Love or Lust? Decide.

Blog-Are-you-in-love-with-your-businessEntrepreneurship…business ownership….freelancing….author or speaker….whatever you call your profession, the bottom line is that you work for yourself.

You are responsible for building your business, marketing it, talking it up, making connections, reconciling the books and most of all, finding work that pays.

It can be hard and joyous.

It can be stressful and freeing.

It can be lonely and empowering.

There is a lot of work to be done and no one else to do it but you. Or, I should say, no one else is responsible for driving it but you.

It takes a certain amount of moxie and momentum to wake up every morning and make your work happen.

So right now, decide:

Are you in lust or are you in love with your business?

Lust is chasing the cute bad boy (or gal) in the leather jacket because he looks cool. You know nothing about him but you dive in headfirst because you think this will be a helluva lot of fun.

Lust is surface. Lust runs hot and cold. Lust is about short bursts of passion and effort. Lust is moody. Lust drains you. Lust bails when things get too messy or hard.

Kind of like starting a business because you think it looks “really fun” and you don’t have any desire to put the time, effort and work needed into it. Or maybe you’ll just work on your business “when you have time,” like you do with your favorite hobbies.

It’s spending all your time building a cool, hip website rather than worrying about the bottom line. It’s randomly advertising or marketing without a sound plan in place. It’s taking get-rich-quick courses to shortcut the work, or failing to budget or plan. It’s designing pretty business cards for months rather than getting out there and hustling for paid work.

Love, on the other hand, is getting to know another person for who they really are, and embracing their soul. You know there will be good days and bad days and you learn how to work together as one solid unit–even in moments when you might want to rip their eyes out. You are committed to every delightful, frustrating, cherished and annoying moment of it.

Kind of like starting a business with eyes wide open, knowing some days you’ll be successful and others you will fall on your face, but always keeping your larger vision in mind. You learn from your mistakes. You study. You soak up knowledge. All in an effort to improve. It’s hard work but you stay steadfast and don’t lose momentum because you are “all in.”

Love is deep. Love is honest, stable and healthy. Love is constant and committed energy and motion. Love fuels you.

I’m not saying your have to run your business for the rest of your life or even that you should continue on if you no longer find joy in it. On the contrary, please, if this is where you are, give it up immediately and do something else that lights you up inside.

What I am saying is don’t confuse lust and love. Lust is a fling. Love is a commitment. (TWEET THIS!)

Love is not easy. Love has bad days. But love is a commitment to forward movement. To momentum. To growth.Love is a sweet promise into which you put your whole heart, come what may, because you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Right now, decide. Are you in love or in lust with your business? And then act accordingly.

Photo credit: Nathan Walker via Unsplash

Craving more entrepreneurial advice and inspiration? Check out my Juicy Guide to Entrepreneurship: How to Energize Your Brand and Squeeze More Soul into Your Business, on sale on Amazon right now for just $0.99!

What Are Your Profound Epiphanies?

10.27.15RoadNotTaken (blog)

Life is full of what I like to call profound epiphanies. They sneak up on you when you’re in the shower, driving along belting out show tunes in your car, or perhaps while unplugged and enjoying the ocean crashing at your feet.

These epiphanies, I find, often occur when you’re thinking about how your life would have turned out in a parallel universe. If you’d made that choice. If you had not said yes to that date. What are your proverbial forks in the road? For me, the big ones are the many different jobs I’ve had and cities I’ve lived in, breaking off my first engagement and moving to California in 1999. The course of my life and career changed dramatically as a result of all these crucial decisions. And I am blessed and better for it all.

Are you grateful in your life for the road not taken? Perhaps there was a job you really, really wanted that fell through…and it let you to instead work for the company that launched your career. Or you started a business that ended in a bloody epic fail…and you learned all the things not to do so that your next venture was a smashing success.

We all know the trite saying that we learn from our mistakes. I would argue that, really and truly, there are no mistakes. Sure, there are things we regret. Like dating that bad boy who broke our heart, becoming business partners with someone we barely knew, or spending a ridiculous amount of money on a marketing campaign that went no where fast.

