An Interview with Grace Kraaijvanger

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Grace Kraaijvanger

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 Grace Kraaijvanger

Name: Grace Kraaijvanger
Location: Mill Valley, California
Profession: Founder of The Hivery


You’re the founder of The Hivery, a woman’s co-working space in Northern California… and one of the first women’s co-working spaces in the country.

Some Hivery members are entrepreneurs, some are consultants, others are writers. All kinds of interesting people working on all kinds of projects. I recently became a member and I love it. There is such a creative, focused energy in the air whenever I walk inside.

Can you remember the exact moment when the idea for The Hivery came into your brain? Did it come as a sudden flash or was it more of a gradual realization? What was the inspiration behind this project? Walk us through the story of how The Hivery got started.

I definitely remember the sudden flash. I was about 27 years old. I was living in San Francisco and I was a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer. I worked with contemporary dance companies. I was very much in the artist scene in San Francisco, which is a very vibrant scene. And I was interested in opening a dance studio. So I think I was an entrepreneur before I realized it.

I started seeing these really interesting spaces, some of which I could afford, and some of which I couldn’t. But as I would look at those spaces I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a space where women gathered to make art and work on projects?” I envisioned a creative co-op for women—women like me and my dance friends. I didn’t know what to call it—back then “co-working” wasn’t a word.

During that time, my side job was marketing consulting. I did that to pay my bills and pay the rent. I had a home office. At first, I thought working from home would be so great, because I had so much flexibility. But working from home can be lonely, too.

Fast forward several years. I had retired from dancing. I was doing a lot more marketing work, but I was feeling pretty bored with that part of my career. I felt like my life needed an infusion of creativity. I really missed the dance community.

I told a friend of mine, “I need a massive change. What I’m doing right now is not working. I have this idea about creating a space for women where they can come together and work and support each other. Not just an ‘office’. It would be a community.”

And my friend looked at me and said, “You told me about this idea 10 years ago, and it’s time you get on it.”

Isn’t it funny how certain ideas seem to follow us—coming back into our minds, over and over? Like an idea that you just can’t shake off? That has definitely happened for me, too. So after that conversation with your friend, you realized, “OK, it’s time to really do this.” And then what happened?

I started to look at spaces again. When you’re on the right path, the doors open. So within two weeks, I found a space—a 110-square foot loft in an art gallery. It was the perfect place to start The Hivery.

It was small, but the commitment and the risk were not very big. I thought, “This is my Petri dish. This is where I can try this idea and see if anyone comes.”

I started putting the word out. It was slow at first, but the answer was always a resounding “Yes!” once I could get the women into the space.

Pretty soon, I began wondering, “What if this could be more than a co-working space? What if we have workshops and events and learning opportunities and mixers and social stuff and wellness stuff, too?” I started experimenting. The more I threw into the experiment, the more I learned what resonated.

I’ve never been so sure this is what I was put on the planet to do. Even when I work hard there is an ease. This is my life’s work.

How did it feel to walk away from your marketing job and start The Hivery? Was it a scary transition? Were your colleagues and friends surprised? Did anybody say, “Are you really sure?” What did it feel like for you?

I have this little green notebook, and it’s from that year of my life where I was trying to figure out, “Should I do this? Should I not do this? If I do this, what the heck is it?”

I still look at it. It’s hilarious, because it says words like “creative, collaborative, open space, light filled, fabulous, collaborative opportunities for women to learn and grow.” It’s The Hivery—and I wrote it all out without knowing what it was.

But in that green journal, I have pages of pros and cons about whether or not I should leave my marketing job. Because the job had a lot of great qualities. I was paid well. It was a company that was based in Connecticut, so I worked from home, which was great because I had two small kids. By the time they were shutting down in Connecticut, it was 3 o’clock here. I could pick my kids up from school. I worked pretty autonomously and independently; I was creating something for a company that was growing really quickly that seemed to have a lot of potential. On paper it was a really good job. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so dissatisfied.

What I finally realized was that I was working to fulfill somebody else’s vision. I was spending 90% of my work days alone in my home office feeling totally isolated and lonely, and then that feeling of isolation would turn into feelings of self-doubt.

It is interesting as I look back at those pros and cons, because I really thought that it was a very difficult decision that I was struggling with. At the time I thought, “Am I crazy to give this up?” Well, now I think, “I’d be crazy to not give it up.”

As you mentioned earlier, you’ve been hosting a lot of events at The Hivery. You’ve done workshops on entrepreneurship, mindfulness, navigating stress, finding balance, and many other topics. Tell us about the very first Hivery event. What was the topic? How many people came? Was it free or did you sell tickets? Were you nervous that nobody would show up?

I think I did my first Hivery event without knowing it was a Hivery event.

What happened is that my kids’ elementary school was having a silent auction and I wanted to donate something. So I donated a lunchtime event called “Women Inspiring Women.” It was a conversation about creating “creative community among women.” I remember writing a description of the event, and I hesitated so long before I pressed “Send.”

I kept thinking, “Maybe no one will sign up. Maybe no one else wants to have this conversation. Maybe this is just the voice in my head that’s having this conversation.” But I pressed “Send” and then… 15 or 16 women showed up.

We had two round-table discussions. I put together a whole agenda and I led a facilitated conversation. And what I noticed that day was that, physically and physiologically, I felt so at home. I realized, “This is what I’m supposed to do.”

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Grace Kraaijvanger

You mentioned feeling hesitant to hit “Send” on that email—the email that led to the first Hivery event. You worried that nobody would care, or want to come.

This situation is so common. As entrepreneurs, so often, we have ideas and we’re nervous to put them out in the world because we don’t know what we’re doing, or we think nobody’s going to show up, or we think, “Nobody’s going to understand what I’m trying to do.”

But if you look at any success story, the lesson always is to “start where you are.” Don’t wait until things are perfect or totally right in your head. Just go from where you are and let your work form a life of its own. Do you find that to be true?

Absolutely. I almost missed opening The Hivery all together because of my fears.

