Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: October 2015

Defeat Self Doubt


Are you NOT working on your business because of self doubt? Do you lack the confidence to take the steps you know you need to take? If so, you are not alone.

“Every time I go to do something, I am stopped by self-doubt.”

“I’m not sure I’m good enough.”

“I’m not big enough for that yet.”

“Oh, they probably won’t accept me, or buy from me, or want my thing.”

I hear this all the time from the makers I work with. This is self-doubt.
And this is a HUGE problem for your business.

In today's episode, I share 6 ways to defeat self-doubt in your business and your life.



How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Why I Love Conferences



I'll let you in on a little secret.

I love the internet. I LOVE that I can help makers + artists in China, Europe and North America, all from my coffee shop in the mountains of East Tennessee.

As an introvert, I love that I can be talking to and serving thousands with my weekly emails, without worrying about what my hair looks like.

But, as much as I love talking to you each week, there is nothing comparable to live, person to person, interaction.

(This is why I built a live weekly chat into the Starship, even though all of my biz-friends think it's unsustainable and unscalable and frankly, a little nuts. (I remind them that I've been showing up to 50 chats/year for over 4 years, so it IS sustainable!) The LIVE interaction, even if we can't be face to face, provides a kind of encouragement and accountability that time-shifted communication (like this blog post) can't.

But even a live chat, or Periscope, lacks the connection that comes from looking in someone's eyes and knowing they see you, too.

This is why I love doing in-person events, like last weekend's conference. Even if I had learned nothing from the classes themselves, I learn so much from every conversation with another maker and small business owner. I learn what works for them, what their goals are, what hasn't worked. That informs my own work, and inspires me to be bolder and braver.

The science on confidence demonstrates that we are more likely to believe something is likely for ourselves (and thus, pursue it) when we see real-life examples (ie, “models”). There is nothing as encouraging as actually meeting other women who are doing it – who are building sustainable, profitable craft businesses. This isn't just “fun” – it's vital for your own confidence, which is vital for your own accomplishment.

I promise: Meet a creative business owner in person – it will build confidence and inspire you!

Yes, going to things in person takes time. It costs money. It takes extra time to figure out how to keep your house running while you're gone.

But you don't have to go across the country. You don't have to go to a weekend-long conference. You could take a 2 hour workshop, or go to a meet-up. You could meet another small business owner for coffee. You could invite me to teach in your town, and we'll bring 5-10 local makers together for a class!

(One of the unexpected bonuses of the Starship – meet-ups around the world with other members! This month alone 2 captains met in Germany, I had dinner with 3 Captains in Seattle, and another 2 had coffee in Michigan.)

So how about you? Do you ever meet up with other craft business owners?

If not, how can you start?

Who have you been thinking about reaching out to, but hesitating?

If you're not sure how to say hello,
share this post on Facebook and tag them
 and say “Hi! I'd like to have coffee with you!” I promise you, they want to meet other makers, too!


Grace Dobush on making the most of craft conferences


My guest today is freelance journalist and organizer of the Crafty Supermarket and Midwest Craft Con, a conference for crafty businesses, Grace Dobush.

We talk about: 
Grace's favorite part of organizing a craft show
How to talk to strangers at conferences (without feeling weird)
What she's enthusiastic about right now (and the similarity between geeky sub-cultures)



How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

It’s OK to be an introvert in business


The most popular blog posts on my blog are all about the same thing: How to navigate your creative business as an introvert. So I'm betting that you, dear reader, are an introvert.

As I've just undertaken a weekend of maximum-human-contact (a long flight, followed by a conference full of people I'm excited to talk to, followed by catching up with college friends), I'm thinking a lot about how to survive it all as an introvert.

You might be like me, an introvert who’s friendly and chatty (and if we know each other well, VERY talkative).

Or you might be an introvert who’s shy and quiet.

Or somewhere in the middle.

As an introvert, you get filled up and energized by being alone. By being quiet (maybe reading, crafting, pinterest-ing).

Being with people can wear you out and make you feel overstimulated or frazzled.
(By contrast, extroverts get energized by being with people.)

It might feel like, as an introvert, that all the small business advice is for extroverts: Go meet people! Network! Do craft shows! BE WITH PEOPLE! TALK TO PEOPLE! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU IN BED WITH YOUR CAT?!

But I'm here to tell you, you can be an introvert and thrive in business. 

As you might know, I'm extremely enthusiastic about making your business work for you, and this introversion thing is just another opportunity to make your business fit YOU, instead of pushing yourself to fit some outside standard of acceptability.

To help you in this journey, here's a collection of suggestions I've made to introverts over the years:

I hope this helps you believe it’s OK to be an introvert and that it guides you to building a business that fits with your personality (no matter what it is!). If you’ve got an introvert friend who needs encouragement, please share it with them using the social media buttons below.


The Introvert’s Survival Guide for Conferences


I'm about to fly across the country and teach at School House Craft, a two-day business conference for makers. I'm so excited, but this hasn't always been the case.

