Lisa Robbin Young

At the end of March, I had the honor of speaking at the TEDxBloomington Salon and it was amazing.

Salons are generally smaller scale TED-style events that are locally curated, like any TEDx event. Unlike a larger, full-day event where the talks can range pretty widely, Salons are generally on a more focused topic. Our topic was (sustain)ABILITY.

The theme still lends itself to some pretty wide-ranging topics, including a sonnet on sustainability, the importance of preserving indigenous language for future generations (and the tech to make it accessible to everyone), how kindness and generosity can sustain us, the 3 steps to find healing in business, and more. I look forward to sharing the talks once they're all uploaded, but for now, I can share my talk on How the Marginalization Tax impacts finding Enoughness for micro businesses. You can also access the bonus resources for my TEDx talk here.

My life is a paradox. As a business coach and entrepreneur, I rely on Capitalism to keep food on the table. And I help my clients to do the same. But as a human being, I also rail against what it seems like Capitalism has become: a money-grubbing, soul-crushing free-for-all for the wealthy elite that would rather leave our big blue marble than invest in healing, protecting, and sustaining it.

About 40% of my clients are multiply marginalized, many with a chronic illness, disability, or other capacity-limiting constraints that have essentially forced them to leave traditional employment and go out on their own because it works for how they're built. Forced, because capitalism asks more of us than we can consistently give, and no one feels this quite as much as the marginalized people of the world.

Entrepreneurship then, becomes a way for them to "leverage" the capacity they DO have - but not everyone is equipped to meet the challenges of entrepreneurship.

The incessant invitation to grow for growth's sake is a siren's song that hypnotizes entrepreneurs into the trap of adding one more zero to our revenue… and then another… and then another. But that "MORE" doesn't include room for things like more rest, more play, more ease - unless you hustle your face off first. There's this persistent myth that if you just work hard enough long enough and do your best, you'll make it to that "some day" where you can retire in style.

But Capitalism asks for more than many of us can give. And it has a bad habit of moving the goal posts on us.

With so many companies shooting for the moon - both literally and figuratively, this incessant drive for "More" isn't a sustainable path. How do we find the sustainable path in business? We strive for Enoughness instead.

When we look to nature, a cactus can thrive on very little water and a lot of sun. That is Enoughness for the cactus. If you flood the desert, the cactus rots. If you take away the sun, the cactus starves.

So Enoughness looks different in different situations.

For the folks that I work with, Enoughness is a result of building a business that works for their unique situation.

They are not corporate behemoths. They are parents, artists, travelers, authors, healers, activists, and more. They want a living wage that allows them to retire a spouse or provide for their families, and be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors - even when Capitalism tries to ask more of them than they can give on their own.

For years, I've taught what I call your Enoughness Number. It's essentially the revenue your business needs to bring in on an annual basis in order to have an experience of Enoughness. Not excessive, but appropriate. Not just subsisting, like so many marginalized folks do, but thriving.

But then one of my non-normative clients pointed out that I had not taken into account the additional resources required to navigate a world that asks more of you than you can give. We dubbed this added cost The Marginalization Tax.

At that time I was still under the spell of meritocracy. Just work harder. Keep working, and eventually you'll get there…. however long THAT is. I had always been able to keep working… until the day I needed back surgery. For eleven days I was unable to walk, stand, or otherwise move my body without substantial pain and significant help.

I was lucky I had help at home and owned my own business. If I'd been in a traditional job, I probably would have been fired or forced to use all my time off. And then where would I be for the rest of the year?

This tax is a spectrum of disadvantage based on a number of things like skin color, religion, gender expression, geography, age, body shape, economic status, social status, and basically any circumstance where there's a power imbalance that puts one group of people at an advantage to the detriment of others.

For example (and this isn't exhaustive, but you'll get the idea): I'm a cis, straight, neurodivergent, mixed-race, black woman that presents as white and able-bodied. I'm almost 50 and my body shape is not the socially accepted norm. I have a mix of privilege and disadvantage that impacts the resources I need. The more resources I need, the greater the marginalization tax I pay to participate in this world.

So let's look at what Enoughness looks like both with and without the Marginalization Tax applied so you can see how this works.

First, what are your total living expenses? Let's say $60k

Now add to that your growth. Maybe you've got a nice-to-have or a want that you'd like to see happen in the next year. That's your take-home pay requirement.

If you're a business owner, on top of your take home pay, what are the other "living expenses" of your business?

Then add your business growth to that. Maybe you want to launch a new offer and need to invest in infrastructure or support. Put it in your total.

Now add all that up and add a 10% cushion for unplanned surprises. They happen.

That's already a large number for a small business.

But, now we add the Marginalization Tax.

Based on where you fall on the spectrum, this could be anywhere from zero to as much as 50% of the total. Think that's steep? According to a 2021 report from the national women's law center, black women make a million dollars less over their career than white men. That's 37% less. That is the Marginalization Tax in action.

So we total this all up and there it is - one Enoughness Number that's drastically different than it would be if you didn't have to pay this tax.

Unlike the taxes you pay to your government each year, the bill for the Marginalization Tax comes due each day. This weekend my husband bought some cookies for $4. But I can't eat those cookies because some of the ingredients will hurt me. If I wanted to have a comparable amount of cookies that I can eat, I'd have to pay nearly 3 times as much - or I could spend just a few dollars more for all the ingredients and make them myself. Which would take an additional 45 minutes out of my day.

He can just open a package of cookies and go to town! The Marginalization Tax means I pay significantly more either in time or money - resources I may or may not have - just to enjoy a cookie.

Now you might say, "But Lisa, that's a cookie. A treat. You don't NEED a cookie. You can live without a cookie."

