(Spoiler alert! Requires zero to-do lists, lots of magic and a fair bit of coffee).
True confession: this website isn’t nearly done yet. Shhh… don’t tell anyone!
I’d had a brand identity up and running for the last five or so years that was good enough to bring in new business. It was a clean, professional, solid enough brand at the time, but… it wasn’t me. Not truly. I built my freelance business on the foundation of looking more corporate. I wrote my bio in the third person, I researched corporate-y websites and emulated the experts. I sprinkled in the fifty-dollar buzz words and catch-phrases. I constructed my brand with a business-y sort of aloofness that felt “professional.” And what wound up happening? I had zero passion for my own stuff. Which made me stop getting online to own my stuff. I wasn’t attuned, so I completely tuned out. And it’s not that any of it wasn’t truthful or real. It just wasn’t me.
Sure, I could look back on those years and say that I didn’t update regularly because I had so much amazing client work, which left little time for me-work. Partially true, yes. Sixty-two hour work weeks don’t inspire much energy for “me time,” including “business me time.” But if I were to really get honest – and this post is me getting really freakin’ honest with myself – I know the real reason: My brand wasn’t who I was at the core level of my humanity and creativity. After leaving the corporate world behind, why had I decided that I should look corporate? Because it is true that perception is everything. And in looking like A Big Corporate Deal, even as an artsy indie? I simply thought that was what I was supposed to do to be successful.
I am so tired of what I am supposed to do. Aren’t you?
My Unicorn self was pretty tired of it, too. So in my own exhaustion, I finally handed her the reins, and I could not be happier.
It took nine months to launch this site and birth this Clever Unicorn. Nine months of WTF and AHA moments. Nine months of nights, weekends and holiday “spare time.” Nine months wondering so many things: will this new identity be too cutesy? Will I scare off dudes who need a designer/video creator/brand marketing geek on their team? Am I bragging too hard? Am I not bragging enough? How much should a Unicorn toot her own proverbial horn, anyway? Am I good enough? Is this good enough? Am I good enough?
I could have waited even longer to launch until everything looked “perfect.” Instead, I decided to do it when everything felt right. It’s not perfect, but it’s right. I felt it in my gut. My gut made me rush through a few things to Get Shit Done. Yay, finally! I’m listening to my gut! And with this gut-level Shit I Have Learned about relaunching a new brand, I wanted to share a few takeaways with you.
1. I’ve tweeted this before, and it’s a perfect time to revisit this concept: Perfectionism is for quitters.
I hope you don’t mind that I need to repeat that: Perfectionism is for quitters.
And then… something else will come in and start to pick that sparkly magical unicorn poop apart. You’ll suddenly feel subdued. You’ll start to research – yet again – how to make it as a freelancer. How to sell your art. How to write the perfect blog. How to monetize your shit on the internet. You will grab that Unicorn horn and wrestle that beautiful creature like a bull – straight into the ground. You will be so afraid that you are not enough. And then one fear: excitement, joy, on-the-precipice-of-something-magical-fear – becomes another. The kind of fear that turns creatives into perfectionists and imprisons our passions constantly on the back burner of “wait until it’s ready.” Let me tell you right now: when you feel that bubble of excitement? It’s your gut. And trust me: You are ready. Right here, right now. You are already enough. Listen to that magical bubble like Dorothy listened to Glinda. Stop researching and start moving. Follow that yellow effin brick road. Do something completely radical and be an imperfectionist.
2. B-schools + masterclasses = spendy distractions.
There are five thousand masterclasses for every subject under the sun these days – have you noticed that? Well… guess what? The best masterclass is to do. Because nobody can ever lead the masterclass of you. And B-schools? Do you really need another 100-pages’ worth of pretty, info-graphic-y PDF checklists, and 100 hours of one-size-fits all videos and PowerPoint presentations – all to put a quick $100K paycheck into the pockets of these “entrepreneurial trailblazers?” (Spoiler alert: no, you really don’t).
For all the hours and dollars assigned to and spent on masterclasses and B-schools, you could be doing free tutorials on YouTube (or far cheaper classes on places like Lynda.com) and investing the money tangibly, with something to actually show for it all. You could be sharpening your craft and skills for the joy of it, developing merchandising, split-testing your own ads and gaining followers in the process – learning first-hand what works for you. You know, actually expanding your own brand and content right there during The School of Me, rather than giving your money away to someone else who basically created a passive income template and suckered you in to spending money on their business instead of yours.
One thing I need to be clear about is that this is different from going back to accredited school (including online courses with legit degrees and certifications) to sharpen and expand your skills. I will always be pro-going-back-to-school. But you know in your gut that all of these online courses created by “coaches” are just a big fat way to get your name on a mailing list, get advertised to on social media, and get your money. Nike has always been right: Just do it.
3. To-Do Lists are so 2010. One Thing leads to Everything.
I see a lot out there about entrepreneurs and overwhelm. Hell, we are all overwhelmed in this tech-driven, plugged-in, binge-watching society. This issue isn’t just about business owners and freelancers. I used to write out a to-do list every day, and honestly think that it would help me get stuff done. Did it ever really help me get stuff done? Nope, it sure did not. If anything, it was just another effin thing to do: write a g-darn To Do List! The moment I started focusing on THE most important thing to get done in my day – usually one client thing, and one me thing – the clarity and magic really started happening. I got more done with less bullet-points than I ever knew possible. I felt less pressure, but got more launched in a natural, flowing deadlines-met timeframe. I was able to take on more, without feeling like I was taking on more. I’m starting to arrive at the concept that our primordial wiring is just not going to change much at all. It hasn’t in thousands and thousands of years. We are still triggered by dinosaurs, we are still driven to eat fatty, sugary foods to pack on the pounds for “survival,” we are still wired to chase after one big hunt, and then coast a bit until it’s time for the next big hunt. If we think multi-tasking serves us well, and will make our lives more productive, we are listening to societal dogma and modern-day “norms.” This is fundamentally cheating humanity out of the ability to live by intuition. Everything in modern life wants our attention. To Do Lists were created by some expert somewhere and it caught on and made us tune out our own guts. Focus on one thing a day, and watch how quickly you meet your deadlines when you weren’t even looking – you were too busy living. It’s magic.
This is really another facet of the third point and doing one important thing. Listen, you’re not always going to feel like turning everything up to eleven day in, day out. That is okay. Showing up is enough. Giving yourself even just ten minutes to work on that overwhelming thing is enough. Something is better than nothing, and it doesn’t even need to be 50%. When you allow yourself to show up and chip away at that intimidating mountainous task, you will be amazed at how quickly you find yourself conquering it. With creativity, we can’t force it out by turning on a faucet and filling up the container at will. So relax into it! Just show up and say, “I have zero ideas today, but I am here.” Trust me: it is enough. And it will lead you exactly to where you need to be.
5. Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffffffeeeeeee.
These are just a few ways my thinking and way of working has changed over the last year, which has been my most profitable year in every way: life, love, career and body. I hope in sharing this, I have helped your Unicorn get stronger in you too. We are all Unicorns, you know. All it takes is a little trust in yourself, and learning how to follow your guts. Believe, Unicorn… believe. U got this.