But every bad decision, toxic relationship or questionable call moves you further through the book of your life. And you can’t get to Chapter 100 without the other 99 coming first. It would be a different book. You’d be a different person.

What opportunities would you have missed? What joys might you never have known? What careers would you never have explored?

When thinking about your past mistakes and regrets, be gentle with yourself and observe them with gratitude. (Tweet this!)

It’s easy to say, “Well, my life would be a cakewalk if I had only (FILL IN THE BLANK.” But you didn’t. You’re here, now. And look around at what you have. Had all those events not occurred, you would not be the person you are now. Richer. Fuller. Smarter.

I invite you to flip your thinking on your would-have’s and should have’s. What are you grateful you learned? Who or what is wonderful in your life of business now as a result of those decisions? My older brother once told me, during a very bad relationship in my life, that every act or decision is simply a brick and it’s easy to say, “Heck, this is just a brick. I can live with this.” But eventually all those bricks make a wall. And you wonder how the heck you got here. While he meant it in the negative sense of that particular instance, I challenge you to look at it positively…not as a wall, but a road. A road that led you to the person you are now. The person you would never be had those things not happened.

What are your big forks in the road when it comes to your career, business or life? What profound epiphanies do they give you? Please share in the Comments below!

Image credit: Cristian Bortes via Flickr

Two powerful lessons for every new entrepreneur

09.01.15 Entrepreneur (Blog)

A wise mentor sits with a serene smile, staring into the bright eyes of the eager protégée. She wraps her arm around the fresh young person and whispers, “Everything is going to be alright. Here’s all you really need to know…”

I’m going to bet that was not your experience when embarking on entrepreneurship or self-employment. If you’re like me, it felt more like getting shoved into a deep ocean. Some days, the current drifts you to new islands and opportunities. Other days, you flail in the choppy waves, praying for a lifeline. One day, the seas are calm and effortless. The next day, the waves pound you over and over again into the hard sand.

After leaving the safe harbor of a successful corporate life in 2008, I was fortunate enough to find resources and mentors who helped me along my journey. Some drifted in and out like a passing life raft, right when I needed them most. Others joined me on my journey and never left my side: mentors and collaborators whom I treasure for their insights.

These amazing humans – and the many years I’ve now been out on my own – have taught me so much. And by “so much,” I mean answering questions I never knew I should have (“What the heck is “use tax?”) and preparing me for situations I could have never seen coming even with high-powered binoculars (a clear contract doesn’t protect you from a nightmare client who signs it without reading it). It doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take. Until you’re in it, there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know.

And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t do it!

Here are two of the biggest lessons from my entrepreneurial experience thus far. Please note: I have a long way to go and a whole lot more to learn.

But when you get so far down a certain trail, it’s your duty and responsibility to reach your hand back and shepherd those traveling with you. Leave no man or woman behind, I say. (Tweet this!)

Lesson #1: Opportunity favors those who prepare.

While I had a very successful corporate marketing career, I dreamed of doing my own thing and enjoying more flexibility to pursue other passions, like writing and acting. Red Slice started as a personal blog full of whimsical wine, film and cultural musings. It then became a business website I would tinker with on the side as I dreamed, “If I worked for myself, how would I position my services? What message would I want to convey? What brand would I build?” In 2008, when the writing was on the wall and my last tech company laid off the marketing department in prep for a sale, opportunity knocked­–and I was ready. I flipped the switch on that hidden website and Red Slice as a brand consultancy was born.

Lesson #2: Don’t worry about the how so much as the what and why. The how will find you (or you will find it) when the time is right. Just take action and keep moving forward.

The road was not always easy. Maybe you can relate?! I am often still unsure of what the hell I’m doing. But amazingly enough, once you start down the path to what you want and put it out there, all of the sudden an advisor, article, connection or opportunity will magically appear right when you need it most.