Yes, but why should I have to settle for less just because my body is built differently than yours?

But, let's say you're right and look at another case: One of my clients applied for medical disability long before we started working together. She had a profitable business that she'd built around her chronic illness which was so severe and variable that she never knew what her capacity to work would be like from one day to the next. Once she got approved for disability, she shut it all down. She said to me, "I can't jeopardize my disability payments. What if I go off disability and then my business has a down year? I'll have to re-apply and go through all of this all over again - and I might not survive!"

I don't blame her for wanting to protect herself and know that she can survive in a world that makes it hard for her to just exist. I blame the system where the deck is stacked against some of us and not others. That is the impact of the Marginalization Tax.

Everyone should be able to experience enoughness - a fully belly, a warm bed, and the safety of knowing they have what they need to thrive. There's certainly plenty on this planet to make it possible. But the playing field isn't level. What's worse, Capitalism keeps moving the goal posts.

But I believe that the best way to change a system is from the inside. That's why I'm a business owner. That's why I help other business owners - who aren't trying to hustle their face off to be a squijillionaire. They just want to find the balance that allows them to be paid well, within their capacity constraints, and have the time and energy to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

We don't need more rockets into space. We need more business owners striving for Enoughness for everyone.

When we have Enoughness it's… well, it's enough.

Like I said, it's a paradox.

If you've ever read my book The Secret Watch, then you probably also know that the story was inspired by my own encounter with a woman on a plane. She told me that I'd write a book about a magic watch that revealed special secrets and it would become a best seller.

I did... and it did!

As I wrote the book, I imagined how my life might be different if magic watches were real. If I could just pop open a pocket watch and be inspired by a new inscription every day, would I be able to make the most of it like my character, Tina, did? That's actually how our virtual coaching card deck came to be!

While I have yet to find a real secret watch (unfortunately), I'm lucky that I don't have to wait around to find inspiration. I create my own inspiration every year with my annual goals.

Not *another* goals "accountability" post!

Yeah. I hear you. They're often overdone at the beginning of the year. But by February, according to a 2020 survey, about 30% of folks see their well-intended goals fall by the wayside. Since I gave you my Annual Review rundown earlier in the month, I thought it might also be valuable for you to see what I'm driving toward this year.

You know, besides more ease.

To be clear, this isn't about having you hold me accountable. My past experience has shown that sharing my goals with you will not help me stay accountable. That's not how I'm wired.

There have been too many times in my non-normative life where that kind of "accountability" put too much pressure on me to perform - and then, I'd either choke, end up stressing myself out, or resent the entire thing. Sometimes all three.

Like when all those internet marketing gurus were trying to convince you to sell something before you built it - and then you just "build the plane as you fly it." It might work for some folks, but not me.

There have been too many times in my non-normative life where that kind of "accountability" put too much pressure on me to perform - and then, I'd either choke, end up stressing myself out, or resent the entire thing. Sometimes all three. Plus, people often have their own thoughts and opinions about my goals.

Frankly, ain't nobody got time for that!

But I do believe in being transparent. Whether or not I hit my goals is up to me, not you. But transparency is a way to model for you - to see what I am doing and see how you can apply my approach to your own situation. As a business coach, I help my clients set and achieve goals for themselves. To be in integrity and "walk my talk", I think it's only fair to share my goals with you. I've used the Dreamblazing tool to define what success looks like for me for almost 15 years now. Some years, I hit them all, and most years I fall short in at least one, but that's how I expect things to go because I aim pretty high.

Your mileage may vary, but by seeing my thought process, it might spark something for you. THAT is the reason I'm sharing my goals with you.

So, based on the 5 key areas of success, here are my 2023 goals, in priority order:

Goal 1: I experience ease in every way throughout the year (Freedom)

My Freedom Goal is my number one priority. I am a hard worker. I was raised with a strong work ethic and a deep programming that the only way for me to break out of the poverty I was born into was to work. like. hell.

So I know what hard work looks like and I know how to do it. I don't need anymore practice.

That's not to say that there won't be times when I need to hustle a little. But that's what I call compassionate hustle. I can't live and work on the hamster wheel.

What's more, I don't want to.

So that means finding ease. Not working for it, figuring it out, or struggling/striving/stressing about it.

That is not the way of ease.

It looks like asking myself "What's the easier path?" and honoring that awareness.

But what's the easier path? To struggle and fight and strain and stress, or to enjoy where I'm at right now and see where the road takes me?

Goal 2: I enjoy and take pride in my body, no matter my shape or size (Fitness)

In Dreamblazing, you set two goals for the Key Area of Fitness: one for your physical container and one for what's contained within it. This is my inside the container goal.

My personal history has been more body shame than body confidence. I've had major surgeries 2 years in a row and that really knocked me on my heels and had me feeling like my body was betraying me - as if that could even be a thing! I knew that I needed to adjust my attitude and rekindle an appreciation for who I am inside and out.

I'm lucky as hell that my current husband makes a point of telling me he loves how I look. I didn't get that much in my first marriage. It's been a growth edge for me to really hear, receive, and believe that feedback. I'm still working on it.

But what's the easier path? To struggle and fight and strain and stress, or to enjoy where I'm at right now and see where the road takes me?

Right. So, I'm all about enjoying the journey this year... wherever it takes me.

If I had listened to them, I never would have written 2 best sellers or recorded 3 albums - or any of a number of other things I wanted to do with my life that I was told was "too much" for a kid who was born in the ghetto.

Goal 3: I'm cultivating a supportive community that sees and believes in me (Family)

Chosen family is a big part of how I manage to keep my shit together. I love my birth family, but they are distant, and most of them rarely ever talk to me. That road runs both ways. I rarely ever talk to them. Growing up, I didn't feel like I had much support from them - they didn't understand my goals or dreams, and thought I was aiming too high.

