Lisa Robbin Young

Becoming self employed: the best decision for your career? It’s time to find out! Working for yourself is the dream for many. Set your own hours, decide your own salary, work where you want - the possibilities for more "freedom" in your life and work are pretty intoxicating to think about.

Owning your own business puts control into your hands, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. There are downsides to a self-employed future that you need to acknowledge: the ups and downs of income, rejection from potential clients, and watching the business go do someone else who's clearly not as good as you (it happens. BELIEVE ME!). Even when you’d love to do nothing more than quit your current job and register your own business, it’s worth it to apply the brakes and ask yourself some hard questions first. 

Pexels Image - CC0 License

A successful business needs to be profitable and sustainable. Said differently, it needs to make more money than it spends, and it needs to be something you can continue to do for a while. It needs to sustain itself without asking you to spend every moment of every day for the rest of your life working on it (even if that sounds like fun, it's not healthy!).

You need to be sure you’ve got a future in this work - and that it will sustain you in the lifestyle you want to live. Before you make the leap, consider this:

You carry all the risk

That sounds bad, right? And it can be, if something goes wrong. However, if you’re the only one liable, you’re the only one who needs to make a decision. Nothing and no one else comes into it, and your only consideration is what will be best for your career next. 

For someone who’s tired of the daily grind, that’s probably the most attractive thing about working for yourself. It’s up to you, and even if you make a mistake, you’re still the only one who needs to weigh in. This actionable attitude is very healthy for your career. 

You determine your income... sort of

Anyone who gets paid for doing a job makes their own money. But when you’re working for yourself, you get to decide your own salary. You price what you’re worth, you can charge for both service and time, and then you pay your own taxes on what you make. 

This is a great level of control to have over your income. The reality, though is that it might take a while for the numbers to get to a point where you can live off of your business revenue entirely. And clients can say "no" to your rates... we saw a lot of that happening in the online world this year - did you see how many "Black Friday" offers there were priced under $100??? SO many!

So yes, you can name your wage, and you still have to do the work of attracting clients willing to pay it - and enough of them to keep you from going bankrupt.

You make all the decisions

Having the ability to choose which way to go, in your own time, is the greatest sense of freedom -and also a big responsibility. 

If you're like many Fusion Creatives, it may feel like a ‘non-linear’ approach to your career, as Jonathan Martin, NFL, would say. He came out of the NFL and moved into the financial sector! Every choice moves you in a direction - either toward more of what you want or less. You can make as many decisions as you like to choose your own path, and there’s no ‘traditional’ career frame for you to have to follow. 

On one hand, that's exciting - the world is your oyster! On the other, decision fatigue is real. You'll learn pretty quickly how exhausting it can be to be the one making all the decisions. But, you’re the one in charge and that means you've got to get good at making decisions (or hire someone that is!).

It really IS "who you know" that matters most

The more resources you have, the easier it is to stay in business. And PEOPLE (friends, networks, colleagues) are the best resource to have early in your business when money's tight and even BETTER when you're experiencing solid growth.

This might sound intimidating at first, but the more you network, the more confidence you’ll gain. You won’t have a problem with introducing yourself, or selling yourself in the space of 30 seconds, and it becomes easier to talk in public. You may never give a TEDx talk, but you'll be much more comfortable in front of an audience of your peers. This level of confidence is great for any job, but when the focus is on you, your business can reap the benefits. 

Drink your own Kool-Aid

Believe in yourself and your business idea. You need more passion and excitement for it than anyone else you know. Disney built his empire on a swamp because he believed so deeply in it coming to pass - even when others thought he was out of his gourd. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else?

Entrepreneurship is a challenge, and while it’s often a worthwhile one, you wouldn’t want to walk into it without doings some research and being aware of what it really takes to be successful. Job hunting may be challenging, but it's a heck of a lot easier than staring down the barrel of having to make payroll for multiple employees every couple of weeks. KNOW what you're getting yourself into - at least as well as you possibly can. Arm yourself with information, get help when you need it, and be willing to take the risks to be successful. That includes the biggest, riskiest endeavor of all: believing in yourself. If you've got the courage to do that, then entrepreneurship just might be good for you!

Confession time: I have sort of a business crush on Mr. Franklin. I stumbled across his first book, Produced by Faith, just as I was finishing work on my own book, The Secret Watch. His collaborator, Tim Vandehey was a friend of my editor, and I was actually checking out Tim's work when I came across DeVon. I read his book, and immediately fell in love with his vision for spiritual success in a secular world - that comes from staying true to yourself (and how God designed you).

I also saw how he and I were up to the same thing in the entertainment world, but coming at it from opposite ends of the spectrum. And yes, I secretly hoped he would read my book and decide to make it into a movie, but I digress.

DeVon is inside the industry, making decisions, policies, and flipping the script on how business gets done in Hollywood. I'm on the outside, working with the very people that haven't had a chance because of the way the old regime operated - to learn how to "pick themselves" instead of waiting for some big break. We're both working to change the face of entertainment media for the better, so it's only natural that I was a big fan from the start. Where DeVon's first book focuses on the inner journey of the movie that is your life, The Hollywood Commandments is the next installment - how to be yourself inside a machine that may try to make you anything but.

Franklin is a devout Christian, but don't let that dissuade you from reading this book. It is filled with gold when it comes to navigating the rough waters of career success - whether you're in Hollywood, CA or Hollywood, AL (population 1000), whether you're in entertainment or animal training. It's not what you do, or where you do it that matters, it's who you are as you're doing it.

Franklin's book centers on ten "commandments" for staying true to yourself (and your faith) in a secular world. He serves up a lot of common knowledge concepts - like over promise and under deliver - so in that respect, it will feel as familiar as many self-help books on the market. But, as Franklin points out in Commandment #8, Your Difference Is Your Destiny. Franklin's difference is his years behind-the-scenes rising through the ranks in Hollywood, making mistakes, learning as he goes, and doing it all as a person of color and a man of faith to boot.

While Franklin never makes race a point in the book, it shouldn't be ignored. It's tough to rise up in Hollywood, and there's still a lot of disadvantages for a person of color. To see this, his third book, speak so plainly about what it really takes to succeed in anything (and have it come from a place of hard-won experience), speaks highly of his work ethic and how true Franklin is to walking his talk. He came to Hollywood on a Divine prompting, knowing no one, and trusting the process. He went from intern to assistant to eventually owning his own production company, paying his dues along the way. This is the lesson of persistence and discipline that Franklin espouses throughout the book.

Watch the entire review, where we'll dig into the specifics of the commandments, and how they apply to you regardless of your faith walk. Here's the replay:

This week I had an AMAZING photo shoot that's been several months in the making. I knew when I landed in Nashville, starting over would take up a good portion of my first year here. I also knew that I had projects that still needed to move forward: I've been sitting on Creative Freedom for a while now, and The Damn Whippersnappers have promised to visit this summer for a recording session. So with a new book and new music in the works, of COURSE I needed to get the website redone.

A perfect storm for new pictures!

