My 1-year entrepreneur-aversary is APRIL 1 (no joke!)
And thus, this Friday, I’ll celebrate my first year of full-time freelancery — disco monk-style — with a one-hour Q&A webinar-shindig hosted on Vokle. Tales of success, stories of woe, the highs, the lows, and your gotta-know questions — all filtered through my highly-caffeinated strumpet nerd brain cells.
I’ll do my best to answer your questions on:
:: Job-quittin’ (how I quit my j-o-b, without losing my marbles)
:: Client-attraction (how I scored my CrazySexyCool clients)
:: Authenticity + affluence (intrinsically linked, in my humble opinion)
:: Self-promotion & self-expression (two sides of the same shiny coin, baby!)
:: Hustling, jamming & networking (how to connect with creative comrades…without being a creepazoid!)
And if all else fails, I’ll just do my infamous Louis Armstrong impersonation until everyone awkwardly excuses themselves to go…wash their hair.
The soiree starts on Friday, April 1, 2011 @ 12 PM Pacific
It might be a mini-meet-up, or a big bash. Don’t know. Don’t mind!
Brings your fervent questions. I’ll dole out some virtual high fives. And we’ll “have a wee natter” (as Genna McWhinnie would say).
Note: This is strictly BYORVC (Bring Your Own Red Velvet Cake). Or booze. Or green juice. Or whatever flips your system.
JUMP OVER HERE, and click the red RSVP button. Buh-bam. Wanna tweet about it? Click the little square Twitter button. Buh-boom.
Come if you can. Don’t if you won’t. I’ll adore you, regardless. And I’ll post a video of the shenanigans, for those who missed it.
And ooh! You’ll be able to ask questions in real-time on Friday, thanks to Vokle’s handy social media sidebar … but if you wanna get the festivities rolling a bit earlier, you can enter your queries in the comments. No topic is off-topic.
If you visited my contact page during the first (or second, or third) month of 2011, you might’ve noticed a cheery Note Of Gratitude:
My dance card is ravetastically full through APRIL 2011.
I’ll be taking on new clients when the cherry blossoms are blooming.
This sing-songy announcement was my way of saying: “I’m drowning here, people. Send shoulder rubs and mixtapes…and stop hiring me. For now. I-love-you-okay-bye.”
You see, my friends, in the wintery weeks immediately following the birth of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ (or as my family likes to call it, Saturnalia) I hit MAXIMUM BANDWIDTH. That precarious point where your client roster (and number of assignments) grossly outweigh the number of conscious hours in the day. Whoops.
January hit with a vengeance, and I was pulling all-nighters like a crazed teenager, hopped up on sugar-free Red Bull and white-knuckle terror. I’d gotten exactly what I wanted — a steady stream of radical clients, ready to heave cash into my PayPal account and GO! LAUNCH! CREATE! TODAY! — and it wasn’t so fun anymore. In fact, it was making me batty. Frightened. Crusty. Tight.
The following recommendations are the result of three (well, really, ten) months of project whack-a-mole, deadline tangos, and optimistic pessimism.
HOW TO :: Contract & Delegate Your Way To Sanity
When your workload swells & you hit your capacity-ceiling, the best approach is a one-two punch: CONTRACT & DELEGATE.
Through a rigorous regime of contraction & delegation, I’ve steered myself from super-saturation to a much more human(e) schedule–one with space for impromptu naps, and leisurely sandwich-construction, and Canadian sketch comedy marathons. It’s the only way, folks.
:: Gracefully ‘fire’ your less-than-ideal clients (once you’ve tied up your current commitments with a shiny neon bow).
:: Stop offering packages or services that clutter up your calendar, with little return.
:: Think double-plus-hard about taking on pro bono commitments. (Struggling to find the right words? Dyana Valentine is the master of no-gotiation.)
:: Go on a media fast. Drop off-grid. Take a blogging sabbatical. Hang a gigantic DO NOT DISTURB sign in the hallway of your soul. Or, like, literally. On your office door.
