and' bits in the name of being clear, direct, and ...
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Steer Your Ship registration opens in April 2017, be sure you're a part of the Fuck Yah Club so you've got dibs on the 6 spots available! Sometimes you make things because they live deep within you and you simply must. And sometimes, you make things because you are trying to give what at what point, you needed to get. The photographer with no images of her father who creates family portraits for others. The musician who only wants others to feel understood without the need for words, and so he channels everything he has into making dance floors pulse with life. The comedian who makes jokes about misery and suffering and depression because without bearing a torch for others, he would creep back into alcoholism or drugs or despair. Often -- so often -- we give what we needed to get. It's only recently that I realized I'm giving ...
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Right around age 21, I internalized the idea that no one could make a living as a poet. Being ever so wise and nearly 22, I quickly broadened that sentiment to mean that no one could make a living as a writer, either. So, what's a newly minted grad with an English Education degree who has cut off all hopes of being paid for the English portion of that degree to do? Teach in the public school system, obviously! Within two years of taking part in that system, I became disillusioned and said, "Oh hey, you know what I'll do? I'll be a photographer," like you do. Then I started writing to photographers about the business of photography, and then to other business owners, and I started ghostwriting some projects, too, and suddenly (over the course of a number of years) I WAS MAKING A LIVING AS A WRITER. For ...
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Sometimes big change comes upon you slowly, like one song fading into the air while another fades out, and sometimes it comes collapsing down on you like an ancient tower crumbling in a windstorm. Whether a slow unfolding or a sudden event, big change means big emotions, and big emotions often mean turmoil of some kind. This, then, is the tender-hearted guide to making big, big change. How do you deal with the turmoil of watching what you've loved/built/created/worked on/adored crumble? How do you sort through the pieces for the good/interesting/worthwhile bits without scrapping everything? How do you stop yourself from saying ALL OF IT WAS A WASTE and then taking up your vice of choice? First: grieve. This is the hardest and most essential element of the death of any project, life choice, or season: the grieving. You'll naturally want to run into the next thing. You'll naturally want ...
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When it all falls apart, let it. Trying to save a brick here or a scrap of gold there during the act of tumbling to the ground doesn’t help and isn’t wise and probably means you break an arm or a leg during an acrobatic feat gone wrong. When it all falls apart, let it. And on that morning, long from now, when you find those three pieces that have survived, you’ll see the way they fit together into some new and necessary way of being. When it all falls apart, let it. P.S. More of my poems here ...
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I was on Facebook for a second and saw the ad: 'Failure-Proof Your Launch!' Then I laughed so loud that I startled the dog from her sunny little nap beside me. Failure isn't something you can 'proof' against, like making sure your babies don't eat those laundry packs or making sure your teens aren't snorting cocaine in the bathroom while you're in the next room making dinner. You can't 'failure-proof' your business, period. Further, your biggest 'failure' might be the source of more goodness in your life than you could possibly imagine. My biggest success/failure (maybe the term is 'life lesson?') was revealed to me in a vision that arrived complete with a sunrise ferris wheel, large-scale paint twister, and a handful of speakers I'd move the world to see throw down their wisdom on stage. I assumed, since this vision came so clearly and with enough force to bring ...
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Don't. Shut. Down. Peel open the layers of your heart and let it weep and have tantrums and (mostly) feel impotent in the face of all it can't change. Don't give in to the war drums beating against your ribcage, and don't let your one puny heart cage you in the world's limitless miseries. Stand open. The vast majority of people are like you -- kind and brave, heartsick and healing -- shattered but refusing to remain in pieces on the floor forever. Stay. Open. Please. (My heart needs your heart, right now.) P.S. More of my poems here. P.P.S. Photo by Jon Canlas of Brian Andreas, post pudding battle at Brand Camp ...
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She pulled up to the Drive-Thru and asked for a Frappuccino. There was a long pause. "Ma'am, we don't sell Frappuccinos here, that's Starbucks." "Oh well. I'd like a Frappuccino." There was a longer pause. "We do make Frolattes, which are similar, so would you like to try one of those?" "Yah, whatever. Medium." When it comes to bringing your gifts into the world through business, there's a Frappuccino on offer. It's been accepted as the standard by which all other frozen beverages are measured, and it's consumed at alarming levels in certain circles. It seems that everyone is so busy consuming it that even those who want to offer something else are trying to justify their Frolatte options and getting "whatever"s back. Let's talk about the Business Frappuccino. Currently, the Business Frappuccino includes modules and group coaching and killer marketing and endless testimonials and people who say that it ...
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If you've ever been caught in an idea tornado, you can identify the symptoms: You have endless ideas. And cute notebook sketches of said ideas. And you have daydreams about your ideas while driving, showering, and otherwise going about your day that result in... ...even MORE brilliant ideas. (No really, we're talking multi-million dollar ideas!) These ideas are languishing in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in your iPhone, on your hard drive, and in your mental daydream files, but they aren't actually coming to life. Idea tornadoes exist to get you all fired up about dreaming, but they don't stop without your active control. When you stop an idea tornado, you get to bring something to life. Something only you can produce. Maybe it's something fun, maybe it's something profitable, but hopefully it's both. In today's episode of That's What She Said, I talk about how to get yourself out ...
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When you start any creative project or enterprise, your peeps will have favorites. They'll write you notes or make comments about stuff and you'll be all, "Yah? THAT was helpful? Really?" These are the That's What She Said podcast episodes deemed most interesting, informative, helpful, witty, and/or useful by virtue of their having garnered the most listens. Also I've share my top choices, because (IT'S MY SHOW DAMMIT) and there are a few episodes that deserve a listen even if they don't have the spiffiest, bullet-point-iest titles. Depression and running your business This episode is far and away the most popular episode of That's What She Said, as it handles my ins and outs of fumbling through depression while also earning a full-time, no-backup income from my business. The Depression Chronicles include the rest of my notes, battles with, and tips about struggling through depression over the years. Pay Me, ...
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If you'll kindly recall my slightly made-up but quite accurate modes of keeping business time from this That's What She Said podcast, there are three types of time we have in every day. Magic time, which is dedicated to doing the work that only you can do; muggle time, which is dedicated to taking care of the physical world work that simply must be done; and mogul time, the often-overlooked time in which you show the world your work and ask people of the world to buy it. In this episode of That's What She Said, we delve into not only routinely completing mogul time, but learning to actually love it. I'll take a guess at what's keeping you from moguling in the first place, share ten starting points for your moguling practice, and throw down with kind-but-honest, practical-but-potentially-painful observations about what why you might hate marketing your business right ...
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Summer is one of the few times society reserves for slowing down. (Also it's one of the few times that reading a book is a LEGIT activity. I'll meet you on the beach with a stack of 'em.) Suddenly, it's okay to take more than an hour to respond to e-mails, you're 'allowed' to go on vacation, and you don't have to work weekends or overtime in order to 'count' as an upstanding member of society. LET'S MILK SUMMER FOR ALL IT'S WORTH, PEOPLE. Let's make space for more than simply slowing down; let's actively reclaim the bits of our selves, our lives, and our businesses that have been consumed by the general muck-y creep of being alive. And let's do it with 4 5-minute-ish podcasts, because shouldn't you be at the beach by now? Let's get to making space. Making space, like getting out from under the e-mail monster ...
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I had this moment yesterday. My e-mails were answered, my work was done, my schedule was clear for the rest of the afternoon. The laundry was done. The house was clean. There were bananas in the house. (Because God knows that if there aren't bananas, there's nothing to eat.) In other words -- for one glorious, victorious moment -- my shit was TOGETHER. I briefly considered never changing my clothing again to avoid making more laundry, then I went to yoga and made more. Because bikram. Having your shit together isn't an attainable state of being, despite what the yoga magazines and marketing gurus are selling. Your shit's state of togetherness is a series of acts that culminates in the ever-so-rare, glorious moment when you are free of responsibilities and obligations. You might get a few seconds, you might get a few minutes. An hour, if you're exceptionally tuned in ...
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When you've done something long enough, you assume everyone knows how you got started or what, exactly, you do, and why you do it. This is the official let's-get-you-up-to-speed rundown of where I've been, what I do, and where I'm going, with some glorious life lessons and witty stories thrown in for good measure. (Hint: steal this idea for your own website!) First up: the distant past. There's a 17-year-old male Philadelphian hanging from the air conditioner outside the classroom. He's barely got a grip on the window unit and my guess is that his pants are revealing a shocking amount of the boxers beneath while he's dangling there, but he's committed. He's screaming "Liar! LIIIIIIIARRRRRR!" at me while I teach the afternoon's computer class. A smirk flits across my face before I go back to delivering the day's lesson plan. I've finally won. You see, Cruz routinely made up ...
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Talking about depression and running a business isn't exactly a light or refreshing or easy topic. I'd rather talk about preeeetty much anything else, but going on about marketing or strategy or mojo or making more dollars doesn't address the deepest, hardest part of my life at any given moment. (If you're depressed, it doesn't address your hardest bits, either.) Let's talk about depression over the years, through the shape-shifting lenses of experience, growth, deepening, and easing, all while growing a business and even leaving the house on occasion. 😉 May 2016: Hard-won depression tactics you can actually use. Sometimes depression is something you live with and learn to work around. These are the workarounds that let me get shit done even when I don't want to or my brain says I can't. December 2015: Keeping the wolf of depression at bay When you feel depression waiting like a freaking ...
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Oh hey there! Today, I've got a very special guest dropping by: Depression Me. Depression Me likes to wear a fuzzy Princess Leia onesie and watch Bravo TV episodes on loop, vaguely glancing at the dog I feel guilty for not walking before lurching back into 'reality' world. Depression Me likes to move back deadlines, cancel appointments, table projects, and otherwise delay all of my professional work. She HATES being told what to do and when to do it. Depression Me has IDEAS: It's cloudy outside? Let's skip work. Raining? Oh GOD no, we can't work. Woke up early? Didn't sleep well? It's Monday? We'd better wait until tomorrow to get started. If Depression Me were a cereal, she would be Cap'n Crunch, minus the part where you actually get to eat it. She would just be those gross remnants stuck to the scraped-up, oddly-coated roof of your mouth. Depression ...
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There's an endless, always-growing stream of advice coming at you all the time when it comes to selling your products. There are even MORE endless strategies you can employ to move products, but those strategies often ignore the thing behind the thing: selling your thing is hard. WAY more difficult than making your thing, shipping your thing, or selling other people's things. Selling boils down to the excruciating pain of asking for what you want. It's the art of taking this careful, delicate creature you've birthed as part of your business and asking people if they want it. (Over and over and over until you're sure your friends will abandon you and you've managed to annoy the entire tri-state region with your promotions.) Hearing the word "no" or being ignored is 100% guaranteed to be part of the selling equation. Thus, it's painful. Not everyone on Earth will want to ...
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I'm all about making stuff. I make stuff for a living: books and classes and paintings and even a real-life meetup at Harry Potter World for entrepreneurs. I get shit done. Writing thousands of words per day, plus creating a weekly podcast, course materials, and the occasional ghostwriting project. But when I see headlines about 'faster ways to create content' or endless listicles full of hacks to be even MORE productive, my heels dig in and I want to hiss like a pissed-off goose who's just spotted a vulnerable, food-carrying toddler across the parking lot. I want to run at the toddler that is the Productivity Police and steal that entire loaf of bread and nip at those heels until they run away, crying because that's what angry geese do. AND THEY GET AWAY WITH IT EVERY TIME. First: 'content creation' isn't even a thing. I make photos, I make ...
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In this week's episode of That's What She Said, I hit a reader question hard, and it's a really freaking good one: ...when you do hit those business funks/blues/frustrations.. the SERIOUSLY am I shit? or am I good? and want to keep moving forward, what/where or how inspires you to keep moving forward without giving it all away? -- Lorraine I'm sharing six ways to keep going (and one way to quit) in this week's episode of That's What She Said. To get all bullet-pointed on you, I'll explain: + why asking the wrong questions could be sabotaging your every effort + when and how to make space for a pause in your business + why taking your business to Tokyo (metaphorically) is a really, really bad idea + simple changes to the scope of your projects that might make all the difference + two questions to ask when you ...
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I routinely scoff at books I know I need to read, like The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Retirement Make Sense or Master Your Cravings 4 Life (4 Real This Time) or How to Adult Like You Care About Adulting. I love sugar even though it makes me weepy and dairy even though it gives me zits and Facebook even though it gives me zombie-screen-face. I want to save the world and blow it up. (Sometimes in the same breath.) I don't watch the news because it hurts and care more about homeless dogs than homeless adults. I'm not sure my efforts to save the world have made any difference, just like I'm not sure my art means anything or my life has an ultimate deep-down-for-real-for-real purpose other than the one I give it. I can't extrovert for more than an hour at a time and would take last place ...
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You think there are languages you don't yet know, languages that will help move your work forward, and that thought is alluring. You can always learn Greek or Italian, SEO or marketing lingo. But. You already speak the language. Of feeling, and of knowing. The languages of dedication and of craft, of kindness and of steady perseverance speak loudest of all, and these, you already have at your disposal. You already know that the hardest work is letting yourself be seen. Letting your truest self be known, letting your feelings come to light and owning them as only a creator or artist or maker can; letting all that is you and your truest talent in the world come forward instead of hoping a plan, a formula, a class or a course will close the gap between your reality and your desires. You already speak the language. Of feeling, and of ...
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Today on That's What She Said, a reader question about boundaries! "...when setting boundaries, is it necessary/important to verbalize the boundaries to the person crossing them, or if the boundaries are clear inside my head, is that good enough? Meaning... Is it okay to politely decline or tell a white lie? How important is assertiveness in setting boundaries? (I'm pretty bad at assertiveness. I want to be assertive so very badly.)" I tackle all these questions and a few that weren't answered in this episode of That's What She Said, brought to you straight from the living room of my Parisian apartment during the final leg of my European trip. If you've a chronic people pleaser, an everyday white lie-maker, or the resentful soul who shows up at parties or events because you couldn't think of a good reason not to do so, this one's for you. Bonus! We talk ...
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By virtue of your reading this, you can count yourself as one of the wealthiest humans ever to have lived on the planet, even if you don't have a collection of $7,000 handbags or seventeen cars or a squadron of hired help to dress you, bathe you, feed you, and transport you. Of course, knowledge of this particular status doesn't mean you feel wealthy: I certainly don't, particularly when I'm strolling the streets of Paris and see bags in shop windows that cost more than my car. (And, let's be honest, the total value of every car I've ever owned.) Nor am I saying you should feel guilty about all you have: again, I don't. I'm simply pointing out that in the whole great, vast and wide world that is your life, your ability to have traveled on a plane puts you in a class of people who are the ...
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These are the books, people, programs, products, and miscellanium (YUP I MADE UP THAT WORD BUT YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS) that currently influence my personal life on a regular basis. (This post chronicles the business products and subscriptions that keep everything running smoothly if you want a more nuts and bolts, less subjective read!) I'm absolutely fascinated by knowing more about the people who influence people I think are nifty, so I figure you're like me and want to know what's getting my attention these days. ::insert genie-like 'your wish is my command' gesture here:: First up: the body. I find having a physical body challenging and annoying most of the time. GAWD, you're hungry again? You need what? Water!? Really!? I find taking care of my body frustrating at best and exhausting at worst, which is why any moment that I find myself enjoying my body, I take ...
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I was once in a circle of business women and it was my turn to speak to all of them, so I got up and said I wanted to give half my business away. Not 3 percent or 10 percent or any of the more reasonable numbers they suggested. Half. That statement was met with a lukewarm awkward-glances-around-the-room reception. No one is going to outright shame you for being generous enough to give half your business away, but they can shame you by reminding you that making money is REALLY FUN and DON'T FORGET THAT, and then everyone in the room can cheer and then you'll wonder what the fuck is wrong with you for not feeling so excited about money. You'll be so intimidated by your obvious brokenness when it comes to this idea that you'll table it for years. You'll have a (storied, much sought after, holy grail ...
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There's a particular ache that comes on me when the calendar is clear; when it's got appointments and scheduled brunches and get-togethers on it, but there's no train ticket or plane ticket in sight. There's a particular panic that comes of feeling stuck. I dread it more than most people dread giving up their hot water privileges for life, or talking about their orgasms in public, or doing something wildly uncomfortable like rolling around on a bunch of dill pickles like this dog. (Dude, watch that video if you want to laugh so hard you fall down. I'll wait.) Those people who have never gone anywhere -- who have never left their hometown or home county or home state -- those people don't know. You can't unsee the ocean. You can't ignore the parts of you that long for new experiences and adventures (even when they leave you covered in ...
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My best friend Doey (pictured, tidepooling with me at Steer Your Ship,) popped this off via text one morning and I thought it was too genius not to share. She'd seen one too many of those 'apply lipstick and get a new journal' posts about self-love and self-care. She wrote this in response. How to ACTUALLY Freaking Love Yourself 1. Accept that genuine compliment. Actually let it land on your heart say, "thank you" without any further explanation of why you don't actually deserve credit. 2. List ten things you're fucking amazing at. You can clean a toilet like a ninja because you even get under the rim? Honey, that's magic. Take pride in that shit, no matter how simple it might seem. 3. List five unimportant things you're not good at. You can't make a perfect batch of brownies from scratch? Me neither. Who fucking cares? Laugh at your ...
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I did a dumb thing. I did the thing where you go looking at old acquaintances and see that, from all online indicators and based on external factors, they are kicking your ass in every way possible. Oh, your program has X graduates, meaning you've raked in millions of dollars since last we spoke? NEAT. Your empire gets larger and larger at every moment, while my own influence seems to be the same as it was a few years ago? AWESOME. I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU. The thing is...it's my own freaking fault. One: I decided to go looking. And two: when I decided that I was going to go my own way, I also decided that I wasn't going to measure success by the typical standard. That means I'm not tracking likes, views, shares, or follows as a measure of my business' influence. I've tracked the numbers and the ...
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I'm proud of you. For waking up. Every day. For showering whenever possible. For seeing the mountains of work to be done, morning after morning, and going to it. For holding her up when she couldn't climb any further. For shouldering his pack when you were exhausted. For smiling when inside, you were breaking. I'm proud of you for greeting this morning with something like kindness. I know it's easier to fling yourself into despair and berate the world for all it's done, to give up on living a better or more interesting or engaging life. It's easier to shut it down. Close it down. Lock it down. I'm proud of you for opening, again and again, in the face of all the world's frustrations; for staring all those reasons to give up in the eyes and standing again, today, in the middle of the mountain. I'm proud of you ...
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Sometimes I find myself obeying rules no one ever told me or that don't make sense anymore. For example: blazers. I gave up on blazers as corporate apparel and threw all mine away when I got my own business. But then Amazon had this killer blazer and I was all, "Why can't I wear blazers, again?". Oh, BECAUSE I'M AWESOME AND MADE UP A RULE THAT I'VE ARBITRARILY FOLLOWED FOR YEARS. In big things and in little things, we follow rules. We forget that big rules (like not murdering people) matter, but often small rules (like how and when to e-mail people) are self-imposed and entirely optional. Here are a few helpful reminders to help you rid your life of self-imposed rules (and embrace your inner blazer-wearer). You don't have to watch the news. Not ever. Not once. The news hurts me physically, as I'm an empath, and so watching ...
