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What do work and worth have to do with your VOICE?

This is episode #2 of the Voice podcast series, and I didn’t even mention your voice at all in part one. Well spotted.

Here’s the thing: if your work and your worth are inextricably bound together, you’re highly unlikely to use your real voice in any but the safest of environments. (Read: never.)

When a customer deciding not to use your services really means there’s something wrong with you and you’re not good enough — OF COURSE you’ll take it personally and then try even harder to please absolutely everyone by becoming more bland and broadly appealing.

When a criticism of something as simple as your color choices is, in your view, also a commentary on the ways you’re a waste of humanity, OF COURSE you’re not going to share your work with many people, or spend years pondering font choices in the hopes that you will be immune to critique.

If your latest project doesn’t do as well as you’d like, commercially, and that means you’re somehow less entitled to exist, OF COURSE you’re more terrified of failure than anything else on earth.

But! When you can separate your work (and others’ thoughts about it) from your worth as a human, you’re far more likely to take chances, share your opinions, and generally experiment with your output for both business and pleasure.

When you truly believe that a troll commenting about the size of your ass or waist or wallet or work has NOTHING TO DO with your intrinsic value as a human, you get freer. Fast.

Free, like: you don’t hide behind planning and planning and planning in ever-more-advanced attempts to stave off criticism by releasing a ‘perfect’ product, service, piece, website, or event. You just put your work into the world.

Free, like: you aren’t obsessed with making people like you (because their disliking you decreases your value as a human, asshole brain whispers), so you’re better suited to take a stand, to become less vanilla, and to express yourself as you truly are to those around you.

Free, like: you stop holding yourself to an unreachable ‘I’ll be myself when…’ standard that’s always six months or $10,000 away, so you can connect with the clients who are already on the calendar in a deeper way.

Tying your work and worth into a big hairball is the opposite of free.

When you close the door on your soul and tuck it into a tiny, tiny closet reminiscent of Trunchbull’s Chokey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda, you lock your voice up along with it.

You dim your opinions and feelings because you need the most people possible to approve of you.

You loosen your boundaries toward people who suck because you need them to like you, even if they text you absurd demands for sushi delivery at 3 a.m..

Then you spend more and more time scrolling or shopping to dull the pain of shutting yourself down.

When you untangle your work (its own entity! Books! Papers! Emails! Art! Coaching! Whatever it is!) from your worth (soul! Spirit! Ineffable magic in all kinds of forms, not the least of which may be dressing like a 4-year-old at inopportune moments!), you’re fucking FREE.

No one has to like you for you to feel okay with being alive.

No comment is forever.

No potential client’s decision to hire someone else will stir up all sorts of shame and not-enoughness within.

The kind of freedom you seek only comes when you’ve committed to connecting with and sharing your real/true/authentic/raw and probably uncomfortable voice with the world.

Right, but how the fuck do we do that, Kristen?

Glad you asked.

There are four qualities you can actively cultivate within yourself that pretty much guarantee your voice grows more resonant within your own soul and with like-minded people. Ready?

The voices who resonate most deeply within the soul are wild, kind, brave, and clear.

Wild, as in untamed. Willing to challenge the status quo and step outside societal norms when necessary.

Kind, not merely ‘nice.’ Willing to establish boundaries, tell the truth, and bear the consequences without being cruel in any given situation.

Brave, as in vulnerable. Willing to express the fullness of an experience in any given moment, even if it may not turn out well. Willing to move toward the expression of emotion and intensity, rather than away from it.

Clear, as in articulate. Not muddy and vague. Lacking doublespeak or cloudy ideals. Not harkening back to an imagined past that never existed. Concise. Clarity has done the hard work of sorting through murk and yuck to state the simple-but-not-easy truth in any circumstance.

When you connect with the parts of yourself that are wild, kind, brave, and clear, you naturally end up with a wilder, kinder, braver, and clearer (i.e. far more powerful) voice.

