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The Adventures

Every week is an Adventure..and this is round-up of the view, the links and the inspiration that made it special. You can see all the adventures here.

The view

Running downtown. #c25k
Running downtown.

Brunch with my honey. The perfect post-Thanksgiving recovery.
Brunch.

Grateful for yarn subscribers who love color as much as I do. #thirtydaysofthanksgiving #instagratitude
Yarn Mail spinning.

Fabric for Quilt #2: washed & ironed. (That's a towel on my kitchen table for an extra-big ironing board.) #quiltsbyChristmas
Secret project.

Grateful for…

This week has just been so full of love and support. From blog posts to tweets, there are so many sweet people I'm thankful for. Here are just a few:

The lovely Xiane, one of the first crafty businesses I met in person, said some lovely things about my work and my new site. Thank you!

Hanna, my favorite art journaler (and she does so much more!), wrote a lovely review of my book. She's giving away a copy right here.

I loved IdeaStorming with Garnet, of Karina Dresses, so I was utterly delighted when he wanted to share the experience with their community.

 

This week I opened the Starship, and I'm so grateful for the feedback:

 

 

How was your week? What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

New site! New stuff! And the chance to get your questions answered!

Yay!

After months of working with the talented Kyla, my new site is here! (If you're reading somewhere else, click through to see it.)
I thought long and hard about how to make everything easier for you, so you can find what you're looking for and the kind of help (or inspiration) you need.

I'd like to tell you a little about what's new (and share the little details that thrill me), but if you don't care to gush over tiny embroidered stitches skip on down to What's Next section, where I offer to answer your questions for free.

 

What's new

My Instagram and Pinterest accounts are now linked in the sidebar, with sweet little icons. I take a photo nearly everyday and I love the conversations that happen on Instagram. If you're a book nerd, that's where you'll find my near-weekly photos of the stack of books I'm reading. Even though I've been on Pinterest foreeever, I recently started using it with YOU in mind. I've created boards of inspiring (business) adventurers, tips + tools for Holiday Sanity, real-life travel adventures. Kyla and I used this board to visualize my redesign.

 
Everything I write about falls into three main categories and now you can find just what you want to read quickly and easily! There's business smartness for you to apply to what you do, stories from other creatives (including a lot of videos…and more coming soon!), and posts that are more about life than business.

Fun fact: The section of other people's stories is called We Are Adventurers in honor of this ridiculously enthusiastic song.

Under that are the Tools that I've made for explorers, incuding the Map-Making Guide and the Starship, and the collection of books that make you even more stunning.

Fun fact: the little embroidery stitches you see around the sidebar…those are my actual stitches!


Kyla waved her magic wand over what I sent her!

The Start Here page is brand new! I've been writing online for 10 years and in this space for 2 1/2 years, and the Start Here page helps you figure out where to…start.

Press + Praise. This makes me blush! Lovely people have interviewed me, invited me to write for them, and said delightful things about our time together. If you wanna know what to experience from our time together, the sweethearts on this page sum it up.

What's next

As the year wraps up, I'm compiling the lessons I've learned from YOU and the hundreds of conversations we've had this year. What's worked in your businesses, what hasn't and what has you frustrated. I'll be sharing those lessons in a (free) email series with the Early Boarding Party this week. You can sign up here to get it.

I'm taking those lessons, and using them to shape the Starship in the new year. In other words, you don't just learn what works for other people, you get to experience it in the very structure of the Starship. So you won't have to try to remember it all yourself, all year long. You can beam aboard the Starship now and start putting those lessons to work for you right away.

Your questions – I want them!

In the New Year (and maybe before then, because I'm just so excited about it!), I'll be answering your questions via video, every month (every week?). You can ask anonymously, or join me on video to talk it through. To get your question answered, just ask me!

The Adventures

This week was quite an adventure. An all-day doctor's appointment, a funeral and burial (my husband's great aunt, beloved by his mother), and (on a happier note!) the Starship opening for new members.

 

The view

A rainy September calls for apple pancakes with fried apples.

I'm addicted to apples.

Delicious apple pie pancakes, from @isachandra's recipe

Apple pie pancakes, from this recipe.

A good start

A typical work morning: coffee, oatmeal, to-do list and laptop.

Love the view from the library.

The view from the library (my second favorite working spot)

Tonight's dyepot brought to you by the color Leaf. #nofilter

Dyeing hemp laceweight for a wholesale order.

