5 ways to get real and grow your business

I promise you they’ll make you feel sweaty, but that just means it’s working.

Go forth and get real.


I keep a crumpled up post-it note on my computer that says Brene Brown’s quote, “give me the courage to let myself be seen.” She writes and speaks extensively on the power of vulnerability, and her voice has been one of the most influential in my turning over a new leaf and making great strides in my personal and professional life.

In Daring Greatly she advocates for being courageous, letting yourself be seen as you are, asking for help, telling the truth, asking the hard questions, and embracing the imperfections that we so often mask or tuck away out of fear of judgement and rejection. Today I am sharing 5 quick ways to get vulnerable at work—creating opportunity for growth and busting past the fear of what’s next.

I promise you they’ll make you feel sweaty, but that just means it’s working.

Go forth and get real. Here’s how to start.

1. Ask for honest feedback

If you have a project that you are working, whether you’re feeling fired up or blah about the whole thing, throw it out there to someone whose opinion you value. Ask them what they think, and listen.

Putting our work out there is scary, especially at the prospect of it getting criticized. However, this is where we can take something we love and give it the best possible chance to thrive. An outside opinion can offer a new perspective, offer advice on something unexpected, or draw attention to something special we didn’t know we were cultivating in our work.

Regardless of what the feedback may be, it is valuable to you, and you won’t be armed with that information unless you stick your neck out and ask for it.

2. Ask someone you admire to go for coffee

Networking professionally can be a nightmare. Trust me, I know. No matter how icky it can feel, building relationships and learning from like-minded individuals in business can be priceless.

Next time you stumble into someone who makes your eyes light up, tell them you're inspired. If you’ve been watching someone grow their business and find that you have a laundry list of questions about how the heck they’re making it happen, shoot them an email and ask if you could chat on the phone for a couple minutes. Offer to buy your boss crush coffee and see what happens.

Maybe they’ll say no. Maybe they’ll say nothing. Or maybe you’ll learn something that changes the trajectory of your life.

3. Tell the truth

Regardless of what profession you’re in, you’ve found yourself in a pickle before. Maybe you are running behind on a deadline, made a mistake, said the wrong thing, got a little snappy at a meeting. We’ve all be there, and we all know that there is always a reason why.

If you’re going through something personal and find yourself playing catch-up on client work, tell them what’s going on. If you sent the wrong file because you were up all night with your sick kid, explain what happened and say you’re sorry. Getting real in the workplace can feel like making excuses sometimes, but the truth is, we are all humans, bringing our real-life, human problems to work with us day in and day out.

One of the hardest, but best, things I ever did was tell my clients that I was going through a divorce. I felt myself collapsing under the stress of keeping up the facade while I was crumbling inside, and the moment I said it out loud the weight was lifted. It didn’t give me permission to be a bad business-person (and that’s not what I was asking for!), but it did present the opportunity for me to explain that my work was going to be affected at times as I navigated moving into my own home, figuring out my finances as one person, and handling the emotions that come with a life transition of any kind.

4. Send that email you’re afraid to send

This one is simple. Whether you’re cold-calling a potential new partner, putting feelers out for new work, or backing out of something that isn’t working for you, don’t put it off any longer. Write the email. Make the call.

Just do it. You’ll feel a million times better once you’re done.

5. Say it out loud

How many times have you found yourself steaming mad at home, repeating the thing you should have said at that afternoon’s meeting? You knew it when you sat there, but couldn’t find the guts to say it out loud because of fear—fear of being vulnerable.

Next time you feel compelled to say something, whether it’s a respectfully critical comment of someone you work with or a glowing compliment for someone absolutely knocking it out of the park, say it out loud!

Have the courage to let yourself be heard. Your voice matters. Your thoughts are valuable. End of story.

 

Do you have a story about how getting real (and a little sweaty) at work paid off? Share with us! 

do not enter love

Everything I study tells me to change my story—to boldly stand up, declare what I deserve, allow myself the space to heal and courageously enter relationships with a legitimate belief that two people can be trusted to care for one another without fists or flings with pretty girls in dive bars, while everything I’ve lived screams:

It’s dangerous here.


When I’m afraid to feel, I drink. It’s a family gift—an impeccable capability to hide ourselves and hold our liquor.

In the moment it feels like handfuls of pretzels and belly-laughs, my legs tucked under me on the barstool, going drink-for-drink and joke-for-joke with the boys. With enough vodka and bar-talk, no one will know what’s really happening behind my glazed eyes.

But before I take my first sip of coffee the next morning, inevitably what I’m running from catches me. Seven AM doesn’t offer a sweaty glass and a flirty bartender to stop it in its tracks, and I’m forced to sit with it, cotton mouth and all.

Last night I did the whole song and dance—dodging the bombs I’ve buried for months. I shouldn’t have been surprised by what this morning had in store.