:: Call a temporary cease & desist on aggressive hustling & self-promotion. Just…coast for a minute. (You’ve earned it).
:: Reel in your advocates. If you’ve got a handful of rockstar pimps who refer your services with wild abandon, let ‘em know (with mad, mad gratitude) that you’re kicking it down a notch–for now.
:: Hire a border guard. Get a Virtual Assistant to field inquiries and sift through emails. Or, set up a Priority Inbox for your Gmail account.
:: Bring a creative partner on board, and divvy up the workload (and profit).
:: Hire an intern, admin or apprentice to deal with minutiae, like invoicing, minor tweaks, time-consuming research and transcription.
:: Deflect prospective client inquiries efficiently. Craft a helpful, respectful “I’m-crazy-busy-but-here-are-five-geniuses-you-should-hire-instead-of-me” email, and keep it handy for swift copying & pasting.
:: Pay shiny, happy serfs to tick domestic duties (like laundry folding, toilet scrubbing & snow shoveling) off your to-do list.
:: Create robots slaves to do your bidding. Pre-schedule your social media missives with TweetDeck or HootSuite, automate your finances with Mint, systemize your time tracking with Freckle, and set up Google Alerts to monitor your web presence.
Contract and delegate for as long as it takes to regain equilibrium, catch your breath, and suss out your next move. Then…slowly, cautiously and mindfully…EXPAND.
And speaking of mindful EXPANSION…
I’ve stripped down my old service packages to create space for a single, powerful, highly-useful new offering called VELOCITY.
It’s a full-day, 1-on-1 storytelling & self-promotion immersion. You can take a peek at the Pre-Velocity PlayBook, to get a lick of the luxury.
VELOCITY is intense. And it ain’t for everyone. But dumpling, if you’re lusting after lightning-quick webcopy (with a scary-fast same-day turnaround), pragmatic promotional plotting, and a wide & luxurious space to crystallize your vision…you’re gonna want IN.
Full details are sittin’ pretty right here. Zip zap zoom.
In 13 days, I’ll celebrate my one-year entrepreneur-a-versary.
I am really, stupendously, riotously proud of myself.
My business is bangin’, my clients are beyond compare, and the personal transformations I’ve rollicked through over the past 12 months have been nothing short of astounding. Growth, baby. Lessons. Vision. Fantasies = enacted. Income = tripled (hey there, Recession. How’s it hanging?). And a plan for the future that aligns with my true strengths.
I didn’t always feel like this.
In fact, 15 months ago (and change) I was one sick, sad puppy. I’d handed in my 9-to-5 notice, and knew my bi-weekly paycheck had a termination date. I had a couple months of savings in the bank, a vague vision for a personal branding business, a few small freelance projects on the docket … and an overbearing sense of impending doom. Well, not quite true. I had no doubt that I’d succeed — at whatever the heck I was doing — eventually. But I knew that the immediate future would be bleak. Like, sobbing-in-the-ladies-bathroom-stealing-free-pizza-from-the-lunch-room-maxing-out-my-credit-cards bleak. And I was committed to the temporary bleakness. I believed — with all my heart — that it was the awkward birth canal to freedom.
Now, a life lived ferociously is bound to include more than a few awkward birth canals. Grotesque break-ups. Nasty business splits. Clients that go A.W.O.L. “Brilliant” choices that bomb. Bad hair. Despair. And every degree of misery in between.
My approach? When life sucks, don’t pretend that it doesn’t — but make sure the suckiness has a limited shelf life. And while you’re crawling towards the shiny neon light at the end of the disco tunnel, LIVE a little, for heaven’s sake. ‘Cause it’s universally impossible for everything to suck. Somewhere, somehow, someone is grinning. So there.
33 Ways To Survive When Everything Sucks
Dig INTO the misery. Really roll around in the muck — for a limited-time (not for-life). Fill your days with The Smiths. Black hoodie sweatshirts. The Amanda Show (we all grieve in our own ways).
Go slow. Protect your sanity. Slow down to a snail’s pace. Slash every non-urgent to-do off your list. Empty your calendar.
