make meaning Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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How to Experiment

how to experiment

One of the things I get asked by my coaching clients (3 year-long spots open in April, get on the wait list here!) is how to begin something new or different. They want a road map or plan that will mitigate all the risk involved in trying a brand new thing (of course), and I assure them that risk is built into the whole thing (of course).

The good news is, we can absolutely figure out a way for you to move forward that doesn’t lead to fear-puking on your shoes every morning.

‘How to experiment’ is an extremely flexible framework that can help you enter into a new project, idea, concept, collaboration, or phase of your work at the deepest levels.

Psst!  This is a podcast episode!  Listen in below, or just keep reading if you like to go fast.

First, let’s talk about Wim Hof. He’s fascinating because if you listen to an interview without knowing his story, he sounds absolutely insane.

He holds many Guinness World Records for bodily feats and generally defies all that we thought we knew about the limits of the human body.

But his refrain when teaching is often: “Don’t think about it, just do it!”

How do you keep your body temperature steady while taking an ice bath?

How do you run a marathon in the desert without water?

How do you climb Mount Everest in your underwear?

“Don’t think about it, just do it!”  (Also YES he has a method, but that method is so simple that we naturally ask 3,427 questions with no solid answers when presented with his achievements. I have been there and very much done that.)

Frustrating as his sentiment is, I don’t think he’s being condescending when he says, ‘Don’t think about it, just do it!’  I think he’s tapping into the primal bits of ourselves that simply know what to do, and that are perfectly fine to function without letting the limitations of the mind stop us.

So, when we dive into a topic like ‘How to experiment,’ we just do it.

First, we give ourselves permission to change the way it’s always been done.

The podcast has been me talking to you for the past five years. (Yup, five!) That has been absolutely lovely, and there are hundreds of episodes to enjoy at kristenkalp.com/podcast. In order to shake things up a bit, I have to give myself permission to change and grow.

You’ll have to do the same before you make shifts in your work.

If you’ve got a thing you’ve been doing a single way for some time, it’s okay to make space for that thing to change. It’s okay to try a new drawing style or close a shop or start a shop or give up on that process or withdraw from that partnership that hasn’t been working. It’s okay to stop working for free, to draw boundaries around your time and energy (see: Structure That Doesn’t Suck), and generally to make room for your own growth.

I’m going to illustrate the ‘how to experiment’ process in four steps for the sake of ease, but of course the real life process is rarely this obvious and straightforward.

We don’t have the kind of time it takes to acknowledge every single way that your particular path through life can swerve and curve. Your job is to try and figure out which step you’re currently in so that you’ll have a better idea of what to do next.

Step One: Listen for your little knowings.

Little knowings, meaning: feelings, thoughts, images, ideas, or ways of being that appear suddenly and that you know to be true. No data or science or other mind tools required.

All I knew for weeks and weeks was that something about the podcast needed to change. I would sit down to write or to record and get a shrug from the universe in return. That’s never happened.

Because I am wise and trusting of all that is, I freaked out and completely panicked. OH MY GOD AM I DONE WITH THE PODCAST, I DIDN’T KNOW, HOW COULD I NOT KNOWWWWWWWWWWW????

Some part of me knew that this energy would shift if I could sit with it and allow myself to be open to change. (Again, that sounds so simple, and is actually excruciating. Patience in the space of not knowing is difficult for me 100% of the time.)

Step Two: Record your little knowings.

In the case of the podcast, I wrote down ‘KK and the Rainbows’ weeks and weeks ago with no idea what it meant. It just kept coming up, flitting into my brain on repeat, so I grew frustrated enough to put it in my calendar.

‘KK and The Rainbows! There, you get an hour on Thursday, okay!?’ Please note that I gave this concept that clearly wanted my attention a block of time without knowing what would happen when I reached that space on my calendar.

Making space is where the free podcast series, Structure That Doesn’t Suck, really shines! If you put a concept or idea on your schedule for next Tuesday at 10am, you don’t have to worry about it until next Tuesday at 10am. The brain-swirling stops when you give a little knowing the space to exist.

When I say ‘record’ your little knowings, I mean type or talk or text or write or print or draw or paint or sing or whatever you would like. Recording what you know, as information becomes available, means that you won’t forget each fragment as it comes. It often arrives in jumbled order and with scattered pieces in play. The pattern is only obvious if you have the discipline required to record everything you know as it reveals itself to you. When you have enough information to see the next step, you can move forward.

Most people don’t bother to record their ‘little’ ideas or ‘funny’ knowings or the ‘strange’ phrases that pop into their heads. That refusal to write stuff down slows the experimentation process considerably. If you get 15 pieces of intuitive data per day and don’t record any of them, you won’t progress as quickly as the person who records everything they know as it becomes available to them.