Pink and red hearts are plastered across the coffee shop windows for Valentine’s Day. You won’t find me singing the praises of the season of love any year, but today the theatrics are really adding insult to injury. I’m thinking about exactly what the candy hearts and teddy bears want me to be thinking about.

The coffee is kicking in. My brain is just getting started.


t’s his birthday. I ran away unannounced to be with my best friend the day before. For 22 years she’s had the power to ease my aching by simply occupying the same space as me. The Arizona sun starts to heal the tension built in my body from weeks of sleeping on a cot in my office. I can’t believe this is happening to me.

It’s Thanksgiving. I’m  gripping the skin over my heart, certain the pain is killing me—the loneliness, the shame, the fear of starting over, the frustration of figuring out how to get my goddamn flat tire changed in the middle of nowhere-Wyoming.

I’m perched on my therapist’s couch—smiling, nodding, keeping myself composed as the words swarm around me.

“You weren’t kind-of abused. You were abused.”

“He didn’t kind-of cheat on you. You were betrayed.”

She has to spoon-feed me my emotional trauma because I’m too stubborn to say the words out loud. I hide behind the smile and talk in circles, avoiding anything declarative.

“Your heart was broken, over and over again, and it hasn’t healed.”

Living by the logic of my 28 years, I’m protected from the pain if I refuse to speak of its existence. If I don’t give it a name, I don’t have to do the hard work. I can sit comfortably, aware of my brokenness, tip-toeing around any conversation that blows my cover.

Get another round. Crack another joke. Smile and nod.


I watch the couple sink into the chairs across the room from me. They’re young. They probably think they’re in love. She leaves to order their food and he creeps into her chair to grab her phone, taking his moment alone to scroll. I knew what he was doing.

What a jackass.

He whispers in her ear, kisses her cheek, squeezes into her chair. He knows what he’s doing. She cocks her head when she smiles at him. She’s losing her footing—slipping further into her bliss, flushed cheeks and tingling knees—positioned perfectly for catastrophic heartbreak.

There’s graffiti on a “Do Not Enter” sign in my neighborhood that say “Do Not Enter LOVE.” I smirk at it every time I walk past, hanging onto the idea that some force in the universe is getting a kick out of this game we play with each other.

I wish I had it with me to flash at these two.  


I was 19 years old when I gave up on love.

I locked eyes with myself in the mirror as I tapped concealer on the broken blood vessels around my temples. He’d pin me against the wall—elbow in my chest, hand on my neck—pushing his thumb into my throat until I stopped fighting. He had to watch me give up before he’d fall apart.

He’d always fall apart.

And I’d always clean up the pieces.

At 23, my claim to fame was that the man I married didn’t abuse me like him.

Two years in, I darted awake, troubled by a question I couldn’t loosen my grip on. The next night I cornered him in the kitchen while he cooked dinner and asked, “Was there someone else?”

He didn’t stop cooking and I didn’t cry. We poured two more glasses of wine and I stared into space. Lucky for him, the belief that a man could love me exclusively, keep me safe, and respect me was choked out of me years before.

I didn’t take care of the relationship the way I was supposed to.

I wasn’t enough.

Of course he found some girl to supplement my love.

It always crashes, and I’m always ready.


Everything I study tells me to change my story–to boldly stand up, declare what I deserve, allow myself the space to heal and courageously enter relationships with a legitimate belief that two people can be trusted to care for one another without fists or flings with pretty girls in dive bars, while everything I’ve lived screams:

It’s dangerous here.

We’ve done our research and we’re certain this place is far too unsafe for your sensitive soul.

Sweet girl, don’t you know you’re broken?

Do not enter love.

I constantly waffle between the idea that our hearts were meant to be protected and that hearts, like the rules, are meant to be broken—challenged and cracked open in order to grow bigger and better. If I keep mine locked away, cloaked in heavy armor, it will stay unmarred. It will be efficient, focused only on maintaining life, beating away without interruption. But, if I throw it to the wolves, challenging it to keep up, leaving it vulnerable to attack, presenting every opportunity for it to wear itself to its own demise, it stands the chance of becoming more than it once was.

Do we stay safe and small or do we accept the uncomfortable that comes with growth?

I know what the tacky, doily valentines want us to believe: Love is a gift. Love is beautiful. Love is pretty flowers and candlelit dinners and sexy underwear and Lionel Richie and sticky-sweet Instagram snaps.

But that’s bullshit.

The cynic in me says love is dangerous. Love is standing naked and open to the elements. It is being seen­ in your entirety­—handing your weapons to the person in front of you with careful instruction of how to destroy you. It’s unpredictable and ruthless. It wraps you up, gives you a warm, safe place to lay before it stabs you in the chest and watches you die.

But that’s bullshit too.

Perhaps love is the ultimate vulnerability.

