Lisa Robbin Young

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!

[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's report card time around here. My youngest is struggling in gym class. Sadly, I've seen it before with his older brother.

"Won't even attempt new activities," the report card reads.

So hubby and I sat down with our 8 year old to find out what's going on.

"I can't do it." He said. "I'm not good at it."

It can be hard to try something new. And even harder to be GOOD at it - especially when you've never done it before. That doesn't mean you can't do it.

Try telling that to an 8 year old... oh wait, we did!

You say you "can't" - but...

...what you really mean is that you've never done it well before.

Like when you say you can't sing. Yes. you can. Anyone with a functional voice box can sing. Even my husband, who can't carry a tune in a lead-lined bucket can sing SOME songs.  You just have to find the right ones. Maybe you aren't Pavarotti, but even Madonna doesn't sound like Madonna (thanks, autotune).

So often we use the words "I can't" as code for "I'm not good enough" or "I don't know how." As we talked with our kid, it became apparent this was a case of being afraid to look foolish or be wrong in public. It was also a case of not being willing to ask for help to learn how to do something (or do it better).

Curse the English language!

We have gotten used to so much linguistic short hand, that we're actually programming our brains to believe something isn't possible, when, in actuality, it is. As entrepreneurs, we need to reclaim our truth and speak it without shorthand.

"I don't feel comfortable doing this, because I'm not as good as I would like to be."

"I don't know how to do it (or do it well). Can you help me?"

I've shortened my learning curve immensely in life and business by asking for help, yet, I'm the same person that still struggles with asking for help with things I think I "should" know already.

Living in "The Shoulds"

"The Shoulds" are a comfortable state of paralysis that most of us visit from time to time. It goes like this:

"I should really work out more." But you don't.

"I should really look for a new job." But you don't.

"My mother in law says I should spend more time reading to my kids." But you don't.

"My clients think I should offer evening appointments." But you don't.

And my all-time favorite: "I should already know this by now." But you don't.

In short, "The Shoulds" are a laundry list of to-do's that you have yet to accomplish - either because you don't really want to do them, or because you haven't yet figured out HOW to do them. It's a limbo-land that keeps you from taking action, and only diminishes our value as humans an entrepreneurs.

It's normal. we all go there from time to time. The trick is to keep our visits short. Otherwise, we're creating unrealistic expectations of ourselves. When we have an expectation of our capabilities that doesn't match our reality, two things happen:

  1. We get frustrated with ourselves.
  2. We get display disempowering emotions to others (fear, anger, resentment, etc.)

Rather than root out the cause (living in "The Shoulds"), we keep beating ourselves up - over and over - until something happens. And that "something" isn't always helpful. If we're lucky, we've got a support system to help us see we're in "The Shoulds" and can point it out to us. But even that's not going to help you if you keep beating yourself up saying "Dangit! I knew I was in The Shoulds! I keep doing that! Gah!"

What are those "beliefs" that are conditioning you to stay paralyzed? How are they holding you back? What would happen if you looked at it as if the opposite was true?

What if you shouldn't already know this by now?

What if you shouldn't offer evening appointments? What if you need to find clients who prefer your current schedule?

There is great freedom in admitting that you don't know everything.

(click to tweet)


That's the other type of "can't" we're talking about: when something really isn't possible within the understanding of human experience at this moment.

1,000 years ago, man couldn't fly or use the Internet. They hadn't been invented yet! So to tell someone to hop online and check your email would probably get you blank stares. "I can't" is an appropriate response in that case.

But the more accurate response for most anything today is "I don't know how yet."

Keep all your priorities in alignment while growing your business?

"I don't know how yet."

Make six, seven, or eight, figures (as PROFIT, not just income).

"I don't know how yet."

You get the idea.

Yes, being willing to acknowledge that you don't already know everything means there's a slight possibility that you'll be a target for ridicule. But that's rare. More often,what happens by saying "I don't know how yet" is that you open doors to new learning, new experiences, new connections, colleagues, friends - and yes, clients - by being willing to learn how.

That was the lesson my 8 year old had to learn. That yes, sometimes the mean kids will make fun of how he throws the dodge ball, but by asking for help, he'll get better at throwing the dodge ball and be able to bean the mean kids out during the game.

Perhaps that's not the best way to illustrate that lesson, but I think you understand my point. Sometimes, we need to "bean" the nay-sayers in our lives, and the only way to do that effectively is to get really good at what they're telling us we can't do.

Even if we are our own nay-sayer. Sometimes I need a good beaning, myself (just ask my husband!).

Where are you saying "can't" when you're really living in "The Shoulds? What can you do today to get clarity around a particular "should" and either decide to take action or decide to let it go? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you're ready to get help with moving out of "The Shoulds" consider a Next Steps session to help you get some clarity.

"That's impossible!"

