Your Career Forecast: July / August 2017

Your Career Forecast: July / August 2017

I work as a career and business strategist. But my secret passion is… astrology!

About once a month,  I post an overview of what’s happening in the cosmos and how it might influence your career. It’s called: Your Career Forecast.

Whether you’re job-hunting, running your own business, or wondering about the ideal time to ask for a raise or take a vacation, each Career Forecast will reveal the important dates and cosmic shifts that you need to know about.

I am joined by my dear friend, Heidi Rose Robbins, a master astrologer who will provide expert insight into what’s going on in the stars.

Let’s dive in!


OVERVIEW

What’s going on this month…

HEIDI: The Sun moves into Leo on July 22nd at 8:16am Pacific Time. We have a big month ahead. Leo is a sign of courage. It is a sign of radiance and, at its best, benevolent leadership. Leo grows from being entirely self-consumed to wanting to be generous with its gifts in the name of the greatest good for all.

Leo asks us to express, to be generous, and to give our gifts. It asks us to ignite the fire of the heart and love with greater gusto.

One of the reasons that this is such a huge month is that we have a complete Solar Eclipse on August 21st. The solar energy is completely blocked by the lunar energy. It’s a time when we will need to hold steadfastly to the greatest light in our nature, to keep the light within us kindled and potent. Strong eclipses often bring major external events. In the sign of Leo, this could have to do with who is in charge. I would expect intense political upheaval during this month.

Earlier in Leo, we have a New Moon on July 23rd. During the New Moon, we plant seeds with the energy available to us in any given sign. In Leo, we sow the seeds of self-expression, courageous acts, and a commitment to our loving nature. We make choices that don’t allow us to compromise our true, radiant Self. We dare ourselves to be who we truly are.

On July 25th, Mercury moves into Virgo. This is a time for careful, analytical thinking. Make a plan in these next weeks. Figure out how you will execute it step by step. Under Virgo, we create systems that work. We solve problems. We refine our offerings.

July 31st brings the shift of Venus into the sign of Cancer. Venus is the planet of what we value. Cancer is a sign that rules family and home. Though we are blazing in the sign of Leo, we may find comfort in the nourishment of our chosen families during this time. Though Leo asks that we express and be courageous, Venus in Cancer will welcome us back to the nest where we can replenish.

August 7th brings the Full Moon of Leo. Though the moon is in Aquarius on this date, we celebrate the energies of Leo during the Full Moon. This is a time to prepare for the Solar Eclipse just two weeks later. It’s a time to stand in your greatest light. We can all sound a note of the power of love, and the power of intelligent and loving leadership. We must recognize our interconnectedness and stand for the good of all.

It’s a fiery month. If ever there was a time to dare yourself to give your gift, it’s now.  Let’s cheer one another on!

What does all of this mean for your career? Let’s look closer…


JOB HUNTING?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: The phrase “job hunting” is usually accompanied by groans and deep sighs. Most people don’t enjoy hunting for a new job. Resumes, cover letters, online applications, waiting to hear back, and then hearing nothing. It can feel like one big… Ugh.

If that’s how you’re feeling, then it’s time to change the channel inside your brain from sad, dreary music to something more positive and proactive. Flip your attitude-switch. You can tap into the meticulous, hyper-organized Virgo energy that’s arriving on July 25th, and use this energy to your advantage.

Virgo is a sign that’s all about planning and list-making. So, start by making a list of your top 25 dream companies—places you’d really love to work. You can search sites like Glassdoor.com to learn about different company cultures and read anonymous reviews posted by employees who actually work there.

Then, ask yourself, “What kind of job am I hunting for, exactly?” Make a list of your dream job qualities—hours, pay, location, responsibilities, benefits, perks, everything you’d love to have as part of your salary package and workday.

Then, make a list of people who might be able to help you find that kind of job. Cast a wide net. Friends. Family. Colleagues. Classmates. Online connections. People you know from church, temple, mosque, the gym, yoga class, wherever. Start reaching out, one by one. Text, email, or call one or two people, every day, and share the exciting news that you’re searching for a new job.

You never know who might know somebody… who knows somebody… who works at one of your dream companies. The people in your social circle might be more well-connected than you think!


ALREADY HAVE A JOB?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Every astrological sign has a dark side and a light side. Leo is no exception. When Leo falls into a dark place, the energy can be aggressive (think: schoolyard bully) self-obsessed and narcissistic. When Leo rises into a bright place, we find generosity and skillful, courageous leadership.

If you currently have a job, but you’re not particularly happy, this month is a potent time to examine your life and career and ask, “Who is leading my life?”

Are you the leader of your own life? Are you taking courageous action to create what you want? Or have you taken a passive role?

When we’re unhappy at work, it’s tempting to passively point fingers at everyone else. “My boss doesn’t get it.” “There’s so much red tape.” “It’s impossible to get anything approved.” “Management is terrible.” “Nothing ever changes around here.”

Instead of blaming other people, what if you took matters into your own hands? OK, maybe your workplace isn’t perfect, and maybe you don’t have your dream job… yet. But that doesn’t mean you have to continue feeling miserable. What are 3, 4, or 5 things you could do this week to feel a little happier at work? A yoga class during your lunch break? Fresh flowers on your desk? An exciting new project that you pitch to your boss and lead? You can probably come up with at least a couple ideas that are realistic. Things you could put into motion today, or this week.

When you take matters into your own hands, your career will feel better immediately, and you’ll become an inspiration to those around you.


SELF-EMPLOYED OR RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Just before we entered the month of Leo, I booked a photo shoot. I wanted fresh photos for my website, which I’ll be revamping soon. But more importantly, I wanted to challenge myself to stand in front of the camera and “be seen.”

This is not something that’s particularly comfortable for me. I definitely prefer to be behind a computer screen, or behind a camera, or crafting someone else’s story rather than telling my own. I’ve never been extroverted or flashy. But I recognize that being an entrepreneur means being willing to step into the spotlight and say, “Here I am,” even when doing so is not 100% comfortable.

