Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

explore you

A sneak peek at Explore You: You have permission

What kind of flower is this? A droopy bush with long boughs. #foundwhilerunning

For the last two weeks I've been answering your questions about the new class one by one, but today I want to share those answers and tell you a little more about how it came to be. If you have a question about the class, please ask in the comments, or send me a note.

First, I want to say: I love this class so much. It is so different from anything else I've done, but it's the kind of work I've been wanting to do all along. This is the very foundation of what we talk about here. Exploring is the heart of how you build a sustainable business, share your work with the world, and connect with customers in meaningful, profitable ways. And the heart of exploring is something I find missing in our online world – the reassurance that you don't have to get it “right” the first time. You don't have to know what you're doing to start doing something. You don't have to be the best, biggest, brightest star in your field. You can build something that reflects who you are, in every aspect (product, people, communication, all of it!)


Now, in order to actually facilitate your personal exploration, I had to do my own experimenting about what works. 
Students tell me that their favorite part of a class or book is the worksheets, where you apply what you've learned to your own business.  The best thing about a class or session is the time you invest in looking closely and being open to new ways. It's never the individual lessons, it's always the thinking and experimenting that results. I don't hold the magic answers, but you do. And you only find them by spending organized time looking and thinking about them…which is hard to get in your day to day business life. A class gives you the kind of structure you need to prioritize fixing something.

In Explore You, I'm taking all that to its logical conclusion. Instead of teaching lessons on how to do something specific, I'm guiding you to find your own answers, within your own experiences, for any situation. I'm sharing tools, for you to use in your life. I've built a space for you to take the time and apply your thoughtfulness to the area of your business that needs it most. And I've filled the space with other clever, helpful explorers.

In order to create that kind of environment, I've transformed the way I lead the course. We have a totally new class space and many many more lessons than every before. Pay Yourself had 6 lessons over one week. How to Talk about Your Work had three lessons over three days. Explore you has 15 lessons over three weeks + 6 lessons in the welcome week, that are available as soon as you join.  But, because this about leading you into an exploration (and not teaching you facts) – each lesson is different. There are videos, worksheets, discussion questions, and creative assignments (no special equipment needed). You won't just read or watch, you'll also write and think and do. You'll capture photographs or sketch or collage.

Because this course is a completely different kind of experience, I've had a few people ask for an example of what it's like. So I'm going to share a video from the “welcome” week  of materials. This is one of the extra lessons, about one of the first Exploration Tools you're going to need for this journey:

(included with every video is a copy of my notes, so if you don't want to watch the videos, you can read it all!)


Explore You starts on Monday.

I'm deliriously enthusiastic and can't wait! Monday's the very last day you can join us, so invite you to read more about and sign up here.


The surprising connection between happiness + exploration

Happy to be back to my morning runs, even in drippy weather. (Also, #plankaday is up to :46) #zombierun


“Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people, are, simply put, curious.

Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration—often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser.”

What Happy People Do Differently, Psychology Today


I knew it! Science backs me up!

I developed Explore You (and the Exploration Party), because, after 4 years of self-employment and 7 years of biz-building, I have learned that my business (and well-being) thrives when I approach my business, my people, and my mission with curiosity. The more I explore, the faster I grow.

But, as this article points out – exploration is often uncomfortably vulnerable. It doesn't feel easy and carefree. It's awkward to try something new. There's an uncomfortable tension in Not Knowing. And when you add that to the vulnerability of putting something you care deeply about out there…well, it can all be a bit much.

How can this much discomfort be a good thing?

When you let go of thinking your business has to be One Way, you let go of the dream that someone else The One Answer. You know, the answer to life, the universe and everything. The answer that will tell you exactly what you should do next…to have a six figure business, and hundreds of thousands of subscribers and {fill in dream scenario here}.

When you get rid of that dream of someone else having the answer….you realize you have the power to find the answer.

You turn to what you've already learned about your business, your people and your products. You make decisions that will actually work for your business. You start to provide your people with what they really need and want. You start to create the work that only you can create.

Your business (and happiness) grows, because it's not mimicking someone else. It flourishes in totally new ways. It shines with it's own sparkle. It stands out in the crowded marketplace. You can stop competing and start collaborating with your fellow makers.

You become the expert in your business.
And that's pretty darn happy-inducing. Not just a momentary hit of social-media-approval-yay, but a long-lasting confidence that even if things aren't working out right now, you will figure it out. You have the skills, the knowledge and the curiosity to find the answer.
Now, this doesn't happen all at once, it's a process of continual exploration, experimenting and learning lessons from some failures (and successes!). But it is sustainable. You can keep exploring your work, your skills and your community forever, free of charge.

Best of all, you can start today.

