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How to build everyday fundraising into your business

This is an episode of That’s What She Said, and you can listen to all podcast episodes here! Read a close-to-transcript version below, or listen in for the full monty.

THE QUESTION:

“I’m really feeling like it’s inappropriate to promote my business at the moment, and honestly I’ve just lost momentum/motivation. It just seems like my/our collective attention needs to be on the BLM movement and the pandemic. I don’t feel good about self-promotion right now. Do you have any thoughts on how to either regain your business mojo OR how to better honor the collective ‘pause’ and not feel guilty for pulling energy away from your own work? My heart hurts. And I want to give all the love I have right now to the collective, not my own work.” — one of the peeps in Together, a year-long soul care program (think monthly breathwork and live unrecorded gatherings) which you can join for $22 a month right here!

THE ANSWER:

First: I feel you.

Continuing with ‘business as usual’ right now seems absolutely absurd. Do I need to save 40% on fast fashion offers, or buy a stockpile of ever-more-fashionable masks, or buy some guns to outfit my dope-ass bunker full of canned beans? No, no, and we both know I don’t have a bunker.

I wish I had the answer to the capitalism conundrum, like, “Okay burn this system down like in figure A, then in figure B, we’re all free! SO EASY!!!”

I don’t know of a way to dismantle any massive system of oppression that’s been operating for hundreds of years in one fell swoop, so we’re gonna do the second best thing.

We can work within the confines of the shitty capitalist system to subvert it at every turn.

Let’s stop as many bullshit systems of oppression as we can from continuing to flourish. One of the ways we can do that is by raising and donating as much money as we business owners can generate, as steadily as possible over the long term.

A few caveats before we go any further! I am not a teacher of or an authority regarding race or racial justice in America. My job is to keep learning, to listen harder, and to point you toward the gorgeous beings who are and who have been teaching me over the years.

I am a business coach with access to many people who own businesses. Sharing the following information is a direct route to getting money into the hands of the organizers, activists, leaders, movements, and teachers who have been doing justice and liberation work for a long, long time. (If you’d like more info or to join the biz coaching wait list, shoot me an email: k@kristenkalp.com.)

Finally, I’m only sharing experiments in giving that I’ve completed over the past 11 years of being in business. Sharing lived experiences is the only way I can assure you that variations on these starting points are effective ways to get money to the movements, nonprofits, and causes you most want to champion. I’m asking you to interpret this NOT as some sort of Polyanna-holier-than-thou-showing-off shit — but as ‘Here’s some stuff Kristen has done that worked, and some that didn’t, and now I feel freer to go try some giving experiments of my own.’

Let’s walk through a few ways to actively build fundraising into your business starting right now, bit by bit and experiment by experiment.

If you’re a white person spinning in the land of “WHERE DO I EVEN START????” regarding the reality of seeing white supremacy enacted again and again through outrageous levels of U.S. police brutality — and now, the President’s refusal to denounce white supremacy — you can always start with money. You can fundraise, donate, and repeat.

You have a business — which generates money — and money can always be redistributed to champion the people, organizations, movements, and ways of being you wish to see in the world.

First up: you can create and sell a one-time, limited edition product to fund a project, cause, or nonprofit.

You know this is an option, but your mind probably gets complicated by the details: which organization? Which products? For how long? What if I don’t sell any of the items for fundraising and I look like an idiot?

Don’t panic, ’cause we’re gonna walk through some options and handle that asshole brain flare-up of questions, too.

If you’ve got (or know of) a worthy project with a set budget, you can set up a business offering to cover all or part of that budget!

For example. I created a limited edition course called Becoming to fundraise for a volunteering trip to India with two other people circa 2011. I sold a bunch of seats in a class to raise about $9,000 for all expenses associated with traveling to and staying in India for three weeks. (You remember, when flying was a thing we did?) Sales of this class were particularly effective because I was transparent with my intentions and shared the project budget openly from day one. Those who purchased the class knew they were helping me complete a multi-week volunteering project near to my heart.

So long as you’ve got a clear budget — yours or that of a nonprofit — and a product or service to pair it with, you’re good to go.