August 7th is the Full Moon of Leo. This is a beautiful day for everyone—especially entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants, and all kinds of self-employed people. It’s a day, as Heidi put it so beautifully, to “stand in your greatest light.”

This would be an excellent day to write a business manifesto and post it publicly, to let the world know why you do what you do. It would also be an excellent day to do a photo shoot, post a Facebook Live video, send out a newsletter or a press release, host a party, or anything that represents you “being seen” in a strong, vibrant way.

Do you believe that your products and services can improve people’s lives? If so, then there’s no reason for you to hide in the shadows. Take centerstage. Imagine a noble lion or lioness. Stand tall and proud and let the people know what you’re selling, with the intention of serving as many people as possible, contributing to the highest good for all.


OVERALL, THIS IS GREAT MONTH FOR…

• Leadership. Taking charge of new projects. Taking charge of your life. Taking personal responsibility to create the career that you want.

• Courage. Putting yourself in a new kind of spotlight. Taking centerstage. Making a bold proposition.

• Disruption. Leadership shake-ups. Political shake-ups. There could be big changes ahead, both positive and maybe not-so-positive.

• Planning. The last week of July is an especially good time for making lists, making plans, and updating systems.


IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

• July 22nd – Sun moves into Leo. (Themes: courage, radiance, benevolent leadership.)

• July 23rd – New Moon in Leo. (Dare to be who you truly are.)

• July 25th – Mercury moves into Virgo. (A great time for making careful lists and double-checking all the details.)

• July 31st – Venus in the sign of Cancer. (Take a mental health day and relax with friends and family, or wherever feels like “home” for you.)

• August 7th – Full Moon of Leo. (Stand in your greatest light.)

• August 21st – Solar Eclipse. (Change, upheaval, intensity in the air!)


CAREER MANTRA FOR THE MONTH:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” —Barack Obama

Barack Obama is a Leo, with a birthday coming up on August 4th. Obama represents some of the best Leo qualities. He’s confident, but without being flashy. He’s comfortable in the spotlight, but not self-obsessed. He’s a caring leader, devoted to the highest good for all. Most of all, he’s driven by the idea that change begins on an individual level—with individual leadership.

Rather than asking, “Who will save me?” or “Who’s fault is this?” or “Why is this happening to me?” this month, we have an opportunity to ask, “What can I do to make things right?”

We can’t wait, as Obama reminds us, “for some other person or some other time.” The time has arrived.

Have a beautiful month!

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Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

UNLOCKED Links: July 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Links: May July 2017

Once a month, 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. Mostly, I gather articles and podcasts that capture my attention because they make me think or laugh. Here is the link round-up for July 2017!

• Women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who are looking to make money in their third act have turned to a new growth industry — medical marijuana. Inspired partly by their own use of the drug for pain relief, or by caring for others who use it for their own aches, these women see viable business opportunities and view their work as therapeutic for their customers.

• Remember when traveling was a black and white proposition? You figured out where you wanted to go, you bought a plane ticket, and off you went. Buying a plane ticket has never been easier — or more complicated. Here is the inside scoop of how and when to buy an airline ticket.

• The most popular class at Stanford might surprise you! It’s called ‘Designing Your Life’. The goal: to help students make sense of what they value as they move forward and begin to create their careers.

These are the best commencement speeches of the season. The message to graduates is clear: STAND UP. FIGHT BACK. SPEAK OUT.

• There are actors, there are thespians, and then there is Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s in a class by himself, not just as a peerless actor but as a larger-than-life presence. Here is a crash course in this finest actor’s finest films.

• Monster. CareerBuilder. GlassDoor. LinkedIn. When you’re looking for a new job, you’re required to dig through countless job boards, managing logins and apps. Or at least you used to be. Now, you can just google it.

• When someone asks a high school student, “What is your passion?” it is enough to send them running to the hills. The design firm IDEO has taken a new twist and has designed a program that helps young people explore purpose in their lives. Check out The Purpose Project to see how telling the stories of their lives brings students closer to the work and dreams that light them up.

• Also from IDEO, their Big Ideas series helps make student learning relevant.

I loved this story about the time this writer worked as an assistant to her hero, the poet Adrienne Rich. Yes, this is another lesson in the power of serendipity.

• Her younger brother may be more well known, but Randi Zuckerberg is an iconoclast in her own right. This is her latest project.

The gender wars of household chores. The French comic artist Emma illustrates the concept of the ‘mental load’. When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he is viewing her as the manager of their house.

• Speaking of gender wars (will they ever end?), why do men tend to get more money from VC’s than women? Is it because they get asked different (and easier) questions?

Happy reading and listening,

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Photo: Unsplash.

An Interview With Laverne McKinnon

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laverne McKinnon

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story”—who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door—the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laverne McKinnon

Name: Laverne McKinnon
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Television Producer, Executive/Life Coach, Grief Counselor, Adjunct Lecturer


Laverne, you are a modern day Renaissance woman. You produce TV shows. You lecture at Northwestern University. You’re a coach. You’re a grief counselor. You help people heal and transform, using so many different mediums. It sounds like you’ve got five or six incredible careers all rolled into one! How do you figure out where to put your energy on any given day?

Wow – thanks so much! I’ve never been called a Renaissance woman before, but I love it! I recently listened to a Ted Talk from Emilie Wapnick about “why some of us don’t have one true calling” and I felt like she was describing me. I get restless when I’m not learning and growing, and have never felt comfortable unless I was doing many things at once. Over the last several years, I discovered that what links what I do altogether are 3 things: 1. when I’m of service (helping people across their finish lines); 2. helping people find and manifest their dreams; 3. and in order to get to the first two, helping people heal in whatever way is needed.

