An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

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 Heidi Rose Robbins

Name: Heidi Rose Robbins
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Astrologer & Poet

How does someone become an astrologer? Do you have to take classes? Is there an exam you need to pass, or something like that? What’s the pathway?

There are many paths! I was born into the profession. My father is the best astrologer I know. I grew up learning the zodiac with my ABC’s. My training was with my father and then later, I read and studied a great deal on my own.

I studied with Alan Oken along the way and I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with astrologers world wide. I have always loved and been inspired by Caroline Casey as well. Certainly, there are classes and certifications available, but my route was a more organic one. The only exam you need to pass is the test of your clients. If they want to work with you, you’ve passed.

When you say, “I’m an astrologer,” do people ever scoff at you, or raise their eyebrows, or say rude things like, “That’s not a real job”? Has anything like that ever happened to you? Did it upset you?

There is almost always a pause after I say that I’m an astrologer. It halts party conversation. People choose their words carefully after that. I always think it’s funny and assure them that it’s all very grounded and has nothing to do with fortune telling. I am always trying to uplift and redeem the science and art of astrology. It’s had a rocky ride.

Then again, more and more people are open to seeking guidance in new ways. Hamlet said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.” I try to live open to all that wants to grow us. I think within 25 years, astrology will be much more mainstream and many, many more people will be seeking astrological guidance.

In addition to being an astrologer, you’re also a poet. That’s such a beautiful and unusual combination! What does a typical workday look like for you? Walk us through your daily routine.

My astrology business is pretty straightforward. I see several clients each day either in person or via Zoom or Skype. I like to give myself a little time in the morning after dropping the kids at school. But I generally get underway by 9:30 am. I’m best in the sessions if I don’t see more than four people a day and I generally see only three.

My poet self needs a bit more spaciousness so I generally find that I write poems in small spurts. I love to go to Ojai on mini personal retreats and I find that after I’ve been there for about 12 hours, the inspiration starts to come. I wish I could say that I’m great at writing poetry amidst the fray but I need a lot of silent time to let the poems in!

I combine both astrology and poetry in my Radiant Life Retreats which I offer for women 2-3 times a year. So during those retreats, my ‘workday’ becomes a work week, full on, in the most beautiful way.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

You mentioned that you learned astrology from your father. Your father was also the director of an opera house in Fargo, North Dakota, where you grew up. You’ve studied acting. It sounds like theater, music, and the performing arts have always been a big part of your life. How has this influenced your career?

I had a very spiritual upbringing but an artistic one as well. I did in fact grow up in opera houses watching my dad direct. I loved it. And I was also deeply influenced by mother choosing to go back to school to become an architect when I was 10. She was one of the first female architecture students at North Dakota State University.

I studied acting all the way through Graduate School at Southern Methodist University. I remember when I completed my MFA, I thought “Hmmmm. I don’t think I want to act. I think I want to be myself.” I didn’t, however, feel Graduate School was wasted in the least because I learned about presence, connection and creative ensemble. I had remarkable teachers and I formed some of the most beautiful and supportive relationships of my life there too. My artist self was deeply nourished and I think that lay the foundation for my poetry performances and offerings as well.

When I teach astrology, I always teach it in part through embodiment. We feel the energies in our bodies. We enact the energies. This all stems from my artistic path. Even though I’m not acting anymore, I feel that I lead an artistic life.

You just started a new podcast called The Radiance Project. What is it about? What kind of people do you have as your guests? Is this something you have wanted to do for a while? Tell us about this new project.

I love this new offering. Ten years ago, I thought about creating a radio program and I even went so far as to create a demo. Then, it stalled and I worked on other things. A few years ago I began to think about it again and finally, after all these years, I said “Now!”

It’s a podcast of Astrology, Poetry and Good Company. I interview all kinds of people. I feel a little like Mr. Rogers. “These are the people in my neighborhood. I love them and I know you will too.” The people in my Los Angeles neighborhood happen to often be involved in movies or TV, so I’ve definitely gotten to speak to a lot of fabulous actors and actresses. But I also just interviewed a most wonderful fireman.

I ask all my guests if they are willing to talk about the Sun, Moon and Rising in their astrological chart. I also choose a poem for each guest and read it to them. Also, with every guest, we discuss a moment when light or love won the day — a radiant moment. It can be tiny. I’m looking for how we all move through our fear or anger and onto lighter, more loving, more generous living towards ourselves and others. This podcast feels like a synthesis of everything I have been working on for the last 20 years. I feel positively joyous about it! Do have a listen!