You can offer your product or service at no charge or at a reduced fee to those who donate $x to the organization of your choice.

For example. At one point, my goal was to see how much giving I could get to happen by encouraging direct giving to a nonprofit. I handed out 1,000 free copies of my then-new book, Go Your Own Way, when peeps forwarded their donation receipts for Flying Kites to my inbox. In this way, we raised over $10,000 for that nonprofit within a few weeks. (Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual is pay what you can priced here!)

You can also make a one-time, limited edition service to fund those same movements and nonprofits.

Just as you would in the case of products, you can create business services to fund raise for the cause of your choice.

Both used and unused talents apply here! Fundraising is the perfect spot to break out of your ‘niche’ and embrace the full spectrum of your talents.

If you’ve got a yoga teacher training certification you never use, hosting a pop-up fundraising class online might be a welcome treat for those who love you. Reiki trained? Donating a portion of the proceeds from this-month-only remote reiki sessions is an option.

The point here is not for me to list every single thing you might possibly do! It’s to ask where you’ve got unused talents or untapped resources that can be leveraged to raise some money for cash-strapped movements and nonprofits. So…

Where do you have unused talents or untapped resources that can be leveraged to raise money for rad people, movements, and nonprofits?

You can build a set donation percentage into the sale of existing products and services.

For example. I donate 25% of breathwork class proceeds to Together Rising and/or Flying Kites, which means I’m making monthly donations based on any breathwork classes I’ve sold each month. Some months yield just a few dollars in donations, while others yield hundreds. The point is not to hit a Very Specific Funding Goal, it’s to deliberately donate money after month.

You might be feeling shame about how ‘little’ you can do right now. I get it! AND. Donation shame isn’t a worthy use of your energies. Whether you sell one item with a donation promised or thousands of items with a donation promised, you agree to donate the proceeds and try again.

Acting as if donating $____ isn’t ‘enough’ will only make you feel more frustrated with fundraising as time goes on.  Unless you’re regularly donating billions, there will never be ‘enough’ money to solve the world’s problems once and for all.

When you want to change it up, you can also change it up! I’ve got an ongoing Breathwork for Coping with 2020 fundraiser that’s donating 50% of proceeds to Black Lives Matter. As of this moment, that class has raised $561 and counting for the movement.

We are all being asked to do what we can, with what we have, where we are. We’ve got businesses, and we can use them to bring positive change into being.

You can pay everyone for the work they do, with extra cash considerations given if you’re benefiting from the work of a member of a marginalized community.

Remember that time I lost $43,000 from hosting Brand Camp in 2014?

When asking around later, I learned that I had WILDLY overpaid everyone who spoke at the event. Turns out, most people who speak at large conferences (and are not the headliner) do so for free. Or for a nominal fee that covers room and board. Exploiting people’s labor is both accepted and encouraged when it comes to the enormous events and conferences circuit.

The same working-for-free mentality is also true for online ‘summits,’ for those who offer ‘exposure’ as a means of payment, and for those who assume that all those with smaller followings than their own should be thrilled to work for free on behalf of the empire. <– This is an example of capitalism gone wild, which exploits free labor in any way possible, at all times, for any reason, with the promise of a later benefit that generally fails to materialize, particularly for those who are already marginalized by societal systems of oppression.

Those invited onto my podcast are offered a fixed interview fee, which they can choose to receive or to have donated to Together Rising. Paying people is one of the really simple ways we can all help to build a culture of paying for the emotional labor and sharing of lived experience needed to create life-giving interviews.

You can add coaching, mentorship, and/or learning resources offered by members of marginalized communities to your monthly business expenses.

Many artists and scholars I admire offer ongoing support opportunities through their websites or through platforms like Patreon. Please find and use these means to pay those living humans you admire for doing the ongoing work of making the world a better place.

Which peeps does my business pay each month?

adrienne maree brown‘s work never ceases to touch me. She’s written two timely books — Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism — and her most recent poetry series, written during Covid-19, is fucking breathtaking. Support her monthly here.

Do you know Samantha Irby? If not, please stop everything ever and go read her books of essays, which are legit laugh-out-loud-and-worry-about-your-bladder-strength-because-you’re-trying-not-to-pee-yourself funny. Grab a copy of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. (Thank me later.)

