Susan Hyatt: Professional Life Coach and Web Series Creator

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

Ever wish you could sit down with a super-accomplished person and ask, “What does it take to break into your industry? What’s it like to be you? And when you’re looking to hire someone, what does it take to impress you?”

With Pick My Brain, that’s exactly what we do. Enjoy this week’s installment featuring life coach and web series creator Susan Hyatt.


You’re a professional life coach, trained by Oprah’s personal coach, Dr. Martha Beck. You also recently launched your own web series, Life Is Delicious TV (which is now being syndicated on Congrats!) Do you have any advice for someone who’s dreaming about creating an online TV series? What’s the very first move?

Creating an online TV show is crazy-fun and very rewarding. But I ain’t gonna lie — it’s a lot of work.

People are often surprised to find out how much time, effort and money goes into creating an itty-bitty fifteen-minute episode. Writing the script, finding the perfect guest, locking down sponsors, booking filming locations, rehearsing my talking points, and of course, the actual filming and editing… there’s a lot going on behind the scenes!

The end result is totally worth it. But you’ve got to really, really want it.

If you want to create your own online TV show, I’d recommend asking yourself:

: What’s my highest intention for the viewer?

Your answer to this question will shape everything.

Through your show, do you want to help solve a particular problem (like helping people lose weight)? Do you want to teach people something new (like how to cook vegan food)? Or maybe you just want to be entertaining and make people smile!

Get clear about your highest intention — the effect that you want to have on every viewer. This will give you a focus for the show.

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

: Who is my ideal viewer?

Let’s pretend that we’ve gathered a group of your ideal viewers around the table for a cup of coffee (or a shot of wheatgrass or vodka!).

What do your ideal viewers want? What are they struggling with? What scares them? What makes them happy? Where do they hang out? What do they read, watch, eat, and do for fun?

Get clear about who your ideal viewers are. This will shape your content (what you do + say, during your show) as well as your marketing.

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

: Why TV?

Let’s face it: there are plenty of wayyyyy easier and cheaper ways to reach an audience than through an online TV show!

You could blog (free!), start a podcast (also free!), hold workshops in your hometown, start up an advice column like Ms. Ellen did… there are so many options.

What is it that appeals to you about TV, specifically?

Does being on camera make you feel like the best version of yourself? Are there certain things you want to do — like creating instructional videos, or doing hilarious comedy skits — that could only be accomplished through the medium of video?

Get clear about why it’s gotta be TV. Then, commit to that vision, completely.

You don’t necessarily need a big budget or a team of stylists to make it happen.

You can start with a simple webcam, set up in your living room.

But whatever you choose to do, make sure that your focus is always on serving your viewers — inspiring, motivating, entertaining and striving to make a positive impact on every single person who’s watching.

Images: Susan Hyatt.

How Do I Write A Jaw-Droppingly Amazing Resume?

Ellen Fondiler | Advice

Dear Ellen,

My question is pretty simple (and I’m sure it’s one that you get ALL the time).

I’m fresh out of college and applying for jobs. I haven’t been able to land any interviews, and I think it’s because my resume kinda sucks. It’s boring and sounds like it was written by a robot. But isn’t that what employers want — a “professional” tone?

There’s so much advice out there about how to write a great resume, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. I just want to present my skills in the best possible way — and get noticed.

Do you have any tips on how to write a jaw-droppingly-amazing resume?

Please help!

Big Dreams, Sucky Resume

Ellen Fondiler | Advice

Dear Big Dreams,

Ask ten people “Do you like writing and updating your resume?” and you’ll hear ten incredibly loud NO’s.

You’re not alone, Big Dreams. Most people hate working on their own resumes, and will do just about anything to procrastinate and avoid the dreaded task!

(That’s why there are people like me — “resume” oddballs who love resume editing + are happy to help!)

I LOVE resume editing because I LOVE stories.

And that’s exactly what your resume needs to do: Tell a great story.

Here are three pieces of advice for you, Big Dreams, and for anyone else who is struggling to craft a really, really good resume:

1. Tell your story so that the reader understands what you get EXCITED about. (Remember: when somebody asks, “What kind of job are you interested in?” what they’re secretly asking is: “What are you PASSIONATE about?”)

2. Be specific. Just don’t say, “I was a columnist for the Daily Californian.” Say something like, “I was a sports editor for our award-winning school newspaper, The Daily Californian, and wrote 50 columns over the course of 2 years.”

3. Make sure your resume is attractive and easy to read. Use a SIMPLE template — no fancy, swirly fonts. Double-triple-quadruple-check for spelling mistakes. You can use to electronically spell-check and grammar-check your resume. (It’s amazing!)