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We leave ourselves behind all the time. We commit to the marriage, the meeting -- the next step, the next year -- even though we know it's not right. We pretend we really want the marriage, the meeting -- the next step, the next year -- leaving each loud, protesting piece of ourselves behind to rot. We make dull husks of our own lives, acting as if we can't hear all those voices howling in the wind, abandoned. The good news is. We're not dead yet. We're not dead. Yet. We can pick up each of the pieces we've left behind, without guilt or shame for failing to notice what we've been dropping all this time. We can draw our eyes up, past this parched landscape, to all that water teeming with life. We can go in. The waves are passing in short sets; the current is strong; the sharks ...
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Gotta be honest: I've scoffed at 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' every time I pass it on shelves or tables in the bookstore. I've picked it up, gone, "YAH SO YOU GET RID OF STUFF WHY IS THIS HARD," and then put it back down. Konmari? ::scoff:: I've got that shit nailed. Only I'm afraid of my basement. It's where I put all the stuff that doesn't live in my clutter-free upstairs existence. I avoid going down there so I can tell myself I've got my clutter handled and have no need for any new methods in the sparking joy department. Admittedly, some of the stuff down there is still important. I'm not going to get rid of my Christmas ornaments or my suitcases in order to free up space, 'cause I'll just end up buying them again within a few months. Likewise, I'll still need rock salt and ...
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I'll happily read this to you in podcast form, or you can scroll to your heart's content below. The guys next to us on the highway are hanging out of the truck and wildly gesticulating at the front tire. They look more than a little panicked and the wheel appears to be smoking, so we pull over. I calmly open water bottle after water bottle, handing them across the front seat, while he douses the flaming wheel over and over again. (The kids are wrapped up in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- Buckbeak is about to be terminated, rendering the vehicle fire a minor disturbance.) The truck has to be towed. Its passengers have to be transported separately to the garage for repairs. The mechanic who's driving us is clearly intimidated by the presence of a pink-haired woman, three children, and a dog dressed in her finest ...
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We're weaving through traffic, past abandoned warehouses, filthy streets, and barbed wire fences that are guarding graveyards, seeing all Philly's least savory bits in quick succession. We bang a left and it appears: the building where I got Hermione D. Granger 5-ish years ago. We've come to the shelter to adopt a kitten. SURPRISE! I prop up a smile and grab his hand. I wander into the facility and fight tears. I'm not ready for another cat, even though this is a lovely and thoughtful holiday surprise. I'm not ready to commit to caring for another living thing, no matter how darling or charming or in need of a home that creature might be at the moment. My bandwidth currently holds a giant ghostwriting project, my own smaller writing projects, a host of personal issues, a boyfriend, one cat, one dog, and one flourishing houseplant. I want to want it ...
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I believe in the sanctity of the kitchen table. I believe in writing as often as possible, for as long as possible, until you've wrung your brain dry of its contents and you've got nothing but the capacity for physical tasks left within you. I believe in circling back to the table each morning, wearing pants or not, showered or not, ready to write or not, and scrawling your whole fucking heart down the length of the whole fucking page. Whether your writing is interesting isn't your concern. The kitchen table is about telling the truth. All of it, even when you're complaining about being a female and how that means you're expected to cook meals of dinosaur chicken nuggets over and over without complaint because the kids are picky, and how men send up stunned and panicked alert flares when they are forced to cook perfect grilled cheese sandwiches ...
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Last week, a friend said, "I hate myself and I want to die." He talked and I didn't have any idea what to say, for a while, until he got around to asking the question, "What did you do when that happened to you?" It's taken 14 years to come up with an answer, and it isn't even that fucking good, so don't think I've got the secret, okay? I've only got a coupla tricks and a few metaphors, here. Also, I am not and never will be a licensed medical professional, so if you truly do want to hurt yourself, off yourself, stop living, or cease to exist, PLEASE FIND A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THEM IMMEDIATELY. Over the years, I've had to hold numerous clients accountable for making appointments with therapists and then actually going to see them. There's no shame in it -- ...
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"He's suffering." "I know, but I can't...I can't send him to die on a cold, hard table with fluorescent lighting. I CAN'T." I fall into his arms, weeping while another minute passes. "...didn't doctors...didn't they used to make house calls? Do you think there's anyone who could do that?" "I'll look into it." The doctor will call back in five minutes. He's in bed, barely breathing. His fur rises and falls, hardly perceptible, while he survives another sixty seconds. I light candles and put on some music. I congratulate myself on the choice of unicorn sheets, brand new, and think this is how I would want to die, if it came to that. They'll call in half an hour to give a time. I'm petting him softly and hoping it doesn't hurt. The ceiling fans need to be cleaned. The floor should be mopped. I should pick up the house ...
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Dude. (Or dudette, but holy crap I've always thought dudette sounds like a lame title. So...) Dude. Have you ever felt like your enjoyment of what's currently happening meant that something terrible was waiting around the corner, or like a happy scene in a movie is only designed to set up the awful thing that's about to happen? Yah. Me, too. That's up for discussion in today's episode of That's What She Said: the secret belief that if you don't enjoy this moment all the way down to its deepest bits and bathe yourself in the joy of life, that you can actually prevent the something bad that's about to happen. (Only you can't, and you know you can't, but somehow you feel better about it if you deny the happy, wibbly, soft, fun, or gleeful bits...) Let's talk about that, and about the simple (but not easy) way that ...
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You have a business and sure, you'd like to be seen a little. But not like...BE SEEN be seen. You want peeps to give you money, but that doesn't mean you want to actually be vulnerable in any capacity! Can't people just see THE REAL YOU without your having to go through the exquisite torture of actually showing them who you actually are...!!?? I feel you. Here are the most common ways I call people out when I find 'em hiding -- all of which I've tried to do, and failed. Instead of phrasing these as negatives, I made 'em actionable and positive and shit, but that's only to make them seem less scary. This shit is terrifying. + Accept compliments. + Don't lead with price. + Throw out those clothes you bought because they're practical but in no way reflect who you really are, but they were on sale ...
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Once, a few years ago, I took one of those Heal Your Money Blocks classes because I was sure that I was pretty much money-broken. Later, I found out that my business had made more money in the previous year than the teacher's had when she penned one of those tell-all, trendy-to-be-transparent essays about her income. So um...I guess my money wasn't blocked? Because I was making more than the teacher? But I didn't FEEL like I had enough, ever...? Dealing with money stuff -- issues, blocks, concerns, patterns -- is never as simple as when you ask someone to be your friend via a handwritten note in third grade. Do you want to be my money block? Circle yes or no. It's actually a really tricky, sometimes sticky situation. (That's what she said.) ...and we humans really want simple solutions to tricky situations. Like when you have a sore ...
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Like you, I get tons of e-mails every day. When I'm paying attention, those e-mails provide writing material like this: "OK, I need to think on this and get back to you. My desire is an unstoppable force and my butbutbuts are an immovable object." We ALL face excuses in our lives, and we're all privy to our own inner dialogues that make those excuses seem 100% legit. Only most of the time, excuses are a bunch of horseshit. They're little lies our minds tells us to keep us stuck, scared, trapped, immobile, paralyzed, or comfortable. I'm not immune to a single one of these, so if it seems like I'm speaking from experience, I am. ::cough:: I'm going to use a specific thing as the catalyst for all these excuses, since that's easier than coming up with ten examples for each of the ten excuses we're talking about. I'm ...
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I don't want to serve you. Serving implies that I fall at your feet, obey your every wish, and succumb to your every whim without question. Serving means I'm the woman who scrubs your feet during a pedicure, or the waitress who doesn't make eye contact while bringing your food to the table, or the clerk at the store who rings out your purchases without comment. Serving energy is heavy energy. I want to play with you. I want to see what happens when we get together and go exploring, much like reuniting Calvin and Hobbes with their trusty wagon before sending them off for an afternoon in the forest. I'll take a look at everything you don't want me to know, then have scary ideas that add up to exactly what you've always dreamed of but have never told anyone out loud. I'll pounce on you with utter delight ...
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When it comes to the world of selling our work, we can focus on making big-picture financial goals, the advice of endless(ly dull) business books, and implementing complicated strategies until the end of our days. But even if you've got the right tools in place, the right pricing in your business, and the appropriately weird marketing jiving with your peeps, there are tiny tweaks that can make the difference between making the sale and ending up penniless in a moldy apartment, curled up with only your Ramen and Netflix for company. Attitude tweaks, simple reframes of everyday situations, and offering fewer, fewer -- always fewer -- options to your peeps can go a long way toward making the sales that fluff your bank account with more than enough money for ramen, Netflix, and the rent every month. + First: ditch the question marks when you talk about pricing. Question marks ...
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There are 15,000 reasons to worry about the profitability of your business first and everything else second. Yes, your kids need shoes and college keeps getting more expensive. Yes, you want life insurance and health insurance. Yes, you want a retirement account and...yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. I understand. I do. That makes you think you should ignore your deepest and most creative work for the sake of doing urgent stuff like getting the oil changed, putting the laundry away, or paying the bills on time. Please, complete your urgent work. But this is not an either/or situation. Your taking care of these gifts you've been given does not render you incapable of managing your obligations. Don't let the Adultopus take you under. YES, you are past the age where you get to be footloose and fancy-free like your 14-year-old self. Yes, you have responsibilities. You don't have to ...
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Every now and again, I'll catch myself stacking work on top of TV shows on top of movies, with podcasts and Instagram to fill even my private in-the-bathroom moments. I'll move from screen to book to device to TV to car radio and back to screen, circling through to keep entertained for every moment, faster and ever more frenetically, until I give in to whatever it is that wants to be heard in the quiet: the message of the patient, tender creatures who live just beneath the scurrying surface of everyday life. Those patient and tender creatures of the quiet help us remember. I've remembered about music. How, given half an hour, a little sheet music, and an instrument, you can make a whole world vanish and reappear, entirely new. How there's no need to record it, save it, or capture it. How music is...and then isn't...every day, in every ...
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Today, an uncomfortable topic. Mentors, and when their voices in your head kinda sorta totally take over and hijack your ways of being in the world, and then the awkward fight to get the voices in your head to be your own again. Eeeeesh. There are mentors I've paid to engage with, mentors I've only viewed from a distance via internet-y means, and brilliant peers I've spent a great deal of time in the company of, and all of them are reflected in what follows. This isn't an indictment of any one individual or group of individuals. I've been just as influenced by a number of online gurus whom I've never met as I have been by some individuals I've spent a shit-ton of time with, and I'm guessing that you're the same way. Only we as individuals can know the measure of our influencers -- and most people wouldn't ...
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Recently, I had a new dominatrixing client referred to me by one of my most trusted peeps, and yet I was really hesitant to get on our first call together. Online, this woman appeared to be chic and elegant, styled and fancy. (All things I am not, as evidenced by everything I've ever created ever.) When we got on the phone, this delightful creature told funny stories and made me laugh and told me all about her struggles with finding clients. That's when it clicked: you're not the person you appear to be online! You're MORE than that. Yes, you like pretty and girly stuff, but you're also prone to making "That's what she said" jokes. You enjoy a styled shoot just like the next person, but you're also the one encouraging the bride to shoot hoops at her wedding. My fantastic client was leaving out the "and" because being ...
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In the storied past -- which all of us remember, to some extent -- you had to go seeking most anything you wanted to consume. To obtain a book, you had to go to a store or your local library. To read an article, you had to pick up a magazine or a newspaper. To hear music, you had to listen to a record or a tape or a CD using a physical device that couldn't be moved easily. (And my GOD, when Walkmans came out, we all rejoiced!) To watch a movie, you had to either visit the theater or stumble into Blockbuster with your friend(s) and fight for twenty minutes about what to watch before agreeing upon a film nobody particularly objected to seeing. To see photographs, you had to open an album or rifle through a shoebox or develop them yourself, in a tiny black room that ...
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Right so. I'm in Hawaii. Everybody is all jealous, and I got a shit-ton of unfollows on Instagram because I'm good at cropping life to make it look perfect here, because um...it's not very hard. Have you seen Hawaii? Aim camera in direction of ocean + years of professional photography experience = click, done, perfect. But today, I've cried a lot. And it's probably not for the reasons you'd think, like I heard a great version of "Over the Rainbow" or I was so moved to gratitude that I had to pull over and weep by a pineapple field. (Though both have happened, and recently.) Today, I went to Turtle Beach. Where the wild Hawaiian Sea Turtles often rest after a long day. They come to feed on the seaweed-laden rocks, then pull themselves up into the sand and plop down for the day. I'm swimming in the ocean, floating ...
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The game of it is getting more alive each day, refusing to close or to stifle your whole being in the face of despair. The trick of it is opening relentlessly, letting all the world reach you: exposing your neck to a creature who may bite. Refusing to kill off your most vital bits when it does. ...and when you find those who are more alive than you, ask their secrets. (This is the only one I know so far.) -- Expansion, contraction, and the best obituary you can imagine. It's light and dark, easy and oh-so-difficult, in this episode of That's What She Said ...
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Money doesn't equal success, though it is an easy shorthand to refer to when you're not feeling particularly creative. Here are 10 alternative ways to check in with your success without referencing your bank account: + Working from home without losing your mind. + Going through a tube of sunscreen per week due to incessant beach visits. + Spending more than an hour outside on a work day. + Refusing to lead with price. + Going for the little win. + Going your own way, even when it's pretty much insane looking to everyone else. + Embracing your creative process. + Soliciting feedback and realizing your clients see you. And love you. + Refusing to give up on your soul's work. + Releasing a project that was many years in the making ...
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Give me mess, and questions with no answers, and long days spent doing absolutely nothing but cuddling under a blanket with the perfect roast of coffee to drink. Fuck perfection. Fuck professionalism. Fuck the thin veneer meant to mask worlds of hurt and derision. Give me the truth. Give me your pain and your vulnerable bits. Give me those pieces to hold together and love as you fall swiftly apart. Fuck lying of all kinds, both to yourself and to those around you. Fuck holding it together and keeping calm. Give me the tears, the unborn bits, the dreams that will not die no matter how many times you have tied them in a bag full of rocks and thrown them into the lake to drown. Let’s start there, love. Let’s start with what’s keeping you alive — or at least what refuses to die — and bring it into ...
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When I was 14, I was the world's greatest poet. I knew everything there was to know, and my perfectly rhyming, perfectly innocent poems were my star babies. I finished my poetry projects on time and I got an A+ long before anyone else had even submitted their work. This writing stuff is easy! I'm going to do this for a living! ...and then I met my first love. And loved hard. And broke up. Solitude used to be my favorite thing, but it became a torture chamber. Depression and loneliness were waiting for me every time I got a second alone. By sticking to safe subjects and easy formulas, I had mastered absolutely nothing in my earlier years. But hot damn, I had fallen in love with the words themselves. And so I returned to them. I crawled around the shores of poetry, littered with words, and started clunking ...
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You are not allowed to fall at the feet of the muse and play victim. You are called to show up. To give it time. Commitment. Playmates. (It isn't great work because it's easy. It's great work because it is only yours to do.) You will fall down and you will let yourself down. Without a doubt. You will get back up and it will be okay. Without a doubt. You will do your work and it won't be the thing everyone understands, or the thing Grandma wishes you would do, or the thing your partner keeps pushing at you to make a few extra bucks. It's the thing you deny; the thing you run from, the whisper you pretend doesn't exist so you can get through one more day. It calls to you. Softly. Loudly. At inopportune moments. When you're sleeping and when you're fresh from dreamland. In the ...
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It's different every morning. Sometimes it's cleaning up the kitchen, righting everything in my path. Emptying the dishwasher and wiping the counters while waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. Sometimes it's listening to a podcast and hoping something sticks. Sometimes it's setting up my office outside, and lately it's been heading for the local Starbucks. Today it was praying to all that's holy: "Carry me." Finding a way into your creative work can be the hardest part of working. The monumentally stressful bits aren't what everyone would imagine them to be: writing once you've started, or painting once you've made the time, or making up a recipe once you've gathered your ingredients and laid them all out before you. The hardest part is the first step: staring at the blank page. Stepping into the studio. Giving up all the chores, tasks, and to-do's you use to distract yourself in ...
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I always love seeing what my favorite people do all day. When do they wake up, when do they eat breakfast, when do they take breaks, and how much do they get done in a day? How much structure do they have, where do they work, and what does 'typical' look like? While I don't find this information about myself all that interesting (because I'm me, and I do it every day), I hope it lets you see how it's possible to ride the line between flexibility and Getting Shit Done; between setting an agenda and going with the flow; and between balancing working to live and living to work. Luckily for you, this particular day includes regrettable Jersey Shore decisions and motel conspiracies. 7:00 a.m. // Alarm goes off. Roll over, grumble, and ignore. 7:45 a.m. // Actual alarm. Stumble out of bed, feed animals, empty the dishwasher, sweep ...
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I can say "I like going to Whole Foods" kindly and simply, because I like looking at pyramids of lemons whilst picking up my citrus fruits. Or I can say "I like going to Whole Foods" with disdain, as if your choice to not be at Whole Foods right now makes you lower than cockroach scum on the food chain. As if to say: My choices? SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS. I used to judge everyone I met before they could judge me. It was a game I played in real time, passing people on the street: Fat. Bald. Jiggly. Those shoes. Those teeth. Hair. Loud. Rude. Redneck. Mullet. Republican. ...on and on, thinking of all the insults I could give in case those strangers insulted me first. I was beating them to the punch! Go me! Only. No one ever insulted me. No complete stranger ever appeared out of ...
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My dreams aren’t small. My life is big. I care too much about living, about drinking beers with friends and reading and painting and long lunches and days at the beach and spontaneous roadtrips to schedule myself within an inch of my life or sacrifice the endless now for some indeterminate future where I’ll have time to do all the things I’m already doing, only with a bigger wardrobe and much better investments. I refuse to give up the ability to stop everything and write a poem on a park bench in the middle of the afternoon. Because my dreams aren’t small. My life is big. P.S. You are called to expand ...
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I finished writing a book! And do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. The world doesn’t hold a parade or launch surprise fireworks or ship you a case of champagne because you finished a book or completed that project or sold that thing or lost those pounds. It keeps on keeping on, and it’s your job to celebrate well. In this episode of That’s What She Said, we talk about the importance of celebrating, of refusing to move the goal line (i.e. I wanted to lose 3 pounds but then I did that so now I want to lose 30), about saying “yes” to living, and refusing to worship at the altar of Busy. (When you find a worshipper, unsubscribe. Unfollow and walk away slowly.) Let’s talk space. Freedom. Time. White space. And fake tattoos with cocktails. P.S. In case you're jealous: how to write a book ...
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Silence. Sure, you can blast music or turn to a screen or open a magazine. You can also give yourself some space. Ten breaths. Five minutes. A long pause. Yoga. (Or whatever gives you energy and makes your body feel good.) Bikram is a pain in my ass because it's long (90-minute class), it's far away (30-minute drive), and it requires doing a load of laundry immediately (105-degree temperatures will do that). It's also an energetic shakedown that leaves me feeling better than when I went into the room, no matter what. Totally worth it. Tears. Let it out. Roll around, get all dramatic, be miserable, and then move on. It's the keeping-it-stuck-and-refusing-to-cry energy that causes gross stuff to happen, not a few tears rolling down your face. Travel. Always, even when it doesn't seem to fit the schedule or the budget. This has taken me to California and Baltimore ...
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“I’m not very good at taking care of myself.” My client confessed it as if she was telling me she'd killed a puppy or strangled her next door neighbor for playing music too loudly. Instead, I laughed. You're not good at taking care of yourself? Oh hi, welcome to the club. We all have cycles that govern our lives, and we all pretend they can be ignored in the name of getting more shit done for our businesses, our families, our work, our pets, our kids, our colleagues, our…everything-but-our-selves. In this episode of That’s What She Said, we talk about all the cycles. Sleep cycles. Hunger cycles. Sugar-craving cycles. Procrastination cycles. Work cycles. Menstrual cycles. All of it. You’re not stupid or terrible or awful person. You just need to take an honest look at your cycles. You'll also hear my favorite counter-intuitive business advice and I'll love on the ...
