get your biz off the ground Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "get your biz off the ground" Category

How to F*&$ing Communicate. An introduction.

Let’s get you started on the road to Actually Talking To Your Peeps On A Regular Basis Without Shame and Fretfulness.

This is an episode of the That’s What She Said podcast! You can tune in below or keep scrolling to get the gist.

For lots of years, I figured someone else knew best about how I should be talking to my peeps about my business. That sounds silly to admit now, but I trusted ‘experts’ to help me navigate the world of business instead of acknowledging that what I was being told frequently felt ‘off,’ wrong, and generally gross.

Mostly I was told to hustle all the time, but be ‘authentic,’ but not too authentic because you need to be professional, but not too professional because then you don’t stand out from the crowd, and ‘put yourself out there’ but NOT LIKE THAT.

I hated hearing from people and businesses only when they were selling something. At the same time, I was worried about how much noise email and marketing and talking about products generated in general, and I didn’t want to contribute to the noise. Which means NATURALLY I ONLY EMAILED MY PEEPS WHEN I WAS SELLING SOMETHING.

Brilliant.

It took 7+ years to realize:

a.) I don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates
b.) these people WANT to hear from me, and
c.) their responsiveness or lack thereof to any single email in no way indicates how much impact I’m having on their lives.

I’m going to dive deeper into each of these painfully-obvious-but-difficult-to-learn truths in detail, as you enjoy this excerpt from my upcoming class, How to Fucking Communicate.

It’s all about how to actually communicate with the people on your email list instead of failing to create a list, acting as if the list is actually a hive of poisonous and deadly creatures that will kill you upon sending a single email, or truly believing that even though your peeps said they want to hear from you, they don’t actually want to you to email them, because they are lying liars with better ways to spend their time.

It’s a 1-off, live class that goes down on Friday, September 28th, from 4-6:00 p.m. ET.  Read more or pick up your seat now!

Truth #1: You don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates.

There are people out there who have their creative calendars planned for the next twelve months. They are very willing to share their planners with you on Pinterest or as a free download or in a free seminar or all three. For me, the concept of a ‘creative calendar’ that’s solid and unchanging one year out is utter bullshit.

My creative calendar — which dictates my podcasts, blog posts, and emails — is planned for four weeks out, tops. I know what I’ll be marketing for the next six months (see: how to make a marketing calendar), but what I’ll be writing about, talking about, and generally sharing is always based in my life at the moment of writing, which I can’t possibly anticipate a year in advance.

I’ve been podcasting weekly for over three years now, and blogging for more than nine, and not once have I stuck to an ‘editorial calendar’ or otherwise managed to keep to a strict ‘content’ schedule. I’ve made calendars, absolutely, and scribbled gorgeous plans that are absolutely perfect on paper. And then, within four weeks of starting them, I’m BORED OUT OF MY FUCKING MIND BECAUSE I KNOW WHERE IT’S ALL GOING.

Also, can we stop calling it content? It’s art, and poetry, and emails, and podcasts, and images, and witty commentary, and advice, and useful creativity, and all of the above, and calling it ‘content’ makes us sound like really sad robots pushing out blocks of shiny, commodifiable garbage.

So: you don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates.

The trick to communicating is consistency.

If you say you’re going to communicate with your peeps once a month, make sure you do. If it’s once a week, or twice a week, or every seventh Tuesday, or on the full moon, or only when the sun sets after 8 p.m….do that. The point is whether you do what you say you’re going to do, not the frequency of your communication.

The length, frequency, and template of your communication is entirely yours.

Again, you’ll see people around you saying you must be SEO-friendly or have more than 300 words or write using words at or below a fourth grade reading level or structure your posts to align with social media, which aligns with Mercury in the House of Gemini and…no.

The length, frequency, and template of your communication is entirely yours.

I’m pushing email specifically because we all have an email account and because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t own the algorithms that govern it. Any platform in which you can communicate directly with your peeps — such as email, texting, or snail mail — counts as communicating.

Your personal communication cocktail might be:

A stunning image and an inspirational quote with a link to book your work.
A short poem and a testimonial about your work.
Three links to your latest products and a discount code.
Your latest blog post, written out and sent as a standalone email so peeps remember to visit your website.
19 paragraphs from your upcoming novel delivered every Wednesday for a month.
A single podcast episode.
A series of podcasts.
Recent interviews.
A few quick snippets of your life right now and a call to action.
New products, featured products, or sale products.
New services, a featured service, or an update on the availability of a service.
All of the above.
None of the above.