Want a little more help? Check out my free worksheet: How To Craft A Resume That’s Inspiring To Read (And Inspiring To Write!)

Want even more help? Hire me to do a professional editing job on your resume.

It’s one of my favorite things to do — and over the years, I’ve helped many, many people go from “ignored” to “hired!”

Writing a resume isn’t impossible, Big Dreams, and it doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

If you can fill out an online dating profile…or write a bit of info about yourself on Twitter or Facebook…or have a conversation with a friend about what excites you + what you want to pursue in your career…you can write a resume, too.

Remember: you already know how to tell a good story. You tell stories all the time. At school. At parties. On dates. With friends.

Your resume is just a simple story about someone you happen to know very well…you!



Image: Willie Franklin

Anna Derivi-Castellanos and Lenore Estrada: Three Babes Bakeshop


Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Three Babes

To do the work you love, you’ve got to unlock a few doors. UNLOCKED Stories are honest conversations with 20 and 30-somethings who chose a path + made it happen.

A note from Ellen: I’m thrilled to spotlight Anna and Lenore of Three Babes Bakeshop in today’s installment of UNLOCKED Stories.

These two women have overcome incredible challenges, together ― they’re a perfect example of what real friendship + partnership is all about.

Read on, and don’t miss the powerful reflection questions at the very end.

And if you happen to live in the Bay area, visit these gals at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, every Saturday ― their pies are simply amazing!

What do you do?

[Lenore / Anna]: We own Three Babes Bakeshop ― a pie shop in San Francisco.

(The name is a bit of a misnomer ― there are actually only 2 of us! But that’s a story for another interview…)

We bake seasonal pies using local, organic, sustainably grown ingredients.

We’ve been super lucky with press and have been honored as one of America’s best pie-makers in a whole bunch of magazines, including Food+Wine, The Huffington Post, Saveur, Travel+Leisure, Bon Appetit, Rachael Ray Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Esquire, as well as on The Cooking Channel and The Today Show.

Where did the original idea for your pie shop come from?

Lenore: We have been best friends since childhood, and we used to bake together all the time, just for fun.

We both went away to different colleges, but kept in touch … and we always talked about starting a food business together.

A few years after college, after a few career twists + turns, I moved back to San Francisco to start a business. I picked San Francisco so I could be close to my mother, who was battling cancer.

Anna was already living in San Francisco ― so, for the first time since high school, we were both living in the same place. Anna decided to start a business with me- which was wonderful on so many levels.

After shuffling through LOTS of ideas, we decided on pies because they’re one of the foods that we loved making with our families when we were younger (who doesn’t love pies, right?) and we believed that pies would give us a way to create a business that reflected our values. We decided to keep that first summer low-commitment and just do a pop-up pie shop for a few months and see how it went.

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Three Babes

What were you doing before you founded Three Babes?

Anna: After college, I worked for a small chain of organic grocery stores. Then I went to culinary school. And after that, I tried to start my own Mexican restaurant. It didn’t get off the ground, so I moved back to San Francisco and started working for a natural foods co-op. And then … it was pies!

Lenore: I had a much more eclectic career path than Anna. I worked as a luxury wedding planner in New York, in solar sales and marketing at Chevron, as a substitute Spanish teacher … at one point, I even had a job at Google!

After bouncing around for several years, I realized that I was unhappy working at corporate jobs. I really wanted to become my own boss. I wanted to find work that gave me a sense of purpose, and entrepreneurship turned out to be the right fit.

What was your biggest “locked door” moment?

Lenore: Opening a bakery is not cheap ― or easy.

It takes a lot of money and an incredible amount of energy + persistence to get things going.

For a long time, it was really hard to make enough money to pay ourselves a decent salary. And then, right at the end of our first year in business, my father died. Then my mother ― who was dying of cancer ― lost her home.

No matter what kind of career you choose, that kind of grief + loss can seriously knock you off course.

I’m so grateful that I had my best friend + business partner, Anna, right by my side. We cared for my mother as she died, and somehow, we kept the business going. It was exhausting. There were many, many moments where we considered calling it quits.

But you didn’t quit. How did you get through that dark time … and find the courage to keep going?

Lenore: After my mom died, we closed up the pie shop for a few weeks and I took a trip back to the East Coast to meet with some friends and mentors.

During that break, Anna and I both realized that even though our pie shop wasn’t where we wanted it to be yet, we had built something really beautiful. We’d worked so hard, and we had every reason to be proud.

So, we decided to stick with it and get back to business.

Running the shop is still an incredible amount of work, for not-too-much money, but we love it.