Only, I didn't know anyone in this town, so I had no idea how long I'd have to wait, how much it would cost, or anything. Luckily, my best friend, Google helped me out. I met Emily, a wardrobe stylist from Effortlesstyle here in Nashville. She came over, looked at my closet and said "let's just start from scratch, okay?"

hee. hee.

While I know how to clean up, I've never been at the bleeding edge of style, and I told her that. My closet is full of black, black, and more black - with a splash of solid color here and there. So I gave her a budget and she went to work. A week or so later, we met for the fitting. There was really only one piece I couldn't bring myself to like. Everything else was wonderful - and a lot of it I wouldn't have picked for myself. Like this floral top. When I first looked at it, all the voices in my head took a swing at me:

"Oh, you're too big to wear white!"

"That floral print is just going to draw all kinds of attention that you don't want."

I swallowed hard when she showed it too me. I knew Emily could sense my reluctance. "Just try it on." she politely insisted.

I did. We found a keeper.

I had just raised my threshold of belief around what was possible for my wardrobe. Emily's a professional that's been doing this for years. Despite that, it was hard to trust her at first because I didn't know her. I didn't believe she could style a plus-sized momma like me.

Luckily, she made it easy to like her, and her ensemble choices were on point, so trust came quickly.

Which was good, because the hair and makeup artist I had originally asked to do the shoot booked herself another appointment and was unable to make our shoot date. It wasn't her fault. I was trying to coordinate all the details myself, and things didn't come together. Frantic, I asked Emily if she had any suggestions.

"Oh, yes!" she said. "I've got my GIRLS!"

Panic turned to relief, but I had no idea how much I'd be paying for TWO people instead of one.

I swallowed hard again, and just trusted the process.

I arrive at Emily's house on the day of the shoot for hair and makeup. Mind you, two total strangers are about to have their way with my head. The ONLY thing keeping me from not showing up is the commitment I made to my photographer, Ashley.

That, and I trusted Emily. She hadn't steered me wrong yet, so I figured she wasn't going to start now.

I knock on the door, walk in, and I'm greeted by two of the sunniest, most enthusiastic women I've ever met. Both hard-working artists, both incredibly talented. Both eager to make magic happen.

Why did I ever doubt Emily?

Within minutes they are both working on me: Angela at the front, Genia at the back. We're chatting, really connecting, and they're making it easy for me to trust them. But...

I don't even know how much time has gone by, I can't see a mirror, and I'm still too nervous to eat any of the snacks Emily's put out for us. I did manage to down a glass of water, because I kept telling myself "it's gonna be hot outside, you don't want to die of heat stroke!"

Still, I think I managed to keep my self-doubt to myself as we talked about building a business doing what you love, something I'm pretty passionate about. My fear was, hopefully, masked by my enthusiasm for profitable creative businesses.

When they finished, I snapped a quick photo of my glam team and off we went to meet Ashley at Cumberland Park. When I got in my car, I had all I could do to keep from crying. I looked GOOD! Like, I almost didn't recognize myself. I had a vision of what I wanted for the shoot, and even hired Duane "The Hair Fairy" Edlao to cut my hair before I met these ladies to make sure that it would do what we wanted it to do. But to see it actually come to life?


We headed off toward Nissan Stadium to meet Ashley for the shoot. This is the first time we've met in person, and she looks happy, so I'm feeling more relaxed at this point. She's got some ideas about how to get in all the wardrobe changes and make the most of our time together.

The first few pictures felt awkward to me - because my inner critic was having her way.

"Who do you think you are? You're no super model." 

There was a couple sitting at a picnic table across the way. They both stopped and looked up as my entourage pulled up with all our gear. I joked about being famous, but inside I was a self-conscious mess.

Despite these women all being super talented professionals, my inner critic was having her way with me. I told Ashley to "just shoot everything" because I knew that candid moments would probably end up making the most "natural" shots, plus we'd get some behind-the-scenes shots, too, which would be great for me to share with my clients in A-club. In truth, I was just hoping that, if she shot everything, there might be something that I could use.

Good thing Emily was listening, because she took some great candids, too. Like the shot of Angela, above, touching up my face, or this one, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

When I saw the first photo, I knew I was in good hands and I could relax. That's when we had REAL fun!

We joked, got silly, and just enjoyed being together - creatives whose only agenda was to create. Make magic happen. That was all we had to do, and when we could really let loose and trust each other, poof! The magic was there naturally.

The rest of the hour-long shoot went by fast, and it really felt like we were a team - working together to tell a compelling visual story. I look forward to seeing the proofs that Ashley took. Here's a sneak peek from the back of Ashley's camera...

This photo shoot was a massive investment in the future of my company, and it would be easy to just stop there...

...But that would be the least important part of the story.

MOST importantly, this was an investment in ME.

As the pictures started appearing, people on Facebook started asking me what the shoot was for. It was easy to say "new book, new album, new website," but that wasn't entirely true. It was also a "new me" of sorts.

In the past, I would have tried to DIY as much as possible and keep everything on the cheap - not to be efficient or save money (though those are the excuses I would have used), but because of my own self-worth.

I put at least ten times the money into this shoot than any other shoot I've ever done. I'm not saying that to brag. I still feel strange about it, to be honest. I tell you this because there was a time in my life where I didn't believe I was WORTHY of investing "that kind of money" in me or my dreams.

Some days, I still struggle with my worthiness.

My early photo shoots were courtesy of my kid, or good friends who were skilled with a camera. I actually hired a photographer and hair/makeup artist for my last shoot because I wanted to get some specific shots for the album. I was leery then about spending "that kind of money" on a project that had no guarantee of completion, let alone success. But I was so happy with the results that I used those pictures all over the interwebs for a couple of years.

This time, I had a team of three incredible women who had my back the entire time (four, counting my photographer!). They probably had no idea of the "who do you think you are?" trash talk my inner critic was laying on me. At least, I hope they didn't. I am thrilled that they made it SO easy for me to just be ME in front of the camera.

But what's that got to do with pricing? Plenty.

The next day, I was talking with one of my coaches about my book, online course, and live event all built around the foundation of Creative Freedom. One of the last things she said to me was about the pricing for my upcoming event. I've been in a holding pattern for WEEEEEEKS because I haven't been able to decide how to price it or how and when to offer the online version. I told her I feel confident that I could easily charge twice the price because I believe it'll bring a solid 5-10x return on investment, but I was keeping the intro rate low because I wanted to fill the program (totally an ego thing, by the way).

When she looked at my pricing and asked about my motivations, she reminded me that sometimes, when we offer discounts and low-ball our pricing, it doesn't actually empower our clients, because we're modeling a behavior that comes from a place of scarcity instead of abundance. She then asked me "what if, by lowering your prices, you're denying your clients from having the same experience you just had at your photo shoot?"

Eyes Opened.

If you've got a healthy relationship with money, this probably doesn't apply to you, but if you struggle with naming a price that feels right to you because your inner critic is asking "who will pay that?" - this could be helpful.