I can't count the number of times I've heard that phrase in my life. It's usually preceded by "You can't do that!", or followed by "Why don't you try something else?"


I sometimes think that when God gave me the choice to be born, I told him to give me the absolute hardest path to success - just so I could prove to people it could be done.

Then again, I also used to dream of being a mermaid.

I have, however, always been a bit of an overachiever. I'm the kind of person that says "Oh yeah? WATCH me!" when someone says "you can't..." I've taken trips, been in programs, raised kids, and generally lived my life unconventionally.

It's only been recently that I've learned the art of quitting. I was always the person that flatly refused to give up. I worked a job where my paycheck bounced - twice -before I took the hint that I should probably move on. I've gotten better at seeing the signals that tell me it's time to move on. On the whole, though, I'm still a tenacious, relentless being. I don't quit just because something's hard.

"Impossible" and "really hard" are not the same thing.

In my years of experience, I've managed to see my way through a lot of "really hard" stuff. I experienced the joy of living on welfare, abuse, racism, and more - all before I graduated high school (with honors, thank you very much). I grew up in Flint, Michigan, the most dangerous city in America, for heaven's sake! I think that automatically earns me some kind of combat medal.

I left school and forged my own path. Then I got pregnant and did the single mom thing for a while. My 20's had their share of... well, me being in my 20's!

Then, I got married to a man who's had to deal with his own emotional baggage. I mothered my eldest through a lot of troubled times. My youngest was involved in his babysitter's conviction for child sexual misconduct. I built a company, closed it, and laid off my one employee. And that's just the last 10 years of my life!

Saying all this isn't about shock value. It's not even about bragging. Yeah, I've been through some tough stuff, but so have many other people I know and love.

This is really about staying power. Grit. Stick-to-it-iveness, and being willing to gut it out when things get really really HARD.

Because "impossible" isn't the same as "really hard."

Impossible, as originally defined, means "not able to occur, exist, or be done." If it's impossible, it's simply not possible.

But Napoleon Hill said "Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can be achieved." 

Now, good old Mr. Hill didn't say it would be easy. He just said it can be done. It's possible.

"Possible" can still be REALLY REALLY HARD!

It's possible to fly, to plumb the depths of the sea, use touch fasteners to "tie" shoes, and chat with friends in other countries in real time. If you wanted to do any of those things 200 years ago, it would have seemed impossible. But the truth is, it would have been really REALLY hard... especially if you tried to do it all by yourself.

But someone eventually developed materials that made submarines and airplanes possible, "moving pictures" a reality, and velcro a staple in my kid's shoe closet. All the raw materials existed 200 years ago, but they hadn't been put together yet. It took a series of chemists starting in the late  1700's and early 1800's to figure out the polymers that would eventually give us Velcro in the 1950's.

It takes a village, yo.

When I was 21, and pregnant (more…)

I'm not one for social commentary or deep philosophical discussions, so consider this the "light version" of any meaningful conversation about the nexus of technology and society. This isn't a commentary about technology, though. It's more about what's unwittingly happened to people as we've become more "connected" to the world.

The Industrial Age gave us cookie-cutter, assembly line techniques for being efficient and crafting a uniformly effective offering.

That's awesome in a survival-based world, where cranking out quality stuff in quantity is important.

But that's not the world we live in anymore. On the whole, we are wealthier and healthier than we've ever been as human beings. Yes. there are exceptions to the rule, but most of those folks aren't reading this anyway, so it doesn't apply to them.

This applies to you. You, the person that's been cramming yourself into the same cookie-cutter mold for decades (or railing against it), because that's all there was.

I've been pretty lucky to "grow up" in the digital age. I'm technically not a Millenial, but I'm on the cusp. I built one of the first e-commerce websites back when animated gifts were all the rage (the first time), and video wasn't even a glimmer in the Internet's eye.

In that time, there've been lots of "game changers" - which is almost silly to say. The advent of the Internet is like watching an infant grow into a toddler and then a teen - everything is new, thus everything is a "game changer". But the one commonality I've witnessed over the last 20 years is the growing ease with which people can access, use, and contribute to this technology - and how this new-found ease impacts their work.

10 years ago, the idea of watching your favorite TV show or  a feature-length film on your stylish CaseFace phone was insane. Now, mobile and "third screen" viewing has eclipsed television, and will likely continue to do for the foreseeable future. The ability to take your media with you has relegated newsprint to the birdcage, and magazines I loved reading as a kid have gotten thinner and more ad-laden.

Less content, more commercials. A sure-fire end to most anything.

We're on a hunt to find ourselves

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

One look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs will show you that we've done a great job (on the whole) of getting those basic needs met. As I said before, we're wealthier and healthier than we've ever been in human history.

Here's another great example from Chip Conley, which condenses the pyramid into three layers (particularly the "employee" pyramid, which he's condensed to "money", "recognition", and "meaning").