So on any given day, I try to make sure my energy is coming from that specific place of purpose — whether it’s coaching or teaching or producing. On a more pragmatic level, I’m a planner and a scheduler. I hate to waste time and have a daily “foundation” schedule that energetically sets me up for success: meditation, exercise and time with my kids in the morning.

You recently were an Executive Producer of the Netflix series GIRLBOSS. Take us back to the very beginning of your TV career. What was your very first TV-related job? What was it like? And how did you get hired?

My first job was writing and producing educational films in Chicago and that laid the groundwork for working in television. I had two great mentors: Gerry Rogers and Duffy Swift who taught me about screenwriting, budgeting, scheduling, hiring crews, negotiating deals, casting. They were ridiculously patient and generous.

From there, I took a “step back” when I moved to LA and became an assistant at an agency. It was my un-official Masters in Entertainment. While there was a lot of “grunge” work, it was invaluable because I was on the front lines seeing how writers were hired, projects were packaged and the spoken and unspoken hierarchy of entertainment.

Both jobs came through Northwestern alumni connections – alums were incredibly responsive to meeting me and advocating for me which was such a blessing because I didn’t have a single connection.

What’s been one of the scariest or most discouraging moments of your career so far? What happened? How did you feel? And how did you get through it?

Probably when I was fired from CBS after being with the network for 10 years. That time period was challenging for me: I was a first-time mother, my marriage was in disarray, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I had been named head of the drama development department at the number one broadcast network.

When the firing happened, I was quite devastated and took about a year off from working, contemplating leaving the business. I lost my identity and self-worth. It honestly took years to re-build through a tremendous amount of work with a gifted coach, reading self-help books, attending leadership workshops and seminars, and brutal self-auditing.

I had to get through layers and layers of loss, and take the meaning that I had assigned to those losses and turn it around. It’s why I’m so passionate about combining my work as a producer, coach, grief counselor and teacher – we all have loss in our lives and frequently it slows or stops us from meeting our potential and living our purpose.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laverne McKinnon

I am curious to know a little more about the time period when you were fired from CBS after being with the network for 10 years. That’s such a huge life event. How did that feel? What helped you to get through it? How did you survive that?

Any kind of job loss whether it’s being down-sized, let go, a position being eliminated, or being fired is a blow. One study that I read indicates that if both the employee and the employer are in agreement and have a mutual understanding of the circumstance then it helps the employee find positive meaning to the event. In most cases, that’s not the end result so the employee is left assigning negative meaning to the event which was my case.

As I said, my experience was a huge loss for me and it took a “long” time to recover. I didn’t have any tools or skills to figure it out and the meaning I made of the loss was that I was not worthy. The primary thing that helped me through it eventually was asking for and getting help … and to this day, I still work with a coach and am attending workshops and reading books about self-improvement. I’m a huge advocate for always working on one’s personal growth and development. There’s also a great program that I attended called The Hoffman Institute that Billy Bush recently talked about in his getting back on his feet after the Trump scandal.

If someone just got fired, or is going through some other type of grief / loss and feeling really heartbroken, what’s something you’d want that person to know? Like, if you were having tea with that person, or sitting together on their couch, what would you say to them?

To know that they are not alone and that other people have had similar experiences and have recovered. They may be experiencing shame for a number of reasons – “I should have seen it coming, I should have known better, it’s not fair, I’m so stupid, I’ll never find another job, my friends/family won’t understand, etc.” Shame is isolating and can stop/slow the recovery process. Brene Brown’s book DARING GREATLY is a great one to read if you’re experiencing any kind of loss (job, relationship, moving, death – truly any.)

You’re an Executive Producer of the Netflix Series, GIRLBOSS, which is inspired by the true story of Sophia Amoruso, a misfit punk who launched a multi-million dollar clothing company. Sophia’s story is so fascinating to me. What was it about the GIRLBOSS story that made you think, “Yes. I must produce that show!”…?

I love Sophia’s honestly and vulnerably – and having been someone who had felt lost in my life, I related to her story and was inspired that she found her passion and purpose. I also love that Sophia today is onto her next journey post her company Nasty Gal. That’s what life is – we have ups and downs and it’s about bouncing back that defines us, not that we experience loss.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laverne McKinnon

3 THINGS

Lots of people dream about working in the TV industry. It can seem so glamorous. Red carpet events. Cameras flashing. Splashy PR campaigns. Fancy swag bags filled with diamond-flecked facial cream. But of course, the reality of working in TV can be very different. It’s definitely not all glitz and glamour!

What are 3 things that most people don’t know about the TV industry… that, perhaps, they should?

1. Running with the theme of loss that’s been woven through my previous answers, there is a LOT of loss.

There’s a ton of product and passion that’s generated that will never be seen by audiences. Ideas that never get bought, actors that don’t get the roles they audition for, scripts that never get produced, shows that are cancelled after a few episodes or a season, etc. It takes tenacity and skill to survive because there’s daily heartbreak.

2. Some relationships are meant to last a lifetime and some are for a brief period.

There’s an intimacy that’s created in working hard with a group of people to make something happen – it could be between actor and director, writer and producer, production designer and director of photography, make-up and wardrobe, agent and client, the list goes on and on. Creating extraordinary product requires vulnerability, strength, talent, resilience and intimacy. And that leads to deep bonding which fuels the relationship and the product, but it doesn’t always mean that it’s meant to last a lifetime. And that sometimes … frequently … causes heartbreak and trauma.

3. You’re going to experience heartbreak.

It doesn’t mean that you suck, you’re a loser, you should leave the industry with your tail tucked between your legs. It means that you’re swinging for the fences. No one bats 1000. So it’s critical to develop tools that help you process the failures, mistakes, heartbreaks and trauma that will occur. Because the only thing that’s stopping you from success is quitting.

And bonus round!

Gratitude is one of the best tools to develop to overcome heartbreak. It’s a practice to begin daily now, before you experience failure.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Laverne? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


YOUR #1 CAREER GOAL: ACHIEVED

Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!