Your communication might benefit from having a template, but it in no way requires you to lock one in for life.

How often do you prefer to communicate?
Which length of email do you prefer to send — short, medium, or loooong?
What do you really want to sell, move, or promote in the next three months?
What do you want to share with your peeps that isn’t about selling, moving, or promoting a product?

When you lock in a timeframe, a length, and a topic or two, communicating is much, much less scary than it was before we began.

I’ll send ______________ every ___________ days. I can talk about __________ or ____________ or ____________, and I’ll be sure to mention __________________, since that’s what pays the bills.

What you might have just heard was, ‘Aha! Kristen says I can communicate MY way! And that means I send one half-hearted email to my peeps every ten to twelve months, or whenever I panic about money! That IS my way!’

Nah. You don’t get off that easily.

Truth #2: your people want to hear from you.

If you can really, truly believe this, you’re golden. And yup, I know it takes a long time to get here.

If your peeps are suddenly full of hatred for you and resent your very existence, as your asshole brain says, then they’ll unsubscribe. That’s the worst that will happen. They won’t get your emails/texts/mail any longer. Until then, it’s safe to assume that they want to hear what you have to say. Even if all you have to tell is a personal story and the only thing notable you’ve done this week is find the world’s greatest otter GIF. Fine! Share that!

Also: they want to hear from you, even if there are ‘only’ 7 or 19 or 123 of them. Your list size has nothing to do with the fact that your peeps have agreed to your talking with them via email.

Communicating is more about keeping a line open between you and your peeps than it is about making a direct offer every single time you write to them.

When you share the greatest animal GIF in the world, you’re much more likely to get positive responses and build rapport and let people see you, which does wonders for your business in the long run. (Don’t be frustrated by how quickly people respond to GIFs and how slow they are to respond to big-deep-soulful stuff!  We’re human, we all love puppies, and you can combine the two in profoundly interesting ways.)

The less frequently you communicate in your business, the more likely you’ll have to make an offer each time you do so. Sending a single animal GIF email every six months is not communicating, it’s phoning it in. Likewise, sending five offers a week, every week, is overkill. I don’t actually know how often you should talk to your peeps, but I do know that most creative humans err on the side of under-communicating, underselling, and underoffering, which generally leads to financial turmoil and stress.

Further! Communication is not always about being useful. It is not always about ‘being of service’ by sharing 10 tips or 7 tricks or 4 helpful clues. The emails I’ve received the biggest responses to have been those of solidarity: I’m having a hard time/I’ve had a hard time, and I just want to say I’m with you if you’re having a hard time, too. No calculated, Pinteresting plan to paper the internets with life hacks. No overarching plan that leads to a sales funnel and six figures.

Simply: I’m a human, and I bet you’re human, too.

There’s power in simply being a human, consistently.

Truth #3: you can touch people without their having told you so.

In fact, the more profound the shift, the more vulnerable it is to share it.

I know you’re really worried that you don’t have anything to say AND that what you’re saying/making/creating/sharing isn’t finding the right people. But here’s the deal.

I’ve had my life profoundly shifted by lots of authors and never written them a single email. Why? Because I naturally assume they’re busy, they’re tired, and that they aren’t the people checking their own email. (See: Glennon Doyle, Rob Bell, Matt Haig, Brene Brown. That’s just this YEAR.)

I’ve had people casually write to me and share kind words starting with, “Now that I’ve been on your list for seven years…” or “I’ve admired you ever since [event that took place a decade ago]…” My peeps tend to be quiet, to respect boundaries, and to be deathly afraid of not ‘wasting’ anyone’s time. If those are your peeps, too, you might not get the response you’re looking for each time you send a missive.

THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT DOING GOOD WORK IN THE WORLD.

Your work, particularly your communication, has a cumulative effect in the world. The overall response to a single letter, image, poem, podcast, painting, song, piece of art, class, or offer isn’t measurable, and you have absolutely no control over how it impacts the lives of those who take it in.

If kind words are your only measure of your worth and your work, you’ll come up short every time. If, however, you accept kind words as a gift and keep on working — regardless of whether the accolades are piling in — you’ll find yourself happier and healthier in your business life.

Your job is to do your work and to keep sharing it whenever possible. Keep giving people reasons to share their kind words seven to ten years from now.

