Braid // Behind the Scenes

BRAIDCREATIVE:SEPT2013AU_47

I was the first person in my family to pursue working for myself when I left my day job in advertising to go it alone as a freelancer. Blogging about that journey here was not only a big part of what convinced my sister to join me in creative entrepreneurship and launch Braid Creative but is what kept me feeling grounded through the questions and uncertainty that comes from being your own boss. Over three years later I’m feeling pretty comfortable but have been itching lately to share the insecurities and victories alike that come with building your own creative career.

With that, I’m going to be sharing more behind-the-scenes business insights. And today I want to talk about my sense of urgency to be a big deal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said:

I just want to be Danielle LaPorte. Gabrielle Berstein. And Marie-Freakin’-Forleo.

Okay, let me clarify. I want to be me, of course, but I want to have the kind of self-built success that these women have manifested for themselves. I often find myself racking my brain to figure out how to build a scalable empire with great reach and meaningful impact. And if I’m being completely honest I can’t help but sometimes fall into a middle-school popularity contest mindset. I’m limited by the belief that because these women are popular they are successful – which is just not true and straight-up insulting to their hard work. They’re popular because they make their hard work look so easy.

What else do these rockstar women have in common? Clarity of purpose. I know what I stand for, but I’m not sure my capital P Purpose is so easily defined. I’m still young and am far from having all the answers. But this I know for sure: purpose is woven into the daily grind. Sometimes it’s hiding in the details and other times it’s so obvious it can be easy to overlook. So from this day forward, I’m going to try and move through the daily grind step-by-step with a little more mindfulness and patience, and perhaps I’ll find that clarity of purpose.

So today I want to know – do you have clarity around your purpose? Any online rockstars you admire (or are straight-up feeling jealous of)? 

P.S. For more behind-the-scenes business insights like this check out our exclusive Letters for Creatives with content never shared anywhere else online. 

  1. Tammy

    I couldn’t agree more! I have dedicated this year to focusing on what I do well and I have a great client base but trying to make them understand how my path has changed has been trying. Thank you both for your advice and writings. I don’t think I would have even started to narrow my expertise if it weren’t for your classes and your words all together, you girls are my rock stars for sure. Oh, and that Marie Forleo is pretty darn cool too.

    • Gosh, I’ll take that compliment. It means more to me that you say we helped you narrow your expertise than to hear you think I’m a rockstar. I guess I do have purpose afterall. ;)

  2. Emma

    I love thinking about this subject and thinking about what my purpose is. Some days it’s hard to find it when it seems like there are so many people competing to be the best at similar things, and it certainly does feel like a popularity contest. I even wrote about it on my blog last week! There are so many amazing creatives out there that seem so confident in themselves and really do their work well. I’m always trying to figure out their secret so that I can feel that way too!

    • YES. There are some days when I can get real cynical and feel like my purpose is trite or nothing special. Here’s to choosing to live with purpose and confidence in why we do what we do daily.

  3. Corey

    While I understand the wanting to be as big as some of these people I have to say I find myself more interested in working with people a little less “popular.” I like Danielle and Marie but once they reach a certain level I don’t feel the same level of connection (which may be silly because it’s the internet and I’m not REALLY connected to most of the blogs that I read) as with the maybe a little smaller but still frickin successful and rad others. I guess maybe it’s the possibility of a comment back or an email back is still possible directly from the person, not their assistant. Nothing against these ladies with the big guns, just that if I’m looking for coaching services I’m looking for something real life, not almost larger than life.

    • SO TRUE. I’m actually working on a post on the Braid blog about being a “working” creative (much like a working actor) who is about the craft and doing a good job and isn’t so concerned with being a rockstar.

      Do I want to be a rockstar? Sure. But maybe not at the expense of being real and accessible.

      Thanks for the reminder, Corey.

  4. I absolutely love Marie Forleo. Who doesn’t, right? :) She really is a rockstar!
    I’ve been working on my clarity slowly but surely. Thankfully, things are getting clearer by the day. And this makes me so freaking happy!
    Your business insights from Letters for Creatives are great, but I really love what you post in your blog more. So, I can’t wait for more behind-the-scenes business insights here!

  5. Cass

    This post resonated with me. I feel like I’m ready to just jump in to something and that I could really give it my all but I don’t know what that IS exactly. I have a successful business – crazy successful actually but it doesn’t light me up the way that I know something could – the way things have in the past. I’m in this space of: this is “working” from a finance perspective why are you going to tweak it? But then I realize that the financial success is fantastic but what I really want is hunger for the work…I know that feeling. I just don’t know how to find it in my current business.

