Recently, a new subscriber reached out and asked me about uncovering her "Great Work" in the world.
First of all, I LOVE it when people email me their questions! If you've got a question, hit me up in the comments or send me an email.
But to answer her question, I had to look deeper at what she wrote. Turns out, she's one of those "Jack of all trades" kinds of people. You know the type: someone who makes you sick because they're really good at a lot of things... but they can't figure out what their ONE THING is in order to make a career at it.
Oh, I know this problem so intimately well... because I'm one of those people.
For years I worked with coach after coach who told me to pick one thing, focus in on one thing, and get good at one thing and let THAT become my income driver.
Problem: Getting good at something isn't an issue. I'm a quick study and can pick up a LOT of things quickly. Then, my learning addiction kicks in and compels me to go deep in the topic so I'm GOOD at it, too.
Yeah, it's kind of annoying to me also. hee hee.
Over the years, I've had so many jobs and career paths that I was starting to think something was wrong with me... but there's nothing wrong with me. In fact, I'm part of a rising number of people that I call "Fusion" Creatives.
With a rise in demand for Liberal Arts and General Studies type degree holders in the workplace, we're seeing a resurgence of "renaissance" types who are versed in a variety of topics, and can hold their own in multiple environments.
Like being at the nexus of creative entrepreneurship, for example.
As a musician and a business coach, I've been pressured for years by coaches and peers to hone in on one thing... but that's like asking me which of my kids gets to live in a sacrificial offering. Not gonna happen. I'd cut out my own heart first.
...but the world hasn't been ready to deal with us until recently. Books like Barbara Sher's "Refuse to Choose" have helped give credence to "Scanners" as she likes to call them. We're not flighty, we're actually incredibly valuable - even if we have a hard time seeing it ourselves.
This week's episode of Creative Freedom unveils a glimpse into this
Fusion types often think of themselves as not creative when compared to their Chaotic friends and colleagues. Chaotics are the type we most often think of as the "creative" people of the world. They can be artsy, or crafty, free-spirited, and willing to "go with the flow". Chaotics are also pretty good with people, communication, and have a strong connection to their definition of the Divine. Some people call them "right brained" but that's a misnomer that's been debunked in recent years.
So us Fusion types tend to feel a little "less than" when compared to our Chaotic colleagues.
Fusion types also find that they're the "creative ones" when compared to their Linear colleagues. Linears are the type that think more strategically, enjoy working with patterns, numbers, and figures, and often find themselves at a loss when it comes to building strong relationships, networking, or handling customer service issues. Some people call them "left brained" but - as you can guess - that's a misnomer, too.
And yes, Fusion types tend to feel a little intimidated (or overwhelmed) when comparing themselves to their more financially successful Linear colleagues.
But I said "potential" and potential not acted on is wasted. Fusion types can be good at just about ANYTHING. They just need to hone in and stay consistent, while having the courage to keep sharing their unique blend of Linear and Chaotic awesomeness. Chaotics marvel at Fusion's ability to stay on track, meet deadlines, and generally get stuff done (as a one-woman show, I might add). Linears appreciate the creative streak and courage Fusions have to be "on" with people.
In short, we're pretty freaking awesome, and we have a hard time seeing it because everyone around us is more Linear (or Chaotic) than we are. So instead of seeing our unique blend as fantastic, we worry if we'll measure up.
But when we DO finally stay consistent, we are the Creative Freedom type with the greatest capacity for financial and personal success.
Each type also has blind spots that slow down their trajectory. For Chaotics, it stars by having a choke hold on your creative vision. For Linears, it's being too focused on bottom-line results. For Fusions, it's perfectionism and comparisonitis that keeps us stuck.
When you learn your Creative Freedom type, you shine a light onto those hidden areas so that you can take action and see success more easily. I stumbled on all of this entirely by accident over years of working with clients and noticing the patterns they were demonstrating.
If I did my math applying the 10,000 hours concept correctly, it takes about 10 years of consistent effort to reach world class status. At 40, I should be world class at about 4 different things, if I applied myself properly over the years. That means, I've got another 30-40 years (or more) to master a few more things. Heck, even Tony Bennett has established himself as a painter as well as a singer!
Fusion creatives don't need to pick just one thing. YAY! Instead, we need to think of our talents like a rock band - like the Eagles: you've got a lead singer, and others singing backup. Everyone in that band sings at some point in the show - and they've all got years of practice at honing their craft. No one is ignored, and they all get to shine.