To put it a different way: you can be the wisest, most intuitive being on earth who records nothing and eventually get surpassed at every level by the person dedicated to recording and tracking the patterns in their little knowings.

To record your intuitive knowing is to be a good steward of your gifts.

(See also: own your woo.)

Step Three: Follow your little knowings.

Following your knowing means you a.) keep an ear to the ground of your own heart and b.) try not to be frustrated when you only know the next right thing.

If you’re walking your own edges, you will never, ever get your next 57 steps delivered in a PDF manual from someone else’s class or program.

You’ll get the next right step. Just one. (My thanks to future friend Rob Bell for delivering this message to me so many times over the past six years!)

Turns out, ‘KK and the Rainbows’ is actually the framework for a new way of doing the podcast!

You are now a Rainbow. That’s the most inclusive word I can think of — I don’t even care that you be a human in order to enjoy! — and it’s also indicative of the magical nature at the core of your being.

We rainbows need affirmation that we’re not alone. We also need tools to address the challenging nature of being a sensitive, feeling creature in a world wired to shut us down and push us toward productivity and profitability at all costs.

The podcast experiment works like this: you’ll call in live on alternating Tuesdays, and we’ll record the podcast together for an hour. I’ll talk for twenty-ish minutes, you’ll ask questions via video or chat box (because introverts), and we’ll all turn on video chat at the end for a chance to see each others’ pets and wave and giggle. Why yes, I *am* in this for seeing as many animals as possible!

Step Four: See what happens.

Please note that ‘see what happens’ is a neutral phrase. It could go either way.

This could be the greatest advancement the podcast has ever seen, or it could be the worst ever due to lack of attendance or unknown technical difficulties or the trigger for a zombie apocalypse.

The same uncertain nature will be true of your experiments. If they’re truly experiments — not safe bets — they could just as easily slip into disaster as glory. Glennon Doyle mixes the words ‘scary’ and ‘excited’ to call it ‘scited,’ which is precisely how it feels.

I’m committing to six live KK and The Rainbows episodes to start.

To be invited to all 6 live podcast recordings, you just have to be on my email list and I’ll take care of the rest.

I’ll still tell you what’s going on in my business and how you can get on board with things like The Softness Sessions (i.e. Breathwork 101, we start soon!) and the live-in-May-in-Portland Voice Workshop, but the tools I’m presenting won’t be continuous pitches.

We’ll record together on alternating Tuesdays at 10am Pacific, and the following week the recording will be available to everyone who couldn’t attend in real time. The overall pace of the podcast slows down, but the time we get to spend together goes up!

This experiment is completely dependent on your showing up.

KK and The Rainbows, minus any questions or participation from others, is just KK.

My great fear is that absolutely no one will show up.  But I’m doing it anyway.

I hope you’ll do the same, no matter which experiment is on your docket.

Get on the email list and come be a rainbow with me!

P.S. ‘But Kristen!  I don’t HAVE little knowings.  I can’t hear my intuition…at ALL.’  <– That’s a fantastic sign that The Softness Sessions will be so so good for you.

We’ll build your inner listening muscles and intuition muscles, slowly over the course of six weeks, so that you’ll get better at listening to you.  We can absolutely put down the tools of your mind so that we can ‘not think about it, just dooo it!’ 😉

More details here, a podcast about it here, or sign up here.

Buy The Softness Sessions

Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part 4

Structure That Doesn't Suck, Part Four

This is part four of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck podcast series!  Listen to parts one, two, and three before proceeding, okay?

Now that you know whether you use time like a Luna or a Hermione, we’re ready to talk about priorities.

Priorities are easier to spot from a bird’s eye view. Think looking down on an enormous crowd from a balcony, or flying over a scene while riding a winged creature. HELL YES I BUILT BUCKBEAK INTO STRUCTURE THAT DOESN’T SUCK!

For the not-Harry-Potter fans, Buckbeak is a magical creature who Hagrid cares for within the Forbidden Forest. You must present yourself to him and bow before you are granted any further interaction. He sizes you up. If he bows back, you are free to pet his enormous beak and ride him as you would a horse, only with wings.

Buckbeak is saved during a pivotal point of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and he’s my favorite not-human character in Harry Potter. Favorite like, when I met Buckbeak at Harry Potter World, I squealed and bowed to him. From my spot on a roller coaster. I was shrieking with joy as we continued the Hagrid ride, overwhelmed with my love for Buckbeak.

