I don’t have a post written for this week and no time set aside to write one… So I dove into my “scraps”, the bits I write and don’t publish. Whether they don’t fit or I’m too scared or they’re just simply crap, for whatever reason they sit on my computer. Forgotten. Then from time to time I dig into them and see if I can find the piece of brilliance that just got lost in the shuffle (AKA the piece I was just too scared to put out into the world).
That’s what I did this week. And I found the poem below that I have decided to share with you. Or more accurately, I have decided to share it with myself. Because I know why this piece got lost in the shuffle until today. It’s because when I wrote it, I wrote it for you but reading it today, I know it’s meant for me.
And because I was scared to publish it. I’ve never published a poem.
That’s why this piece stayed hidden on my computer. For months.
But how can I do that? When each week I encourage you, and hopefully empower you, to share your brilliance with the world. To step up. To be you. To know that what you have to give is powerful and meaningful, and has the potential to change people’s lives.
Sometimes though, I get so caught up telling you that, that I forget to tell myself the same thing.
So now I share with you this poem, so you feel inspired. And I feel inspired.
So you feel courageous. And I feel courageous.
And we both step up to be our most brilliant selves.
You are brilliant.
It is as simple as that
whether you believe it or not.
I know you are.
You are because you have passion.
You are because you have smarts.
You are because you are doing IT – the IT you’re meant to do.
You are brilliant and have a gift to share.
Your knowledge is valuable.
People need to hear you. Speak. Write.
People need you.
You are brilliant because you are you.
You are everything you’re meant to be.
And the world needs to hear your message.
Share your thoughts, feelings, wise words.
Do so with intention.
Do so to make an impact.
To make waves.
To change a life.
Your brilliance is meant to make magic in this world.
Your brilliance is beautiful.
So others may feel confident to be brilliant too.
Because you are truly brilliant.
You know you are.
And that is all.
So first, before we go any further, let me just say that the woman in question still holds the title of “best friend” in my world. It is a true BFF kind of love that we share. Just so you know.
Now let me take you back…
… to those early but oh so formative years. We were 12 when we realized that we were meant for each other. Long talks. Endless giggles. Fabulous sleepovers with make-up and big sisters (hers). Summers would pass and our parents would tease us that we never spent a day apart.
Despite our perfect fit as friends, we were very different. I was a bookworm, the studious type. She was at her best with a pencil or paintbrush in hand. When we got into highschool the differences became all the more obvious as she walked off to special art classes and I carried on to my advanced Math and English classes.
In our own ways we each excelled.
But the message I received was that I was not an artist. Compared to my brilliant bestie (who is now a top interior designer) I thought I couldn’t DO art. After the grade 9 required class I never step foot in the art room again unless it was to see one of her masterpieces.
I’m not sure if she felt the same impact from the praise I received for but I know she wasn’t signing up for any extra opportunities in the academic world.
We were pushed into our separate corners of achievement.
As tends to happen in the traditional education system…
And I learned I wasn’t an artist. I didn’t have the eye, or the genes or the determination. I didn’t have the talent.
Instead I scribbled poetry late into the night. Never left my house without a journal. Aced math tests.
As years went on this changed how I saw myself. I would no longer pick out a paint colour for a room without asking her input. Coloured pencils, paints and pastels disappeared from my world.
Yes, I considered myself a writer but not “creative”. In my mind you needed to have a breadth of skills to warrant the honoured label of creative and I considered myself lacking in that respect. And, making it all the more extreme, for many years I kept my writing tucked away in journals while I pursued other, more academic paths.
And then a few weeks ago I painted.
Other than some playful and messy afternoons with my kids, it had been years…. maybe a decade…. maybe more…. since I chose to paint for myself. To allow my creativity to dance around the canvas, expressing my emotions, my dreams, my desires in colour.
There, with the paint at the end of my brush, I experienced a joy I had forgotten. My heart warmed. My creative fire brightened. And I came to the knowing that we are all truly creative.
We can all paint. We can all draw. We can all write.
High school class choices and teacher praise mean nothing. Every single one of us has the ability to create in the exact way we are meant to. Despite the separate corners we were once pushed into my darling BFF can conquer academic challenges and I can paint my own masterpieces.
And when I sent her the draft to this post she responded by telling me that she HAD felt it too. That she had been led to believe that she wasn’t very smart and didn’t have the academic ability to pursue a degree in architecture, the career she now knows she was made for.
The labels they apply to us mean nothing. They are artificial. They are subjective. They are false.
Looking at my BFF and I today one would have no idea how we were once classified. As she studies for daunting building code exams, passing with flying colours, I spend my days writing, exploring the process of creativity and teaching others to create in ways that inspire them.