Looking back over the last 10 years of your career, what’s one of the most discouraging experiences that you can remember? What happened? How did you get through it?

The most challenging part of the last decade was always how to keep in integrity and alignment with my values and still generate income that was commensurate with my output. It’s been a big journey to make a living as an astrologer/poet and there have been many exhausting and yes, discouraging, days. But along the way, I kept creating and offering because it nourished me and I always received the reflection that it was making a difference for my community. I have found that once an authentic community is established, much can be created and the flow of resources grows!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

I’m always curious to find out, “How do clients find you?” Where do your clients come from? Do they find you through your website? From word-of-mouth referrals? Somewhere else?

My clients find me through word of mouth. It’s always six degrees of separation. I can trace most of my clients to a previous client. Many have heard about me through referrals on podcasts or many hear about me from a friend. I’ve been practicing for 20 years now, so there’s a certain momentum in the word of mouth.

Many people write poetry in secret, but feel like it’s not “good enough” to share publicly. People feel so much anxiety about putting their work “out there” into public view. Did you ever feel that kind of anxiety? Has it ever felt scary to put your stuff out there?

It’s always scary to press send or give a talk or send the newsletter or publish the book. Always. But it’s also delicious and rewarding and simply what I’ve needed to do. I love poetry so much and I want people to feel like they can understand it and not only understand it but be pierced by it.

Poetry can bypass all our mental chatter and remind us of our very palpable heart and its capacity to love. I am moved each time I watch a new person fall in love with poetry. And of course, I’m doubly moved if one of my poems happens to be the one that opens them. That gives me fuel the next time I have to face my fear.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins


So many people would love to create an unconventional career, like you have, but they feel scared that there’s no possible way to make a living doing something you love. What are three pieces of advice for someone who’s feeling that way?

1. Keep doing what you love quietly and consistently even if you have to work a day job to do it.

2. Build a community around what you love.

Seek out community or invite people in. Start with three people in your living room. Businesses grow around authentic connection. Build community before you begin to ask for subscribers or customers. Build friendships.

3. Trust that building slowly is still building.

When the moment to dive in completely arrives, you’ll know and you’ll thrive.

Thank you, Heidi! Dear reader, if you’re interested in astrology, be sure to check out The Career Forecast. It’s a free astrological forecast that Heidi and I post each month. Whether you’re job-hunting, running your own business, or wondering about the ideal time to ask for a raise, each Career Forecast reveals the important dates and cosmic shifts that you need to know about. Check it out!


Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Heidi? 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!


UNLOCKED Links: November 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Links: November 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 November 2017!

• Fun Fact: The psychic services industry (which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot card reading and palmistry) is now worth $2 billion annually. In these tumultuous times, the 18-30 demographic is reaching for the stars. Here’s why Millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology.

• Actually, fascination with mystical places and things has been happening for thousands of years. Think Avalon and Tintagel and the Knights of the Round Table. Interested in this weird, mystical pull? Visit Southwest England and see the stuff of epic, romantic myth and mystery.

• While you are in the travel mode, pay a visit to the great hiking trails of the world: 80 trails, 75,000 miles, 38 countries and 6 continents. This will keep you busy and in great shape for years to come! Check it out here.

• There is not a lot to celebrate when we think of politics in this country. However, the rise of amazing grassroots organizations that have sprung up is certainly something to give us cheer. The Freya Project is one of them. The Freya Project is a fundraising reading series started in the wake of the 2016 election as a way to try to unify women in our fractured country. Each month, five women share personal essays on topics universal to the modern female’s experience. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to small non-profit organizations.

• The New York Times Modern Love column is something I look forward to each weekend. In the past 13 years, more than 80,000 submissions have poured in. Modern Love is a forum that explores love in all of its messy permutations — romantic love, friendship and family. Long may it continue!

• Fashion, which was once a world defined by exclusivity has, in recent years, undergone a democratic revolution. Clothing designers are answering a growing need for garments that address the disabled and the displaced.

• If you had the ability to speed learn anything, what would you choose? Max Deutsch chose chess. He went through a month of training before he traveled across the ocean, sat down in a regal hotel suite at the appointed hour and waited for the arrival of the world’s greatest chess player, Magnus Carlsen. Here is the story of the game they played.