One big block I felt was that I didn’t have the credentials to open a women’s space—so I thought. I didn’t study women’s studies. I don’t have a coaching certificate. I had a thousand reasons why I wasn’t qualified.

At one point, I thought to myself, “You need to get a coaching certificate first, and then you can open this thing.” I started looking at these programs that were eight to twelve months long, and I realized that I didn’t want to wait that long. I wanted to jump right in.

I’m so glad you jumped in! And those fears you described… those fears are so common. As a career strategist, most of my clients are women, and I hear a lot of them say, “I would love to do that, but I’m not qualified, or I’m not an expert yet.

Often these are extremely accomplished women with numerous qualifications and so much talent, but for whatever reason they don’t believe they’re qualified enough to pursue their goals.

It sounds like you’ve dealt with these feelings in the past, too. Why do you think so many women feel this way? Some people call it “the imposter syndrome,” believing that you’re a newbie, a fraud, an imposter, even when you’re clearly not. How can women get out of this pattern of self-doubt?

In Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big, she talks about this as a “hiding strategy.” And that’s exactly what it is. We employ our hiding strategies when we feel fearful, when we feel self-doubt. It’s a way of putting something in front of your dreams or your vision.

So again, my example was that I thought that I needed to be a certified coach before I could open a women’s co-working space. I thought I needed that official credential. Well, it wasn’t true. But it was a way of saying, “I need to delay, I need to hold off for twelve months before I can really explore my vision.”

So I say try. Start first. Start first and then get your credentials later if you need them.

As more and more women wanted to join The Hivery, your original space began to feel cramped. How did you deal with this? Was it a difficult decision to expand and build out your current space?

We had definitely outgrown the space. We were sharing it with an art gallery, and it was certainly my vision to have our own space. I didn’t want to share space with another organization. I was slowly looking around. And then, we lost our lease on that space. It was just the push I needed.

We were given 60 days’ notice. It’s no easy task to find commercial real estate in Marin County, or the Bay Area in general, and negotiate a lease and get it open in 60 days. But I was really determined to do it. I didn’t want to lose the momentum of my customers. I had 28 members, all of whom were very loyal to my vision. And I felt like all 28 of them were part of building something bigger.

When I first saw the new space, there was all sorts of synchronicity that made me feel like this was the right move. It was a former dance studio. It has a skylight that is the shape of a honeycomb in the ceiling. I fell in love with it, but I also had a lot of doubt. I actually felt really sick right before I signed the lease because I thought, “Is this crazy?”

It was a big leap for me. It was a big financial risk for me. And I thought, first of all, “What if it fails?” And second of all, this is my hometown where I’m raising my kids, and I thought, “What if it fails in front of my whole hometown? How embarrassing.” It felt like it was not just a financial risk, but also a personal risk.

I wasn’t sleeping well or eating well. When I look back at that time, I think “Thank God that I didn’t let those emotions and that fear prevent me from doing something.”

Clearly, it was a perfect home for The Hivery. And it was a launch into a whole other level of the business, and a whole other level of this movement. We were one of the first women’s co-working spaces in the country. So to do that then, that was something big. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the opportunity.

What’s been the most discouraging, frustrating, or heartbreaking moment in your career thus far, and how did you get through it?

The biggest heartbreaks have also been the biggest breakthroughs. For example, like I mentioned a bit earlier, when I first started The Hivery, I lost my lease with 60 days’ notice.

It was coincidentally the first month that I had finally made it into the black and was profitable. I felt like I had just gotten my sea legs and then had to scramble.

Ultimately, it taught me to play bigger, find a larger, more beautiful, more visible space, and really take The Hivery to the next level.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Grace Kraaijvanger

3 THINGS

Pretend you’re sitting down for coffee with a woman who wants to pursue one of her passions and start a new project or business.

Imagine this woman is feeling hesitant, wondering, “Should I really do this? Can I really do this? I’m not sure…”

What are 3 pieces of advice that you’d give to her?

1. Stop asking for advice.

You already know what you want. Get quiet and listen to YOURSELF first and foremost. Most of the women I coach at The Hivery have had something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. Stop shopping it around for validation and listen to the voice inside you that has been wanting this for quite some time.

2. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your potential.

Times of transformation are sensitive and energy is contagious. Surrounding yourself with “Debbie Downers” will only feed the voice of self-doubt. Positive people will ignite the possibilities.

3. Question your hiding strategies.

Saying “I’m not sure” or “It’s too risky” or “I’m too this or that” or “I need another credential first” is often a cover for fear. Inventory if your self-talk is really true. It may not be that you’re not sure, but rather that you’re just plain scared. Being scared is different…you can tackle fear. Be honest with yourself so you know exactly what your inner voice is telling you.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Laurie? 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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Your Career Forecast: September / October 2017

Your Career Forecast: September / October 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 Libra on September 22nd, 2017 at 1:02pm Pacific. Libra is a sign of relationships. We shake hands. We kiss. We offer friendship. We treat a stranger with respect. We recognize that we are not alone in the universe and that everyday we have the opportunity to connect with our fellow human beings in a kind and compassionate way.

Libra is all about beauty and harmony. Libra does its best to create environments and conversations that uplift us and allow us to feel connected. When the Sun moves into Libra, the month ahead is an opportunity to collaborate, connect, and call interesting people into your life.

On September 29th, Mercury joins the Sun in Libra. Mercury is the planet of communication and Libra brings diplomacy. So, conversations over the next few weeks could flow with ease. Use these weeks to have the conversations you’ve been putting off. With Mercury in Libra, you can often find peaceful resolution.

October 5th is the Full Moon of Libra. While the Moon is actually in Aries, we focus on the highest and best qualities of Libra. Again, collaborate. Unify. Work together. Harmonize. How can you extend yourself to someone and make the relationship better from one encounter? How can you protect the rights of someone who’s being treated unfairly? Libra brings justice and equality.