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You're broke. Or you feel broke, even though technically there's money in your bank account. You're getting paid $1.17 after taxes or child support payments or expenses. You owe thousands upon thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Your clients aren't booking like they usually do. You're freaking out. You can't quite breathe. Feeling powerless and overwhelmed by mounds of debt sucks big hairy balls. So first, before we talk strategies or how-to's or ideas that might help you out, take back your power. You can turn this around if you refuse to be overwhelmed by it. You run a business, and you've got income streams at your disposal. You've also got a brain, some good ideas, and three minutes to do this exercise with me. Ready? How can you make $1,000 in the next week? Not $7,000 or $12,000 or $47,000...one thousand dollars. You've made a thousand dollars before ...
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The other night, I dreamed that my Dad and I were in Punxsutawney to hear John Candy's stand-up routine when Bill Murray showed up and asked for a sip of my shamrock shake. (Obviously.) When we makers and business owners doubt our creativity or think we've got nothing new to say, isn't it neat that our brains can conjure this shit up? John Candy is dead, shamrock shakes are out of season, my Dad and I aren't planning a roadtrip, and Bill Murray...yah yah yah yah yah, my brain gestures impatiently. JUST WATCH. The creative act -- whether you're making dinner or a new product or a different service or a movie or painting or a day that feels better than yesterday -- comes with plenty of roadblocks that make logical sense. You're tired. You're out of cash. You've got no supplies. You're not as good as ______________. But that ...
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This is the part where you weep, and it isn't pretty. Admit to all that isn't working. Everything that can't be fixed. The deadlines you've missed. The ways you've let yourself down. All the reasons he or she or they would have done it better. This is the part where you let it break. It's not going according to plan. You're tired. You don't know how you'll finish. You can't quite see the way. You haven't been able to see the way for entirely too long. This is the part where you hold your heart up, barely beating, and ask why anyone would want it anyway. This is the not the dramatic victory. Nor is it the defeat. This is the eleventh hour. This is when you invite bright faith to join you, together listening for the steady pulse beneath it all: This matters, this matters, this matters. You matter, ...
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I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that I don't write books like most people. Other writers tell me they maintain a fairly slow and steady pace, chipping away a thousand words at a time for months upon months. Years, even. They are perfectly capable of submitting detailed outlines to editors and of making a legit Table of Contents they'll stick to as their book unfolds. Not me. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the way I write, in all its glory. (Hint: there's not really any glory. But there is a rainbow keyboard.) First, I go hunting. I gather up all the scraps and bits and snippets I've written on my phone, on my laptop, and in my notebooks. Podcast pieces, class transcripts, and poems. Inspiring words I've written as responses to particularly moving e-mails. All of it. Everything I've written since the last time I released a book. I ...
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I'm at the wedding, plopped in an adirondack chair high in the yard, enjoying a cold beer while I watch folks in fancy dress mingle on the dock. The chatter of the other guests is all around me, a gentle fuzz of voices, when a woman stops in front of my seat. "Who are you and why are you sitting all by yourself!?" I blink. And laugh. "I'm the DJ's girlfriend. I don't know anyone." "Well, this is my daughter, Carli, and this is Grandma. Now you know someone." A blue-eyed old woman clutching red wine and smoking copiously plops down beside me. Carli, blond and light, proceeds to talk about Beverly Hills 90210 ("If my boyfriend is ever a drug dealer, I should dump him, right?"), her friends' moms and dads ("They're living together but she pays all his bills, that's not right, is it?"), and her 10th birthday ...
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One of the most common questions peeps ask me the first time we chat, whether in person or on the phone, is how I got to be me -- this person who can drop the f-bomb and have pink hair and say the things no one else wants to say, and then expose deep parts of myself on the internets for all to see -- without being crippled by fear or doubt or all the terrible things that could befall me for such vulnerability. How do I do THAT? It's a process, but here's the thing: I don't give a fuck. Each and every day, I have to guard the fucks I give, and worrying about what people think will steal my fucks like nothing else. I have to help people be true to themselves, and write books and make podcasts and take care of my cats and dog and ...
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Turns out I'm doing this podcasting thing all wrong. I started a podcast with only one episode. (Apparently I was supposed to have 3 to 8 to start.) I've got no editorial calendar, because I talk about what my peeps are talking about, and I can't know what they'll be talking about in six to nine months. (PARTY FOUL. Big time.) I've got short episodes with no editing, no intro or outro, no witty theme song, and no sponsors. (Only a voice and a mic? Holy fuck, SO WRONG.) I don't have the big fancy epic podcast hosting package that assures me I'll be successful. I don't pay $200-$300 an episode for a transcript because I write most of what I'm going to say out beforehand. (UGH NO TRANSCRIPT! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, HOW COULD YOU!?) I don't care about whether I'm featured in the New & ...
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I'm six, high on sugar and singing Jingle Bells with my church group, when we walk into the nursing home. She reaches out to touch my face and all of a sudden, tears stream down my cheeks. I look into her eyes and feel the weight of the sorrow that surrounds her like a shroud. It's heavy and hopeless, a familiar cloak to the woman before me. For a handful of moments, I know the many facets of her sadness, even as she sits listening to the these well-meaning Christmas carolers singing in her cramped living room. This is my earliest memory of feeling someone else's feelings. We had visited private homes and nursing homes like this one on our caroling rounds. I wasn't expecting this one to be any different. But then I met that old lady, reaching forward with such joy and transferring such sorrow to me. The ...
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You're going to start reading those books you've purchased or working through those programs you've been hoarding on your hard drive or listening to those language recordings tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or this summer. You've got no time right now, and you haven't had time for the past few years. But someday...soon...SOON... Let's cut the bullshit, okay? Either you care about that thing, or you don't. You're going to survive either way. You have permission to delete the recording or programs you're not going to use. They're eating up mental bandwidth and draining your energy by causing you to feel guilty each and every time you stumble across them. Maybe you've moved on. That information is no longer fascinating, or no longer applicable. Toss it. Delete it. Donate it. Recycle it. Get it out of your life. Maybe you've changed your mind. You were going to take ...
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There's an art to keeping yourself motivated over the long haul. It isn't as simple as following five steps in a row, or making a Motivation Map or vision board or whatever the shizbuckets is popular these days. Motivation is complicated, and it's most difficult to manage when you're already sleep-deprived, broke, stressed, or all three. But tiny rituals help. Tiny rituals are just that...tiny. Daily. Rituals. They're habits that keep you not only motivated, but fully alive and present. They're not a big deal, they don't require your participation in any 30-day challenges, and they take no offense if you skip a day or 17. Tiny rituals aren't little judgey assholes scrunching up their noses while discussing how much you suck. They're immensely helpful little beings of light. Tiny ritual #1: guard your beginnings and endings. Whether you're choosing to work for nine minutes or nine hours a day, ...
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When I talk with peeps about my history of getting all honest and vulnerable on the regular, whether I'm talking about depression or how it feels to fail miserably or how hard it is for me to take time off and chill the fuck out instead of working constantly, they end up asking one thing: how!? How do you know it will work? How do you know people won't say horrible things? How do you know people won't judge you, or use your secrets against you, or make fun of you? I don't. I don't know that it will work, or that people will refrain from saying horrible things, or that I won't be judged heavily and mightily. Opening is an act. It's one I've come to rely on as the only way to step further into whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing in the world. In 2009, ...
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Any of these sound familiar? You're afraid of making more money because you think you’ll somehow change -- like making six or seven figures means you sprout horns and become a racist, sexist, no good, very bad asshole of DOOM. (It doesn’t make any sense when you say it out loud, but when one more BMW driver cuts you off in traffic, it seems to make perfect sense.) Or you don't think you deserve it. Or you don't trust yourself to make more money. (I mean, you keep spending the money you make sort of poorly — like, where does it go!? — so you figure you’ll just continue the cycle, only with tens of thousands of dollars at a time. Or you're caught in a pattern of just getting by, and that's how you're most comfortable: NOT getting paid. Or you're actually quite secure in letting your partner or ...
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Once we've determined how many lights on your dashboard are blinking, and you've established a baseline for self care, we can talk about ways to get your real life back. To get your energy back. To restore the peace you deserve, instead of running around like an iPhone-addicted-blinking-beeping-dinging maniac. It's time to actively reclaim all your energies. Input, input, input. Make sure your active collection of inspiration is equal to all the work you're putting into the world. Episode 5 of my That's What She Said podcast covers this in detail. Facebook groups. Quit 'em, leave 'em, give up the administration of 'em. I recently left all the groups I'd joined -- even the ones I'd paid to be a part of -- because I simply wasn't using them. I felt a pang of anxiety each time one showed up in my newsfeed -- but not ENOUGH anxiety to click ...
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For years, my best friend Doey's corporate work meant she came home five days a week with her brain turned to mush and preeeeetty much all her energies sapped. She flopped on the couch before she could talk to Marty, even though they were newly married and she loved him more than anyone else on the planet. Those few minutes of rest could stretch into hours, simply because she's a total introvert who had to expend all her extroverted juice (and then some) throughout the course of her day job. I guarantee you're not reading that like, "Doey sounds like a real ASSHOLE." You're nodding in agreement because you've been there. We've all had jobs that pretty much drove us crazy and that seemed to leech our energies from us without our awareness. We've come home with absolutely nothing left to give. But nothing changes if you don't. It's your ...
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If your business magically morphed into some sort of military-grade operation — you’re flying a solo mission of the utmost importance over Japan tonight, and the fate of the free world rests in your hands — do you even have enough fuel to get there? Or do you crash and burn? How many lights on your dashboard are blinking? In practical terms, this means taking stock of everything that’s going on in your life at the moment. We can’t pretend your business doesn’t affect your personal life, or vice versa. These questions will help you sort out exactly where you stand. If the answer is anything but a smug 'HANDLED,' it's a blinking light. (You know whether it's a problem or not.) How many times in the last week have you said you’re “busy?” Do you feel overwhelmed, out of control, freaked out, or stressed the majority of the time? ...
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When you think of absolutely crucial sales tools for your business, you probably think of technology. Apps, credit card swipes, merchant processing accounts, and maybe good ol' Paypal. But in truth, your ultimate sales tool is an attitude. It's the art of not-reacting to whatever is coming up with your clients, no matter how awkward, and is known as...wait for it...non-reactive presence. Non-reactive presence is the most important skill you'll need to master for long-term success in keeping your peeps happy. (Where non-reactive presence means not losing your shit when you'd like to completely and utterly go berserk.) Cultivating your non-reactive presence means maximizing your ability to keep yourself calm and centered at all times. Even while receiving criticism or negative feedback. Even when people are being unreasonable or a little bit crazy. Further, it's being able to find the useful nuggets hidden within the words a person is saying ...
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You’re going to fail. Hard. You’re going to fall flat on your face, like the 13-month-old kid who’s learning to walk and then WHAM! catches a lip on the coffee table and screams for the next 40 minutes. You’re going to wish you had never, ever started a business. You’re going to compare yourself to others’ highlight reels. The victorious tales. The entrepreneur who started with a peanut, a paper clip and thirty cents and then sold the company for $1.2 billion. The woman who made cookie treats in her basement and then started the world’s largest cookie franchise. Tale after tale, like stark-raving success porn, lavished upon you via the interwebs and in all the business magazines available at your local bookstore. Only sometimes, the tales aren’t victorious. Sometimes you biff really hard, like that time you were trying to do a wheelie on your bike to impress your ...
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For a while, it was all about the food. Bear and I didn't want to cook breakfast and we needed some eating establishment close by to remedy the problem. That's how we ended up at Rich's. The first few times we went, we wondered how the place stays in business: paper plates, really? Ads on the tables, really? Color-coded booths and Good Morning America on the TV, really? We judged the crap out of the place, but as we still found ourselves hungry for breakfast each morning, we kept going. The waitresses learned our daily order. They started bringing our drinks without asking. The hostess learned about what we do. The twin sisters who work there asked if we wanted to hang out sometime. The owner learned our faces and started making inappropriate jokes when he saw us. At some point, the shift from 'this is the place where we ...
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Over the course of a few years, I’ve watched a colleague make wildly successful stuff from a distance. She’s reworked and reworked the same material until it shines. EVERYTHING is more beautiful than ever. The website is glamorous and cutting-edge. The downloads are speedy, the content is precise, the user experience from start to finish is clean and has been absolutely perfected. But it just doesn’t feel like it used to. It feels a little cold, a little sterile. A little too shiny. A little too ‘YAY ISN’T LIFE SO GREAT NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENS TO ME EVER, SORRY FOR YOU MOTHERFUCKERS WHO AREN’T LIVING A PERFECT LIFE. I'VE NEVER HAD AN EVEN MODERATELY BAD HAIR DAY, AND ALL RED LIGHTS NATURALLY TURN GREEN IN MY PRESENCE, SUCKAH.’ I was clicking around, wondering how making something better and better could actually HURT an endeavor, when it struck me: You can ...
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Every year, when spring hits, I go a teensy bit crazy. I start working on tasks that I've ignored all winter like the fate of the world depends on them. Like... The stovetop must be scoured, the windows must be washed, the painting must be touched up. IF THE BASEMENT STAIRS AREN'T SWEPT AND MOPPED TODAY, THE ALIENS WILL WIN. It gets a little crazy. Then, inevitably, the place looks better. SO much better that I notice the light fixture in the bathroom is looking a little...dated. And the kitchen housewares could use a good purging. And I'd reaaaaaally like this new wallpaper for the bedroom. The list goes on and on. One good change leads to another, just the way we all used to be disgusted by green smoothies and now we suck 'em down without thinking twice. I'm not going to advocate over-the-top cleaning of your house today ...
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I see you, there. You're scared. You're pretty sure this isn't going to work. The business is going to dry up. It's never going to take off. They're going to say bad things about you. You feel like it's broken, like you're doing all the wrong things, like your life has no real meaning. You're tired. You've been working nonstop on this thing and you don't even know if it's the right thing. You feel like you're months behind on the rest of you life. I see you, there. You're doing the work. The work most people never have the courage to do. You're putting in the time, falling down and getting up and collecting lessons like crazy. You're getting wiser and smarter. You're growing lighter and more alive. I see you, there. You're a wonder. (Please don't forget it this time.) ...
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Modern magazines and newspapers and TV shows like Shark Tank make owning a business look like the most glamorous thing on Earth. Oooh, look at that hustle! Oooh, check out that drive! Wow, sales QUINTUPLED after being on the show, and now she’s the most fulfilled chocolate-pretzel-dipping factory owner on Earth! Making your living through business is all fine and dandy, but no one is talking about the sidecar. If owning a business is like riding a motorcycle, all the shit that comes with business is the sidecar. (We’re not talking a cute sidecar like the one Sean Connery rides around in during Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, either.) The sidecar holds all the stuff you didn’t sign up for when you daydreamed about being paid to do what you’re good at: bookkeeping, accounting, social media management, time management, e-mail management, boundary-setting, promotion-making, cashflow projections, tax filing, client communications, ...
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We all have things we'd rather not share. There's the usual: photos of the messy house/child/pet/car/desk/area. Shamrock Shakes as dinner. That stack of stuff behind the bedroom door. The mismatched outfit you wore out of the house before you realized it was sort of tragic. (Two tie-dyes NEVER match, dammit.) There's the unusual: your cheeseboard fetish. Your video game collection. Your curated-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives bookshelves. And then there's the truly messy stuff of life. Your doubts, your failures, your depression. When I talked about my depression more than a year and a half ago in this article, I had no idea how it would strike a nerve with peeps -- but lately, they're asking for more. Yes, you HAVE depression, but how do you HANDLE it? That, my friends, is the topic of the Second That's What She Said podcast. In this episode, you'll get short, practical, and simple steps for managing ...
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Sometimes, listening to a podcast is easier than reading. In That's What She Said, I'll help you make more money, magic, and meaning while swearing up a storm and frustrating audiophiles all over the world with the occasional appearance of one barking Hermione D. Granger dog. Fresh episodes hit on Tuesdays. Get started by picking an episode below! Patreon-only episode: Joy is an act of resistance. Patreon-only episode: How to hermit without breaking your life. Joining The Order of the Phoenix includes Patreon-only podcast episodes, members-only monthly calls, and a boatload of poems, all for $8 a month. Become a Patron! 100: Stay on it. (That's What She Said.) 99: Aspiring beam of light with Natalie Moser. 98: Being brave with Nick McArthur. 97: How to be brave in business. 96: Your brain is (still) an asshole. 95: How to use your dollars to shape the world. 94: Stop Self ...
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My peeps chase freedom like nobody's business, but holy crap can it be hard to make that abstract concept tangible and clear. For some it looks like a boho fantasy that culminate in Burning Man, while for others it looks like tens of thousands in a 401(k) and a meeting with a financial planner. No matter which way you go, though...freedom has tenets and relies on basic actions in the world. Here are ten ways I've collected that will help you get freer pretty much instantly. Say "no." All the time. This morning, this afternoon, tomorrow. To that client, to that request, to that offer for 'exposure' or 'credit' or good feels. Here are 20 perfectly nice ways to say "no" if you need help in this department. Say "yes" to the unexpected. Surprise yourself. Work three hours longer than you intended. Take the whole day off. Drive to the ...
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"Therapy doesn't work. It just...doesn't." "Well," I ask, "did you ever tell your therapist the truth?" ::eye dart:: "Yah..." "The whole truth?" "No, of course not. Those parts of me are too messy to be seen." "Ah, you gave them cauliflower. The real problem was that you don't know how to be in the world after [insert traumatic event], and you told them your cauliflower wasn't seasoned correctly, metaphorically speaking. So you talked about how to cook cauliflower, and which spices to use, and you looked up cauliflower tricks and you now make the best cauliflower on Earth, but...cauliflower was never really the problem." "Exactly." Whether you're working with a coach, a therapist, a trainer, a teacher, a mentor, a facilitator, a spiritual advisor, or a mastermind group, telling the deep truth is the only way to get meaningful help. Yes, you want more clients. But really? You're afraid of ...
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As you navigate your time in business -- and on this planet -- you're naturally going to come up against some awkward-as-shit situations. People won't pay on time, or they'll have complaints you can't possibly have seen coming, or they'll demand a full refund for a product they've just happily consumed. Oh, you didn't like the donuts!? THEN WHY DID YOU EAT A DOZEN OF THEM? It's not easy to handle these things, but here's a stab at tackling most any awk-a-awk-a-awkwardness you're currently facing. Give yourself a minute. As in, say "I'll get back to you" or "Let me check" or "I'm not sure." There's no need to have an answer the minute someone asks a question. If I ask you what the answer to the equation 372 x 485 is, you don't have an immediate answer. You would need to consult your calculator. The same goes for, "Can ...
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Let's visit The Land of Brutal Honesty. It's a dark place, but a necessary one. In the land of brutal honesty, we've got to talk about the voices in your head that say terrible things. Let's hone in on my personal voice, since that's the one most readily available to me at any given time. My personal voice says I'm too fat to do __________, where any activity that fills in the blank has nothing to do with the size of my things. Friend, here is actual dialogue heard coming from my brain in the past week: "You weigh 182 pounds, you think you can write that!?" (For sure, the number on the scale affects my ability to make sentences. Don't you know people who weigh less than 100 pounds make the best sentences? You. Break. Sen. tences, Kris-ten?) "You're so...fucking...fat. So fat. Soooooo fat." (This one plays on loop ...