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An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story”—who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door—the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

Name: Scarlet Chamberlin
Location: Portland, Oregon
Profession: Personal Stylist


Scarlet, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world! You’re a personal stylist and you help people declutter their closets, figure out their style, and shop for clothes that they love. You also help people choose outfits for important events—like job interviews, TV interviews, red carpet appearances, and things like that. My first question for you is… how does somebody become a stylist? Are there courses that you take in college? Certification programs? What’s the process of stepping into this kind of career?

From what I’ve seen, there’s not just “one way” to become a personal stylist. There are lots of different paths. There are some college courses—for example, I think The Art Institute of Portland has a program you can do if you want to pursue a career in fashion or styling.

There are quite a few online courses too, including one called The Paid Stylist. I took that particular course early on in my career. Later, I got invited to be one of the mentors for the students in that course, so it all came full circle! I’m still in touch with the people who I studied alongside, many years ago. Our career trajectories have all been different, and it’s been really fun to see each other move forward in our own ways. But how I got into styling wasn’t really a linear path. For me, it was a roundabout journey. I had a few different jobs before I settled on styling.

So, when did you start feeling that little intuitive whisper inside, saying, “I think I want to be a stylist”? Were you always fascinated with clothes?

My mother was a fashion buyer for the May Company, which was a big department store that was really popular back in the ‘70s and ‘80s—although it has since gone out of business. But back in her day, working for May was such an exciting job. She got flown all over the world, and was wined and dined, and she was always going to interesting places and bringing us toys back from wherever she was. She passed away when I was 11, but I’d already fallen in love with clothes through her.

Then in high school, I started making jewelry. Gemstones were my favorite thing to work with, so I learned a lot about gems with my brother and we’d go on hunts around Portland, searching for rocks. Eventually, I learned about some of the healing, spiritual properties of gemstones, which fascinated me, too. I started making jewelry pieces and taking them down to the boutiques on Northwest 23rd to see if I could sell them.

I can totally imagine you as a teen-entrepreneur, marching up and down the streets of Portland with a bag full of homemade jewelry! And then what happened after high school?

I’m a really tall woman—6 feet—so I got into college on a basketball scholarship. But really, I wanted to study art. The basketball program was really demanding, and it didn’t leave much extra time for me to pursue anything else. After awhile, I just bailed.

I knew I wanted a big change, so I decided to go to Italy and study abroad for a semester. When I came back, I went to massage school. You wouldn’t think that massage relates to fashion at all, but what happened is that I got to work with women in a very intimate space, and learned a lot about how we view ourselves, our body acceptance levels, and I learned that everyone has cellulite, even guys.

That was when I realized that I wanted to help people feel better about themselves. So, I started making jewelry for people to commemorate things that were going on in their lives—pregnancies, births, new relationships, new projects. Like power pieces, or talismans to remind people of their strength. People loved these jewelry pieces. I started getting lots of custom orders, and even a few celebrity clients, and that’s when I realized that “fashion” can mean something very personal, and it can be a confidence booster for so many people. It’s not just about looking trendy or having sparkly, pretty things. It can be so much deeper.

Around that time, I heard there was this whole industry called “personal styling.” I’d been the unofficial stylist for most of my friends my entire life, so I figured, “I think I might enjoy doing that kind of job.”

So, for two years I worked on the weekends with my friends and jewelry customers to get better at styling, and come up with my own process for working with clients.

Basically, I did lots of experimenting, and I’d ask myself questions like, “Is personal styling something that I love? Is it something that I’m willing to change career paths for? How can I make this a really valuable service for people, and make it a joyful experience for me, too? How can I save people time, save people money, get people interested in quality over quantity, and inspire them to shop local?”

After working with my initial “guinea pig” clients for those two years, I felt more confident in my abilities. That’s when I officially launched my styling business. That was about 7 years ago. The time has flown by!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

It’s so true that what you wear on your body can have so much significance. Our clothes send a message to the world, and to ourselves. Let’s talk a little more about the early days of your styling career. After you officially opened the doors to your styling business, did you have lots of clients right away? Or was it difficult? Was there a period of time when you felt nervous, like, “Oh my God, is this really going to work?”

Like I mentioned, I started out by working with my friends and family and past customers. Those were my first clients. Those people told their friends about me, and word spread little by little, mostly through those personal referrals. Having an existing following, not the social media kind but the community kind, was a huge part of my business’ relatively fast growth. I was also willing to travel anywhere to work with a referral! I’d put it on a credit card and go because I knew this would grow my business in the best way.

I put together a basic WordPress website. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was a great home base with a description of my services and how to contact me. But at that point, I wasn’t really getting any emails or calls from “strangers.” Just from people who were my friends, or friends of friends. I remember saying to my husband, “One day, when a complete stranger hires me through my website, I’m gonna throw a party.”

And then one day, it happened. And then it started happening again and again and again. That felt so exciting—like I’d reached a new level in my business, because people outside of my immediate social circle were discovering me!

I’d love to hear more about your transition into running your own business. Did you have a full-time “day job” during the early phase of your styling business, before you had plenty of clients? How did you support yourself?

Before getting into the styling biz, I had been working at Laika, which is an animation studio. It was my first “real job” ever. It was an amazing place to work. Lots of creative people. I had insurance paid for, and I had a paycheck every two weeks. The downside was that I had a long commute every day, sometimes an hour each way. And, as much as I loved the people there, some part of me knew that it was just… not for me. At least, not long-term.

I left that job and lined up some part-time work with a friend just to cover my bills. I was doing styling on the weekends, in the evenings and weekdays around my part-time job. I worked non-stop. This was serious HUSTLE time! Always at it making or deepening relationships with the boutiques, consignment stores, designers and influencers in Portland when I wasn’t actually with a client.  just dipping my toes in the water, and getting things started. And then my dad died out of nowhere. He had a brain aneurysm. I was really close to him, and his death was completely shocking.