Thanks for all your sweet notes. We really are fine, it was Jay's mom's favorite aunt, so we're spending the day comforting, supporting and hugging her.

In the funeral procession.

 

 

The finds

  •  I (finally) collected success stories from Starshippers and have been sharing them with the Early Boarding list. Sign up here to get a dose of inspiration.
  • Kim is making a TV show that teaches SKILLS, not just projects. Support it!
  • Ack! This is so cute I want to crochet all the Doctors!
  • Serendipity! The very day I declare my intention to feel good, Anna posts about her very same experiment!

What was your week like? What were your adventures?


One year ago: What are Right People
Three years ago: Autumnal To Do

 

How to Experiment: Review

Happy New Month!*

The beginning of a new month means its time for a new experiment! We'll start the new one tomorrow, but today let's review how the last one went (Reviewing is Step 4 of Experimenting).

My experiment

I decided to experiment with asking myself one question every day, to see how that regular, focused attention would shift both the thing, and my relationship to the thing. My daily question was: What can I do to make the Starship more awesome?

What did you learn?

Wow! I know I have this realization all the time, but it's so true! When you turn the sunlight of your attention to one thing, it flourishes and grows. After over a year of steering the Starship, I thought I was pretty settled. I know why people join, I know what they get out of it, I know what works well. Or so I thought. Asking myself the question repeatedly, and forcing myself to come up with at least oneanswer every day allowed me to dig deeper, beyond what I thought I knew. Questions led to more questions, which led to more tiny experiments.

Some examples:

One day, I twisted the question a bit: How can I make the Starship awesome-er on the inside? And that got me thinking: Why do people on the inside like it? What do they get the most out of? How can I increase the stuff I know they love? 
I started asking Captains, and then I realized we have some real success stories. People join and then reach their goals, grow their business and change in a zillion tiny ways. So that prompted me to interview those people, as an encouragement to everyone (those stories will appear in the Early Boarding Party)

I also recognized that relationships are the driving force behind everything  good. It's the reason people come to the check-ins each week, it's the reason they work hard to have something good to share in the check-in. It's the reason they open up and ask their most-scary, most-stuck questions.

So of course the follow-up is: how do I feed those relationships? And how do I help connect new ones? 
(I've got a whole list of answers that I'm working through, including more one-on-one time with me, offering taste tests to the Early Boarding List, more videos) 

Conclusion

This is the best thing in the world. Take your thing, anything you love, from a product to a service to a relationship and ask “How can I make it awesomer?” every day. Allow yourself to see beyond the obvious, to see beyond what you “know.”

Change does not mean failure. Acknowledging that there are changes that can be made is NOT the same as admitting you did it wrong before. Everything in business is iterative. And things take time.  So making changes is a sign of a sustainable business, not a sign that you messed it up before.
And if you did mess it up? Now that you recognize that and are making changes, this is good news, not bad.
That, that whole change is not failure thing, is maybe the hardest lesson for me, and I learn it a little more everyday.

This is the heart of any experiment:

Permission to get it “wrong”
Accepting there might not be a “right” way
Giving yourself space to be surprised
Embracing change as growth, not a sign of past failure

And now it's time to review your experiment:

What did you learn from this experiment?
Does that give you an idea of what else you might try?
Do you want to experiment with something similar to gather more data or switch to something totally different?

 

Share your results and review in the comments, or on the Facebook page.

 

 

*I had a very rotund 7th grade Ohio History teacher, Mr. Antonopolis, who would start every new month with that exclamation and an explanation that it was customary to greet each other this way in…some country, and I can't say it without thinking of him. 

Why it’s called the Starship

More than any other question I get, people are always asking: why do you call it the Starship?
If you met me in real life, you wouldn't guess that my business cards call me a Starship Captain. I don't speak Klingon. I've never been to a Star Trek (or Star Wars) convention. I might geek out over seeing the actual chair, but it was a low-level squee. The non-geek friend with me didn't even notice.

But I captain a Starship because I am an explorer. And so are you.