The answer to the "who will pay that?" question isn't found in the circle of people you've been begging to buy from you. The answer is found in the faces of the people who light up when you enter the room and say "where have you been all my life!?!?"

Sadly, most of us build our careers around the former and not the latter.

This is one of the reasons I encourage my clients to develop a $25,000 offer... not because anyone will ever buy it (though it does happen), but because it gets you thinking differently, so that when you offer something for $2k or $5k, you'll feel more confident around the real value you bring to your work.

What could happen (for you and your potential clients) if you just created and asked for the price you want without all the baggage attached?

Because it doesn't matter what price you pick, there will always be someone that can't or won't pay it. But there are also probably a few people who will.

Owning your dreams, without selling your soul. Finding yourself and building a life and business that works for who you really are and what really matters to you. Making good money doing what you LOVE (and all the ladies from my shoot love what they do). THAT is what Creative Freedom is about, and I can't wait to share more of this new evolution with you.

Oh, and tickets for the virtual workshop and online event will be on sale soon. If you're not already on my list, get there to be one of the first to know about it!

A couple of years ago, I was hired on as the Marketing Director at Heart of Business. It didn't last long, and yet a whole bunch of great learning came out of it (for all of us!). Mark Silver, the founder, and I developed a stronger friendship and keep respect for what we each bring to the table. I was VERY fortunate to sit down with Mark this month and chat about all things money - from the evolution of Heart of Business (and Mark) to pay-what-you-can pricing models and taking on clients that aren't a good fit when you need the money. All that and much more in this short, 40-minute conversation. SO delicious. Enjoy!

First things first:

I'm THRILLED to announce that the Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Types made their public debut this week over at Charlie Gilkey's Productive Flourishing blog. If you're a creative and you're not familiar with Charlie's work, I highly recommend checking him out.

My guest post is an excerpt from my book, detailing the 3 different types of creative entrepreneurs, along with the process I used to get clear on my target market (which is what started me on this research journey in the first place). Please take a moment to stop in and leave a comment or share the post. The more creatives that we can reach with this message, the better the world will be. I truly believe that.

Also, my accountability partner, Winnie, just posted my interview for her podcast, where we dive into the nature of assessments in general, and why self-awareness is a powerful tool in building your business. The Let's Talk Tech Show takes the mystery out of all the tech-y tools, platforms, apps, and software that solo-preneurs deal with as they grow their business. If you're a Chaotic creative - or otherwise feel overwhelmed by the tech stuff, Winnie's show is a great place to get some basic understanding in plain English.

Okay, on to this week's episode...

I've known Mike Michalowicz for years now. First as a fan of his work, then as a member of his book launch team, then as an editor of his last book, and one of the first certified Profit First business coaches in the world. Now, I think it's safe to say we're friends. And he's an interesting dude. Like me, he's a guinea pig for all the methods he teaches. As a Linear Cusp creative, he's great at creating and implementing systems, but he's got just enough Fusion in him to make it fun and easy to learn what he teaches. Mike's new book, "Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry's Big Kahuna," is the next installment of his guinea pig adventures. Using surfing as his framework, SURGE is actually an acronym for the steps you need to take to find and ride your own wave of business success.

Does it work? Watch the episode, then read on:

But does SURGE actually work?

If you read the book, you'll see plenty of case studies supporting Mike's process - including examples from his own business. As I mentioned in the video, I was a smidge disappointed about the lack of specifics around the "cool kids" strategy, until I realized I did it myself, without really trying.

I've been doing the research on the Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Type spectrum for about 18 months. Interviewing creatives from around the world, analyzing the data, and testing theories. Back in April, Charlie posted on Facebook saying he didn't resonate with particular a social media platforms. I said that it made perfect sense to me because his creative entrepreneur type wasn't a good fit for those platforms. That got him (and a few others) curious, so I explained a little about the research I was doing. Charlie was intrigued enough to have an email convo with me that led to this week's guest post on his blog (and with a little luck, an interview on his podcast later this year).

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity - which typically looks like work! (Tweet this)

Charlie has a solid track record in the realm of creative entrepreneurship. He's one of the "cool kids" in the marketplace. But I had no idea how to get on his radar until HE said something where I had an opening.

There are a couple of things that you need to understand:

  1. This was not an instant win. Our first conversation was in April. The post didn't publish until June - exactly 60 days from Charlie's Facebook post. I had to do the follow-up work, including the back-and-forth with Charlie's editor and support team, before the post could be published.
  2. I had something of value to offer Charlie (and his audience). I didn't approach him with a pitch. I just shared my experience as it related to his. He responded, and I kept the conversation going with value, not hype.
  3. I did my research and leg work long before Charlie's post. Seneca said that "luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation." I had been "preparing" for more than a year. Charlie and I have some mutual friends, but this was the first time I'd ever had a conversation with the man. As far as I know, he didn't know me from hole in the ground. When an opportunity showed up, I was ready to share my value in a meaningful, helpful way.
  4. I had to pay attention. The nice thing about being in research mode is that I do a lot more listening, watching, and analyzing. I'm much more reflective, trying to connect the dots. Opportunities are rarely handed to you on a silver platter. I think it was Edison who said opportunity is "dressed in overalls and looks like work". I've been saving, compiling, and researching conversations around this topic for months. Charlie's post gave me a window of opportunity, and I took it. As I said, I'm not Charlie's buddy, so if I hadn't seen his Facebook post, this opportunity would have probably passed right by me.

This was an organic way to "reach the cool kids" - and it worked. Will it continue to work? Well, I have a few more "cool kids" to check out before I can let you know!

[Note: This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Creative Freedom. If you'd like to be part of the advance team and get more sneak peeks of the book, contact me for more info.]

There's a quote often attributed to John Lennon:
"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Dreams are kind of like that. It sounds trite, I know, but the reality is that if something really matters to you, there are really only two things that will prevent you from pursuing it in some way:

1. Death (in which case, you're no longer dreaming).
2. Something else that matters more (in which case, it's no longer your dream).

Death is fairly self-explanatory, so we'll leave that here and explore option two.

What matters more than your dream?

When I was a kid, I fancied myself as the next Madonna or Paula Abdul. I was a pretty good singer, and I spent countless hours practicing dance routines for the world tour I imagined I would lead once I became a rock star. I studied music at college, got a degree, and even moved west in pursuit of that dream.

Then life happened: single motherhood, relocation, marriage, second kid, etc.

For years, while my dreams of professional achievement languished, I put my focus, energy, and money into being a wife and mom. That was my priority. I made it so. I chose that life over pursuing my dream.

There are all kinds of "reasons" I could give as to why I made that choice. Here are a few:

  • I want to be a good mom... or at least be seen as a good mom. And good moms don't abandon their family to pursue their dreams.
  • I have a "sure thing" here. It's better to be safe than sorry. Who knows if I could really be successful anyway?
  • I made my bed, now it's time to lie in it. I need to honor this commitment no matter what.