Sonya Renee Taylor‘s voice is unmistakable, powerful, and wise. Her book, The Body is Not An Apology, is stunning and brilliant, you can order it directly from the author to minimize Amazon’s profit-taking here. She also has the particular gift of making me feel called on my bullshit without triggering massive defensiveness and eruptions of white fragility. Support her monthly.

Jessamyn Stanley teaches yoga for every body on her Underbelly Yoga platform, and I love her classes. PLEASE ALLOW ME TO HYPE HER FOR A MOMENT: Jessamyn’s classes are funny, swear-y, honest, and real. She gets yoga for not-tiny-stick-bodies because she doesn’t live in a tiny stick body, and I’ve never before had the pleasure of learning yoga from a person with a body that looks like my own. Get the yoga.

Ron Finley’s Masterclass is a.) highly informative if you’re new to gardening and b.) entertaining as fuck. HOLY SHIT Watch it! You can also support The Ron Finley Project to help green up and garden up the food deserts of Los Angeles. HE IS A GODDAMNED WIZARD AND I AM WRITING IN ALL CAPS TO CONVEY HIS MAGIC TO YOU.

You may or may not resonate with these people and their projects! The point is not to agree with me about how awesome and life-changing these people are…

The point is to find AND THEN PAY people who are doing the work you want to see in the world.

Particularly people of color. Particularly members of marginalized communities. Particularly women. Particularly work that is often overlooked or undervalued (read: emotional labor, education, and managing the droves of people who are quick to criticize others’ efforts but aren’t doing a goddamned thing to help make a better world themselves).

There are ENDLESS ways to explore the places where donations and your business meet.

Rather than spinning in overwhelm for the next few weeks or months, consider that the hardest work in the world — that of liberation, of undoing bullshit systems of oppression, and of making the world a more livable place for every last being already in it — isn’t going anywhere.

In addition to donating X% of proceeds from a specific product or service, you might pledge to donate $Y per month as a recurring business expense. Monthly giving enables those responsible for managing nonprofit funds to better plan their budgets and effect change for the long haul. Further, monthly donations for a set amount are a magnificent entry point if you’re new to using your business for fundraising.

For example.  Recently, one of my coaching clients realized she no longer wanted to pay to participate in Toastmasters, so instead she’s donating that monthly fee to a local nonprofit fighting food deserts in St. Louis.  You can do that, too!  Cancel a $9.99 recurring fee for a service you don’t use, then redirect it the funds to a cause of your choosing!

Another example.  My business currently sponsors a child’s schooling and care through Flying Kites each month without being tied to the sale of a specific product or program. <– This isn’t some sort of performative OOH LOOK AT ME shit! This is me putting my money where my telling-you-how-it-might-be-useful-to-proceed mouth is.

Built-in giving comes in an endless number of forms, so let’s play with how your fundraising might work in everyday life.

The point here is to play with the places where your talents and your generosity can overlap. There’s no one ‘right’ way to do this and no gold stars will be rewarded, so check in with your intuition to determine which option you can implement in the coming weeks.

THE RECAP OF OPTIONS YOU’VE GOT AT THIS MOMENT

+ You can donate X% of specific product or service sales to your fundraising efforts for a set period of time.

For every [product or service] purchased by [date], I’ll donate $____ to [your chosen nonprofit]!

+ You can donate 50% of all business proceeds for a few days via a flash sale.

Hey, I’m splitting profits with ______ until ____ [date]! Buy now, everyone wins!

+ You can donate up to 100% of profits for a single class or event.

The class on [date] is donation-based, and X% of donations will be sent to _____________.

+ You can set up a recurring payment to a nonprofit that comes directly from your business funds.

These setups automatically provide people with a feel-good factor just for purchasing what they would normally be buying anyway. It also builds giving into your business in a short-term way, so you can experiment with different forms of fundraising before making any long-term commitments.

The point here is not perfection, but to get out there and raise some money for the people, organizations, movements, and nonprofits who so desperately need it right now.

We can use our businesses to perpetuate worthy projects, no matter their size.