THAT is how a Fusion makes the most of their gifts and talents. Put one or two out front while the others provide "back up" and have the courage to experiment and rotate them out from time to time - just make sure you keep practicing and honing your craft before you make a big leap. You don't see the Eagles trying something new at their shows - that's what rehearsal's for.
Have you been the Jack of All Trades in your circle? How have you created a meaningful body of work with your skills and abilities? Did you take the quiz and learn your Creative Freedom type? If so, what is it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments and let's be a rising tide for everyone!
Shazam! My audition in Detroit for The Voice went better than I expected, although I did not get called back. It's always fun for me to go to "The D" and this time was no exception. I learned some powerful business lessons during my long wait in the audition line (post coming soon), plus I met a childhood friend of Anita Baker who designs Mustangs at Ford! We had a fun time connecting and learning about each other. Hooray for new friends!
Speaking of, this week's video is actually a request from my facebook page. Jessica-Lynn Sage asked about hiring help in your business. Her big concern was in being able to trust someone else to handle the work and "let go" of doing it yourself.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect, since I've been working on my photo shoot for the new album (and website). This week's episode of Creative Freedom gives you the low down on how I sourced and "hired" the team for this shoot.
But there's something else I didn't include in the video that's also important...
In my research, I've been exploring the three different types of creative entrepreneurs (a quiz is coming soon!), and each one has their own sets of challenges. Chaotic Creatives look for people they trust with their vision and the direction they're trying to go as creative individuals. Linear Creatives are more concerned with getting results NOW - and getting the "right people on the bus" as Jim Collins would say. I'm a Fusion Creative, so I tend to walk the line between the two. Results are important to me, but I also don't want people to deviate too far from my vision, so I'm willing to forego some short-term results for a better overall project at completion. Understanding your Creative Entrepreneur type will help you know what to look for in hiring your support staff, as well as your temporary team members, like my photographer and stylist for this shoot.
Like the contract riders rock stars have for "green skittles," Chaotic Creatives want to adhere to the vision above all else - no exceptions or deviations. It's that kind of exacting, demanding nature that makes Steve Jobs both a brilliant mind and a jerk.
Because my vision included some specific shots I wanted, and a certain look and feel, I put together a pinterest board of ideas and inspiration. I put the call out on Facebook for a photographer (Thanks Heidi!). I shared that board with everyone, and made sure they were in sync with what I was trying to achieve. I actually had someone that didn't like my idea - so they were off the team. I knew my direction for the project, and didn't want to deviate.
At the same time, I didn't want to wait around for months to make this happen. We had already been negotiating a shooting date for a few weeks, and I know it takes a bit more time after the shoot to get the raw photos processed. So I really wanted to have it all hammered out before school got out on June 9. When my original venue fell through, the photographer suggested an alternate outdoor location. She recommended and secured a stylist, and we finally booked June 8 (we couldn't have cut it much closer, right?).
Linear creatives tend to focus on structures, routines, and processes. Above all else, don't deviate from the system (versus the vision), because the system works. It's the kind of strategic creative thinking that made Edison a genius in the lab, but a social misfit with his own family.
When it rained the day of the shoot, the outdoor venue wasn't viable, so we punted, opting for an indoor location for almost all of the shots (Thanks, Ted!). The indoor venue provided a lot of great images we couldn't have gotten anywhere else, and my willingness to be flexible on the results made it possible to complete the project without dealing with rescheduling.
A true Chaotic Creative wouldn't negotiate on the details like that, while a Linear Creative would be more interested in meeting the deadline more than the creative vision. I fell somewhere in the middle, allowing for and trusting flow, but still making sure I got the key shots I wanted for the project.
For example, there was one shot I was insistent on having, and if we couldn't do it that day, I was willing to do it another time with another photographer if need be. Gratefully, mother nature cooperated in the end. The skies cleared up and I stood out in the middle of traffic while Heidi snapped the shot that will likely be the album cover. I like to think it was my flexibility that gave us the better weather near the end of our shoot.
Whether you're paying for help, or just getting started with asking for help, whether it's a long-term or short-term hire, you need to be able to trust that your team will do what you've asked them to do. The video outlines a few ideas, but did I leave anything out? What else should Jessica-Lynn know about getting help in her business? Leave a comment and be part of the Rising Tide for all the creative entrepreneurs in our community!
First, I just want to CELEBRATE for a minute...
My YouTube channel is now over HALF A MILLION views! WOO HOO! Thanks for watching, sharing, and commenting on my videos for the past 7 years (SEVEN YEARS!). Can you believe it's been that long? I can't! I've been in the online arena since 1993, but nothing in my online career has given me more joy than hitting this milestone. THANK YOU for making it possible!