Those elements of your voice draw people to you online and off, for business and for pleasure, in ways you can’t even imagine when your soul is in The Chokey.

Let’s unlock it, okay?

I want to hear you speak with every bit of the authority and lack of shame that our politicians employ on a daily basis. (The morally bankrupt get a say, so you sure as hell get one, too.)

I want to hear you share your work — as well as the good and the right, the miraculous and the possible — without the fear of perfectionism or someone not liking you that currently keeps you bound up with silence.

I want you to reject the endless societal constraints placed upon you — be thinner, be quieter, be nicer, oh honey just ignore him he’s drunk — in order to become a freer, wilder, more intuitive human.

I want you to remember the deepest, truest self you’ve been tamping down, ignoring, hiding, or refusing to feed any carbs for years now.

I want to help you find a more expansive, brighter life within this one you’re already living — and then share that brightness with everyone you meet.

Ultimately, I want you to use your voice.

Today, and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.

The Voice workshop is for finding, unleashing, and using the voice of your truest self, starting in a human-to-human, real life space without online comments or haters of any kind.

We have far more power, wisdom, and creativity than we give ourselves credit for.

It’s time to let it out.

The next four podcast episodes are tiiiiiny travels into the places where you typically tamp your voice down and pretend everything is ‘fine.’ We’ll enter into each one together, undo the ‘fine’ parts, and go searching for ‘free’ instead.

In the meantime, let’s find the places where you tangle your work and your worth on the regular:

What have I made someone’s not hiring me say about my value as a human?

Where have I taken critique of my work as critique of my soul?

Where have I given in to asshole brain’s assessment of my total value being related to my brand/web presence/availability/font choices?

Am I predisposed to give the naysayers too much real estate in my brain? Which ‘comments’ or critiques do I still carry around?

Have I let any comments or critiques transform into new rules for being — to the detriment of my voice in the world?

Do I trust that I can be seen and loved as I truly am, even in business?

Where do I hide behind my ‘professional’ voice in order to avoid being seen, heard, or judged?

Journaling on the answer to any one of those questions will show you the places where you’re currently trapped in the work-is-worth paradigm — and will also show you where you can get FREE. Starting right now.

P.S. Part One in the Voice series is here.

Your work does not equal your worth.

This is episode #180 of the That’s What She Said podcast!  Listen in or read along below.

If you hang around the interwebs long enough, you’ll find shit-tons of pricing advice for business owners, creative humans, and artists of all kinds. Mostly, this advice amounts to ‘charging what you’re worth.’

It seems empowering and amazing, since it usually means ‘charge more and actually make a profit at this business venture.’  But it’s actually disempowering.

There’s an innate danger to saying, “I’m gonna charge what I’m worth.”

That statement unequivocally equates your work with the sum total of your worth as a human.

Let’s say you’re a skilled clock maker living in 1823. You’re the sole clock maker in your town. Those in your village rely on you to keep the village activities synchronized to some degree. Your craftsmanship is unparalleled and gorgeous. You make a decent living from your skills, which allow you to provide an education for your children and a small bit of savings for your family. (You’re in Switzerland, so your practical-yet-artistic skills directly translate to an increased chocolate supply.)

Cut to 2018. A skilled clock maker is no longer necessary to keep the town operating on time. You, modern clock maker, may be even more skilled than that 1823 person. You may have trained longer and be devoted to more challenging projects.

More gears. More moving parts. More time dedicated to the tiniest of details.

Your work can be more beautiful than ever; you can even be the most talented clock maker in the world! And yet. You may or may not make a living from your work in the modern age.

Of course, you say. This is obvious, Kristen. The value of some work changes over time.

That was so easy to see, right?

Cut to the modern day. You picked up a camera and haven’t reeeeeeally put it down since. You decided to start charging for your photographic work a few years ago, and you’re steadily raising your already-profitable prices as you get busier and take care of more clients. You’re making a decent living from your work. It’s not an empire, but your career is going somewhere you find both fulfilling and challenging.