Thank goodness we each had the courage to pivot.
Consider this your permission to pivot too.
To become anything you want to be.
And everything you’re meant to be.
As a solopreneur in the online space writing a book seems like the thing to do. The thing that will build your list, increase your visibility and identify you as an expert.
And let’s get honest here, make you feel damn proud of yourself. A feeling you have every right to feel.
I’m the same boat. I’ve got a book idea swirling around in my head, trying to shape itself into something beautiful. Something meaningful.
Something I’ll be willing to stand behind for years to come, because that’s the way it goes with a book. It’s not a blog post, here this week, forgotten the next.
A book has staying power. Defining power.
The book I write, and the book you write, they will define much more than our latest social media update, most recent podcast interview or even the next program we launch.
Books are a big deal.
Even when everyone’s writing one.
So, as I dive into this world of book writing I decided it would be best to start educated as a way to work through at least some of the fears. I interviewed Trena White of Page Two, a book agency here in Vancouver, BC. Check out her impressive bio:
Trena White is the co-founder and principal of book publishing agency Page Two. She was formerly publisher of Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, running a publishing program of sixty new books each year. Before that she worked as an editor at McClelland & Stewart, where she developed her commitment to excellence in publishing. Her authors have won or been nominated for most major national non-fiction book awards, and a number have been bestsellers. She has a master of publishing degree from Simon Fraser University and is now adjunct professor in publishing at the university.
Talking traditional vs self-publishing for entrepreneurs like you and me, here’s what Trena shared with me:
If you’re going after the big traditional publishing dream (because really, who doesn’t want to get paid to write their book?) here’s what publishers are looking for:
1. Authors with deep authority & credibility
2. Ideas they haven’t seen before/A unique angle on an old idea
3. Solid writing skills
4. Author platform
The “author platform” peaked my interest and Trena explained that this doesn’t necessarily mean a big email list or social media following, as one might assume in the online space. It could mean being a popular keynote speaker, contributing regularly to a magazine or really any type of community the author has built.
Author platform = people ready and willing to buy your book.
And then, Trena turned that idea on it’s head and told me that many authors with the platform so desired by publishers are actually choosing to go the self-publishing route. Since they already have the audience there waiting for them to publish, they don’t need the sales and distribution support of a publishing agency.
Kinda makes self-publishing a no-brainer. You get to control the release date of your book (lining it up with some big launch you’ve got on the horizon) and you maintain creative control of your book.
But… to make your book a true success you still to have everything the traditional publishers want…. authority, unique idea, solid writing skills + platform.
AKA – You don’t get to show up, write crap, publish it and expect a big win.
They other key piece Trena brought up for self-publishers is personality. To be a successful self-published author you need to be willing to market yourself, to get out there and toot your own horn. You need to be ready to leverage that platform, get on the speaking circuit and sell your book.
Us solopreneurs know how to market and sell 🙂
One would hope.
So the interview went on… we talked in depth about all of this and more: the most competitive book markets, the investment needed to self-publish and how to figure out what your audience wants you to write about. Plus, is it really OK to turn your blog posts into a book? You can get the recording of the whole interview here:
“A book is something that brings together all of your ideas and expertise, pulling them together in a meaningful and thoughtful way… there is something special and admirable about writing a book.” ~ Trena White
A couple more questions asked by my audience that didn’t get answered on the call:
“How much should I pay an editor?”
Page Two covered that here: How to Hire a Skilled Editor and What You’ll Pay
“What are your thoughts on crowdfunding a book?”
Check out this Page Two post: Guidelines for Crowdfunding a Book
I hope this leaves you inspired. Encouraged. A bit more clear of which path you’d like to take. And if you think that Trena and her agency may be the right fit for you on this big adventure, visit their website Page Two and get in touch. Their depth of knowledge in the area of publishing will definitely make your journey to book author easier.
My next step in bringing my book to fruition is to block off time in calendar to dive in… to listen to my heart, to love up my big ideas and explore with enthusiasm the messages I could share with my audience, with you.
So that title may or may not be correct, depending on how you look at it… because maybe this has been my first year in business, maybe not. It’s definitely not my first year of entrepreneurship. Here’s a little timeline to set the stage:
In 2007 I wrote a full business plan for an AMAZING business but realized that I wanted more location independence and scraped it.
In 2012 I dabbled in marketing consulting for businesses that were not the right fit.
In 2013 I did business plan + branding + website + B-School for a pretty awesome business but realized after 5 months struggling to make it happen that my heart just wasn’t in it.
For the remainder of 2013 and a good chunk of 2014 I did the mommy blogger thing with some freelancing sprinkled in.