My first video went up about 7 years ago, but I didn't really start using YouTube consistently until a few years ago. I've created over 300 videos, but most of them are private (which means, they don't count) because they're part of courses I've taught. Only about half of those videos are available for the public to watch.
I've covered a lot of ground in that time: training for direct sellers and entrepreneurs, personal videos, interviews with thought leaders and of course, music from the 300 songs project. All of it an exploration of stuff I know in the hopes it will help you own your dreams without selling your soul.
In January, I FINALLY got a set of lights for the studio. Before now, I've been relying on room light or the picture window in my office... which makes it hard to film on dark, dreary days (like most of our winter this year!). I've had a few people ask about getting decent lighting for videos, so here's my short (and FUN!) tutorial on a couple of different ways to get your shot lit well enough to get your video done.
Here is a link to the lights I use in my studio. Remember, I didn't have lights until earlier this year. Most of my videos were shot using natural light from a north-facing window (as shown in the video). I often pull the blinds a bit so we don't get too much light. Keep in mind, also, that my Flip HD camera has a self-adjusting feature to compensate for low/bright lighting that's pretty good. Know your camera. Individual results may vary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was a business trip. 8 days in sunny Vegas, while my family was snowbound, just HAD to have some kind of a story, right?
SPOILER: this one begins with guilt, shame, and resentment, and ends up with me feeling like a princess, and six lessons you can use in the pursuit of your dreams.
Let me break it down for ya...
It began as most business trips do: with lots to do and not much time to get it all done. Between flights, a showroom rearrange before the annual January Gift Market, and training for the sales reps - not to mention the Gift Show itself, I really didn't expect to have any time to "enjoy" Vegas. I was, after all, there for work. An earlier version of myself would have holed up in my hotel room during all off hours and either slept (to make up for the time zone shift) or worked (because, well, I'm an overachiever like that).
Not this time. (more…)
By Doug Knight
[Editor's Note: This is Day 13 of the Be Your Own Guru series. Today, we roll into more of the "brass tacks" of building a Noble Empire. I met Doug at a local TEDx event, and was blown away not only by his passion for non-profit work, but also his ecclectic music tastes. Over the past year, I've come to learn how dad-gummed smart he is. If you're looking to dive into a new venture, this could be the kick start (or the warning flag) you've been looking for.]
A friend of mine asked me the other day, “How do you…you know… start something?” My friend was having trouble articulating what truly he was trying to get me to talk about, but after a round of drinks it came out a little easier to understand.
Ah…. got it. The old “High Risk, Tough-to-see-but-know-its-
It’s one of those weird things, especially now with our economic situation as a country (broke), as a typical American (in debt), and as a community (“get a real job” talkers). But I think the first thing I would say to someone who is even just considering such a move is to first ask yourself…. “Are you Happy?”
Now this “do what you’re happy at” talk is obvious to many and simple to say (hard to do). But I don’t just mean the personal happiness that you perceive in your dreams when you see yourself as the President/CEO/Chief Food Taster at Honkin’ Industries, Inc.
I’m not talking about money or being a boss per se; I’m talking about that happiness that happens when you live by a “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality – where you’re not sure when you are working and when you are playing because both bring you so much JOY.
Being happy also doesn’t mean always in the positive column. You must also know (it is guaranteed) (more…)
By Amy Wright
[Editor's Note: This is day four of the Be Your Own Guru series. Amy's got a keen eye when it comes to leveraging your time. She pulls no punches today when she shows you just what you're missing out on by trying to do everything yourself.]
Maybe you’re lying to yourself, following conventional wisdom that says you’re “saving money” or “paying your dues” while you do everything in your business yourself.
It’s all crap.
Let’s pretend that you’re a life coach of some sort (feel free to insert your profession here). You make roughly $100 hourly while you’re coaching. Let’s also pretend that, like most business owners, you have insane amounts of email, billing, scheduling, phone calls, social media and marketing that you do every week. Let’s say that those administrative tasks take you about 15 hours each week, and that’s only because that’s all the time you have to commit to it.
Now let’s say (more…)
Next week, my children are home for Spring break. #CalgonTakeMeAway
Actually, they get a jump start on spring break this Friday, and my soon-to-be 7 year old will have a half day on Thursday.
Is this any way for me to get my work done?
We have yet to have a single week since 2013 began where both children were in school for the entire week. Between snow days, sick days, and school suspensions (*facepalm*), either one or both of them have been home at least one day every week since the beginning of the year.
Can you say FRUSTRATING?
I sure can.
2013 started with the best of intentions. My goal is to record 300 songs before the year ends, and I'm well over 10% of the way there.