  • When I craved more strategy work and less tactical project work and didn’t know how to free up my time to go after it, a friend offered her coaching services to me, leading to my signature offerings still popular today.
  • When I needed a new accountant, a successful entrepreneur recommended hers – and I’ve happily been with that firm ever since.
  • When I desperately needed a fresh creative writer for my client work, a colleague launched a website that week with the most brilliant copy I’d ever read and I immediately contacted the writer she hired, which led to not one, but two fruitful writing partnerships that are the cornerstone of my work.
  • When a publishing agent got interested in my book idea and asked to see a “formal proposal” I had no idea what that was but said “Sure, I’ll send you one!” As if on cue, my good friend told me she happened to enroll in a proposal writing class starting the very next week so I jumped in and joined her.
  • When I was truly overwhelmed by my work and life right after my brain injury, I decided to just take it day by day and start small, by sponsoring a marketing event. At that event, I happened to meet a “stress coach” and started working with her within the month to get myself unstuck and moving forward.
  • When I decided to self-publish my second book and had no idea where to begin, I just started writing it and figured it would all work out. I then remembered a virtual assistant who I had interviewed the year before to help with marketing my first book. She is now my self-publishing angel and handles everything for me.

There are so many more examples I could give you. Somehow, someway, the right people just enter your life at just the right time. Or you read an article that tells you about the exact solution to the challenge you are facing.

Got your own words of wisdom? Please share with us on the Facebook page or Tweet me!

How Starting With No Gets You to Yes

Start with No (blog)

I’ve got a confession to make. The past few months have been full of angst for me over a simple and tired question you’ve most likely faced yourself:

What do I want to do when I grow up?

Now, I realize this is ridiculous coming from a 40-something wife, mother and business owner who seems to have it all locked down. I mean, seriously, shouldn’t I be all grown up by now? Surely publishing books and working with amazing clients should be enough, right? Let’s just coast into retirement.

Except that’s not me. And if you’re reading this, I don’t think it’s you either. While I love it all, I am always looking to the next horizon, challenge, and creative endeavor. Right now, I’m retrenching to figure out what my next book, project and evolution of Red Slice is going to look like. Basically figuring out how I can find my new passion while still serving my audience.

Part of being a changemaker and rockstar is that you never settle. You’re always itching for the next big adventure and passionate about that crazy idea that the world needs.

Whether it’s on a global scale or in your own backyard, passionate people crave “newness.” And with that comes constant evaluation, analysis and action. A churning restlessness to peek around the next corner.

But how do you get to that elusive answer? Especially if you have many different interests, passions and “slices” to what you want to offer.

Here’s a trick:

Start With No.

Sometimes placing parameters around what we don’t want to do, say or be helps us whittle down to the core of what makes us tick. Instead of trying so hard to pick something in the vast whitespace of possibility, box yourself in a little bit and back into the answer.

What don’t you want your business to look like? Which brand do you least want to emulate? What type of clients drain your energy? Which customers are not a good fit for you? What topic do you not want to write about? What product or service do you hate the idea of selling?

When you’re not sure which road to take, pare down your choices by asking which way you don’t want to go. (Tweet this!)

I discovered the value of this many times when trying to decide what to have for dinner. My husband and I often get the bright idea to go out to eat or order in, which inevitably leads to…

“Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”

We’ve discovered that if we start with what we’re not in the mood for, we’ll land more quickly on what we are in the mood for. We back into the answer.

Next time you’re floundering to make a decision or find your next step, try starting with no.

What decisions have you made by narrowing down what you didn’t want in order to get to what you did want? How could this technique help with your next moves for your business or project? Please share below in the Comments!

Image Credit: Tripp via Flickr

What Happens When You Don’t Match Your Brand

match BLOG

A friend recently passed along this story about branding gone bad. I thought it was so moving it warranted a blog post.

Last year, this friend-of-a-friend found herself sniffling into a kleenex at the first of many therapy sessions, pouring her heart out on topics like identity and authenticity. This, in and of itself, isn’t particularly noteworthy; many of us have found ourselves on a therapist’s couch.

But her friend was in therapy because of her brand.