• Swiping is taking on new frontiers. Bumble, known for its Sadie Hawkins style dating app, has recently launched Bizz, designed for professional networking and mentoring. The feature enables users to swipe and match for on-demand networking with potential connections and mentors in its 20 million user base.

• For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing. A growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods, and are leaving desk jobs and turning to farming. Read more about this fascinating growing trend.

• From Liz Dennery of SheBrand: stories of courage, kindness and grace. So many good people fighting to make a difference.

• Playlist: 6 TED talks: In celebration of being alone, but not lonely.

• And my all-time favorite for this month, the BEST job posting that received 9,000 applications. I can’t wait to see who they pick!

Happy reading and listening,


Photo: Willie Franklin.

Your Career Forecast: November / December 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Your Career Forecast: November / December 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 Sagittarius on November 21st at 7:05 pm Pacific Time. Sagittarius is the sign of freedom and adventure. It wants a big vision and a big goal and is eager to pursue it. It is optimistic, risk taking and lives with a sense of CAN DO. This is a month to see, articulate and dive into the journey towards your next major goal. Inspiration abounds. Breathe it in.

On December 1st, Venus joins the Sun in Sagittarius. Venus lends its beauty and creativity to the adventure. The journey itself is exciting and innovative. With Venus in Sagittarius, we love to grow, expand and push past old boundaries.

December 2nd brings two major transits. Jupiter trines Neptune in the heavens. This is a deeply idealistic and imaginative time. Dreams feel possible and the intuition is alive and thriving. This is also the day that Mercury goes retrograde. It will stay retrograde until December 22nd. Don’t worry so much about Mercury retrograde. Use it as a quieter, reflective time if you can. Don’t try to manifest a new major idea. Review what has been accomplished this year instead. Reflect, review and remember. Then, you’ll be ready to launch 2018 having synthesized the journey of 2017.

December 3rd is the Full Moon of Sagittarius. The Moon is actually in Gemini, but we consider this the Full Moon of Sagittarius. This is a day when the energies of Sagittarius are MOST available to us. Vision, inspiration and optimism rule the day. Remember the phrase for Sagittarius: “I see the goal. I reach the goal. And then I see another.” There is movement and growth, inspiration and exertion. Sagittarius is also considered “the one pointed disciple.” We get focused and clear about the path we wish to walk.

Mars moves into Scorpio on December 9th. Mars loves to be in Scorpio. It is a tenacious combination and fights the good fight. Dig in. Dig deep. Be determined. Don’t give up.

The New Moon of Sagittarius falls on December 17th. We plant seeds of hope, faith and inspiration. We have the opportunity to breathe new life into any endeavor.

Finally, December 19th is a big day. Saturn moves into Capricorn. It has spent most of the last 3 years in Sagittarius and now shifts into the earthy sign of Capricorn. Saturn will stay in Capricorn for 2 1/2 years. It will be a time of testing and great growth for all who have strong Capricorn in their astrological chart. It’s a time to build, climb and achieve.

Use this month to clarify your goals and launch yourself with renewed optimism towards all you envision.

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


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: On December 2nd, Jupiter trines Neptune. On this day, there’s an idealistic, imaginative quality in the air. It’s a great day to tap into your intuitive decision-making powers.

If you’ve been offered a job recently, don’t make a snap decision based in fear (“I won’t get another offer…” “There’s nothing else out there…”). Breathe. Meditate. Talk a long walk. Visualize the next five years of your life. What do you really want? What do your instincts tell you about this job opportunity? Is it truly right for you? Use your intuition to guide you.

If you’re job hunting and you’ve been coming up empty, again, tap into your intuition. What are you not seeing? Are you on the right path? Is there another way to go about this search? Sometimes, we get so fixated on doing things one way—or getting that one job—that we forget to look at the world of possibility out there that is available to us.

With Mercury retrograde throughout most of December, this is an excellent time to pause, reflect, and get organized for 2018. Back-up your computer. Save an extra copy of your résumé on a flash drive. Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your latest achievements. Get your ducks in a row so you can reboot your job hunt in January. Historically, January is one of the biggest months for hiring—so take some time in December to get prepared, and then swing back out there in full force after January 1st!


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: With the Full Moon of Sagittarius on December 3rd, all the best Sagittarian qualities—focus, taking aim, bounding towards a goal, adventure and optimism—will be magnified. This is a powerful day! If you’ve been feeling unfocused or uninspired recently, you might notice a major attitude shift on the 3rd.