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"I can't do that...I've got a core group of people I serve, and they want to see new stuff from me," she said, one month into motherhood and sleep deprived on a Thursday morning. I protested. "But...it's not like what you write only applies to one day. Brilliant articles about the way minds work or why consumers do what they do aren't only relevant for one day a year!" She sighed. "Okay...okay." Like many of us, she's tempted to keep creating and creating, pushing and pushing without end. We're all subjected to the absolute tyranny of The New. (Note the caps, people: this is serious. The New.) In social media terms, if it was created more than 30 minutes (or seconds) ago, it's useless or worthless or irrelevant, unless it's showing up in a retro-oriented Buzzfeed quiz or freaking ancient and on display at The Met. Only The New isn't ...
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We’re chatting and my dominatrixing client is talking about how well things are going. She’s made significant changes to her business. It feels better, it’s growing, it’s no longer a source of disagreement in her marriage. We laugh, we make plans to talk again. Before we hang up she says, “Wait, Kristen. I just need some encouragement.” “Yah?” “I feel like… There’s way too much to learn…everyone else is doing it so well and I’m never gonna catch up.” Ah. Yes. THAT. Welcome to the club. There is SO much to learn — about everything, all the time. We have access to millions of classes at our fingertips. Where once we had to go to great effort to learn new stuff, now it’s practically beating down our doors. Sorting through the available classes to figure out which ones are worth it is difficult. Making the time to learn the things ...
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"Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage." -- Brene Brown When we talk about being brave, according to all the most current and relevant research we have, we're talking about being vulnerable. UGH. I know that's not what you want to hear. You want to tell the safe stories and the successful stories. Those aren't nearly as effective as the ones that lay it all on the line. Tell the story that makes you cry. The stories that move people to tears -- that make people want to follow you, listen to you, meet you, or give you money -- are the stories that have hurt you. Deeply. Tell your people about your depression. About your loved one's battle with Alzheimer's. About the struggle, without the triumphant ending, in which you fail miserably. About giving the eulogy for your hero. Let them see you, warts and all. If it's ...
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The funeral starts in 12 hours. We’re tired, we’ve just driven five hours to reach her, and she’s not home. We carve the screen on her window to pieces, slip into the house, and pass out on her bed until she gets home the next morning. In the days before cell phones, my friend Dawn wasn’t easy to reach. She flitters, she flies. She’s a freaking butterfly. So Doey and I ended up breaking into her house in Syracuse on the night before her Grandma’s funeral. To be there for her, even though she didn’t ask for our presence. It’s what friends do. They make time. They show up when it counts. They don’t count the cost or keep tabs. You jump, I jump. I’m in. Of course. Yes! You got it. I’m there. When grown-ups talk about the world of friendship, they seem fairly bitter. She didn’t…he didn’t…that bitch…ugh…I ...
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You don’t have enough time to do it the perfect way. It would take six years to write a novel at your pace. It will take six months to make a single painting with the little time you steal away. The graphic designer you want to hire has a one year waitlist. All true. All true. And yet. Sometimes the answer is to just do it — to go for the little win. You can go the Pinteresting route and take 8 steps to create a gallery wall in your house, or you can eyeball it and just start hammering. You can make an editorial calendar for the next six months, or you can write a blog post and publish it today. You can plan your whole year around the new brand or product or service or novel you’re going to create, or you can hammer out a first draft ...
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Being in business is a lot like being on a trek in the mountains. You're putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, and you're not exactly sure you're on the right path. The conditions change, you question your choices, and you feel good or not so good. You keep going. You're climbing Mount Visibility, getting the world to notice your business and what you have to offer. How do you reach the summit without burning out or driving your customers crazy? 1.) Stop hiding. It’s the hardest step, and it’s not freaking easy. Are you willing to be seen? Are you ready for it to be embraced, beloved, and generally chatted up like a Kardashian at a champagne mixer in Vegas? Are you willing for your work to be brushed over, ignored, and misunderstood? You’ve got to be ready for both sides of the coin when ...
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Most peeps in small business — ESPECIALLY creatives, the bulk of the peeps I work with — think they’re annoying the ever-loving snot out of their customers by contacting them. They send e-mails out to their peeps MAYBE twice a month, more like once a month, or maybe…okay, let’s be honest. Twice a year. They freak about what to say (my ultimate newsletter template can help), how to say it, and how much they’re “bothering” their peeps. Let me tell you a story about bear pants. See, I bought these pants for a friend’s birthday. I don’t normally shop in Eddie Bauer, but I unwittingly unleashed the hounds with this purchase. Turns out, I bought a flannel-printed marketing deluge. I’ve gotten multiple e-mails every week detailing the sales, promotions, specials, and just-for-me offers Eddie has waiting. 15 e-mails in 3 weeks. 15. E-mails. In 3 weeks. You think YOU’RE being ...
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It's that time, folks. In the world of business education, there are endless programs, supplements, downloads, books, and classes to consider. There's one you're probably SICK of considering, too. 😉 There are plenty of opportunities you're interested in, but might pass up because they seem to be "expensive." Only they're actually investments, and the best investments double or triple or quintuple in value over time. With simple math, we can see that if you are trying to make triple your money back and invest $2,000, you're likely to make close to six grand -- but if you invest $39 in some ready-made solution or template, you're likely to make...NEARLY $120 when your investment triples. (Woopity doo.) We often make the mistake of seeing investment in an experience as the risk, when the far greater risk is being stuck exactly where we are. As humans, we get so much life, aliveness, ...
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Baking bread. An actual day planner. That big calendar on the wall. A tattered notebook full of ideas. Books. (Novels, cookbooks, reference books, coffee table books…books.) Walking. Landines. Mix tapes. Film. There’s something downright magical about indulging in the analog world. There’s also something rebellious about taking the time-consuming, not-as-productive, not-even-a-little-bit-rushed way. Taking the time to read a book instead of watching the movie makes time for magic. The gaps between putting the bread in the oven and waiting for the oven to ding make room for dance parties and long conversations. The distance between a roll of film being shot and returning, developed, to its owner is nearly infinite. Anything can happen in the interim. In a world that’s pushing for more and more faster and faster, I dare you to slow way down and enjoy the process itself. If you’re writing, grab a notebook. If you’re shooting, choose ...
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I work with insanely talented, passionate entrepreneurs who are making and doing incredible things, only they're facing down a common enemy: hiding. Not wandering off into the woods and going off the grid. Not playing hide and seek. Hiding, like self sabotaging to make sure no one takes notice of their work. Sound familiar? You keep doing the work and making insanely awesome stuff happen in your business, and then… making absolutely sure no one sees it in wildly creative ways. Failing to blog about it entirely. Not mentioning it when clients ask. Offering to do it for free instead of getting paid. Staying so afraid someone will “copy” it that you never show it to anyone. Refusing to get on stage even though that’s where you’re happiest. Not telling anyone about that new thing you made up. It’s common to hide when we’re talking about your life’s work. This ...
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Ever started a new routine to handle your time during the day? It goes like this… I’m gonna do all the things! Look at me, weeeeeeeeeeeee, I’M DOING ALL THE THINGS! I am a golden goddess! I am perfect! Then, a week goes by. You sleep in, or you miss an appointment, or you decide to get rid of that time you allotted for marketing in order to catch up on some e-mail. And then it happens. Screw you, stupid schedule! You go all freeform on your time. You don’t try salvaging what’s working, you just dump the whole schedule out of your life and go back to freestyle getting things done. So. Nothing gets done. A few weeks later… I’m gonna do all the things! ::and round and round it goes:: As a business owner, there are questions that can frame your day without rigid scheduling. How will I ...
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In my bikram yoga classes, teachers are required to follow a script. For ninety minutes, they're told what to say, when to say it, and how long each pose should last. Everything is timed to the second, and everything is strictly regimented. The room must be 105 degrees. The humidity must be set to forty percent. The lighting must be overhead and unflattering. The mirrors must be placed at the front and sides of the room. (You get the idea.) You'd think there'd be no major differences between teachers, right? WRONG. To protect the innocent, we'll change names and run through the teachers I've worked with recently. Let's-call-him-Brandon is a new teacher. He barrels through class without any variation or ad-libbing because he's so clearly afraid of forgetting his lines entirely. He hardly pauses between poses, anxious to get on with the next one. Tiffany is ALL. RULES. She keeps ...
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You walk in the front door and the whole house smells like dinner. You feel safe, loved, and warm — cause man, it’s cold outside. Only there’s no one in the kitchen. There’s no one slaving away at the counter, blasting music and chopping vegetables. There’s only your crockpot. Your glorious, magnificent crockpot, who toils away for hours without reward to turn raw things into delicious masterpieces with no effort on your part. (I mean, it's about as sexy as granny panties, but it's still glorious.) It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? So often, we treat our businesses as stomping grounds for raw ingredients: combine this and this, sell. Add this to that, sell. But... Business doesn’t have to be a simple equation that starts with your effort and ends with…more effort. Why not leave a room for the slow simmer of your crockpot? For creating a body of work ...
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You know how sometimes, you're going about your day and then one simple phrase changes the way you see absolutely everything? Here's the phrase that has kept me gobsmacked for the better part of a year. Your first job is to receive. It doesn't seem like much, and it might even strike you as some kind of new-age-y bullshit. Hear me out. This is coming from an internationally best-selling author, a lightning bolt of controversy who has his own TV show and enjoys the benefits of having Oprah on speed dial. He's not giving advice to push, to get out there and make shit happen, to take action and more action and even more action. He's not saying, "Your first job is to hustle." Or pray. Or wake up earlier. Or buy my $2,000 program. Your first job is to receive. To take stock of what you've already got and ...
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Here's the thing. The thing about finding your voice and then expressing it. We can make it into a big, complicated search with much wringing of hands and lamenting of life circumstances, or we can do some activities and fill in some blanks. I'm a fan of the latter, so let's get your voice out into the world. I call finding your voice being a flavor, because hey, that sounds less cliche. And I call the most distinct flavor ever 'cilantro,' because people either love it or hate it. Be a Flavor rule #1: Like stuff. Any stuff. “Stupid” stuff, embarrassing stuff, petty stuff. Guilty pleasure stuff. Political stuff, religious stuff, hipster stuff. Quirky stuff, funny stuff, nerdy stuff. Geeky stuff, pretty stuff, new stuff, used stuff. You already like what you like, but you probably haven’t made a habit of sharing your likes with the world. Sure, you’ve filled ...
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There's this crazy notion out there that one day, you'll arrive. You'll make it. You'll get this glorious moment of knowing that it's all been worth it, and that you've triumphed once and for all. Only we both know that moment doesn't arrive. Unless you win a freaking Oscar, and even then, it only lasts until your next movie comes out or people go back to calling you "Mork." So, then... Why do you put yourself through this? The late nights. The early mornings. The endless text messages and e-mails and status updates and phone calls and demands and expectations and pressures and paperwork and busywork and other work? Why do you do what you do? Like most of the good questions in life, it isn't easily answered. But I hope you know with great specificity why it is you do what you do. Why you wake up and keep ...
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There's a point when I leave the Trader Joe's. Cart unloaded, car trunk full. I'm angry every single time. I've just spent $122.34 on things I need. Practical, everyday items. Avocados, bananas, that cheese-less pizza with the balsamic sauce and the veggies. I've just paid $122.34 to survive. Without frills, sparkly additions or impractical purchases. (And I did NOT buy the Pumpkin Banana Bread Mix, dammit.) I've just paid $122.34 for the bare minimum. UGH. Planning for the bare minimum is a killjoy. It occurred to me, whilst planning the coming business year, that planning for the bare minimum wasn't going so well. I was running numbers and getting exactly 0% excited. Launch this, push that, write this, hustle that. I'm planning to pay the electric bill and the rent, feed the Hermione D. Granger and heat the house. But that's the no frills, totally practical, just-existing-level planning. No frills, ...
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"I've never gotten to inbox zero, but once I got to inbox two and that was amazing." That quip from a client cracked me up -- and perfectly highlights the crazy-ass standards we set for ourselves. We've all got perfection gremlins floating around and nagging us. They're especially easy to spot when it comes to unavoidable daily chores like checking e-mail. It's too easy to hold ourselves to the perfect standard: inbox zero, every day, all the time. Only more e-mails will surely come. You can't win. You can't do it perfectly. Ease up on yourself. You have permission to ignore your e-mail today. No one will die. (Unless you're a doctor and they might, at which point...e-mail. Get on it.) You have permission to check it on your phone or to delete the app entirely. You have permission to process e-mail once a day. You have permission to ignore ...
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Recently, a friend convinced me to try Bikram yoga. In case you're not aware of what that means because there are 3.7 million types of yoga, here's a rundown. You put on entirely too little workout clothing, all of which has been designed for those who weigh no more than 72 pounds and inevitably ends up lodged in your bum crack, and then enter a room that's heated to BALLS HOT. (105 degrees or more.) You rent a towel for your first few classes, because the "official" towel costs $63.95. (You're not that committed.) You move through the 90 minute class in a fit of self-loathing (YOU CHOSE THIS), hating every breath because it means you haven't passed out yet (WHY, SWEET BABY JESUS, WHHHYYY), sweating all over yourself while twisting your body all around and inhaling your own sweet stink. Also, you are asked to make yourself a Japanese ...
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You have an aspirational self. She has a thigh gap and eats like a champion. He has a six pack and is a stallion in the bedroom. All aspirational selves work out, don't sweat, don't fart, and don't ever swing by a fast food joint for a late-night snack. Inevitably, your aspirational self makes more money than you do. He or she is also fulfilled by life, never second-guesses a single decision, and is incredibly knowledgeable about every topic on earth. Make no mistake: your aspirational self is the most interesting person in the world. You're constantly comparing yourself to your aspirational self and coming up short. (Your house doesn't look like it belongs in a magazine feature. You haven't made those Pinterest recipes or read those articles or implemented that advice. You ate a cookie. You missed a payment. You aren't at Inbox Zero. You let that call go ...
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When I say 'boundaries,' I'm not talking about that time your cousin was addicted to some drug and you refused to give her money to buy more, or that time a guy said he wanted to take you home from the bar and you said "No thanks, douchelord." Those are examples of boundaries in action, but they're pretty extreme and obvious. Of COURSE you can stand up for yourself in dramatic situations like those. Boundaries are the everyday practices you implement that teach people how to treat you. Boundaries can be as simple as not answering your phone after 8pm, choosing to return voicemails within 48 hours instead of 1 or 2, or refusing to eat at McDonald's because of its treatment of workers. Everyday practices that teach people how to treat you look a lot like how you respond to e-mails and phone calls, when you let screens into ...
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I've had more free time than ever this year, having let a major relationship (read: my marriage) go. Post tears and drama, I made a bunch of space for life itself to hijack my existence. Time for stargazing. (Literal, actual stargazing, as well as reading People magazine at the bookstore.) Time for watching movies, reading books, and taking long walks. For dreaming. For long silences. For helping my friends actualize their treasured projects. For letting the next thing make itself known. I could have crammed my life with work, work, and more work to distract myself, but I actively made space for the next big thing. It was a conscious choice. It's led to me being a few pounds heavier, a shit-ton happier, and a whole lot lighter in spirit. And it begs the question... What are you making space for? It's a question no one likes. When I'm talking ...
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If friends of mine were too afraid to start a business, or were considering switching up businesses, or were generally floundering about in the land of indecision, here's what I would say. Figure out what it is you want your business to give you. Some people have businesses to give them money. Some want freedom, some chase prestige. Some want to make their own damn hours or escape the cubicle. Some want to say they're entrepreneurs because it's sounds good. And some want a damn fine excuse to get away from their families for hours each day. What is it you want your business to give you? Fame, achievement, awards, accolades? Income, safety, stability? Quality interactions with fine humans? A sense of possibility and of controlling your destiny? Alone time and the absence of coworkers? Fulfillment and a sense of purpose? Dollars? Vacations? A new car? A new life? What ...
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When it comes to being a modern human, we're given about 6,000,000 choices on any given day. We're flooded with requests, notifications, text messages, e-mails, and phone calls from people who want something for us or from us at every turn. That's why mastering the art of saying "no" in a way that feels right for you is critical to your success as an entrepreneur. If you say "yes" to every offer that comes your way out of a sense of guilt, shame, or fear that someone will think you're not a nice person, your calendar will be over-committed in no time flat. (Also, every light on your dashboard will be blinking.) When you're over-committed, you go around throwing the "I'm so busy" excuse at everyone and their brother. You get less done. Your business suffers from lack of attention. You're stressed right the fuck out all the time. Your ...
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If you're anything like me, asking for help is a tricky matter. You're fiercely independent and don't want anyone to think you haven't got your shit together, or that you're not capable of handling the challenges you're facing at the moment. Only...people want to help. Your partner wants to rub your back. Your coworkers want to help plan the party. Your sister wants to know when you're in over your head, and your colleagues want to know how giving you a ten-minute tutorial can benefit your work life. Only your brain is an asshole, so it says that OF COURSE NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU, DUMBASS, and then you go about trying to achieve 7 weeks' worth of activities in 7 hours because you are, in fact, a superhero. What if you ask for help? Even though it's hard and it sucks and you feel the warm wash of shame ...
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It’s OK to stop doing the stuff that doesn't feel good. Even if you're bucking against the way things have "always" been done. Especially if the things that feel good feel SO good that you're sure the other shoe is about to drop. Someone's gotta die or you've got to go broke or get cancer, right? RIGHT!? (They don't, you don't, and no. No cancer necessary.) Even if you know the next move but it puts everything you've worked for in danger. Especially if seeing a certain client's name makes you want to abandon all social interactions until the situation goes away on its own. Even if you're sick of trying to explain it to people. Especially if you're tempted to give up explaining altogether. If it feels heavy, tight, twisted, bleary, miserable, dank, crusty, dark, useless, or disgusting, don't do it. Outsource it. Someone else can check your e-mail ...
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I've always been an achiever. Give me a sticker or star or Book it! pizza to earn, and I'm all over it, earning away. But you can't achieve a sense of fulfillment. There's no sticker-laden star chart leading to that place where you are deeply and urgently fulfilled by your work in the world. We can only ask questions and see what happens. Where am I helping people? Where do I lose time? Where do I experience a sense of timelessness? What feels like underwear? Yup...what feels like underwear? See, I've been listening to a ton of podcasts and videos and TED talks lately. I don't know where I heard this, but there's a guy talking about underwear. About how where you're sitting right now, you can't even feel them on your body. You're used to the sensation of the fabric against your skin. It's no longer special enough for ...
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When in doubt, you'll almost always have two options: the comfortable choice and the uncomfortable choice. Our brains are biased toward keeping us safe (read: comfortable), so your brain will naturally point you in the direction of the comfortable. Only. Uncomfortable is where you learn stuff. You're not soaking up knowledge during the first minute of a run or the first five minutes of writing or during that whole weekend of sleeping in and watching TV. You're learning at the limits, hours into a challenging task or weeks into a project you're not sure will succeed. Uncomfortable means pushing your own limits about what entrepreneurship, community, fun, and learning can look like and feel like. How do we cross the divide between the online and offline worlds? How do we navigate a group of strangers who we would like to have as friends, despite the distances between us? Uncomfortable means ...