See, her funny, ballsy, brassy friend spent almost a decade building a demure, buttoned-up brand. For ten years, her products were featured by Martha Stewart and Oprah and sweater set-types bought her pieces in bulk. She’d attend networking events and people would swarm her, asking for advice about breaking into the industry she didn’t even like. Left to her own devices, she’d live in Levis and t-shirts, eating only buffalo wings and beer.

Instead, she felt she needed to wear heels and dresses, drink $13 cocktails and schmooze with wedding planners. She needed to reign in her swearing and act like she cared about manicures.

When I heard this story, I realized many of you may go through this and it is a recipe for disaster. Her company was successful but she was unstable and unhappy. Every single day, she felt like a fraud.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Her friend went through a year of therapy, eventually shuttered her company, and got a 9-to-5 at a creative agency. These days, she’s living the jeans-wearing, wing-eating dream.

This is a real, life and blood example of what can happen if you build a brand that runs counter to who you are.

And it could happen to any of us! We get caught up following business advice that – while solid – just isn’t right for us. Or we work with a super-talented, slightly pushy designer and end up with a gorgeous website that’s perfect … for someone else.

This can also happen if you work for a company whose values and brand image run counter to what you believe, who you are and what you stand for. And if you own the company? This could be happening to employees you’ve hired who were never the right cultural fit to begin with – and that’s when it starts impacting their productivity and work.

So before you find yourself in a pile of tear-filled Kleenexes or on the therapist’s couch, here are four questions to ask yourself as you brand.

These will help you create or work for a brand that’s true to you.(Tweet this!)

When I look at my site, does it feel like me?

Are the colors ones I wear or use in real life? Do my headshots really look like me? Does my copy include words that I use in my daily life?

If you’re not a particularly buttoned up, corporate person, you needn’t convince the internet that you are. And if you’re a sweet, modest person, don’t let your site paint you as a gregarious extravert.

Just because you work in a traditional industry, doesn’t mean you’re traditional and it doesn’t mean your brand needs to be. Laura Simms is a successful career coach who shares photos of her pet rabbit on Instagram. Danielle LaPorte runs a million dollar business while showcasing her tattoos and dropping the F-bomb. We feel like we know, like, and trust these women because they’re showing us who they really are.

Do the people who know me best think it looks and feels like me?

We all suffer from forest-for-the-trees syndrome from time to time. Ask your partner, your best friend, and maybe your mom to take a look at your online space. What do they think? Does it ring true for them? Or are you nearly unrecognizable?

Of course, you should take every opinion with a grain of salt, but if everyone in your life is confused by your blazer-wearing headshot and your jargon-filled Twitter bio, it might be time to reconsider.

Do I really, actually like providing these services?

There’s a lot of wisdom in creating a scaleable business and leading large workshops – but if you’re an introvert, leading a group might feel like an ill-fitting suit. Likewise, if you don’t like big, on-going projects you might not want to have clients on retainer.

It’s possible to like doing something – writing, design, coding, marketing – but not really enjoy the way you’re delivering those services. Think about how you thrive and how you like to arrange your day and then design offerings accordingly.

Do I feel like I can be myself with my clients, on social media, on my blog?

Do you feel like you can talk about your love of wine? Or crossfit? Or share funny photos of your dog? Can you make a Walking Dead reference or drop the occasional curse word? It’s important that you show and tell your clients who you really are. There’s a 99% chance they’ll love you!

Have you ever struggled with a brand/self disconnect? How did you get past it? Tell me how you dealt with it in the comments!

P.S. Need help fine tuning your brand? I can help with that!

photo by =Nahemoth= // cc

3 Things You Must Do For Your Brand Story to Bloom

03.31.15 ArticulateMessage(blog)

It’s all well and good for us to talk about having a strong brand story. But that’s only part of the “story” (pardon the pun).

