I can't believe that we have been hanging out for 100 episodes (I can't believe I stuck with it! I can't believe YOU stuck with me!). To celebrate, I did something all new – a call-in show! I invited you, in episode 98, to call me with your questions. And you did – yay!
And boy, your questions were awesome! The first question got me so fired up that I created a totally new worksheet for you, to help you figure out your own best email opt-in! Click here to get it in your inbox!
Today I'm delighted to be talking to retreat organizer and knitwear designer Varian Brandon. She shares how she got started designing, what a normal workday is like, and how she deals with the Comparison Trap. Varian's a member of the Starship (which is open now!) and we discuss how it's shaped how she thinks about her business. If you loved this episode, hang out with Varian on Periscope!
How do you actually DO what you want to do in your business?
Do you need to understand WHY you're doing it?
Do you need to be held accountable?
Or do you rebel against anyone telling you to do anything (even when you really want to do it)?
This question fascinates me, because it's at the heart of why some people build their business quickly and others struggle along without ever taking much action.
When I talk to makers and artists who are frustrated that their business hasn't grown, it's very rare that they have NO idea what they should do. Instead, it's that they aren't taking the actions they feel they need to take, they aren't doing what they want to do.
The best explanation I've ever found for WHY some people struggle to get stuff done, is in Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before(it's all about habit change, and working on your business really is about habits). She defines the Four Tendencies, as a reason for why some people get stuff done (or change their habits, or work on their biz) and others don't.
I've talked about this more on the podcast (listen in here), but this comes up so often, I wanted to revisit it.
According to Gretchen (and backed up by my own experience working with hundreds of makers and artists), we react to expectations (ie, people telling us to do something), in one of four ways. The way you react to expectations tends to be consistent across your life.
These people do everything that's expected of them, easily. They both meet external expectations (other people telling you what you should do) and internal expectations (things YOU want to do). I have met very few Upholders, and I think it's because they don't seek out biz support – once they know what to do, they just do it.
These people (uh, myself included) don't care to meet external expectations unless they understand WHY. But they have an easy time meeting internal expectations… if those expectations are built on understanding the rationale behind them. In other words, we questioners can do anything if we can turn it from external expectation (you telling me to do something) into an internal expectation (I understand why, and now WANT to do it, because it makes logical sense to me).
These people need to know WHY they are doing anything in their business (“because experts say so” isn't enough). Because I'm a Questioner, I create all of my classes and books for Questioners – I don't tell you what to do, I tell you why something will benefit your biz, then I give you a bunch of questions related to your business, so you can see how to do it in your OWN way. This is why I've built the Starship experience to start with you getting clear on your goals and your path – so that you decide what you want to learn and what you want to do next, and feel motivated to do the work because you can see how it fits into the bigger picture.(According my unscientific study, about 1/3 of the Starship members are Questioners)
These people (maybe you?) have a pretty easy time fulfilling external expectations (if someone asks you to do something, you will), but have a tough time fulfilling internal expectations (say, working on your business, just because you want to). In fact you may fill your days doing things others care about more. So you feel frustrated that you never seem to make the time to work on what matters to YOU. Ugh, this is frustrating.
The solution? Get someone to ask you about what you really care about.
In other words, externalize those internal expectations.
You can do this with a group (like the Starship), where you tell us your goal and then check in as you work through it (this is why we have the weekly live check-in and forums) or with a single person (an accountability partner). After learning that about 2/3 of the Starship members were Obligers, I upped our accountability-providing, by creating the Accountability Partner Program – you just fill out a short form, and I match you with a partner. The two of you work together to decide when to check-in and then you simply tell the person: This is what I'm working on, I'm going to be done with it by X date. That, alone, can suddenly make you feel like you “owe” someone and so you work harder on your business!
These people tend to feel constrained by any kind of expectation. They tell me (we have a handful in the Starship) that “As soon as I write something down, like a goal or to do list, I suddenly do NOT want to do it.” In fact, creating a schedule or a must-do list is going to ensure that a Rebel never does anything.
The solution? I'll be honest, I have been thinking about this for over a year and quizzing any rebels I meet. Gretchen doesn't offer any solution in her book, and I had a hard time coming up with one. Joeli is a self-described Rebel who has made MASSIVE momentum in the last year of her Starship membership (you can get her full story if you sign up here) and she says what works best is making a big list and then picking, each day, what feels fun (instead of telling yourself you HAVE to do something that day), and setting goals that are more about paying attention and learning, than about measuring. (For example, set a goal of “noticing what already works in my business.”) In other words, for Rebels, taking the pressure OFF is often a good motivator for working harder (but if you already feel bad about how little you get done, this might feel REALLY scary). This is why we focus, in the Starship, on finding what works for YOU and giving yourself permission to not do what other people tell you “have” to do.