And then.

Your partner’s work moves you to a new nation. You don’t speak the language and you’re unaware of how the photographic market works in Morocco. Your business shrivels up because you’re unable to communicate with your clients, and those you do manage to find are exceptionally demanding due to cultural differences and unspoken expectations.

Is your work suddenly worth less, here?

Are your talents any less sharp in this new nation?

Should you give up on your artistic aspirations and take up a different job because you’re making less money?

Or. Do circumstances and locales dictate the value of your work.

Of course, you say. This is obvious, Kristen.

The value of your work is dependent upon many factors; some economic, some artistic, and some woven into the fabric of society itself.

YES EXACTLY. That’s why tying your work — specifically, the number of dollars it brings in — to the sum total of your worth is bound to disappoint you.

Whether you’re living in 1823 or Morocco or just 2018: your work is not your worth.

The value of your work can swing wildly from valuable to moderately valuable to a mere commodity over the course of a generation, or with the invention of a new device. Tying your value as a human to the value of your work is setting yourself up for disaster. (See: cannabis farmers whose product has dropped in value by more than 65% since 2015.)

To put it another way: your work does not equal your worth.

For starters, your work pays dividends that are not monetary in nature. Does it bring you a sense of meaning, fulfillment, joy, anticipation, delight, or value in living? Those things aren’t measurable in dollars. You will never happen upon a bevy of Joy Tickets and Delight Nuggets that directly translate to muggle currency. (Related: M-School is a 7-part podcast series to help you bring your magical self to business.)

Further! Working doesn’t make you more worthy.

You’re worthy of being on this planet, whether you make a shit-ton of things or not. Whether you own a business or not. Whether you sell 100% of your next product out in 3 minutes or not.

We see that equating worth with work is absurd when we’re talking about puppies — no, I will NOT force a bevy of baby labradoodles to scout out dog #lifehacks and share them on Snapchat — and we can even spot the equation for 19th-century clock makers. It’s harder to spot the absurdity when it concerns our own lives; equating work with worth is the water in which we swim.

Capitalism pushes us to think we’re more worthy of taking up space as we (get thinner and) produce more stuff: more babies, more art, more work, more food, more cleanliness, more money by any means necessary. Unless you’re driving the economy through the exchange of currency, you’re worthless to capitalism.

Further, and OF COURSE: the hardest work you do is unlikely to be paid work. Whether that’s raising children, caring for a sick sibling or spouse, recovering from mental or physical illnesses, raising the average level of Woke-ness in those around you, or becoming a fuller, deeper, and more enlightened human being — the dollars don’t come rushing in on the heels of those endeavors.

Let’s interrupt the work and worth equivalency.

Let’s talk about charging a fair price for our labor.

Let’s talk about getting as much compensation for your work as possible, whether that involves currency or not.

And let’s separate our WORK from our WORTH once and for all.

A few questions to help you spot this slippery cultural thread in action:

Where do I treat ‘me’ and ‘my business’ as one and the same? (Your business is not you. It is a separate entity.)

What would it mean to charge a fair, living wage for the work I choose to monetize?

Am I trying to monetize my joy in any way — and is that necessary? (Read: it’s okay to make things that aren’t for sale.)

Do I measure the success or failure of any given project by how much money it made?

Do I measure the success or failure of any given year by how much money I’ve earned?

Do I deem my work a ‘failure’ when it doesn’t make money, and is this fair to the work I do? (Hint: it’s probably not.)

What other forms of compensation does my work provide? (Feeling good in your soul absolutely counts as compensation.)

Is there any work I’m no longer interested in making money from doing?

Is there any work that has run its course and can be pruned from my business?

These questions reveal spots where you might be giving money faaaaaar more say over your life and your value to the world than it strictly deserves.