If I had listened to them, I never would have written 2 best sellers or recorded 3 albums - or any of a number of other things I wanted to do with my life that I was told was "too much" for a kid who was born in the ghetto.

This year is about deepening connections and cultivating a community of folks who get me. Surrounding myself with encouragers who believe in who I am and what I'm up to in the world - who want to see me succeed and want to be part of making that happen in some way.

I've been part of an international women's networking group for several years, and have been lax about connecting with members. Although I have a few friends in that community, I've not been great about maintaining connections. That needs to change, if for no other reason than there are some pretty amazing people there and it would be cool to have more friendships with people like that.

Jane Fonda said in a recent interview that "you have to pursue people that you want to be friends with." I've never been a pursuer. More like "if you build it, they will come." Which is hysterical when you realize the irony. So, like Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, I'mma be in hot pursuit this year.

Goal 4: SHINE like the STAR that I am (Faith)

This is both an invitation for me to follow my own success path and to come out of hiding. That's another reason why I'm sharing these goals with you: coming out of hiding.

I've done a lot of hiding since I moved to Mississippi. It's easy to cocoon when you're in a rural town where nobody knows your name and there's nothing doing because a global pandemic has shut nearly everything down. Then there was a wedding, surgery, a move (we bought a house), another move (back to Nashville), more surgery, and yet another move last year to Bloomington, Indiana.

All that movement made it easy to lose myself in the details of those moments. To start to identify myself by those moments (or the results of those moments), instead of being intentional about the life and body of work I want to have/create for myself.

When you shine, it's either because you're emitting or reflecting light. I realized that I wasn't really doing either - and I want to do both.

To shine my own light through my body of work but, also, to share the light of others in my world. My clients are mystical, magical Unicorns. They are smart and brilliantly gifted. I want more people in the world to know about them!

When you shine, it's either because you're emitting or reflecting light. I realized that I wasn't really doing either - and I want to do both.

That means more video, another live event, and monthly live workshops for my clients. I'm also going back to doing more video and having more guests on the show. That was a hard step for me to take because I am so leery about who I share with my audience. A lot of people look good on paper, and then they open their mouth and it's trash. I care about my audience too much... and my reputation. So adding guests will be slow going, and mostly from people I've either already worked with (like my interview with Dr. Mazur), or folks I know and trust in other ways. All the more reason I need to connect to more people!

Goal 5: Rebuild my body for optimal health (Fitness)

This is the goal related to my physical container. I've had major surgery two years in a row that stem from life-long health issues. My doctors and physical therapists have given me specific instructions that I intend on following. Some of them are easier than others. The hardest one is being up and moving 15 minutes for every hour that I'm awake - that's 2-4 hours of movement every day. That's not necessarily exercise, but it is getting up and moving around. Thankfully, walking around the house, putting away dishes, and doing laundry all count toward that activity goal.

But it's still a huge adjustment to my daily routine. It gives me about 5 hours of useful worktime, and I can't sit for more than a couple of hours at a time. Really, 45 minutes is best, but some of my appointments don't lend themselves to that possibility.

I have no illusions of getting my "20-year-old-me" body back. That's not optimal health for me... making sure I'm doing what I can, as I'm able, to rehab my body to the best is can be right now is.

But my body needs to heal. I just had my 1 year follow-up ultrasound from the first surgery. I'm waiting on the results, but I'm hopeful that what I've been doing is working. In the meantime, I've adjusted my coaching calendar and I have a standing desk. So if we're in a long workshop, you may see me stand up and pace around at my desk in order to get my movement in.

I have no illusions of getting my "20-year-old-me" body back. That's not optimal health for me at almost 50. Making sure I'm doing what I can, as I'm able, to rehab my body to the best it can be right now is.

Goal 6: be a wealthy, generous entrepreneur (Fortune)

I was intentional about the wording for this goal because those words carry a variety of meanings, depending on your audience.

Wealth, as I'm defining it, is about total well-being, not just my bank balance. Yes, income is important - a girl's gotta eat! But so is showing up happy, healthy, and in the right frame of mind for whatever comes my way.

If you were in our Customer Journey workshop last month, you saw how our offer stack is changing in the coming months. We're also right-sizing our pricing and rolling out some new, free workshops over the course of the year. Last month, it was the Customer Journey workshop. In March, it's a content creation sprint, and May we're hosting a brand new workshop about Enoughness, based on the TEDx talk I'm doing at the end of March.

Generosity takes many forms... including generosity to myself as well as others. Putting my oxygen mask on first is not being generous. That's a bare minimum that hasn't always happened. I want to move beyond that and really enjoy being exceptionally good to myself. Sharing the spotlight with my clients, as I mentioned earlier, is also rooted here. So is improving our client experience. We're moving our community off facebook this quarter. We're also migrating our Rising Tide learning library and all our courseware to a new platform as we prepare for a website redesign in the next year. I wanted a stable, easy to use place for everything to live, so that we can create a better customer experience. So that I can afford to be more generous to everyone in our circle.

Generosity takes many forms... including generosity to myself as well as others.

Being an entrepreneur signals my desire to keep getting paid (and paid well) doing work I love. Being an employee is challenging for non-normative people. Ageism and racism are real; so is fat phobia. The easier path for me has almost always been entrepreneurship - even when owning my own business has been hard.

I hope my transparency inspires you. Above all, define what success looks like for you this year, then go for it! Whether you need support to help you stay accountable or not, whether you hit all your goals or fall short, what matters most is that you are moving in the direction of your dreams.

[Note: I started doing an annual recap back in 2010. You can find previous years here:  2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2021 - 2020 got skipped for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the pandemic that shall not be named.] 