Which led me to my business as it is now: In the summer of 2014 I started offering content strategy and writing coaching services.
And everything clicked.
So here’s what I’ve learned from all those weird-wondering-wandering years and this past fabulously focused year:
1. It’s more important to start than to get it all perfect.
Yes, branding and a beautiful website are important but don’t let selecting the perfect colours or tagline keep you from landing that first client. It could also save you a lot of time and money if the business is actually not your next-best-thing. When I finally got going in this business I had an awful website, built around 1 single head shot and grew things from there. Go land clients, don’t let your branding/website/offerings/onboarding process/opt-in stop you from this fundamental business activity and opportunity to test the waters before you fully dive in.
2. You can’t just sit behind your computer waiting for clients to come to you.
The perfect Facebook post (or even blog post for that matter) isn’t going to have them knocking down your door. If you want clients go get them. Reach out, call, email, follow up. Go to an event where you’ll see them. Talk to them. If you’re not willing to do this you straight-up shouldn’t be in business. I learned this the hard way, though thankfully fairly quickly.
Listen to the people you wish were your clients. Pay attention to the words they use, the problems they have, the questions they ask. This is why I started my Write Joyfully workshop. I saw potential clients online complaining that they struggle to find the time to write their blog posts. Bingo. Workshop offered. Workshop filled. Month after month.
4. Forget passive income.
(At least in the beginning.) Get clients. Work with them. Teach, coach, consult or do whatever you do with 1:1 clients and grow from there. And understand, those who are really rocking passive income are investing THOUSANDS of dollars into ads and affiliates. If you’re ready for that investment, go for it. Otherwise, get yourself some 1:1 clients and make the money you need to pay your bills. There’s no secret recipe for business success online, it works like every other business: it’s a marathon not a sprint.
5. Be ruthless.
Fire the coach who doesn’t get you. Stop going to the networking meeting that doesn’t serve you. Don’t take on the client that you know is going to drain you, leaving you depleted and broke. I’ve called halt to each of these things at various times this year and each instance brought me into greater alignment with my purpose and the business of my dreams. Be ruthless. It gives you more space, energy and time to do what you’re meant to do.
6. Be a minimalist.
Don’t jump on every bandwagon. You may not need to podcast, or guest post, or run Facebook ads. Scrap offers that don’t light you up. Forget about the social media account that bores the shit out of you. Know what you need to do to make your business work and let everyone else do everything else. Last year I thought my business would surely fail if I didn’t start a podcast because EVERYONE was starting a podcast. But clearly, that didn’t happen. I chose to focus on my writing instead and I’m still here.
7. Take smart risks.
Yep, it’s scary to see the debt build up. It’s scary to put more of your revenue toward business development than your own personal finances. It’s scary as hell. I know. I really really know. But it’s how you grow. It’s how you move from a piddly little side business to something that can support you (and pay off all that debt). That said, make sure you’re making money while you’re investing. Make sure you’re working a proven business model before you go crazy taking every program that speaks to you. There is a balance you need to find here but don’t expect to grow your business without investing in it.
8. Honour your energy.
Get enough sleep. Eat well. Meditate. Exercise. Be kind to yourself. Building a business takes a lot out of you. You need to take care of yourself if you’re going to do it successfully. When I made this shift in my life, my business instantly became stronger, more sustainable. I started feeling more like a professional instead of like a hamster on a wheel. All the greats take care of themselves. This is a non-negotiable.
9. Build relationships with other business owners, the right business owners.
Smart business owners. Kind business owners. Both online AND in real life. Business owners who will support you when you’re having a rotten day and on the other days push you, hold you accountable and help you grow. The right people in your corner will make all the difference. The wrong people will too. Choose wisely.
10. Do the work.
DO THE FUCKING WORK. When life gets hard, do the work. When your gremlins creep in, do the work. When everything comes crashing down, take deep breaths, refocus and do the work. If you’re too scared/worried/overwhelmed/confused and feel paralyzed, hire a great coach. And then do the work. Everyday. Every week. Repeat.
I could go on with this list. Building a business is the most educational activity I have ever engaged in (and I have 7+ years of post-secondary education to compare that to). I have learned more about relationships, finances and systems than I ever thought possible in such a short time. I have learned marketing, sales and WordPress development, much more than I did in any course I ever took at college.
But more than anything, I have learned about myself. I have learned that I am stronger and more resilient than I had ever thought. I found the (almost) unwavering confidence that lives deep in my soul when I have the courage to tap into it. I realized the power of following my dreams, how it makes me feel like my best self and capable of overcoming any challenge in my way.