I used to get SO NERVOUS before something like this. I would worry that my introversion was going to sideline me. I was worried that I was going to have to sit out a huge part of the fun, or I'd miss out on all the good stuff, because I would need my alone time.

I'm not any less introverted than I was a couple of months ago, but I'm hardly worried about introversion this time, because I've learned how to handle conferences, and I've learned that I CAN handle conferences, without getting totally fried from over-stimulation. In today's episode, I'm going to share what I've learned about surviving and enjoying conferences as an introvert. 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.


Play Your Own Game


Last week I was talking to Jay about the other comic book shop in town. He was said, “They are really good at X. Maybe my shop should get better at X.”

And I said, “But is that the game you want to play? Do you want to get good at selling X, or do something completely different? When you talk about what you love about the shop, you talk about making it inclusive, having the friendliest customer service, making it a place to spend time and feel like you belong no matter who you are. That's just a totally different game than what the other shop is doing.”

“Oh, you're right.”

(I love hearing that.)


I hear this from the makers I work with, all the time.

“She started classes and made a lot of money.”

Do you want to teach?

“Uh, no. “


“He said Periscope has done wonders for his business.”

Do you like to be on video?

“Uh, no.”


You see, when you look at what other people are doing and compete on their grounds, you're playing their game.

And you're always going to lose someone else's game, because THEY set the rules. They are currently holding the world record for that game. (Or else you wouldn't be checking it out, right?)


Instead, play your OWN game.

Make your own rules of what success is.

Play the game you care about.

Get as awesome as possible at what YOU love, not at what other people have success with.


This is one of the keys to standing out in your industry – do something that you most care about, in the way you really want to, no matter what is bringing other people success.

I shared a bit of this on Periscope the other day, and a viewer said, “But people might not like you, if you do your own thing.”

I want to challenge that.

For starters, your people, the people you're serving and providing awesomeness for, they are LONGING for what you alone can offer. If you give them something no one else is doing, they are going to LOVE you. Adore you. Buy everything you make.

When you step up to being the best at your OWN game, there are going to be customers who love it.

Will everyone love it? Nope! But “everyone” doesn't love what you're doing now! “Everyone” will never all love the same thing. (See: Coke vs Pepsi.)


Your industry, your “competitors”, the people in your life who don't get it … they might not like it. They might not get it. They might think it's super strange, fringe, or inexplicable.

But that doesn't mean they don't like YOU.


Beyond that, it doesn't matter. Your business is not counting on everyone approving of it. It IS relying on some people to be so passionately enthusiastic about it that they can't wait to buy.

And that's only going to happen when you start offering something YOU are enthusiastic about, that shines out something only you could do.


So please, don't be troubled by anyone else. Play your own game.


What is your own game?

I don't know! But here are some places to ask to yourself: Am I doing this because everyone else is? or because this is what I want to be great at?

Products you offer

  • How you offer it (subscriptions, one-offs, exclusives)
  • How you launch it
  • How you describe it
  • How you photograph it
  • Where it's sold
  • How much it costs
  • Who you serve


What do you think? What's the game you are playing?

P.S. The game I'm playing: providing you with enthusiasm and encouragement to become  the best business expert in your own business. If you know someone who needs to hear this, share it with them.


Interview with Jill Wolcott, designer and teacher


Jill Wolcott is a knitter designer at Jill Wolcott Knits, a knitting instructor (she recently taught on Craftsy) and a teacher at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, CA.

We discuss:

  • A love of math
  • How her work as a designer affects her knitting design
  • Doing what you want vs. what people will buy
  • The lessons learned in a “failed” project

Jill mentions that she's a member of the Starship. You can sign up (for free!) to learn more here.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

What I’m Reading: October 2015


follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list in the comments and find all the posts here.


Because I'm thinking so much about my own next book, I find myself avoiding other business-y non-fiction, and instead reading more fiction and books in a totally different genre than what I normally pick.

What I read

  • Creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull – So GOOD. Aimed at business owners who want to create a culture of creativity and innovation, the insights into how Pixar was built and runs are totally fascinating, even if you're not managing thousands of artists.
  • Essentialism, by Greg McKeon – Eh. I strongly agree with the message of this book, and I think I live by it (as explained here!)…but after a while it felt a bit long and all of his examples are exceedingly impractical for the average person (I.e., taking time off work to heal from a disease).
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante – Ignore the cover. This book is much darker than it looks. It had been recommended by just about every podcast I listen to, so I decided to try it. The author does a great job of exploring the kind of love/obsession/jealousy relationship between girls in childhood. I'm not so in love that I'm diving into the second one, though.
  • The Secret Place, by Tana French – I'm kinda crushed that I've now read all the books in this murder mystery series. I would LOVE a recommendation of something similarly well-written.
  • Y: The Last Man, by Brian K Vaughn – Super fascinating graphic novel about the, well, last man. After an unknown event wipes all men from the planet except for this one, ordinary 20 year old dude….he has adventures as the only survivors (women!) have to figure out how to run the world. This one's not for kids (in case the premise didn't inform you!), and is well-written and gripping.


What I’m reading


What I read last October

What are you reading?




The usual disclaimery disclaimer applies!