UNLOCKED Links: August 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Links: August 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 August 2017!

• These are troubled times. Think how our world would transform if each of us put kindness front and center in our lives? The digital platform,  kindness.org is designed to reach across oceans and time zones to inspire small ripples of everyday compassion that ultimately create massive waves of change.

• Life works in funny ways. As a society, we venerate youth, rather than the honor the wisdom and experience of our elders. The older you get, the more invisible you feel. Here is a website that is a veritable treasure trove of content from the 50+ tribe. Ageist is made up of  a collective of researchers, thinkers and creatives dedicated to promoting a better understanding of later life styles. Each week, I look forward to their newsletter that is always filled with interviews, articles and great photos.

• I use LYFT all the time. They are a life saver for a city dweller and are in my top 10 of best and convenient inventions. Since most drivers are doing the job to make money while they pursue their passions, I tend to get into great career conversations with my Lyft drivers. They all have such great stories. I often fantasize about doing an interview series spotlighting my drivers called Lyft Your Career. I would ride around… ask the drivers about their career aspirations… give career advice  (LYFT, are you listening??). Here is someone that did the opposite — he became an Uber driver and started a podcast interviewing his passengers. Just goes to show, if you have an idea, run (or rather drive!) with it!

• It’s no secret that I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story” of how people found their careers or artistic pursuits. Here and here are the stories of 26 amazing people to keep your eyes on.

• I never thought that I would go nuts over kitchen appliances. And yet, I can’t help but crave these Dolce and Gabbana mixers, blenders, toasters and coffee pots. I’d say they are almost worth a whole kitchen re-do!

• Are you a solo entrepreneur who is feeling isolated and in need of external stimulation? Remote Year is a brilliant marriage of international travel and co-working. 50-80 participants travel together for a year and live and work in a different city each month. It takes working in the corner coffee shop to a whole new level.

• Summer is always a slow time for great indie movie releases (though I did see the movie Maudie a few weeks ago and loved it!) While we wait for Fall’s meatier selections, here is a list of some all time great indie rom coms to keep you busy.

• We are reading a lot about side hustles these days. They help you make more money and get started on your passion projects. But where does one get started? And how do you find the time? Girlboss lists 21 low-hustle side hustle ideas that are worth considering no matter your skill-set. All you need is a little motivation and WiFi to get started.

• There’s a new online dating site that lets the women do the choosing. It’s called Coffee Meets Bagel. It also has a great tagline: Meet Your Everything Bagel today. Okay, maybe a little too cutesy, but I do like the attempt to make meeting people online feel like less of a meat market.

• You know how every day someone asks “How are you?” And even if you’re totally dying inside, you just say “Fine,” so everyone can go about their day? This podcast- Terrible, (Thanks for Asking) is the opposite of that. Recommended by my friend Alexandra Franzen (who always seems to find the best stuff), this show is about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness. No surprise, it’s sort of addicting.

• And finally, some tips from life coach Martha Beck on how to lower your stress level. Tip number one should be turn off the news (it’s not). These are actually pretty good. Check them out!

Happy reading and listening,


Photo: Willie Franklin.

An Interview With Adriana Rizzolo

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Adriana Rizzolo

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 Adriana Rizzolo

Name: Adriana Rizzolo
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Yoga Teacher, Kirtan singer, Hairstylist, Healer

After moving to New York in your early 20s, you completely reinvented your life. You went from non-stop partying to doing yoga and meditating three times a day. Today, you teach yoga professionally among many other things. Take us back to the very beginning of your yoga journey. Can you remember your very first yoga class? Where was it? What happened? Were you nervous to walk in the door? How did it feel?

My first yoga class was in a tiny basement gym, somewhere in New Jersey, close to where I was living at the time. I remember it being really dank and there were a couple guys lifting weights on the way into the yoga room that was a separate little room in the back. It was a hot yoga class. I would go with my best friend and my boyfriend at the time. At that time I was still doing a lot of drugs, and so it was very challenging in a lot of ways to do it. But I really loved it.