It is standing naked, allowing another human being to see you and love the shit out of you for who you are—for your mind and how it works, your heart and how it nurtures, your scars and how they’ve shaped you. Love is laying down your weapons and walking, unguarded, into a human experience, accepting risk and allowing for the unexpected to happen. Love wraps you up, provides a safe place from whatever may be threatening you, nurtures your spirit and brings you joy. It breaks whole and happy hearts, yes, but it heals broken hearts.

Love is wild. Love is breaking the rules.

If a life of the wholehearted is what we desire, whether in the spirit of cupid’s wily bullshit or a legitimate pursuit of authentic happiness, we can’t cherry-pick our vulnerabilities. We either enter love with reckless abandon or we don't enter at all.

leaning into lonely

Feel it. Hurt. Drink the wine, eat the guacamole in bed, listen to the song that hits you in the gut over and over again, cry, yell, stomp the ground, and sit with it, because it’s real.


I’ve never known a life outside of my introverted, loner tendencies. Eating a meal alone, hunkering down for days on end, solo-road trips—I can do it all. However, I’ve recently become intimately familiar with the soul-crushing loneliness that accompanies singlehood.

I find myself craving affection, desperately desiring the closeness of another human. Not romantic dinner dates. Not sex. Not flirty text messages. Not someone to share my bottle of wine with. But the unspoken, inexplicable feeling of comfort that comes from snuggling close to someone on the couch. The flutter in your belly when someone touches your shoulder as they slip past you in the kitchen. The little moments that you don’t realize make your blood rush as you occupy the same space as another person who desires to occupy that same space with you.

This feeling of closeness is so overlooked when it’s there, and when it’s gone, it’s easy to feel like there’s no possible way to combat the hurt that comes with the want to have it back.

Today all I can tell you is that the feeling is uncomfortable, painful, and hair-ripping frustrating, and maybe the best way to solve it, is to not. Instead of seeking the solution, lean into the lonely. Feel it. Hurt. Drink the wine, eat the guacamole in bed, listen to the song that hits you in the gut over and over again, cry, yell, stomp the ground, and sit with it, because it’s real. It’s so freaking real.

What good does trying to fight it bring to you? How does pretending your body doesn’t ache make the ache go away? It doesn’t.

If you are here with me, know first, that you are not alone, and second, that you are allowed to feel this way. You have permission to be uncomfortable. This is where you are right now, and it’s where you’re supposed to be—not because you don’t deserve to feel the things you desire, but because it’s not time yet.

Just as we open ourselves up to all the fantastic possibilities that life has for us in work, in love, at home, at play, we must open ourselves to all the possibilities to grow. Glennon says that pain is not a hot potato that we pass off as quickly as it is handed to us. Instead it is a traveling professor that knocks on our door. We must ask him to come inside, sit at our table, occupy our heads and hearts, and not allow him to walk out that door until we’ve learned what we need to learn.

I can’t take away the hurt, and you can’t will it away. What I can tell you is this:

You will not feel this way forever. Everything is temporary.

The dark exists to help us be braver, stronger, bolder, and smarter—not to torment us in these quiet moments with ourselves.

There’s a better version of you on the other side of this. I promise.

girls' guide to surviving divorce

Today I am writing to you straight from the heart, first offering my sincere support as you go through whatever you’re going through, because, as I write this I’m going through it too. Second, I’m busting into the raw stuff and spilling my guts to share every ounce of success I’ve discovered in publicly navigating my own divorce.

This stuff isn’t glamorous you guys but it’s real.

I can’t take away the pain, but I can offer you this.

Have your elevator pitch prepared

Despite your deep desires to keep life separate from work, you’re going to bring this stress to your desk with you for a while. You will undoubtedly find yourself in situations where you have to explain what’s happening.

Maybe you’re attending functions solo for the first time, disappearing from the office to visit with lawyers, changing addresses on your invoices, or transitioning to a new last name. It will come up and it makes it easier on you if you’re prepared to address it.

Some folks will ask you questions, while others will whisper behind your back. More often than not, they’re not trying to hurt you. They’re uncomfortable too. Provide them with the facts. Keep it simple and you’ll avoid the drawn out awkward conversations and emotional rambling.

Here’s mine:

You may have heard, but I wanted to let you know that ___ and I have decided to separate. It was a mutual decision and though it has been tough we are both doing OK. I hope you understand and know that we hope to keep things amicable as we work through this transition. With time, things will get easier for all of us.

The end.

Accept that it’s going to get awkward

For me this has probably been the most frustrating part.

I quickly discovered that people felt more awkward with my news than I felt sharing it with them. Yes, I was right in the heart of the pain and agony of it all, but I was ready to put my head down and just push forward. At home I sat in the red-hot pain, at work and at play, I desperately tried to push it aside.