I’m so, so grateful for every kind email I receive. I also plan on receiving precisely zero kind emails per week. Often, my peeps don’t reply to my emails. At all. There are over four thousand people a week who see AND DO NOT RESPOND TO each email. I send them every week, regardless.

Doesn’t mean my message isn’t being heard or my life is a failure — just means they don’t want to ‘bother’ me. (Lest you think this lesson is obvious, this is a recent lesson, and I’ve been doing this work for over nine years. It took an absolutely absurd amount of time for me to believe that I could be both being listened to and not receiving tons of feedback simultaneously.)

To suss this out a bit more, let’s take a look at The ‘Bother’ Factor.

How many kind, loving emails to total strangers have you written in the past year?
How many people have changed your patterns, your way of thinking, your habits, or your behavior without ever knowing that they’ve done so?
How often do you ‘mind’ if people talk to you? (i.e. Is a weekly email okay?)
How often do you talk to other people via your business?

Is there a disparity between what you accept from others and what you do for yourself/your business?

TRICK QUESTION THERE IS OR YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE.

I dare you to write to one of those people whose work you’ve enjoyed right now. Then actually write down your responses to the Communication Cocktail, and you’re on your way to communicating!

From here, it’s time to nab a seat in How to Fucking Communicate, which is a 2-ish hour class that starts with you being all, OH GOD I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY AND I’M SCARED and ends with you being all, Actually, I can do this!  A tiny breathwork session and Q+A are included with the recording, as is a kickass workbook to help you take notes and work through the material.

👉🏻 Go check out the class details.

P.S.  Here’s the link to the How to F**&ing Communicate info one more time — then buy a seat!

Behind the scenes: every product and service I use to make magic happen.

For some reason, I adore behind the scenes round-ups of the tools and programs and services people use to make their livelihoods work.  Thus, I rounded up my own list to share with you!  When in doubt, assume I’ve tried 3-7 versions of a thing before settling on the thing I’m recommending.  Brand new additions to the tech team are *not* included, as they haven’t been time-tested and I don’t want to steer you wrong.

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.)

*** MVP

For recording interviews: Zencastr

You can record up to 8 hours a month FREE with this bad boy, which saves the audio directly to the computers of the people having a conversation, then uploads and syncs it after the fact automatically!  No more of that weird Skype-is-failing noise ever again!  (Hear this program in use with this Kim Anami interview.)

For e-mail: Gmail

I love G-mail, adore all its features, and prefer to keep it simple.

For surveys: Google Docs

Google Docs is really easy to use for creating and keeping client surveys. I used to pay $39 a month for this service from Constant Contact, but Google Docs does the same thing for $0.00.

For stock photography: Unsplash

If I need a landscape photo or a hipster-friendly image for any reason, Unsplash helps me out at no cost.

For blogging: WordPress

This platform allows a world of design, templates, plug-ins, and technical goodness to live on top of it.  It’s one of the world’s best free things.

For page design in WordPress: Elementor

This breathwork teaser (save 25% on classes for being on board before launch!) was whipped up with ease in under 30 minutes using a free plugin.  Insane, no?

For keeping all my files in one place in the cloud: Dropbox

We both know those files aren’t organized, but they’re all there!  That counts for something, right?

For offering a forum-type alternative to Facebook groups, since I quit Facebook: Mighty Networks

Steer Your Ship peeps can meet up and talk in a Mighty Network without having to dodge clickbait and political headlines!  Huzah!

For recording my podcast: Voice Memo

YAH I’m embarrassed, but I tried amping it up and making it more complicated and ‘going pro,’ and either way I got the same number of e-mails, comments, and downloads per episode, so I went with the way that feels most natural to me.  I also use…my phone’s built-in mic with the Voice Memo app that comes standard on every iPhone.

To further this confession: there are canned wine spritzers in my refrigerator at this moment.  YOU WILL NEVER BE FANCIER THAN ME.

For delivering my Fuck Yah Club goodies to peeps: a password-protected WordPress page.

Again, SO FANCY.  If you haven’t yet gotten access to all my book excerpts and two free sessions from M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs, now is the time!

For eliminating repetitive tasks and connecting bits and bobs automatically: Zapier

If you’re like, HOW WILL I POSSIBLY GET X TO TALK TO Y WITHOUT TEDIOUSLY DOING THIS JOB MANUALLY EVERY DAMN DAY — Zapier probably has the answer.  It connects apps, where apps are your teaching platform, your shopping cart, your e-mail list, and/or your social media accounts.  I use it to automatically connect those who purchase a class through Samcart (like M-School) with their Teachable login information.