I love the image of that dank little room. How did your yoga practice grow from there? And how did you use yoga to break from your addictions and to grow your practice?

I feel like it found me. I just started practicing way back then, and then it just kind of continued. At the time, it didn’t even really make any sense. It was just something that I knew resonated with me. When I moved to New York, I began practicing a lot, and eventually just decided that I wanted to do a yoga teacher training. I had started to get more into the philosophy, and wanted to learn more.

Right after my dad passed, was when I really started doing yoga hardcore. I wasn’t totally sober yet, but I stopped doing hard drugs. Instead of partying at night, I would go to a yoga class. After class I would be hungry and tired and go to bed because I wanted to wake up for an early class. Over time, doing drugs naturally phased out of my life.

When I did my teacher training, I met a meditation teacher, and that’s when I went to India, and got totally sober. I learned to use the inner aspects of yoga to help me with deep healing and working with my trauma. I began to pay attention to and listen to the fire that was inside my body, and how to use it as an empowerment tool as opposed to something that just was painful. Instead of needing to numb myself, I began to wake up

I think the yoga practice instilled a deep devotion towards service. That’s what my practice has evolved into: helping others learn how to teach, and to deepen their own awareness to their bodies, to their breath, and to their heart.

I noticed on your website that you offer a service called a “voice empowerment session.” You work with clients who want to feel more confident using their voice, and you do this through primarily through chanting, singing, and conversations about your client’s insecurities, dreams, goals, and what’s been hindering their voice… it’s so fascinating! I’m so curious to hear more. Why inspired you to offer this kind of service?

A big part of my journey with yoga has been learning how to use my voice. For a very long time I was really unable to make myself heard. When I was in college, I would never be able to speak in front of a room full of people, or just really speak honestly. I was very quiet, and contracted, and checked out. Over the years of doing my meditation and yoga practice, I learned about a chanting practice that is called kirtan. Kirtan has really helped give me a very concrete way to uncover what I call my soul voice. I am a bit of an authenticity junkie, so it is important for me to speak from a true place. The ways that we connect and heal and transform is through experiencing one another’s true and authentic selves. That is what lies at the heart of my teaching and lies at the heart of all of my work.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Adriana Rizzolo

In addition to teaching yoga you’ve worked as a hairstylist for almost 20 years, and you’ve been called a magical hair witch. You offer a service called “healing haircuts”. What happens during a healing haircut, and how is it different from a regular haircut?

I’ve been cutting hair since I was a kid. What happens during a healing haircut is that we focus more intention on healing. I still give a haircut like I normally would but the intention is one of healing and of holding a space where a woman can really share where they’re at on a deeper level. Sometimes I ask questions or inquire if there’s something that they’re ready to really let go of at this point in their life. Sometimes it’ll be a meditation. It just depends on the timing and how long it takes me to cut the hair. I cut the hair dry, and throughout the cut, do a Reiki energy healing, or an energy clearing with some sage. I really prefer to set the tone of a higher vibration for people to fit inside.

Recently, you got profiled in the New York Times. What an amazing coup. A journalist wrote about your hairstyling work and wrote a review about her experience with you. I’m really curious. Everybody always says, “Oh, I wish I’d get an article,” at least I often say to myself, “I wish I’d get an article in the New York Times, that would be amazing.” Was it exciting? Or did it feel odd to be thrust into the public spotlight in such a big way? What was the experience like for you?

I had this insight about the concept of a Hair Witch, and I said to my best friend, “We should do something with Hair Witch some day,” because both of us do all this energy healing work and yoga, and we cut hair. I put it on my Instagram and wrote “Yoga Teacher, Meditation Teacher, Hair Witch.”

The reporter somehow found that and made an appointment. She might’ve mentioned she worked for the New York Times, but I did not think much about it and I certainly did not think she was writing an article about me. We just had a great time together and that was that.

