Kathleen here. You already know that Tara and I are creatives who work for ourselves doing branding, consulting, coaching, writing & design, and podcasting. But you may not know that our brother, Donny, works for himself too. He’s a performer who specializes in sideshow—he hammers nails into his head, breathes fire, and swallows swords…for a living. He’s a classic creative where he loves doing the work, but he hates the business side of things. Marketing, planning, counting money—it’s just not his thing.
So this last week we were all on a family vacation together in Seaside, Florida and my brother had a potential gig offer performing at a popular festival that he had 24 hours to decide on. The biggest problem was…they weren’t offering enough money. And when you are a sideshow performer for a living you typically take what you can get. Work is work, right?
I’ve become quite the business woman since starting Braid and negotiating sponsor contracts over on my podcast at Being Boss. So I consulted with my brother and asked “Why don’t you just ask for more money?” He didn’t want to be greedy or inconvenient or piss off a great contact by asking for more money to do what he loves for a living. You don’t have to be swallowing swords to relate. I think we’ve all felt this way at one time or another.
So here are a few questions to ask when it comes to negotiating what you’re worth – and these are literally questions I asked my brother on our family vacation:
These questions started a deeper conversation. A conversation that didn’t end between me and my brother but extended to him and his potential employer. He followed up by thanking the contact for thinking of him, stating how much he typically likes to make per gig, expressed how much he would like to work at this festival, and then asked if there was any wiggle room in the budget. I think my brother’s biggest fear is the guy would come back and say, “FORGET IT.” But what he got in return was, “I know you are worth so much more and I’m so sorry I couldn’t offer more. I can give you $XXX more per day, but that really brings me to the limit of what I’ve budgeted.”
The increased fee was just enough to take my brother’s decision from an “I don’t think so…” to a “yes.” It’s not quite what he’d like to be making but here’s what he’s getting in return: now the contact knows that my brother is almost doing him a favor (vs. the other way around), knows what he’s worth for future gigs, and will treat my brother like the professional he is moving forward. Because professionals negotiate their worth. And hopefully now my brother knows he can always ask for more money without pissing someone off.
Photo of Donny via Shannon Brooke Imagery
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Tara here. Ever since I started working for myself, I’ve gone back and forth on whether I want an office to go to everyday, or if I just need to stick with the good thing I have going on—working from home. But after five years of dreaming and talking about it, I finally found the happiest mix of both—and built my own backyard office that I call “the writing shed.”
The writing shed. “Going out to the shed,” means walking down a stone path that curves through my lawn to a ten-by-twelve foot little cottage built in the back of my garden. It has lots of windows that open to the breeze, with a desk, a small sitting area, and a sleeping loft above with a skylight that looks up into the trees.
The shed is where I write, creative direct and develop brands for entrepreneurs and businesses. It’s small, this little place I sometimes call The Shire (like my own Hobbit hole made just for me), but it feels big. It feels like a dream.
It took a little time for me to just “do it.” I had to save the money, and then make the mental commitment to start the building process with uncertainties still circling my head like: “Will I actually use my writing shed? Will it be practical or just become a novelty? Will the wifi work out here? Will I slowly start migrating back into the house to work? Will the shed turn into a neglected dusty catchall, like a long unused playhouse with spiders living in the floorboards and wasps living in the rafters?!”
But the vision outweighed the doubts and I hired a contractor/carpenter who took about two months from start to finish. I’ve been working in the shed every day since. No more nomadic room-to-room working for me. Shed working is exactly what I imagined it would be.
"No more nomadic room-to-room working for me. Shed working is exactly what I imagined it would be.”
It’s not a "she-shed," it’s my office. Just with personality and a little fantasy. I’m not out here having a tea party for one on a flowery chaise lounge. Though a lunchtime episode of Girls and a late afternoon glass of wine are a regular part of my shedworking life (so maybe the she-shed label applies part of the time!), but more than anything my office retreat is where I’ve gotten more calm, focus, and work done than I ever have before.
“My writing shed is where I’ve gotten more calm, focus & work done than I ever have before.”
When I was a teenager, my room was sacred. When I was in it, I was in my zone: reading, drawing, and creating elaborate extra credit homework projects, all while watching old reruns of my favorite eighties shows on my tiny TV, and occasionally shouting at my younger siblings in the hallway to get away from my locked door. Sometimes on rare occasions, I’d let them in.
Now that I have my own space again, it’s the same. But when I do let my two boys in the shed, they somehow seem quieter, more calm up in the loft reading, drawing, or more likely playing on the iPad, until they wander back out. They only wanted in for a little bit. Now I can let them in.---
It’s the personality plus the practicalities of the shed that have made it the center of my daily routine. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a shed of your own, too. Here’s what has made shed working a working dream for me:
– One perfect place for my laptop to live. No more moving my stuff all the time. Sure I can hop over to a coffee shop if I want a change of pace, but I love, love, love having a designated spot for my computer, plus a second monitor so I can “spread” out my work on both screens.