Take an email hiatus. Drop offline. We’ll miss you, but we’ll be waiting with high-fives when you get back.
Symbols & tokens. Would a heart-shaped moonstone serve as a visual reminder to speak with compassion? Would a sapphire engagement ring remind you of your commitment to radical self-love? Would a miniature light saber on your desk inspire you to use the force, Luke? Select a sacred image or item that confirms your commitment to possibility. Hold it. Wear it. Keep it close.
Traditions & Rituals. Rowdy transitions, funks & slumps are a swell time to forge new traditions & rituals. How ’bout a 1-woman Sunday Night book club? Or a nightly 5-minute Gregorian chant break?
Alternative enhancement. If circumstances beyond your control make it impossible to move from the city you loathe, or quit the job you detest, or launch the website you want — right this second — focus on alternative enhancement. Experiment with raw food. Master the art of calligraphy. Learn an impressive parlor trick. Pour your energy into a sector of your life that you CAN enhance, and let the positive rush of achievement flood the rest of your universe.
School yourself. High-impact education is so readily available, it’s staggering. Buying a Mac computer? For $99, you’re entitled to free 1-on-1 training at your local Apple store–for a year. Master iMovie, Garageband, Pages, and every other app under the Mactastic sun. Or see if your city has an Experimental College, where anyone can take — or teach — free classes. No EXCO in your ‘hood? Start one, professor.
Start hanging with your heroes. Who do you think is crazy-sexy-cool? Start popping up in their sight line. Leave a comment.
Take a course. Write a testimonial. Make a date.
Ramp up the gratitude. Write long-overdue (or better yet, pre-emptive) thank you notes.
Dangle a carrot. Right now, I’m dangling a media-free trip to Scotland (summer 2012, baby!) in front of my nose. In times of duress, I repeat my 3-word mantra: “Glasgow. Unplug. Gaelic.”
Write a letter to your future-self. Tuck it at the back of your Filofax. And do not open till Christmas.
Buy some glittery eyeliner. Ladies, this applies to you, too.
Enforce a mandatory disco break. During my final weeks of 9-to-5-ing, I blasted Tina Turner through my headphones from dawn till dusk. And occasionally, I “treated” my co-workers to some hot cubicle krumping action. (I didn’t get fired. It was too late for that.)
Clear your calendar, in the name of self-care. Do you really wanna go to that potluck? Maybe you just want to sleep. And maybe you should.
Get a penpal. Or! Take a cue from my brilliant sister-in-law Marisa Kuney and get yourself a snackpal. She and her bestie send parcels of gourmet treats (like luxury popcorn and burnt caramel sauce) to one another. Nothing like the prospect of edible treats in the mail to brighten your mood!
Check in with an old mentor. Get some guru-on-the-mountain time.
Write a fan letter. Or! Record a quick message and attach the mp3 to an email. It’s a fan letter … made audible!
Indulge in a heady, senseless crush. Need I go on … ?
Get witchy with it. Whether or not you “believe” in astrology, Tarot, runes or auras is beside the point. Being witnessed by a master intuitive is a powerful experience. Witchy men (and women) have a gift for seeing patterns (and solutions) that elude us, in times of stress.
Go on a money-saving bender. My BFF and I cheekily refer to this as the Austerity Program (or AP, for short). Can you use everything in your fridge, like an Iron Chef, before heading to the grocery store? Can you read every book on your shelf, before buying a new DVD set? Can you refrain from buying ANYTHING for a year, like Shopaholly?
Buy a roll of butcher paper. Write ENORMOUS quotes from floor to ceiling. I recommend Rumi, Neruda & Wilde.
Leetle treats. Create a weekly treat-budget — $5, $25 or $50 — and spend it on things (or better yet — experiences) that make you smile. Luxury donuts. ’80s movies. Shiny baubles. Museum passes.
Trip out on textiles. Take pleasure in simple, animal pleasures. DAMN that faux-fur pillowcase feels goooood! Holy SNAP those flannel sheets are niiiiiice!