    Maybe that’s purpose, maybe it’s direction, I’m not sure. I know I’ve been very busy asking myself a whole lot of questions but when it comes time for the answers I become a stuttery version of myself from 7th grade holding my lunch tray with no place to sit.

    I’ve been trying to be patient with myself (against my nature) and telling myself that I should live in the now (which is damn good) while honoring the pull to do more. It works a portion of the time.

    Lately I’ve been digging Hilary Rushford. As a work from home entrepreneur (and mom – that other post you wrote about day care – I can’t even form full thoughts on yet) getting dressed for the day is both difficult and essential for me to feel like a real person. She motivates me in a good way there (http://deanstreetsociety.com/)

  6. abigail

    I had barely graduated high school when I became enamored with the online world of successful women and have gone through my bouts of admiration-borderline-jealousy with so many people (including you, haha!). As I’ve grown as a person, I’ve been pleased to find that those feelings are less jealousy and more respect, and I’m less tempted to adopt the Purpose of others. One thing I try to remind myself of often is that life is long, and that I don’t necessarily want to hit my prime in my 20s (it helps me to chill the eff out! :)). I love the idea of a slow build towards my idea of success and lasting fruits from that cultivation process.

  7. Deb Charlap

    Kathleen, you are my first accessible idol — and I can’t tell you how empowering it is to experience a personal connection with someone for whom I have that kind of admiration. I couldn’t agree more with PURPOSE being essential, along with Perspective, and Productivity… And how easy it is for those things to feel muddy or 2 dimensional sometimes. Also, I really resonate with ‘scalable empire’. The strategy piece of that is so juicy! As always, thank you for your lived example of all these questions and dreams ~*

  8. Kailey

    You! Due to the change in my work circumstances (working from home, only seeing people in meetings etc.) I find I am embracing ME much more than before. I am able to work on my own goals and infuse my purpose and my values into my work, rather than the organizational values. This also includes me dressing in a way that reflects my age and my style and using words and expressions that are more me. All things that I learned from you! I am excited to see more of the behind the scenes posts, I find the way you embrace work/life so inspiring and it drives me to be better and more authentic. Thank you!

    • Ah, that is so rad to hear Kailey! I truly believe you can be who you are within the walls of a company or organization just as much as you can working for yourself. Both take a certain amount of courage. Keep rocking it!

  9. Traci

    Live each day with purpose, woven into the daily grind. That’s a great mantra! Everyone has idols, but I try to remember that mine are just people, just like me.

  10. I just recently found your blog and what drew me to it were your posts like these, vulnerable yet challenging, searching for answers, yet wise. I really admire that about you and I haven’t been around even for more than a few days! I absolutely love what you say about the daily grind. It is so good to hear it like that! I usually get caught up in all of the dozens of things I am trying to accomplish from day to day and forget to live in the moment and give the task at hand the attention and thoughtfulness it deserves. Coming at it from that perspective is both limiting and liberating at the same time. While staying focused, ideas are more free to flow in, you know? Thank you so much for this post, it’s definitely one of the best reminders I’ve gotten in a while!

    Aubry

    • I think what you’re describing is the flow state. When you’re just tapped into what you’re doing. It’s the best.

  11. So… you are in the same category in my Feedly account as Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo & Gabrielle Bernstein. At least according to this gal, you’ve made it :) Love your posts and look forward to reading them every week. Get it!

    • Aw, this put a huge smile on my face. Thank you!

  12. Vanessa

    I’m not a creative, but last week seemingly out of nowhere it was reconfirmed that I LOVE researching. Which I took as a welcome sign of confirmation, given that I’m halfway through my grad program. Hopefully if I keep following what I love doing it can become my career.

  13. Ramona

    Such true words, Kathleen! Last year was definitely an intense journey of finding Purpose in my life. At one point I just sat down and wrote “The life that I see” down to make it more real. I put no limits to my words or my dreams. That definitely helps especially when thoughts of insecurity or “not being enough” try to get a hold of me. In those moments I try to remember who I am and how important it is to be myself and not compare myself to everybody around me. And it helps me stay on course with my life.

  14. I’m a professional organizer and lifestyle blogger. I tried blogging about organizing but it just wasn’t a good fit for what I wanted to write about.

    However, I can’t help but adore Jen Jones from iHeartOrganizing.com. She has beautiful pictures, can DIY like a champ, and makes organizing look easy.

    I sometimes think – why can’t I do that?! Oh yea, because that’s not my purpose. Organizing for clients is A LOT different than organizing for a blog audience.

    I help clients through really hard times in their life as they express these emotions as attachments to “things” (aka their past life, former self, good or bad). That doesn’t always translate to pretty pictures and Pinterest worthy organizing tips. *sigh* :)

  15. Andi

    Yes, around 30 I found my clarity and got into my flow state!