Love,
K

P.S. Fundraising regularly through your business is inherently anti-capitalist, since capitalism dictates that you’re supposed to take every penny you make and turn it into MORE pennies.

If you’d like to hear more about how to incorporate anti-capitalist practices into your business, you’ll love this interview with Bear Hebert. They are fucking phenomenal!

Put it down.

Here in the United States, the ongoing pandemic is a long haul that’s basically straight uphill and entirely unknown. That means we urgently need to learn how to take breaks and rest, ’cause no amount of sprinting today can get time to move so quickly that it fast forwards to 2022.

Here are some asshole brain maneuvers to watch out for as we enter another season of As the World Burns:

Put down the binary.

I’ve only got two options: A or B.”

A biz coaching client was outlining her options and said she could do A — which is the same thing she’s been doing that’s not working — or B, which is part-time for someone who’s treating her like shit. Both options were awful, but in her mind they were the ONLY options available.

In truth, you rarely have only two options. There’s always an option C.

Option C might be ridiculous or funny or awful or weird, but it’s still there! When I said I would rather my client take up a hobby of masturbating wildly than work at near-free prices for task-driven bros who in no way value her talent or her time, she laughed and shrugged me off. BUT I’M SERIOUS.

When it’s not ridiculous or funny, Option C is generally uncomfortable. It might seem like the impossible option, but Option C generally promises to pay dividends in the long term: quit the job. Move. End the marriage. Stop taking that work. Fire the client. Eat more greens. Ask for help. Hire the coach.

Put down your work.

Instead of being vaguely ‘on’ at all times — meaning you’re open to incoming needs from anyone at any point about any aspect of your business — choose times to be on. And times to most definitely be OFF.

Practice the muscles associated with picking work up at the times you specify, and then practice putting your work down at the appointed time as well. (Related: podcast #204, the quietly subversive 3-hour work day.)

As you learn to put your work down, you’ll also learn to draw internal boundaries that say, ‘now is not the time to worry about that problem,’ or, ‘I’m off and it’s not time to think about that client.’ There are many ways to gently remind yourself: now is the time for rest.

This hard off, hard on (heh) rhythm means that you clearly delineate and communicate times you’re working from all the times you’re not working.

A Hard Off means handling zero messages, communications, or work plans when it’s not work time. Personally, if you need me to do something after 4:20 p.m., it’s going to get pushed to tomorrow, ’cause I’ve got cannabis to smoke and an afternoon to enjoy. (Related: podcast #192, The Cannabis Episode.)

A Hard On (in this case) means messages, communications, work, and work planning are handled between the times of your choosing each day.

For more on how to work from home without losing your mind, check out podcasts 211-215, the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series! HOLY SHIT IT’S HELPFUL.

Put down your superhuman strivings.

The scope of work you can complete in this lifetime is human in size. ALAS.

We are each a tiny human part of all that exists, and when we operate from that human place we’re able to accept our true scope of work.

Asshole brain will continuously ramp up what we ‘should’ be capable of doing until deeming us absolutely useless for being unable to raise 17 children while organically farming almonds while running a multi-million dollar charity while holding a powerful government position while being so EASY BREEZY FUN about it all. (Sidenote: how does AOC’s lipstick always look so perfect!?)

As a bonus, asshole brain might blame you for every. single. problem. that exists in the world today!

Plastics in the ocean? WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIXED THIS.

Fascism continues to descend upon America? THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.

Racism has been a problem through the generations long before you were born? STILL YOUR FAULT.

Of course, asshole brain is lying!

Systemic oppression and the manufacturing of millions upon millions of single-use plastics are NOT the fault of you and you alone! (This may seem obvious to you, dear reader, and yet my asshole brain kept me quiet and small for years by somehow making Me, Personally Responsible for everything that is and has ever been wrong with the world.)

Collective problems require collective solutions.

No human can solve any global problem alone.

Do your part, and help others do their part, and we’ll call it a win.

Finally: put down your pace.

Many of my clients finish up their work for the day and then feel horrifically guilty that they should be doing more.