Worth-every-penny programs and services

ONGOING SHIZ

For getting rad travel deals to speaking gigs: Pomelo Travel

For $3 a month — THREE DOLLARS A MONTH — I get amazing flight deals to locations around the world.  This service has saved me over $800 on tickets this year alone.

*** MVP

For e-mail: Convertkit

Pricing varies greatly depending on the size of your list, so you only pay for what you need.  ConvertKit is also the only company I know of that will magically and wonderfully MIGRATE YOUR LIST for you, thus eliminating 84% of the dread associated with the techy side of having a list in the first place.  My open rate has skyrocketed since I switched e-mail companies, and it also plays nicely with SamCart and Teachable.

Related: 15 minutes to an e-mail list of your own.

***MVP

For selling: SamCart 

::cue angelic voices and unicorns::

I switched to SamCart when my other shopping cart shit the bed and lost me about $13,000 in sales. The e-mails were going out, all NOW IS YOUR LAST CHANCE and registration is closing, and people were clicking, and the cart was all, NOPE I’M NOT WORKING.

I’m not gonna say this will take your business to the next level, ’cause we know that shit doesn’t exist, but it will take you to the Stop Beating Yourself About the Head Because Shopping Carts are So Complicated realm.  Which is nice.

SamCart allows me to have one-time and recurring products for sale, is downright beautiful — no really, look at this checkout page for Introverts at Work and lets me see who’s abandoned their cart to send follow-up nudges to those peeps.  It’s easy to set up and costs either $99 or $199 a month, depending on how many features you require.

⚡️Get your free 30-day trial of SamCart right here!

For connecting with peeps live: Crowdcast

This monthly subscription allows me to hold Q&A calls, lectures, and live presentations (i.e. webinars) with just a few clicks.  It’s stream-lined, simple to use, and has all sorts of lovely features built right in so that you can get peeps to attend with automated e-mail reminders, then follow up with the recording and a buy-some-stuff-now call to action after your event.   Simple, lovely, and $49 a month.

This one *is* new, so take with a grain of salt.  I had Instant Teleseminar for a bunch of years and only made the switch when I fell in love.  Failed to meet my standards in between making the jump: Zoom, Google+, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live.

For understanding WTF is going on with my web traffic and stats: GoSquared

I know that Google Analytics is free, but DAMN is it ugly and clunky.  (Totally discussed at length in this interview with Alison Monday, my behind-the-scenes tech helper person.) GoSquared helps me see where my traffic is coming from, where it’s sticking around, and which articles are the most popular.  (This article is still the most viewed of my entire website.)

For submitting my work to literary publications and contests: Literistic

These lovely humans scour the internet for upcoming literary deadlines, then share a reasonable number of places to submit each month without being overwhelming.  IT’S A GODSEND.  There’s a free version, but the premium version is longer and well worth the additional few bucks.

For keeping my shit together: Breathwork

This simple exercise, completed once a week for about an hour, has kept my emotional foundation from crumbling in the face of my two dearest friends’ simultaneous divorces, a dear one’s mounting financial debt, the Trump administration’s daily insanity, and a frustrating business challenge or seven that’s gone down this year.

I’m a certified breathworker releasing classes and 1-on-1’s soon, click here to be notified when they’re available!

For hosting WordPress without fear of gremlins eating my website: Flywheel

Dedicated WordPress hosting, automatic backups, and killer customer service for $28 a month. Since I make my living exclusively from my website, thias is my payment for peace of mind.

For backing up every single file on my computer: BackBlaze

$5 a month to back up my hard drive, which gives me the ability to both sleep at night and restore my every file within a few hours should disaster strike?  Yes, please!

For completing follow-up via e-mail: Boomerang

I use the Boomerang app for Gmail to both schedule messages in the future (of *course* I remembered to ask about that very specific thing 30 days from now!) and for keeping my inbox clear of client back and forth.  When a message boomerangs into my inbox, it gets my attention and I follow up with the human on the other end, easy peasy.  This rings in at $4.99 a month.

For hosting and publishing my podcast: Podbean

There are free ways to publish and host your podcast, but this $9-per-month solution keeps That’s What She Said online, on time, and uploaded to the iTunes podcast app like magic.

For class teaching: Teachable

Should you enroll in Ballsy or in M-School, you’ll quickly find yourself using the Teachable interface.  It’s clean, intuitive, and allows for the clear organization of content at a reasonable $39 a month.