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I do yoga with a pretty brilliant teacher via Facetime each week. As we ended the other day, she mentioned The Season of the In Between. She says she knows it when she sees it, and I'm in it. Maybe you are, too. Keep going or give up? Double down or get out while you can? Leave the relationship, the friendship, the deal, the offer, the current way of doing things? Keep trying or pursue a new path? It's not easy to sit in a place full of questions, to agree to the uncertainty that comes of waiting for an answer. Because sometimes, the answer is time. You need more information, you need the pain to pass, you need to sell 100 more of the thing before you can make a decision about pulling the plug. The season of the in between. It looks different for all of us, but ...
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May you see glimpses of why you're in the world. May you follow those glimpses courageously through doubt and fear and dry spells and vulnerability and the sometimes overwhelming urge to give it all up and work that safe job you daydream about. May you bring those glimpses of purpose to light with the work only you can do -- the tough stuff, the vital stuff, the awkward stuff, the miraculous stuff you were born to bring to this planet in your distinctive way. May you know your work matters even when you're busy avoiding it like the plague, and on those days when you have to wrestle it to the ground like a bear on a bender just to begin, and during those stretches when you're sure you aren't making a damn bit of difference to anyone. May you encounter peace when you've been wrung dry, variety when you're ...
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I'm a total introvert. People don't believe this because I can get on stage and speak with what appears to be no fear or debilitating shyness. I'm comfortable teaching, being the center of attention, and leading groups large and small. (Like the Steer Your Ship peeps in Costa Rica circa 2014.) But truly: I'm an introvert. Post Brand Camp the camp, in which I was literally not even alone long enough to pee, I pulled back and hung out by myself for a few weeks. Because sometimes that's what it takes to balance out all that amazingness and human interaction. Further: I'm a hermit. Yes, I enjoy traveling to exotic locales. But while there, I enjoy staying pretty close to "home." I walk from the house to the beach and back. I go on an excursion and come back. I'm perfectly fine to let the beach dogs come to my ...
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\ "People can always surprise you," my Mom quips when bad things happen. 9 times out of 10 she says this after watching the news, when there's been a bombing or shooting or murder or robbery or especially disaster-y disaster. Perhaps she's right, but I prefer to think about the good ways people have surprised you. Consider the friend who showed up with donuts and coffee when you were too tired to make breakfast. The friend who's been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, but it's never come up in conversation. You read it in one of his bios online this morning. (Not to worry, I sent a text and asked for the story. I can't wait to hear…) The friend who sends you book recommendations once a week. They're always spot on and it isn't easy, being a book recommender-person. (I couldn't put this book down.) We never quite ...
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We don't ask kids very interesting questions. We ask what they want to be when they grow up, but never WHO they want to be when they grow up. Would they rather be Muhammad Ali or Jonathan Adler or Mother Teresa or J.K. Rowling? Even if kids can't articulate their innermost desires to become crazy-successful engineers of products which save kids in developing nations from waterborne bacteria, they can tell us they liked learning about world leaders or biologists or artists or writers or CEOs or lawyers or that one guy with that one really cool story from that one book, that one time. The questions only get worse. We adults ask what we "do" to one another all the time, but we never ask who we'd like to become. Since when does what you do stand in for "everything you believe about the world, period, with no room for ...
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The ten of us Steer Your Shippers are somewhere on a beach in Costa Rica. We boarded a van in the dark, took seemingly endless twists and turns, and ended up here. Somewhere. Still in the dark. A mile down the beach from our vehicle. With no flashlights or phones so we don't disturb the alleged sea turtle over there. Alleged sea turtle, I say, because all we can see from here is the vague movement of sand. Lights would disturb our alleged creature while she prepares her nest, so we're watching the stars twenty yards from her. Impatiently. It's so humid that all our bits are dripping sweat just from standing still. Even lying still -- no difference in sweat output. Our guide doesn't really speak much English -- and what he does speak is in hushed whispers that we can barely discern over the pounding of waves. We're ...
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Have you ever felt bad for the size of your current business? Have you ever stood in front of a wall full of business books that feature stairways or ladders or escalators or upward-moving devices and felt exhausted by the relentless climb? Because I have. I've been beating myself up in the search for scalability for years now, trying to get what it is that I do to translate to the masses. Only the parts that get left behind in the search for growth are my favorite parts: intimacy and 1-on-1 human interaction. I fucking love my peeps. I love them when I get to hang out with them in person, when I get to chat with them by phone, or otherwise go ahead and love on 'em because I know their names and faces and their deepest dreams. Those 1-on-1 interactions are the first to go when I'm trying ...
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Today I wanted to share a really freaking surprising thing I'm only just learning, years and years into owning my own business: the more I enjoy what I do, the more others pay for it. Your most valuable work in the world often feels so fun that you would do it for free. I don't mean this in a metaphorical way. I don't mean people pay in hugs or love notes. I mean they pay in dollars and cents. Recently, a few peeps I've enjoyed working with in the past asked me to be their business mentor. They wanted a custom quote for their particular situation. I thought of the most outrageously fun thing I could imagine doing with and for them, included a price tag that thrilled me, and sent off the e-mail. Within 24 hours, they had accepted the proposal. I want to point out that I literally ...
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So, it's already been three weeks since the live Brand Camp. I've been consumed in a deluge of emotions and things to take care of and SLEEP and MORE SLEEP. I've burrowed deep into my introverted little world after spending days offering more love and support and help and fire and passion than I knew I had in me. But this post isn't about me, it's about all of us. And the potentially devastating side effects of bringing our biggest dreams to life. Whether that's holding a big event, launching a new business venture, completing your latest project, having a baby, running a marathon, moving to Brazil, or hitting that six-figure income mark -- the same side effects apply. 1.) You will be surprised. No matter what you were expecting, the world you inhabit after seeing your dream come to life is a bit different. Maybe it's better, maybe it's ...
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Ah, the newsletter. Bane of every small business owner's existence. Source of much strife and procrastination, many viewings of Game of Thrones, and infinite excuses for not sending today. You hem, you haw. You "don't want to say anything unless you have something to say," so nine months pass between communications. Or worse, you're bored by what you're saying but you send it out anyway. And no one responds. No one takes any action, so you write the newsletter off as useless. It doesn't have to be that big a deal to create and send a regular newsletter. Let's start with three simple elements you can use to make ANY newsletter/missive/communication better, shall we? The Ultimate Newsletter Template involves engagement, value, and a call to action. Start with element #1: engagement. To keep your readers engaged, you've got to be engaged first. There's no wrong way to engage your readers ...
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When it comes to money advice, there's a whole lot of help available in the "making more" department. As a business coach and an entrepreneur myself, I know the pull of "more." Ask any business owner to start defining goals, and just one word answers every question. How many clients would you like? More. How much money would you like to earn? More. How many products do you want to sell? More. "More" is the convenient answer to any question we'd rather not take time to think about. It always suffices, it's always praised by others, and it's easy to pop into our go-go-go-go-go day planning. "More" is so damn sexy that it's the name of a magazine with a circulation of over 1.3 million people. It's the call of our society, of our businesses, of our everyday lives: more. Only more takes time. More takes effort. More takes energy ...
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Your best moments will feel like doing cartwheels in your underwear. Free, light, a tad scandalous and entirely life-giving. Your best moments will feel like the rules don't apply. Like you're flying. You're unstoppable. You're entirely alive. The challenge for entrepreneurs lies in making more best moments through your business. Not in merely making money to fuel faraway vacations, but in making your ordinary reality feel like a faraway vacation. That rich, that deep, that light. That life-giving. Not in using time away from your business to fuel the relationships that "matter," but in making relationships that matter within and through and around and because of your business. Not in drawing a firm line between work and play, but in blending the two to create something new that no one has ever seen before. Your challenge lies in making more best moments through your business. In choosing to override the ...
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Thank you. Thank you for doing the hard and tired and thankless work of raising the next generation. Thank you for competing with iPods and iPhones and iEverythings to make sure your kids know how to look people in the eye and possibly even know how to sing some of those power ballads we grew up with. Thank you for doing the brutal, exhausting chores that swamp your everyday in the name of caring for tiny humans. Thank you for enjoying them. For taking the time to share them with the rest of us, we non-human-makers, because not having kids doesn't mean not loving kids; and not having kids doesn't mean we aren't interested in the stunning work of raising a human that you're doing today. Despite all the pressures and glances and mommy teams that confuse the shit out of us because we are not privy to them, and ...
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Unless you're a robot of some kind, there will come a time when you feel like you're behind on everything. Absolutely freaking EVERYTHING. Even your favorite TV show and your best friend's gossip. You will feel like you can never, ever possibly catch up, and you will consider throwing in the towel on your entire operation. You will forget your commitment to yourself to make this work, your commitment to your soul to let this work into the world, and your commitment to your clients to deliver what you promised. You will, quite simply, be washed in waves of overwhelm. And your brain will tell you there's no way out. You're hosed. Doomed. Screwed. Fucked. Except you're not. It's Overwhelm's job to make you think you can't possibly get it together. But you can. You've got to keep aware of just two things: your energy levels and your overwhelm levels ...
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Business is a spiritual practice. There, I said it. Business is a spiritual practice, requiring as much devotion, faith, hope, love & doubt as my belief in God. (Sometimes more.) Even though my first memory of being moved by the divine happened at age eight. I wept in front of the Eucharist, deeply and self-consciously, in the third pew of a quiet Catholic church. Even though I've responded to altar calls throughout my teens, being saved and saved and SAVED. Even though I've read plenty of books about Judaism and Buddhism. Even though I've rejected religion wholesale for over a decade, only to be broken open all over again at 32. Even though I've found my inner guides, my spirit animals, and my psychic abilities, too. Even though I'm seeking and seeking and growing and shaping my spiritual beliefs into little sculptures of light that keep me going every day ...
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Sometimes we're sailing along smoothly in life and then we hit what feels like a wall. An impenetrable wall that we can't see around or through or under. We've come to the corners of our own boxes -- the boxes we've made that no longer fit, or work -- and it hurts. It hurts to feel the confines you've created close around you. It hurts to know the boundaries you've created no longer serve you. Hell, it even hurts to watch. The clients no longer fit. The business feels off. The dreams have gone stale. The relationship took its dying breath a few miles back. In these moments, pressed against those walls and desperate, the only thing that can possibly help is the hard work of breaking our own boxes. The hard, hard work of shattering the ways we've come to shape the world that no longer work. We've all ...
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We're all asked to do things we don't want to do, go places we don't want to go, and take part in projects we don't have any interest in on a regular (read: daily) basis. If we cave and say "Yes" to these so-called opportunities, we end up taking time away from the work we're doing that we enjoy, and from the family and friends who are waiting for us to get our heads out of our laptops and pay attention to them. Here are 10 simple, painless ways to make space for what really matters in your life. Provide an alternative. Say "No, but _____ could help you out" and refer away. Point people to a website, an article, a colleague, a friend, a resource, or a kitten video whenever necessary. Have a weekend and/or unplugged e-mail auto-responder. This creates a gentle boundary and lets peeps know they won't ...
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Sometimes our brains are really awesome, like when they remind us to take the cookies out of the oven. And sometimes they're really terrible assholes, like when they tell us we don't have "enough" money. No matter how much money we actually have, and regardless of whether we managed to keep ourselves fed, clothed, sheltered, and internet-ed in the past month. Here's a really fun, quick way to make money when your brain says you don't have enough. I call it the "$1,000 in your inbox game," and it's not scammy, scummy, sleazy, or slimy. Watch and learn. For a more detailed talk of sales follow-up -- which is what this game involves -- head on over and read this article. Now, go send that first e-mail. It's the hardest one! You can absolutely send ten e-mails just like that first one today, and I bet you'll be THRILLED with ...
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I was working with a brilliant and trusted business mentor over the period of a year. During our first encounter, I distinctly remember saying, "Making money doesn't light me up." She encouraged me to leave room for the possibility that it DOES, and that I just hadn't earned enough yet to see. So I launched a product, made about $89,000 in one week (read it again, because FUCK THAT'S A LOT -- $89,000 in one week) and promptly felt…nothing. I was grateful, but by no means lit up. No over-reaching sense of achievement, no need to go drink pizza and beer and celebrate. Just a bunch of zeroes in my bank account. I concluded that I was broken. So I did a money blocks class, because clearly money and I were not on good terms. I meditated about money. I hired a spiritual healer to help me work through my ...
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When I see an online article -- ANY online article -- with something like 738 comments, I get a little anxious. Okay, a lot anxious. (And I don't read a single one.) Also: I can't bring myself to read any YouTube comments, EVER, for any reason. Holy hell the things people say!!! They're so MEAN! (I go a little bit righteous 2-year-old when I read 'em, lol...) Additionally: when I see a few thousand people in a Facebook group, I'm not tempted to participate. Massive numbers make me want to break out in hives. I propose a new way of doing community for business. First community change: forget obligation. So you're off having adventures and didn't check your e-mail today? Or yesterday? AWESOME. No need to feel guilty for not being 100% connected at all times. No need to know every person in the group. No need to remember everyone's ...
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Since you're in business, you're inevitably going to find three types of people as you go about your days. Those who buy your product, those who have no interest in your product, and those who are on the fence about what you offer. People who are "thinking about it." It's the last group we're going to address together today, 'cause they're the most likely to trip you up. First, we both know they're not thinking about it. They're not sitting at home hemming and hawing about buying your stuff. They're merely throwing up a blocker excuse to hide the REAL reason they haven't purchased just yet. It's your job to stop "thinking about it" dead in its tracks. Here are some options for what your potential customers are REALLY thinking. 10 things people mean when they say "I'm thinking about it:" I'm embarrassed that I even want this. Buying this ...
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We business owner peeps spend a lot of time beating ourselves up about everything we haven't done yet. No matter how productive we are on any given day, we bemoan the fact that there are still items on our to-do list. We decide that we don't measure up, we pretty much suck, and we should just give up anyway on a regular basis. (Or is that just me?) It's easier to break this cycle if you get out of your own head and share what you're doing -- as well as when you're doing it -- with another human. Thus, today I'm sharing the Hold Yourself Accountable Kit for getting your work d-o-n-e. First, get yourself an accountability partner. This is a deceptively simple and entirely free little tip that can make all the difference between getting your shiz handled...or not. Find a friend or colleague who will hold you ...
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The waves are pounding over us as we swim like crazy. It feels like we're making absolutely no progress, but our arms are flailing as hard and fast as we can get them to go. I've got water up my nose, dripping from every part of my body, and leaking onto my lips. It's salty and I'm scared. But you can't stop or it's all over. I focus on her surfboard, ten feet in front of mine, and keep paddling like a maniac. When we get beyond the breakers but the waves are still pushing at us, she yells, "Is this what being in business is like?" And I yell, "Yup!" And we both keep paddling. In surfing, your first job is to get beyond the breakers. You stop paddling, the waves consume you. You pause to look at the size of a wave, and the loss of momentum rips ...
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I've been doing some hippy-dippy reading, and there's this group called the "Elementals." According to this book, Elementals used to be magical creatures -- particularly fairies -- in a past life. Elementals are: accustomed to being in charge delightful just enough to keep the other creatures from beating them senseless drawn to kids and dogs happiest in or near nature inclined to fierce independence, and possessed of a fiery, red-hot temper. They are not mild-mannered, indecisive, or likely to make small talk. So basically, kids, I used to be a fairy. If I'm a past-fairy, it might explain why I've been drawn to thinking a lot lately about realms. As opposed to levels. (And yes, I know you think I'm crazy -- just hang in there for a sec.) A couple weeks ago, I opened up an e-mail and was immediately reading about "taking my business to the next level." ...
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As a business owner, you have to deal with money every day in some way or another. But that doesn't mean you and money are friendly, or even that you and money pay much attention to one another when it isn't work related. Um. I get it. In the category of "Things I hide from the rest of the world for $200," Alex, I'll take: I grew up in a trailer. Which, not surprisingly, means I grew up in a constant state of "not enough" around money. I hated the thrift stores where we had to shop. I hated that I couldn't buy the newest jeans or the latest trends and that our books came from the library instead of the bookstore. I resented my used bed linens, my used furniture, and the used magazines Mom picked up for a dime at the Salvation Army. (Seventeen magazine from three months ...
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When I was a part of a mastermind group a few years ago, the most interesting parts of the experience started with the words "I don't want you to know that..." When the women in the group were hiding bits or pieces, saying everything was "fine," or being relentlessly cheery about their not-so-cheery bits, they were invited to complete that sentence. Ooooooof. That sentence opens up a whole can of crazy shit. People immediately tell the big scary truth and freak out and almost instantaneously start to cry. Hard. It's more like a sob-hurl that nearly leads to actual hurling. So, peeps? I don't want you to know that... Read the biographies of any entrepreneurs these days -- whether in book form or just on their current websites -- and you'll see a common thread play out. There's a struggle that the person overcomes: losing 100 pounds, losing love, finding ...
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This is one of the most powerful exercises I have to share in doing business. It draws the right people to you, helps your ideal peeps feel more at home, and pushes away those individuals who aren't a good fit without any hard feelings. It's also free and fast, so holy crap you should keep reading. 😉 "Playing psychic" means you're going to make a series of statements that feel specific but that are actually quite broad, just like psychics do when they're giving a reading. For example (imagine my eyes rolling back in my head while I gaze into a crystal ball): you have a father and you own a pair of pants. You hate trying on bathing suits and love ice cream. See? Easy. You could be like, "Holy crap! HOW DID YOU KNOW!!!??" or you could see what I'm doing: playing psychic. Here's why telling your people ...
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My favorite places on earth are full of love and/or books -- so it's time to go word nerd and share my top 8 bookstores of all time! These places are part sanctuary, part home away from home, part portal to discovery of other worlds, and part word heaven. Each has its own flavor, its own voice, and its own reason for making a trip. Let's explore, shall we? (Psst! They're in reverse order -- had to save the best for last!) Book & Bar 40 Pleasant St, Portsmouth, N.H. Alright, so I'm a sucker for books and beer in one place. The Art section is large and open, so you can tuck into those books that are normally plastic-wrapped and unknowable. Mixing used and new books, the light bites on the menu are well done, and the city of Portsmouth is worth checking out just as much as this ...
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As a person whose love language is gift-giving, and who's done gift hoarding buying this year, I've been taking careful notes of how to sell well and how to sell poorly: how to make the "ick" factor go off like a 5-alarm fire and how to keep the "ick" factor nice and low while amping up the warm fuzzies like a toasty fireplace crackling on a winter's night. When I'm actually tempted to buy something I 100% don't need, someone somewhere has mastered the art of selling without being salesy. It's a subtle practice, but one you can master with a careful eye and a bit of practice. Here are my top 9 ways to sell without being salesy: Make an honest recommendation to a potential client about what they should buy -- even if it's not something you offer. Add 5 images of a product to its current description ...
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You're freaking out about your lack of clients. All your friends are all, "I'm all booked up for the year!" And then they give you that little victory smile that means they're really proud of themselves, and you try to be proud of them, too. Only you are flipping about about how you can't afford to freaking pay the rent, let alone pick up a Hug Me Elmo before Christmas rolls around. Having no clients forces you to make personal connections. If you want business starting today, another Facebook blast or blog post isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to get personal, and you're going to learn a ton about selling in the process. First, gather a list of the contact information of all your past clients. And I mean ALL. Rummage through your e-mails, your order forms, your service notes -- whatever you have -- to ...