If you’ve got a job, take some time on December 3rd to map out your plan for next year. Is there a special project you’d love to lead? Is there a new skill you’d like to acquire? What would make 2018 feel like your best year ever? What would make you feel even happier and more fulfilled at work? Write it all down. Then set up a meeting to discuss your vision with your supervisor.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what you want to focus on next year? Here’s a fun exercise that I learned from a colleague of mine who’s a life coach…

Start writing an email to your best friend and pretend that it’s December 2018—not December 2017. In other words, pretend it’s one year from now.

In your email, tell your friend about all the wonderful projects, achievements, and experiences that you’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months. Write “as if” all of these things have already happened—as if you’re “recapping” the year for your friend. This is sometimes called “pre-capping” or “pre-membering.” It’s a really fun exercise—and you might be surprised by what you start typing out!

Also, mark down December 9th on your calendar. On this day, Mars moves into Scorpio, which creates a tenacious, persistent energy. If there’s a project at work that’s been lagging behind schedule, this is a great day to hold a meeting, get your colleagues fired up, and get things moving again. The theme of the day is: perseverance. Is there a colleague who hasn’t returned your emails? Pick up the phone and call. Is there a supervisor who forgot to approve your vacation request and you’ve been waiting for ten days? Nudge them again. Maybe you’ve been told, “Sorry, we can’t do XYZ because it’s not within our budget this year.” Revamp your proposal and get back in there—try again! With the Mars-Scorpio combination on the 9th, your persistence will be rewarded.


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: On December 1st, Venus joins the Sun in Sagittarius. Venus is all about love, beauty, affection, and connection. Lovey-dovey, swoony feelings. Don’t be surprised if you get some fan mail or a glowing review from a client on this day! Sagittarius brings a spirit of adventure and a goal-oriented perspective—think: an archer taking aim at the target.

On the 1st, this Venus/Sagittarius combination is terrific for entrepreneurs. We’ve got love in the air—plus a spirit of adventure and optimism. Anything is possible! Consider questions like, “What do my clients love most about working with me?” and, “What’s the next adventure for me, as a business owner?”

The New Moon of Sagittarius falls on December 17th. The New Moon is always a potent time to plant new seeds, begin a project, or set a new intention. This is a wonderful day to breathe some new life your business. What’s feeling stale or stagnant? Maybe it’s time to update the photos on your website. Or change some business policies or systems. Or maybe there’s an exciting new program or service that you want to develop—this will be a great day to put things into motion!


• Clarifying your goals.

• Being quiet and reflective (especially from Dec 2nd – 22nd).

• Cleaning, clearing, setting the stage for a successful new year.

• Using your intuition and imagination to find new solutions and pathways.

• Optimism, possibility, taking creative risks, and feeling a little more “daring” than we might typically feel.


November 21st – Sun moves into Sagittarius. (A month of optimism and enthusiasm begins!)

December 1st – Venus joins the Sun in Sagittarius. (Love is in the air, along with a spirit of adventure.)

December 2nd – Jupiter trines Neptune. (A day of idealistic, imaginative thinking.)

December 2nd – Mercury goes retrograde until December 22nd. (Reflect, clean things up, organize, clear space and the set the stage for the new year.)

December 3rd – Full Moon of Sagittarius. (Sagittarian qualities will be in full force! A day of optimism and curiosity. Set some exciting goals.)

December 9th – Mars moves into Scorpio. (Be persistent and tenacious. Your efforts will be rewarded.)

December 17th – The New Moon of Sagittarius. (Begin a new project, plant new seeds of hope and possibility.)

December 19th – Saturn moves into Capricorn. (It’s time to build, climb and achieve… away we go, into the new year!)


“It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.” —Thomas Merton

As Merton reminds us, yes, our professional goals are important. It’s wonderful to set big, ambitious, world-changing goals, to build a business, or build a legacy. At the same time, let’s not forget about the other parts of our lives. After all, “work” is one facet of life. But it’s not the whole picture.

If you’ve been hyper-focused on your career lately, take a step back, and consider the other parts of your life. Relationships. Health. Family. Friends. Is there an artistic, travel, or fitness-related goal that you’ve got in mind? Something that’s not directly related to your career? Something that’s “just for you”? Write it down. Set the intention. Take aim and let your arrow fly towards the target.

Sagittarius invites us to gallop into the future with a “Yes, we can!” attitude. This month, the cosmos seeks to remind us that anything is possible. With the right attitude, nothing is out of reach, and every door can be unlocked.