Just look at one particular issue in your business and ask: What would I do if I was curious about this? How can I experiment with it? 

And then, share your story with the Party.

Need help exploring an sticky area of your business? We're going on a group Exploration next week! Start the adventure here.



The Adventures

Every week is an adventure. I share my adventures via images + notes, and you’re invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The View

Love you too. #foundwhilerunning
Bound and washed and perfect. Beau approves.
What kind of flower is this? A droopy bush with long boughs. #foundwhilerunning
Video editing for #ExploreYou. (10 days left!) #selfie #sorta #augustbreak2013
Again, with the laying on what I need. #caturday


Explore You starts nowThis 3 week class gets to the very core of what makes a successful business: making the right decisions with ease and clarity. Instead of looking for a book, class or mentor to tell you what to do next, discover it from the actual facts of your own business, through exploring! This is the very most material I've ever shared at once, with over 20 individual lessons, as with videos, articles, and worksheets.  (As soon as you pay, you have access to the first five lessons, so you can start exploring right away!) Join us here.


The completely free Exploration Party starts Monday! We've already got a big handful of artists, crafters, and writers who will be sharing their own explorations. Post your story any time next week, and I'll share it with the entire community. Details here.


Hate your inbox? Alex has the solution – and it's a fundraiser for Women's Earth Alliance! I truly love email (because you send the best mail!), and I think you should too. Get all the details here.


I got in a new box of books to sign! Just in time for my upcoming workshops at Arts Councils (I'll be in Morgantown on 8/19. You can join me for Social Media for Artists if you're nearby!). You can grab a signed book here, or read more here.


 Today is the last day that 10% of all sales will go towards cancer research. If you were moved by Allison's story and have been considering joining the class or buying a book, do it today! 




Get the help you need (and stop wasting your money)

Crepe myrtle (& tiny moon) #foundwhilerunning

Without quite meaning to, I've been writing a little series on exploring the support your business needs (this is just one area you might want to explore.)

Now that you know what you need, and you've explored your options of getting your partner's support, it's time to branch out  and get support from the whole wide world.

Instead of thinking about all the options out there, focus in on your needs.

When you thought about what you needed, what where the tasks that came to mind? (Take a moment to write them out!)

Now, for each item on your list, who would be the best person to help you with that?


Some of your options for support:

  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Assistant
  • Professionals (lawyer, accountant)
  • Community of peers (other businesses)
  • Community of Right People (your buyers and supporters)
  • Real-world community
  • Family


Go on and take notes on your list!

The next step is to find the specific person you need. 

If, for example, you are new to sharing your thing with the rest of the world, you might just want to read a book about that. But if you've read a few books and your problem is actually DOING it, perhaps you need the accountability of other explorers. If you need ideas for your newest product – don't ask a teacher or other businesses – go right to your community of buyers and talk to them about what they love, use and need.
The trick here is to remember what you need specifically – the actual tasks or barriers you currently struggle with – and then to seek out what will help you overcome (or accomplish) it.

Even though this is simple, are you doing it?

Or are you taking every class that's offered, and buying random books? Do you have lots of general knowledge, but no idea what to do for your specific situation?  I know – it's tempting to download and stockpile it (without using it) because you don't want to miss out! I'm guilty of this too! But this gather-everything-and-then-sort-it-out method is why you feel overwhelmed. It's why you still feel unsupported.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in investing in your business (and your business education). I wouldn't offer books, classes and support if I didn't know it was helpful. But it's helpful for the people who have the specific need. The best investments I've ever made  have been those that filled a need I had right then, or that related to a new adventure I was embarking on. 

So what do YOU need? Where can you find it?





During this exploration of my own relationship to support, I made two big changes to my business, which I'll be sharing with you Thursday (you can subscribe so you don't miss it.)



How to know what you want

Dinner was here.

Last week we talked about asking your spouse for support (and wow, did we talk about it! Thank you so much for sharing your stories on Twitter and via email! ). One of the things I heard over and over was that Step #1: Identify what you need and want is actually really hard to do. And I totally agree!

So, before you get the support you need (from anyone!), you have to know what you need…but if you don't know what you need…what do you do? Are you just stuck support-less and alone?

Um, yes. If you don't figure out what you need and ask for it clearly, you won't get what you need. Even from yourself!

(I know this sounds drastic, but think about it for a minute. If you don't know that you're hungry…do you remember to eat? If you don't know that your kid is cranky because they're tired, you don't know to give them a nap. Knowing what you need is central to communicating clearly in any area of life, business, or the universe.)

Now that we've established that this is pretty much the foundation of everything, let's talk about how you figure out what you need.

You explore. 

You pay attention to what you feel. You notice the cues. You experiment with doing it one way, and then another.