Ultimately, I let guilt, shame, and fear dictate my priorities. Choosing to be seen in a certain light (by my family, friends, and children) were more important to me than pursuing my dreams.

So I didn't.

bigdreamsboxFor more than a decade, my dreams sat in a metaphorical box on a shelf in the attic of my soul. I didn't touch my musical instruments (I owned seven). I didn't even play the radio much. Music was all but absent in my life, with one exception: community theater.

I was somewhat of a fixture at the local theater. Ted, the Artistic Director, knew I was talented and a hard worker, so I was practically guaranteed a role every season. Usually not the lead, but something that allowed me to be in the spotlight, share my gifts, and get me out of the house a few nights a week during the run of the show.

That was my "fix" and, for a while, it worked. I was happy to contribute and be part of something that gave me a small glimpse into the life I wasn't ambitious enough to pursue because of other "reasons".

It was enough. Until it wasn't.

A friend and I had approached Ted about doing a holiday musical revue. He loved the idea. As we began rehearsals, Ted told me that ours would be the last show produced at the theater. After 15 years, he was closing his doors.

At first, it didn't register how much I depended on Ted and this rag-tag bunch of musical misfits. We all had "other lives" that kept us busy - teachers, lawyers, service workers, college students - but on Ted's stage we were all equals. We were all craftsmen.

We were family - and Ted was breaking up the band, so to speak.

I didn't realize, until recently, how important that creative outlet was for me. It was my primary source of adult conversation and a safe space to practice my art. It was also a happy-medium for a married mom of two with responsibilities and "reasons" that kept me from pursuing my dream.

And then it was gone.

I briefly toyed with the notion of taking over the theater, but my life and financial situation at the time just couldn't swing it. That's when everything in my life started to unravel. My kid ran away and ended up in jail, we filed bankruptcy, I lost my car, my home, and I hit the skids - quite literally.

I was driving my husband's car on the freeway. As I started to change lanes, it spun out of control. I threw my hands into the air as the car swished and fishtailed across three lanes, landing in the ditch, facing oncoming traffic. I looked up just in time to feel the rush of wind as an 18-wheeler sped past.

Somehow, I was still alive. Unscathed. Awake. The car had stalled out, but was otherwise fine. A Freudian moment.

I reasoned with myself that I should probably be dead. The only reason I survived was because, as Lennon put it, it's not the end.

So why I was still alive? What was this wake-up call all about?

Darth Vader told me to record 300 songs.

God talks to me in the voice of James Earl Jones - very deep, precise, and clear. Each morning for a few weeks, I posed the "why am I still alive?" question during my sacred practice. One day the notion to spend a year working on a new album crossed my mind. That thought led to doing 100 songs - just 2 songs a week. That's when Darth Vader boomed in.

"300 songs!"

I've learned not to argue when my inner Darth starts talking. So I started on the journey that has now become my 300 songs project.

Jim Rohn famously said "Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it." About 100 songs into the project, it became clear that it was less about the number of songs, and more about who I was becoming in the process of making them.

Dreams vs. Fantasies

I was unpacking my dusty box of dreams, recalling the value of these old treasures - some of which still had meaning for me, others from which I was finally ready to move on. I pulled out those old songs, those dance routines, and I had to decide what my dream really was.

See, your dream is relentless. It persists even when you don't want it to. You almost can't let it go because it keeps coming back to haunt you. Fantasies, on the other hand, are something that you can plow a lot of time, energy, and money into, but at the end of the day, you feel a relief to let it go.

Dancing was like that for me. I still love to dance, but I'm almost 100 pounds heavier than I was when I dreamed of being the next Paula Abdul. While I'm working on getting into better shape, the thought of re-conditioning my body to the level of a professional dancer feels like a punishment worse than death!

When I gave up on the dream of becoming a dancer, I felt unimaginable relief. Can I still dance? SURE, but on my terms - without the pressure of maintaining a dancer's body.

Becoming the next Paula Abdul or Madonna was my fantasy, entertaining and inspiring people is my dream

In fact, I can't imagine my life without a spotlight and inspiration in some way, but if I could never dance again, I don't think I'd cry too much about it. As a kid, I believed that's what I should do, if I wanted to be famous. I should learn to sing, act, dance, and play an instrument - and be good at all of them. That way, I've got a much better chance at "stardom".

But as I unpack this box of dreams as an adult, it isn't about the "shoulds" of the world around me. I'm older now, and while I still care what people think of me, it matters far less than it did a decade ago when my roles defined me.

That's not who I am anymore.

Those priorities don't matter like they used to. I stopped defining myself by what I couldn't have and began to shift my focus to what I really wanted - what truly mattered to me.

And that's the point. When something else - even fear - matters more than honoring the Divine call of your dream, you'll try to ignore it. But if it really matters to you, it will not remain silent. It will fight to be heard. It will wake you from your anesthetized way of living. It will violently shake you - with the force of an 18-wheeler - until you make a choice.

Then you will find a way to pursue it - in stolen moments while the kids are at school, or while waiting on hold with the power company. You'll get up early, stay up late, and make any excuse you can to take even the smallest step toward realizing your dream.

Or you will choose to let it go. No longer a priority. No longer the dream it once was. In which case, it's not your dream anymore, so it no longer needs pursuing.

Mourning the loss of a dream, or letting it go joyfully (your choice) is not uncommon. Kids do it every day, with much less drama and heartache. They find something new that captures their imagination, and they pursue it until it's not worth pursuing anymore. Everything they pick up and put down acts like a filter, helping them draw closer and closer to what it is that really matters to them.

For me, dance and drama led me to refine my skills as a storyteller, a performer, and to be more comfortable in my skin - critical skills that make me a better musician, author, and coach. For a time, I thought dancing was part of my dream. Dancing wasn't my dream, but it pointed the way.

Will your dreams always manifest the way you envisioned? Not likely. But that won't deter you if it's really your dream. Many are the stories of elderly men and women who found success with their dreams much later in life. Who cares how long it takes? The pursuit is part of the work of building the dream in the first place.

And should there come a time when other choices, other goals, other priorities truly do matter more than your dusty old dream, then pack it away for a time, pass it on, or simply let it go.

In the end, whatever you choose will be okay. And if it's not okay...



Feeling stuck and unsure of your direction? I am honored to be co-hosting a webinar on May 12 with Tajci Cameron that might help. Tajci's a former Croatian pop star who left it all to try her hand at the American Dream, only to get stuck herself. Join us as we explore the steps she took to awaken to joy and purpose in her life and break the cycle of pain and fear that was holding her back. Click here to meet Tajci and register for this special event!

It may sound silly to you if I asked “what does your business taste like?” or “if your business were an animal, what would it be?” And yet, these are not uncommon questions to ask in the branding process. While there's not enough time and space to develop your brand in a post like this, here are some things to keep in mind as you develop your customer experience.

  • How do you and your business show up in the world?
  • What would you never be caught dead doing?
  • What do you hope will happen for your clients because they chose to experience your Great Work?

Your answers to these (and other) questions can paint a striking picture of your creative brand.