Here's the TL;DR: last year was hard as hell, so this year, it's all about creating more ease in every possible way. I'm not accepting any more Incubator clients after June, limiting my coaching availability, raising rates on coaching & consulting, and offering more free training throughout the year inside our new community.

Last year's recap was a podcast episode. While it was expedient to do it that way, it left me feeling... well... like I didn't do it "right".

Shoulding all over myself. Not-enoughing it. Cranking it out and then feeling bad about it.

But it is what it is. And it's done. Over. Finished.

Just like 2022.

I almost wrote an apology for the length of this post, but I'm not going to apologize for being real. My best clients read long posts. They want the details because they know the details matter in business and might save them a world of hurt. As a business coach and consultant, I've never apologized for being my own guinea pig. It's how I learn what really works and how to translate that to my clients for their own success - without the painful learning curve.

So yeah, this will probably be long. #NotSorry

2022 was F*ing HARD.

While we did okay income-wise, it was a roller coaster of a year.

Just before the year began, we returned to Nashville from Mississippi. Jim accepted a new teaching job, so we sold our house and moved. Rental rates being what they are in Nashville, we signed a 10 month lease, thinking we'd have plenty of time to find a home, put in an offer, and move again before we had to renew.

We thought wrong.

Jim's employment situation ended up being more precarious. Two jobs after we moved back to Nashville, Jim was physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and by January of 2022, decided to take a 6 month sabbatical.

My eldest had also joined us from Michigan. It was his "Hail, Mary pass" - he certainly didn't want to leave Michigan, but he didn't have a place to stay. He found work doing foam insulation and settled in for a while. Having another person in our otherwise empty nest made for some growing pains, but we managed.

Fitness: My well-being is more important than ever

The physical and emotional demands of 2022 took their toll on me. It drove home the point that I'm not 20 anymore and my mental and physical health have been low-priority for too long. Having major surgery two years in a row also took a toll on my mental health. By the end of the year I wanted to take a break from EVERYTHING. Even after I took my year-end vacation, I came back to work with a sense of dread. Too much of what I didn't want and too little of what I did want... and I had painted myself into this corner in many ways.

I started 2022 by celebrating my birthday with COVID.

It was, hands down, the worst start to any year. Even the year my ex forgot my birthday I was at least able to go out and be with friends. This year, I was alone, sequestered in my office. Tortuous to an extrovert like me.

The physical demands of the year were steep: I got the final stent out from November's surgery. I had sciatica on and off for the first half of the year that led to back surgery in September. And we packed our home and moved again. This time to Indiana. We had to stay in a hotel room for three weeks before we could move into our home, so we really moved TWICE - once into a storage unit and then a second time into our Indiana residence.

My doctor said I need to be walking more throughout the day - meaning I have to change my work schedule to accommodate my new physical demands. AND I'm in physical therapy as part of my recovery from back surgery (I still have numbness in parts of my foot).

But the emotional demands were even greater.

The added financial and emotional stress of having a partner out of work left me feeling like I was carrying too much for too long. I'm thankful that I'm married to a swell guy who understands the importance of communication. We were able to keep talking throughout a very stressful time, which did help things. That and providing for my son - while he looked for a new job after our move to Indiana - increased my emotional load.

I've pretty much ignored my physical needs for most of my life - mostly putting other folks first to my own detriment. It's a hard habit to break. Now, basically being forced to put so much attention and time into caring for myself was as much of an emotional adjustment as it was a physical one.

The depression and anxiety around being able to work (or not being able to work), hit me hard when I spent 11 days laid up in my bed while I waited for my surgery date. Every movement was excruciating, and I've never cried as much as I did then. I lost 10 pounds because I only ate or drank what was absolutely necessary. By the end, I wasn't even going to the bathroom anymore because there was nothing in me.

To be clear: my family brought me food and drink. I just didn't consume much because everything hurt all the time and I didn't want to make things hurt MORE.

The cherry on top was that the earliest my surgery could be scheduled happened to fall right in the middle of my annual client retreat.

Well, FUCK!

Laying in bed for 11 days gave me plenty of thinking time. About everything we were doing inside my company - and everything I wasn't doing that I wanted to be doing. About how things needed to be different when I got back to work. I remember sharing in one of my mastermind meetings that I was doing so much stuff, but so little of it was what I WANTED to do. It was more about keeping commitments and fulfilling obligations I'd made long ago.

Because the hotel was kind, we were able to re-schedule my client retreat. I'm grateful that people re-arranged their schedules and I LOVE doing this event every year. Still, it took a lot more out of me to ensure that folks who couldn't attend got what they paid for. I don't regret doing it, because I love my clients. It was just harder to make everything work.

Then, I got COVID again for Christmas. It was harder this time. I still have an infrequent cough that leaves me gasping for air every time it strikes.

DAMN, I feel old!

Integrity and honoring commitments are important to me. Maybe a little TOO important!

The older I get, the more important ease becomes. You never know when a pinched nerve could take you out of commission for 11 days! Having a business that fully supports me, regardless of what's happening in my personal life, has to be more important than continuing to honor commitments that don't support my well-being.

Fortune: ONE major investment at a time.

I learned the hard way that my company can't yet handle more than that.

Thanks to the Federal EIDL, I made several investments in my business. Some turned out great, while others are still waiting to see a positive Return On Resources.

I expected my messaging work with Dr. Michelle Mazur to be a year-long adventure - because it takes time to roll out new messaging and get it to stick in the mind of your audience. As part of that roll out, we planned to redirect some of our marketing energy to Linked In, to build an audience there. My existing VA was training my new VA to handle the projects that weren't time sensitive. Between the two of them, it looked like we were finally going to get some momentum in our marketing.

