3/6/14

Advice for my 14-year-old self

When I got my first degree, I made the decision when I was 18 years old. Everyone told me that I should chose something sensible, which is the best way NOT to live up to your potential that I've ever heard. It's a pretty lame response to the fear of not being able to support yourself. Why be mediocre at something sensible when you can be amazing at something ridiculous?

I love my first degree- but I remember feeling totally lost about why exactly I was doing it (it certainly didn't come from an inward desire to get a management degree, or any understanding of my own likes and dislikes.) My internal sense of direction took 23 years to develop.  When I think back to high school and college - I wish I had developed it a bit earlier. It's a horrible feeling to feel out of control.

If I could go back in time and talk to my 14 year old self, before college, before high school, and before the insanity people put high-school age children through, I would tell her:

  • Figure out what you want and what you love, and how you want to spend your time.
  • Get the best education money can buy in your field.
  • Don't worry about grades in high school. Spend time doing projects in your free time that you are interested in. If your studying gets in the way of that, work around it.
  • Go on Youtube and look up how to do your hair and stuff. People judge you on appearances and you've got to get it together at some point. 
  • Focus on doing things just for you that nurture you and are good for you. 
  • If you don't like what someone's telling you - stop listening.
  • If someone's preventing you from doing something, instead of assuming it's because you aren't good enough, find a different path that will lead you to what you want.

 This sounds like the making of a snotty and self-centered anarchist.  I'm a firm believer that the kinder and more understanding you are of yourself the more understanding and love you'll have for others. If I could have gotten to that realization sooner that would have been great - but the path I'm on didn't have that on it until a bit later. That's OK.

I don't find that being kind to myself gets in the way of my intense desire to help others - that desire is why I became a consultant in the first place. I can't seem to get away from consulting. :)



12/8/13

Learning to Write (Screenplays)

I'm in the process of writing a screenplay right now - I wrote half of it once before, thought it was bad, and deleted it or lost it on purpose. Now I'm a few years older I started thinking that actually, it could be quite gratifying to rewrite it after having experienced five or so more years of life. I used to write quite a lot (for myself) and I still write for myself. As you probably can guess by now I hate really long lists or lists where the items on the list are too similar. I lose interest after even a single item on the list feels monotonous. Here's what has helped me feel more confident about clicking away on the keyboard without thinking too much:

  1. Read:
    • On Writing - Stephen King (the $1.31 version is fine) - Even if you've never read a Stephen King book (I haven't), it's still an easy-to-read book on writing simply.
  2. Write every day: 750 Words - Low-pressure, simple writing platform with some interesting tools (my metadata tells me that I'm more self-important than most but curse less) 
    • For your first year, use these prompts: http://creativewritingprompts.com/
    • then these: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/thirteen-writing-prompts 
    • then these: http://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/ The reddit ones are hilarious: The robots have taken over -- and they're incompetent ", "You are holding a rotten orange, convince me to eat it."
  3. Read screenplays:
    • My favorites are The Apartment: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/apartment.html
    • Almost Famous: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/almost_famous.html , 
    • The Man with Two Brains-http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/m/man-with-two-brains-script.html
    • An Affair to Remember: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/an_affair_to_remember.pdf  
    • I have no idea why I chose these or if my mom suggested them. I think I read The Man with Two Brains in her office one day. I haven't even seen An Affair to Remember. How all of the drama of a film can come through a bunch of type-written dialogue is one of the most amazing things about a great screenplay. One of the better places to read scripts: http://www.dailyscript.com/ with less ads. 
  4. Join: 
    • Stage 32 - FB meets LinkedIn for people in the film industry, 
    • Vimeo - watch films from people who aren't famous yet, 
    • Actorsaccess - find talent/be talent
  5. Watch: 

2/28/13

Let's have a Moratorium on...And 4 Ways I Kill Time

Can we please stop....


...When someone wants to sit down on the train and the person sitting down in a row with an empty seat gets UP and gives the person the INSIDE seat, instead of scooting to the inside seat themselves.

...Using startup industry lingo/confusing and indirect language in articles advertised on social media and meant to appeal to everybody.

...And, as always, taking photos of one's food at restaurants.