Because Buckbeak is capable of taking in the entirety of both a human being and a scene at once, he’s a master of helping you to spot priorities.

The flying high, framing Buckbeak question: what is the Next Most Important Thing to be made?

Not the next 17 Most Important Things to be made.
Not what you’ll work on after the laundry and the donations and the shopping and the cleaning.

The next. Most Important Thing.

For Lunas, it’s generally been living in you for months, if not years. It’s time to bring that to light.

For Hermiones, it’s generally been the thing you’ll get to ‘later.’ Like when you’re old, retired, or on vacation. Preferably all three.

Everyone fears that the Next Most Important Thing is simultaneously not important enough to take up so much of your time and too important to do imperfectly.

Some part of you wants to protect the Next Most Important Thing because it will require something of your soul.

Yes! What’s that thing?

The vision that keeps you up at night?
The weird dream you keep on revisiting?
The class that’s been calling to you at 3 a.m.?
The book that’s only a few scribbles so far?
The project that’s plans, plans, and more plans at the moment?
The piece everyone is sick of hearing about because they wish you would do it already?

This isn’t the thing your grandma approves of or your partner most wants. It’s the annoying, irascible thing inside of you that won’t take no for an answer.

Let’s start there. The whole point of creating structure that doesn’t suck is to bring that thing into the world.

Your work deserves better than to continually be pushed to ‘later’ or ignored for the sake of scrolling on your phone or returning emails in the timeliest fashion humanly possible.

Which project would it hurt you to leave by the wayside, undone?
Which project calls to your soul in a really annoying, won’t-give-up way?
Which phase of your work is next, but you’ve been putting it off for days, weeks, or years?

For many of my coaching clients, teaching is the next step. For others, producing more work instead of teaching is the next step. I’m not trying to steer you in any direction except toward your own desires and your greatest potential.

Whichever project makes you both scared and excited — Glennon Doyle calls it ‘scited,’ a combination of both feelings — is exactly right.

If you have utterly no idea which project I’m talking about right now, imagine that I called your best friend and asked ’em what you’ve been talking about but not doing for a while now.

YUP THAT’S THE ONE.

Your best friend has kindly and lovingly listened to details of this unmade project for months, if not years, and it’s time to show them that you’ve got the followthrough necessary to make it happen.

This project will generally be wildly impractical and/or utterly terrifying.

Buckbeak wants to remind you that he spent time in friggin wizard prison as an innocent being, so figuring out your taxes and then creating a savings plan in order to afford the next thing is totally doable.

Whether you’ll need a bigger budget, a little more time, a little more energy, or simply a plan, you’ve got this.

Write it down! Scribble as much of the how and who and what and where of your vision as you have down right now.

…no really, write now. Before your asshole brain can bat you down and get you to push this off for another three to five years.

The next right thing is generally obvious and simple.

If you want a gallery exhibition of your paintings, you’ve got to paint. That’s step one, and you can schedule it as such. (I’m not saying to stop dreaming! I’m only asking you to balance that dreaming with actual work in the physical world, on this plane of reality.)

Likewise, if you want to write a book, write.
Want to teach? Start working on your curriculum.
Want to coach? Get yourself a test client.

If your Next Most Important Thing requires schooling, it’ll never be earlier than it is right now. Get the brochures, the loan forms, the applications, the meetings, the whatever-is-necessary in motion, even if you’re certain that I’m a delusional maniac and this thing you want can NEVER happen.

We are living in apocalyptic times and the earth is quite literally dying. We’re running out of time to make a more gorgeous, loving, and creative world.

Please don’t tell me your email is more important right now, or your 401(k) just needs a few more thousand dollars before you can summon the courage to do X.

Start.
Begin.
Go go go go go!

Further: let the next right thing be enough.

If you tend toward Luna, you might spend lots of time dreaming of something bigger, more ‘important,’ and more awesome than what you’re doing right now. A single painting isn’t enough; you’ve got to create a show. A show isn’t enough; you’ve got to create an art crawl. And on, and on, while a single painting fails to get made for months on end. Buckbeak is here to remind you that one wing flap at a time gets you from here to there.

If you tend toward Hermione, you’ve already listed 83.9 internal reasons why the Next Most Important Thing won’t work. You don’t have time, you’ll need 20% more income, you’re out of energy, the holidays are approaching, the slow/busy season is coming, you need 1 to 5 weeks of utter silence in order to begin, you’re not sure your people will approve.

Buckbeak was rescued by a bunch of teenagers using time travel, so he really doesn’t care about your excuses.

Everyone fears that the Next Most Important Thing is simultaneously not important enough to take up so much of your time and too important to do imperfectly.