Write yourself a new job title. Maybe you’re a “Group Wrangler & Functional Muse” (like Dyana Valentine). Or maybe you’re an “Interface Radical” (like Amy Hoy). Or an “International Playgirl” (like Gala Darling).
Get carded. Between jobs / genders / vocational identities? Get some personal calling cards printed by Moo. No job title or office line required. Just your name (or a nom de plume) and an email address or phone number. Et voilà!
Redesign your morning routine. Regardless of whether you’re a crack-of-dawn-er or a sleep-till-noon-er, the first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of your rambles. Goddess Leonie’s How To Be A Morning Goddess e-book is a fun romp through 20 women’s morning routines, including Gwen Bell, SARK, and, uh, me.
Drink sparkling San Pelligrino H2O straight from the bottle, and pretend you’re a EuroTrash hobo.
I’m writing this from a sun-filled room in Los Angeles.
I’m sipping a delicious iced coffee, sweetened with agave nectar. I’m wearing the same extra-long tank top and ultra-sheer meditation pants that I woke up in, plus a soft pashmina scarf. Last night, I met an old friend (and a new friend) for cherry pie & conversation. Later, I’ll listen to my favorite band’s new album—a gift from my little sister. The biggest obstacle to my contentment is the fact that my building will experience a temporary loss of water sometime this afternoon, for routine pipe repairs.
I am not suffering from a debilitating illness or chronic injury. I have fresh food in my kitchen, cash in my bank account, books on my shelf, and clean clothes to wear (should I ever choose to change out of my pajamas, of course). I even have a bottle of rosé wine, chilling in the fridge. And I have no reason to suspect that tomorrow will deliver anything other than a similar array of simple delights.
I am very comfortable. And this concerns me.
I’ve always associated “comfort” with “complacency.” Stagnation. Even apathy.
When I’ve got my ducks in a row, I feel … guilty.
WHO AM I, to feel pleased & proud about the life I’m designing, when millions (billions?) of people are unable to access even a nano-fraction of the privileges I’ve enjoyed?
WHO AM I, to sit in my sun-filled room?
To enjoy my iced coffee?
To feel the cool air passing across my shoulders?
I asked a few very wise humans to share their personal philosophies on comfort. Specifically, I asked them to explain how to be comfortable—and still be entrepreneurially ambitious, productive, and devoted to progress.
The overwhelming response was: comfort is good. More than good—mandatory.
I’m sharing their soundbites here, with you today.
And I hope they bring you some comfort.
JEN LOUDEN | Creator of The Teacher’s Path
“One of the misconceptions I have spent 19 years trying to overturn is that comfort and changing the world are mutually exclusive. Or that comfort is where you go to recover so you can go out and do your great work. So not true, sister. Comfort is essential for inhabiting your own skin, your own power, your own knowing, so you can change the world in the way you are uniquely qualified to do. Comfort is not about zoning out or deadening yourself (I call that shadow comfort) but rather about the practices, attitudes, and relationships that help you be more you. Tune into what helps you do that so you can find and sustain your world serving goodness!”
GENNA MCWHINNIE | Creator of The Sassy Minx Manifesto
“For me, true comfort comes in the shape of ‘my shiz is taken care of’—meaning my finances are sound, my relationships are steady and my head is in the right, sassy frame of mind in life & in biz. Having all these things ‘sorted’ allows me a deep sense of comfort. Absolute freedom, expansive creativity and zen like bliss exist here too.”
There’s pre-emptive comfort, in-the-moment comfort and false comfort.
Pre-emptive comfort is responding to the question, ‘What will I need to support me while I do this hot work?’. It’s ensuring that you have what you need, so you don’t have to stop and create what sustains you while you are in-process. These are simple things, stocking the fridge, making sandwiches, ensuring you have clean towels and jeans and underwear. It’s having friends on-call if you’re in process and need emotional support.
In-the-moment comfort is the act of responding to the difficult emotions that surface as we are working. I think of in-the-moment comfort as a GPS. It grounds you and shows you where you are. It creates presence. Responding to emotions is easy. You set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and let the emotions wash over you. You don’t try to make sense of them. You just let them bubble up and ebb away. This process makes the space that you need to get context about your project.