Every day, we just roll up our sleeves + keep baking those pies!

You’ve already overcome so many challenges, together. What’s the next big door that you need to unlock?

[Lenore / Anna]: Our next big step is opening up our first brick + mortar pie shop here in San Francisco.

Up until this point, we’ve been working out of a rented commercial kitchen space, baking pies and then selling them at farmer’s martkets, or delivering them to local businesses. But there wasn’t anywhere for our customers to gather + hang out!

We’re looking forward to finally having a “coffee shop”-style community space where people can get together and enjoy our pies, seven days a week!

Getting our own space requires a significant amount of money, so lately, a lot of our work has been figuring out how to fund our growth.

This will completely change our business model ― but we’re so ready!

Last but not least: what’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to stay motivated, do amazing work and unlock major doors?

[Lenore / Anna]: For us, running a successful business is all about relationships.

Relationships with friends, mentors, people in your community, and of course, with your customers.

When you surround yourself with positive, encouraging people, it will absolutely impact the work that you do ― and help you get through hard times, too.

Seek out people who are already on their path, doing great work.

You’ll get inspired … and eventually? You will find your own way.

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Three Babes

UNLOCK yourself

Three questions to think about, write about — or talk about with a friend.

1. Anna and Lenore have been friends since childhood, and they loved baking treats together … even way back in high school.

: What’s something you loved to do when you were younger? Have you ever dreamed about turning that passion into a business, or a side-business?

2. After Lenore’s mom passed away, Anna and Lenore closed up their shop for a few weeks and took a break, to see if staying in business was really what they both wanted. Soon, they found clarity ― and got back to work.

: Are you long overdue for a break? How could you give yourself a little extra “down time” to rest, breathe and get clarity, this week?

3. The gals from Three Babes Bakeshop believe that surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people is THE secret to success.

: Who are three people who love you ― and support you unconditionally ― no matter what? (Maybe it’s time to say “thank you” for all the support!)


For more UNLOCKED interviews, click over here.

Know somebody that ought to be spotlighted? Write to me here.

See you next time for another inspiring conversation!

If I Finish My Work Early, Can I Just Go Home?

Ellen Fondiler | Advice

Dear Ellen,

I’m working in marketing (yay! I love it) and we’re always operating on pretty tight deadlines.

I’ve always been a total nerd about organization, and I’m obsessed with finding productivity hacks to speed up projects and get things done, faster.

As a result, I often finish my work for the day by 2 or 3pm — when I’m being paid to work till 5pm.

I usually spend the last couple hours of the day goofing around on Facebook, reading blogs, or chatting with friends — but I’m starting to feel kind of guilty. And honestly, if I’m done by 3pm, I’d rather just be allowed to go home!

I know that my boss is happy with my work, and she’s always impressed with what I’m able to complete in a single day … but even so, I’m nervous about just saying, “So … can I go home now?”

What would you recommend that I do in this situation?


Too Speedy For My Own Good

Ellen Fondiler | Ask Ellen

Dear Too Speedy:

Ah, what a delightful “problem” to have!

I often wish I could go home early … but since I work from home, I’m already there!

Maybe I should set up a designated zone in my house that represents “off-duty” … complete with tropical beverages and mini umbrellas. Ahhh…

But I digress.

As an employee, you’re being paid to complete certain tasks.

So, once those tasks are complete, shouldn’t you be allowed to call it a day and go home?

Some companies say: No.

But, other companies say: Definitely!

More and more companies are referring to themselves as “results-only work environments,” which means that as long as you do the work that you’re being paid to do (making 50 sales, licking 500 envelopes, sorting 5,000 names in a database, whatever!) it doesn’t matter if it takes you one hour or five days. They just want you to get the job done — in other words, get “results.”

There are many companies that have used the results-only model, with great success — such as Zappos and Best Buy. Some government agencies have adopted it, too. And up until recently, Google allowed its employees to take one day a week to work on personal and creative projects for the company — a policy that produced Gmail and other innovations.

I’m guessing that your company isn’t a results-only work environment, Too Speedy — but more of a traditional one, instead. If that’s the case, asking to go home early probably isn’t a smart career move.

But don’t worry. You can still work this situation to your advantage, and make it a win-win for everyone.

Have a conversation with your boss, and say something like this:

“I’ve gotten into a rhythm where I can usually complete my work for the day by 2 or 3pm. I’d like to talk about what to do with that extra time at the end of each day. I’ve got a few ideas…”

…and then pitch your boss an idea for a project that YOU would love to work on!