Whether you are a one-person consulting business or a 1000 employee technology player, there are 3 phases to brand “storyhood” that must all be addressed in order to have real market impact – from hiring the right people to attracting the right customers or clients:

Define: Sure, everyone who works here “knows” your quirky brand personality or strong values, right? Wrong. If your brand story is simply a wispy tale that only old-timers will understand – or worse, simply lives in the minds of the founders – you are lost before you even begin. How can you expect the market to know your story if YOU don’t even know your story? What is it? Have you defined your brand strategy? Have you nailed down the most important points, stories and practices that make up your business’ DNA? If you talk to different people across the organization, will you get a different answer? And don’t forget the one answer that makes cringe: “Well, I don’t know…it’s kind of hard to explain. You just know it when you see it.”

If you can’t define your story, how can you expect your customers or clients to do so? You know your business best. Define your brand position internally: What are we about, what makes us tick? What is our vibe? Who are we talking to? Where do we fit in the competitive landscape? Button this down for yourself or your internal team before moving on to Step 2…

Articulate: Now that you’ve hashed it all out, pulled it apart, examined it from all angles, gathered the stories, emotions and benefits that make you special, you have to WRITE IT DOWN. Articulating the brand story is where most businesses fall down. It’s not enough for you to know your own story if you can’t give the market words to describe it. What is the mission and vision? What are you value statements? What is the tone of your copy? Which benefits will we tout over and over that we want to own in the marketplace? Bring in a talented copywriter if words are not your thing because you must choose your words wisely. Words matter. What is the script you want others to say? Wal-Mart is about low prices. Nordstrom is about exquisite customer service. Virgin America is just wonderful, hip, cool and cheeky. ASPCA is a voice for abused and neglected animals. Tom’s Shoes gives a pair of shoes to kids in need when you buy a pair.

Share: Now that you’ve defined who you are and articulated the story, are you just going to pat yourselves on the back and adjourn the meeting? Heck no. It’s time to share the story – internally first. Are you sharing this story with every single functional area such as HR, Finance, Customer Support so they can apply the story to their own everyday actions? Does HR know the brand story so they can hire the right people who will support it? Does everyone in marketing know the story so they can make smart campaign decisions? Does sales know the story so they can pitch to the right prospects about the right value? Build your brand equity from the inside out. Once everyone inside understands the brand story, then you can better share it with the outside world to generate leads, serve customers and differentiate from the competition.

Define, Articulate, Share: You must go through these 3 steps to make your brand bloom (Tweet this!)

Image credit: GotoVan via Flickr

Stuck? 4 questions to summon your inspirational muse

03.24.15 Summoning your muse (blog)

Everywhere you look these days, it seems inspiration is on everyone’s mind. Inspiration for your business, your family life, your soul. Heck, inspiration to help you find – and make – meaning in your world.

I’m currently working with two clients who are all about inspiring others in unique ones: one teaches mindfulness principles so that manic people can take a breath, shift perspective and choose healthier actions, leading to less anxiety, stronger relationships and better quality (and satisfaction in) work. Another is inspiring soul-seekers to peel back the dusty layers and get back in touch with who they really are and what they really want by running creative workshops, soulful camp experiences and more.

If you’re like me, you often need to find your inspirational vitamin boost in insightful people or special places. I call this “Summoning Your Muse.” Where are the places you go or people you seek when you need that motivational high? It’s not enough to keep your head down, locked on your work and your to-do lists: every human being needs to reflect, make space and see things differently in order to recharge.

Ask the right questions and inspiration can find you (Tweet this!)

When summoning your muse, here are 4 questions to ask and invite her in:

  • Do you enjoy your physical space?: I firmly believe our environment affects our mood and creativity. Do you work in a cramped, messy corner of your living room, or do you have a small, cozy nook that lights you up? Do you need space? Do you need color? Heck, is your chair comfortable? I find that working outside my home office in a funky little coffee shop helps me focus better and sparks new ideas. Think about your physical environment and what you need to be your most productive and create or find that space for yourself.
  • Who is on your cheerleading team?: Do you have a team of people you can call of when you need inspiration in different parts of your life? I have a friend I call when I need quick-hit, practical advice about life, one I call when I need a soulful, spontaneous girl chat about love and desire, one I exchange email missives with when we need to work out angst or transition, one I turn to for business motivation when I’m stuck or feel down… get the idea. Who is on your team and do you have any gaps?
  • Can you make space in your schedule?: I’m realizing that I don’t have space to think and create these days so I’m taking steps to change that. I’m going to be scheduling sacred time on my calendar to write, plan for the business, take an afternoon off at the park with my baby boy. If you get all crazy and fidgety when you end up having some time on your hands, then you have a problem! We all need quiet time, non-busy time, reflection time. Your schedule won’t magically open up for you so you have to put your foot down and demand what YOU want from your calendar. How do you want your day or week to look? What are you willing to give up, on what will you absolutely not budge? The weeks go faster as we get older – do you really want to look back and see that your year was filled with crap that you really didn’t want to do?
  • How can you shift your perspective?: A friend recently told me that I need to “change my conversation” about time. Time is, after all, a construct, and if I go in with the mindset that “I’m crazed! I have no time to do anything! I am way too overwhelmed” then, darn it, that’s my reality. But if I let go a bit and shift my mindset to “I have plenty of time to get everything done” or adopt a more curious or joyful approach, then I will indeed impact my reality. What is your mindset? Approach your work, life and relationships with joy, with curiosity, with abundance. Instead of “I have to…” think, “Wow! I get the opportunity to…” This could apply to working out, visiting family, attending a child’s school play. It sounds woo-woo but I swear, it really, really works.

Speaking of my “team” of muses, these lovely friends of mine have some great wisdom to share with you, too. Enjoy:

Want to more fully, richly commit to giving your best in everything you do? Read Empty the Tank by the soulful Alexandra Franzen

Looking for a snappy pick-me-up to make your spirit soar? Check out 9 Promising, Powerful Quotes Your Business Will Love by the witty and wise Sarah Von Bargen

Need a heart-boost about the great content you put out into the world when you think no one is listening? Devour Not getting the comments, likes and shares that you crave? Behold: the Silent Obsessor by the feisty Melissa Cassera.

Looking for ways to shift your mindset about the things you “have” to do to make them more joyful? You will adore Finding Prayer in All Things by the lovely Jamie Greenwood.

What inspires you? How do you handle being in a rut? Please share in the Comments below!

Image Credit: John via Flickr

Leprechauns, Charms and the Space to Make Magic

03.17.15 Recharging (blog)

I took two weeks off for vacation and prepped everything in my life for a work detox. I call it a “work detox” not a full-on digital one, because I specifically set things up to take a break from work email, while still enjoying personal connections via social media: Coordinating a meetup with a friend via Twitter. Posting pics of my sweet babe playing among neon lights at London’s Museum of Childhood or a family photo atop the London Eye, bundled up in the cold weather despite the bright sunlight. Instagramming new fallen snow in the Scottish Highlands before it quickly melted away. Sharing a hilarious video of my mother-in-law’s Boxer and Jack Russell up in Scotland licking my baby boy with love and gusto – and his attempts to kiss them back.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and my mind is filled with lucky charms, Irish blessings and pots of gold. It seems appropriate to talk about how to make more magic in your life on this special day.

But since I’m not a leprechaun, I can only share some ideas for how this two-week playdate away from work on foreign soil helped me recapture a bit of magic and verve in my own life – and how you might be able to do the same:

  1. Remove or Outsource the Clutter: I knew my Type A personality would go mad if I just “didn’t check email” for two weeks. But I didn’t want the time-suck that email brings distracting me from my family and vacation time. So I asked for help. My rockstar VA checked my email while I was gone, with instructions on how to respond, what to delete and when to send me an urgent text. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. No one was upset. I had zero junk email piled up. My business didn’t shatter to pieces. If anything, more new business and opportunities awaited me upon my return. And more importantly, I used that time to create magical memories and slow down. Now that I’m more used to it, I’m also finding ways to check email only a few times a day.