Shouldn’t they be making ‘content’ calendars or ‘pivoting’ or ‘hustling’ or ‘leveling up’ or ‘CRUSHING IT’ or using every bit of time to be ever more ‘productive?’

Shouldn’t they be seated at a desk from precisely 9 to 5 each day, because that makes their job ‘legit’ in some way?

NO.

It’s okay to be done with your work when you’re done.
It’s okay to stop moving, communicating, and acting so quickly.
It’s okay to opt out of social media for a bit, for a month, or forever.

(Related, podcast #196: it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.)

Please stop expecting yourself to write a book in a week or conquer your money problems within the next three days or to untie your work from your worth with a single flash of clarity. (Related, podcast #180: your work is not your worth.)

You are not a machine.

You are one human doing one lifetime of work.

The sooner you put down the vast and unreasonable expectations you have for yourself and for your power to make change, the better.

With you —

K

P.S. Breathwork is MAGIC for helping you put down the shit that’s no longer serving you.

Your first class is free, get it!

Joy is not canceled.

Have you ever had something that happened decades ago bother the shit out of you, and you can’t figure out why? Like, what’s wrong with you, you should ‘be over it by now’…? Let’s dive into my particulars and see if there isn’t a universal truth hidden in there, ’cause this came up for me recently and I’ll bet you’ve learned a similar lesson in your life.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said! This is the second in our series about ways to defeat asshole brain, starting with Interrupt the PatternAll the other podcast episodes live here.

The setting: it’s 1989. I’m in the third grade, and I’ve got to go to class with Mrs. Spisso.

Mrs. Fucking. Spisso.

Picture a shrill woman comprised entirely of sharp angles with half-moon reading glasses perched on her nose. Add a strong dislike for children and too many years working in the Mount Pleasant Area School District.

Now, give her the gifted students. Surely they will be easy for her to handle because they are smart! Surely they will keep her from screaming at all hours of the school day!

Our story proceeds.

I’m eight years old and we’re having class in the art room. I don’t remember what Mrs. Spisso is talking about because WE ARE IN THE ART ROOM. My favorite. The home of infinite messes, the sweet hum of scissors slicing construction paper, and those ginormous tubs of paste (worthy of quietly huffing when no one is looking) placed in pairs on each table.

We’re working on some project or another and I realize the room is hot. Really hot. The floor tiles look nice and cool, so I lie down on them. I remember feeling the floor underneath my body, all refreshing and shiny and soothing.

::tiny Kristen sighs contentedly::

All of a sudden, Mrs. Spisso screeches a flaming surge of words: WE DO NOT LIE ON THE FLOOR WE DO NOT ACT LIKE THAT EVER FOR ANY REASON WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She goes on and on. I take my place on a stool and sit down, never to lie on the floor in school again.

I’ve carried that story around for years, always wondering why it hurt me so much. It was only being yelled at, right?  Get a friggin grip, it’s NOT A BIG DEAL.

In the larger arc of my life, though? 8-year-old me got the message that joy is canceled. Because joy lives in the body, and I abandoned my body that day. (It took me years to come back to the body itself, and here’s how I did it.)

Think about it: remember a moment of joy you’ve held onto in which you weren’t in your body.

Impossible, because joy lives in the body. Laughter lives in the body, as do orgasms, singing, dancing, and eating. That sunset you watched and loved. Those evenings with that person you love. The moments when you’ve laughed despite yourself — in school, at church, or when it was otherwise wildly inappropriate.

When we are chased out of the body, we lose most of our access to joy.

We are taught this at such a young age that we might not even remember losing our ties to what the body wants: You can’t do something just because it feels good! You can’t trust your body to want any of the things it wants, especially something as subversive and shocking as LYING ON THE FLOOR!

In other words: Joy! Is! Canceled!

In pictures after this time, you can see my body expanding from year to year. I ate more and more ice cream, ’cause that was a socially sanctioned way for me to enjoy life and be in my body. At the same time, I stopped trying to run around and do bodily things because the body can’t be trusted. Got that message loud and clear. And doing something because it feels good or might be pleasurable? NOT OKAY EVER.

Only.

Joy is not canceled. Ever. For any reason.