When I was creating the Starship, I kept asking the first members: What is this space? What's it like for us to all be together in the same place, but each going on our own adventures?
I thought of The Kitchen. The Craft Room. The Bounce House. And all of those are fun, but they don't really express that we are on a mission. They sound more like places where you hang out and chat and bake bread.
But we are on a mission  to seek out new answers, to try new things, to experiment. We are, every last one of us, in the process of crafting a life, and a business that fits into that life.
And even though you might do it at home on your couch in your pjs. It's not a sleepy, cozy, solitary endevour.
It can be safe. And it can be wild. It can be ease-filled and it can be exciting.
But if you are truly pursuing the unknown, creating something that didn't exist yesterday, blazing your own trail towards self-expression and sustainability…it ain't easy.
It's an adventure.
For me, and for lots of the Starship-ers, this is the best adventure of our lives (so far). It's a daily challenge and it's also a daily reward. It's frustrating and it's liberating.
Sometimes it's downright boring, but then we catch a new wave of inspiration and everything is changing and it's all exciting and overwhelming and totally unknown again.
So that's why it's called the Starship.

Because we are adventurers.*

We're exploring the unknown and recording what you find (and turning it into our business).
We're in a space full of support and camaraderie and everything we need for our adventure. A Starship.
*It's more fun if you sing We are adventurers.

If you're an adventurer (or you'd like to feel a little more supported in your business), check out the Starship. It only opens once a quarter!

 

 

The middle of the ride

When you first got on this ride (and started your business), you had enthusiasm. You had books. You read stuff and made a list (maybe even a map) and figured out where to go next.

The destination was clear: Selling My Thing.
So you figured out how to get there, and you did it! You sold a thing! Hoorah!

But then you realized the destination had shifted. It wasn't just enough to have a place to sell your thing, you also needed great pictures, compelling descriptions. No wait, that's not enough either, now you need to keep doing that, every week. And so now the destination isn't just to sell one of your things, the destination is to keep going with this, to keep it going even when you don't feel like it.
Oh! You need something outside of just your own whims to get things done…you need a whole system of getting your thing made and sold…it's….It's a business.

And so you read more books and tried more stuff.
You've figured out how to keep making things, photographing them, listing them.
You've met some of your clients. You've had conversations.

Now you have a business…but now you're destination-less. It's  not a place that you can point to on the map and be  all done with it.
It's ongoing.
It's iterative.
It's everyday.

You have to live with not having a destination.
You are realizing more and more each day that the plan is now to build something you love, something that's sustainable and that you like doing and find out all the ways you can keep it healthy and fresh and full of enthusiasm.
But when you turn to books, there just aren't any books for where you are. And they wouldn't help anyhow because all your questions are so specific to you and your business.

This is a place of journey-ing, of realizing that your business is this ongoing thing and you kind of won't ever have it “figured out”. This iskind of a lonely place. It's definitely a difficult place.

I know because I've been there. When I quit my dayjob to make yarn full-time, I came smack up against that on-my-own-ness, and it took me months to realize that I didn't need to power through, I needed to surround myself with others doing the same. And not just in an occasional Twitter conversation, but on a regular, business-specific basis.

And I know it's not just me, because last week I talked to all kinds of people (gym owners, jewelry-makers, vegan coaches) and real explorers (mountain climbers!), and everywhere it's the same. You feel like their questions are too specific, and that you're all alone.

What you need in this place isn't more books, it isn't more articles about 10 ways to make more sales, what you need is provisions for the journey. You need to embrace that you are no longer a person starting a business, you are a business explorer, one who will now live and learn and experiment in the wilds of business-land.

And every explorer knows, you can't do it alone.
You need a team who helps you explore, who shares ideas and who just keeps you from calling off the whole expedition when something goes wrong.
You also need to feel like you can ask your questions, your strangely specific questions about your incredibly unique business, and get the feedback from people who know it, and know you, and know what's worked for them.

That's why I built the Starship. Because all around me, from my classes and my twitter stream, were smart + clever businesses. But they felt discouraged and alone. They wanted regular encouragement. So I built a space for  them (and you) that  combines straight-up business advice in monthly classes with the accountability and encouragement of weekly live chats. It's for the middle of the journey, for when things feel like they're taking too much time, for when you're past needing the books, and you need daily movement. You can come aboard here.

But whether you come aboard or not, I want you to know that the middle is ok, it's normal, it's to be expected. It's not unusual to feel lonely or lost or destination-less. It's not unusual to be frustrated you can't find books about where you're at. Find encouragement in others who are going through the same thing. Seek out stories of the middle, and examples of people living in the middle. And maybe listen to this song.