Much of the power you have to change this way of being is in noticing where you’ve given money and/or productivity your power, and then taking it back.

What if you enjoy the work you make, regardless of how much it earns?

What if you stop trying to monetize every aspect of your joy?

What if you give more time and energy to projects that feed your soul, and give a touch less attention to those that are only profitable?

What if you count the days in which you don’t make a single thing — just enjoy being alive — as your most productive?

Because shaping and exploring the contours of the interior continent is some of the most beneficial and rewarding work any human can do.

P.S.  Want to answer all those Work and Worth questions in a nifty workbook?  Click here and I’ll send it to you pronto.

How to clear energy and plan for the year ahead.

Psst! This is episode 179 of That’s What She Said. You can listen in or keep reading to enjoy it!

I was at Trader Joe’s last week and my cashier looked STRESSED OUT. I said, “It’s busy, huh? Are people crazy today?” She glanced from side to side and then looked me up and down, as if making sure I wasn’t a Secret Shopper, before saying: “One lady yelled at me because she wanted a 15-pound turkey and hers was 14.9. I only have so much control over turkeys, lady.”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve also found myself asking questions to my KK on Tap peeps like, ‘When is your cut-off deadline?’ ‘When are you done working?’ ‘Are you slowing down in December?’

…and then realized that I couldn’t keep asking these questions without coming up with better answers myself. In an effort to slow down and avoid becoming the screaming turkey lady at Trader Joe’s, the podcast is on hiatus from now through January.

Here’s how I’m clearing the energy of the past year and planning for the one ahead.

I know, I know, the shiny AF super-planners that promise you’ll be organized, fit, meditating, and rich in 30 days or less have been for sale since October, and you’re still in the thick of things and don’t have time to reflect on anything except what to buy before you see your friend’s sister-in-law’s daughter, Stephanie, who you bought a gift for that one time and now you have to do it every year.  (I suggest a Bob Ross Chia Pet.  Every year.  Done and done.)

We don’t do shame around here. There’s no rush on listening to or implementing any of this material. It applies any time of year, and it’s here for when you need it. Okay? Okay.

1. First: acknowledge everything.

This is stolen from Katherine North at Declare Dominion, and it’s just two brilliant questions that help you process a bunch of months all at once!

What are you proud of having accomplished this year? List 5 things.

Further, what did you come through? List your top 5.

We so often list our achievements as if they exist independently of what we’ve encountered, engaged with, conquered, finished, fixed, said goodbye to, or tried in any given year. But they don’t.

Asshole brain will always say you haven’t done enough and will make you think you haven’t survived much either, but those assumptions don’t hold up to even a tiny bit of inquiry.

When we acknowledge our Tiny, Annoying Progress as well as what we’ve straight-up survived, we honor the places where we’ve spent our energies wisely, and those places and circumstances that took our energies, too.

This year, I’ve survived losing beloved doggo Hermione D. Granger, adopting tiny pupper Aaron Neville Longbottom, having said 10-week-old puppy in the ICU for multiple days, sleeping 16 hours at a time for months on end because my thyroid took a hiatus from functioning, and improvising my way through paying SO MANY thousands of dollars in unexpected veterinary and medical bills.

…not to mention all the dollars I give to HBO, Amazon, and the people who make the most important things: pizza socks, unicorn bodysuits, and remote-activated bubble machines. Well, Bear bought me the last one for our kitchen, but you get the idea.

When we acknowledge the quite specific and often brutal working conditions we’ve survived, everything we’ve done this year seems AMAZING.

Plus, we’re all surviving the global rise of populism! 30% of the world’s population lives in a backsliding democracy! The 24-hour news cycle brings gloom, doom, and disasters on a daily basis!

We all get an extra 20 Achievement Points just for surviving 2018.