What is taking up space in your life that doesn’t serve you or your business? Can you outsource it or delete it completely to make time for silence, laughter, and peace? You have to remove what’s not working before you can replace it with what does.

  1. Change your Environment: Okay, so we can’t always travel 6000+ miles from where our obligations and responsibilities surround us in order to “get away.” But shifting your location, surroundings or context can do wonders for throwing you just a bit off kilter so you are more aware, more alive, more thoughtful. When your surroundings are new, they tend to have a magical, sparkly glow. You’re simply paying more attention because things are unfamiliar. That shift in focus can result in amazing connections – like when I happened to meet the CMO of Pizza Hut for the UK at a café over breakfast. It can spark new dreams – like our desire to pick some other travel destinations for the year. And it can laser-focus you on what is important and what can simply fall away. Hint: A lot more can fall away than you keep telling yourself.

How can you change the scenery in your everyday life? Is it a staycation at a great boutique hotel or perhaps working out of a new coffee shop instead of your old office? Can you take a new route to work or repaint a room? Shift your surroundings so you can shift your focus.

  1. Appoint a Muse: Upon my return, I was lucky enough to have a call with one of my dear gal pals who is also a trusted colleague, inspiring entrepreneur, business-scheming partner-in-crime, idea generator and all-around cheerleader. I realized my joyful talks with her help me focus and keep me motivated on the bigger picture. She inspires me to dream big and find out what I want. Our calls are magical and I always hang up buzzing with energy, as if she’s weaved a little spell around me.

Who can you meet up with regularly to be your personal muse – and for whom you can do the same? Make sure you have these magical elves on speed dial and set up regular dates with them so you get out of your own head and your own ruts. Collaboration breeds all sort of creativity and wonder.

Bottom line: Don’t wait for the leprechaun. There are lots of way to create your own charms and spells to inject magic into your world. (Tweet this!)

Now it’s your turn: What are some ideas you can share about how to rejuvenate your business, spark our creativity or create magic in your world? I’d love to know so please leave a Comment below!

Image credit: Judith Doyle via Flickr

3 Crafty + Creative Ways to Set Goals

02.24.15 setting goals (blog)

Are you tired of goal setting? Confession time: I’m kind of over it.

This, from the woman who used to lay out her new year’s goals in nice neat bullets, organized by category: Fitness, Career Travel…I even had a category for Fun. The woman who makes lists and loves to be measured, assessed, graded. “You’ve never met a test you didn’t like,” says my husband.

Yes, I’m a recovering goal setter.

A few years back, after my major health crisis, I became gun-shy about goal-setting. I tried setting goals the old way but holding myself so accountable to a laundry list of big dreams overwhelmed me. During my fragile recovery, I tried to manage stress by removing as much friction from my life as possible – and that included all pressure to perform.

So what did this Type-A, former Honors student do to stay ambitious, motivated and organized? I started playing with new ways to set goals. And it has not only made me happier, it makes my life less stressful, more fun – and I actually achieve more while still keeping myself open to new opportunities.

If your goals are crushing you, it’s time to rethink how you set them (Tweet this!)

Here are 3 crafty and creative ways to help you enjoy setting goals in business and in life:

Pick a theme or two:

A few years ago, I decided to set New Year’s themes instead of New Year’s resolutions. In 2013, I chose Creativity and Abundance – and I achieved a lifelong dream of being accepted into an elite summer theatre program, plus I got pregnant. Creative and abundant indeed. This year, those themes are Enrichment and Savor. By enrichment, I hope to nurture great stuff that I already have rather than spending so much time inventing new things. And by savor, I mean presence, mindfulness and slowing down enough to appreciating the fleeting moments of my son’s babyhood and my current life, just as it is. Picking themes not only attracts the feelings you want into your life, it creates open space to discover that many different roads can lead to what you really want internally and externally, rather than merely following a checklist of things to do.

Experiment with choosing two themes that cover both the types of things you’d like to experience in your work or life, as well as the emotions and mindset that go with them.