And here's 4 fun things I do on the Internet:

Youtube stuff I want to learn

(In order: lockpicking, nail art, dubstep dancing, interior design for small spaces, and budgeting.)


Polyvore


Polyvore is hard to explain, even when you see this picture.



It's a sort of way to create outfits based on mood, or colors, or something you read in a magazine, or a famous person, or an event. Then, you save the outfits and other people can see them and vote on them. It's a good way to make your personal style more interesting, which is important if you're in the public eye (and especially if you're a woman). I realize this still sounds very dorky. Ok, here's something else: Polyvore has 1.4 million registered users that create 30,000 fashion sets each day. This data is what Polyvore sells to department stores and designers. As opposed to Pinterest, which doesn't make money at all. Internet companies are strange indeed.



Learn some new workouts

I love this website.

This is the only place I ever go to figure out what to do a the gym. If you're around 30, then you are probably aware that things are not bouncing back like they used to. And the fastest thing you can do to make yourself look hot again is lifting weights +stop eating so much. The link sends you to the exercises page. What I do is just pick an upper body muscle group and a lower-body muscle group, choose 3 exercises that look fun from each (they have videos showing exactly what you're supposed to do), set my timer for 45 minutes, and go do those at the gym. Then, in a day or so, I choose different muscle groups and different exercises and do it again. I am not a personal trainer and I haven't consulted one, but I'm not seeing any loose flab on my body and it's giving me much better results than just cardio alone. And as Penelope Trunk will tell you, what you look like matters at work.

Mess around on Eat This Much.


 I love how much you can play and customize the meal plans on this website in such a short amount of time. It will give you meal plans based on how much time you have to cook, what your dietary restrictions are, how many calories you want to eat (and coach you on how much you should be eating), and what percentage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you'd like to eat in a way that is beautifully-arranged and intuitive. It's just a nice simple platform that does one thing well. Good for people who get overwhelmed with planning meals but definitely want to remember to eat.  

2/10/13

Unfinished Projects: Hacks for the Distracted, Overworked, and Unmotivated

I have so many unfinished sewing projects, and I think, because I'm processing some other things in my life and trying to move forward in a major way, I'm organizing and paring down so that I can have clarity and tie up some things that have been hanging around the house for years.

Managing these unfinshed projects is a great excuse to talk about my little hacks that allow me to complete an enormous amount of projects and feel like an awesome accomplisher of things. Whoohoo. This is how I organized my unfinished sewing stuff, but this is the system I use for moving forward in a lot of areas of my life (for example, with all of the books I plan on reading this year):

  1. Take photos of all of my unfinished projects. This helps me remember all my projects at a glance. If it helps to make them pretty, try Pixlr, an online photo-editing program that is incredibly rich. 
  2. Upload them to my Trello board. If you don't know what Trello is, it's an awesome board sort of like post-its but on the internet. You can share them or assign them to others, and archive them when they are complete. I have 4 rows of "cards" that are broken up into: To Do Week of [Current Week], Spiritual, Mental, and Physical. I put the unfinished sewing projects into Mental, because I think they are helping me clear away both Mental and Physical clutter. 
  3. I take a look at my google calendar and figure out when I'd like to work on these projects. Some I am excited to work on, and some I need motivation for. I block the hours in my calendar, and I decide if the ones I need motivation for should be something I do with friends, or hire someone to help me with. 
  4. If I need help getting motivated, I post a task on TaskRabbit, Facebook, or ask a friend to come over for craft day. I'll also create a reward. I keep a list of treats I've been wanting for myself on Keep.com or Pinterest. I did a project for Keep last year.  It's a pretty cool platform, similar to Pinterest but everything must be able to be purchased. 
  5. At some point, I have to actually do the work. If the calendar announcement goes off and I can't bring myself to do it, well, it could be because I didn't have enough free time in the week, so I make an effort to take more time for myself, and reschedule for the next week. Or, I just do it anyway, then later feel tired yet satisfied. 
  6. The best part of this process is when I get to archive a card, because that means it leaves the board forever. It's satisfying. I think I might be a good candidate for of a project management platform that uses gamification. Or maybe I can invent one. 

Anyway, here's a bonus collage of all of the projects I've finished this month.