Then... MAN DOWN!

My "old" VA found a full time job and transitioned out by the end of the month. The "new" VA I had just brought on to cover low-pressure projects was suddenly thrust into doing EVERYTHING.

So, um, LOTS of... um... pressure.

I should have slowed down, scaled back, and focused on one thing at a time. But I didn't.

I found a VA agency to work with and that sort of helped. My new new VA was learning from my old new VA, which was more like a game of telephone than making meaningful progress. I didn't have the spoons to take the work back onto my plate, and our income wasn't supporting having so many people on the team.

We were able to get the podcast up and running, but not much else. It was at this point when I almost shut everything down and walked away.

If it weren't for my clients, that is. Having those commitments kept us afloat. Even if I was stressed to the max on every other front, working with my clients gave me hope for a better tomorrow.

I made two other investments that still haven't panned out: I hired an agency that guaranteed placements on top podcasts. The original commitment was that they get results for most of their clients within 4 months. That seemed pretty ambitious to me, especially since this was being presented as a beta test offer. But hey, it was guaranteed placement, so I figured the ROI would be worth the investment.

A year later, I'm still waiting for half of those "guaranteed" bookings to materialize.

I also hired a company to direct and film my videos. This was part investment, part experiment. I wanted to get video editing off my plate, so I took a chance to see if someone else could handle it. This company promised to help script, direct, produce, and edit my videos.

I thought this would be a great way to bring video back to Season 7 of our show, but it didn't turn out that way. Sadly, their editor lived in Ukraine and, well, WAR broke out over there, so everything stalled.

I'm no tyrant, so of course I was willing to change our timelines. Besides, this was an experiment. I didn't put all my eggs in this basket. We went ahead with Season 7 as a podcast-only season. We managed to make it through the year, but our results were less than stellar.

By June, the agency director had shifted directions and was focused on short-form content for social (think: tiktok & reels). Short form content is NOT my jam, but I filmed a few pieces of content under his direction. He also promised me access to a course he was teaching to help me learn how to create better short form content.

It is February of 2023 as I write this and I am still waiting for access to the course that was promised last year.

Trying to keep too many balls in the air was a disaster - and resulted in a LOT of dropped balls! This year's focus on ease should help, but it's also an important reminder to me to focus on one thing at a time, since we're not a huge team of people that can tackle eleventy jillion things at once.

Faith: Practice what you preach

By the end of 2022, I was feeling apathetic and "meh" about so much. As I considered every aspect of my business, I recognized I had strayed from my own mantra of "define and achieve success on your own terms".

I was letting other people's terms dictate what was possible for me.

Over the past 7 years, I've focused a lot of resources into supporting our Incubator clients. It became our primary income source, which was never the goal. Combined, our handful of clients have created close to two million dollars in real revenue. Many of these folks started from zero, so that's a major accomplishment we can all be proud of!

I love seeing them make progress toward their dreams, but it's happening at the expense of my own.

As I said, the Incubator was never meant to be my company's primary income source. My original vision for was to be able to fund the program to the level where we had dedicated staff supporting clients on all the admin as well has having a spare coach to pick up some of the coaching hours.

We probably could have hit that goal, were it not for the pandemic of 2020. Too much team instability meant we couldn't get our systems locked in.

You can't grow if you aren't stable.

And we simply didn't have the level of stability, nor the cashflow to do things differently. So while I'm proud of our accomplishments, that old Marilyn Monroe quote keeps playing in my head:

Sometimes good things have to fall apart so that better things can fall together.

I wrestled with the question: Do I want to continue trying to work this model at the expense of the other dreams I want to pursue?


But then there's this: I have my own anxiety around not leaving anyone hanging. I don't want to let people down - especially not my clients! I can't just quit what I'm doing and leave them in the lurch!

I love my clients. I love helping them AND I want to see my own dreams take root and grow. Those things shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

I enjoy coaching and consulting, but I have to do it in ways that work for how I'm wired to work.

That's why we're phasing out the Incubator and introducing some new ways to work with me. I'm not accepting new Incubator clients after June (if you want in, you better get moving!). Anyone currently in the program can stay until they graduate. We'll phase out the program through attrition.

In order to grow our audience and continue to support our existing folks, I'm rolling out a new workshop each month during the first half of the year. We hosted the Customer Journey Workshop in January and our Build Your Promo Plan Workshop series is next week! March will have our content creation sprint, and quarterly planning. April will see the return of our Cashflow Creator workshop. We'll cycle through these workshops throughout the year and unveil an all-new three day event in fall: Creative Freedom LIVE! It's nothing like our client retreat, which used to fly under this banner, so if you've been around for a while, know that this is an entirely new event, built around the content in my book.

As a Fusion creative, I need to do more than one thing, otherwise I feel stifled. I enjoy teaching business building concepts and I especially enjoy working hands-on with folks to help them get results and clarity NOW. But I have a growing need for the flexibility of short-term commitments, which are also better for how I'm wired to work. That means I'll be offering more short-term coaching and consulting, including one-day/half-day intensives and single sessions.

Giving people a way to work one-on-one with me in a more concentrated way works better for how I'm wired. Plus, my best clients often prefer to work in this way - a 2-hour sprint or a day-long intensive to hammer out a plan and start seeing results before we're even done. They don't have months to consume a course and learn as they go. They need clarity now.

Freedom: More video, please

I enjoy being on podcasts, but hosting my own podcast isn't as fun or profitable as I'd hoped. According to our numbers, the "shelf life" of an audio episode doesn't begin to compare to our video show. So, we're bringing it back.

I tabled the video show half way through 2021 because of our move. I wanted to resurrect it in 2022, but our experiment failed and then we were moving AGAIN! Housing uncertainty is NOT a good situation for shooting video!