That way, you won’t be frittering away your time on Facebook, feeling guilty for pretending to work, or feeling resentful and bored. You’ll have a juicy project to dig into — one that will help you to stay engaged and excited about your work, build new skills and add more value to the company.

Take initiative, Too Speedy. Your boss will thank you. Your co-workers will be impressed. And soon? You’ll have to change your sign-off from Too Speedy For My Own Good to So Valuable That Every Single Company Wants Me … And Wants To Double My Salary.

I’ve got an inkling that your career is about to charge forward at an astonishing speed. Good luck!



Image: Willie Franklin

UNLOCKED Links: August 15, 2014

Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED Links

(Almost) every Friday, I curate the best links on how to find work that you love, be excellent at what you do, and unlock any door that stands in your way. Here’s your list for today!


Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED Links


Is life “harder” now than it was for your parents…at least in terms of finding great work? Is the economy affecting our “spiritual self-confidence?” This NY Times columnist has an intriguing perspective.

Feeling adrift? Here are 100 fascinating questions to help you remember who you are…and what you’re amazing at doing. Here’s my fav: If a mysterious benefactor wrote you a check for $5,000 and said, “Help me solve a problem — any problem!”…what would you do with him or her?

Oprah visited the Stanford Business School and had a few things to say on career, life and leadership. I love this up close and personal video interview with Lady O.


Got a million things on your to-do list? Don’t even know where to begin? Here is the complete guide to structuring your ideal workday (including tips on when, exactly, to suck down that first cup of coffee!)

Renting a house or apartment? It’s tough to figure out how much you can afford…when you’re not sure how much you’re going to be earning, each month! If your income is not-so-consistent, here are some smart tips on how to sort out your budget.

Still drowning in debt? Here are 3 really smart money-management tips. (I have to say “I second that emotion!” to #3. A tough one to accept, especially for boot-strapping types like myself.)


Speaking of expenses…before you budget for food, check out the new non-food sensation: Soylent. Cooking is overrated anyway, right?

More popular than Monopoly? Apparently, old-school board games are having a comeback. If you’ve ever dreamed about designing your own game, now’s the perfect time!

Is Chrome your favorite web browser? Here are 13 extensions and apps that you won’t believe you ever survived without.


A thought provoking TED talk on “failure” by Sarah Lewis. Turns out coming in “second place” might give us more motivation than winning the blue ribbon.

Nobody wanted to believe that a “mere kid” could invent something so groundbreaking. But even after 199 rejection letters and 1 “maybe,” he still kept going…and diagnosing pancreatic cancer will never be the same.

Heart-wrenching spoken word poetry from the always-brilliant Sarah Kay. If you have a daughter, sister or a mother, share this with them.


Visiting New York? Need a caffeine fix? Here are the best places to go.

Want to take a vacation this summer … but still need to buy plane tickets? Here are three mobile apps that can help you book flights with supersonic ease.

I love this multi-generational exchange project that pairs students in Brazil with Americans living in a retirement home. (The seniors help the kids with their English. The kids help the seniors feel more connected to the world. A win-win!)

Find great work. Do great work. And have a great weekend!


Images: Paul Strand and Carolyn Allen Photography.

Sarah Von Bargen: Globetrotter, Travel Blogger and Internet Superstar


To do the work you love, you’ve got to unlock a few doors. UNLOCKED Stories are honest conversations with 20 and 30-somethings who chose a path + made it happen.

A note from Ellen: I’m thrilled to spotlight Sarah in this week’s installment of UNLOCKED STORIES. She’s a woman who gets paid to travel the world and blog about it … and she has circled the globe five times! (How cool is that?)

Even if your career has nothing to do with travel, writing or blogging, I know you’re going to be inspired by Sarah’s story. Read on, and don’t miss the powerful questions at the very end…

Ellen Fondiler | Sarah Von Bargen: Globetrotter, Travel Blogger and Internet Superstar

: So many Millennials fantasize about traveling the world and getting paid to do it. You actually made it happen. How did this all begin?

The short answer is: I made it happen through one metric ton of hard work, making lots of tradeoffs (like making my homebase a super-frugal 1-bedroom apartment in Saint Paul, Minnesota, instead of a penthouse in NYC), and a big dose of good luck. I was lucky to be born into a family where travel was a very “normal” part of life. We’d go on long road trips every summer, camping, picking raspberries and cooking together using ingredients we picked up at country marts + roadside stands.

My childhood experiences taught me that travel doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated — and that most of the people you meet “on the road” are kind and trustworthy.

: It sounds like your parents passed along a spirit of adventure! How did those childhood experiences guide you into your current career?