Please don’t let perfectionism ruin you.

Start.
Begin.
Go go go go go!

If you’d like to share your Next Most Important Thing with me, please do so! Email k@kristenkalp.com and tell me what you’re going to do!

P.S. If you’d like my help bringing your Next Most Important Thing to light, 6 coaching spots open for KK on Tap in January. Get on the waitlist at kristenkalp.com/tap!

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed the podcast this year, a quick funding note! I’ve created 35 episodes for you this year, so ponying up $35 to help me continue doing this work on a completely-free level seems fair. If I’ve helped you make more than $35 this year, please pay your dues so That’s What She Said can continue into 2020 and beyond.

The first 10 people to chip in $35 get a secret prize (NOPE I won’t tell you, it’s a SECRET!), so pitch in now!

Let’s talk Steady and Experimental income.

Before we dive into this episode of the podcast, please click here to find your enough number. That way, you’ll have precise and accurate estimates to work with as we create a strategy for the coming months in your business.

This podcast episode comes as a result of looooots of coaching clients (spots open in January, get on the dibs list!) wanting to abandon projects and services they’ve worked on for years to start something entirely new, then pushing on that new thing to start making income immediately. Like, it launched on Tuesday, and by Wednesday we need to be making $4,000 a month, every month until the end of time.

What if we could actively arrange for you to earn two types of income in your business?

And before you ask, NOPE, they’re not active and passive income. These are much bigger, broader, and more interesting categories than those served up by cis-white-male marketing gurus.

There are two types of dollars you can earn in your business at any given time: steady and experimental.

Steady, as in, a product or service is selling well, and it’s been selling well for a while.

Experimental, as in, it feels risky to make the work, and/or you’re in some kind of new territory.

If you’re completely new to business, it’s all an experiment, but this might help you reframe some of your ambition in interesting ways, so keep going!

Let’s walk through my numbers, with my steady and experimental breakdowns from years past, so you can see what I’m talking about in practical terms.

In 2013, the biz income was 31% steady and 69% experimental.

The steadiness came from ghostwriting, previously launched programs, and a few coaching calls.

The experimenting came from creating a summer camp for adults and then selling the shit out of it.

That experimental nature paid off, so the pendulum swung to experimental in 2014.

High on just how much amazing and wonderful shit had panned out by experimenting, I went even more experiment crazy. 83% of the year’s income came from launching and holding Brand Camp, writing Introverts at Work, and hosting a few coaching sleepovers.

The remaining 17% of income came from steady, previously released or available sources: coaching, books, workshops, and ghostwriting.

And then the pendulum swung the other way.

In 2015, I swung wildly toward steady income, as Brand Camp the camp was like dropping a financial devastation bomb on my business.

65% of income came from coaching, previously-released programs and books, and ghostwriting.

Experiments made up only 35% of the year’s income, in which I repackaged the (admittedly brilliant) Brand Camp classes as the Business Blitz, launched a program, offered a 1-on-1 year-long coaching package, and founded three new workshops.

Less risk, more month-to-month work. Less launching, lower costs, more 1-on-1 clients.

And on and on it goes.

In 2016, I paid off the $43k in debt I’d accrued the year before, and in 2017 I released a bunch of new and exciting stuff: a different coaching package, lots of breathwork classes, and one-off courses to help peeps communicate and break up with their phones.

I’m always playing with the balance of how much work is entirely risky and how much is completely stable.

The trick of earning income through your business without being utterly bored or utterly broke lies in balancing your steady and your experimental income sources.

Further, steady work funds experimental work.

I’ve come to learn about valuing steady work the excruciatingly difficult way: by devaluing it and then scrambling to make ends meet at the last minute.

I always want to throw out what I’ve done and start over. I want everything I do to be an experiment. And yet.

The way to build a sustainable business is to innovate on some fronts while remaining stable on others.

2020 is about taking on a few more yearlong clients while playing with breathwork programs like The Softness Sessions, podcasting regularly, and keeping an ear to the ground for what’s next.

AND YOU, FRIEND! HOW DO YOU WANT THE NEXT FEW MONTHS TO PLAY OUT?

STEADY QUESTIONS:

Which income is steady in your business?

Which products or services consistently bring you income, month after month and year after year?

Which income-generating elements of your business do you want to keep?

Exactly how many clients do you need?

How many products do you need to sell, as your steady baseline?

The more you feel your health or your personal life is wobbly, unsteady, or overwhelming, the more likely it is that your business should be focused on steady income.

Steadiness requires time, energy, and consistency. Releasing a weekly podcast, showing your work on social media, sending regular e-mails and updates, responding to client inquiries in a timely manner, talking about what you’ve got for sale, and following up with inquiries: these are consistent practices that bear fruit over time.

