I am embarrassed to admit that while I help others realize their authentic livelihood, I feel like a bit of a fraud. I have not been completely transparent with my readers. I feel like a hypocrite because I emphasize publicly that living an ideal livelihood means letting the world see your vulnerabilities and yet I keep a secret for fear of being seen as weak.
You only know my secret if you’ve been to the movies, the post office, bank, or airport with me and noticed that I am on the floor pretending to tie my shoes (even if they are flip flops) or you’ve had to hold my place in line while I pace around. Maybe we’ve met at a networking event and one minute I am standing there chatting with you, the next I am on the floor. You see, while I maintain this image of the vibrant, active entrepreneur, when I stand still for a while, I faint. There. I got it out and you probably haven’t clicked away and decided never to read my blog again.
(Brave update, Aug. 2012-for the whole story and the BIG entrepreneurial lessons, CLICK HERE.)
So why do I keep this essential fact so closely guarded as if it a strike against my character? I don’t know. But I do know that it takes a lot of energy to act healthy and if I were to simply tell you that I need to interrupt you and sit down, you would have my complete attention because I wouldn’t be distracted standing there worrying about fainting.
This fainting is only a symptom of a pretty complex issue that I won’t get into here but it does interfere with my work and social life. There are times when I have to cancel appointments or disappear from cyberspace because I am unwell. When friends and regular followers don’t see my posts or “tweets” they wonder why I have suddenly gone silent. I realize now that they probably think I have gone out of business or just lost interest.
Please believe me, that is not the case. I love my work but there are times when I have had to isolate and rest. During those periods, my mind still spins with business ideas for you and I am anxious to feel better and share them. Meanwhile, please accept my apologies for disappearing without explanation. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. That’s part of discovering your authentic livelihood.
Do you waste energy protecting an image of strength? Are there issues that you are being less than authentic about? How can letting go of that control and being open about your vulnerabilities free you up to be more present in your business and you life? As always, you are invited to share your insights and comments.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now but it’s a weekly surprise to me to see tweets declaring “Thank God it’s Friday”. I assume most of the people I follow are either self employed or aspiring entrepreneurs and it makes me wonder how satisfied and successful they are or will be if they view “work” as something to get through, something to do for 5 days and then celebrate a break for two.
I want to believe that the people who spend their week aiming for the weekend are still in jobs they are strategically striving to escape, that they see the weekend as a time to focus on building the bridge to their entrepreneurial dreams. I know many of those I follow are writers and artists who are working to create a livelihood that will eventually lead away from the day job. It makes sense that they would look forward to the weekend as time to hone their craft, create product and make concrete plans to work at what they love. My surprise, though, comes from those I know are already self employed who still see their “work” life as Monday through Friday. Maybe it’s the result of years of conditioning in the same way that I still, three decades after finishing school, view September as the beginning of a new year.
I wonder, though, how likely is someone who sees their business as a chore to be gotten to the end of and escaped for two days to have long term success? Now, I don’t expect every entrepreneur to be a workaholic. I recognize that my tendency, even on vacation, to view everything as a business opportunity is viewed by friends and family as obsessive. It does seem though that someone who still views their life in segments of work time and play time has not found their ideal livelihood.
What about you? Are you still operating in office mentality? Do you view your work life as separate from your leisure time? Is this out of habit or do you look forward to the weekend as a time to escape your career and try not to think about your business? Or do you find yourself so excited and enthusiastic about your livelihood that you don’t even realize when it’s time to stop and prepare a meal? Do you get so engrossed in your work that you have to set an alarm to remind you to pick up the kids or walk the dog?
If you have found your ideal livelihood, most likely you find it so satisfying that you have no sense of separation between work and life. Do you think I’m idealistic? Ask someone who is making a living doing what they were born to do. They will tell you that they do feed the kids and walk the dog. They do spend time with friends and enjoy leisure activities. But Friday is just another day.
What about you? Have you found your ideal livelihood?