For bookkeeping: Outright

This online software keeps my accountant from breathing down my neck — but because it’s online and attached to my bank account, it automatically updates most expenses. It automatically labels recurring fees after you’ve labeled them the first time, so it “learns” as time goes on.  $9.99 a month.  (Also it’s been bought by Go Daddy, so it’s in this awkward phase where it’s The Service Formerly Known as Outright, like when Prince was The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.)

For scheduling Instagram so that it’s not exclusively photos of my dog: Tailwind

Since Instagram is mobile-only and I write exclusively on my laptop, not my phone, I schedule posts that make reference to business in any capacity.  Tailwind helps me do that with hashtag searches and all the bells and whistles you can imagine. $9.99 a month.

ONE-TIME SHIZ

For sorting photos quickly: Photo Mechanic

This one-trick pony loads, categorizes, and renames photos in a snap. I use it to cull and rename files.  One $150 purchase and you’re saved from slow-loading Adobe options forever.

For sales pages and opt-ins: WordPress and these Bluchic templates

Um, holy shit guys, you don’t need to pay $xxx a month for opt-in pages! If you’ve got a WordPress theme and a few minutes to spare, you can make gorgeous pages like this one for Introverts at Work and this one for Calling to the Deep with a one-time purchase of $67.  This breathwork page was also created with the same template!  HUZAH!

For snail mail: Hello Happiness Card Co.

I have Josh over at Hello Happiness make me custom cards full of swears, then send them with tiny glitter packets and confetti to all over the globe.  (The postal services worldwide means sometimes they take months to arrive, but that has nothing to do with Josh.)  If you want his positive and good stuff, boom.  If you want the secret swears and dirty stuff, EVEN BETTER. From $4.

For all your photo editing and graphic design needs: Photoshop

I still have a copy of Photoshop on my laptop from before it went all monthly subscription, and I’ll run that program into the ground.  No shame in my photo game!

Calling to the Deep book photo
For all my headshots: Love Knot Photo

Alicia Bruce, Steer Your Ship alumni and artist extraordinaire, keeps my headshots updated annually and is responsible for the vast majority of images you see on this very website.  She’s basically a miracle worker and will squeal with delight if you suggest anything even remotely interesting for your photo shoot!

P.S.  Alicia is also responsible for the imagery on the covers of Introverts at Work and Calling to the Deep.  Pick up a book of mine here!

Let out your meows.

I’m teaching at a conference and I want to try an experiment. The premise is simple: “Tell me something you believe to be unique to you in all of human experience.”

People look around awkwardly. I’m concerned that Ryan Gosling has just appeared in leprechaun form to do a tap dance on the shoes of each student, their boots are suddenly so interesting. The room is absolutely silent in the way only a classroom about to mutiny against a teacher can be. Yeeeeeeears pass.

Finally, a raised hand! “Ok, great! What’s unique to you in all of human experience?”

“Sometimes I want to die.”

Way to start off with a bang. Wow.

“Who else has had that feeling,” I ask. Hands shoot up around the room. The secrets these peeps have tucked into the hollow place inside themselves have been seen, and suddenly they’re not so scary. Suddenly, they’re not alone. Volunteers for sharing are now plentiful.

The list of unique-to-me universals goes on and on: people who hate their clients, people who can’t stand some aspect of their bodies, people who feel the unbearable heaviness of being alive. For each careful revelation, there’s a corresponding uprising of hands.

Every single I’m-sure-this-only-applies-to-me statement is met with nothing but understanding by the hundreds of people in the room.

It’s working, I think. We’re all united by the human condition! We all get to say “Me, too!” to these statements!

And then. A tall, blond gentleman stands. He’s clearly scared shitless and has the skittish look of someone who’s got a massive secret on his shoulders. I ask him to tell me what’s unique about him in all of humanity, and he says, “I talk to my wife in meows. You know, like a secret language.”

Nope, I don’t know. OH GOD MAYDAY MAYDAY. How did I ever think this was a good idea!? What will I do when no one raises their hand for this guy???????? Stupid Kristen, you didn’t even CONSIDER that someone would say something that isn’t universal aggggghhhhhhhhhh…

I have no poker face, so I’m sure the group sees my dismay. There’s no way we have two meow-talkers in the same room, right!? I throw his statement to the group anyway.

“Anyone else talk to their partner in meows?”

A single hand shoots up in the front of the room.

YES! YEEEEEEESSSSSS, WE HAVE TWO MEOW TALKERS IN THE ROOM TODAY!!!