Maslow's theory is that we work our way up the pyramid, once we've assured ourselves that our more basic needs are met. Once we've handled the basics like, food, shelter, clothing, saftey, and a paycheck, we can concern ourselves with "higher" issues like love, a sense of belonging, or recognition. Ultimately, once those things are handled, we can search for "self-actualization" or the meaning of life, if you will.

Technology has pushed us up the pyramid

Here's the problem in a nutshell. We've been pushed up the pyramid, whether we like it or not. Computers have "connected" us, and made things incredibly easy, yet so many of us weren't ready for the shift.

Now, building a career can happen remotely. For my last job, I applied, interviewed, and was hired digitally. I worked from my Michigan home, and the company was thousands of miles away on the west coast. All my contact and interaction was digital: email, skype, webcam. No handshakes, no eye contact, just pixels.

Love and belonging (at least on some level) are just a facebook post away. When I'm feeling blue, I can post a simple "Hugs please" on Facebook, and my friends come out of the woodwork to encourage me. I never got that kind of instant gratification & encouragement before the Internet! So work, networking, and even relationships have gotten more efficient, thanks to technology.

We've got all this time on our hands, and yet we're stuck.

We're stuck because, now that the basics and middle-ground issues are being "handled," we have to look to ourselves and find meaning - something that takes time and can't be short-cut.

"Why am I here? What makes me valuable if a computer can do my old job in half the time? What real value do I bring to the world?"

We didn't have time to deal with these questions before. We had work to do, dammit, and that had to come first, so we could eat - so we could SURVIVE! But now, with all this time on our hands, we're having to face these questions - and some of us have a boatload of anxiety, depression, fear, or ambivalence toward it.

To make matters worse, we've been taught that thinking of ourselves is selfish and inconsiderate, and we are, therefore "BAD" for behaving that way.

No wonder our culture sometimes feels like it's on a downward spiral.

It's not wrong to prioritize yourself

The truth is, you've been doing it since you were born. You "took" your first breath, and it's been downhill ever since. In reality, you can't NOT put yourself first. It's just that our culture has made it out to be some sort of a crime because there are those among us who would take it to the far extreme. Putting yourself ahead of everyone else - at all costs - is a kind of selfishness that often comes from a place of fear.

Self-care is not selfish - including in your work. (tweet this)

More and more employees are jumping ship to work for themselves. I'm meeting more entrepreneurs who left corporate America after only a few years of being disillusioned about their prospects with their employers. I'm also meeting entrepreneurs that are carving out a name for themselves by defining success on their own terms. They're creating businesses and offers that take into account how they like to work, who they like to work with, and what they want their life to be like so that they can experience success now - not in 35 years. They see that there's no pot at the end of the rainbow, that "someday" doesn't come with a big red ribbon, and they're deciding what they really want and going for it now.

It's a brilliant business move

To "older folks" entrenched in the ancient ways of the Industrial Age, it feels a bit like treason. It's definitely shaking up their snowglobes - the idea that they can give themselves permission to walk away from something they don't love and do something that brings them joy - and get paid to do it -still strikes fear into many of my older family members. They grew up in Depression-era America, where you got one job and stuck with it until you were old enough to retire, take the watch and the pension, and then go have a REAL life - if you lived that long. I know many employees of the assembly line factories who literally gave their lives to their work, dropping dead within a few days of retirement.

I've said before that now is the best time for you to create a business (and a life) that works for you. Of course, that means getting clear on who you really are and what's really important to you. It means doing the work at the top of the pyramid, and finding the meaning that matters...

... to YOU.

For some folks, this might seem foreign, or scary, but there are countless people in the world doing it. In fact, I'm launching a new series next year that spotlights these folks (more on that in a later post). They are becoming the norm. Gone are the days of three television networks and multi-national conglomerates that corner the market. Now is the time of what I call the "experience economy" - and creating a life for yourself that matters. It's reaching smaller, tighter markets and making a big impact. It's happening now.

Learn more on a free call

On Monday, I'll be leading a free teleclass called "Success Your Way: How to have a profitable, sustainable business that works for you in 2015... and beyond." If you're at all interested in riding this wave of business with meaning, I invite you to join me. You'll learn more about this crazy "pyramid scheme" called business, as well as how to figure out which stage of growth your business is in and how to shape it to this new experience economy... which might sound more technical than it really is.

In short, we'll talk about how YOU can create a business that works for you, based on how you define success. And if you're not sure how to define success, we'll talk about that, too.

How are you dealing with the way technology has pushed you up the pyramid? What has been a blessing (or a curse) for you because of it? Share your comments below.

credit: Youtube.comEach time I go to my coach's weekend intensives, I always walk away with lots of ideas that pop like "popcorn" over the coming weeks. Sometimes they come in the most unusual ways.