Wishing all of you a lovely holiday week.

With love,

Ellen & Heidi

Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

An Interview with Janet Roberts

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Janet Roberts

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 Janet Roberts

Name: Janet Roberts
Location: Salinas, California
Profession: Artist and Co-founder of Mindful Mats

You’re a full-time artist. You support yourself financially through your artwork. For many people, this is the ultimate dream! Tell us how you found your way into this work.

As a young girl, I didn’t have the fearlessness to be the artist I wanted to be, so I chose work alongside the artists I admired rather than being “one of them.” This led to a 20-year career in art history, first working at The Detroit Institute of The Arts, then at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and then a career as an art buyer, representing contemporary painters in a small gallery I operated.

For a long time, like so many people, I imagined artists were visited by muses and had tormented inner selves which fueled their imagination and fervor. I felt these people were somehow “different” from me, that they possessed something I did not. However, through the years, I began to see that this simply isn’t true. Anyone can be an artist. To be an artist, one must just commit, and commit fully. Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

Twenty years ago, after my third cancer diagnosis, I determined I wanted to become a full-time creator. I manifested that my work would feed my family despite the fears I had. I decided I would give myself one year to find my inner voice, my true work, the work my hands needed to make. After one year—and several hundred paintings—the gestures and the symbols and the icons became mine.

It was challenging to transition from art buyer to artist, but I feel it was a perfect unfolding and just the right direction in my evolution toward a successful and fulfilling expressive life.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Janet Roberts

You mentioned your battle with cancer. Your mom faced cancer, too. How have these challenges impacted your life and career?

Cancer has been both a blessing and a curse.

The curse…

My Mother suffered from cancer as a young woman, and was diagnosed manic depressive as a young mom. Looking back, it was most likely post-partum depression that went undiagnosed, but she was treated with Lithium. I was a child of the ’50’s—a victim of my mother’s chain smoking, drugs, and drinking—at a time when society seemed completely void of any “common sense” when it came to health.

My childhood was difficult. My mother was frequently ill and I was left, as the only daughter in the family, to pick up the household slack. I was preyed on by my maternal uncle from age 11 to 16, when I finally stood my ground and he stopped. The adults in my home never felt safe, and so I turned to academic mentors for support and guidance. I helped raise my three brothers as best I could, and then at 17, I left home with a college choral scholarship to USC.

The blessing…

Being a four-time cancer survivor myself, cancer has provided me an insight to my deep inner life. It helped question my intention. It asked me to understand and learn my true north. The disease provided a door into a world I did not know: mindfulness. I learned my higher purpose, my will to forgive and love, to see gratitude everywhere, and to encourage others everyday to see their own infinite possibilities. I became the mentor my young self so needed. In this way, cancer has been a gift.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Janet Roberts

You have four amazing daughters, three grandchildren, and your home and studio are off the grid. You compost. You recycle. You have an organic garden. You’ve created a very beautiful, intentional life. I’m curious to know if you have a morning routine, and if so, what is it?

Every morning begins with my Earl Grey and my horseback ride. Then I stretch, do my yoga, and meditate for 30 minutes, after which I make beds, fluff the sofas, and walk outside to sort out the garden, the decks and the many sweet seating areas around my home. I have as much furniture outdoors as I have inside!

My dog and I feed the horses, water everything that grows in a pot, and then share our avocado on toast and an egg.

Then we walk down to my studio and begin our day, answering emails, phone calls and preparing the day’s work. I try to execute at least two paintings weekly, and I draw and write in my sketch pad every day, always seeking out new ideas and innovations.

When you’re making a custom painting for someone, what is the process? How do you get to know the client and their tastes, and what they might like?

Often, I work with designers and they make the process painless with palettes, swatches and room renderings. Corporate clients—like hospitals and hotels—always have interior professionals. They know exactly what they want and I have no ego when asked to execute something specific. Often in the commission, I find a new direction, breaking free of old shackles, colors, or styles. Other times, I meet the patron and we discuss many of the same ideas but with their wedding vows, or a special affirmation or a poem or a song or even a rap lyric embellished for influence.

I also create legacy paintings for family members who have recently lost a loved one. Together, the family composes a picture with words, icons, symbols, and colors inspired by someone they lost. This painting remains in the core home, and often Giclée prints are made so other family members can view and enjoy it. There is so much love in those paintings.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Janet Roberts

You give 50% of your earnings to non-profits and charities. That’s an extraordinarily generous thing to do. Talk to us about this decision.