The first meow talker goes to sit by the second, and they launch into what I can only imagine is the best and most intimate conversation of their entire lives.

What does this story have to do with you, fair reader? If that guy can be brave enough to out his meow talk to a group of complete strangers, you can be brave enough to share your whole self with clients. (Related: come to the Brave workshop.)

When you’re afraid that you can’t take the shot (or you can take the shot but are scared to show it to clients).

When you’re obsessed with perfection and are bound up in how weird or wrong you’ll get it if you even try.

When you see other people’s work in your head and try to recreate them.

When you can’t find a way to express your voice and when you dread picking up your tools.

When all originality seems to have fled your work.

When you’re scrolling through social media and despair at your utter and complete lack of talent.

Let out your meows.

Get weird. Get weird in your posts, in your updates, and in your images. Admit to your likes, your dislikes, and your quirks. Tell people what you care about, and yes that includes politics, movements, resistance, and organizing for a cause.

Get weird in your work, too. If there are children present, they’ll be weird with you. Start dancing or meowing or jumping on the couch with genuine joy, and not a child in the room will be able to resist. If there aren’t children present, don’t be afraid to make an ass of yourself, or at least to poke fun at yourself.

Joy begets joy.

Vulnerability begets vulnerability.

There’s no other way.

Back to your work: you can preface your ideas with nuggets like, “This might be weird, but…” or “I have this crazy idea, want to hear it?” if you’re feeling too vulnerable to announce the next step in your plan outright. More often than not, at least the kids in the group will say “YES.” Mothers who are dying to have a moment of happy family zen on camera will go along with you just to save themselves from the despair of a family photo ‘failure.’ Fathers who hate everyone in the tri-state area will be distracted by their kids using them as a jungle gym or their partner making out with ’em as the kids run in circles and will give in to your plan despite themselves.

Let out your meows.

Throw leaves and jump in the pile instead of taking the posing-in-front-of-foliage shots. Risk making mothers-in-law and grandmothers unhappy with the final shots. (No stiff upper lips? No perfectly posed staring at the camera? How COULD you, the angry grandmothers rage.) Delete the photos you’re not 300% proud of, even if it means you’re only showing a family 18 images. Include the quirky images you love but that you’re sure your clients will reject.

Do you like it?

Is it interesting?

Does it contain any meows?

These questions will take your work to far more interesting places than:

Is it perfect?

Will it get the most likes on Instagram?

Is it sharp as a tack and perfectly exposed?

The quirky, the weird, and the vulnerable bits that come out in your work are vital to your growth as an artist. When you stuff them, suppress them, or shut them down, your work loses its living elements.

The work of every artist you admire is deeply and completely ALIVE. I guarantee it.

Alive is vulnerable. Alive is honest, alive takes chances, and alive is growing.

If you find that your work has stagnated, ask yourself when you last listened to that weird-ass, completely vulnerable meowing impulse. How have you incorporated your vision and your joy into your work? How have you consciously shaped a story that your client will-probably-but-might-not approve? How have you taken risks in your work, and how can you continue to do so? How have you taken steps to stop hiding?

In other words: how are you growing?

Not learning from others growing, but experimenting with ideas growing. Not joining a Facebook group and copying techniques growing, but playing in your down time growing. Not following a 7-step formula growing, but finding your voice growing. Not taking no chances and keeping a lid on your life growing, but making mistakes and tossing the majority of your work growing. Not seeking the next level growing, but steady exploration growing.

That point when meow guy stood up and shared his secret? It was vulnerable, it was scary, and it was deeply alive. Your work can’t be any of those things if YOU are not any of those things. Again…

Your work cannot be vulnerable, risk-taking, and deeply alive if YOU are not being vulnerable, risk-taking, and deeply alive.

So. Let out your meows.

Let your heart be seen, even when you can’t guarantee that a corresponding heart will meet it in the front row. Risk being the one to go first, to be weird and alive, and please promise to enjoy the ways your work shape shifts and surprises you when you do.

Psst!  This is an episode of That’s What She Said, my weekly podcast! You can listen to all the episodes or check out the top 10 episodes here.

P.S. This is big, vulnerable work, and if you want to dive into it further, let me send you the first chapter of Calling to the Deep!

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Photo by Love Knot Photo // that time I met a porcupine named Cuddles during Steer Your Ship (my peeps love animals, it’s one of my meows!) and cried at how soft his ears were.