 

The adventures

This week has definitely been an adventure. A travel-cross-country, get stranded in an airport, totally exhausted kind of adventure. But! I loved it! And it inspired me to add a new section to this here weekly round-up of Adventures: The Lessons. Scroll down to see 'em!

 

The view

Seattle skyline from Bainbridge Ferry :: Teaching an EtsyRAIN workshop :: Knitting the TARDIS shawl with a DALEK :: Captain Kirk's actual chair :: At the baseball game :: first Pumpkin Spice of the season, as I waited for my much-delayed flight

The lessons

Captain Kirk's chair isn't that impressive in real life (kind of a peel-y vinyl), reminding me again that the symbol is the thing, and the value we bring to objects.

Support is all around. Again and again during the trip, I'd worry about something (like which busses to take to get to my workshop, without getting sweaty) only to have support show up (within an hour, three different people texted, unprompted and offered to drive me.) This happened so many times I lost count. Note to self: Keep your eyes open, the help you need is within reach.

Setting goals is powerful. I've had a dream/wish in mind all summer, but didn't know how to make it happen. Way back in June, I wrote that I wanted the Starship to my full-time focus  by September. But it seemed impossible, so I didn't make any plans for it…and then a series of random events made it possible to extricate myself from long-term client projects (happy on all sides) and dedicate myself full-time to the Starship this month. Magical. Also, freaky.

The finds

  • Breezy – A life-saving app! I had to print worksheets for the workshop (and couldn't print them ahead of time or they'd get all squished in my luggage), and Breezy lets you send any document to any local, public printer (like, Kinkos!) right from your phone or iPad.
  • I like what Cairene is saying here about commitment leading to magic. I've been learning this lesson over and over again lately, and I'm so glad she wrote it.
  • This is a pretty impressive handknit sweater for a baseball fan. I'm kinda tempted. Recognize the pattern?
  • Marlo! We had lunch after my workshop and she is just…well, it's hard to talk about her without sounding cliched. Smart! Great! Hilarious! Also, so so in tune with what crafters need to know. Since I don't work one-on-one with clients anymore (unless you're already in the Starship), I'm referring everyone to her.

And that's it for my Adventures this week – what were yours?

 


Another lesson  learned? I love talking to you. So now, for this month only, every one boarding the Starship gets a free jam session. We'll talk about your questions, your dreams and your plans, so you enter the Starship prepared to get exactly what you need. Offer ends (and the Starship closes to new members) on 9/14.

How to experiment: Reports + New Experiments

Looks like home.

Last month, I launched an experiment (and some of you joined me!). While doing the experiment is fun in itself, the real power lies at the end, where we determine if the experiment worked the way we thought it would.

To analyze your experiment, start with the thesis. Did you prove it true? Or not? You might find that you didn't measure what you needed to measure to really learn what you wanted to learn. Or you might learn that while you started the experiment with one plan, the territory changed it into something else.

The important thing in this analyzing step is that ALL DATA IS GOOD DATA. It's not our job to judge the results, just to report in on them, explore them, and then use this experiment to make our next.
I want to really stress this: even if you didn't finish your experiment or complete it the way you thought, you still gathered data. You still got results. Whatever the results, you now know something you didn't know last month. And that is very good news.

My experiment results.

The thesis: blogging everyday would help me explore both my relationship with blogging and my connection with the community.
Results: Happiness! The blogging reminded me that what we appreciate appreciates. The more I write, the more I have to write. As for the community aspect, I was completely delighted by the explorers that joined me! I loved reading about your experiments and it definitely made me feel more connected through our shared vulnerability. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

And now for the next experiment.

Before I introduce my next experiment, take a moment to think about yours.
What did you learn from this experiment?
Does that give you an idea of what else you might try?
Do you want to experiment with something similar to gather more data or switch to something totally different?
A word of warning: it's easy to fall into the habit of just trying the same thing again and again and hoping to learn more every time. But that's why we put parameters on the experiment: to push you to come to some conclusions about one thing and move on to the next. So even if you stick in the same arena (say, blogging everyday), be sure to change your thesis and your parameters to reflect what you learned this time.

My next experiment

Now that I have proof that what I focus on flourishes, I want to turn my focused, daily attention to something else: the Starship. It's my most favorite thing to work on and for months I've been shifting my business so that I can focus on it exclusively. Sorta unexpectedly, that happened this month, and the Starship is now 98% of what I do (I cut waaay back on individual clients).