After his death, I took a couple weeks off from my part-time job. The first day I had to go back, I almost had a panic attack. I was laying on the floor and I just was like, “Oh my God, I can’t do this. I have to do my dream 100%.” That’s when I decided to take my styling business more seriously, and really go for it. That’s what my dad would want.

I’m sure your mom and dad are both incredibly proud of you. It’s interesting how, sometimes, it takes a shocking, even tragic event in order for us to wake up and charge after our dreams, or make a big lifestyle change. That’s the mysterious gift of grief. It can bring us more fully alive.

I am curious… after you decided to really go for it with your styling business, how long did it take before you felt financially secure, like, “OK, it’s working. I’ve arrived where I want to be.” A few months? Years?

I think it was around the five-year mark. That’s when I felt like I had a steady stream of clients, and repeat clients, and I was making an amount of money that felt exciting, instead of just squeaking by. That’s when I felt like, “Okay, this isn’t going away. This is working. Five years in, I still love this. Yes!”

And of course, businesses evolve over time. New goals and dreams materialize. A big moment for me was when I decided to sign up for retreat in Tulum that was being led by two of my favorite astrologers, the AstroTwins. I love astrology and I’d always wanted to learn more. It was such a fun, dreamy trip, with so many serendipitous happenings.

On that trip, I started to get this feeling that something was about to change—like I was ready for a new adventure, a new level, some kind of shift.

I’d been renting a tiny little studio for my office. Then, while I was in Tulum, my landlord emailed me out of the blue and said, “Hey, there’s this big space upstairs that’s coming available soon. Would you like to see it?”

When I got home, I looked at the space, and I was like, “Holy fucking shit.” It was my dream space. Big, spacious, huge windows. It was a bit dingy, but I convinced my landlord to let me paint it white (including the floors!) I’d always imagined being able to work in a bright, big, open lofty-type space. As soon as I walked into that space, my brain started whirling with new ideas. “I could have client sessions here, and fashion shows, and workshops, and fundraisers, and racks full of clothes from local designers, and an area to display jewelry, and a mini-fridge full of champagne, and, and, and…”

It felt like a big, wide open canvas, filled with possibilities. And so I took the leap. This meant that my overhead increased a bit, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I’m sure that a year or two from now, another risky-but-super-exciting opportunity will present itself, and I’ll probably leap at that, too! That’s always been my personality. I’m always seeking and stretching, so my business stretches along with me.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

You’re very politically active, as am I. During the 2016 election season, you hosted a Hillary Clinton fundraiser at your studio—the big, dreamy white loft that you just mentioned. I heard through the grapevine that it was an amazing event! And then of course, Trump won the election, which left many of us feeling shocked and discouraged. It’s such a bizarre time, culturally and politically. I’m curious to know… how do you keep yourself feeling positive and inspired when there are so many discouraging things happening in our country and around the world?

For me, it’s about just… doing something. Taking action makes me feel more optimistic. If there’s a cause I want to support, or a candidate, I think to myself, “I can’t just do nothing. How could I help, even if it’s a relatively small way?”

Lately, I’ve been involved with a group called Progress Makes Perfect, which is a group of people here in Portland who want to see our country move in the direction of fairness and equality. We meet quarterly, and we find ways to get involved with causes that need more support. Everyone in the group has different skills—styling, fundraising, social media marketing, photography, writing—so we try to find organizations that are doing great work, but that need some extra help, and have a limited budget. And we offer our skills and pitch in.

I’m also involved with League Of Badass Women “LOBAW” which is now international, in 12 countries with 10k members, but the founder is here and a friend. At first we were focused on resistance and now it’s turning back to leadership, which was the focus prior to the election.

We talked about political discouragement a moment ago. I’d love to ask you about other kinds of discouragement, too. Looking back on your career, have there been any moments when you felt really criticized, rejected… really discouraged? What happened, and how did you get through it?

Oh, definitely. Many moments. As someone who’s sort of a chameleon and a people-pleaser by nature, the hardest thing that I’ve had to learn over the years is to say “no” and to set boundaries.

I’ve had experiences where a client wanted to hire me, and I could sense some red flags, but I took them on anyway because I thought I needed the money. And then later I was like, “Damn it! I should have listened to my intuition. Why did I do this?”

I’ve had a small handful of really, really hard clients, over the years. One of them was somebody who was visiting Portland from out of town, and she wanted to work with me while she was here. My intuition was sending me some warning signals, but I ignored that and agreed to work with her.

I set really clear expectations. I knew her budget. I knew how many pieces I was advising her to buy while she was here in order to create the capsule wardrobe she was asking me for. But then once we met in person, despite all of my communication, I realized she wanted something totally different than what I could provide. I tried so hard to make her dream a reality. In the end, I was just so completely drained and exhausted, and it didn’t feel clean and successful. It felt messy, and she still seemed disappointed no matter what I did.

The lesson, of course, is that we’ve got to pay attention to those red flags! These days, I often remind myself, “If I say ‘no’ to this, it’s just making space for something better to come along.”

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Scarlet Chamberlin

3 THINGS

If someone is interested in becoming a personal stylist, what are the first three things they should do?

1. Tell people what you’re doing.

Start thinking about who your community is—your existing community of people who can support you, like your friends, family, and co-workers. Start telling people that you want to do this and collecting names and email addresses and phone numbers.

2. Educate yourself on how to run a business.

Get involved with a program that can teach you the business side of things. There are tons of free resources online covering web design, marketing, invoicing, tracking expenses, paying your taxes. Find a mentor or a coach or take a business class. Personal referrals are the best way to grow a styling business so any time you can be around other people in a learning environment, it will lead to collaboration opportunities and potential clients! I always encourage people to get out from behind the computer and go engage in real life. It can feel so hard but it is so important!