False comfort is the sugar-tit. It’s when you haven’t taken care of yourself, and you get overwhelmed and tired, and to make yourself feel better, you turn to things ouside yourself that are in no way healthy. This is the cocktail-cookie-potato chip-marathon TV comfort. False comfort doesn’t address your physical or mental or spiritual needs. The backlash of the false comfort are feelings of failure, and of physical and spiritual sickness. Yuck.
Is there space for false comfort? Sure. Everything in moderation including moderation, right? But, we need to understand the cost of false comfort before we commit to it. We can’t expect false comfort to sustain us. It doesn’t.
The life-shift is a process for enacting positive change that includes sustaining, comforting steps. We have to sustain and comfort ourselves to move ahead. It’s vital.”
ERIKA LYREMARK | Fearless Leader of The Morning Whip
”Identify your red carpet dream team—friends, family members, colleagues, coaches/consultants—who will support you 1000%, never let you starve and hug and challenge you until you’re blue in the face. You have to do it on your own, but you don’t have to do it alone!”
HILLARY RUBIN | Creator of the Yoga Foundations DVD & Yoga Practice iPhone App & Healing Yoga Podcasts
“To feel secure, nourished, safe and sustained we must first acknowledge the promise we made to the fire of our soul. When your comfort levels are challenged you’re being called to stretch, grow and evolve into this promise. Releasing resistance will give you less time in struggle and birth the next best version of yourself that’s hungry to be expressed.”
DALE FRANZEN | Artistic Director at The Broad Stage (and my mom!)
When crisis strikes…Breathe. Stop. Take tea or walk. Wait for panic to dissolve…then act. To take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. You are not being selfish when you create comfort for yourself. You are preparing for battle and work. Tea time / silent time / sunset time / play time all are essential to be a good wife / mother / friend / artist / worker / whole person.”
FABEKU FATUNMISE | Sacred Sound Practitioner & Life Awesomizer
“Comfort has gotten a totally bad rap. Like it’s something dirty that we should only do behind closed doors. Or in whispers. Something that we shouldn’t be too loud about unless we want to offend everybody.
It’s like comfort gets pegged as a reward. After, you know, you’ve done real work. And if you do it before that–or, gawd forbid, all the time–you’re a total slacker or something.
That’s crazy talk.
Comfort + fire aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, just the opposite. Comfort helps us to keep that fire blazing. When we have real comfort we can bring 100% of our mojo to the world.
Comfort supports alignment.
Alignment supports full frontal awesomeness.
And that’s hawt.”
GODDESS STAR MONROE | Inspirational Mentor, Fitness Instructor & Creator of Goddess Salons
“C-O-M-F-O-R-T!!!! I checked this little pow wow of a word out in the dictionary and this is what I found…serenity, tranquility, coziness, luxury, opulence, prosperity, bed of roses, contentment. Yeah baby, this is how the Goddess rolls!
Comfort is queen, we need comfort in our lives. Life is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, ebbs and flows and it is essential for each of us to find our comfort zone, the zone that rocks our world, the zone that makes us happy, that enlightens our very soul and puts a ring of fire around our hearts. So that we can sashay through life with the ability to take on lifes challenges with a smile on our faces and spring in our step.
I encourage not only myself but every woman I meet to take exquisite self care of themselves. Move your body daily, eat nourishing, scrumptious foods, be kind to yourself and others, do the best you can do each day and practice gratitude. Look after number one and the rest will fall into place.
Comfort = exquisite self care = one happy, confident & sexy true woman…and who doesn’t want to be around a happy, confident & sexy woman??!!!”
When do you feel … comfortable?
And how does feelin’ cozy affect your level of ambition? Candid thoughts & micro-manifestos are warmly welcomed.
I have stupendous notions for hypothetical companies / restaurants / musicals / TV shows all the live long day.
I rarely follow through on them. Most of the time, I jot them down in the back of my Filofax, just in case I happen upon a wealthy benefactor who’s keen to drop a couple million into a poorly-researched start-up venture (and who isn’t?)
I’m reaching an event horizon of mind-blowing ideas, and felt compelled to share them with the masses. Y’know, like community service. Feel free to steal them. Feel freer to enact them. And feel freest to invite me to the launch day party as your honorary muse. No autographs, please.
Without further ado … 17 “Brilliant” Ideas For You To Steal At Will:
Donut Stop Believin’
A mobile gourmet donut delivery truck operated by pin-up girl bakers in neon pink jumpsuits. The truck blasts Journey’s greatest hits as it rolls through your ‘hood. And the pastry-hungry patrons come a’running, cash in hand.
A full-length production of Les Miserables, except everyone is in drag. Finally, my chance to play the role I was BORN for: Inspector Javert!
A two-story nightclub with a theistical twist. Patrons enter the foyer (“Purgatory”) where they are greeted by a stern bouncer. After taking a number, patrons are instructed to wait for an inordinate length of time. Eventually, their name is called, and their destiny is sealed. They are sentenced to the upstairs sky-bar (“Heaven”) or the downstairs bordello (“Hell”). Selections are entirely random, and irreversible. But of course, VIP club members can choose their own fate …
A multi-level shrine to frozen yogurt, complete with waterfalls of froyo and over 1 million flavor-topping permutations. Frequent patrons are rewarded with access to the Waffle Cone Consortium–a private tasting room with hallucinogenic topping options (caramelized sharkfin! crumbled basilisk! powdered unicorn horn!)
Tanning salons often have vaguely witty names, like “Planet Beach” and “Darque Tan.” Let’s take it a step further: Opportunities + Tanning = Opportanities. Or maybe Tanpportunities. No. Wait. Tanpportanities. Two tans for the price of one! Note: this is perhaps one of my weaker ideas, but it fills me with endless delight.
The collected works of Oscar Wilde as read by RuPaul
Need I say more?
The collected works of RuPaul as read by Garrison Keillor
An all-girl cover band that halfheartedly muddles through popular hits, singing approximately 50% of the song lyrics, punching out certain refrains with great vigor. See also: The Mondegreens.
In the spirit of Bring It On, Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets and Stick It, a rag-tag team of strippers must band together to save their beloved club from demolition. Lessons are learned. Corporate fat cats are defeated. Soul-stirring montages ensue.
In the spirit of Twilight, a handsome selkie falls in love with a Scottish lass, but can’t devote himself to her fully for fear that the sea will call him home, leaving her broken & sandy on the shores of Portobello. Note: I actually wrote an entire novel on this subject, but no one is allowed to see it. EVER.
A vegan restaurant that (shamefully) serves a side of extra-crispy, maple-glazed, apple-cured bacon with every dish.
Tasteful accoutrements to help you identify potential flirtationship partners. Color-coded for sexual orientation / gender preference.
A fast-paced talk radio program hosted a psychiatrist who specializes in nervous tics and anxiety disorders.
Gentle Murmurs of the Night
An ambient music radio program featuring smooth jazz, ocean sounds, dolphin cries and distant drumming. Designed for insomniacs and rainstick enthusiasts. Basically just Hearts of Space, except hosted by me.
The Butler Co-op
A co-operative network of butlers, handmaidens, valets and nursemaids who donate a portion of their time to the talent pool, in exchange for the ability to call upon other servants at a later date, free of charge. It’s like a co-op grocery store, but for elite domestic service professionals.
Entrepreneurs in Residence
Universities often secure Artists-in-Residence–talented local icons who are given a space to work and a small stipend, in exchange for leading the odd workshop or two, and radiating an aura of professionalism for students to bask in. Companies should take on Entrepreneurs-in-Residence–fiery, self-motivated visionaries who infuse stodgy workplaces with unprecedented energy and red-tape-free tactics.
Any Half-Baked Treats To Share?
I KNOW y’all have some hair-brained schemes and it-could-never-happen notions spinning away in ye olde noggin. Go ahead and share ‘em in the comments. Who knows … wealthy benefactors might be lurking!