October 5th is also a very creative day because Mars and Venus sit in the same degree of the sign of Virgo. This is “creativity at work” at its best! It’s a great day to get things done, to clean things out, or finally find a solution to a problem.

October 10th is a big day. It’s the most significant astrological shift this month. Jupiter has been in Libra for the entire last year. It now moves into the sign of Scorpio for one year. Scorpio rules money, power, intimacy, and the therapeutic process. Jupiter grows whatever it touches. We want it to grow the best parts of Scorpio. For anyone with strong Scorpio in his or her chart, this should be very good year—a year of conscious growth. We will all benefit from the Scorpio journey of transmuting fear to love again and again.

Venus joins Mercury and the Sun in Libra on October 14th. This is a great combination for love. When Venus is in Libra, everyone is the lover. Everyone just wants things to be beautiful and harmonious. It’s a great time to spend with a partner or beloved.

Mercury moves into Scorpio on October 17th. This is a great combination for getting to the heart of the matter. It creates the energy of the researcher, the scientist, the one who dives deep. Get tenacious with this combination. Don’t give up.

October 18th is a great day for expansive thinking. Jupiter and Mercury meet in the same degree of Scorpio. Again, it emphasizes the depth of Scorpio and the power of the mind to reach beyond the norm. This is penetrating thinking at its best.

Finally, on October 19th, there is a New Moon in Libra. This is always a good time to initiate relationships, to make the calls, to plan an important meeting. Libra has the gift of bringing beauty and harmony. Do something that allows you to feel at peace or feel full of the beauty life can offer.

It’s a powerful month with many planets in Libra. Work on all the most important relationships in your life—strengthen and deepen them. And who knows? Maybe you’ll start a new significant relationship (or two) this month as well.


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

JOB HUNTING?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: In an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, Matt Youngquist, the President of Career Horizons, said, “At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published. Most people [spend] 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”

Matt is right. Tons of great jobs are never posted online. To find these kinds of jobs, you’ve got to ask your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances to help you out. You’ve got to ask the people in your social circle to keep their eyes peeled for opportunities, to make introductions, and sometimes, to put in a good word for you.

Fortunately, with all the Libra energy in the air, this is the ideal time to do that! Especially between October 10th – 17th, you can use the Libra/Scorpio energy to get out there and network with enthusiasm.

Remember that “networking” doesn’t have to be awkward and complicated. Networking can mean sending a handwritten note to your aunt, posting a quick note on Facebook, or emailing three friends to say, “I’m searching for a new job. My dream would be [describe your ideal situation]. If you happen to hear about anything like that, could you let me know?” If you fire off a couple emails like that, it might lead to some surprising opportunities. A little effort can open big doors.

This Libra month is also a great time to negotiate. Is it time to ask for a raise, a promotion, or something else that you want? What would make you feel happier at work? A different schedule? A new chair that doesn’t constantly squeak? An intern? On September 29th, Mercury joins the Sun in Libra. Use this day to ask for exactly what you want. Your conversations will flow with ease, and you’ll be able to tap into your “inner diplomat”—calm and reasonable, yet persuasive.


ALREADY HAVE A JOB?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: This is a great month for team collaboration. On October 5th, the Full Moon of Libra gives us a chance to collaborate, work together, and harmonize. On October 5th, we also have some fiery, warrior energy from Mars, making this a terrific day to rally the troops and get things done. If there’s a project that hasn’t been progressing very quickly, this is a great moment to hold a meeting, assign tasks, and set an aggressive timeline to finish it. No more dithering around. Go, team, go! Onward to victory!

On October 18th, as Heidi mentioned, we have a great day for expansive thinking—for thinking beyond the norm. This would be a great day to sit with a tricky problem at work and explore some new solutions. Try brainstorming a list of 20 brand new solutions and write all of them down—no matter how off-the-wall, zany, or unreasonable they may seem. Sometimes, ideas that initially seem “unrealistic” or even “silly” turn out to be… exactly the right approach!

Also, sometime this month, consider giving your workspace a “face lift.” Libra is all about beauty and harmony, so this is a great time to declutter and spruce things up. Crack open the windows and let the fresh air inside. Hang some artwork inside your cubicle or office. Treat yourself to some fresh lowers. Put nice pens and stationery on your desk to remind yourself to send “thank you” notes to colleagues, to keep strengthening those relationships. Set the stage for a successful October, November, and December… so you can finish the year on a strong, positive note!


SELF-EMPLOYED OR RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: The whole month of Libra—which begins on September 22nd and lasts for 30 days—invites us to think about the idea of partnership.

What does partnership mean to you? Are you craving more partnership and support in your business? Are you spending a little too much time working alone, at home in your PJs? Does that need to change? These are excellent questions to consider, especially when there’s Libra energy in the air.

Personally, I don’t like running my business alone. If I feel too isolated, my creativity dries up. That’s why I love doing this Career Forecast each month along with my friend Heidi. I love working at co-working spaces like The Hivery, because I can soak up the creative energy in the room and chat with other women about my projects, and theirs. And I love running my interview series, How Did You Do That?, because it’s so collaborative. I ask questions, people respond, we chat and exchange ideas, back and forth… it’s a joy for me to do!

Even if you don’t have any full-time employees (I don’t either) maybe it’s time for a little more partnership in your business. It could be an intern, an assistant, a new workspace where you’re surrounded by other entrepreneurs, or a weekly date with a writing buddy or business buddy.

On that note… October 19th brings the New Moon in Libra, which is a beautiful time to begin new projects and initiate new relationships—whether it’s a romantic relationship, friendship, or business collaboration. The energy in the air is fresh, sparkly, and new. Think: first date.

If there’s a local business owner you’ve admired for years, reach out and say, “I love your work, and I wanted to finally introduce myself and say hello.”

If there’s a podcast you love, send a fan letter to the host and let them know how much you appreciate the show.

If you’re trying to line up more clients, reach out to one of your dream clients and say, “I don’t know if you need this sort of thing right now, but if you’re ever looking for a [describe whatever you do], I’d love to work with you!”