MacGyver vs. Sydney Bristow

I loved MacGyver (still do!). To me, he was trustworthy, reliable, and he had an unmistakable brand. He never used a gun (except once, in the pilot episode of the show), he ate healthy food, and he had a mullet that every girl seemed to love. I'm pretty sure he was a Fusion Creative. He wore jeans, drove a Jeep, and was never without a roll of duct tape. He used his brain to solve the problems of the world. On the rare occasions he put on a tux, he looked like a fish out of water – he even confessed that he felt like a fish out of water! He preferred his jeans and tennies, his Jeep, and his handy roll of duct tape to the high-falutin airs of some Embassy dinner.

In fact, you might say he was trustworthy and reliable because he had an unmistakable brand. You always knew what to expect from MacGyver.

I had the opposite reaction when I watched Alias. Sydney Bristow was super smart, but hard to trust – even though I knew she was the hero of the show. She was a double agent, always in and out of disguises (most likely a Chaotic creative in the making). She was likable, but it was hard to know who she really was or which side she was on. I loved the show (even after they jumped the shark with that whole Rambaldi subplot), but it took several seasons before I felt like I really knew what to expect from her.

What kind of character are you creating in your business?

Whether you want to admit it or not you are a character. As a creative entrepreneur, you have to craft a persona – and I strongly encourage you to make it as true to life as possible. BRanding professionals will talk in terms of Archetypes. They'll use terms like "hero" or "innocent" or "maverick" but for creative entrepreneurs, this is more about how YOU want to show up on your best days. Young Steve Jobs dressed like a business man (mostly). As Jobs mellowed over the years, he stopped wearing business suits and became known for his iconic black mock turtleneck and jeans. It was a character, to be sure, but one that was true to who he was as a human being. Did his "archetype" change? Who cares? All I know is he became more likeable, more approachable, and that's the image he wanted to portray for Apple (even if he was a megalomaniac behind the scenes).

Lady Gaga insists on being outlandish in her own way – even when she's dressed conservatively, she'll have a thick layer of glitter eye shadow and long, color-coordinated fingernails (like she did at the 2016 Super Bowl). They are the calling cards of her brand experience.

You need to decide now what you want to be known for – before someone else decides for you. There are countless tales of performing artists who are “made” into a persona by their agents and producers. Don't let that happen to you – even if you don't have an agent or a producer. I tell my clients all the time:

You train people how to treat you based on what they've come to expect from you and what you've come to accept from them.

Knowing what you want to be known for isn't just about your Great Work. Sure, it's important to deliver a quality product or service, but who is delivering it (your character) and how it's being delivered is just as important to the story of your business. Tiffany's could use any color box and still command their lofty prices, couldn't they?

Well, maybe not.

Tiffany Blue

Tiffany's gift box has become synonymous with “excellence, exclusivity, and flawless craftsmanship” according to their own website. Founded in 1837, Tiffany & Young, as it was then known, started as a store for “stationery and fancy goods”. Then, in 1845, founder Charles Tiffany (a Linear Creative by all accounts) published the “blue book” - a catalog of their “exquisitely handcrafted jewels” that featured the distinctive blue shade on the cover. It's said that Tiffany selected the color because turquoise jewelry was a popular gift at the time.

Whatever the reason, Tiffany cultivated a marketing story equally attractive when they started using the color on their boxes and gift bags. It was the one thing you couldn't buy in the store. The box would be given gladly to you - free of charge - when you “bought a little something” to put inside it.
tiffany box

“The rule of the establishment is ironclad,
never to allow a box bearing the name of
the firm, to be taken out of the building
except with an article which has been sold
by them and for which they are responsible.”

- a 1906 news article about Tiffany's

Eventually, the color became so synonymous with Tiffany that the company trademarked it – along with the box, the bow, and the name, “Tiffany Blue Box®.” When they filmed “Breakfast at Tiffany's,” 40 armed guards were hired, not to protect the jewels so much as to ensure not a single box left the premises. They also filmed on a Sunday, which required Tiffany's to open on a special day just for filming.

Now, you may not need to go to these lengths for your own company, but if your brand is built on prestige, excellence, or luxury, these might be the minimum lengths you would go to position your brand in the marketplace. This is why it is so critical to get clear on who you are and what really matters to you in the first place. Perhaps, like Tiffany's, you don't want to work on Sunday. That's an important boundary to set in your business. Maybe you want to be seen as friendly and accessible – in which case, applying gold foil to your business cards might be a bit “over the top” for your brand.

It's your business. You get to decide. And decide you must - before someone else does.


This was an excerpt from my Raving Fans Toolkit, which is part of my forthcoming book "Creative Freedom". Be sure you're on my mailing list to get your free copy of the Toolkit as well as first notice when the book launches!

In the meantime, tell me your thoughts! What kind of a character are you crafting in your business? What are the "hallmarks" and signature moves of your brand? Share your ideas in the comments and let's be a rising tide for everyone.

Welcome to Day Two of the Creative Freedom Challenge. You can catch Day One here.

One of the questions I hear a lot from my clients (and one I've asked myself in the past) is "When is it my turn?"

It's a question we often ask when we think we should be further along than we are. I remember when I was first building my online coaching business. There were several colleagues that I watched "zoom ahead of me" in terms of income, reach, and business growth. I looked at what they were doing (some of them were outright stealing from other people), and I got angry. I let my indignant flag fly.

"I'm better than them. How come THEY are seeing all this success and I'm not?"

What I couldn't begin to know was the behind-the-scenes gyrations that these people were going through that would, eventually, be their downfall. One took out a massive second mortgage to pay for events and "coaching" with self-appointed seven-figure gurus - just before the housing market crashed. Her marriage hit the skids and she had to go back to a day job just a few years later. Another rose quickly in the ranks of social media experts and became a sought-after speaker and trainer in her niche... and now she's back at a day job, too.

And I'm still here, doing what I love. I may not yet be as rich and famous as they got to be in their chosen fields, but I also didn't have to sell my soul to be where I am today.

Your turn comes when you make the decision to commit.

More than likely, you won't be an overnight success. You'll work hard for years, and if you're lucky, it won't feel much like work. Oh, there'll be effort, and ups and downs, and late nights or early mornings sometimes, but you recognize you're building something that's meant to last.

But if you continue to put your hopes and dreams on the back burner, or ignore them altogether, you'll be hard-pressed to find the success you're looking for... simply because you haven't really made it a priority.

That was the error I made for nearly a decade. I was constantly re-prioritizing my career path to "fit in" with the expectations of those close to me. When I had my first five-figure month, I faced an enormous amount of guilt and shame... consequently it was a long time before I had another five figure month. When I had the opportunity to star in two shows back-to-back, I withdrew from the second production because my husband wanted me home with the kids. I didn't even think about hiring a sitter or getting help because I had put his happiness above my own.

I'm done paying that price.

Your turn comes when you make the commitment to quit.