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Have you ever had a friend say, "I have to go to work tomorrow" on Sunday night and thought, "Not me!" because you've planned to take the day off? Then you already know the happy little jig your business-owning-heart does when your time is your own. Being time-wealthy (YUP that's a crappy term but you the idea) means you feel your time is your own. You can think straight, you can work out, you can watch TV, you can whatever you damn well please with your time. The more frequently you can do that, the more time-wealthy you are -- and the more likely your friends are to be a little jealous. Time and energy are what make the enjoyment of actual dollars possible, as any entrepreneur who's had just a tad of extra money but no time to enjoy it knows well. Here's how to get yourself more time ...
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You're watching events, classes, and shiny new offerings roll out, and you're excited about each one. You're also…jealous. Because you can't afford them and you could never take the time off to attend, so you just can't get your hands on what you really want. Except… When you say "I can't afford that," it's absolutely true. Whether you have the money required to pay for an item or not doesn't matter, because you've already stopped yourself from buying. The same principle applies to items that cost $30 or $3,000 -- if you say you can't afford it, you've shut down the possibility of getting it. If, however, you prioritize what it is you want -- less caffeine-deprived Starbucks stops and a little more planning ahead; canceling subscriptions you never use; rallying your airline miles and rewards programs around a single goal -- you'll be surprised at what you can afford ...
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I've been home from orphan-hugging in Kenya for a few weeks now, and people are asking how it was. It was hard and soft, fast and fun, slow and lazy, eye-opening and difficult all at once. I spent weeks resisting the pace of Kenya -- so very different from our frantic, go-as-fast-as-possible one here in the West -- and the rest of the time sinking into it. I was deep in lesson, learning to be. To just be. To let that be enough. (It's hard, but I'm making progress.) In photos and words, then: Kenya's lessons from this time around. You can always love a little more. Photographs are great, but the best moments aren't caught anywhere at all. Strength is just as much emotional and mental as it is physical, though an altitude of 8500 feet will make you forget about the emotional and mental bits. Spider bites on ...
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What is the one thing you are most afraid to write? The thing you will avoid at all costs? Face it. Stare it in the eye with all the fire you possess. Hold it to the light. Examine its contours, and see how it looks all illuminated like that. The thing you are most afraid of is the think you most need to write. -- Jeanette Leblanc Next week, a film crew is coming to start working on my next project, which focuses a great deal on bringing fun and light-heartedness into your business. The videos will be easy, breezy dares to enjoy yourself more right where you are, without spending any more money or time on your business tasks than usual. Before those are revealed, I'd like to come clean: I've been battling clinical depression since 2001. Following a semester abroad, I returned home in love but unwanted, disillusioned ...
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If you're human, sometimes your own success scares the crap out of you. That's normal, and it's something you can choose to face head on with a little help from today's article. Viewer question: I'm a photographer in the Louisville KY/Southern IN area (Hi y'all types) and I work my ass off. So today I received an email notice from my online gallery storefront saying a new picture order was just received. Yay. I look at the order, scroll to the bottom at the total and its for OVER $1,000. My heart sank. I got sweaty and tight chested. My reaction to this (what should be) wonderful order was TERROR and GUILT! WTF!?!?! I felt so unworthy for such a large sale...but in the back of my head I KNOW I'M WORTH IT!!!!! What's wrong with me?!?! When will I ever feel worthy??!?! First, I hear you, and I've been ...
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Simplicity is a form of power. Yes, you could be selling 3 or 30 or 300 more products than you've currently got on the market. Yes, you could be adding services to your current line-up right this second. Your blog could have 83 more plugins and 72 more ways to entice people to look at you. Your outfits, your images, your products could always have more layers. More stuff piled onto them. Simplicity is a form of power. The curation of 30 images from a lifetime's work at a museum exhibit. A single necklace paired with the perfect summer dress. One offer. One. Simplicity is a form of power. You don't have to have Pinterest boards dedicated to those DiY projects you feel guilty about collecting but not making. You don't have to participate in any forms of social media that don't feel fun. You don't have to convince people ...
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The way I see it, newsletters as we know 'em are done for. Why? Nobody wants updates about your company, or my company, or her company, or his company. We want to hear and see your stories. What do I mean? Lemme give you an update and a story from Kenya. Update: Peter is a 4-year-old who came to the orphanage in February. He enjoys pushing tires around, playing with cars, and eating peanut butter bananas. I love him. Updates speak in generalities and don't provide the compelling why for any given situation. So you made new purses to sell? Tell us why you made them, who they're for, and what you hope will come of buying them for your customers instead of telling us about their dimensions and how much they cost -- those details are necessary, yes, but not compelling. Updates also tend to be brief, as we ...
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I just returned from Kenya, which you know means I've been showering, using electricity, and enjoying television like a champ in the past few days! While catching up on my TV loves, I saw this advertisement: "Now releasing from the Disney vault, for the first time on Blu-Ray and DVD…Peter Pan!" Dude. That's some amazing marketing taking place. Disney is finding a way to make a movie that came out in nineteen fifty-freaking-three "new," then giving attention to it as if we haven't all seen Peter Pan and believed we could fly and watched the epic Captain Hook battle scene already. It's extraordinary! You've seen this same thing happen when fashion designers find a way to make the Eighties popular AGAIN (Holy Shizballs Almighty, do we need one more pair of sherbet-colored jeans in the world!?); when pop singers offer "Best Of" CDs full of previous hits; when McDonald's finds ...
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No matter your business, I'll bet you've been forced to promote your fair share of holiday stuff. Whether it's to celebrate New Years, Independence Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Halloween -- we humans love to buy stuff for holidays, so it makes good sense to promote stuff around those times. Only. Only you can't freaking stand promoting stuff around the holidays. You'd rather cut off your right arm than promote Santa photos or Christmas-scented candles or Thanksgiving-themed paper products, which leaves you miserable when it comes to marketing. Buckle up, 'cause you're in for a dollop of awesomeness. Take a look at your marketing calendar. (If you don't have one, refer to this post and then come back, quick!) Choose a single gap in your calendar that you'd like to fill with a Kick Ass Campaign, then decide which product or service you'll be promoting for the length of your campaign ...
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It's just after 8 on a Sunday morning. I've stumbled into the kitchen, groggy-eyed, and been given a freshly-made cup of tea. I accept the chai and immediately ask, "What can I do? How can I help?" Auntie Rebecca looks at me knowingly. She eyes my very-American self and says, "There is an African saying: you cannot blow mucus and laugh at the same time. Sit, relax, enjoy. Then we will worry about work." Okay then! Mucus-blowing aside, Kenyans are master single-taskers. I've found them to be mindful at a level that we have long since left behind in the States. When they drink chai, they drink chai. When they sit by the fire, wash clothes, chop vegetables, talk with one another...they are simply sitting by the fire, washing clothes, chopping vegetables, or talking with one another. No matter the task, they are doing only that one task. While this ...
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Your business is constantly evolving. You're trying out new vendors and streamlining your processes. You're working with new clients and maintaining relationships with former ones, too. You're adding new products and services to your line-up all the time. But. How the flibbity jibbeting frying pans do you know when it's time to retire a "perfectly good" product? Here are five easily-spotted signs it's time to give a product or service the ax. Kill-that-product sign #1: dread. If you feel like hurling yourself off a cliff every time you sell a certain something, it's time to give up the ghost. Retire that product or service without ceremony and move on to greener pastures. What's that? It's "good money" you get for doing that thing you hate? Right. So, tell me about the that time you went to get a massage and the person giving rubbing you down was just not into ...
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I'm in Kenya, safe and sound, here at the Flying Kites compound in rural Kenya. I'm also, it should be noted, not at the school festivities that are going on today. I'm an ace at saying "No" to offers that don't interest me, clients that don't click, or ideas that aren't 100% in line with where I want my life to go. But last night, I said, "I can't." This phrase, "I can't," is a new and much more humbling state of affairs. "No" means I won't. "I can't" means simply, it is too much. My body/brain/heart are too full, too tired, too depleted right now to extend myself any further. Lemme explain. I'm an introvert's introvert. On Sunday, I attended a festival in a nearby town with all 22 of the kids currently at Flying Kites. We left at 8:15 in the morning and arrived home well after dark ...
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It seems like anytime we humans talk business, the world goes stiff and dull. The light drains from our eyes and everyone channels their inner accountant: shoulders hunched, eyes glazed, watches counting down 'til the next snack break. And workshops? That's just more business talk, only with crappy food and waaaayyyy too much information being thrown at your face. I created Steer Your Ship to break that cycle -- to make learning about business every bit as fun as learning about cooking or knitting or the shit people do for fun in their spare time. Since no one actually believes me when I say the retreat was fun, I just took pictures. I'll narrate a bit to guide you through. We'll start our tour with kayaking in a pool. We thought, "We could go kayaking!" and we also thought, "We could go swimming!" but decided to combine them. If you've ...
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You avoid marketing like the plague. You've hired out some parts of your business, found ways to make other parts easier, and you have those parts of your business you deeply love. But marketing? Pleh. You spit it out like that time you drank rancid half and half in your coffee. When you finally manage to make time for marketing, it's a marathon. You're either out of cash or out of ways to procrastinate, and you need this to work, so it's go time. Like, there's $.73 in the bank go time. You're right, marketing this way sucks. It's an exhausting marathon that sucks big hairy balls. What if you came up with a different way to tackle the marketing marathon? Let's say you're training for a marathon, and you need to run 14 miles a week. You can run 2 miles a day, or…you know, forget about it and ...
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As human beings, we make hundreds of choices a day -- from what to wear, to what to eat, to how to spend our time and money. We make many of these without too much struggle, but we often get stymied when it comes to bigger decisions. The bigger the consequences, the more likely we are to get stuck in the "What if" options whirlwind. If you've been feeling unsure about a big issue in your business or unclear about what to do next -- I'll bet your mind is whirling with options. You think about them, worry over them, and can't quite figure out why you can't just MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY. (Then, of course, you beat yourself up about how lame/stupid/indecisive/inadequate/etc you are, and the what-if whirlwind overtakes you completely.) The key to overcoming a "what if" whirlwind is taking action. Action helps you to know which ...
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When you give an alpaca an ice cream cone, you're breaking the rules. When you find you enjoy breaking the posted rules, you go on to feed a llama a lemon drop. And when that llama eats the lemon drop, you find he can talk. That lemon-drop eating llama tells you he loves you, but thinks you need to break more rules. So you feed another llama another lemon drop. You tell this llama you ARE breaking the rules. THAT lemon-drop eating llama tells you that blog posting once every eight weeks is not breaking the rules. It's procrastinating. He also suggests breaking your own rules, not someone else's. He says you should talk to the goat next door. When you give a goat a lemon drop, he spits it out and waves his tail at you. Same goes for ice cream cones. And candies. And chocolates. When you break ...
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I was working with a business coach and we were on our monthly call. I had a proper freakout about how GOOD life was -- how my relationship was improving, I was losing weight, my business was going well, my friends were fantastic, and I was genuinely happy. This, of course, led to panic. When does the shit hit the fan? What am I being prepared for? What am I going to lose? I don't want my man/Hermione D. Granger/my mom to die/get sick/have troubles/be in a car accident! I remember asking, "Is there a limit to how good life can be?" The answer... "There is no limit on happiness in this universe. It's on infinite supply." I stopped freaking. Something about that statement rang true deep in my bones, my soul, my toes, my...what's lower than your toes? It rang in THAT place. When those same fears of how ...
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Thank GOD my name finally appeared on a book cover in 2012, or my Mom would still think I do some sort of secret side hustle selling drugs. I've explained ghostwriting and e-book revenue, but her response was simple: "Why would anyone pay for a download?" She's stuck in 1995, when the internet was full of chat rooms and AOL Instant Messaging conversations, so she's confused by what I do. She's even more confused by orphan hugging. I appear to have healthy ovaries -- no one has told her otherwise -- and I've been in a relationship for years, SO WHY NOT JUST GET PREGNANT!? IS IT SO HARD TO GIVE ME A GRANDBABY, KRISTEN!? This predicament is common enough when you're trying out something new in your business or personal life. Whether you're using Change the World, Dammit! to study penguins, remodel your house, travel the world, fight disease, ...
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Hello, and welcome! This is part two in the Change YOUR world, dammit! series, which is here to help you make the internal shifts that bring about confidence, courage, and presence in the current moment. In part one of the Change YOUR world, dammit series, we talked about the patterns your mind has created and how you can shift out of them in one of three ways. The first is by noticing what's around you with intense focus. If someone is paying you $1,000,000 to describe the room you're in right now, what would you notice that you might not have paid attention to before? This deep focus on the present situation keeps you in this moment, not wandering about in your mind.) The second is by dropping a velvet curtain in your mind that refuses to let those pattern-based, mean-spirited thoughts enter. This is a great way to open ...
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As a human, your mind has scripts that play over and over. The scripts say you're dumb, you're fat, you're useless, you're not worth it, you're not worthy, your life is shit, etc...they never lead to the conclusion that you are brilliant and beautiful. Today, let's take a look at these scripts -- we all have them -- and let's work on defeating them. My script is pretty epic -- "This isn't working," "Nothing's working," "What's the point anyway," "Nothing has a point," "Life is pretty much meaningless," "There's no reason to live anyway." Yah. So my life goes from "my internet connection isn't working" to life not being worth living in just a few seconds. It's just a habit -- a pattern my mind slips into. Because it's just a pattern, it's worth noticing and it's faaairly easy to change. Begin by noticing when the script is triggered -- ...
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Once you've decided to tackle a project using Change the World, Dammit! as your pinpointer/planner/helper/ass kicker, you'll want to keep your momentum going by blogging, or by microblogging through a platform like Instagram. Today, I'm sharing 5 amazeballs writing prompts to get your wheels turning and your (micro)blogging mayhem unleashed. Amazeballs writing prompt #1 Back story: why this cause speaks to your heart This is the "why" of your whole project. Don't be afraid to say it loud, say it proud, and let your peeps know what touches you. Craft this post to be deeply personal, tugging at heart strings and sharing any pertinent facts that will help your readers associate you with the project you've chosen. If your mother -- the painter -- died when you were six, and you're going to pick up a paint brush for the first time in thirty years in her honor, we need ...
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During a recent workshop, I met a man who wants to photograph Native Americans living in a small village in Germany. They are an anomaly, and they fascinate him. When questioned about why he hasn't done this project yet, even though he's been dreaming of it for years, tears came to his eyes and he whispered, "I don't deserve it." He isn't alone in that feeling. Our heart projects often feel as if they're too good for us. As if they are too personal, too fantastic, too absolutely soul-affirming to be deserved. As if we haven't done enough good in this lifetime to have "earned" feeling so alive. (When I first arrived in Kenya, with the kids dancing around with me at Flying Kites, I literally felt like I was having a heart attack. My heart was so full that I couldn't process the emotions swirling within it.) Let me ...
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I was talking to one of my business-owning peeps the other day, when she mentioned that she feels like her business work is never done. That's because it isn't. Just like laundry, just like working out, just like eating meals each day…just like life… There's always more work to do, more meals to create, and more stuff to take care of -- but that doesn't mean you spend every waking moment trying to "get done." If you feel overwhelmed by your business, like the work is never done, it's time to start scheduling your days. (I mean really scheduling, not putting vague things in your calendar and then ignoring them.) Scheduling and prioritizing go hand in hand. If I woke up every morning and had to start from scratch -- figuring out what my biggest priority for the day would be -- I would waste an hour making lists each ...
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A while ago you figured out how to create a promotion for your business and mastered the way to hold a sale without breaking your brand, so you hit the ground running. You created a few promotions and pimped the shit out of them. But they fell flat. They didn't get the response you wanted. They didn't fill your calendar and put a few grand in your pocket. What went wrong? You don't suck, your work isn't terrible, and your people DO care about you. It's probably just the way you're promoting, which is easy enough to fix! Here are five reasons your last promotion might have fallen flat. PROMO KILLER #1: Too much time. Give people two weeks to decide and they'll need three. The more time you give clients to make a decision, the less likely they are to actually make it. This is why short windows for ...
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I had a dream the other night in which you all were watching me write a sales page over my shoulder. I figured it's time I tell you how to sell more of absolutely anything. (And if you don't like this article, just pretend it's a bad dream.) To start selling more, take a look at the website or blog pages where you have products available right now. Photographers -- I'm looking at you! Your sales pages tend to suck nuts because you treat them as something vague like "info" and you don't talk about the products that will be coming out of the experience. (Products are tangible. People like tangible. The end.) When you write about your products or your services, you are creating a sales page. There is a right and a wrong way to write a sales page, and these tips will point you in the direction ...
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It takes a TON of programs and services to keep a business afloat. Since I often field questions about what I use, how I use it, and what I recommend for my fellow peeps in business, I rounded up a list to share with you. Free programs and services For writing: Open Office When I'm drafting blog posts, working on anything business-related, or editing for ghostwriting clients, you'll find me typing away in Open Office. Much like Microsoft Word, this software is free and does everything I need on ye olde MacBook. (Sometimes I even downgrade and use TextEdit because I'm so committed to being distraction-free.) For e-mail: Gmail All e-mail goes through Gmail, much to the chagrin of peeps who wish I would have a pretty, perfectly branded e-mail address. I love G-mail, adore all its features, and prefer to keep it simpler than simple. (See: TextEdit.) For surveys: ...
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As an entrepreneur, you're faced with money on a daily basis. You have to earn it, spend it, move it, use it, collect it, and otherwise manipulate it every single day. There's just no getting away from money. That means there's also no getting away from your attitudes about money. While some money mindsets serve you well, there are others that could be sabotaging your business. Let's tackle five common saboteurs that I see in play often -- and let's talk about the one I struggle with most. No money mindset #1: "Someday...when I win the lottery..." In a recent survey of my peeps, lots of 'em joked about this. They said the only thing stopping them from pursuing a world-changing project was winning the lottery. It was said in jest, I know. But that mentality allows you to play the victim. It's as if you're not responsible for what ...
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Imagine you're a fat kid stuck in a donut shop. Alone. What do you do? I'll bet you grab a maple bacon turnover and go to town. You double-fist the Cap'n Crunch donuts and drink coffee straight from the spout. You're curious about donut making so you inspect all the equipment while you're on a sugar high. You freak about how much you LOVE donuts and how you wish you could be stuck in a donut shop all the time, all the time, all the tiiiiiiiiime (okay, the sugar rush has gotten to you). How do you feel about being stuck in your business? I mean that literally. Let's say someone sneaks up and closes the door on you. You've got to spend time with your business and you've got to come face to face with everything that's happening in it, good or bad. No social media to distract you ...
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You can be a little crazy. You can do the thing they say you cannot do. You can make the project happen no matter what. You can stay awake for one more minute, one more hour, one more task. You can keep moving when you're out of strength. You can make the most of your efforts. You can fail. Lots. It's inevitable. You can brush yourself off. You can keep going. You can bring your gifts to this planet. You can. Plain and simple. You can ...
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I spend a great deal of time with entrepreneurs. Some have baby businesses that have just started. Some have earned millions. And heck, some are on Shark Tank. There's one line of thinking that every successful entrepreneur refuses to follow down the rabbit hole: the “should” thoughts. I call the place where those thoughts reside...Shouldville. Shouldville is a place where you get stuck thinking, “Oh, this isn’t professional" Or "This is too much." Or "This should be more general" or "This should be more specific." "This shouldn't be done the way I'm doing it." "This shouldn't be happening." "I should be further along by now." You're sidelined from your real work – whatever your real work happens to be – by the thoughts telling you you're not good enough, brave enough, creative enough, or smart enough. Forget about the shoulds. Forget about what “should” be happening in business based on ...