1/16/13

Be honest about what you suck at and create a way to never do it again

I'm not a naturally organized or put-together person. A large part of the reason why I am successful is because I have an amazing support system and I hire people to do the things I do not do well, which by the way, is quite a few important things (such as paying bills on time). Here are some other things I am not very strong in:

  • Taking photos
  • Feeling motivated to go out and party (I don't drink alcohol, so it's not the same.)
  • Accounting
  • Detailed forms
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Organizing
  • Following up after a project is completed
  • Tracking the answer to a problem through 18 different channels
  • Managing stress
  • Taking financial risks
  • Laundry
  • Doing things I don't want to do

I've managed to build a pretty successful consulting practice, despite not being able to do a lot of the things most humans need to be able to do to feed, house, and cloth themselves. How could anyone successful be so bad at so many things?!

I have an amazing support system to help me. Most of the time, if I don't do something well I either create a system where it is done automatically or isn't needed at all, or I hire someone to do it. Why spend time trying to learn to be good at accounting when you could be focusing on the things that you are excellent at, and working with someone else who does it well? Unless you want to become better at accounting and you have the time to devote to it, it's better just to build it into your system. A great support system is the difference between the CEO of a fortune-500 company and a struggling stay-at-home entrepreneur. Instead of making yourself feel ashamed and guilty by asking questions like, "How can I convince anyone that my ideas are good if I can't even get organized? Who wants to work with someone who doesn't have it together?", ask a friend, do a trade on Facebook or Craigslist,  or pay someone to help you do the things you aren't good at so that you can move forward.

If everyone had to face their demons about paperwork, or ironing, or whatever bogus stuff your parents used to yell at you about before we could do anything else, we'd never do anything interesting. 

Getting what you want: 80% Why, What, Where, Who, When and 20% How


There are really important reasons that you don't you just..you know, do the thing that you want to do.

Most of us who begin the process of creating goals report the feeling of being "stuck" at some point or another. Sentences like, "I don't even know where to start" and "What am I supposed to do?" and any attempt at suggestions by friends are usually met with, "Yes, but I can't do it that way for [reasons x,y,z]" So, in the past, we have ended up doing pretty much nothing but a lot of talking.

Being stuck is such an awful feeling. The thing I hear most from friends who are trying to start their own thing, like a coffee shop, buy a home for investment purposes, or start a website, is "I don't know how to do it." Ok. You know HOW to do it. Of course you know HOW to do it. Google it, and you'll find 1) The books you need to read to learn about it 2) Someone who has done it before describing exactly how she did it 3) An online forum or in-person meetup of like-minded individuals.
But I think what most people mean is: "There are way too many steps between what I'm doing now and the thing I want to do, and it's way too confusing for me to figure out, so I'm shutting down."

Which is totally understandable. I don't think humans naturally deal with multi-stepped plans very well, at least not without a lot of support and planning.

I just finished reading this article about New Year's Resolutions (Are people still making these?) He outlines one really basic part of reaching goals. They have to be really, really specific. Detailed and specific goals sort of bypass the whole "too-many steps" thing that makes it so hard for humans to get things done, because either you're going to draft a basic e-mail to send to a potential client demographic by 2:30 this afternoon or you aren't. If your goal is "Get all my e-mails sorted out" it's hard to know where to start, what to do, or when you've finished.

I find really magical things start to occur when I start asking for exactly what I want. I have a friend who goes into the thrift store looking for something incredibly specific, and walks out 2 minutes later with the thing that she wanted in her hand.

Even very, very unrealistic goals start happening when you get really specific about them. While I don't believe that the universe wants to provide you what you want, I do believe that when you get specific about goals your subconscious can work at creating it. So even though it seems like something is happening magically, it's actually YOU that created it. You just weren't aware of it.

So here's one process that you can use to have a clearer idea of exactly what you want:

Make an inspiration collage.