This is a powerful time to initiate all kinds of relationships. Reach out, wave hello, and make your presence known!


OVERALL, THIS IS A GREAT MONTH FOR…

• Beginning new relationships.

• Strengthening existing relationships.

• Teamwork, partnership, and collaboration.

• Expansive thinking, fresh ideas, new solutions.

• Handling tricky conversations with grace and diplomacy.

• Creating more support in your career—new friends, buddies, and allies who can support you on many levels.

• Relationships, in general. Romantic, platonic, creative, professional, all of the above!


IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER

September 22nd – The Sun moves into Libra. We begin a month of harmony and beauty. Focus on strengthening all kinds of relationships.

September 29th – Mercury in Libra. A great time for peaceful communication, diplomacy, negotiation, and reaching successful resolutions.

October 5th – Full Moon of Libra. Libra powers in full force! Harmony, togetherness, friendship and goodwill for all.

October 10th – Jupiter moves into Scorpio. Lots of power in the air today, focused on themes of intimacy, healing, and transformation. It’s also my birthday!!

October 14th – Venus in Libra. Love, love, love is all around! Hang with your best friend or schedule a date night.

October 17th – Mercury moves into Scorpio. A great day for tenacious research and communication. Scour the Internet. Look under stones. Don’t give up too quickly.

October 18th – Jupiter and Mercury in Scorpio. A great day for expansive thinking and problem solving.

October 19th – New Moon in Libra. A new beginning—and a beautiful time to initiate new relationships and make new plans.


CAREER MANTRA FOR THE MONTH

“Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. (A person is a person because of other people).”
—Zulu proverb

We are social creatures. We need one another to survive and thrive. Even if you’re fairly introverted and independent—like me—there’s no denying that we all need relationships. The stronger and deeper, the better.

During this month of Libra, work on your relationships. When your personal and professional relationships are strong, that’s worth more than gold. Those relationships will carry you through difficult times, and those relationships will unlock doors for you, and carry your career forward.

This month, instead of spending 5 hours fussing with your résumé or website to make each sentence “totally perfect,” take those 5 hours and invest in your relationships. Call. Text. Send flowers. Help out a friend. Take someone out for a meal. Do something kind for a colleague with no strings attached. Those kinds of actions will pay off… a hundred times over.

Whatever you’re working on this month, I’m wishing you great connections and collaborations!

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Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

An Interview With Laurie Wagner

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laurie Wagner

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 Laurie Wagner

Name: Laurie Wagner
Location: Alameda, California
Profession: Author, Writing Instructor, Founder of 27 Powers


You started out wanting to write music for a living, but then changed your mind and decided to focus on writing stories instead. You found success pretty early on; you have written five books (all published by Chronicle Books) and have been published in numerous magazines.

Writing is a tough way to make a living, at best. But you have persevered. You have allowed yourself to define what it means to be a writer in very broad terms. Can you talk about that a bit? How were you able to allow yourself to grow as a writer and also figure out a way to make money?

Everything that I’ve done in the last 25 years has had something in common. I worked in book stores, I went to work for a major N.Y. publisher, I wrote for newspapers and magazines, I wrote books, worked on documentary films, and then I became a writing teacher. I never had a strategy or a game plan – but I see now that all of those jobs had writing/publishing/creating in common. My love of words and writing, my love of books and stories – – that love got to express itself in a variety of ways – so I was lucky like that.

And I’m also practical. So while I’ve always been an artist, I’ve always had my eye on where the money was going to come from. Making a living writing for magazines or writing books was wonderful, but it wasn’t always practical to make things for the market and depend on that market for my income. I had little kids, my husband was an artist and I needed a stable income. Teaching became that.

Today I teach nine writing classes a week on a video platform to people all over the world, and also live, here at home in Northern California. And I also keep my own writing alive, writing every two weeks with friends.

Take us back to the very beginning of your writing journey. Can you remember your very first piece of published writing? What was it? What happened? Were you nervous? How did it feel to put a piece of your artwork “out there” into the public eye?

My first published piece was for a Bay Area art magazine called Metier. I think it was a piece about naked models. I really loved the interview process. I loved asking questions and getting to know people. It was like permission to be nosy. I was probably stunned to see my own words printed, and a byline. I probably collected 20 of the magazines so I could share them with friends and family. It added a new and vibrant quality to my life. I don’t remember being nervous about being “out there.” I think I wanted more of it.

There are so many ways to be a writer. In the last 15 years, you have pivoted from writing books to teaching others how to express themselves on the page. You teach a practice called Wild Writing that is a timed writing process designed to bypass the inner critic in order to show up authentically on the page. What caused you to make the shift from writer to teacher?

Purely practical. I’d written a few books, they were beautiful, and they did nicely. But I had small children and my husband was an artist, which meant that his income was up and down and that made me crazy. Creating things – like books – for the market was unpredictable, so I needed to have work that brought more stability. Teaching was the way to go. I didn’t mean to become a teacher, but I was good at it. I never got an MFA, which meant that I didn’t teach at the academic level, and so for the last 20 years I’ve been building my own teaching practice. I make all the rules, I create the classes, I teach what’s interesting to me. I’m not beholden to anyone, and because of that I’m free to do exactly what I want. Doing your own thing has a lot of benefits like you can make your own schedule and go in any direction you want. But you also have to work really hard. Being a creative with a strong work ethic has turned out nicely for me.

I am curious… after you decided to really go for it with your writing 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?

Years. I started teaching one writing class a week at my husband’s art studio, and it went to two, and eventually three – but over time – not overnight. Now, 20 years later, I teach four writing classes on video every week, as well as four in person classes every week. I also have virtual classes and I travel and teach – but it really took years to build everything and I’m still creating and building. For a long time – probably the first 10 years of teaching, I was also teaching at a website called Writers.com because I had a lot of classes there, because I didn’t have to do the marketing and because I needed the income. You’ll hear me say it over and over, I’m practical. I only quit teaching there a few years ago. It took me years to build what I have now at 27 Powers – I always kept one foot on something secure until I could handle things on my own. And again, when you work for yourself, you’re always changing it up, making new things. I create new products all the time. I want to offer new things to my clients, but I also want to keep myself interested and challenged.