3. Spend time with an experienced stylist.

If you’re lucky, you might meet a stylist who’s willing to let you shadow them, or be their intern or apprentice. If you can’t find someone like that, then create your own apprenticeship program by practicing on your friends. Hone your skills. Learn how to work with different body types, and different comfort levels (some people are fine being naked in front of you as they try on clothes, others are not!) and different people’s personalities. Practice. A lot.

Almost anybody can put together a fun outfit, but styling is more than that. It’s about listening to your client—hearing them express how they want to feel, and what their goals are, and who they want to become—and then creating a look that makes them feel confident, like, “This is who I really am. This is the best version of me.”

It’s not about putting together an outfit that you love, it’s about putting together an outfit that your client loves, which is a very different thing. And when things “click” and your client looks in the mirror, beaming with excitement, and standing up a few inches taller, that’s just the best. I love that moment. And that’s why I’m still totally in love with styling, 7 years in and counting.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Scarlet? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


YOUR #1 CAREER GOAL: ACHIEVED

Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!

ELLEN_SIGNATURE


Photos: Artfare and Vev Studios.

An Interview with The Mystery Box Show

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With The Mystery Box Show

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story”—who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door—the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With The Mystery Box Show

Name: Eric Scheur and Reba Sparrow
Location: Portland, Oregon
Profession: The Mystery Box Show


You run a live storytelling event called The Mystery Box Show. It’s a show dedicated to true stories about sex and sexuality. People get onstage and share incredible stories from their lives. This show has become really popular, with lots of sponsors and about 400 people in the audience each time. How did this all start? Where did the idea come from?

ERIC & REBA: Like most ambitious projects, it’s probably helpful if you have a little bit of blind naiveté about exactly what you’re signing up for!

In the beginning it was just Eric, who didn’t have any experience putting on shows at all. He was just a fan of storytelling podcasts like Risk! and The Moth, and local storytelling shows as well. The simple fact is that he was always a little more interested when the stories turned to the topic of sex, and he thought it would be fun to see a show with only sex stories. He assumed one must already exist in Portland, but when he couldn’t find one, he started his own.

It’s true that the show has grown, but we started off small, in a wonderful and intimate improv space called The Brody Theatre. It only held about 98 people and was the perfect space for an experiment like this. Eric reached out to friends, and friends of friends, and posted on Craigslist to find anyone who would share their personal sex stories on stage—and then he coached each storyteller to refine their story. It was important that the stories were curated and polished so the night didn’t just become an evening of sexual bragging on stage. The stories needed a narrative structure, stakes, and if possible, a character arc.

The first show was a surprise sold-out success, and the audience asked “When’s the next one?!” So that meant we had to do more. It never occurred to Eric that it would be a regular thing, really. All of the energy went into making that first show.

We continued to pack the house almost every time we did a show, and the audience loved the stories and the storytellers. But things really began to grow when Reba came on board a year later. Reba brought a few key elements that the show had been needing: organization, structure, audience care (that’s a big one, deserving an essay in and of itself), and most importantly, emotions!

When Reba started coaching storytellers, she was able to use her background in theatre to dig into storytellers’ tales and really pull out the emotions that the audience connected with.

The change in the stories on stage was noticeable, and the audience related to the stories more than they ever had before. It wasn’t long until we had to look for a larger venue (again, all orchestrated by Reba), and then a larger venue still! Not bad for a show that didn’t think it would move past its first appearance.

Reba, after you came onboard as Executive Producer for the show, what did you want to change–and why? How did you evolve the show into what it is today?

REBA: It was clear that there was excitement at the shows. It was a small theatre and, honestly, when people are talking about sex in a compressed space, it’s going to create energy. These shows felt like a party, and that’s a great place to start from.

I tend to watch shows with the eyes of a producer. This probably comes from my background in theatre, and forensics before that. During the first few Mystery Box Shows I went to, I felt that the stories could have been more developed. They always ended before I’d heard everything I wanted to hear from them: things like “But how did that experience leave you feeling? What changed for you?” or “I didn’t see how this part of the story related to the other part of the story—that could have been strengthened.”

When Eric and I started coaching the storytellers together, I was able to ask those questions and the stories got richer. When we coach together, Eric is really good at helping to build the narrative structure, and I’m really good at digging for the deeper emotions in a story. It’s a combination that really works well together, but a lot of those deeper emotions weren’t as present at the first few shows.

The other thing I saw at the live show was that Eric was running himself thin trying to produce the show, host the show, prepare the green room, interact with the audience, and help the storytellers feel comfortable before going on stage. That’s a LOT for one person to do, and I don’t think even Eric realized how much he was trying to do at once. I knew that I could bring my experience of stage managing, which would give the show a more solid foundation.

The stuff that happens backstage before (and leading up to) the show is the foundation of what makes a show suffer or what makes a show great. What I saw was that the show needed more time focused on what happened BEFORE the night of the show: working with the storytellers, establishing the pace of the show, things like that.

It’s all very invisible. The show got tighter, better produced. But I don’t think that the audience would be able to point to a specific thing to say “Ah, this is why the show is better.” It’s just something that the audience walks away feeling.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With The Mystery Box Show

Describe what the very first Mystery Box Show was like. Where did it happen? How did you feel (nervous, excited, both?) Did anybody show up to watch the show?

ERIC: At the very first show we had a packed house. That was a bit of a surprise, to be honest. A lot of those people were my friends, or friends of the storytellers, or people who probably saw an ad that said “sex” and thought, “Ooh, I’ll check that out!”

Interestingly, the second show was the one where only about half of the seats were filled. Who can say why? It definitely felt like a disappointment after the success of the first show. It’s funny, too, because if we’d been half-full for that first show, we would have considered it a runaway success! As the shows continued, audience numbers went up and down, but tended to trend towards getting larger and larger. Seems like a good lesson about perseverance?