Determine the feelings behind your goals:

This idea is courtesy of my friend Danielle LaPorte. She talks about goal setting not from the perspective of WHAT you want to do but HOW you want to feel. Danielle created the Desire Map program and teaches that, most of the time, you are not chasing a goal, but you are actually craving a feeling. So what if you flipped your intentions around and started with the how you want to feel and then map out what needs to be done to get you there? It’s an intriguing concept – and somewhat related to my point above about themes for the year.

Experiment with determining how you’d like to feel next quarter in your business or in the next six months of your life. Elated? Accomplished? Recognized? Naughty? Financially secure? Wise? Then you can map the activities that lead to achieving that emotion.

Outline broad-brush achievements:

This is a method I’m playing with this year (in addition to my Themes). Now brace yourself: this one goes against everything that this measurement-oriented woman and marketer has always believed. This year, I’m simply laying out large achievements, with no numbers or metrics attached to them. That’s right. I have no revenue projections or book sales goals. No website visit metrics. No target number of speaking engagements. Instead, my goals are broad brush starting from where I am now: Build up my platform and fan base, sell more books, focus on larger projects and less of them and make space to create my next book in 2016. This method is not for the faint of heart, but I have to tell you: I haven’t been this energized by goals in a long time. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how this worked out!

Experiment with letting go and determining some broad-brush achievements that will light your year on fire. You’ll be surprised how when you remove the pressure of numbers, you start to creatively brainstorm ways to make your goal a reality.

What do you think? Do any of these goal setting approaches resonate with you? Please DM me on Instagram – and let me know if you’ve got a unique spin of your own to share.

Image credit: Benno Hansen via Flickr

The problem with perfection

02.10.15 seek substance before perfection (blog)

I have seen too many smart, savvy, brilliant people let their ideas die on the vine because they want to do something that many of us think is admirable. And it should make all of us angry and sad:

They want to be perfect.

All the stories that people need to hear. All the talent that could make the world a better place. All the benefits customers and clients are aching to achieve. None of it seeing the light of day because:

“I can’t start my business until I have the perfect website worthy of Vogue or Fast Company” (Right, because everyone expects a Phase 1 website to look as slick as an Apple ad)

“I can’t write my book because I don’t know enough about publishing or story structure so I need to attend more conferences and get more credentials.” (Right, because there is a “right” way to publish a good story and, besides, there’s no one who can help you along the way)

“I can’t send that email or post that blog post until I have an editor thoroughly check it for grammatical mistakes or typos.” (Right, because good ideas that have impacted everything from society at large down to one individual life were mocked because someone wrote “there” instead of “their.”)

Please make no mistake: This is not a defense of shoddy quality or mediocrity. I’m not even advocating poor design. You’re talking to the woman who cries when she realizes there’s a typo in my writing.

But you also know, if you’ve been with me a while, that – news flash – I’m human and I make mistakes. We ALL do. But it doesn’t stop me from continuing to serve you and deliver value. Waiting until something is 100% perfect before you share it with the world is just crazy – and impossible. You will always want to tweak something later. Always. It’s called “learning and evolving.” Besides, 80% of great is better than 100% of nothing, any day.

Think first about why you are chasing perfection? Is it fear holding you back? Tara Mohr, in her recent book Playing Big, purports that many talented women use this as an excuse to mask their fear and hide their light. But I’ve seen many men do this, too. “Perfection-seeking as delay tactic” crosses gender lines. I know, because I’ve been there myself and fight this everyday.

Seek to create substance, value, and inspiration first rather than perfection. (Tweet this!)

Don’t lose momentum. Get your message out in to the world. Shape it as you go. Learn from the feedback you get and improve things further. It’s why innovative companies launch beta projects: to gauge reaction and work out the kinks, fast.

Kindly request forgiveness from your audience. But don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop your message from reaching the people who need it most.

This is not permission to let quality slip. It’s a rallying cry to get your ideas out into the world and shape them as you go.

Do you agree? Where has this shown up in your own work? What ideas have you sat on for fear of them not being perfect? Please share in the Comments below!

Image Credit: finchlake2000 via Flickr