In addition to teaching writing, you’ve been trained as a professional Co-Active Coach at The Coaches Training Institute. Did this training help your writing and teaching practice? If so, how?

I think learning to be a coach and learning to step into leadership is always important when you’re working with people. I coached for a while, but ultimately took what I learned about people and myself into being a better teacher, a better human being. What I learned there touches everything I do.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laurie Wagner

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?

I’m not sure I’ve had a scary moment per se. But I have had some dark times where I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin – where I might have chosen to stay behind closed doors for weeks just because I was going through something. But the thing about my work is that I need to be there. I teach those classes. I have to show up. So I had to find a way to be where I was – to be myself even in the midst of other people – and not only that, to lead from that place. Teaching is a very naked art and I think part of why people trust me is that I am always myself, which gives them permission to be themselves.

I will say that last year – after nearly 20 years of teaching Wild Writing, I heard this tiny whisper in my ear that said, “maybe I’m done with Wild Writing.” But just as quickly a much louder voice came in, “Oh no you’re not.” At 57, I’m probably not going to start a new career, so I had to find a way to keep my own work interesting to me. I ended up creating a 5-month teacher training as well as a new product called 27 Wild Days, for writers. I got busy, I got creative, I upped the ante. That’s my response to fear!

So many writers—and people in general, non-writers too!—struggle with self-criticism and perfectionism. It can feel so difficult to publish a blog post, for example, while feeling like it’s “messy” or “not perfect yet.” Do you have any advice for someone who struggles with perfectionism, who feels like their work is “never good enough” to be shared publicly?

We all go through this. No one is exempt from a little bit of perfectionism. I think deadlines and accountability really help. For instance, I was on stage a couple of nights ago for a story telling event. 12 minutes on stage, no notes. I’d worked for months on this story, and honestly, I was still trying to figure it out the day of the show. I could not get to the heart of what mattered in my story, but I said I’d be there, so I had to find a way to make peace with my story. Was it my best story? No. But I delivered it the best way I knew how. Of course I was afraid that people would judge me or write me off. I wanted to have a great story, but I had what I had. If I hadn’t had that deadline, I’d have dumped that story a long time ago. Deadlines inspire you to keep working and eventually to let the piece go – put it out there. Hopefully there will be many more pieces behind it. Think of the big picture, the long game.

Same with blog posts, which I post every two weeks. They’re not always easy for me. Sometimes I stress that the one I wrote two weeks ago was better than the one from this week and what are people going to say? Will people drop off my mailing list? Maybe. But I need those blog posts. They’re part of my marketing plan to sell my writing classes, and that means I’ve got to do my best and make peace with what I’ve got. Deadlines. Accountability.

Ten years from now, what type of work do you imagine yourself doing? Exactly what you’re doing now? Or something different?

Well, I’m 57-years-old and I probably won’t be teaching 9 classes a week in 10 years. My dream is to teach fewer classes, travel and teach more, make more art, listen to more music, write at least one more book. My entire life since I was a kid, has been focused on creating things. I don’t think that’ll ever end. People talk about retiring. I’ll never retire, though I’ll probably pull back from working with so many people each week.

Lots of people stop themselves from writing because they think, “So many other people are much better writers than me! What could I possibly have to say that anyone would want to read?” Any words of advice for those people?

We’re just human beings trying to communicate with other human beings. Thinking that we need to be smart or special or better than other people in order to share something of value is a tough way to go. It’s too self-critical. We have to trust that what matters to us will matter to others. There’s a good chance it will.

When classes sit around my dining room table to write, I tell everyone that we’re making a witches brew, and that each person has something essential that is needed to make the brew – their own voice – their words. We can’t make the brew without each person – we need their voice. This lets people know that they matter – that the way they think and write matters – and that we can’t create the gold without them. So trust that what matters to you will matter to others.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Laurie Wagner

3 THINGS

Imagine that you’re having a cup of chai tea with someone who dreams about being a professional, full-time writer. They have no idea how to actually do this. What are 3 things you would advise them to think about, or do, or try?

1. Keep the day job.

Don’t put pressure on your writing to pay your bills – maybe ever. Try to find venues to publish your work in, but don’t be sorry or embarrassed that you still have a day job. Be grateful. That weekly paycheck will give you freedom to explore your work and try new things.

2. Write about things that you love.

Cream rises to the top. What you have a deep interest in will shine on the page and readers will feel your passion.

3. Take yourself out into the world and meet people, try new things, get out in to nature.

Being a writer isn’t about chaining yourself to a desk. The best writers have lives, they let things touch them, they have experiences which they then bring back to the page.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Laurie? 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 Jules Blaine Davis

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

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 Jules Blaine Davis

Name: Jules Blaine Davis
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Kitchen Healer


You call yourself a “kitchen healer,” which is a pretty fabulous job title, if you ask me! You go into people’s homes, you talk to them about their relationship with cooking and food. You help your clients identify what they’re truly hungry for, both physically and spiritually, and then you help your clients come up with new cooking traditions that help them feel nourished and energized. It’s kind of like therapy or life coaching… but with a foodie twist. How did this all begin? Did you just wake up one day, and decide, “I’m a kitchen healer, that’s my job, now?” Or was it a more gradual process?

I would say that I’m still becoming a healer. So let’s just put that out in the space.

The beginning of the work began when I became a mother. Being a home for a body began many conversations for me. Of course, you want to nourish that being and to do that you need to nourish your own body, even look at your own body, even remember that you have a body.

I’m someone that loves to find out about fun things and then invite the person to come to my house and do them. At that time especially, I loved having people in my home, and so I had a music class in my home, and moms would come and I would be roasting some veggies and quinoa in the rice cooker, and my son would be napping, and then by the time the class started hopefully he would wake up.

