My favorite thing about owning a business with my sister is that when we go into business-planning mode we can speak candidly and with total honesty about our money goals. We can say things like “I want to be able to buy a freaking vacation house” or “I want at least 8 weeks of vacation a year” without feeling self-conscious or judged by the other. You see, it’s not just about a number – we’re able to really dig in and explore our goals, desires, and dreams. It’s not just about how much we want to make – it’s about how we want to feel.
It usually boils down to us wanting to feel rich, wealthy, and successful. They might all sound like words for the same thing but they aren’t. When my sister and I get specific about what being rich, wealthy, and successful really looks like, this is what we find:
WHAT DOES “RICH” LOOK LIKE?
- expensive raw denim
- staying in a fancy hotel
- buying a new car – with a sunroof
- hiring someone else to clean my house
- ordering take-out from a fancy restaurant – on a weeknight
- subscribing to Amazon Prime and a United Mileage Rewards credit card
WHAT DOES “WEALTH” LOOK LIKE?
- having brunch with friends that lasts all day long
- picking my baby up early from daycare
- working out in the middle of the day
- donating to charity (without having to Tweet about it or pour a bucket of ice over my head)
- my modest heirloom wedding ring (my husband told me we could get something fancy – that it was just a placeholder – but I love it)
- ordering prints of my Instagram photos
- road trips with my girlfriends
WHAT DOES “SUCCESS” LOOK LIKE?
- a client that cries when she finally gets a brand that looks and feels like what she’s been trying to express all along
- a really nice email response to one of our Letters for Creatives
- record attendance and an engaged class in our ECourses
- being asked to speak at a conference
- being able to hire really talented employees
- having a new client waitlist
- coaching someone through a creative challenge
- feeling like an expert
Notice any patterns? The “riches” are all about the things you can buy. “Wealth” is about the experiences you can have when you don’t have to worry about money. And “success” is the demand, growth and necessity for what it is you’re selling, what it is you have to offer – and the higher-purpose reason why you do what you do.
So what makes you feel rich, wealthy, and successful? Let us know on Facebook.
P.S. I’m speaking at the Circles Conference on Thursday! The on-site conference is sold out (no pressure, or anythign) but you can buy a Circles Live pass at 75% off here by using the code andkathleen75 when you check out.
P.P.S. Our ECourse Dream Customer Catching is now open for registration. We share more secrets for attracting dream customers by getting narrow with what you offer. This ECourse will be in-session from September 19-29. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
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Inevitably at some point during a creative entrepreneur’s journey, down her uncertain path, a big leap is going to be required. Actually, big leaps and big risks are usually how this path begins – graduating college, quitting the day job, forming a new partnership, to name a few. The big leaps typically feel risky and daring, they’re equally scary and exciting, and they make for really fun dinner conversations and Facebook status updates. Big leaps will challenge your courage, get your adrenaline pumping, and make you feel like a badass when you make it to the other side. Once they become a habit, you can get addicted to big leaps – craving the next one or even becoming antsy or bored if you don’t feel one coming your way.
The thing is, becoming a successful creative entrepreneur is mostly made up of small steps. The stuff that doesn’t make you feel like a particularly interesting person – things like spending two hours perfecting the tiniest bit of typography in a logo, coordinating a client contract, reviewing quarterly goals, keeping up with the books, writing, designing, and meeting – plus the life stuff like household chores and errands. It’s not that these things aren’t worthy, they’re just not Pinterest-worthy. The value in the small steps comes with consistency, time, and sticktoitiveness.
Four years ago I went on an adventure to the Himalayas in Nepal to hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Buying a round-trip ticket to Kathmandu: big leap. Flying on a tiny prop-plane carrying 18 passengers into the most dangerous airport in the world: big leap. Getting to Mount Everest Base Camp: small steps. And the higher we got, the more effort each step took. I remember counting my steps to 20 and then I would allow myself to take a 30 second break to breathe and take in the scenery. And get this – when we finally got to Mt. Everest Base Camp we couldn’t even see Mt. Everest. The view of the summit is obscured by the other huge and majestic mountains around. The beauty of the adventure wasn’t in the final destination – it was in the journey along the way. One step at a time.
Being a working creative means that sometimes you’ll take big risky leaps. But more often the challenge is in sticking to the small steps.
Craving more work / life introspection? You might like to try the DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. Sign up to receive 4 weeks of creative coaching content delivered straight to your inbox for just $40 anytime.
Our ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attract What You Track is now open for registration. We share more secrets for attracting dream customers by getting narrow with what you offer. This ECourse will be in-session from September 19-29. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
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Summer barbeques, holiday dinners, and family reunions are always a little tricky for the creative entrepreneur. Why? Because you have to explain what you do in a way that makes you sound like the successfully self-employed badass you are and not an unemployed starving artist who may or may not be considering going back to grad school for a little bit of legitimacy. But sometimes what we do for a living isn’t just a mystery to our great aunt – sometimes our parents or even our partner-in-crime don’t even really know what it is we do or what our days look like. So how can we explain to distant relatives, acquaintances we network with, or even our nearest and dearest to “get” what we do as creative professionals?
Kathleen here. I’m a creative entrepreneur who runs the show with my sister Tara. Our business model isn’t super traditional and we wear a lot of hats. So even though it’s my job to help other creatives position themselves in a way that makes them super hireable it’s not always easy to offer a concise answer to “what do you do?” for myself. So today I thought I’d offer up a few scripts for how Tara and I explain what we do depending on the context of who’s asking.
TARA and THE BARISTA
Tara goes to the same coffee shop every morning. The baristas know exactly how she likes her coffee but they don’t know what she does for a living.
BARISTA: Bold coffee with room?
TARA: You know it.
BARISTA: [Eyeing Tara’s creative outfit of casual denim shorts paired with a light grey summery blazer.] So … what exactly do you do?
TARA: I’m a writer.
BARISTA: Oh cool! What do you write about?
TARA: Actually I write for other creative entrepreneurs who need help explaining what they do.
BARISTA: Wow, fancy. Here’s your coffee. Have a great day!
So, Tara’s solution is to simply say she’s a writer. If the person asking wants to know more they’ll ask – and Tara will gladly continue to explain what she does in the simplest of terms (without industry jargon or a lot of vague descriptions). Now, this can be the same tactic you use for distant relatives at family get-togethers. The point is – if the person asking isn’t a dream customer they don’t really need to know much more than the broadest description of what you do for a living.
KATHLEEN and THE COOL CREATIVE
I tend to have lots of coffee dates with really cool creative entrepreneurs. Inevitably we run into other creatives who I get introduced to. Now, these people are my dream customer so it’s important to be a little more descriptive about what I do (because I could probably do it for them.)
CREATIVE A: Hey Cool Creative B, meet Kathleen. She owns Braid Creative with her sister, Tara.
CREATIVE B: Oh that’s cool! What do you guys do at Braid Creative?
KATHLEEN: I do a lot of blogging, creative direction, and consulting to help other creative entrepreneurs brand themselves … but what I really love is coaching other creative professionals in a way that helps them align who they are with what they do.
CREATIVE B: Oh wow! You know, I’ve been thinking about blogging – maybe that’s something I can talk to you about?
KATHLEEN: You should totally start blogging – it’s such a great way to create community on a personal level and connect to potential dream customers on a professional level. I’d love to chat with you more about it. Let’s set up a date.
Now, obviously this is an ideal kind of conversation. They don’t always go exactly like this but truly it’s not too far off. As you can see – I get a lot more specific about what I do than Tara did with the barista, for example. Sometimes I’ll change what I say to be more branding-focused rather than coaching-focused just depending on who I’m talking to and how much I perceive they’ll “get” based on the context of our conversation. Either way – both “scripts” leave you open to explain more about what you do based on how much the other person actually cares or needs to know.
Here are some other posts that might help you say what you do:
• Are you burying your own headline?
• Stop apologizing so much when you talk about what you do.
• You gotta sell yourself, but can you stop proving it so hard?
Also, this Friday I’ll be sending out a Letters for Creatives chatting more about how to share what we do with our parents and partners who don’t quite understand what exactly it is we do for a living. Sign up to get our newsletters delivered straight to your inbox here.
If you need help setting routines and imagining your ideal work day try my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of guidance delivered straight to your inbox. You can sign up anytime.
Also, this month’s Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do will help you find authenticity and alignment in the personal and professional. This ECourse is one of our most popular and will be in-session from August 22-31.
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