I hope you see that the answer lies not in forcing yourself to work in ONE way, but in finding what works best for you. No one of the above is better than the others (although I think we all secretly wish we could be Upholders!) – the key to productivity is acknowledging your tendency and then setting up your work day and expectations in a way that works for you.
If you think that more accountability, question-answering and a community of encouragers would help you in your business, check out the Starship – it's open now! The Starship opens only a few times a year and will close again on 3/25, so head here now to learn more about it!
The Starship is called the Starship because it a space full of people who are interested in being the Captain of their own ship. But what does that mean?
To be the Captain of your business and life:
Set a course
Choose the tools
Sail your own ship
We discuss exactly how to do that in this episode!
Got a question you want to ask me about my business, podcast, life, or do you want to get my answers to your business questions? Call and ask me! Your question may make it into episode 100! Just call (567) 393-8272 THIS week!
A few weeks ago, when I taught at Midwest Craft Con, I spent the day in handmade clothes and accessories. From the beautiful dress Karen + Kelly, of Gentle Clothing made me, to the viola-wood necklace given to me by the Hang Ups in KC. As you might guess, I felt absolutely amazing all day. Beautiful. Loved.
And that's WHY we make, isn't it? Of course we make stuff because it feels good, but that expands when we give it away, when we sell it, when we allow someone else express themselves through our art.
We make more dresses, necklaces, yarn, patterns, paintings, sculptures that we will ever need. We, as artists and makers in business, make more because we want our work to go OUT to be in the world, to adorn someone's body or walls and to become someone else's expression, someone else's joy. We want to know our work is bringing color into more lives.
The necklace, the dress, the art in my house – it has become a part of my life, a part of what I'm doing in the world.
So when you feel shy about marketing (ie, telling other people about the awesomeness of your work), remember this. Remember that it's not about selling YOUR thing, it's about giving your buyers the opportunity to be part of what you're doing, to take what you're doing and make it part of THEIR lives.
Not every maker and artist chooses to sell their work (or make more than they want for their own home). But you do. You want to not just make your art, but share it with others. You want someone to take your work and build their own meaning, their own message with it.
In order to do this, you need to continue to work on your business, to grow your own skills, to refine your message, and to do the work of building the business you want.
If you'd like support, encouragement and accountability during this journey, The Starship may be the community you need. It only opens once a quarter and it's opening again TODAY. If you're not sure if it's for you, or you'd like to ask questions about it (or just chat with me more), you are cordially invited to a Q+A today, March 15th.
Sign up here to learn more, get access to the Q+A (and the recording!) and meet a few of the Captains who already aboard.
Today I'm thrilled to be talking to singer, Intentional Living Guide for creatives and Starship Captain Lynn Hershberger. Please note that the Starship isn't open now..but it will be in just a few days! Sign up here to learn more!
How she combines multiple creative income streams
How she manages to work on all the different areas of her business
Makers have a LOT of supplies – how to deal with the clutter
4 Tendencies: are you an obliger (like Lynn) or a questioner (like me?)
The Starship (which includes the Accountability Partner Program Lynn loves)
I 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.
What I read
The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz – Recommended a LOT on several podcasts. I enjoyed bits of it, but it's very 70s-self-help-business-y. That said, if you're not turned off by that style book, I loved it.
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell – With all my travel, teaching and house-unpacking in February, I ended up mostly reading novels this month. My brain needed a break from all the strategic thinking it was doing. I particularly adore Rainbow Rowell and I loved both of hers that I read this month.
At Midwest Craft Con, I was delighted to meet Esther Hall, owner of Yarn It and Dash in Columbus. After about 5 minutes of talking to her, I blurted, “Oh my goodness, my listeners would loooove to meet you! Can I interview you for my podcast?”
After teaching all day, we snuck into the “trade show” space, set up my phone, turned on Periscope, and started recording.
What it was like to be on TLC's Craft Wars (with Tori Spelling! Ahh!)
How she researched and put together a business plan for her yarn shop (there is so much to learn here!)
But speaking with that purpose, sharing with that with that purpose, can make us feel awkward and stilted. So we either skip it all together (and no one knows we sell anything! And no one buys it!) or we get weird and sound like a robot.
This week on the podcast, we dove deep into how to fix this, how to sound (and feel!) like a real person online. It's not easy. I know. It's easy to feel like you have to be formal, or fancy (“professional”), or that you're NOT being genuine if you're also trying to sell something.
But I've overcome this struggle myself and worked with hundreds of makers and artists as they've overcome it. It just takes practice (lots of practice) and intention (paying attention to what you're doing and why).
If this is something you struggle with, you can listen in to the full episode (and learn the 4 steps to sounding more like a person) or you can watch my live recording here. You can also find it on iTunes, Stitcher, or just search for “Explore Your Enthusiasm” in whatever app you use for podcasts!
How about you? Do you struggle to sound like yourself online? Or do you feel good about it?