  1.  Grab a stack of magazines, a glue stick, scissors, and a piece of thick paper of any size. (Two pieces of 8.5x11 paper are a good size for me.)
  2. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and start browsing through your magazines, tearing or cutting out the pages that you are drawn to. Don't think too hard about this process. You are trying to tap into your less obvious wants and desires, so just rip out the pages without thinking. Go quickly, because you've only got 10 minutes!
  3. Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Cut out the parts of the images that were interesting to you and glue them to your thicker piece of paper in a way that makes sense to you. Again, don't think too much about it, just go with your gut feeling. * An important note - Make sure if you have cut out images of people whom you associated with yourself that you cut out any faces and do not include them in the collage. It sounds weird, but you want these images to lose their identities in order to replace them more easily with your own.
  4. Once your collage is all glued and assembled, take out a piece of paper, and going around your collage, start the sentence "I am the one who...." and say the first thing that comes into your mind about each picture in the collage. For example, perhaps I cut out a steaming mug of coffee. The first thing that might come to mind would be to say, "I am the one who always has time to chill out and relax for 5 minutes." or maybe "I am the one who nurtures myself through buying my favorite coffee without worrying about the price." Everyone chooses different images that mean something to them, and it doesn't have to make sense. It's coming straight from your subconscious brain. Make sure to write these notes down.
The next day, or the day after, get out your inspiration collage and your notes, and make another list. When, where, who, and how. Under each "I am the one who..." statement, make a note of when you want this to happen, where it will happen, who you need support from to make it happen, and how it's going to happen. I'm often less concerned with the how, because so much of the time the how is often the last 20% of the project, and I end up walking into my goals effortlessly. (At least it feels like no effort, but in reality I've probably been working really hard.)

I think that book The Secret talks about something similar, but it's not much of a secret. :)



1/1/13

Reflections on 2012: When Are We Doing Enough to Be Awesome?

During this time of year, a lot of us reflect on the 2012 and consider what worked and what didn't. This is my little reflection on 2012.

Once in a while, I am afraid I am not awesome enough and that if I don't become awesome soon, then I'll be too old to EVER become awesome.  
This feeling often comes about when I'm in a particularly sensitive mood, and I see a poised and lovely woman about my age, and she seems to be effortlessly flying through so many awesome parts of her career and life.  She has nicer clothing than mine- she makes an effort.  She looks like someone everyone can trust and spend time with. She looks fun. 
And I feel as if convincing other people to give me money in exchange for providing a service (e.g. consulting) is absolutely the most unlikely thing that will ever happen to me; how could I have tricked so many people into paying me up to this point? I feel scared, like my clients may drop me as soon as they realize I am not a good choice, and that I will eventually become homeless. 
From not having a job, because everyone secretly thinks I am awful.  
I know this is irrational. But it still feels true once in a while. And it makes me think and plan wildly to prevent this impending homelessness. 
I have been homeless. Sort of.  
When I was 12 the woman my dad was sort-of dating at the time kicked me out of her house after an incredible screaming match with my dad, probably to punish him, and I went to stay with a friend for two weeks before we drove to California with all of our belongings. My dad slept at his office. My friend had a very abusive stepfather, and I slept on their couch, witnessing and hearing him slap her and her sister around most nights. Luckily, he never touched me.  Save for the uncomfortable sexual innuendoes he would make in the presence of me and his step-daughters.  
I believe that situations much like the one above are probably the source of a lot of feelings of fear, sadness, and anger in our adulthood. When you're young, pathways are created in your brain based on feelings that you have during certain situations. They are created to protect you, so that you can survive to adulthood without having a nervous breakdown, or putting yourself in dangerous situations. But they may not be that useful anymore, since I hope we've figured out how to take care of ourselves pretty well by now.  
I think we all have to remember the difference between thoughts and feelings, and when things feel absolutely impossibly scary, to take a breath, step back and say "Ok. That is a feeling. My thoughts are telling me that I am doing OK. Even great. Right now, my feelings are firing little neurons in my brain, probably leftover from childhood. Thank god I don't have to be in that same situation ever again." And hopefully we can all move forward, trying the scary things we know in our brains to be good decisions, even though our feelings may be sending off sparks.  
I want to share that there is room in the world for all women to be effortless and confident and perfect and to take risks and to be perceptive and clever and beautiful, just as they are. Even women who are afraid, not perfect, tentatively trying new things, and unsure of quite what they are doing.  
You are providing the world with what it wants right now by being who you are.  
I spent most of 2012 listening to others, which was the theme I decided on in the beginning of January last year. This year's theme is "Let it flow." I hope to navigate 2013 with peace and balance, letting choices come into my path and lovingly deciding what I want to create with them. I wish the same for you.