Lots of people dream about starting a cool business or project, but they worry that “nobody will care” and “nobody will show up.” You have created a very enthusiastic following for The Mystery Box Show. Talk a little about how that happened. What are some of the specific things you’ve done to build excitement for your shows and sell tickets?

ERIC & REBA: It’ll sound cliché, but we’re putting on the show that we would want to go see. It feels like that’s probably a factor in why the show means something to people: because it means something to us and that resonates. The show has our voice and our aesthetic, which makes it personal. Much more personal than trying to figure out what people would want to see and then catering it to them. We cater the show to us and trust that the audience will find it matches with their tastes as well.

That’s not to say we don’t care about the audience. In fact, Reba is focused very intently on making sure the audience feels special, and this manifests itself in subtle ways throughout the live show, and even in our social media presence. Here are a few examples of things we consciously do, or consciously don’t do:

• We don’t lecture our audience. No telling them how they should feel about a certain story, or about their own relationship with sex, their insecurities, issues of shame, or displays of enthusiasm.

• We curate our stories to be relatable to just about everyone. While most of us have many, many, many different sexual experiences, the emotions tied to those experiences tend to be universal. A favorite example of this is that most of us probably can’t relate to the experience of having sex in a public sex club, surrounded by onlookers. But most of us can probably relate to issues of being comfortable with our bodies, and feeling judged because our bodies aren’t “perfect” according to cultural/media standards. When those emotions become the focus of the story, and the sex club becomes the mere circumstantial details, the audience feels invited in.

• We make sure that our show is an inclusive show. That is to say, everyone is welcome, and we make an effort for everyone to feel comfortable and safe. We’re not just here for kinky people, and not just for vanilla people. No gender expression, sexual orientation, or relationship model is seen as more special or righteous than any other. (This is our own interpretation of “being the change you want to see in the world.”)

We don’t have any charts or graphs that show how those kinds of things translate directly into ticket sales, but we know that it does make a difference.

What’s one of the most difficult things you’ve had to deal with? Has there ever been a setback that made you think, “Maybe we should stop doing this show,” or “This is just too hard.” What was that moment, and how did you get through it?

ERIC & REBA: Ooh, this is a good one! There’s actually been a new challenge in the last year and a half, as the show has grown: negative feedback.

In the early days, most of the response to the show was overwhelmingly positive. And to be fair, that overwhelmingly positive response is still there. But that positive response is now peppered with e-mails or Twitter reactions from people who have been offended by the stories at the show, or whose past trauma has been triggered by the subjects mentioned on stage.

This is a tough one for us, because while we honestly believe in the stories we put on stage (which showcase the range of human sexuality, and can occasionally go dark or extreme), we don’t want to make our audience feel unsafe.

We’re still working through the best way to make sure our audience feels good about the stories in the show, without compromising our vision of what we want the show to be. Our current method is to offer Trigger Warnings before each story that might have some obvious traumatic content such as sexual violence, non-consent, etc. The trouble is that just about anything, obvious or not, can trigger unpleasant emotions, depending on the person. There’s no real way to predict what will be difficult material for certain audience members. And there have been audience members who were not shy about speaking up in e-mail or on social media after having been exposed to material that put them in a darker space.

So we’re trying to find a balance that means we can both take care of our audience, but also still feature stories that exist all across the spectrum of sexual experiences. It’s not always easy, but honestly, it’s nothing that’s ever made us think about stopping the show. It just opens us up to creative thinking about how to approach the problem.

If there’s anything that has made us think about things being too hard, it’s the time commitment. Reba is a single mother and an actor, and Eric has a full-time job as well. When you factor in trying to produce and promote a show, not to mention the hours we spend every week finding and coaching storytellers (it’s a lot of hours), that’s probably been the thing we struggle most with: Time.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With The Mystery Box Show

Storytelling tips, please! If someone is getting onstage to tell a true story—like at an open mic night—what is one thing they definitely should do, and one thing they definitely should NOT do?

Ha! Excellent question. We’ll try to keep it simple, though ‘cuz here’s the thing: “storytelling tips” can apply to any story, whether you’re on stage or not. But since you’ve asked specifically about getting on stage (or, let’s say, even in front of a group of friends, or a business meeting)…

• DO be vulnerable.

Be yourself and allow your own emotions to come out in the story. Use “I statements” (I saw an apple, I felt frightened, I opened my e-mail) to place yourself in the story. That will let the listener follow along with your experiences.

• DON’T lose focus.

Make sure every piece of the story you’re sharing, every scene you’re building, every character you’re introducing, relates to the point you’re trying to make with your story. (Bonus Hint: KNOW YOUR ENDING) If you are concise and deliberate, your story beats will stick with your listener, leading them through the story towards the end.

If someone is interested in starting some kind of “show” or “live storytelling event” in their city, what are the first 3 things they should do?

1. Be organized.

Plot out the show from beginning to end, almost to the point of making a script you can follow, and then figure out how to make sure all of those pieces end up on stage.

2. Just do it. Dive in.

You’re not going to get it perfect the first time, so embrace those imperfections. You’ll make improvements once you see the show on its feet.

3. Tell everyone and their sister to come to the show and spread the word about it.

Selling tickets is not easy, and you’re going to need everyone to be as enthusiastic about you show as you are. Show them that you have something exciting and valuable, and they’ll be excited to tell more people about it the next time you take the stage.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Reba and Eric? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


YOUR #1 CAREER GOAL: ACHIEVED

Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!

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An Interview With Rachael Soroka

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Rachael Soroka

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story”—who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door—the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Rachael Soroka

Name: Rachael Soroka
Location: Garden Valley, California
Profession: Owner of Soroka Violins, a violin repair shop


You run a violin repair shop. What an unusual and fascinating career! How did you find your way into this work? Did you play violin as a kid? Did you study music in college? Have you always been interested in taking things apart and putting them back together? How did this happen?

I started playing the violin when I was eight, and my mom dug my great-grandpa’s old fiddle out of grandpa’s attic and we took it to a violin shop to have it fixed up.

