Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


269: Be Yourself (rebroadcast)

Being yourself isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. Learn how to be yourself even when you’re a nervous wreck at TaraSwiger.com/podcast269

In today’s rebroadcast I share the biggest lesson of my biggest gig to date – I taught a three day class at CreativeLive, about creating your best marketing plan. I completely forgot to mention how to GET that class, so here’s the link! Oh, and the lesson I learned: How to be myself.

In today's episode, I'll share how the heck I figured out how to Be Myself, and how it totally changed the way I think about things.

How to Be Yourself (even when you're a nervous wreck.)

  1. Get clear on what you love.
  2. Show up and be present.
  3. Decide connection matters.

How are you being yourself in your business (and life?) How are you hiding yourself?

Links mentioned in today's podcast

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my hiatus!

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.

Creating a path of connection


If you're listening in to your people, and you're fully showing up to connect with them, the next step is to make it easy for them to connect with you. While it's true that having a host of option (blog, email, social media) gives your reader a lot of choices…it also triggers the paradox of choice. With too many equal options, people are more likely to choose nothing than to choose something. Not to mention, having too many equal options makes it hard for you to keep up with it all, which is oten “solved” by putting the same information everywhere, punishing those you follow you in more than one place, killing real connection.

It's your job to create the path.

If you want to connect with readers and buyers, and help them find your work and make the decision to invest it, then you need to make it as easy as possible for them. You do this by suggesting what to do next, at every step. You do this by creating a path for the reader/buyer to follow.

This pathway of connection includes absolutely every way you interact with people who may or may not be your right people – your blog, email newsletter, social media, guest posts, sales pages, and (once they cross over into Right People territory and pay for something), your connection pathway continues through your products, classes, clubs, retreats.

Today we'll talk a bit about creating a pathway of connection for your reader (before they buy, before they decide if they are one of your Right People), and tomorrow we'll talk a bit about creating a path for your buyer.

Every path is different.

I can't tell you what your path should look like. It's going to be based on what works for you and on what your People use and read (I talk about choosing your tools in detail in Chapter 5 of the book.) But as you plot your path for your customers, here's a few things to keep in mind:

  • The first steps on your path are the easiest to do – reading one blog post, replying to one tweet. This is where the person very first becomes aware that you and your work exist. Next steps on the path require more commitment and more information.


  • Honor this commitment your readers are making and the trust their putting in you. Honor it by giving them what they've signed up for. Respect the deeper commitment by matching it – create deeper content, invite them to specials, give them first sneak peek.


  • Keep in mind who you're writing for. A guest post is going to be seen by people who don't know anything about you. A tweet may be read by new followers and old friends. An email to your newsletter list is read by people who have committed to hearing from you regularly, and who probably have already decided they like you and your work. Write for the specific audience.


  • The farther people walk down the path, the closer they are coming to you. Since such a small percentage of people who read your blog or follow you on Twitter actually take the time to reply to you, treasure each response and give it your time and attention. In replying (or starting a conversation) this person is saying: Hey, I want to connect with you more, I want this to be a two-sided relationship. This is the best! These relationships are the bedrock of your business, so do whatever you have to do to make time for them.


  • Make it easy for the reader to move down the path. Once you know the steps on your path, lay them out in order for your readers. Suggest the reader of your guest post visit your blog, tell your twitter followers about your newest post, ask your blog readers to subscribe, create an autoresponder to introduce new subscribers to your work , invite your subscribers to your newest product or service. It's up to you to explain the path to interested readers, so don't wait around for them to find it.(You do know I send special weekly lessons to explorers, right?)
  • At the end of this path is a relationship, an equal exchange. This might be a sale (in which you exchange money for a product) or it might be a collaboration or even a real friendship. As you build your path and invite readers to the next step, remember this! Begin with the end in mind, and ask yourself if you want to say or do what you're doing, if there was a true friend on the other end.


Let's take a breather for a minute and acknowledge something. This is kind of scary. If you feel anxious or shy about talking about your Art, then it might be exceedingly uncomfortable to imagine this path, to imagine that you're going to have more and deeper conversations. I think this is why so many people just  default to  “I listed this” tweets or boring blog posts. It's much easier to be boring and impersonal.

But there's a huge upside – it's much easier to invite real fans into your work. It's much easier to talk to people who want to buy what you sell. And the only way to know they truly want it, is to give your fans a way to connect with it and you. I tell clients to look at their newsletter sign-up as a chance for the fans to speak up and say: I'm here! I want to know more!  It's a service.
And here's more good news – when your future customer is connecting to you in new ways, when you're respecting their commitment and fulfilling it with your best work, you'll see that you are both getting something out of the relationship. They're not just giving you money for your art – they are enjoying the relationship. They are delighting in knowing you.

If you're feeling scrambly about launching your book or writing your newsletter, it's likely that your pathway isn't clear (to you or your people).  Finding time to make your art and connect is often as simple as clarifying your connection path and making it obvious to readers.

May 2014 update: You can now learn how to build your Customer Path!

My biggest lesson of 2012

Connection is Everything.

For the past few days I've been sharing the lessons we all learned in 2012 with the Early Boarding Party. These lessons came from your emails, Starship chats and what creatives have told me they've learned in the last year. (You can find them here: #1, #2, #3)

They all were true for me too, but my biggest lesson is something not a lot of people mentioned. It's kinda simple (maybe I'm the only person on the planet who didn't realize how important it was?), but without it, everything is harder.

My biggest lesson: Connection is everything.