If your work is consistent but sharing your work is not, that tweak alone might fix the income weirdnesses that ail you.

Once more, in case you missed it because you were skimming: if your work is consistent but sharing your work is not, that tweak alone might fix the income weirdnesses that ail you.

With steady work squared away, we move on to trying new things in experimental phases.

EXPERIMENT QUESTIONS:

What are you dying to try out in small doses?

Do you want to hold an event, start a class, write a book, release a project, try out a new product line, or offer an all new service? You can choose anything, but you’ve gotta choose one. Just one.

Do you want to collaborate with someone else? Do you want to try something entirely new and completely unlike what you’ve been doing all along?

What does the experimental thing look like, and what would be a first step toward making it happen?

If you’re like, ‘I can’t possibly talk about that while I also sell THOSE,’ think again.

I sell business coaching and also host regular gatherings for breathwork, both in person and on the internet. You can say those things are entirely unrelated, or you can say that when people opt in to hearing more from Kristen at Kristenkalp.com, it all fits. It’s all welcome.

Unless I start selling buckets of canned food and potable water for the apocalypse while spouting Biblical verses about the end times, because WOW I’ve been presenting myself as the opposite of that for a decade, I’ve got free rein to experiment with whatever has captured my fascination, has helped me, or has borne fruit in my life.

You get the same freedom, too.

You can absolutely be a photographer and a painter. A writer and a maker. A health coach and a reiki master. A coach and an author. A floral designer and a teacher. (Of course these are real examples of past coaching clients, by the way…)

You deserve the right to experiment. Period.

Further. Instead of deciding you have to give up X entirely in order to start Y, you can do both.

You can design t-shirts and see how they sell while you continue to be a doula, or plan larger and larger events while you keep on podcasting and mentoring colleagues in the wedding industry.

LIFE IS AN ‘AND.’

When we treat it as a series of ‘or’s, we limit our potential and clip our own wings. Whatever it is you want to do, yes you can do that AND you can keep on being a person with that degree or those experiences. ‘Or’ people end up switching focus a bunch of times, while ‘and’ people make room for ebb and flow. Some products come in, some go out. Some services last a long time, and others are offered only once.

You don’t have to do that mental and energetic thing whereby committing to a single project suddenly means committing to doing that same thing for the rest of your life.

Clipping your own wings is fucking tragic, so let’s not do that, okay? Let’s make some stuff, sell some stuff, and then repeat the process all over again.

And let’s not make any of this a BIG HUGE DEAL HOLY SHIT WOW while we’re at it! Amping up the energetic value of a new product or service is a sneaky asshole brain move to keep us stuck in fear and overwhelm.

STEADY AND EXPERIMENTAL QUESTIONS:

How much steady work do I need to sell each month to reach my enough number?

EXACTLY what sort of experiment do I want to make in the next six months?

And how much money will that make me, in a perfect world?

In a realistic world?

In a horrible world?

What you want to make as an experiment is entirely separate from how much money you want to make.

In fact, for our purposes, it’s safe to assume your experiments will cover costs and make very little money. That way, you’re as free as possible to make an amazing thing, and then to iterate on that thing with profitability in mind.

Assuming minimal profitability instead of a sold-out spectacular keeps you from blowing $20,000 on an experiment your first time out of the gate.

If you assume you’ll be making only your minimal costs back, what shape does the experiment take on?

It will generally get smaller and more doable when you limit the budget to something entirely reasonable. This is not downsizing your dream, but testing the viability of your dream before you swipe every credit card you’ve got to rent an arena. And a 7-piece orchestra. And a team of trained dogs. And a donut wall.

How can you build sources of revenue elsewhere in order to fund that project?

How can you use stable income sources to build experiments for yourself, and vice versa?

Can your experiment be added as a bonus gift or limited edition offering for something you already sell regularly?

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND TIE IT IN A BOW:

For the next six months, I’ll sell #___(quantity) of ________________ each month to reach my enough number.

I’ll also offer ____________ as an experiment.

#___ (quantity) are available, and will be released on this date: ___/___/___.

Again, this is a super-chill, low-key, NBD way to do business. You’ve just banked on your steady income while opening yourself up to an experiment, too — thereby assuring that you won’t die of boredom in the coming months!

If you dig this podcast episode and it helped you out, please leave a token of gratitude.

Tipping means I don’t fall into the despair of working for free, and it means you’ve actually enjoyed the material, too! We both win!

P.S. Here are six potentially devastating side effects of bringing your business dream to life — and why you should do it anyway.