That said, the numbers don't lie. Video is better for me for a variety of reasons:

  1. It's more fun! It's no secret that I adore being in front of the camera. I love an audience. I present well on video, and it's much more enjoyable for me to connect with my audience this way - whether it's teaching a live workshop, being on stage at an event, or just shooting our show. Video just works better for me.
  2. The stats are in our favor: our videos are watched and consumed by more people than our podcast. Significantly more.
  3. Videos on our YouTube channel are findable in search. Our podcast was intentionally kept separate, with longer, deeper episode content, and it doesn't get "found" like our videos do.

Since it looks like we're going to stay in Indiana for a while, I'll have a base of operations to make video production easier. It may mean editing content in-house, but it's worth it to reach more people, have a bigger impact and see our audience growing again.

The plan for our show this year is to split the difference: videos with deeper, richer content, but not as long as the podcast episodes. Instead of going 10-15 minutes, our show will likely run 15-20 minutes and live on both our podcast and video feed. We'll re-assess at the end of the season to see how the numbers shake out.

Family: Lean Into Support

It seemed like the only thing that was easy last year was my relationship with Jim. Despite the ups and downs of the year, Jim was a steady, loving presence through it all. Where my previous partner would shut down and not communicate, Jim stayed in the room. He was willing to have hard conversations and make tough decisions with me, instead of leaving it all up to me to figure out.

He raised me up and kept believing in me... in us... through all the hard stuff of the past couple of years. Even on his sabbatical, he was consistently showing up in our relationship. THAT is the greatest blessing I've ever experienced.

In fact, one of the hardest things I've been able to do is lean into his love and support. Trusting that he really DOES love me, that he really DOES think the world of me. That he means it when he says "I love you forever. No take backs!" I haven't been able to trust that in the past, and his steady, loving presence is a strength I get to learn to trust.

And I want more.

More supportive, trusting relationships that lift me up, see my potential, and want to see me shine. I'm being more proactive in my outreach - despite how scary it feels sometimes. Last year, I invested in a mastermind group that helped open that door. Our facilitator really gave a damn about us... about me. I could feel that in our conversations. I learned more about what being "coffee worthy" really meant.

This year, I'm amping that up. I'm part of an international networking group for women. I'm actively connecting with more of them on a more consistent basis. Not necessarily to drive more business (although, that's nice), but more so to develop a solid, supportive community around me.

If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that I don't "do alone" very well. I get in my head and sometimes get stuck there. But I also don't "do community" the way other people do (hello, neurodivergence!). It takes a lot of effort and energy for me to feel connected or feel like I belong in a group. That's my growing edge.

I'm also curating a community space of my own. For years, we've hosted our Accountability Club on Facebook and our Rising Tide learning library on my website. Neither was fully optimized and both languished a bit because of it. It took time to explore some different options that made sense. For a while, no one wanted to leave Facebook. Now, you can't stop them from jumping ship. After a bit of research, we made the decision to migrate everything to a new platform this year. Migrating and integrating everything takes time, though. Our goal is to have the new Rising Tide/Accountability Club space ready for visitors in Q2.

2023 Theme Song: Watch The Wind Blow By/Easy (Like Sunday Morning)

I recorded this mashup almost 10 years ago...long before I left Michigan (or my first husband). But it's pretty appropriate for this year's focus. I was sick that day. But I showed up anyway. And I kept it easy.

Easy, like Sunday morning.

That's my theme for the year, so this song makes perfect sense - and it's a silly video that reminds me of how much fun it was to do this work then. I'm bringing that fun and ease back in every possible way.

Hope to see you on the ride!

[Creative Freedom S5E9]

As a creative entrepreneur, you've got LOTS of ideas. How do you keep track of them all? Can they even be managed? How do you decide which ideas to pursue, and which ones to table for later (or even give away to someone else)?

You're in luck because this week I'm sharing some useful tools and resources to help you organize your ideas and get clear on what you're going to move on now, and what can wait. You'll be able to end the distractions and stay focused!

Listen To The Podcast

Download Season 5 Episode 9 | iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify 

Podcast Show Notes

  • 4:00 - Five ways you can track and secure all your great ideas, from low-tech to high tech, including a hybrid form that I'm eager to start exploring.
  • 7:43 - The mindset is more important than the mastery. Here's how to put your mindset to work for you with all your ideas.
  • 12:15 - for all you skeptics out there, let's talk about the "name it and claim it" mindset about bringing your ideas to life.
  • 13:30 - The advice I give my clients about taking action on their goals and ideas
  • 15:45 - How to flip the script on the "I'm not worthy" feeling and get clear on which ideas to pursue first with the "idea interview"
  • 19:11 - An example from my own business that illustrates how we decide on new projects and what gets tabled for later.
  • 20:00 - The problem with "High impact, minimal effort" decision making, and how to improve it, with examples from my own business.
  • 22:25 - Like we learned with toasters and light bulbs, sometimes the ideas you get aren't meant for you to pursue or bring to market. Here's why that's actually a great thing.
  • 26:10 - how opportunity costs help keep you focused on what really matters (if you're paying attention).

Mentioned In This Episode

Rising Tide Members

Our Rising Tide Community has moved! If you're already a member, you can login and access your free downloads here.

Not a member yet? It's free! When you register for the Rising Tide, you also get email updates, the FREE learning library, and access to episode transcripts, worksheets, and more!

Sponsors & Credits

Special thanks to our Patrons for your continued support.
Music: “Welcome to the Show” by Kevin MacLeod, Music licensed under

[Creative Freedom S5E8]

You've probably heard the phrase "riches in niches" more times than you care to count. As a creative entrepreneur, finding a niche can feel challenging if you don't solve a "problem" or "pain" with your Great Work.