Connection – really feeling like someone else gets you and really listening to them – drives everything in my business. Sales. Readership. Conversations. Conversion.

But most important of all – it drives me.

Whether I recognize it or not, it pushes me towards some situations (we do what we think will bring more connection) and away from things I fear will bring disconnection (shame, embarrassment, failure). Sometimes this is awesome (I sent that scary email and got a response!) and sometimes it's not (I don't want to be rejected so I'm not going to try the big thing.)

Understanding this (and how important it is to my business) is a direct result of reading all three of Brene Brown‘s books this year. They really confirmed what  the Starship has been teaching me: We (humans) need to feel connected. We seek it out everywhere in our lives. The happiest people have connected to their community both when they have something to celebrate, and when they're disappointed.

But it's that second bit that's so hard. When you're disappointed, it's easy for shame to creep in, for you to believe that it's something wrong with YOU. That you are the only one who can't figure this out, or that it's your lack – of personality/skills/cleverness – that is keeping you from moving forward. My favorite (as in, least-favorite) belief: If only I was a little different (a little better) things would be better in my life. I'd be more comfortable. More people would be drawn to what I do. I would change lives with my words.

When we feel that shame (or the fear of it), we withdraw. Brene's research has shown that we withdraw because we're afraid of other people withdrawing with us. We believe that if they knew, they would pull away. If they knew that we shipped that order late, or that we still haven't gotten into a craft show, or that X (a shop, show, publisher) rejected us, they'd know we weren't worth investing in. So we turn away first. We put on a happy face and hide the things to protect ourselves…all the while drifting further away from the real us, the us that makes our thing special and sparkly.

That's the human component of it, the thing that ALL humans are afraid of that…but then, for us, you have to add in that extra-scary layer: we're in business. We need our buyers to believe in us, at least enough to buy what we sell. We have to look like we have it together enough to deliver what they ordered.

So we hide the vulnerability, the scariness, the I'm-not-doing-this-right fears, because it's inappropriate to share with our community of customers. And the people in our day to day life maybe don't understand. They're not pouring their heart and soul into a product, and then fearing that it'll be rejected.*

*Even if they can't really understand, it's still so important to fill our loved ones in. They can support you more than you think, if you open up and take the time to explain why you're so upset you didn't meet your sales goals. 

Caturday means napping in the middle of the action.You have to show your furry belly to connect. 

What we need is a place where it is appropriate and safe to talk about all this, and where the people we connect with understand. Where it's ok to share that self-doubt. Where it is ok to be honest about your sales numbers, where you know it won't affect your “reputation”. We need a place to talk about the hard stuff because talking about it how is we move through it.
Hiding the doubt, the scary bits and the difficulty keeps you swimming in it. It keeps you in the swirl of your own head, and it confirms your first fears: if people knew this about you, they would feel differently towards you, because you keep creating this persona that has it figured out.

But telling someone and having them respond with compassion confirms that you're not alone. That changes things. You can stop (at least for a moment) the swirl of your own fears, and start to see the hope of what could be. You realize that other (super successful) business ladies have the same fears and made the same mistakes, and they came through it.

When you're not busy hiding, you can get busy building. When you have examples of risk-taking, you get a little confidence to try new things. When someone says “Here's how I talk to shops“, you feel comfortable doing it yourself.


That's what we're all after, right? Building our dreams into something awesome, while feeling awesome about it. Doing what we love, while not feeling like a total outcast freak. Sharing our thing with the world, without the paralyzing fear of being rejected.

I've found  that kind of connection (and have created it for others) inside the Starship.

Where do you find connection?

Do you need more of it in your new year?

The Adventures

Each week is an adventure. And each week I take a minute to acknowledge it, right here.

Let's try something new this week, inspired by Ali.

This week, I am…

Trucks of pumpkins = my new favorite thing.

Delighting over pumpkin trucks.

Still thinking about last night's dinner: roasted tomatoes & garlic, blended up into pasta sauce. Simple+perfect.
Roasting tomatoes and garlic for the easiest pasta sauce (blend up with a bit of salt and fresh basil.)

3 hours in & nearly all my list is marked off! #reasonstotakeeveryFridayoff

Marking things off my list.

Just realized I have a date with my favorite new mama tomorrow...and I didn't have any baked goods. Pumpkinish Spice Cupcakes to the rescue.

Perfecting a Pumpkin Spice cupcake.

On either side of me. Time for bed?

Snuggling Andre + Beau.

After a year of near-veganism, I think I finally figured it out. (the secret: buy way more veggies than you think, or else you'll order a pizza on Wed night)

Reveling in the farmer's market bounty.

My first cup from new pour over (also, first cup made at home in years)

Sipping coffee from my new  pour-over coffeemaker. Pumpkin Spice Lattes at home? Yes!

Anticipating Gone Girl (it finally came in at the library, I'm waiting for the weekend)

Sending this to everyone. ( #14 is our mantra.)

Winding endless skeins (625 yards each!) of hemp laceweight for a wholesale order (in Norway!)

Collecting success stories from Starship Captains. It is amazing what people have done in even 3 months inside. It's really making my week, every week.

Connecting in new and interesting ways. From videos with Kim to planning with Cairene to editing with Diane. It feels good to get out of my own head + notebook and see the world with someone else.

Exploring a new way of working. As I let go of old projects, I get to explore how I want it to be, with how I want to feel, and what I want to create. Every project, old and new, is up for renewal. It's both terrifying and thrilling.




What adventures did you have this week?

Share them here: comments.