– Less stuff. I just need one small shelf for mail, paperwork, and miscellaneous, I don’t need drawers and files full of paper in here. But I do love a place for hanging some of my more whimsical art and giving our "magical" client-attracting Braid chalkboard a worthy sport right by the door.
– Lots of windows. I think my carpenter thought I may be crazy putting such large windows in such a small shed. The last thing I wanted was to feel cooped up. My desk sits wrapped in windows so I feel like I’m working outside, and all the natural light is great for video meetings.
– Shade and a place for stuff to grow! Light is great, but it can get hot, so we shaded the front of the shed with a light-filtering arbor which is also great for vines, which I’m trying to coax to grow as quickly as possible, to get the whole Secret Garden vibe going on.
– Other details I’m glad I added to the shed:
- two skylights, just enough to see the trees above, my sister’s idea
- a sleeping loft, I think its white ladder may be my favorite feature
- a garden gnome to guard the door, he was a shed-warming gift for Mother’s Day
- a lucky horseshoe! also gold, above the door for good luck
- my Apple TV! I may love me a garden but I still need my shows!
- you can check out My Writing Shed board on Pinterest for your own shed inspiration
Some people ask if I’m going to writing a book back in the shed. Nope! Not yet, but never say never! What I am writing is visioning, positioning and more articulate brand messages paired with design for our Braid Creative clients. If you’re wondering about working with Braid 1:1 just contact us here and tell me your vision for where you’d like to take your brand next.
While you’re thinking about if we might be a fit for you, you can learn about our Braid ECourse, or how Being Boss in work and life is where it’s at, from my sister and Braid co-founder Kathleen across the street. Yep, she’s literally across the street, because we live on the same beautiful little block. But now I always unlock the door for her. Most of the time. – T.
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One of the cool things about being a life coach is that you do a lot of self-coaching. Even the most experienced life coaches have self-limiting beliefs and get stuck too. And coaching—on yourself and others—is all about finding a negative thought and looking at it from a new perspective. But if any of you have ever been stuck in a funk or just have a serious case of ’bout-to-start-your-period, you probably know that this can be a hard thing to do.
So how do life coaches get underneath a negative thought? By asking lots and lots of questions. This can feel intrusive at first but it’s all about curiosity and gathering information—and loosening the grip around self-limiting belief that feels oh-so very real.
My very favorite question that I’ve learned from Martha Beck herself to use in coaching sessions (and that I use all. the. time. on myself) is this:
Why is that so bad?
Asking “Why is that so bad?” accomplishes a couple things:
1. It takes you deeper into the negative thought, which often uncovers the root of the real problem… OR
2. It makes you realize that what you thought was a problem is not in fact a problem at all.
Here it is boiled down in super-simplified example (but sometimes it really is this simple):
Client: “I’m afraid I’m staying at my job because it’s comfortable.”
Me: “Why is that so bad?”
Client: “What do you mean?” This question often throws the client for a bit of a loop.
Me: “Why is it so bad to be comfortable at your job?”
Client: “Wow. Yeah… it isn’t so bad to be comfortable.” And that’s where the shift in perspective begins to happen.
But that same conversation could’ve easily gone in a different direction:
Client: “I’m afraid I’m staying at my job because it’s comfortable.”
Me: “Why is that so bad?”
Client: “I suppose it’s not bad that it’s comfortable. But it’s bad because I’m not able to grow or develop my skill sets. I don’t have any mentors in my work place. I’m not being pushed to become the kind of designer I want to be.” So here we’ve uncovered that the problem isn’t comfort—the problem is the inability to grow. Now the client has a little more clarity around the real issue.
I use “why is that so bad?” when I feel pressure to say yes but really want to say no. If you’re a people pleaser, you probably obligate yourself to too many things you don’t want to do or feel bad about saying no. For me this includes lots of things—from deciding whether or not to go out on a Friday night to being invited to speak at a conference in New York to being asked to do free work for friends or family. It might also include being lazy about doing blog posts every week or not being as involved on social media as I’d like to be. When I ask myself “why is that so bad (to decline)?” it helps me see the reality of the situation, honor my own needs, and feel a lot less apologetic and “bad” about saying no.
As you move through your day, take notice of your internal dialogue—especially when it comes to making decisions or judgments. Then ask yourself “Why is that so bad?” Create some new thoughts. Expand your mind. See what happens.
If you like this post you might like our DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love—in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.
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