Twenty years ago, when the Internet began sharing artist’s work on websites, and the artist/gallery model began shifting, I found myself examining the idea of who I was sharing my proceeds with. If I was giving 50% of each painting sale to someone, who did I want it to be? A gallery? Or my community?

It seemed to me, sharing with my community was the only answer. I began exhibiting my work in collaborations with non-profits I admired. Sharing 50% with them seemed a beautiful “karmic” thing. Some of them are green charities like EMA who plant gardens in at-risk urban schools. Most of them are mentoring non-profits like The Boys and Girls Club and Buddy Programs throughout the country. I also promote meditation and mindfulness in after-school programs and as an alternative to detention.

To date, I have helped raise over $1.8 million dollars for several non-profits, all of whom share my intention of growing a better planet and a whole child. This feels so right, because I know and see the impact these programs make.

You recently started a company with your daughters called Mindful Mats. Tell us about this project. How’s it going so far? What are your future plans?

All four of my daughters—and now my three grandkids—practice yoga and meditate daily. Each has their own unique way to practice, but we are each devoted to mindfulness. Hannah, my eldest, suggested to me that I take my catalog of 1,000 images and print a few on yoga/meditation/fitness/beach mats. It made complete sense since most of my patrons are also mindful people who practice yoga and meditate. And what better way to help non-profits during my painting workshops with the kids… creating meditation mats for them from their own artwork!

We researched eco-sustainable, recycled rubber mats. They had to be printed with soy ink and be made in America. After several prototypes, we now have the perfect product with beautiful images that people are really responding to. Cost is the only challenge as they are made here, printed here, and most other competing mats are made in China. So, profit margins are slim, but Hannah—who is driving this little engine-that-could—knows we aren’t really in this to make lotsa money. This is an absolute passion project.

We are heading to Aspen for the Lead With Love event to sell these mats in their marketplace. Influencers like Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra own our mats, so it’s a good fit. I also have a solo show there in a gallery that represents me, so the timing is perfect. We have no idea how the mats will sell there, but we are hopeful the patrons will love them!

We just launched Mindful Mats in March of this year, and these things take time, but having the mats available elevates my work, and reminds collectors who I am and what I do. Collaborating with other fitness clothing and jewelry designers has been exciting. And I adore hanging out with my girl tribe when we do events and share ideas and take trips. They are my inspiration, after all.

Who are your role models and why?

Survivors. Victims who rise up and triumph. Encouragers. Anyone who sees the magic despite their trauma or tragedies. People who love and forgive and who are fearless in the face of adversity. Anyone willing to assist those in need, who have less, and who reside on the fringes.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Janet Roberts


What are 3 pieces of advice that you’d give to an aspiring artist?

1. Know your audience.

If you want to be a full-time artist, earning enough income to support your lifestyle, you must know who you are creating your work for. In your heart, you are working for you, to express what you cannot express in any other way. So, know exactly who you are expressing yourself for so you can actually be paid by them to do it.

I know my audience are predominantly female, over 35, and seekers. They are open hearted, open-minded, women who do yoga, meditate, have children, a career, they travel, are curious, active, and know love. Each of them shares a similar constitution. None of them voted for Trump.

2. Do the work.

Don’t talk about creating or watch others create or spend too much time looking at art others created. You must create. Do it. Every day make something. Paint something. Write something. Compose something. Sculpt something. Every day. Just do the work. Discipline. Sacrifice. Commitment.

My friends who are part-time artists, and far more talented than I am, ask me how I do it. How does it work? I explain that when I work every day, eight hours a day in my studio, just like my husband does in his office, the money simply rains on me. The emails arrive, the phone rings, the inquiries are fielded. When I stop working, and the energy is suspended, and my studio is quiet, and I am not “in it,” the money flow ceases. It is like magic. As if the ‘Imagination God’ rewards those who do and not those who don’t. So, just do the work.

3. The power of Manifestation is real.

When I meditate each morning and evening, I place in my head and heart the life I imagine and desire. I ask the Universe for only that which I feel I deserve, always considering my service to others, and I am very specific about what I and what others in my life need. And so far, since beginning this practice thirty years ago, it has been a very powerful tool toward my fulfillment and success.