That's why I don't support the idea of looking for a pain to solve, but instead, looking at core values - which are a clearer indicator of why clients buy from you (and keep buying from you for years to come). In this episode, I'm stealin' a process from the manufacturing world to help you hone in on why clients buy from you and how to find more clients just like 'em.

Listen To The Podcast

Download Season 5 Episode 8 | iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify 

Podcast Show Notes

  • 1:34 Why getting super specific in your niche (target market) might be problematic when you're just getting started.
  • 4:35 The Six Sigma tool that helps you find the real reasons why your clients buy from you.
  • 10:00 How to triangulate your best clients through "people types" that match your core values.
  • 11:25 Two questions to ask your potential audience to help narrow your niche and avoid working in an unprofitable market.
  • 14:45 Why paying for ads might not be a good idea with a new niche
  • 19:35 How to test your new niche and how to know if you've picked the wrong one

Mentioned In This Episode

Rising Tide Members

Our Rising Tide Community has moved! If you're already a member, you can login and access your free downloads here.

Not a member yet? It's free! When you register for the Rising Tide, you also get email updates, the FREE learning library, and access to episode transcripts, worksheets, and more!

Sponsors & Credits

Special thanks to our Patrons for your continued support.
Music: “Welcome to the Show” by Kevin MacLeod, Music licensed under

[Creative Freedom S5E7]

If you're a heart-centered creative entrepreneur struggling with pricing, there's good news: you don't have to subsist on a survival-level income, and you don't have to price gouge your clients in order to be successful. There's a middle ground that's profitable and sustainable.

Your pricing tells a story, and it's personal. For creative entrepreneurs there is no topic more in need of a mindset shift than pricing. Pricing is more than just materials + time. It's about your pricing mythology, your audience expectations, and other considerations that we'll run through in this episode.

P.S. Tickets for the 2020 Creative Freedom Retreat go on sale soon! We're going to NOLA, baby! Make sure you're on my email list to be one of the first to know more!

Listen To The Podcast

Download Season 5 Episode 7 | iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify 

Podcast Show Notes

  • 2:53 - Why you may need a mindset shift around pricing and high-priced offers
  • 5:10 - Why you probably can't charge less than $100/hr and why $500/hr may be more reasonable.
  • 8:40 - How pricing mythology means a company like Starbucks can charge more than McDonald's
  • 14:00 - How your audience is a factor in pricing.
  • 23:00 - IPA2 is the key to your livelihood in business
  • 25:43 - Another approach to pricing: Mark Silver's Resonant Pricing Exercise

Mentioned In This Episode

Rising Tide Members

Our Rising Tide Community has moved! If you're already a member, you can login and access your free downloads here.

Not a member yet? It's free! When you register for the Rising Tide, you also get email updates, the FREE learning library, and access to episode transcripts, worksheets, and more!

Sponsors & Credits

Special thanks to our Patrons for your continued support.
Music: “Welcome to the Show” by Kevin MacLeod, Music licensed under

Feeling like you can't focus? You're not alone.

According to a 2015 research report from Microsoft, our attention spans are shrinking and may now be on par with goldfish. Since 2000, our ability to concentrate has shrunk from 12 seconds to about 8 seconds. A goldfish has a 9-second attention span.

Citing a possible evolutionary response as we shift to a multi-tasking, multi-screen digital world, the Microsoft report seems to suggest that we can't focus on anything for more than a few seconds at a time.

So explain to me why binge watching Netflix is on the rise (and feels so good), and how my kid can stay rapt in his Minecraft world for hours on end?

Different kinds of focus fill different needs

In Daniel Goleman's book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, three types of focus are identified. Goleman uses scientific method and extensive case studies to show that these three types of focus are needed at different times for different reasons. Too much focus in one area for too long creates an attention deficit that makes it hard to focus in other areas. What are these types of focus?

Inner Focus

According to Goleman, "Inner focus attunes our intuitions, guiding values, and better decisions." This is our opportunity to look within, serve our own needs, and make sure we have our own oxygen mask on first. I dedicated an entire chapter in  Creative Freedom to what I call the I-Matter paradigm, and it begins with knowing what really matters to yourself.

This isn't being selfish. I've said before that self-care isn't selfish. We've got to make sure we're taking care of our basic needs, and so often, that doesn't happen. Binge-watching releases dopamine, which triggers feelings that make us feel good. Emotional eating does something similar. Many creative entrepreneurs put their own dreams, desires, and needs on the back burner in order to serve the needs of others. The result is a form of personal deprivation. It makes sense, then that the only thing you want to do after a long day at the day job is sit on the couch for a little "Netflix and chill" time. You've got to re-fill that Inner Focus "tank".

Outer Focus 

Goleman writes that "outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world." You've got to be aware of your surroundings, your environment, and the constraints under which you're operating. Otherwise, it's difficult to be a citizen or a creative entrepreneur. Like trying to walk blindfolded through a dark room you've never been in before. If you don't know what's in there, you're probably going to bump into a lot of stuff before you make it across the room.

As a creative entrepreneur, you serve a market. That market exists in a larger environment. Can you create whatever you want? Sure, but creating in a vacuum doesn't usually pay the bills. You've got to be aware of what the market wants, and make key decisions about how you're going to respond to those needs. Can't do that very easily if you don't know what's going on in the world. Plus, for many creatives, the world at large is a great source of inspiration for your material.

Other Focus

Lastly, Goleman says that "other focus smooths our connections to the people in our lives." Some people are jerks who couldn't care less about the people in their world. Some people have mental health issues that prevent them from being able to connect with others. But empathy, emotional intelligence, and the ability to read people and respond appropriately are valuable tools for any person - including creative entrepreneurs.