As unrest and bullshit and corporate thieving and intersecting systems of oppression make themselves more clearly pronounced around the globe, you might get the message that joy is canceled. That somehow you personally deciding to give up your joy, hope, and general enjoyment of life will make life for someone else better. That you don’t deserve access to any contentment whatsoever when there’s so much suffering in the world. Or you might fully disassociate from your body because this world we’re living in is too. damn. much.

Surely there’s something you can do, and if giving up feeling pleasure for life will help, then…you’ll give it a try? Please don’t.

Canceling joy is dangerous.

We humans have four base emotions: fear, anger, sadness, and joy.

Given enough joy stifling, we can easily reach a place in which we experience ONLY fear, anger, and sadness. That’s a brutal existence.

Refusing to feel the best of life does not save you from the worst of life.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop doesn’t stop it from dropping.

No matter where or how you’re working to make change — in your life, your community, your nation, and on this planet — joy is not canceled.

Your brain will say that you can’t POSSIBLY feel good things after reading the news. And there are lots and lots of shitty things to feel at this moment, that’s true. You don’t need me to list the ‘unprecedented’ levels of bullshit we humans are facing at this moment in time. There is much to do, to protest, to burn down, to fix, to change, and to re-imagine.

But life without joy — in which you tamp down, try to control, or even eliminate your own joy for the supposed sake of others — hurts your soul.

When you cancel joy, you are actively creating a future without joy in it. For you, and for everyone you meet.

When you deny yourself the pleasure of experiencing life’s good things — including rest — you have less juice for handling the bad.

When you refuse to feel the sun on your face or to notice that baby giggling over there, you’re creating a future for yourself without joy in it. When you don’t play along with the dogs running after balls and the kids running after ice cream trucks, you suffer.

The world has enough suffering.

Voluntary suffering in the form of foregoing joy does not and will not serve anyone. Ever.

Again: this doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things happening. Doesn’t mean there isn’t bullshit going on. Doesn’t mean we don’t keep signing and protesting and donating and fundraising and speaking up. Doesn’t in any way negate the fear, anger, and sadness of the human race.

Feeling joy in our bodies means we fuel ourselves with good shit so that we can better handle the bullshit.

When you take the time to fill up on the simple pleasures of being alive, you become stronger in the face of uncertainty, more likely to take actions that uphold positive change, and more open to the experience of life itself.

Refusing to cancel joy makes you far more resilient over time.

If there was a Mrs. Spisso in your life who made you shut down joy in any form, you can reclaim that goodness right now.

Over the years, which people or institutions have encouraged you to cancel joy? This includes restricting seemingly unrelated things like your movements and eating habits. Who has tried to stop you from singing, dancing, or speaking, whether publicly or privately?

Who taught you that the body can’t be trusted for the fulfillment of even its most innocent desires, like lying on the floor when it’s too hot?

Which people or societal systems discouraged you from resting or from enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Who taught you a productivity-above-all-else mentality that makes you try to ‘earn’ joy, push pleasure til later (never NOW), or assume you’ll access joy only when X happens? (Where X is become a millionaire, lose 30 pounds, or watch your last kid graduate high school?)

These are the roots of your asshole brain‘s battle with joy itself.

You don’t have to do anything with this knowledge except interrupt the pattern — i.e. catch your brain in the act of trying to cancel joy — and then choose a new mode of being.

Laugh with the babies.
Run with the dogs.
Soak in the sun.

Eat some ice cream.
Lie on the floor.
Take a nap.

Please choose to be here-on-earth-and-alive-despite-everything, over and over and over again.

Fight for your own soul’s aliveness by reclaiming joy, and then fight like hell for the liberation of every last being on earth. We will all be better for it.

And life?  It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Love,
K

P.S. Speaking of liberation! Breathwork for Coping with 2020 is $33, and 50% of proceeds are being donated to Black Lives Matter. If you a.) think 2020 is bullshit and b.) want to show up in your life as a kinder, more alive human instead of a flaming cesspool of unfelt feelings, this class is for you.

If you’d like to reclaim joy starting right now, this breathwork class is the perfect place to start.

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. Keep going! Here’s the rest of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series: