I recently read an article that said something like 92%* of first graders, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, respond with “famous.” They don’t necessarily care about how they achieve that fame – whether it’s as an actor, the president, a professional athlete … they just want to be famous. (*I have no idea what the actual percentage was but it was alarming.)
So yeah, it’s pretty disturbing that we’re bringing up kids who value fame and recognition over talent, grit, skill, and smarts. But this post isn’t going to address how we solve that problem. This post is about how I’m seeing the exact same desire for recognition happen with aspiring creative entrepreneurs. Here’s how I’m seeing this show up for well-meaning creatives:
“I want to inspire others to create and live an authentic life.”
“I want to inspire people to not give up.”
“I want to inspire and empower women to be brave…”
I get it, because... “me too.” However, inspiring others shouldn’t be the goal in and of itself. Fame, recognition, money (as much as I condone getting paid), and even something as noble as inspiring others shouldn’t be the thing that drives you to do what you do. If it is, you’ll never measure up and you’ll always be chasing a moving target.
So what I propose instead is that you capture, shape, and share whatever it is that you want to do and then be the best at it every single day. When you share who you are and go full force with the things that really light you up – that’s when you’ll inspire others. When you can package up what you do best in a way that people know how to buy – that’s when you’ll make money. And when you make waves in someone else’s life – that’s way more rewarding than whatever your perception of fame may be.
Don’t quite have a handle on what you want to do and be? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s $40 for four weeks of content that will help you dig deep so you can uncover the good stuff and make decisions about what’s next.
Our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do starts next week! It will be in session from August 22-31 and is great for bloggers, creative professionals, and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to feel more aligned both at work and play. See if it’s a good fit and register here.
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Kathleen here. Here at Braid Creative we talk a lot about creative entrepreneurs and freelancers who are paving their own path to live what they love. But get this – a majority of our creative coaching clients have day jobs. Most of them hire us for the confidence and clarity that comes from our coaching and consulting to quit. We regularly get emails from those former clients who share with us that they’ve finally decided to make the leap from day job to do their own thing (!!!!!) – those emails usually include lots of exclamation marks – and we’re always so happy (!!!!!) for them. All of that said, and as supportive as we are, we never actually tell anyone to quit their day job.
In fact, day jobs can be ideal for lots of creatives. While working nine-to-five (and then some) doesn’t give you a lot of time, it can offer the kind of security that allows you to build up a portfolio of dream projects on the side. With a day job you can afford to be picky about the extra stuff you take on. And on that note, when you work for yourself sometimes you get desperate for clients (even not-so-dreamy clients) with cash – and nothing kills creativity like desperation and clients from hell. Day jobs also give you access to teams, resources, and rad customers that you may not have when you work solo. And just because you work a day job doesn’t mean you can’t also rock the entrepreneurial spirit by embracing your own personal brand and razor sharp point-of-view within the walls of an organization that also happens to offer you a steady paycheck.
Late last year I coached a UX (user experience) designer who had big passion for projects much larger than herself, but she was also attached to the idea of working solo (I mean, that’s The Dream, right?). I challenged her assumption that working for yourself is the only path to living what you love and asked her why she wanted to freelance rather than work on a team. After sitting on that question for a while she realized the work she was best at – designing complex user interfaces – didn’t lend itself to working alone. She finally found the confidence, through coaching and additional UX training, to submit her resume and portfolio to a digital advertising startup company. She was hired and recently followed up by sharing this with me: “They are paying me a really great salary (about $30K MORE than my last full time job), full benefits, 401K, and stock options. More than that I feel appreciated, challenged and excited about my career—all feelings that were completely absent from my freelance life.”
It turns out her day job very well may be her dream job! If I was still coaching this client today I would ask her the following questions:
• What does your ideal day look like? How does your day job fit into the picture? Are there any disconnects you could tweak AT your day job to make it even more dreamy?
• In what ways can you cultivate your own personal brand at your day job? In other words, how do you consistently show up for your co-workers? What can they expect from you every time?
• Any passion projects you want to pursue on the side? Perhaps you maintain a personal blog or are obsessed with hand-lettering. Consider how these might inform the work you do at your day job. Or maybe these are creative endeavors you keep just for you.
Now, I realize not every nine-to-five is quite so dreamy. So this week in our Letters for Creatives (our exclusive newsletter sent straight to your inbox) I’m going to be talking about when to quit and sharing my own story about how I decided to make the leap from senior art director at a cool ad agency to being my own boss for the first time ever. If you don’t already receive these free emails then sign up here.
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P.S. If you feel like you need a little creative coaching for loads of confidence and clarity check out our DIY Coaching for Creative email series. It’s just $40 for 4 weeks of content delivered straight to your inbox and you can sign up anytime. Or contact us for more information on how we can work together one-on-one.
P.P.S. Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching is in-session this week but our next ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration and will be in-session July 18 - 27. Learn more and register here.
photo via Unsplash
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As creative entrepreneurs we’re faced with some pretty weighty decision-making to-do’s on a daily basis. In a single day at Braid Creative we’re responsible for making decisions on how we run our business, from the content we’re sharing to the processes we’re implementing. But in that same single day we’re also helping our clients make big decisions around their own brand and business vision, too. The thing is, decision-making is a resource you have to exercise to get good at – otherwise you may find yourself paralyzed and wanting to stay in bed all day.
Kathleen here. I’m really good at making decisions. I’m never paralyzed by options and I’m never afraid I might be headed down the wrong path as a result of a decision I made. It’s a skill I took for granted, or simply overlooked, until I started a business with my sister. When I found that we were having to make decisions that seemed to stress her out (she has a beautiful mind that seems to think in layers that weigh all the possible variables and outcomes at once) I was finding no problem in saying “let’s do this.” And then we’d do it, make some money, and everything was fine. Or we’d do it, it would be a total failure, and we’d move on quickly – either way, everything was still fine. Failure or success, either way, we were moving through all the planning, launching, and growing of a business with speed and grace.
So in this moment, of this single day at Braid, I want to share with you a few ways to exercise and leverage your decision-making power – from the super practical to a bit more conceptual:
EAT AND SLEEP WELL
Eating well and being well-rested is the easiest and most effective way to become a better decision-maker. Since being sleep-deprived (ah, life with a 4 month old) I’m now realizing how key sleep is to making decisions. Get your eight hours in every night and I promise you’ll be better equipped for weighing pros and cons on the fly during the day. You’ll be twice as efficient in half the time if you’re getting good sleep.
And then there is food. Food is fuel not only for your body but for your brain. Since eating a mostly Paleo diet (that means veggies, fish, eggs, and lots of good fats – no sugar, grains, soy, or legumes) I’ve had more sustained energy throughout my day, not to mention some skin that rivals a glittery Twilight vampire during those rare sunny days (guilty pleasure right there). If you’re interested in eating more Paleo I recommend checking out our friends at Whole9 and their NYTimes bestseller It Starts With Food. I also like Michael Pollan's book Food Rules for a more simplified and holistic approach to eating well.
I’m currently reading Ariana Huffington’s Thrive and it’s inspired me to really get serious about my meditation practice. Even just two minutes a day can do wonders for your psyche and decision-making abilities. And meditation doesn’t have to be another task on your to-do list – here are some more ideas on how to incorporate living mindfully into your already busy day.
Some of my best ideas happen when I'm lifting heavy weights at the gym or on a long afternoon walk. Even just now, as I am writing this post, my sister went for a quick walk around the block to clear her head before going into a client meeting where she knows she’s going to have to be on point with recommendations and on-the-fly advice.
It's nothing short of inspiring to read about how other people have forged their path and seeing the successes, failures, and decisions they made along the way. Reading memoirs is a great reminder that we're all human and we all have the same 24 hours in a day to write our own life’s narrative. I prefer reading memoirs over blogs when I find myself getting caught in the comparison trap. Memoirs tend to share the whole picture, with equal weight on the ups and downs, versus the Pinterest-worthy highlight real that the blogosphere is so well known for.
CHECK IN WITH YOUR GUT
Ditch the list of pros and cons, get out of your head, and check in with your gut. Let intuition lead the way from time to time. It's usually never wrong. This week in our Letters for Creatives – an exclusive email straight to your inbox – I'll be sharing a few examples of how and when I've used intuition to make little and big decisions for my work and life. Sign up to get that letter here.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
When you know what you want it's easy to make decisions that will lead you to the end goal. If you're not sure what you want, then get curious. Daydream about the kind of life you want to live. Get specific. Map out your ideal day. If you still need more help pinpointing the kind of life you want to live check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives email series.
In closing I want to share one more secret when it comes to making decisions: any decision is going to move you forward if you take action on it. Ditch the notion of right and wrong and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don't wait for confidence and courage to come knocking on your door first – you only find those guys along the way.
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Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching is the next to be in session! This ECourse helps creative entrepreneurs figure out how to work with / sell to the people they like, the people that pay, and the people they can actually have the most impact for. It will be in-session from June 20 - 29th. Learn more and register here.
Or check out our DIY Coaching for Creatives email series. It’s insight delivered straight to your inbox over the course of 4 weeks.
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