Let me assure you though, all this learning hasn’t come from an easy ride. This confidence hasn’t grown because everything went right. It has come from struggle balanced with determination. Hard work balanced with ease. Tears balanced with spontaneous dance parties in my living room.
It has come from commitment, passion and a firm believe in the value of my service.
And a whole lot of heart.
Because of where I live I drive through the “seedy” side of town on my way to and from downtown. And in Vancouver, it’s a pretty intense area. Driving through you will see lines of people awaiting food or shelter. You will see women on street corners. You will see sadness. Deep sadness.
On my way to meet friends, attend networking events, connect with clients I am literally driving through sadness to make my biggest dreams come true.
And yes, it impacts me.
Especially the women on the street corners.
I drive by in my nice car, sitting on leather seats with the AC flowing. And even though my necklace might have been bought at the grocery story, I feel beautiful. I feel confident.
I see these women and think of everything I have that they don’t. Again and again, this train of thought takes me beyond nice clothes and a reliable vehicle, a warm house and healthy food. All those things are great and I’m sure the women would LOVE to have them in their life but there’s something bigger and much more important that I have that they lack.
And that is everything.
In my life, I have endless opportunities to experience joy, peace, security and love. I get to live in a good, safe neighbourhood. I get to send my kids to French Immersion AND be able to help them with their homework. I get to travel with my family and explore other countries. I get to nourish my body with exercise, health practitioners and rest.
But perhaps the biggest opportunity that comes to mind as I drive by these women is my opportunity to follow my dreams, to go after what I want and do what I know I am meant to do in this world.
I get to live my purpose.
And likely, if you’re reading this, you have the opportunity to live your purpose too.
This opportunity, I realize as I see the pain on these women’s faces, is matched by responsibility.
The responsibility to never let an opportunity pass me by.
The responsibility to follow my dreams.
It’s not a responsibility to scoff at. It’s not something to take lightly. If you are in the position to follow your dreams, even if it means starting small or working late or taking a risk, you MUST do this.
Why? Because your actions will make the world a better place.
More women bringing light and purpose into their everyday makes waves. More women living with their heart leading the way makes an impact. More goodness, more service, more joy, peace, stability and love.
And if there’s more of that in this world I believe some of it will find it’s way to the seedy parts of town, to the long lines waiting, to the women on the corners.
Through our greatness we bring light to many, even those we never know.
Share your brilliance with the world.
You know those days you just can’t seem to get anything done… those days that creep into weeks… perhaps even become a most dreadful month. When you don’t know what’s stopping you. Everything is right there in front of you – your vision board, your to-do list, your Google calendar. The next step is clear and yet…
Or rather, a serious Netflix binge, an aimless afternoon on Facebook.
Too much time spent NOT doing that thing that you KNOW is the start to the next mountain you move.
I’ve been dancing in that space lately. Waltzing around my to-do list with finesse, like a well-rehearsed opening night. You may have even noticed actually, because there was no blog post last week…
It’s a funny place for me to find myself. A place I simultaneously feel is completely foreign and a well-loved home.
But despite what you and I may call it, this place is not procrastination. It is not boredom or the result of a short attention span. It is resistance.
Fear. And resistance.
And that wisdom is what is new to me. Because although I have danced this dance many times before I had no idea that what was happening was actually a reaction to fear. I had no idea that I was self-sabotaging due to the fact that I was face-to-face with the next big thing, and that scared the shit out of me.
No, instead I thought I just didn’t have the determination. I thought I was lacking in follow through. I thought I was a little bit flakey. Man, I told myself all kinds of crap!
As I bet you do too.
And the funniest thing about this (to me at least) is that I kept hearing entrepreneurs talk about this journey being uncomfortable, about how they had to work through the fear. And I would wonder when I was going to get to that point, completely unaware that there I was sitting in it calling it something else entirely.
But what a beautiful lesson to learn. The ache of the length of time it took is frustrating to say the least, but I learned it. I figured out what it is I am doing when I stare out my window for an hour or wander my kitchen making snacks instead of sitting down and rocking out my next blog post. I am resisting. I am experiencing fear.
And that’s awesome, it really is! And if you’re feeling the fear too raise a glass with me because it’s time to celebrate pushing our edges. It’s time to celebrate being uncomfortable.
Because the right thing doesn’t always feel good.
Because the right thing can be scary as fuck.
When Netflix and chocolate suddenly sound better than following up with your favourite client, you can be damn sure that fear and its sidekick resistance have shown up for your 10 o’clock. Simply being aware of that will weaken their ability to take over.
And choosing to do something self-loving, nurturing and fueling will give you the presence of mind needed to gently step through the resistance, accept the fear and get your shit done.
Cuz you and I were put here to make a difference in the world.
Release the resistance. Celebrate the fear.