2. Get out your calendar.

Paper or digital, it’s fine. I can’t do a paper calendar because the feeling of being unable to cross an item off my to-do list is devastating, while dragging an incomplete task from one day to another on my Google calendar feels just fine. Thus, I use a digital calendar. You may be the opposite, or use both kinds, and I have no judgement about what’s better or worse except that having a calendar and a plan generally beats not having any sort of calendar or plan. (Related: here’s everything I know about time management.)

3. Add space and pleasure to your calendar first.

As you look at the next six months, play with letting space and pleasure take up blocks of time before anything else gets layered into your schedule. This is the total and complete opposite of what most people on earth do, which is why this single action is both powerful and rebellious. Instead of filling your calendar with to-do’s, work tasks, projects, and ideas, then squeezing fun into those 2 cold-ass days in February that remain, you can choose to prioritize time for pleasure in the coming year.

Pencil in vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and/or days off before you add anything else to your calendar.

Reserve time in the form of crossed-off work days even if you don’t know where you’re going on that vacation next September. Making room is enough. Also: you don’t have to go on vacation to have time off! You can choose to stay home for a few days in March, or two weeks in April, or for a long weekend in May. Since you own the business, YOU make the calendar, and YOU can take as much time as you need to remain a fully functional human.

You don’t have to ‘earn’ time off. You deserve a weekend and a slower season whether you’ve crushed, nailed, cruised through, or just barely survived this year.

The world will not cease to rotate on its axis if you’re having a good time and you don’t work on Tuesdays. Promise.

I go one step further on the pleasure route and make a Depression Calendar, which is my personal antidote to those cold winter days when I’d rather do anything but leave the house. Scouring your town for events, films, festivals, gatherings, parades, and parties costs you only a few minutes and some nominal ticket fees.  Maybe plan to do something truly unique after visiting Atlas Obscura and (searching your hometown)?

In return for this small investment of time, you’ll actually leave the house when it gets dark at 4:21 p.m. instead of sinking into the abyss of Netflix and delivery pizza for the duration of your Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Good planning can be the difference between looking out over a bleak emotional landscape and seeing a ton of things to look forward to on your winter calendar.

For me, it’s the difference between having a so-so winter and an absolutely devastating one. (If I manage to get a spectacular winter under my belt, you’ll be the first to know, and I’ll share every damn thing I’ve done in order to make that happen.)

4. Embrace the ways you actually use time.

Are you an achiever’s achiever? If yes:

You naturally fill every single moment with work if they don’t schedule offline time, down time, free time, and unstructured time.  If you’re naturally attuned to being productive at all times of the day and night, schedule your days off before you plan your work days. Place some days, like Tuesday evenings or Saturdays, entirely off limits from work-related tasks. Finally, create clear start and end times for your work on any given day.

The boundaries around your time are to keep work from spilling into every aspect of your life and taking over your every relationship, including the one you have with yourself. Don’t let ‘busy’ crowd out your interior life.

Do you hate structure and discipline more than nearly anything else on earth? If yes:

You naturally fight structure. You feel imprisoned by the discipline of knowing what we’re going to do on any given day, so we keep vague to-do lists which never come to fruition. It’s taken years for me to realize that I actually have to schedule writing time, email time, work time, marketing time, administration time, banking time, and coaching time, or they won’t happen. (Also, setting internal goals is helpful!)

Schedule your work days with clear start and end times — holding a morning call or meeting can help assure you’ll show up on any given day! — so that you actually work through your to-do list instead of getting distracted by what’s urgent or shiny or both.

As you take a look at your to-do list, break every huge task on your calendar — i.e. ‘make a new website’ or ‘get 12 new clients’ — into much much muuuuch smaller tasks. The bigger the project, the more likely you are to have tons of tasks within it.

That initial breakdown of a huge project into small tasks can be a bit stressful, but choosing to get every item onto the calendar means you’re much more likely to finish the project, publish the website, launch the project, and/or sell the event. I’ll guarantee your asshole brain calls you a ‘flake’ when all you really need is a clear calendar and specific to-do lists for any given month.