Everyone would be breastfeeding and banging the drum and just connecting with each other in the only way we really knew how at the time, through deep exhaustion and knowing that this was our one outing of the day.

And inside that, I just really loved nourishing people and it was never an “event” for me. I never felt like “Oh my gosh, people are coming over and it’s an event.” It was simply “Oh great, more bodies to feed.”

I would just throw stuff in the oven and turn on the fire. The women gathering in my home were sharing such profound stories, and also they would share about how they have no idea how to be in the kitchen and create a sense of home. They didn’t know how to boil water, they didn’t know how to feed themselves, they didn’t know how they were going to nourish their baby.

And listening to all the stories and reading the few Michael Pollan books that had come out, and Alice Waters, and also Rachel Naomi Remen and Mary Oliver, and just my background in what I hunger for, I realized “Oh my gosh, these women are starving.”

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

You say “these are women are starving.” Starving for what? For food? For something more than food?

Starving for nourishment on every level, I would say. Physical, emotional, spiritual. That is not to say I wasn’t hungry! I was hungry for their stories. I was hungry for their hunger. So the gatherings with women and food and beauty and healing began. We were all hungry for each other. We still are. We need each other.

It was about food, but also not about food. Because really, where we are nourished or where we aren’t nourished shapes our entire body. It shapes our life. It shapes the relationships we’re in. Our physical shape and our emotional shape. And so the beginnings of my work were really about just going into women’s kitchens.

So, women in your community would invite you into their kitchens… and then what would happen? Cooking? Talking? Counseling?

At first what I did was organize. “Oh the foil can’t afford to be in the drawer next to the oven ’cause there’s only one drawer and you need other things in there in order to put the fire on.” These kitchens were not being used and even if they were, it was hard to get in there. All of the beauty that was their kitchen was just an empty vessel that needed fire and love and tending and wisdom. The lineages that were in that woman needed to arrive.

I would ask her questions like, “What do you think about this peeler? What do you think about this knife? Do you use this? What do you think about it over here?” I’d move all the wood spoons—if they had maybe even one—into a cracked pot from a cactus outside that was dying and then just do that, put some salt in the jar, put the butter out. Get a big old Straus milk bottle and fill it with  water and just get the lentils in some Ball jars. The major movement in their homes that these small changes made,  blew them away.

Whatever the stories are, they all live inside what happens in the kitchen or what doesn’t happen. And so, we get to rewrite that story in how we set the kitchen up, in how we tend to it. And that is where I began.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

And then what happened after you re-organized the kitchens. Was that enough to make a deep, lasting difference in your clients’ lives?

I would work with all different kinds of women, wherever they were. It was like restructuring, re-building, getting the mortar and pestle out to build a culture that where one did not exist

Some people naturally have an aroma in the home—the chicken soup on the stove, the beans and rice in the oven, because it’s in their culture. All of us long for that deeper warm nourishment and where one does not exist, we need to build it.

So, I would do that. We would go to the market, we would gather, I would show up the next day and cook with them, make tons of food, bring the smells and heart into the kitchen. We’d do it for a few weeks, I’d leave, and three months later, I’d come back and see that our work didn’t fully integrate into their day to day lives.

I realized that the stories they would share with me while we were cooking, while we were gathering, all they had to say about this bowl or this teacup was where the medicine lives. This was the bridge to where they wanted to get to and who they were becoming as women, mothers, nurturers.

On this bridge was grief of what didn’t happen, or what did and how wrong it was or just the deepest longing to be held and loved in the way they could feel. There was shame and vulnerability and hunger. All of these pieces were the medicine they brought me so they could heal and turn on the fire in their kitchens and in their lives.

The “kitchen healer” was born in that realm, but really it was like, kitchen and then healer came later.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

As you began doing this work as a kitchen healer, were you able to find plenty of clients right away? Or was it difficult?

It was word of mouth and it was not easy. The answer truly is that I just kept showing up for the conversation because I was so hungry for it. I’d show up in many ways; I’d show up catering something for a group of doulas, I’d show up doing different things with food, that really wasn’t aligned with what I was doing; but then I would share while they were eating. I got a few clients, but it wasn’t sustainable. But those few clients got me to the place where I could buy the food for the next gathering of women that would come over.

It was also a time of grief for me. I needed to learn how to make money as an artist, and in the beginning I felt horrible that I couldn’t figure it out. But I just kept saying “yes” to everything where I could share what I was up to. I just kept showing up to myself. I had lots of doubts, to be sure. I just think that I knew I was hungry for this connection, and I figured if I was hungry, they must be hungry too.

Now that you know the depth and the complexity of what you’re unpacking, what are the different ways you work with people? Do you work with them one time only? Do you work with them over the course of a month, over five months? Do you have packages? Or is it more organic than that?

I mostly work virtually. Right now, I’m doing a five-month journey and I’m only working with five women. The journey might begin with me learning their emotional landscape, their story, and it’s not always about food, but of course it always comes to that. And then we’ll go in the kitchen, virtually, and I’ll see where they’re at and what they’re inside of, and also just how they’re eating, what they’re eating, but it’s not so much nutritional as it is how they feed themselves. Over the course of five months they get to reshape and rewrite their story inside their lives. And of course my ultimate goal is that they integrate all this learning, so that these are real changes.

What’s beautiful about the journey is that they have me at any point. Some clients write me every single day, some clients write me every week, some clients just see me for our 2-hour session each week. The more you lean in, the more you’re held accountable, the more you’re willing, transformation occurs. Accountability is a big part of it. There’s a lot of different modalities inside the therapy that helps reveal and unravel deep needs and deep hungers, and so when they come up, they’re held in it. I’m right there with them the whole time.

I also teach a class once a month in Culver City called Body, which is a two-hour experience where we move our bodies to phenomenal music. There’s poetry woven in, and then we circle and have wood board love—where I put beautiful food out on handmade cutting boards and we talk and eat and connect.