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Blogging can be a tricky task to stay on top of -- like laundry, there's always more to do. It can be especially overwhelming if you've been kicking it into the corner for a few months, like the lovely Valerie. She writes: I’m about a year behind on blogging, on my personal blog and 5 months behind on the business blog. How do I find a direction? And where should I begin? It sounds like you're just plain overwhelmed by how much you have to do. So, you don’t begin and tell yourself you'll get on top of it 'later.' That’s the worst thing you can do for your poor neglected blog. That’s like, “Ugh! I’m 10 pounds overweight so I'll just have another donut." Before you know it, you’re 20 pounds overweight. And then 30. And then 35. And then you start buying sprinkle accessories in the hopes that ...
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While I absolutely love writing, I realize that many of you find it stressful and avoid putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) like the plague. Today, let's get rid of that writing angst and make your experience of writing for your business – whether headlines, newsletters, e-mails, blog posts, or website copy – less painful and more productive. 1. Figure out your genius time. Everybody has a time in which they work optimally, and it will be harder than it has to be to get work done if you are aren't taking advantage of your genius time. For me, between 8 am and about Noon is my genius time. For those four hours, I can just bang stuff out and it’s easy. The minute my genius time passes, there's a shift in my body. I can’t explain it clearly, but after Noon I enter into this crazy world ...
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I've been watching too much Ace of Cakes, obviously. Last night I decided that building a gingerbread house can't be *that* difficult and went to work with royal icing and a slightly-deformed icing bag. Um. The coffee table is covered in a thin layer of icing. The front Christmas tree is leaning to the right. For God's sake, the snowman has a unibrow. This is also, I have to remind myself, a first attempt. I've never piped icing from a bag or assembled a house made of gingerbread. The fact that it's still standing is a testament to my progress in the happenin' world of gingerbread houses. The same principle applies to business. If this is your first business, and particularly your first few years in business, you're a work in progress. It's easy to say you've effed up your application of royal icing or your snowman is leaning precariously ...
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Welcome to this thrilling episode of Objections and the People Who Use Them. In today's drama, we'll encounter a young father who's trying to stop his wife from spending thousands of dollars on newborn baby portraits. Tag along as we learn the three steps you'll need to overcome any objection at sales time. He's just uttered, “I'm not spending $3,000 on pictures. There's no way.” Before we eye-roll at his obviously unenlightened sensibilities, let's read his script notes. He is meant to be scared about paying other bills associated with the baby. He is not meant to talk about his fears to any other character. Likewise, he is not meant to have ever read anything about the value of photography, so asking him to pay $3,000 for art is like asking him to pay $3,000 for a new edition of Angry Birds. In his mind, there's an app for both ...
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No one wanted to buy the necklaces she was selling. That didn't stop her, so she kept at it until we stopped to purchase a set of necklaces. Relentless 1, Tourists 0. Here's where the genius happens. She sold me a necklace and asked, "Are you happy?" When I said "Yes," she turned to my friend and said, "You could be happy, too!" She then proceeded to sell 4 more necklaces and two slingshots to three of my counterparts. Happiness 3, Tourists 0. Yes, you sell portraits or handmade items or massages or consulting or digital downloads. What do you REALLY sell? Make your product a stand-in for what you're REALLY selling and you could triple your sales. I've seen it happen. 😉 P.S. How to sell more of absolutely anything ...
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Let's imagine that you have a somewhat rustic yet totally modern, lived-in studio space full of your goods in a pedestrian-only part of town. Your store is always full of people stopping by to browse your goodies -- and to buy them, too! As people browse, they pick up the flyers, postcards, and other promotional items you've placed throughout the store. They take them even if they don't buy anything, just for future reference. Of course, you also slip a postcard or two into the bag of each person that purchases an item in your store. Unfortunately, with an online presence, you don't have all the benefits of a brick and mortar store at your disposal. No customers wandering in from down the street, no daily face time with potential clients, and certainly no chance of slipping a postcard into their bags to save for later. That's where your e-mail ...
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Everyone has been to an ATM. We all know how it works: you walk or drive up, you give it your information. You don't just tell the machine you want "some" money, you tell the ATM exactly what to give you. That same precise request-making is what allows your business to give you what you want. The clearer your goals, the greater your chances of achieving them. Before we get to your personal goals, let's see how much cash it takes to keep you in business. Root around in your banking statements from the last three months to find every expense that doesn't go away from month to month: monthly services and subscriptions, paying your virtual assistant, business insurance, liability insurance, accounting, rent, supply costs, and anything related to keeping your online presence running. Divide three months' total by three to determine your average cost, and voila! You now know ...
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I pop into New York City via train every few months, and I connect to Amtrak via 30th Street Station. There's a point on the train to 30th Street when everyone else gets off. All the commuters get off at Suburban Station, and I find myself sitting alone in a train car. Even though I know this mass evacuation happens every time, I still panic. Maybe the train made a wrong turn since Suburban! (Um. It's a train. On a fixed track.) Maybe I missed 30th Street! (30th Street is the end of the line.) Maybe I'm just not meant to get to New York today. (Clearly. Because being on the right train is the first sign that you're not meant for something.) Maybe everyone else knows something I don't! (That must be it. They've all got a secret radiowave chip giving them alerts. Why didn't I get one?) No ...
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If your (virtual) cash register isn't ringing, here are some ideas for conjuring up cash faster than you can say, "On Donner! On Blitzen!" (or make other holiday-appropriate character exclamations). Here are 7 ways to sell more services this season: Send a kind e-mail to each and every one of your past clients asking for a referral by X date, and reward them for their efforts if they deliver by getting you clients in time. A gift card, a copy of your favorite book, a pound of your favorite tea, a pair of movie tickets. These incentives don't cost much, but they're valuable to your client. For the photographers among you, a free holiday mini-session as referral incentive means these lovely people will have images they want to purchase in time for the holidays -- just resist the desire to give anything but the session itself on the house. Display ...
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I've been thinking about truth-telling. For whatever reason, I'm asked to give eulogies. Maybe it's because people know I can write. Maybe it's because I'm so charming. (Ha!) Maybe the organizers just can't find anyone else who's willing. I suspect it's because I'm the one who's not afraid to lose her shit. I don't have the “cry later” mechanism that people master for scenes of great sorrow. I cry the hideous, ugly cry that knows no bounds on sad occasions in front of everyone else, just like I would be crying from pew #7, right behind Grandma. This gives everyone else permission to weep with abandon. When you look up from your bleary-eyed, crumpled speech notes and everyone else, for that moment, is just as miserable as you are – well, there's power in telling the truth. Even if it means puffy eyes and snotty noses and the sound of ...
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There are always new workshops, seminars, events, and conferences coming down the pike. While they're all tempting, here's a quick way to get to the ones you simply cannot miss. In this step-by-step guide, I'll show you how to pay for any workshop and share what I've spent my educational cash on this year. (What I reveal just might surprise you.) 1. Take a hard look at the numbers. Refuse to say the word "can't." Before you decide whether you can afford to attend the workshop, figure out exactly how much it's going to cost to attend: registration fees, transportation, food, accommodation, and the event itself. Come up with a single number that represents how much you'll need to attend the event. Then see if it can happen by examining three things: the cash you currently have, the cash you expect to come in based on last year's income during ...
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I'm here to help you ditch hustle fatigue and start engaging in simple, profitable hustling for your business. Hustling boils down to broadening your reach. Because when more people know about your business, basic probability indicates more people are likely to throw money at it. To broaden your reach in the most effective way possible, let's make a marketing calendar. That means you grab a sheet of paper and draw a grid containing all twelve upcoming months on it. You can use any sort of paper, so don't let that be the reason you don't do this activity! Twelve squares of toilet paper will do the trick if you've got nothing else. First, fill in holidays. Time off, vacations, those random days your kids have off for teacher training, and that weekend you always spend in Maine, no matter how busy. Those are the very first things to go into ...
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It’s not easy to work from home, but everyone thinks it is! Your friends with day jobs and office jobs think you spend your time lounging in pajamas and watching Bravo TV marathons. Your parents are afraid you’re dealing drugs because you make money without leaving the house. (Okay, maybe that's just mine. The day my Mom held my hardcover book in her hands was a major affirmation that I'm not dealing crack on the corner.) All your loved ones are slightly jealous, truth be told. And yet, working from home is not always a walk in the park. These tips will help keep your work space and your home life divided, whether you’re wearing pj’s or not. Designate a work space. Make sure you can close the door/zipper/curtain on it when necessary. Since I’m an author and a business whisperer, it’s fairly easy for me to keep all my ...
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This is what no one tells you: there is not a single minute when you ARRIVE at your perfect business. A business is a growing, changing creature, and you're responsible for making it serve you best. You are not beholden to anyone but yourself to make it yours, to make it successful, and to make it a joy to experience. At a recent speaking gig, I ended a speech by encouraging everyone present to plunge into life fully clothed, right now, without hesitation and without coming up with 33 excuses why now is not the time. Being in that pool, hugging people as they introduced themselves, awash in their love and their thanks and their giddy joy, was one of the greatest moments of my life. Being in business is a lot like choosing to plunge into a pool, fully clothed, again and again. You think you've got the perfect ...
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A business retreat. Yah, I know, you barely have time to get everything in your days accomplished now. The idea of a retreat makes you scoff and throw up your hands in despair, and cues much gnashing of teeth for all the time you do not have. (It gets crazy up in there, with the wailing and the FMLing.) I know. But. For the length of this article, let's pretend that a business retreat is possible for you and your helpers, if you have any. Let's imagine you have the time and the funds and the day or two or four necessary to enter into deep planning and strategizing on behalf of your business for the coming year, okay? Okay. First, decide whether or not a business retreat is a valuable tool for your psyche and your income. It's easy to spend so much time working in our businesses that ...
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It's Wednesday morning, 10:06 a.m. My friend and I are lost on the way to our first trapeze lesson. The address we're aiming for has suddenly shifted, as I've entered the wrong one into the magical mappy app on my iPhone. We walk a block back to where we've parked the car, now quite late and reprogram our destination. We miss the destination twice. That can't be it, right? Let's circle around and check again, see if we aren't doing something wrong. Nope. That's it. "That place looks like it didn't have air conditioning," he says. "That place looks like it didn't have FLOORS," I retort. We hightailed it out of there and didn't look back, stunned that anyone had ever actually completed a trapeze lesson with this company. The company's website is well-organized and lovely. There was no indication that we would be directed to a death trap for ...
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Until recently: I hadn't had a dental cleaning in six years. S-i-x. Working out was in my perpetual "start tomorrow" plan. The "start tomorrow" plan also included getting massages, pedicures, facials, and spa treatments. I couldn't move my neck very far to the right or left because my muscles were so tight. I bought new clothes at Target or on the cheap because I didn't want to "waste money" -- I was going to lose weight -- so soon, the new clothes wouldn't fit anyway. I didn't have regular haircuts, just one every three to six(ish) months, whenever a major event was coming up. I ate dairy daily, even though it caused painful stomach issues and major acne. I didn't go outside every day. Or even every other day. I stayed in the house and wrote and hung out and watched TV. I didn't even shave my legs very often ...
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The faster you, as a business owner, can help clients know exactly who you are, the faster they can fall in love with you. And man, did I fall hard for Voodoo Doughnuts. VD lesson #1: Push your own boundaries. Since Voodoo Doughnuts is shortened to VD by the company, my Mom would read the "I got VD in Portland" bumper sticker one way, and I would read it another way entirely. Again, my 69-year-old Mom would read "Good things come in pink boxes" as a comment about the doughnuts being served up in pink boxes. And her daughter, who says "That's what she said" at least three times a day, appreciates the double entendre in that slogan. If your peeps feel like they've found a secret, like they're in on the joke, or like they freaking LOVE you even though they've just met you, you're well on your way ...
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When was the last time you opened a company's e-mail because of the word 'newsletter' in the e-mail subject line? ::crickets:: That's what I thought. To get your clients to open a newsletter from your business, it's your job to be interesting. Luckily, doubling your newsletter open rate is simple: write e-mail subject lines you would personally click on. Don't have a newsletter or e-mail list? Click here to get started. 'The Nancy Smith Summer Newsletter' subject line about beach portraits becomes 'I'm going to the beach! Join me?' The 'Aspire Consulting Newsletter' from the local accounting firm becomes 'Aspire to a beach vacation? We'll help you get there.' (Bonus points for puns using your business name!) Subject lines people click on are typically personal, curiosity-inducing, and friendly. Personal, meaning they don't sound like a corporate entity addressing a boardroom. 'Hello, valued customer' screams corporate entity. 'Hey there, lovely' screams ...
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Deep within you is a voice whispering about what it is you really want to be doing in the world. It could be talking about a tweak to your business; it could be urging an overhaul; it could be pushing you to walk away and start something new. You don't have to trust that voice. You don't have to even acknowledge it. The voice of intuition can seem crazy; it can seem odd; it can make you laugh and it can seem completely absurd -- but, because you bothered to click over here, play along with me and consider that the voice might be worth listening to. When I work with clients one on one, I'm always trusting that voice. The things that come out of my mouth can seem absurd, even to me! Recently, I challenged a brilliant photographer to have a show. A full-on, hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, ...
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Recently, I launched a major program that took months and months of prep to bring into the world. The introductory pricing offer was open for 8 days. I assumed that, since I had done lots of work getting peeps using the sample, downloading goodness, putting the freebies into action, and stoked to purchase, they'd hop on that Add to Cart button like a hungry sumo wrestler in a sushi restaurant. I was w-r-o-n-g. Only 14% of total sales happened in the first 24 hours. I was devastated and mopey and thought that my hard work was useless. That the launch was a flop. That I had made serious errors by believing in myself, my product, and my business, and my abilities. And then. Time passed. I even showered. A surprising thing happened. Even though I had done a lot of work promoting, even though peeps wanted to buy, and even ...
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Watch any Kindergarten class in the world, and you’ll see a complicated system of behaviors and rewards. Stickers, charts, check marks, high fives, reassuring words, candies, and privileges are in play at all times. Why do we give up rewards for good behavior as we grow older? Who says I shouldn’t be allowed to drive to the beach and build a sandcastle when I achieve a goal I’ve set for my business? Um, me, apparently, because otherwise I could do it! This simple system creates goals you LOVE and helps you take time out of your busy schedule to celebrate your accomplishments. Not that you would ever view achieving goals as mere speed bumps on the way to other goals, thus ignoring having achieved 'em because you're already on to the next set...::ahem:: Into an empty fishbowl or other container, place ten activities that bring you joy. Like, any ten ...
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Your business is a vehicle for imagining your best life. It's designed to help you get there. And if it's not fun or working for you or speaking to your heart, change it. Stop doing the bits that make you crazy. Hire 'em out. Move 'em along. Refer the job -- with love -- to someone else. Start taking care of the bits that need to be nourished. The people, the clients, the human beings behind that e-mail, that Tweet, that Facebook post, that phone. We are all human beings, looking for connection with other human beings. When your business reaches out and touches, on a human being to human being level, it will succeed. Start seeing more people in person. Through sales, if you'd like, but in general as well. Start measuring your business value in hugs per day, not in dollars, and you'll see where it's truly succeeding ...
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It's the day of the big launch and I'm scared shitless. As in, I can't even poop right now. I'm clenched from head to toe and worried and scared and telling you this because…? Pretending I'm not scared would be doing you a disservice. You would then tell yourself that fear is abnormal or weird, that fear is something that has to disappear before you proceed with your business plans and aspirations. You might wait for the fear to go away before you release your next product, promotion, or event into the world. And I'm telling you… Fear is par for the course. In the past 18 months, I've been fired from a really great gig. That was scary. I've closed my photography studio to pursue writing full time, 'cause writing is the love of my life. That was scarier. I bought my first bikini this weekend. That was absolutely ...
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Ever have one of those days when you wake up exhausted? When you sort of have a sore throat/runny nose/icky stomach feeling and you know you could push it -- but if you just rest, you'll be fine tomorrow? Rest. Just this once. Instead of pushing through -- rest. Give yourself a break. Cancel your appointments with a smile and self love. Choose a quiet activity to tackle instead of pushing through your body's signals (again) . Make tea, hug the people you adore, and get comfy on the couch. Read a book. Watch a movie. Savor the simplicity of a lazy day. It's only by giving yourself permission to rest when you need it that you can do your most important work in the world. You know, the work you were made to do. The images you were meant to create, the words you were meant to pen. The ...
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A sale is a focused push to turn interested-in-your-business people into buying-from-your-business people. It comes down to a few basic principles, no matter what you're selling. Let's get cracking' on the two-step formula for holding a killer sale without breaking your brand, shall we? 1.) Make a single offer. Just like an effective blog post, a good sales message will include a single offer. "Ballerina flats are on sale!" "Beach portrait sessions are now available!" "Massages are buy one, get one half off!" Short, sweet, to the point. Details of the offer must be shared at some point, but the main idea should be so simple that a 3-year-old can understand what's on sale and how much it costs. Again: the main idea of your sale should be so simple that a 3-year-old can understand what's on sale and how much it costs. Of course, your sale is not limited ...
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Mr. Hazy (the creepy dude at right) loves it when you're afraid to put evidence of your genius on your website. When you refuse to promote your products and services, just hoping people will buy because they've fallen in love...ooh, it makes him break into a dance of pure joy! Because hiding your genius = fewer sales = Mr. Hazy's happiness. Let's get your previous clients doing some selling for you. We're going to find 3 examples of kind words past clients have used to describe your business, then get them onto your website. Letting others talk about your genius sends Mr. Hazy running for the hills. He can't handle seeing your skills laid out in all their specific, tangible glory. Whether you choose to call 'em Raves, Testimonials, or Kind Words, these snippets of your skills allow others to talk you up. Future clients read these kind words and ...
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A call to action is a sweet-as-pie request asking the reader to do just one thing. It's the next step you want your reader to take after reading a blog post, and it's the key to getting more comments, more fans, and more business through your blog. A call to action tells the reader to do just one thing at the end of your blog post. ‘Find out more about my baby plan’ is a call to action. ‘Find out more about my baby plan, follow me on Twitter, and like me on Facebook’ is NOT a call to action—it’s a clusterfuck. It leaves readers confused about which action is most important, so they don’t take any action at all. It's simple! One blog post, one call to action. If the logical conclusion to your newborn baby blog post is to find out more about your baby plan, direct your ...
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As I'm working with peeps one-on-one, I keep finding myself pointing out a simple truth that I'd love to share with all of you. Ready? Your pricing is NOT forever. No matter which decision you make regarding pricing -- $15 or $45 for that necklace, $100 or $150 for that session fee, $49 or $349 for that digital product -- it's not locked in forever and ever. There are no internet gods trolling to make sure you keep your product and service prices exactly the same until the end of time. Prices can go up as the product evolves, as services are added, or as demand skyrockets. Prices can go down in the form of sales, specials, or buying incentives. No matter which business you're currently in, it serves you well to remember that the pricing decisions you make right now are NOT permanent. I see peeps get caught up ...
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Today, a super-simple exercise for figuring out what you REALLY want. It's often hard to know what's really working for us and what is falling flatter than a chocolate chip pancake when we're in the trenches, but this exercise provides a little perspective. First, freeze your business in your mind. Think of your current clients, your current daily routine, and your current revenue. Get crystal clear about what, exactly, your business looks and feels like right this second. Next, imagine one year from now. A miracle has happened! Your business has QUADRUPLED! How does having four times more business feel? Overwhelming, I'm sure, but what feels incredibly good or incredibly bad about the growth of your business just as it is now? What products or services would you immediately eliminate if you knew your business was going to quadruple? What systems would you pay more attention to? (A better e-mail ...