Give yourself time each day to ask for what you need, be specific, and work toward that goal. Assist the angels who are listening. Together, this practice has proven extraordinary. Write it down, express it within yourself, make it real. Manifest it. Believe in it. Ask for it. Deserve it. Guide it. Enable it. For it is truly yours for the asking.


Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Janet? 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!


Ask Ellen: Just Hire Me Already

Dear Ellen,

I’m self-employed and I’m dealing with something pretty frustrating. Here’s what’s been happening:

A potential client emails me. They seem interested in hiring me. They ask for more info about my services. I email back right away, attaching a personalized, detailed proposal. But then the client disappears! Either they don’t respond at all, or they say something like, “Thank you, but I’ve decided to postpone things for now.”

It’s really irritating when these kinds of clients waste my time and effort. I am not sure why this keeps happening. Any thoughts?

Just Hire Me Already


Dear JHMA,

Yes, this is a very frustrating dilemma! Every entrepreneur experiences this kind of situation, at least occasionally. You’re definitely not alone.

So, why does this keep happening over and over? Honestly, JHMA, it may have nothing to do with you.

Maybe this client contacted you eagerly, ready to begin work immediately, but then they received some terrible news about an illness or death in the family and now they’re completed overwhelmed.

Maybe they’re dealing with a complicated divorce and they’re falling behind on emails.

Maybe they dropped their iPhone into the ocean on a disastrous boating trip.

Maybe they got cold feet at the last moment because they’re struggling with financial difficulties, or because they’re doubting their own ability to succeed.

Maybe they’re battling depression.

Who knows what’s going on in their personal life? There are many reasons why someone might disappear or change their mind. Many times, it doesn’t have much to do with you.

That being said, it never hurts to examine your business practices to see if there’s anything you could improve. If clients repeatedly see your proposal and then vanish, it could be because…

• Your proposal is too long and confusing.

• Your proposal doesn’t feel enticing enough.

• Your proposal doesn’t match the way you present yourself on your website.

• Your proposal doesn’t have a sense of urgency and there’s no clear reason why they ought to hire you right now.

• Your communication style feels stiff and robotic, rather than warm and welcoming.

• You accidentally attached a photo of your dog instead of your proposal.

… or, some other issue.

It never hurts to ask yourself, “Is there anything that could be improved?”

If you’re not sure, sit down with a friend, walk them through your website, your emails, your proposals, all the pieces of your client intake process, and ask for their feedback. Ask them, “When you read this, how do you feel?” See what they say. It can be so valuable to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work.

To sum it up, JHMA, when a potential client mysteriously vanishes, it might have nothing to do with you. Or it might have everything to do with you. Or it might have just a little to do with you. In any event, there’s no point grumbling about it, right? The best thing to do is assess your business, make any improvements that you can, stride forward with optimism, and keep trying.

I’m rooting for you, and I hope your next client gives you a resounding “YES!”


Image: Willie Franklin

UNLOCKED Links: October 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Links: October 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 October 2017!

Rocking preemie babies. I think I have died and gone to heaven.

• Meet the legendary cake ladies of Andalusia, Alabama! Their bakery smells like your grandmother’s kitchen!

ROAM is a co-living and co-working community that tests the boundaries between work, travel and life!

• Most high school students are tired, stressed and bored. Enter Project Wayfinder. Through a series of exercises and worksheets, Project Wayfinder inspires the next generation to find purpose and become engaged in their own lives and empowered to contribute to the world around them.

Meet Moshe Trager, the Bay Area’s only full time mohel!

• Want to be your own boss? Start your own business? Create a brand and products, open a store, and make money? You can! Check out Bossygrl!

• I spend at least 1-2 hours a day reading articles about Trump, his administration and this new world order we find ourselves in. This article by Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the best I read this month. It’s not an easy read but well worth it.

• FIRSTS features amazing women doing amazing things.

• More than ever, we need resilience to get through our lives. Here’s how to boost your ability to be resilient, regardless of your age.

• I don’t think I have ever met anyone who did not get nervous speaking in front of people. It’s especially tough for introverts. From Alexandra Franzen: public speaking tips for introverts.

• More and more, no matter your age, we go through big career changes. Here’s how to prepare.

• It’s a well known fact that honeybees are dying off and that their deaths are causing an ecological emergency. Thanks to ABeeWellProduction, there are more than 50 bee sanctuary hives on rooftops throughout San Francisco. It’s such a cool and important project.

Happy reading and listening,


Photo: Willie Franklin.