The boundaries around your time are to make sure each work item or task is a.) on the calendar and b.) actually gets done. This keeps your truest work from getting pushed to an elusive ‘someday’ that never comes. It also keeps you from wallowing in the swamp of ‘OH GOD I DUNNO WHAT TO DO NEXT’ that can cost you weeks or months or years.

When you translate Enormous-with-a-capital-E tasks into smaller ones and add ’em to your calendar, you have a realistic grasp on how long any given project will take. This causes less stress about timelines, due dates, and deadlines. Translated: you can’t write a book in two weeks while selling your screenplay and raising your babies and cooking all the meals and working out for three hours a day and fighting a chronic illness, okay? Breaking your tasks down and scheduling them allows for realistic time expectations all around.

5. De-prioritize shit that doesn’t matter, isn’t working, or sucks your energy.

Identifying energy sucks can be just as vital to your calendar as getting all the planning, organizing, and ‘to-do’ing exactly right.

If you spent eight months working on a project and it didn’t appear on your achievements list from earlier, can you find a way to ditch it, stop promoting it, or vote it off your business island for a while? Is any one product or client consuming a disproportionate amount of your attention or energy, with little reward?

Cutting the chaff often makes way for more amazingness, more wonder, and more progress on your most important tasks. (Related: that time I lost 6,644 subscribers in a single day.)

I cover this in waaaay more detail in Konmari (that doesn’t suck) for business.

6. Plan to communicate with your peeps. Regularly.

You have peeps. Don’t fight me on this, you do! Even if we’re talking about your mom and that one friend who tells you to write more often, or 3 former clients, or 41 people who signed up for your email list years ago.

You. Have. Peeps.

Talking with your peeps inevitably leads to a healthier, more stable business. You don’t have to have a content calendar or editorial calendar or Pinterest-optimized images or all three in order to talk with your peeps in a casual way about what you’re working on and what’s for sale.

You do have to communicate with them regularly via a channel you control if you want to avoid finance-related stress, though!

Whether you choose to use email, snail mail, or live meetups to talk with your peeps, How to F&*&ing Communicate will help you introduce you to quick, clear, and doable methods for connecting with your fans, followers, and clients. No stringent, stressful guidelines across 83 platforms. Just simple, not-freakishly-difficult ways to talk to people regularly.

Learn more about How to F*%&ing Communicate here, or download the gift guide to see the other classes for sale!

7. Ask what wants to be born.

Often, as you make space for reflection and planning, you’ll uncover an inkling that you’d like to make a new thing — or you’ll feel like you finally have time to take action on the inklings that have been circling your brain like patient-but-annoying hummingbirds since August.

I’ve got a workshop that wants to be born, and there’s also a bigger, deeper project that wants to take shape this winter. (It’s par for the course for this to be terrifying! Of course it is. And we do it anyway.)

Establishing a series of deadlines and check-ins for yourself can help ensure that whatever your truest work is, you’re going to get it done.

Even if it’s slow going.

Even if you don’t know how it will make money.

Even if you’re sure it will fail and you’re hesitant to start.

Acknowledge and then make what’s dying to be born, okay? Do the work only you can do.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll absolutely love M-School! This podcast series helps bring your magic to the world, and you can listen to every single episode starting here. It’s free, it’s smart, and it helps you acknowledge your true nature while also selling the shit out of your work.

Finally! If you need my help bringing a project to life, revamping your business, or holding you accountable for making changes big or small, check out KK on Tap! I’d love to work with you for a whole year!

You can put down a $100 deposit and we’ll start out work together in January.

Until 2019 —

 

 

 

P.S. If you’d like to explore any part of planning your marketing year further, check out episode 88 of That’s What She Said: how to plan your next six months.

If you’ve got an idea for the coming months’ podcasts or blog posts, talk to me!  Just shoot me a message below.