Months and months and months later, maybe even a year, the Times emailed me saying, “We need to take a photo of you for the article.” And I asked, “What article?” And they didn’t really respond to me. They vaguely said, “Well, maybe it’s for the style section so maybe you did an interview on products or something that you use”. I didn’t remember doing an interview for New York Times, but I wasn’t about to turn them away, so I said “Well I’m in LA,” and they said, “We’ll send someone there.” They sent this really nice photographer, and she also said, “Yeah, it’s for the style section. You must’ve done an interview.” And I still had no idea what it was.

Not that long after, about a week later, I woke up and had tons of emails from people that wanted sessions. I went on Instagram and Facebook and saw that the reporter had tagged me in the story. And there I was, on the front page of the Style section of the NY Times! It was a great article that really was very authentic to who I am.

I was very grateful and also was very scared. I was literally hiding under my covers. I wasn’t immediately saying, “Oh, this is so great.”

It’s been this process for me on an inner level to allow myself to feel really amazing things like that. It’s about allowing myself to feel the love and to feel safe in it. For whatever reason, it’s part of my soul’s journey.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Adriana Rizzolo

There are so many self-employed people that I’m sure you see—yoga teachers, hair stylists, consultants—who really struggle to find clients. And it can feel so scary to look at a schedule and realize, “Gosh, I don’t have anything lined up. How am I gonna pay my bills?” Was there ever a point in your career when you really struggled to find clients? And how did that feel, and what helped you start getting booked more consistently?  And after the New York Times article came out, did you have a huge boom in client inquiries? Did that last? Or did it die down after a while?

I think as an entrepreneur, there is always a struggle with consistency around the earning of money. There are months when things are really slow and other months when there seems to be an abundance of money. After the article was published, there was definitely been a huge uptick in my flow of clients, and I’m much busier now. There were more emails than I could respond to, and I probably even forgot to respond to some. And then it definitely slowed down. But I think it did open the doorway to an energetic abundance.

And yes, I think it’s a struggle for a lot of people. In those moments of struggle, there’s an opportunity to take care of ourselves in different ways or to seek out the other deeper things that are important to us. It’s not always easy to see the upside in those moments because in my experience, I feel disempowered in some way. Instead of saying “Oh I get this month off, I could write my book now.” I feel “Oh my God! I’m not making any money.” At my core root, safety and security disappear, so I don’t feel super abundant and creative. It’s a journey for all of us in terms of the ebb and flow of it all.

Speaking of when it flows, you’ve created such an unconventional career that blends so many of your passions together: Yoga, meditation, Reiki, kirtan chanting, hairstyling and you somehow managed to take these very diverse things and put them under an umbrella that holds them all. Do you ever feel like, “Whoa, I’ve got way too many things going on”? Or not? Or how do you make space for everything on your calendar and find the balance that you need?

I tend to lose track of time because part of my job is to bring people beyond time and space. So being present in the day-to-day realities is a really big growth edge for me. Something that helped me is just writing out my weekly schedule and leaving spaces. It helps me to track my clients and also leave time for myself.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Adriana Rizzolo


If someone wants to run a multifaceted business like yours, what are the three pieces of advice you would give them?

1. Get support from people you trust and like.

2. Follow the thing that really brings you the most connection and joy, and just stay with it. Stay really committed to your own inner compass and what lights you up.

3. Having fun is a really important thing because part of why we do this as opposed to maybe working a job that has a lot of security and knowingness, is because we have this freedom. Use that freedom as a way to evolve, and expand, and express, and to be an artist in your life.


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


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!


Photos: Meg Shoemaker, Julia Corbett and Melodee Solomon.

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!


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…


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!


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.


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.


• 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.


• 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!)


“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!


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,


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


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.


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!!!)


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!


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


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.


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!!!)


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!


Photos: Artfare and Vev Studios.