My parents taught me that travel is fundamentally about connecting with your fellow human beings — not necessarily fancy meals or swanky hotels.

I carried that attitude into my twenties and early thirties, and spent seven years traveling the world as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, which eventually led me to get a Masters degree in Linguistics.

So many countries are desperate for qualified ESL teachers, and I taught my way through Brazil, Taiwan, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, India and Nepal. The living conditions were rarely “glamorous,” but there was never a shortage of teaching opportunities!

Throughout my ESL adventure, I ran my travel + lifestyle blog — — on the side, and slowly built up an audience there.

And these days, I’m a full-time blogger, travel writer and small business consultant.

I travel for work and for pleasure — meeting with clients in different cities, doing research for new travel guidebooks, and sometimes, as part of a collaboration with a cool brand that’s sponsoring a post on my blog.

I still pinch myself on an almost-daily basis, that this is really my life!

Sarah Von Bargen: Globetrotter, Travel Blogger and Internet Superstar

: Your blog,, is tremendously successful — with nearly a quarter-million page-views per month. How did THAT happen?

I’m the kind of woman who loves talking about big, global issues (like poverty and women’s rights) … but who also loves going “ooh!” over an amazingly cute + cheap pair of boots.

I wanted to read a women’s blog that had a little bit of everything — deep stuff, light stuff, and everything in between. You know, from climate change to cat photos.

I couldn’t find a blog like that. So I started one! 
I completely fell in love with blogging and was pretty much unstoppable. For the first several years, I posted seven days a week and spent every lunch break (for a year and a half!) leaving comments on other blogs, to build friendships + connections.

Eventually, I started to gain a readership and people started to take notice. Slowly but surely, people started asking for my help taking their own blogs to the next level, and my consulting business was born.

Sarah Von Bargen: Globetrotter, Travel Blogger and Internet Superstar

: You’ve worked hard to build an audience + make your blog a success. But how do you actually make money, as a blogger + travel writer?

Like most professional writers, I have several different sources of income.

Right now, I make money in four different ways:

: Consulting work. I work with small business owners who want to start their own blogs, or make their blogs better. Many of the businesses I work with are in the lifestyle / beauty / travel realm, which is awesome.

: Ads + sponsors. Small business owners pay to advertise their stuff on my blog. Sometimes, bigger companies pay me to attend their shows, visit their hotels, or do a tour of their city, and then write an article about it, create a social media contest, or some other kind of collaboration. (In the blog biz, that’s called a “sponsored post.”)

: Product sales. I create workbooks, calendars and other products, and sell them online. (Smart, Sassy + Solo: Adventures in Lady Travel is one of my favorites!)

: Speaking gigs. From time to time, I get paid to speak about travel, professional blogging and “content strategy” (which is a fancy word for “writing + making cool stuff on the Internet, so that customers fall in love with your business.”)

What’s your biggest piece of advice for someone who is struggling to take the first step towards the career of his (or her) dreams?

This might sound really depressing, but I mean this in the most loving, freeing way imaginable:

Just start.

Even if it seems like “nobody cares” about what you’re doing, at first.

Because no matter what you’re doing — whether it’s blogging, or music, or leading workshops, or whatever — the reality is that very few people are going to notice you…at first.

So many people lose their excitement about blogging, in particular, because “nobody’s reading.”

Hint: for the first six months, almost no one will read your blog. So you might as well start now and work out the bugs. 

Look at blogging as an adventure — you’ll always be trying new things, tweaking, refining, and growing into your voice. And if you make a mistake … guess what? 99% of the time, nobody minds. Except you.

If it’s really what you want to do, then roll up your sleeves and do it.

The rewards are totally worth it.

Sarah Von Bargen: Globetrotter, Travel Blogger and Internet Superstar

UNLOCK yourself

Three questions to think about, write about — or talk about with a friend.

1. Sarah’s parents taught her that traveling can be simple and affordable — and that ultimately, it’s about connecting with fellow human beings. This philosophy eventually led to become a professional travel writer.

: What’s a positive lesson that your parents taught you? How is that lesson influencing your current career (or not)?

2. A turning point in Sarah’s career was when she started her own blog — and kept blogging, even though at first, nobody was reading.

: Have you ever started something, and then felt disappointed because nobody seemed to “care”? What will you do to motivate yourself, next time?

3. As a self-employed writer, Sarah makes money in several different ways.

: What are some of the different ways that you could make money (or make more money!) in your line of work? Brainstorm and make a big, creative list … dream wild!

For more UNLOCKED interviews, click over here.

Know somebody that ought to be spotlighted? Write to me here.

Photos: Meredith Westin.

See you next time for another inspiring conversation!