For example, I was back in my hotel room, kind of winding down for the night. After a weekend like this, you can be emotionally raw, which means I can cry at the drop of a hat.

This video took me over the edge. Not only is it a powerful display of courage, but also conviction, commitment, and to staying the course when it comes to owning your dreams. Watch (you might need  tissue), and I'll share some key lessons after. (more…)

groundfloor"Dirt and dust - that's where it all begins.  Digging in. Digging in.

You've got to lay a strong foundation before you make it to the ground floor."

- from "The Ground Floor" by Lisa Robbin Young


I'm writing lyrics again. It's been about (more…)

Last year, I was introduced to a concept that I've continued to grapple with from time to time. The picture below is taken from page 61 of Dr. Maria Nemeth's book "The Energy of Money". It's an illustration that one of her teachers once shared with her:

whoweareWhen my coach first introduced it to me, it made perfect sense. I spent little time trying to understand it, and a TON of time trying to figure out where I was on that path.

I recognized I spent a lot of time pretending, a little time being afraid, and almost NO time embracing who I really am.

Sadly, my own experience as a coach tells me I'm not the only person living this way.

There's an internal fight for survival that undermines our confidence in truest self

These three identities: The Pretender, The Coward, and True Self show up at various moments (more…)

By Tiffany Manley

[Editor's note: Today is day 13 in the Be Your Own Guru series. I met Tiffany as a contestant on Prosperity's Kitchen. Her mission spoke to me, as I hope it will you. Her commitment to helping young girls take ownership of their dreams is something we can all learn from as we strive to reconnect to our true voice and trust ourselves again.]

Think about a time in your life, around age five or so. Remember how you knew you could do anything you wanted? How you knew you could change the world?

You got excited, you were present, and you didn’t give a crap what anybody else thought.

You were embracing the awesome inherent within you.

Young Super Hero Standing on Laundry MachinesBut most of us lose it, to some extent, along the way. We let other people dictate what we’ll do with our lives. The kids that grow up and go on to rock the world are the ones that still have that passion as they grow older. They never lost sight of their awesome - or they reclaimed it in adulthood.

How do we reclaim our awesomeness? If we’ve lost it, do we even have time to get it back?

Follow these steps to be present again in your life, and embrace your awesome.

Embracing your awesome in three steps

1. Allow yourself to feel pain. You’ve got to make that emotional connection, or it’s just not going to stick. Take some time for yourself one afternoon. Go someplace you really enjoy being and where you can concentrate, and bring a pen and paper with you. Start listing all the things you
wanted to do and be when you were little. List all the dreams you had. Big and small, crazy and doable. You’ll start to notice something: you’re getting a little not-so-fun gut feeling, you’re realizing the pure joy you had when you had those dreams. Determine that from this point forward, you will dream and you will help support others in their dreams. This is your little mourning period.

2. Dream those dreams and be a believer. My daughter and I believe in fairies. Sure, we’ve never actually seen them, but do you know how absolutely exciting things are when you believe in the possibility of them? Life is no longer seen through practical black and white glasses. There’s color and beauty and huge dreams and possibilities. Whatever it takes, dream. Write it down each day. Make a vision board. Keep those dreams alive and start looking at the world from that vantage point.

3. Help someone else dream. This might be your spouse, child, friend, neighbor. It doesn’t matter. When you help someone else dream, you get caught up in those happy feelings. It’s no longer about you, but how you can help that person realize their dream. When you’re in this spot, you start dreaming again yourself.

Remember this one thing: you have what you need inside you.

Technology, books, mentors are very useful, but to get started with anything in your life, you first need to check-in with yourself. You’ll see the untapped potential there.

I’d love to know: what were your childhood dreams? What are your big dreams now? Let me know in the comments below!


tiffanymanleyTiffany Manley helps girls realize that they can find all they need to sparkle and shine within themselves. She uses education appreciation, career exploration, & confidence construction to help girls realize they can dream gargantuan dreams - and that they can achieve them. Her website is a collection of resources for boosting self-confidence in young women (and their moms!), homeschooling, and more. You can also connect with Tiffany on twitter.

[Editor's note: This is part five in a series of year-end posts I write to focus my efforts for the new year. Here are links to parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.]


That was the theme for 2012, and as I look back, I can say I'm pretty happy with where things ended up.

Even though they are far from the mark I set for myself.

And that's okay. In fact, it's actually a good thing. Because it took a LOT of bravery to adjust my sails as the winds picked up and the seas started churning in my life and business.

You may or may not know that I essentially dissolved my business in 2011. That means starting from very close to scratch in 2012. God bless my avid readers, because they are the ones that kept my ship afloat this year.

Ironically, that's probably the truth in every year, but my eyes weren't open to it. (more…)