The only way to really be with me physically, at the moment, is through that class and on retreat—both in October and May in British Columbia.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

You recently got interviewed on GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness and lifestyle blog. How did you feel when that interview came out? Did it feel exciting? Did it feel strange to be thrust into such a big public spotlight? A little of both? Also, how did that interview come about? Did they contact you out of the blue?

It was the first time the work had ever gone out into the world in a translatable way that people could really hear it. It took10 years, and it felt phenomenal. The work was completely seen and held by them. Elise, the main mama of the Goop world, had heard about me for a few years. We know a few people in common. After many years of gathering so many different kinds of women, you never know who’s at the table, and you never know who they’re talking to later, who they’re going to get on the phone with when they leave your house after a day of beauty and nourishment, and so I think over time people begin to know who you are.

Again, it connects to the “showing up” piece. So the Goop article was an amazing “hurrah.” I’m still so honored to have it out in the world. I love that it’s definitely cleaner and more organized than my own way of sharing my work.

The article came at a perfect time in my career. I wasn’t ready before. I had to figure out my business. I had to heal my money wounds. So when women wrote me because they read the article, I was ready.

More than anything, what was the most rewarding result of the article, was hearing from women who were in the women’s liberation movement, grandmothers who wrote me and thanked me for naming something that hasn’t been named. I would just sit at my computer crying. I long for elders. I long to be with women in their 60s and their 70s and their 80s and their 90s.

We so need that. We don’t need a bunch of 30-year-olds hanging out and talking about how much they know. That’s not serving the world. We all need to be together in circle to be talking about what is hunger. Where did you come from? What’s shifted for you? Oh, you made it through that. I’m going to make it through this. That is, I think, the utmost nourishment.

Ten years from now, what type of work do you imagine yourself doing? Exactly what you’re doing now? Or something different?

I would say that in 10 years, I would love things to be with more ease.

I see this work being much more prominent in conversation, definitely integrated more into the culture. I see it taking on many lives of its own. Inside all different homes, inside women gathering more because they’re inspired by the work I’m doing.

I definitely see that I will be writing books, and I see a lot of travel with those books. The other thing I really see and really want is that I want to sit with grandmas. I want to sit with grandmothers in the kitchens of Italy and in all different cultures. I just want to take notes.

I will keep showing up for whatever scares the hell outta me, what is so uncomfortable, continuing to move out of my own way and keep showing up for what is possible. And if that means more books and traveling, if that means meeting the most divine, gifted humans on the planet that don’t have an Instagram feed or aren’t completely famous or whatever that is, I just want to keep expressing and being.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview With Jules Blaine Davis

3 THINGS

Imagine it’s 10 years ago. You’re just beginning your kitchen healing business. What’s some advice you’d give to that younger version of yourself?

1. What would I say to her? Dance more with your clients in the kitchen. “Put on the music and dance with them.”

2. The second is, “stop over-laboring, you’re enough.” It’s hard to not over-labor when you are just starting and walking in a forest that no one has walked before. But I just kept pushing. I could have taken a breath.

3. And the third would be, it’s going to be okay. It’s a long road. Fill that fear, that loneliness, that “Oh my gosh, wait, I sent this thing out and no one replied”, fill that with yourself. Fill that with a walk, a tea, an amazing book you love. Go away. Fill that, that nonsense, that noise of “Oh maybe it isn’t a good time to do that,” or “Maybe I’m not going to make money doing this.” Fill that fear with something that’s nourishing.

There’s a beautiful quote that I’m going to end with by the poet Rupi Kaur:

“Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.”

That’s sums up what I try to do with my work. Bring women back to themselves.


ONE MORE THING…

Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Jules? 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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Photos: Emily Knecht, Cynthia Perez, Charley Star, Dewey Nicks and TEDx.

Your Career Forecast: August / September 2017

Your Career Forecast: August / September 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 Virgo on August 22nd, 2017 at 3:20pm Pacific. Virgo is a sign that rules hard work and analysis. Under Virgo, we purify, clean up our act, and get organized. We adjust what needs to be adjusted. We create systems that allow for more efficiency. It is “back to school” time, whatever age we happen to be. Sometimes Virgo feels like a welcome relief from the lazy days of summer, and sometimes it feels like the to-do list suddenly got very, very long.

Venus moves into Leo on August 25th, which might extend the Leo summer days for just a bit longer. Venus rules the beautiful. Leo rules expression. With Venus in Leo, we create. We shine. We rule. Venus in Leo loves to lead. So, even if you don’t have a team to lead, you can lead your own life wearing your crown!

Mercury joins Venus in Leo on August 31st. Use these days between August 31st and September 10th (when Mercury moves into Virgo) to write, speak, and express yourself freely. Enjoy the combined energies of the communicator (Mercury) and the sign of radiant expression and leadership (Leo). 

We have an electric trine of Mars and Uranus on September 2nd. Take bold action. Expect the unexpected. Give your warrior-self a shot in the arm. Establish a new pattern that you wish to create in your life. 

The very next day, September 3rd, Mars and Mercury line up in the heavens, so your words have an extra punch. Be careful not to use your words to attack or destroy. Simply know you’ve got energy and strength on your side when you communicate.

On September 5th, Mars moves into Virgo. This is the real threshold for no-nonsense work. Dive in. You will have plenty of fortitude and enthusiasm to get a lot done. The editing and refining energy is very strong.

The Full Moon of Virgo is the very next day: September 6th. The Full Moon is a potent time to steep in the energy of the month. The Virgo energy is at its richest. Under Virgo, we get the material and physical life in order so that we can let anxiety fall away. We replace the anxiety with a great flow of love and calm.

Mercury joins Mars in the sign of Virgo on September 10th. This is a great time to look at something carefully, to edit or refine your work, or to streamline a project and let the essence shine forth.

September 17th brings a very creative, electric day. Venus trines Uranus in the heavens. Sudden love! Unexpected, bolt-out-of -the-blue ideas! Life won’t feel status quo or mundane.