I couldn't be more thrilled. But I've also learned that when your favorite thing goes from part-time to full-time, it's easy to lose enthusiasm and get bogged down in the quotidien. To keep the Starship my favorite, and make it even more fun to be in, I'm going to do one thing every day: I'm asking myself the question “What can I do to make the Starship more awesome (inside or outside)?
Some days the answer might be to brainstorm, some days the answer might be to implement. Some days the answer might be to work on upcoming classes. But everyday will see me asking the question and working through an answer.

Thesis: Asking myself one question each morning will lead to bigger and better ideas, clearer priorities, and maintain my enthusiasm for my favorite project.
Parameters: Every day, I'll start the day with the question, and then I'll write and brainstorm an answer. The experiment ends October 1st.
Support system: I already write every morning, so this will just fit in there. I'll use my journal or 750words.com. I'll be implementing the ideas as I go through my weekly system of communicating with the Starship Captains and with the Early Boarding List. Oh! And I'll ask the current captains for their help in coming up with ideas.

(Sneak peek: I started this yesterday, on my flight home, and the answer  was: Come up with ways to make a new captain feel welcome + special. So I wrote a list of 10 things and I picked one. This month all new captains will be invited to talk to me one on one about their business and their goals. I am so excited about this! It sounds like so much fun, but I never even thought about it before!  Today the answer was: Reward people who buy the Starship in one fell swoop. So I've lowered the single-payment price to $450, for just this week*. I'll report back next week on how this question is changing other things, but for now I just had to tell you: it is so much fun and giving me ideas I never had before!)

Now how about you?

What's your experiment for this week?
Share your thesis and parameters in the comments.

 

 

*If you want to find out about the special things I'm offering new captains, be sure to sign up here. And remember, the Starship is only open for one week, so all the other ways I awesome-ize the Starship will only be for members, and not available publicly.

The bravery in sticking with your just right people.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being a guest (again!) on my friend David Cohen's radio show, Be a Beacon.*

We talked about filtering out the not-quite-right-people (by, for example, calling your signature product The Starship) so that you can focus on the just-right-people. David said something like “Why's that so scary, to think about leaving people out and just focusing on the people who love it?“…and that's what I want to talk about today:

Focusing on your Right People IS scary. 

When you're starting out, and you have NO people, you think, “I want everyone! I want to appeal to everyone!” You can't imagine ever wanting anyone to walk away from your product.

 

But the simple fact is: There are people who won't like it. There are people who won't “get” it.

And that's ok.

That's perfect, in fact. Because you can't make something people gush over and long for, if you don't make something that is dislike-able by others.

The secret to not going completely crazy (well, one of them) when you put your very heart and soul into what you make, and then you put it in front of people, is to focus all your attention on the people who do (or will) love it. 

Write your product descriptions for them.
Take photos for them.
Show up in the shops and the craft shows where they're at.
Love them with every new product, with every blog post, and ignore the others.

When you meet those you don't want it or get it (or even if you're imagining them!), remember: they're not for you. And that's ok! You've got (or soon will have) people who do love it, who do want it.

 

*You can listen to our whole conversation here:

Listen to internet radio with David Cohen on Blog Talk Radio

Holiday Sanity and Starships

When I tweeted a link to last year's free guide and was overwhelmed with thank you tweets and emails, I realized I needed to share it again:

It's a quick-to-use, silly little guide with handdrawn lists and goofy metaphors.

Yet, it works.
It helps you get a handle on what's coming next and it makes it all more do-able.

In the Starship, we're doing weekly check-ins on ho and I'm (again) surprised by how much just  a bit of planning + a dash of accountability can improve your experience of the holidays.

So much so, that I was starting to doubt closing the Starship until January.
Last night, after chatting with Starshippers, someone said “Once again, I'm surrounded by smart and understanding people” and there was a round of “yay starship!”s.
I realized: yes, it's easier for me to manage everyone's membership if I wait to reopen enrollment until January….but this is the time of year people need help. And community of like-minded friends. And encouragment.

Thus it's decided: the Starship is now open to new Cadets.

If you're feeling a little worn out, a little apprehensive about the oncoming rush of holiday sales, and holiday shopping, and holiday gift-making, the Starship is here for you:
Community, weekly check-ins, accountability partners, everything we can do to make the holidays sane.
Oh yeah, and access over $500 worth of classes + tools. For 13 months.

Come aboard here

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