This sounds simple (and really, it is) but it requires that you look up from the everyday tasks of running your business (and life). It's too easy to get caught up with the Must Dos and ignore what all the Doing is actually accomplishing. Exploring (especially if it's new to you) might take a while of practiced effort to become the default. But soon, it's part of your daily life and you integrate the things you've learned from your explorations.

When you start exploring things, when you start noticing what you need and what's working, your relationship to your business (and maybe your spouse, kids and friends) changes. Instead of just powering (or flailing) through every day, you begin to see the big picture. You being to listen in to the lessons your business wants to teach you. Suddenly, you and your business are on the same team, and you're in sync with what it (and you) need.

To explore support

  1. Notice what feels really hard. Whether it's getting dinner on the table or your newest product launched – what feels just ridiculously undoable? What's the thing stressing you most right now?
  2. Pay attention the next time you do this thing – are you making it harder than it has to be? Is there a simpler way?
  3. Ask yourself – Do I have to do this? Do I have to do this? Can anyone do it? 
  4. If someone else can do it (or a part of it) – identify who this person might be
  5. Ask them for help! (Use the suggestions here.)


A little more about exploring

We've been talking about exploring your business for years. We've covered a lot of the elements (trusting yourself, permission, confidence, experiments) and we've explored a lot of individual areas of your business (blogging, profit, marketing, pricing, people). But in the past year, I felt something was lacking.  I want to explore EVERYTHING. I want you to, at any time, be able to explore ANYTHING. I want to create an apply-it-to-anything system for exploring in an easy-to-integrate way.

 That's the beauty of exploring! You can explore anything. You can do it whenever and to whatever. You can explore your shipping system, your blog-writing, your photography, your customer intake process. Whatever isn't working (or is just a total mystery to you) – you can explore! Without waiting for anyone to teach a class on it – you can learn what works for YOU and that's so much more effective than learning what someone else does!

Let's do it! Let's Explore YOUR biggest problem!

After more than a year of planning and writing and practicing on the Starship, I've finally done it – I collected the best bits of explorations and put them together into a system for you to use to explore anything! I'll share my favorite Exploration Tools, tips and tricks for changing the relationship you have with your business. You'll have a chance to ask me any of your questions, meet fellow explorers and become more adventurous in a gentle, loving environment.

You can join this exploration right here!

Listening in

I've been quiet. Not just on the blog, but on the Explorer Lessons, the Twitter, and even on Instagram. It started out unconsciously…I just didn't have anything to say. I wanted to read all day. Dye yarn. Do quiet-ish things.

Plotting with beet/carrot/ginger juice. #unpluggedadventureday

But then Thursday, I purposely took break from the constant stream of feedback. I didn't check email, twitter replies, or even likes on Instagram. Instead, I drove to Asheville, explored, wrote. I didn't really know why I avoided all feedback until I was driving home at the end. And then it hit me.

I spend a lot of time (maybe most of it) listening. When I'm answering questions on the Starship or taking part of a Twitter chat or just reading blogs, I may be talking, but I'm also listening for the connection. I'm watching for the chords that tie it all together, for the deeper question people are really thinking about. (This book opened my eyes to my system-spotting + building – it's part of my personality type!)

Once I spot the connection, I dive into it. I write a blog post, shoot a video answer or, if it's a deep and twisty question, I create a class. For example, In December I got an email from a Captain about how she'd had a banner year…but paid herself nothing. Then I saw a few comments on Twitter saying “I invest everything back into the business.” I spot the connection right away: People don't know how to measure (and improve)  their profit. So I wrote, asked questions and taught a class about doing just that. It might not be my favorite thing, but it's undeniably vital to every business…and no one else seemed to be talking about the equations that I use…so I did it. (That's another part of listening – watching for great resources I can recommend – and making sure I'm not spending my time creating something that already exists in way that my people can absorb.)

I LOVE this deep listening and connection-spotting. It's the way I process the world and my brain does it even when I'm not working. But, if I'm not careful, all that listening can result in only thinking about things other people need…instead of creating what I need and want to create. So when I finish a period of intense listening and responding, it's time to stop in and listen to myself again.

It's  just like I'm always saying about finding and listening to your Right People. If you listen in, you'll definitely make what they want.

But that's only one part of the equation. The other half is YOU. You have to spend some time listening to yourself, learning what your skills are, and expressing (or trying to express) what you need to create in this world.

So I took the week to listen in quietly to myself..and I got a whopp of insight (at 7pm while washing the dishes) about how to clarify my message (see the Start Here page for the changes) and what I need to work on next (opening the Starship for the quarter and a BIG exciting project).

When was the last time you took a break from your listening stations and tuned into your internal frequency?