You cut off the options and activities that no longer move you in the directions of your dreams. You walk away from the programs, commitments, projects, and people that are draining your energy and diverting you from the thing that matters most. You get ruthlessly honest with yourself about what really matters.

That's when you begin to feel the success that's been yours all along. Remember success is a destination, and you're already here!

This applies to creative entrepreneurs just as much as people in the corporate world. When a chief executive of a major corporation retires after only a few years, people take notice. Lots of assumptions are made about his health, his qualifications, and the politics of the position. It almost seems unthinkable that the real reason for quitting is because their heart just isn't in it anymore.

When that executive is the Chief Financial Officer at Google, even more people sit up and take notice.

Meet Patrick

Patrick Pichette is a family guy. He's been married to Tamar for about 25 years, and they have three grown kids - all of whom are on the success track. He's got a lot to be proud of, but Patrick's been a card-carrying member of what he calls the "Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers" and so busy at his day job that he couldn't see what was happening at home.

He was vacationing with his wife (here's a photo of them on Mount Kilimanjaro) when she suggested they extend the vacation and see a few more sites. In Patrick's own words:

"I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It's not time yet, There is still so much to do... so many people counting on me/us."

Tamar refused to play along.

"When is it going to be time? Our time? My time?" she asked him.

Patrick was only 7 years into his tenure as CFO at Google when Tamar dropped this bomb. Tamar was tired of waiting. Tired of being the lower priority. With their children grown, it was the perfect time for them to spend time enjoying each other - before their health and well-being started the typical old-age decline.

"I could not find a good argument," Patrick said, "to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road - celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted."

And with that, Patrick made his announcement to retire and begin the next chapter of his life and Great Work.

Which leads me to today's question:

When will it be YOUR time?

There will always be this perception that someone is counting on you. That's the nature of being in human relationships. For many people, life becomes a series of negotiations - trading work and family time so that every obligation is met. And you can choose to work and live focused on meeting the obligations, or you can choose to listen to the voice that keeps asking "When is it MY time?"

When will you stop waiting on your dreams? When will they become a real priority for you? When will you stop compromising what's important to you and start showing up to your life and work with an authentic commitment to being YOU - fully and completely?

With Tamar's help, Patrick recognized that there had to be a better way to live and be in the world. He stopped compromising and started doing what worked for him - even if it flew in the face of what "conventional wisdom" said he should do.

In my last post, we talked about how owning your dreams and building your Noble Empire begins with getting clarity. Once you have clarity, you need to make a plan. Patrick didn't just leave Google high and dry. He worked with Google to create a transition plan. That way, the new CFO could get up to speed in a timely manner, and Patrick and Tamar could start plotting the course of their next adventure.

A transition plan gives you a map to help you see the steps you need to take in order to transition away from your day job and into the Great Work of your life. Most entrepreneurs skip this step, and just jump ship - which creates the frustration and anxiety that most new entrepreneurs feel around their creative endeavors. Remember Amy? Her transition took about 3 years, from inkling to finally quitting her day job. But most of that time she was stuck in the Artisan trap... which we'll talk about next time.

Today's Assignment

Today, begin building a list of things you need to handle to make a transition happen. Take those non-negotiables from yesterday into consideration. Maybe you need to figure out a way to build your Noble Empire without doing a lot of travel - or maybe, like Patrick, you want to travel a LOT. Maybe you need to figure out health, parent, or child care. Maybe you need to figure out your business model or where you'll do this Great Work. Maybe you just need to get some support and accountability to keep you on track. Don't think too hard. Just start building the list.

Creating the list is an exercise in gaining more clarity. And yes, you'll probably hit a wall with some things you don't even know you need to handle. Remember, you're not making the jump right now. I don't even want you to THINK about making a jump or leap of any kind. We're aiming for a smoother transition than that. We're just starting to line things up.

Take it one step at a time. You can do this. I believe in you!

What's on your list?

Share your thoughts in the comments and let's be a Rising Tide for everyone! You don't need to sign up or the challenge to participate, but if you want email reminders, or a FREE copy of my Raving Fans Toolkit, you'll want to get on my mailing list here (or use the handy opt-in box above).

On Day One of the Creative Freedom Challenge, we're taking a hard look at the biggest reason you're still stuck in energy-draining work, instead of getting paid well for doing what you love.

And it's not what you think.

Most people think the reason they're stuck is because they haven't made enough money yet to make the leap. If you're just getting started and stuck in a day job, that may be true. More on that in a minute.  You can be several years into your career as a creative entrepreneur and still find you've created a "job" for yourself, doing things that aren't fulfilling - like putting out fires or picking up dropped balls.

In truth, "not enough money" is not the biggest reason you've stuck with your "job" for so long.

The real reason you're stuck is lack of clarity.

Lack of clarity often shows up in one of two areas:
1. Who you really are and what really matters in your life and Great Work (that's what we'll cover today).
2. How you want to show up in the world (we'll cover that next).


Meet Amy

Amy Oscar is a friend and colleague. We met at a conference back in 2010, and she was kind enough to write the cover quote for my book, "The Secret Watch." Amy's building a global following on the back of her book "Sea of Miracles." Her Soul Caller program has evolved from a weekly free twitter chat into a series of courses, programs and retreats. She also does private sessions as an intuitive guide and healer. Amy has thousands of fans and followers around the world (some of them pretty well-known), and yet, with all those clear signs that she was on to something, she still hadn't quit her day job.

For more than 15 years, Amy was an editor for a national women's magazine. She LOVED her job, but as her Great Work through Soul Caller started picking up steam, she still hadn't let go of her day job to focus on her Great Work. Here's what Amy told me:

"I sensed that I'd put an important part of my soul in deep freeze." 

She then told me how it took her months to untangle what was going on inside her. Ultimately Amy realized, when she considered her job versus her Great Work, the truth so many creative entrepreneurs face:

"One was always going to have me hiding behind someone else's glitter cape. I didn't just have a message. It was MY message to deliver. So many people are telling this story and each voice matters. Each story resonates. We need them all. Mine was different and it had to be heard." 

Do you make the leap or let it go?

Making the choice to pursue your creative calling can be complicated. It's not always easy. That's why clarity is so important.

Clarity comes from accepting your truth with what I call ruthless honesty: no judgement. Just seeing the facts for what they are.

Here's how Amy described her watershed moment:

"I was afraid to stand alone. It was never about the money. It was about my willingness to trust the world to love me when it could see me. And not just as a cog in someone else's wheel... It's about the willingness to come out of hiding. To stand in the light and be seen loving what I love. Being what I am. Which doesn't fit into anyone else's idea of what I could or should be or how I might serve their vision. It's about the willingness to step into  the image I hold inside of my own heart of what I am.


"I realized that if I was going to be happy - and live a fully engaged, fully present life - I wasn't going to live a normal life.  And I finally accepted that. I quit my job because the Soul Caller work was more important to me than a paycheck."

Amy got clear on the life she wanted to live, the Great Work she wanted to bring into the world, and who she would become in the process. When Amy got clear on who she was and how she'd outgrown her day job, she was ready to embrace her "own message to deliver" and share it with the world.