Finally, Venus moves into Virgo on September 19th. We have a stellium (or collection) of planets in Virgo! The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars and Venus will all be in Virgo! If there’s a mess to be cleaned up in your life, now is the time. If there’s a problem that needs untangling, now is the time. If ever you had the energies of hard work and discrimination on your side, this is the moment. Go for it. Be meticulous. Be precise. Refine what you do. Everyone you work with–and for–will benefit.


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

JOB HUNTING?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: All the details that job hunting requires will feel almost effortless during this Virgo month. This is especially true at the end of the month.

On September 17th, when Venus trines Uranus, you’re likely to experience sudden, unexpected ideas. You might come up with a new approach for your job search. Or, while you’re in the shower, you might think of a brilliant way to re-write your cover letter. If you find yourself having a “sudden flash” idea, run with it! Keep a notebook or pad of Sticky notes nearby at all times. Make sure you capture the ideas when they come.

And on September 19th, there will be five planets in Virgo. This is called a “stellium,” and it will create a huge surge of energy—the wind beneath your wings. This is the moment to finish your job applications, to update your job search spreadsheet, to schedule coffee dates and informational interviews, to contact people on LinkedIn… whatever needs to get done, this is the moment, and the timing really couldn’t be better! You’ll have five planets working together to give you the focus, precision, and detail-oriented mindset that you need. Go, go, go!


ALREADY HAVE A JOB?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Some of the words used to describe Virgos are: analytical, meticulous, practical, conscientious, hard working, sensible, efficient, orderly, health conscious, careful with money, serious, nit-picky, concise, detailed, sensitive, efficient, cautious, intelligent, perceptive, contemplative, prudent perfectionists.

With the sun in Virgo, this is the perfect time to buckle down and apply yourself. The long, languorous summer is over. Now, it’s time to get things done.

On September 5th, when the action sign Mars moves into Virgo, you will have extra fortitude, energy, and enthusiasm. If there’s a daunting project at work that you’ve been putting off, this would be an ideal time to dive in and get it finished, once and for all.

This get-it-done energy continues as the planet Mercury moves direct (hooray, no more Mercury Retrograde!) and Mercury joins Mars in Virgo. You will be virtually unstoppable! That big pile of paperwork on your desk will be reduced to zero. You will rule the meetings, soar through difficult tasks, and you’ll be astonished by how much you’re able to complete. Make a list of your achievements so that you can give an impressive “recap” to your boss at the end of each week. She’ll be floored by your productivity, even more so than usual.

September is also a great month to deal with thorny problems. In the book Sprint by Jake Knapp, he recommends tackling big problems in small sprints—like 5 day increments. If there’s an issue at work that needs to be resolved, or a project that’s been stalled, gather your workmates and create a 5-day plan to sort it out and get it done. Everyone will feel better once this “unfinished business” is over and done with, at last.


SELF-EMPLOYED OR RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Melissa Cassera—a highly creative business coach and TV screenwriter—teaches a productivity tool called batching.

When you’re batching, it means you block out a specific chunk of time—like an entire day or an entire week—and during that time, you focus exclusively on just one type of project. You could spend the entire day writing newsletters, queuing up blog posts, clearing out your inbox, sending “thank you” gifts and cards to your top clients, or sending press releases to the media. Anything you want. The key is to focus on just one type of task. Uni-tasking, not multi-tasking.

Batching allows you to focus deeply, get into a creative flow-state, and churn out a ton of work in way less time than it would normally take.

This Virgo month is a perfect time to practice batching. Use the days between August 31st (Mercury and Venus in Leo) and September 10th (when Mercury moves into Virgo) to batch, batch, batch your heart out. Block off those days to write a bunch of blog posts, record a slew of podcasts, or anything else that’s on your to-do list. Turn off social media, put your phone on silent, and dive in! You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done.


OVERALL, THIS IS A GREAT MONTH FOR…

• Focus
• Organization
• Planning
• Practicality
• Precision
• Productivity
• Sprinting

BUT WATCH OUT FOR…

• Perfectionism
• Obsessiveness
• Excessive working, burn-out
• Being hyper-critical and nit-picky


IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER

August 22nd – Sun in Virgo (we’re kicking off a 30-day period of hard work, lists, spreadsheets, organization, and heightened productivity!).

August 25th – Venus moves into Leo (put on your crown, create, shine, and rule your kingdom).

August 31st – Mercury moves into Leo (excellent day for leadership, self-expression, and communication in all forms).

September 2nd – Mars trines Uranus (bold action—expect the unexpected!).

September 3rd – Mercury conjunct Mars (great time for strong, powerful communication).

September 5th – Mars moves into Virgo (even more get-it-done energy in the air!)

September 6th – Full Moon of Virgo (rich Virgo energy—soak it in! Put things in order, create better systems, and create more ease).

September 10th – Mercury moves into Virgo (do some careful editing, refining, and streamlining on this day).

September 17th – Venus trines Uranus (sudden ideas, unexpected breakthroughs, beautiful surprises!)

September 19th – Venus moves into Virgo (a stellium of five planets will give you a huge surge of focused, diligent energy—major productivity!)


CAREER MANTRA FOR THE MONTH

“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” —Beyoncé

Beyoncé is a Virgo—which isn’t too surprising, given her incredible work ethic. She’s considered one of the hardest working people in show business—if not the entire world!

In this interview, she explains: “I am a Virgo to the tee! […] I pay attention to details. When I do something, I do it 100 percent. I have high expectations of myself and expect the exact same thing of everyone around me. I’ve always been that way. I am all or nothing.”

This month, tap into your inner Beyoncé. Hold yourself to the highest standards. Make your list of priorities and tick things off—no excuses, no delays. Give your very best effort—not 50 or 60 percent.

How would you move through your life—and workday—if Beyoncé was watching?

It’s a slightly intimidating thought, right? But it’s definitely something to think about!

Have a fantastically productive month! Whether your career involves writing, designing, accounting, or recording your next musical masterpiece in the studio, you’ll benefit from the Virgo energy in the air. The stars and planets are completely on your side!

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Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

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,

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Photo: Willie Franklin.