I was totally smitten with the shop. It was in Cleveland in an old burned-out industrial part of town in a decrepit reclaimed factory building. The elevator had a human operator! The ceilings were twenty feet tall, and the huge windows looked out over Lake Erie. The workshop was a treasure-trove—wood and violin parts in little cubbies stacked up and piled up and bits stuck in here and there, surrounding an old wooden workbench packed with every kind of blade and hand tool imaginable.

The violin maker, Peter Horn, was a gentleman in his sixties who chain-smoked cigarettes and had a thick German accent. I loved going to his shop! I remember asking him how he got to be a violin maker, and he told me that he studied at the violin making school in Marneukirchen, Germany.

I didn’t think I could ever do that, so I put the idea of being a violin maker myself out of my mind. Until one summer in college when I was working at Pinewoods Camp, a folk music and dance camp for adults near Plymouth, Massachusetts. There was a workshop there that I was allowed to use, and in my free time I tried to make a violin, just for fun, because I had found an old 19th century manual in the local library. Being a folk music camp, lots of fiddlers came through and one of them was a violin maker! He told me that there were schools in America, too, and that some people just learned by apprenticeship. That was enough to launch me!

I dropped out of college that next semester and walked back into Peter Horn’s shop. I asked to be his apprentice. He looked at me like I was crazy and said that usually people paid him to teach them… and I certainly didn’t have any money. But he was a really social and sweet person, and sitting at the workbench can be a pretty solitary activity. So I stood around and chatted with him most of that day, and at the end I asked if I could come back and chat some more. “Of course!” he said. And that’s how I sneaked into an apprenticeship. I got a job waiting tables, and on all my days off, I went to Cleveland and stood behind Peter Horn and watched and asked questions, and listened to polka music on the radio, and breathed second-hand smoke. It was wonderful. After doing that for about a year, he hired me because he said I knew too much to be helping him out for free. And so I had my foot in the door and a traditional violin maker’s apprenticeship on my résumé.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Rachael Soroka


Wow! That’s an incredible story. Someone needs to turn your life into an Oscar-winning movie called The Violin Maker’s Apprentice, or something like that! Take us back to the early days of your business. How did it feel to open your own shop? Did you have customers right away? Or did things feel “quiet” and “empty” at first? Did you feel excited? Nervous? Both?

It’s funny, I don’t remember being nervous when I left the safety of a salary and went to work for myself. I took a part-time administrative job for a local business as a buffer, and started working on violins from home. I had contract work from other violin shops right away—the shop I had been working in sent me work, and then more shops found me and started sending me work. And then local people starting finding me and coming in, and they would tell people so more people would come… It has been a steady and pretty stress-free process.


Have you ever had a customer who made you feel a little star-struck—like a famous musician, composer, or conductor? Did you start babbling with excitement, or were you able to keep your cool?

I’m not that prone to being star-struck by people, and there’s something about a person who thinks they are a star that pretty much turns me off. We are all on the road of mastery, and some people are a little farther along is all.

But when I have felt star-struck is seeing old instruments made by the masters who’ve been dead and gone for centuries already. I’ve worked on instruments that are 300 years old! Just holding one of those old beautiful masterpieces is a thrill—I can feel the thousands and thousands of hours of music that have been played, the generations of humans who have come and gone using that instrument as the tool to do the work of the muse, and the artistry and dedication of a lifetime that the violin maker put into that wood so many years ago. It’s really breathtaking.

Has there ever been a moment in your career where you felt really discouraged—or a moment when you considered shutting down your business? What happened, how did you feel, and how did you get yourself through that moment?

The worst time was when I was working for a violin shop in Vermont. The two men who owned the shop were amazing—they both played for the symphony, and they were both really skilled in the shop in two different ways: one knew about identifying and valuing instruments and all the business aspects of running the shop, and the other was the violin maker. I learned so much from both of them!

But after a few years there, they sold the shop, and the folks who bought it and I just did not click. At all. They were business people and didn’t know much about violins, and so they made me “head of the repair shop,” which I did not feel qualified for, and I really wanted to keep learning from someone out ahead of me. I felt really lonely and the “suits” kept pushing me to push the other repair-people in the business who were now working under me to work harder and faster, but they kept hiring totally unskilled and inexperienced people who weren’t capable of doing better or faster work. It was so awful.

So I sent résumé s around to be best shops in the country, looking for a new job, and I ended up in a world-famous shop in San Francisco working for a violin maker who had studied as a young man at the violin making school in Germany, and then came to the USA to work for the best shop in the country at the time under the “father of modern violin making.” So, I was back to learning and growing under this master’s feedback. Problem solved.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work—the moments that make you think, “Wow, I’m so grateful this is my job”?

I love to learn and grow. And the best part of being a violin maker is that one can never actually master anything. As soon as your hands get good at something, your eye gets better too and pretty soon the eye is pointing out how your hands can improve. Then your hands catch back up and the process repeats. In addition, there are many ways to skin a cat and you can always learn from other people and try new approaches and new materials.

I imagine that restoring violins will keep me intrigued until I die. So far, I’m still fascinated, and it’s been 17 years!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Rachael Soroka

3 Things

If someone wants to start a career building and repairing musical instruments, like you, what are the first 3 things they should do?

1. Make art.

Paintings and sculptures, especially. This will train your eye and train your ability to see something in your mind and then make it happen in the physical realm.

2. Learn to work with wood.

Learn which tools to use and when. Learn to sharpen blades until you can use them as razors. Learn how wood behaves. To get started, sign up for a general woodworking class at a local community college—especially if the class uses hand tools rather than machines.

3. Play music.

Pick up an instrument. Take some lessons. Whether it’s in a formal classroom setting or hanging out in a master’s studio and chatting, always keep learning!


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Rachael? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


YOUR #1 CAREER GOAL: ACHIEVED

Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!

ELLEN_SIGNATURE