Amy's truth is a common one: more than the ability to make good money at it, the real issue behind making the shift into creative entrepreneurship is a lack of clarity (and perhaps a fear of being really seen).

In order to get paid to be you, you've got to BE YOU.

Look, if a guy can earn a living wage making youtube videos about playing video games or unboxing action figures, there's no reason that you can't get paid well to do what you love, too. But you have to have clarity on who you are and what really matters to you before you can stake your claim on your Great Work and share it joyfully with the world.

Then, you've got to show up that way consistently. Sure, try it on and see how your Great Work can not only serve others, but also yourself. Once you've got clarity on that, you've got to have the confidence to step up and own your message in the marketplace on a regular basis.

But that's the next part of our challenge. 🙂

Today's Assignment

Today, spend a few minutes thinking about what REALLY matters to you - in your life and work. What are your non-negotiables? When I work with clients, we use what I call the 5 Key Areas of Success as the model for defining success on your own terms. Here are additional resources to help you get more clarity on what really matters and how you want to show up in the world:

  • Raving Fans Toolkit - a free gift to all my subscribers, which walks you through all four elements of building a Noble Empire.
  • Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Type Quiz - A free tool to help you uncover your blind spots as a creative entrepreneur.
  • Dreamblazing - my fully customizable planning tool that helps you not only get clarity, but make a plan to achieve your dreams and goals.
  • How The World Sees You - a great book by Sally Hogshead that helps you see "your highest value through the science of Fascination"
  • Strengths Finder - Tom Rath's assessment and book that illuminate your strengths and abilities.
  • What Are Your Immutable Laws? - this post is an oldie, but a goodie, from Mike Michalowicz.

Believe it or not, you already ARE a success. It may not feel like it right now, but it's true. Success is a destination, not a journey, and you're already here. Everything you've done (or failed to do) has led to this moment. Until you have clarity on what success looks like for your unique situation, it's pretty dang difficult to feel successful.

Are You On The List?

If you want to get all the updates in the Creative Freedom Challenge, along with a copy of my Raving Fans Toolkit, you can sign up right here (that box at the top of the page works, too).

How do you define success?

What resources would you add to this list? Share your comments below and let's be a rising tide for everyone!

[Editor’s note: This is the next installment in a series of posts. Each year since November, 2010, I've posted an annual re-cap of my happenings and a projection of things to come.  If you're ambitious, curious, or just plain bored, you can find the previous posts here: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 ]

For six years now, I've been selecting a theme to carry me into the new year. I'll get to this year's theme shortly, but before I do, let's look back at the crazy, effed-up, wonderfully horrible year we called 2015.

2015 Sucked Hard, But I PLANNED It That Way... Sort Of.

Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness. - Brene BrownThe theme for 2015 was Compassionate Determination, which was about creating my own niche, living as myself more consistently, and not wearing so many masks in my life and work. As I mentioned in my previous post, it's about progress, not perfection, and being consistent met with more challenges than I anticipated. I'll admit that sometimes I forgot it. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the day to day of working and living. I think John Lennon said "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" and that was a clear reflection of 2015. So much "life" happened.

Here's my recap of my 5 Key Areas of Success:


From a financial perspective, 2015 was awful. My total business income was roughly $3k.

Nope, that's not a typo. I didn't leave off a zero. Yes, it's scary to admit that.

Three thousand dollars. $3,000. USD.

And if I hadn't planned on it, everything else would have sucked, too.

Some would call me "lucky" and say that because I had a husband to "take care of me" I didn't need to make any money. But that's not true. My business has to stand on its own - without sucking money out of our family finances. I paid myself for the work I did during the year, and still managed to have one of the most profitable years on record (percentage-wise) in my business because of the strategies I implemented in 2014. Profitability, for me, is not just about the money anymore. It's about the quality of life.

Two things I knew I wanted to accomplish this year: re-focus my brand and get my album, The Fine Line, out into the world. A good portion of my income this year came in during my work on the web series $30 Days to $5k. It might be a spoiler to tell you that I didn't hit that goal, but the experiment in offering paid entertainment programming was a big success. I filmed a 30 day reality-type series and offered it for about what you'd expect to pay for a season of your favorite TV show. It was one of my biggest-selling offers of the year. People who watched it said they got a lot out of it and it gave them a deeper insight into what really matters to them as well as  who I am and how I operate in the world.

As for re-focusing my brand, well, that wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. I began my online coaching journey about 10 years ago, working with direct sellers almost exclusively. In fact, Direct Sales Classroom and its flagship program, Direct Sales 101, still serve clients from all over the world, even though I don't promote that website much at all. People still find that site via search engines, which speaks to how well it's positioned in the marketplace, despite my lack of attention through the years.

A few years ago, as my audience expanded, I started waffling back and forth, working with all kinds of entrepreneurs. Best selling authors, direct sales leaders,  and even people who have chronic health problems have come to me seeking new ways to reach more of their right people using the internet. It made it very difficult to clarify who I help best. As a result, I had clients all over the map, and I couldn't figure out their common denominator in a way that would allow me to speak to them with confidence and clarity... something I'm pretty good at helping other people do.


"I ran away in shame and pride, but the echo in my heart keeps telling me to try." - What Love Can Do

So, 2015 was the year I dug in and got market clarity. I researched, tested, tweaked, interviewed, listened, and spent countless hours honing in. Some would say I spent too much time listening, and not enough time "shipping", but I disagree. I debuted the first season of "Creative Freedom", launched two new training programs, an album, and the aforementioned paid web series. Add to that my music videos with Des, and it was a pretty full year - it just wasn't focused on making a lot of money. It was focused on testing the market, validating demand, and really listening to what my audience was telling me.

So often entrepreneurs, especially creatives, throw so much spaghetti on the wall they don't have time to see what's really sticking because they're too busy cleaning up their mess. Chaotic Creatives want everything to show up a certain way. Linear Creatives want results YESTERDAY, and Fusions want it all.

In that pursuit, there's a lot of rushing, a lot of hurry, a lot of "hustle" that, frankly, can kill you, and I wasn't having any of that.


conniewonniehamsterwheelOn the physical fitness front, I learned a lot about what triggers me as an emotional eater. I learned that I have cycles of "bad eating choices" that coincide with school breaks. In short, when the kids are home, I stress out and eat more... or at least, I did, until I figured that out. Now, I'm spending more time in my new office (more on that in a bit), and less in the kitchen - which was the hub of activity in our old house. I'm inching my way down the scale, and I'm buying smaller clothes. All good signs in my book.

I also watched "the hustle" nearly ruin four colleagues last year. They all hit major financial milestones, but their health and mental well-being fell apart. One nearly died from a burst appendix because they were "playing through the pain" to complete a project launch. Sure, they hit six figures, but it cost them a lengthy hospital stay in the process. Another pushed so hard to launch her program and hit seven figures (while she was pregnant and due any day), that after it was all over, she spent a week doing nothing but waking up, feeding the baby, and going back to sleep. She admitted to being depressed, unmotivated, and exhausted.