  16. Sara Berkes

    Like many others here, YOU are the “rockstar” I look up to. I love your e-courses, I love your blog posts, I find you so incredibly inspiring and whenever I think I’m insane (which I’ve been thinking a lot lately) for trying to go headfirst into freelancing straight from design school, I remember that the best things lie in the overlap. And that I want my work life to be combined with my personal life, and that even my biggest inspirations have hard days sometimes. So thanks for being real, please never stop doing what you’re doing. (This totally turned into a super-gushy fan letter, sorry!)

    • Ah, I’m blushing! Thank you.

  17. Celeste

    Honestly? You’re my bar. I’ve been inspired over and over again by you these last few years and still feel intimidated on where to even START to begin to achieve my goals. And I’m still struggling to define what my goals are. Probably should sign-up for some coaching but I’m trying to find time in my life to commit to it. I work FT, volunteer as an Asst. Leader for my daughter’s GS troop, struggle with helping her handle her ADD/OCD/extreme anxiety, chase an almost 2 y.o., and am PG with baby #3. And we’re house hunting.

    I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with the idea of trying to create time for myself when, at the end of the day, all I want to do is collapse on the couch.

  18. I’m close but I feel like I still have too many ideas bouncing around my head, it’s hard to pin down one exact thing that will work best because I want to do all the things! So the people I’m most drawn to for inspiration are the dabblers, the ones who have shops and write novels and blog and sing in a band and travel the world and somehow manage to blend it all together into a cohesive brand. I’m trying to pick that particular lock and figure out how it works for them.

  19. Rebecca

    Some story. Last summer I went to project exponential, a dinner for entrepreneurs in NYC. It was an incredible event and I sat at a table with industry leaders, even if I didn’t know who they were at the time. Floored me. After talking with 2 men, one man (he creates systems to make fortune 500 company employees connect deeper) said to me, “You have to do this business, you’re going to be the Marie Forleo for moms.” When I could get up to go to the bathroom, I did and I jumped up and down with excitement.

    I admire, wholeheartedly, Marie and Danielle LaPorte. I also admire Adam Braun and Seth Godin. These online rockstars teach me every day to let my soul shine through my work to improve the lives moms live. I know my purpose deeply, and every day it becomes more and more clear.

    I’m no longer embarrassed to say these people inspire me and make me want to have the focus of a hawk when it comes to why I nurture my clients the way I do and how my business grows. They have all taught me to be deeply proud of my path, and that I am walking in the center of it. I also believe that there is something bigger than me providing guidance, this helps me breathe when my baby business with an expert soul has to face the ebb and flow of new life.

    I’m clear of where I am and where I want to go, and happy to share. Thank you for inspiring me, again. XO

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  21. Anna

    oh Kathleen!!! I love your thoughts and have been struggling with this lately too! I just recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and it was an amazing reminder that nobody ever really goes from rags to riches…every single person who has been a smashing success got there by working hard…and doing the daily grind. And when they had been doing the daily grind for a long time, the right opportunity presented itself and they were ready. You’ll get there too. And you do inspire so many people…simply by being yourself and sharing your story.

  22. Jen

    I’m actually in B-School right now, so obviously I think Marie Forleo is pretty amazing, but I relate to the commenter above who talks about some of these people being so big that it’s hard to connect with them. Do I ever expect to have an actual one-on-one convo with Marie? Not really, though I do appreciate everything she does.

    And I look up to you! I just found your blog and site a few months back, and from your artistic sensibilities to your coach training to your honesty to your new experience in motherhood, I just really relate to you AND I’m impressed and a little envious that you are doing your own thing. I’m due with my first in four weeks and putting a ton of work in so I can make my own thing fly (hence the B-school enrollment) so I can have the life I dream of, too.

    As for my purpose…I’m getting there. It’s something I’m constantly fine-tuning, and I think as life goes on, it will sometimes change.

    • Hey Jen! I think there is really something to the creative magic being generated while pregnant. It’s a great time to dream and scheme. Sending you and baby good vibes during these last few weeks!

  23. Helena

    Same here, I love what you guys do! It’s inspiring to see you offer real value, and feel like I can really relate to you. You come across as honest, and I love that you make your dreams and ideas happen. My personal goal is some kind of combination of coaching, branding, body language, psychology, and design – I just can’t quite pinpoint what exactly that would be yet, and I sure feel like ‘how am I ever gonna make a living of this?’ So I do love that you run a successful business and make your ideas happen, and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge, experience, and even insecurities. It’s definitely encouraging to hear that I’m not the only one comparing my journey to other creatives online ;)

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