When you make that deeper connection with your customers, you develop Raving Fans. These people love you to pieces, recommend you to their network willingly, and share your Great Work with the world without being paid to do it. Aside from the financial benefits, it's the kind thing to do. Developing compassion for the people in your community (virtual or otherwise), gives you greater perspective and developing stronger connections helps your own emotional and mental health as well.

Blended Focus is also a thing...

Looking at these three types of focus, it makes perfect sense to me that a lack of focus in one area can create ripple effects in the others. In fact, as a creative entrepreneur, you'll use these types of focus in different combinations, depending on your Creative type. I've identified these "focus blends" that tend to show up for creative entrepreneurs in different situations:

  • Personal (Mix of Inner and Other)
  • Professional (Mix of Outer and Other)
  • Charitable (Mix of Inner & Outer)
  • Global Focus (a balance of Inner, Outer, and Other)

If you're a Chaotic Creative, you'll lean on Charitable focus more frequently - which is part of why Chaotics are more likely to undercharge than their Linear counterparts.  Linears tend to use Professional focus - sometimes to the detriment of their own health and well-being (Type-A personality anyone?). Which means that Fusions are caught in Personal focus a good portion of the time - resulting in a chronic state of analysis paralysis. Learning to develop a more Global focus exercises all three types of focus more evenly, and helps creatives see their own blind spots a bit more readily.

Ways to improve your Global Focus

So how do we improve our different focus styles? Practice. Goleman writes that "Attention works like a muscle - use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows." Here are a few ideas to help improve your focus:

Inner focus - You might choose to meditate, or simply sit quietly and pay attention to your body. As a kid, my high school drama teacher taught us an awareness exercise. "Feel your socks on your feet and your feet in your socks. Feel the pants on your legs and your legs in your pants. These subtle shifts in awareness help you focus on you, what your body is experiencing, and what you're feeling in the moment.

Outer focus - Use soft focus, or peripheral vision to experience the world around you. Instead of fixating on something in front of you, close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the room you're in. Pick out voices in conversations or instruments in a song. Find ways to experience what's going on around you that don't directly involve you.

Other focus - Playtime with kids is always fun. Volunteer your time and attention. I try to donate blood as often as possible. Find a way to help someone else, or just ask them how their day was and really listen to them. Put your attention on someone other than yourself.

These are all ways to strengthen your focus muscles in various ways. Which ones will you try?

Need help getting focused?

Sometimes you just need someone else to be in the room to keep you on task. A-Club has regular co-working sessions to help you stay focused on your goals and dreams. We meet several times a month on Zoom to work together and celebrate our progress on our goals. If you'd like to have personal support to stay focused on your dreams, enrollment for A-Club is now open and includes personal one-on-one coaching every few months to help you make even faster progress.

If you're like a lot of creative entrepreneurs, you might still be scrambling to put your goals down on paper for the year. In fact, several guru-types are only just now getting around to leading those goal planning workshops. The folks in A-Club and the Incubator did their annual planning before December, so that they could hit the ground running this year. I'm not bragging (well, okay, maybe a little), I'm trying to illustrate a point that the longer you wait to set your goals, the longer it will be before you can achieve them.

But even if you're only just now getting around to it, there's still one thing you've got to remember to do before you shore up your plans for the new year.  (more…)

This is the last segment on aspects of underearning, but I'm coming at it a different way. Forbes just launched their list of 2018's richest self-made women.

I get where they're coming from, but the truth is that none of us is self-made. None of us just spontaneously appeared from the ether. Someone, somewhere had a hand in our birth and our rise.

So, I'm busting the “self-made” myth bubble in this episode, and showing you the 4 kinds of people you need to succeed, as well as why your environment is such a big deal when it comes to your success.

If you need more structure to get the support you need, or more practice in asking for help, join us in A-Club. You’ll get a lot out of our tight-knit community of folks. We’re all in there, working toward owning our dreams, one step at a time.

Who are your supporters? What's your environment like?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Your insights may spark a conversation that helps someone else!

Mentioned in this episode:

Rising Tide Members

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Credits and Sponsors

Fashion jewelry from Kerianne at Tell her you saw her bling on Creative Freedom!

Music: "Welcome to the Show" by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

This is Season Four, Episode Five. This one's all about the dolla billz, baby! Whether you've raised your prices in the last year or the last month, it could be time to raise them again if they didn't go high enough in the first place. Many creative entrepreneurs get emotional when it comes to price increases. So, what if there were an easy, external way to know that it's time to raise your rates?

Your wish is my command! Here are 11 external indicators that can help you determine if a price increase is right for your creative business. Need help communicating that price increase? Consider joining us for the Creative Freedom Guide To Overcoming Underearning, and build your confidence in changing your pricing!

Download Season 4 Episode 5 | iTunes | Anchor | Stitcher

If you’re listening to just the podcast, you’re only getting about a third of the deal. Catch the Creative Freedom web series or join me on Facebook on Fridays at 5:30pm Central time for a LIVE Q&A about the week's topic.

Show Notes

02:21 - Why working for free is problematic, and why you might be inadvertently "programming" people to ask you to work for free.

06:31 - How a client in an economically depressed community managed to raise his rates.

11:00 - When someone is playing "Moneyball" with you, it is time to raise your rates!

16:30 - The "tuna can" tactic that helps you raise rates without changing your current pricing.

19:07 - How to look at barter/trade differently.

22:00 - The power of a $25k offer.

Rising Tide Members

Click here to join our Rising Tide to get email updates, transcripts, and bonus downloadables only available to members.

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Mentioned in this episode:

Music: "Welcome to the Show" by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0