Gee, I can't imagine why.

To be clear: they were not my clients. I don't advocate that kind of approach. The "push. push, push" approach to "fast cash" attacks the heart of what it really takes to build a profitable, sustainable business. Sure you can work like crazy (well, some people can), but then you have no life. I remember the great Jazz vocalist, Wesla Whitfield, once saying that people told her she'd never have a career in Jazz if she stayed in San Francisco. She replied "That's right! I'll have a life!"

This fabulous woman - who was paralyzed by a shooting in her twenties - is a staple in Jazz music, with over 500 songs in her repertoire, dozens of albums to her credit, and a musical legacy that has inspired people all over the country. She's been doing what she loves for decades, despite her circumstances, and making a good living doing it.

That is what profitable and sustainable looks like. Yes, it's glamorous to brag about making millions of dollars in less than half a nanosecond, but that's not the norm. Not for creative entrepreneurs who are in it for the long haul.

And I am.

tajciOn the mental fitness front, I challenged myself and read over 25 books this year - and not all of them non fiction! I spent time with Shakespeare's sonnets and whole lot of Dr. Seuss, alongside helping Lewis Howes and Michael Port launch their new books into the world last fall.

In the process, I got inspired to write another book, which is nearing completion. Creative Freedom is a how-to book specifically for Creative Entrepreneurs who want to make good money doing what they love serving an audience that loves them right back. I spent a good part of the year meeting, interviewing, and learning about all kinds of creatives, which led me to develop my Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Type Quiz. Hundreds of people have taken the quiz and it's been a big help to my research for the book.

I also met some really fascinating people (that's me and Tajci Cameron in the photo), reconnected with some old friends and colleagues, and had some challenging conversations about race, gender, diversity, and inclusion. I was really proud of myself for NOT shying away from those conversations, which I might have done in previous years, just to avoid conflict. Being myself, fully and completely, means being willing to speak my truth, in love, with the people that matter most to me.

That wasn't always easy this year.

Family & Freedom

DidItAnywayWhich brings me to the hardest subject of the recap. The people that matter most to me. As I mentioned in my last post, 2015 was a long slog at figuring out what really matters. What's staying, what's going, and all that jazz. We talked early in the year about relocating to Nashville, but that didn't happen. Lots of emotional baggage and childhood trauma reared its head. Tempers flared. Things were said. We survived it. The upshot was my need for freedom. To be mobile, agile, and able to travel. I need people. My husband doesn't. He's content to live like a hermit. I am not. So we bought a house (which actually saved us a good deal of money every month),and upgraded my car.

Then, I asked my husband for a divorce.

I don't say that glibly. There's no joy in that sentence. It's taken years to make this decision, and I didn't make it lightly. I truly love my husband and want nothing but the best for him. Even after 12 years together (10 as a married couple), our wants and needs are still in opposition to one another, and that's painful for both of us. If one of us is happy, the other is frustrated or feeling anxious, which doesn't make it easy to be married to each other. I want him to be truly happy, in a meaningful relationship with someone that is in alignment with what he wants and needs. I want that for myself, too.  I believe we'll both have happier, more enjoyable lives if we're not married to each other.

"My wounds are deep, I can't deny. And the salty rivers flow down my face 'til they run dry." - What Love Can Do

So while I intended to take only a month off for the move last fall, it turned into a season-long hiatus because of depression, fear, and other emotional baggage that I had to work through to come clean in my relationship with my husband. There's no need for commentary, and we're still in the early stages of sorting this through. We're committed to doing this our way as much as possible - focused on doing right by our son, giving him the best possible environment in which to thrive, with no mud-slinging, fighting, or passive-aggressive behavior. We're still in the same house. We're still co-parenting, and for now, there are no plans to change that. I'm sure that will evolve as time moves on, but for now, that's where we're at and it works for us.


SmallcoverThe new album is out in the world and has already outperformed my last two albums combined. That was a huge leap of faith for me. I can't tell you how many people (friends and family alike) told me that it was a bad idea to do an album of pop-infused jazz and blues tunes. Nobody will buy it. Nobody will listen to a jazz version of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" or Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" - well, maybe once, but who's going to listen to it over and over again?

Apparently at least three times as many people as bought my last two albums combined.

I can start breathing again.

"I heard a whisper on the wind and an echo in my heart tryin' to tell me to begin." - What Love Can Do

I put a lot of time and effort into this album. After spending several years working myself to the middle of 300 songs, and bringing Des on board as a permanent fixture last year, it was time to put the album to bed and get it out into the world. But it didn't exactly go as planned.

All kinds of things tried to thwart our progress. I got sick several times and ended up not being able to record the vocals until after we completed the move. We kept pushing back the launch date until, finally, I bumped it to 2016, just to be sure I could get the project done.

After getting sick a few more times during and after the move, I recognized the tell-tale signs of an upper-limit problem. So I focused on extreme self care for the remainder of the year, just so I could finish the album.

Mission accomplished.

2015 gave me exactly what I asked of it, even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted.

I expect 2016 will be more of the same. I just turned 41, and women keep telling me that your 40's are the best years of your life, So I'm going to try and hold them to it. I've got new tools and support options launching this year, and I'm getting closer and closer to the core of ME.

My goal this year is to come to terms with my divorce with grace and compassion (for both of us). In the process, I've still got work to do: a summer concert tour, a new group coaching program for creative entrepreneurs, and of course, the launch of Creative Freedom - the book and the second season of my web show. Oh, and I'll be studying acting with Kevin Spacey this Spring, booya!

Those are just the tip of what appears to be an exciting iceberg for 2016.

Let's pray we don't run aground, okay?

"Once again your love is calling with the words, so gentle, and so clear." - What Love Can Do

My 2016 Theme: Radiance

It's about stepping up, stepping out, and shining my light for all my world (or at least my right audience) to see. It's scary, but it's also pretty freaking awesome. I already have a great story to share (but I'll save it for the next blog post). It takes a certain level of clarity, confidence, and courage to show up every day as yourself - warts, sparkles, and all - without letting the world deter you. The good news is, you already know how, because it's born in you. You were made to be you. And I was made to be me. And that's exactly what the world needs. Judy Garland said it's better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rater version of someone else.

That is what I'm up to in 2016.

My 2016 Theme Song: What Love Can Do

It's a work I began in earnest last year: peeling off the layers of dust and debris, practicing showing up as me - even if people might find the real me a bit to their disliking. As luck would have it, the more me I shared, the better my friendships became - even if we didn't always see eye to eye. Relationships got real. People drew nearer, and they didn't run screaming for the hills as I feared they would.

That's the power of love - loving yourself and putting as much time and energy there as you do any of your other relationships. For decades, I didn't. I put everyone else before me. I even taught this stuff, for pity's sake, but we often teach what we most need to learn. Turning and returning to a place of love and loving service (to myself and others), that is what I choose to radiate in 2016.

What about you?