It feels like this hugely daunting task right now. Like I'll never make it.
I know I'm in the thick of it. I know the year's only just begun. I also thought I'd be farther along by this time.
I mean heck, it's almost the end of the first quarter. By my math, that's 75 songs that need to be in the can by the end of the month.
I'm about half way there.
I was reading Josh Pais' blog. He was recently in a car accident, and (more…)
January's over, and I'm about 5% of the way toward my BHAG of recording 300 songs in 2013. That's 21 songs toward my ultimate goal of 300. Only 279 to go!
Anyone else would say "Holy crap! you've recorded that many songs!?! That's Awesome!"
Me? I have to remind myself to not be all "meh" about it.
Because I want to be at 300 - like, yesterday.
This is where it gets hard, and why so many people fall off the "new year resolutions" band wagon by the end of January. The novelty of the project has worn off. There's only so many times you can share what you're doing with people. And since I'm in earliest stages of the project, it's not like I have a huge catalog of music to point to so that I can say "Hey! Look how awesome I am!"
All that comes later - as we near completion of the project. After the hard work of DOING the work is complete (or at least much farther along). It's one of the downsides of living in an instant gratification economy.
I chose to record 300 songs because it's a point of deliberate practice for me. There are so many songs in the world, and this will broaden my musical horizons both as a composer and as a performer. Frankly, it's been way too long since I've spent focused time working on my music (8+ years, to be more precise), and it's a necessary effort for my development as an artist. Sites like fiddlersguide.com would definitely incredibly beneficial for my musical growth.
It can be lonely, grueling, thankless, grunt work as you go along. No one celebrates your do-overs.
I'm pretty sure Thomas Edison wasn't saying "Hoo-ah! That's attempt number 907 for an incandescent bulb that didn't work! Guys, this is freaking AWESOME!"
No, I'm pretty sure it was more like this:
"Attempt 907 didn't work. Let's get on with number 908."
And on life went in Menlo Park. No celebration, no fist-bumping, no toasting the talents of the insanely brilliant team working to make electric light possible.
Just doing the work. Until that 1,000th attempt (or thereabouts) when light was finally stable and constant.
No, I'm pretty sure before the sustained light brought raucous celebration, there were grumbles about quitting, wives that wondered what their husbands were doing all day in that lab (and if they were ever coming home for dinner), and a lot of head scratching as they were working through their problem.
Just the daily grind of trying to create awesome.
We don't often celebrate the process of creating awesome, just the awesome itself, once it's been created.
And it can be pretty lonely when your awesome creation takes time.
I try to remind myself that I have all year, and that I'm actually right on track to achieve my goal. I celebrate my "small wins", and then I come out of my studio and back into "the world".
It's here that I'm struck with the overwhelming loneliness that comes with doing great work.
I'm not complaining (much), really. It's more of an observation that I've seen a lot of creatives go through. We put our heads down, impassioned by the task of our great work, and then time flies. We're "left behind" in other areas because we're so intensely focused on what matters most in the moment.
Watching friends chatting on facebook about some song or another that I haven't heard yet because my head's been down, working on this project.
I was blessed to have my friend Jen Harris join me in the studio to record "Edelweiss". It was such a breath of fresh air in Michigan's wonky January weather to have another pair of ears in the room listening, singing, and suggesting our way through the song.
It was a creative revival for me that lasted just long enough to get a lot of joy, and hardly any frustration. My studio's a nice place for folks to visit, but I don't want them living there, if you know what I mean. Jen came in to rehearse on Friday, and we finished up on Saturday. Smooth like buttahh!
Then, something fascinating happened. Not only was I reinvigorated, but there was a positive "disturbance in the force" so to speak. People were talking about the work we did together, and that got other people excited about coming into the studio later this year.
Gone was the old ho-hum of recording songs. Suddenly, there was a freshness to the work I'd already done, as well as the work I was setting out to do. No longer was I feeling "meh" about anything. I'm wondering if Jen kind of planned it that way. She's a pretty smart cookie, I gotta say, so I wouldn't put it past her.
When we put our heads down and get focused, it can be easy to lose sight of everything around us. It's easier still to get mired in the daily grind of the creative process. The countless rehearsals, the re-touching, the practice sessions ad infinitum, ad nauseum, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...
We forget how important deliberate practice is, and how we need to bring ourselves to it fully.
Even when no one else is watching, when no one else is celebrating, when no one else seems to care an iota.
Because when all the practice is done, and it's time to perform, they ARE watching, and talking, and loving what you've done.
You've just got to put the work in first.