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There's no magic number. Not $10,000 or $30,000 or $100,000. Your mother will not suddenly sing your praises because your business grosses X thousand dollars. There's no secret bell that's going to ding; no whirligig that's going to be delivered from the universe when you decide to bring home a paycheck and make your "cute" little business into the real thing. Your business provides income when YOU decide it will. Which is, incidentally, the key to getting your loved ones on board with and believing in your business. Instead of hearing about your intentions and how you'll start bringing home income after the purchase of that workshop or that piece of gear, they'll get to hear about the dollars you brought home last week. Even if it isn't much, bringing income home this year is better than saying you'll start charging or start making money "later" (or worse -- "next ...
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"I never discount my work!" is something my peeps say when I'm working with them, but they usually don't know an alternative to getting people to book in a timely fashion. The secret to enticing people to do what you want is called an incentive. No one is asking you to discount your work. I am asking that you consider creating an incentive for booking your services to get a jump on your business calendar for the next six months. An incentive is an extra-special reason to buy something. For example, when I ordered my Pajama Jeans, I received a gray t-shirt as an incentive. (Don't judge! They were good until they died a tragic death during their second trip to the washer.) Open the Sunday newspaper and you'll see make-up counter incentives all over the place: spend $50 and receive a free purse full of samples. Spend $60 and ...
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Meet my manuscript! I just said that in the Patti Stanger "Meet My Millionaires!" voice, in case your mind-reading skills aren't in effect yet today. This manuscript has been the source of much joy, frustration, concentration, focus, determination, teamwork, and elation for the past ten months. Thing is, I hate printers. Not my publishing printers, but home printers. Those nasty little $99 devices that break at just the wrong time. And I need to see the book printed out to edit properly because that's the way my brain works. Screens just won't do. I would spend an hour or more printing each copy of the Film is Not Dead manuscript, replacing ink cartridges and swearing like a sailor for each draft that took place. There have been many, many drafts. When Haunani mentioned my blood pressure one too many times during these printing episodes, I decided to say "Screw it" ...
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I was sitting there eating a buttercream cupcake and reading Clean Living magazine. Allow me to add emphasis for you: I was sitting there eating a buttercream cupcake and reading Clean Living magazine. It struck me, right then, that cupcakes and clean living are at opposite ends of the wellness spectrum. My intention (clean living -- or perhaps gaining weight?) was not matching my reality (gaining weight -- or perhaps clean living). Does your intention match your reality? If you say you're working on marketing, are you devoting twenty minutes a day to the task? If you say you want to get more clients, are you returning phone calls on time? If you say you're into providing luxurious experiences for clients, are you delivering more than clients ask -- before they ask for it? If you say next year's the year to make big changes and growth happen, have you ...
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Sunday, early morning, Day 3 of a 3-day event. I'm tired and I skulk into the back row, less than enthusiastic about listening to another full day of speakers. Until. Until RuDee sits next to me. I take it as fate and make my move. I slip her a simple note, one of those 'Circle YES or NO' question sheets you pass when asking a boy to go out with you in the third grade. Only I don't want to go out with her, I want to hear a story. A grand tale, lunch in a sweet little NYC cafe the price. It was the day after RuDee's epic question, during which RuDee revealed that she had sold every piece of furniture in her living room to attend this entrepreneurial event and pitch her business to the legendary Russell Simmons. This woman brought down the house with her clarity of ...
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You have great clients, but what about DREAMY clients? SUPERB clients? Clients with WEE LET'S BUY EVERYTHING budgets who make you laugh so hard you pee when you're together? It's easy to believe that your competitors have found all the fantastic clients in the area, and you've been left with the dregs. So, I ask: Do your clients understand you? Do you want to hug them? Do they come from a place of understanding and patience, no matter their budget? Do they respect your wishes and accept the terms you lay out in contracts? If yes, read this article instead. But if you're not rolling in clients you deeply love, I'll wager that you've got cowboy-bangem-itis. You see, every potential client is like the really hot guy at the bar who looks all cute and who you can imagine taking into a back alley and riding like a cowboy. Everyone ...
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I called a local painting company to get a quote for painting a striped ceiling in my bedroom. (Solid colors are one thing, and stripes are another matter entirely, I think. I'm leaving it to a pro.) The nice businesswoman showed up and I led her to the space. She pulled out her quote book and explained everything she was considering whilst coming up with a price -- amount of paint used, amount of prep work needed, baseboard coats, time allowance for ceiling paint to dry, and some fairly intense detail work to create stripes. I nodded, showed her my paint chips, and let her do the math. About halfway through the math, she started offering discounts. Apparently I'm close enough to her house to get a discount, and since it's a small room I get a discount, and... I didn't ask for a discount. I didn't do anything other ...
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Masturbating. You just hang out with yourself and have a good time. You kill a chunk of minutes and life resumes. Bizturbating is the same thing. It feels like you're doing great work, but you're really just diddling around. My favorite form of bizturbation is to dream up new projects then flesh them out with pen and paper instead of working on what's already been to-do-listed. 😉 The top 8 ways to bizturbate: 8. Stockpile free lessons, books, reports, templates, classes, and doodads without opening or using any of them. (You'll do that later.) 7. Buy and read business books, but save the 'actually putting into action' parts for later. 6. Work on doubling your follower counts instead of contacting past clients to make sure they're satisfied with your services. 5. Focus all your energy on impressing your colleagues, not your clients. 4. Subscribe to more and more news, video, ...
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Back in the day, (and let's pause here to admit that I just like saying 'back in the day,' even if I'm talking about last Wednesday)...back in the day, I was forced to do a peer review for every term paper submitted as part of the Honors Core course in college. The peer review was designed to open my eyes to a paper's flaws before it was submitted for grading by a professor. In other words, I would write a paper. My peer would write a paper. And then we would switch and read the other's work. This made it easy to point out the flaws in logic, the grammatical errors, the assumptions that didn't work, and the bits that needed some refining before getting to the professor's careful eyes. The least helpful peers wrote, "Good job." The ones that really helped cited that flaw on page 7 which leads ...
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I've been watching unholy amounts of TV all summer long. My new favorite show is The Graham Norton Show, an English chat show that's available on demand. There's one recurring segment -- 'That's All We've Got Time For' -- in which random viewers are placed in a giant red chair and asked to tell their best story to Graham. If they start with something boring, like, "I was walking down the street in Wales, and it was a really nice day out..." -- Graham flips the chair back and they've lost their privileges to tell any more of their tale. It gets a big laugh because well, there's some poor soul being booted around in a giant chair. Setting isn't nearly as important as you'd think, so no one is allowed to waste time on details relating to it. "When I was on the tube two months ago..." and "I ...
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It should come as no surprise that I watch Bravo TV shows. After all, I'm a writer, and when I don't feel like writing or have no ideas or want to avoid pushing past page 22 and into page 23 -- the Housewives are a good distraction. So I'm watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey (not my favorite, but they'll do in a housewife-y pinch) and I glance up to see Teresa praying in her private chapel. Located at the end of her vacation cabin's driveway. And I seriously doubt my own intelligence for choosing to keep watching in lieu of switching off the television for betraying my intelligence in such a fashion. Because there are people in the world who have taken the time -- and tens of thousands of dollars -- to build a chapel as an add-on to their vacation home. They could have paid their ...
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The scene: two turns past the middle of nowhere. The players: five kids, their Mom, and myself The story: We're driving around with five kids in the car, calling our time together 'an adventure.' (This means we have no idea where we're going or what will happen. The house was too hot to stay in any longer. Half of the kids aren't wearing shoes, so going shopping or otherwise cavorting with civilized society is not really an option.) And then, we spot it: the sign for a boat launch. "Oooh, turn there!" I yell, and we swerve down a dusty lane. We end up all alone with a body of water -- not a boat in sight. It's a gorgeous, sunny day, and within minutes there are five very-wet, very-happy children splashing around the lake while fully-dressed. Suddenly, Joshua has to pee. NOW. We encourage him to step out of ...
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My website isn't live. My blog hasn't been updated lately. I need a new logo. I haven't done any marketing in the past few weeks. I haven't had time to update my portfolio/Instagram/Facebook/social media du jour. There's no time for creating brilliant new work/promos/e-mails. I'm behind on ____ . My goals for my business haven't been met. If it's not perfect, I'm not going to show anyone what I've been working on. That, my friends, is shame talking. Shame says you're not good enough, not strong enough, not adequate enough to strut your stuff. Fuck shame. You are strong enough. Brave enough. Good enough. You are perfectly capable of making the time to meet your business goals. You are uniquely poised to bring gifts only you have into the world. You have nothing to be ashamed of, so I say, in big bold letters: FUCK SHAME. You don't need feelings ...
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Here's the thing about building a business: you have to have either time or money in abundance to get it off the ground. If you've got lots of money, you just pay people to build your website, come up with a marketing plan, grow your contact lists, and create your products. If you've got lots of time, you're the one to do all of the things listed above. Either way, your business grows as a direct result of investing time and/or money into it. But what if you haven't got time or money? Eeeeeeeeesh. Time is the missing link between so-so customer service and phenomenal experiences. If you haven't got time, you need money to have other people sew your custom envelopes or buy those massages for great clients or pull out all the stops for home deliveries, etc... If you haven't got the money right now, you have to ...
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A few peeps have asked me to teach a time management course. I've declined. This isn't because I wouldn't be happy to take your money for such a course (oh hello, new bedroom furniture and pretty pretty curtains!) but because everything I know about time management is ridiculously simple. Have priorities and stick to them. That means waking up to make a list of the things that MUST get done, the things that SHOULD get done, and taking a glance at the things it'd be AWFULLY NICE to get done. Must get done: pay bills, take care of clients, shower. Should get done: work out, make some dinner, plan marketing events. Awfully nice to get done: Have some wine, shave legs, watch a movie, file accounting receipts. When you say you don't have time for something, you're actually saying it isn't a priority. Read that again, because it's pretty much ...
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It's Spring. There are 9.8 million brown trees waiting to unfurl their new leaves. And there are a few trees getting all the attention. The pink trees. You know the pink trees -- the ones that aren't afraid to bloom a little early. To be a little different. To show up first and start dancing. To be the center of attention. To rock their unique talents. To share their gifts with all the world. To be outrageous in their boldness, their cleverness, their commitment to color. Be the pink tree. When the rain comes and the mud sucks at your boots. When you're tempted to bloom with all the others. When you can no longer bear being anything but yourself. Entirely yourself. Be the pink tree. P.S. I'm proud of you ...
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When I'm talking with peeps and we've just figured out their latest pricing/branding/marketing move, I've learned to expect it. A deep pause. And then: "Do you think it will work?" Yes, yes I do. But I don't know it will work. No one does. Same goes for "Will I make it?" and "How's this promotion look to you?" I make educated guesses. I don't know anything will work, ever. And neither do you. Such is the nature of being in business. Deep pauses and the question: "Do you think it will work?" Each of us, we business owners, are only making educated guesses. If it feels right and we're reasonably confident in the results, we move forward. This is how you write a book in less than a month, how you fund wildly adventurous trans-continental journeys, and how you lay your dreams on the line in order to keep building ...
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You've got your work online, and you're getting lots of inquiries. Yay! However, many of those inquiries are for services you don't provide or asking for heavy discounts. Bah. What's the nice way to say "No way, Jose" in a tone that won't make you come off as a douchebag? First, assess the (potential) client's level of douchebaggery. If he or she is fishing for discounts and coming off in a way that makes you all irritated -- and all you did was read their e-mail -- then walk away. Respond with a firm "No" and then forget they exist. If, however, they seem kinda cool -- it might be worth a chat via phone or e-mail. Below, my recommended responses to a slew of scenarios. 1.) Sorry, I can't, but _______________ can. I get all sorts of wedding inquiries, even though I don't shoot weddings. I send each client ...
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I was working on a major project and it wasn't going well. And by not going well, I mean that it was a constant source of frustration, tears, and Bud Light drinking. (Yah. Bud Light. In cans. Told you it was bad.) Instead of bitching, moaning, and whining about my frustrations and then being nicey-nice to the project manager's face, I told her what was up. Two pages of 'this happened, this happened, this happened, and then THIS happened, and then I cried.' I had given up on the project experience and chalked the whole thing up to 'lesson learned' or some other bullshit cliche that people bust out when things aren't going their way. I expected absolutely nothing good to happen from sending that e-mail. But a miraculous transformation took place. The project got back on track and I want to hug the whole team who made it happen ...
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I bought a car yesterday. It was an emergency purchase required by my old car dying a painful death. So, I wanted to buy a USED (anyone who's been in 7 car accidents before the age of 30 does not buy new) car. Specifically, an automatic Volkswagen Beetle with a moonroof with under 80,000 miles on it. Year irrelevant, so long as it fit within budget. And time was, you know, of the essence. I was just going to go to the dealerships of the cars listed on the internet when my Dad warned that they don't always keep the listings current. The car could be sold. Silly me for thinking that your advertising the car means you still have the car. I called dealerships. And called dealerships. And called dealerships. Sold (with listing still active.) Sold (with listing still active.) Sold (with listing still active.) Not sold! But the ...
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I made reference to a personal project and had no intentions of sharing it. Then a friend encouraged/dared me to share it in the name of being authentic, creating meaning, and being fearless. The attitude and harsh words, the tough love, the no-nonsense...that's much easier to create than a blog post that reveals so much of who I am and where I come from and what hurts in my life right this second. But I did it. Grandma lives in a nursing home. When I found out her possessions were being divided, sorted, and otherwise rummaged through before selling her dormant house, I traveled back to photograph the objects that hold meaning for me. To observe and remember. I found many things were just the same: the divine light in the kitchen, the bird clock, the jar of spoons on the table (yes, spoons - I never asked why), the ...
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My Dad discovered baking at age 55. He enjoys cutting dessert recipes from the newspaper and making them from scratch. He's happy to whip up a cheesecake or a pie for the church function, the family lunch, or next week's get-together. My Mom and I noticed that his baked goods were always a touch on the burned side. Being supportive family members, we ate what he provided and attributed the crispy edges to a faulty oven. A slightly-off-kilter recipe. A wacky timer incident or two. The little old church ladies were all kind words and compliments. We were all pretending the crusts were just dandy. Until one fateful day when my Mom walked into the kitchen and found the pan Dad had just slipped into the oven set to bake a cake for 15 minutes at 650 degrees. 15 minutes at 650 degrees. Dad figured that if 30 minutes at ...
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My Dad is a quiet man. My longest phone conversation with him lasted 7 minutes, and I regularly chat with strangers for up to two hours at a clip. While growing up, Mom did the cooking. Dad rode his epic lawnmower around the yard: headlights on, engines firing, guttural race car noises barely audible over the drone of the tractor. At Thanksgiving last year, Dad threw his fork down and declared, "I HATE MASHED POTATOES." I have seen the man eat three helpings of mashed potatoes at every major holiday meal I can recall having attended. The guy pounds the potatoes back like a faux-Irishman with a yard of green beer on St. Patty's Day. "Oh," Mom sighs. "Anything else?" "I hate HAM, too." They've been married for twenty-nine years. It took twenty-nine years for Dad to admit to not liking mashed potatoes AND ham. (Like I said, he's quiet.) ...
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Impatience is easy. You've been in business for three years and you have yet to make a million dollars. To have 10 clients a week. To book a celebrity wedding. To afford a three-month European tour from your earnings. Impatience is easy. You don't have the right clients. The right branding. The right website, blog, mobile site, Facebook page, or social media community. Impatience is easy. You need to learn more, and faster. You should be further along by now. You should know how to baby-whisper newborns, make acne-ridden Seniors looks like fashion models, and fool the eye into thinking the size 24 bride is a size 4. You should be able to work magic. And land magazine covers in your sleep. Except...you're doing the best you can. You're learning and growing. You're adapting to the needs of the market, honing your craft, and navigating the sometimes-terrifying world of being ...
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There are infinite numbers of ways to spend money on marketing, but sometimes you've only got a few hours and no dollars to spend. Here are easy ways to market your business that cost less than $10 each. Kindly remember that with NO money, you're going to have to rely on your talents and negotiation skills. You may have to barter or give something away to get what you need. Trying to get yourself hundreds of postcards or other hard goods with $0 and no willingness to earn them simply won't work. But trading some of your work for a booth at a conference or trade show? Totally doable. 1.) Leave your business cards on three community bulletin boards. Can't think of anywhere? Starbucks, the YMCA, the gym, your coffee shop, your laundromat, your deli, and your hairdressers' work station. You know you've heard this before, but how often do ...
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I see artists who refuse to charge more for their work make excuses like, "I don't want to be considered expensive" and "I'd rather have clients and make SOME money at these prices than have NO clients at higher prices." I'm here to tell you: 'Expensive' is a relative term. For example. You're in Vegas. You see a lovely lady. Or man. Or lady-man. And you say, "Hey, how much does an hour with you cost?" (It's legal, there.) Lady/man/lady-man says, "$300." Well, you don't know what you're getting, and your budget was $150, so lady-man-lady seems expensive. You move on. Lady-man-lady #2, whom you approach after deeming the first person too expensive, says: "I'm going to *beep* your *beep,* then *beep* your *beep* and then roll you in *beep*sauce and *beep* you senseless. That'll be $300." Oh, lady-man-lady #2! Budget no longer matters -- you NEED your *beep* to ...
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Your strip club (see this post, if you're confused) is now flourishing! Those marketing techniques you mastered have filled the club nightly, and Crystal's g-string is stuffed full of singles at least four times a night. But...there's a problem. You serve Chimay, your clients want Bud Light. The club offers lap dances starting at $95, and some clients want to pay $15. You, my friend, need a bouncer. Prices are often your bouncer. Listing your session fee, base package price, and/or basic collection price can be effective in weeding out your less-than-ideal clients. (Listing no price leaves too much room for assumptions about how 'cheap' or 'expensive' you are!) Text can be your bouncer, too. Using adjectives to describe your work as 'classic' will deter those who are looking for modern images. 'Upscale' or 'elegant' can trigger the dollar-signs that keep clients with a Craigslist budget from looking any further ...
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Oh, the strip club. It's a simple business model, right? You provide hot people (or, as in these photos, topless go-go's) and cold beer at reasonable prices, and wham! You've got a time-honored business model working in your favor. Strip clubs should be profit MACHINES. But just because you have the prettiest, thinnest, hottest, _____est dancers doesn't mean people will find you. You're nodding your head. You're like, 'duh, Kristen, of COURSE people won't find out about Crystal Delicious and her miraculous pole-dancing on their own!' So why do you assume people will find out about your business on their own? You're talented, you do great work, you have a website. And no one cares. You're dancing for an empty auditorium. How do we go about filling that auditorium? Generate buzz. If you owned a strip club, you would attempt to generate buzz locally. Postcards, posters, and business cards shuffling ...
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If you adore something, use it. Show it. Embrace your love of plaid, your preppy side, your polka dotted background. (Don't let anyone tell you x, y, or z is awful if you find it remarkable.) If you hate something, don't do it. If you loathe blogging, find another way to reach your audience. If you are nauseated by traditional ways of doing things, don't do them. If you abhor color photos, shoot only black and white. If you retch at the thought of digital photography, shoot film. Consider this your permission. You are good enough. You are brave enough. You can treat yourself and your artwork with dignity. Consider this your permission. Get out there and fail without beating yourself up about it. Get out there and make a friend, work with a business, hold a contest, try out a promotion. If it fails, minimize it. If it succeeds, ...
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