I apologize if I’m reporting on news that is a few days old. I wasn’t feeling well the last few days so just this morning caught up on days of reading my favorite updates.
If your mind is an idea generator like mine, always working overtime, you probably have more ideas than time and it’s difficult to decide which ideas to invest time and money on.
An Aug. 3rd article in Business Week tells us that Whirlpool uses the following criteria to decide which ideas to pursue:
-It must meet a consumer need in a fresh way
-it must have the breadth to become a platform for related products and
-It must lift earnings. (Add-on innovations are expected to deliver results within months, while new-to-the-world ones are given three to five years.)
to read the whole article, go here
Do you have a set of criteria that your ideas must meet? What’s your personal criteria for deciding if an idea is worth pursing?. If you don’t have a mental list yet, do take the time to define what makes an idea worth pursuing or shelving. Everyone’s list is different, though certain criteria are consistent for businesses in similar fields. What are yours?
This summer, I’ve heard from crafters who are trying to sell handmade at mainstream gift shows alongside imported bargains.
A designer who hand knits stunning wearable art asked me recently if I thought she should show at one of the large apparel marts. Several metal smiths have consulted with me after having dreadful results at wholesale gift shows.
I do recommend attending mainstream gift shows, more for research than as a vendor. (see: “Why you should visit Wholesale Craft and Gift Shows” post of 5-25). The price points of goods handcrafted in the US or Canada is likely to be prohibitive to the majority of buyers at a venue that is primarily imports. You’ll find a much more discriminating, educated buyer at the Buyer’s Market of American Craft (known in the industry as the Rosen Show in reference to founder Wendy Rosen) or at the American Crafts Council Shows. Retailers attending those shows expect to pay significantly higher wholesale prices for handmade and have the clientele to support those prices.
Again, I do suggest you attend the mainstream gift or apparel shows but as a buyer not an exhibitor. Do your research and then apply to the higher end shows where your work is valued.
If you are exhibiting at these shows, please do share with other readers how it is going for you and which shows have been most receptive to your work.
If you haven’t read this commencement address by Paul Hawken’s to the Class of 2009,University of Portland, read it. If you have, RE-read it. Please. I read it in May and re-read it this morning. This is probably the most important message these graduates heard in their college career.
I have great respect for Paul Hawken, as an entrepreneur and a responsible human. For any of you who believe making a difference is just for non-profits, check out what he’s done with private enterprise. It’s not just about amassing a great fortune and then donating to causes. It’s about living each day taking responsibility for the future and this can be compatible with private enterprise.
Below is Paul Hawken’s to the Class of 2009,University of Portland:
When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.
Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.
This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food-but all that is changing.
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint.
The above quote is by Richard Fitoussi who worked with founder and international project manager of CLMMRF, Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Fund, Aki Ra, a former child solider for the Khmer Rouge, to convert his museum into a non-governmental organization.
Hideaki Matsui designed a product to raise awareness for a specific social issue for his Social Entrepreneurship Through Design class at Parsons. He took on Cambodian landmine removal as his cause. He designed an all-natural soap in the shape of landmines that would both help heighten people’s awareness of the crisis and raise funds for the removal of landmines. The sales of the soap would help fund landmine removal.
I found this article from a June 9th Media global post fascinating for a couple of reasons. It is a perfect example of philanthropy being run like a business rather than a charity. I also found it exciting that Parson’s has a class titled “Social Entrepreneurship Through Design”.
Below is the course description from Parsons:
The course offers a close look at the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship in the private, public and non-profit sectors. Areas of social innovation as diverse as business, environment, education, human services, and government will be explored. Some topics of discussion will include social enterprise, cause-related marketing; venture philanthropy and social return on investment. Students will gain practical knowledge of how to identify potential social venture opportunities; develop skills and competencies for creating,
developing and implementing social entrepreneurship ideas; and examine ways of measuring the success and value of social entrepreneurial activity