I quickly started referring to the whole phenomenon as “sad eyes.” Everyone around me gave me the same, pitiful look as they fumbled over their words and asked how I was holding up. I appreciated their support, but I just didn’t want to do it.

The workplace in particular was the hardest. My professional world has always been my safe space. I can do my job well. Marriage, obviously, not so much. Take me for a drink and let’s get into the muck of it all, but while I am on the clock, let’s just not.

In the end, letting go of this frustration was the only way for me to keep my chin up. People are people, and given the opportunity to be weird, they’re gonna get freaking weird.

  • Someone is going to offer you marriage advice when you’re really not looking for it.

  • Someone is going to offer you divorce advice when you’re really not looking for it.

  • You’ll find yourself calmly comforting someone as they break down over your heartbreaking situation.

  • People will pray for you whether you want them to or not.

  • Family will talk trash on you.

  • People will ask wildly inappropriate questions.

  • You’re gonna get hit on.

Taking any of this personally does nothing for anyone, so armed with some patience and understanding, do your best to let it all roll off your back. This time you’re in, is for healing. Focus your attention on that. Everything else can wait.

Have a support system

When our hearts are breaking it seems easiest to just hide. Today I am shouting from the rooftop: do not hide. Find your people and fiercely rely on them.

When they ask you how you’re doing, tell them truth. When they ask you to come over for wine, do it. When they offer to help you move furniture into your new place, say yes, please and then thank you.

When you find yourself drowning in the loneliness late at night, think about your people and how grateful you are for them. They’ll be your lifeline over and over and over again, but it’s your job to grab on to them before you drown.

Celebrate your wins along the way

As is true for accomplishing any goal, baby steps are your only assured way to success. Let go of the idea that you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling thirty, flirty, and thriving.

You may wake up tomorrow and actually have the appetite to eat before 3 PM. That’s a win. Celebrate progress and let go of perfection. It isn’t going to happen overnight.

If you feel compelled to go out with your friends, put on a bra, create a Tinder profile, flirt with that guy who you think might, maybe be giving you butterflies—freaking do it and celebrate the fact that you’re doing it.

Tomorrow you may cry before you even get your hair washed, but it’s just one day in a long line of days that will get easier with time.

Take control of your calendar

 You need something to look forward to, even if it doesn’t feel like you could possibly look forward to anything right now.

One of the best things I did in the heart of my divorce was pick dates on the calendar to host brunch at my new house. I was not at all emotionally prepared to host my friends, who’d spent years making memories in my home with my husband and I, at my new bachelorette pad. On top of this, I didn’t even have any freaking furniture.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? “Hey guys, come on over! Let’s eat some food, maybe I’ll cry, and we can sit on the floor since I don’t even have any chairs.”

Setting those dates gave me a deadline to make a home fit for company, which means I also had to make it fit for me. When your heart is broken the last thing you’re thinking about is comfortable seating and soft hand towels. But the truth is, when you’re heartbroken, soft towels and a cozy couch have the power to make you feel a little more warm and safe in the dark, sad, messy world around you.

Pick some dates, schedule something that makes your heart full, draw circles and hearts and smiley faces around the calendar and hold on to it. It’s small, but it makes a difference.


What you’re going through is hard.

I can’t give you the key to finding relief and peace and confidence and comfort and joy as much as you can’t give me the same. I can’t put my hand on your shoulder when you clutch your pillow and feel the emptiness of the four walls around you tonight. I know no matter what kind of face you put on today, it will still hurt—maybe tonight or tomorrow or the next day. I also know that each day will get the tiniest bit easier and with each agonizing rip and tear your heart will grow stronger.

Don’t give up the fight, girl.

You’re doing hard things. I’m doing hard things.

But it’s here, in the front lines of battle with our pain that we become the better versions of ourselves. As G would say, first the pain, then the rising.

Now it’s the pain.

Tomorrow we rise. 

how to attract your dream clients

Early in business it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that all business is good business, but the truth is, catering to everyone is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your business strategy.

Defining who your people are is a step that should be done early and referenced often as you build your brand, expand, and explore new avenues of services, products, and channels of communication. It may feel silly at first, but take my word, it’s valuable.

You’ll hear marketers refer to this process as developing your customer avatar. This avatar is the fictional character you create in order to understand his or her beliefs, fears, desires, personality traits, quirks, and character flaws. You are then able to create content to market to your ideal customers by keeping your avatar in mind as the direct recipient of your messaging.

I like to think of this process as writing the bio of a character in your business’s story. You are developing a complex and unique individual who brings their own flavor on life to the table. The best brands know their character intimately, and speak to them like only a best friend could.

Each character’s story will develop differently, however regardless of how it unfolds, there are a few questions that are important to spend some time with. Place priority on answering the questions below, and then it’s time to dive into some serious make-believe.

  • Every business solves a problem for a customer in need. What is the problem (or problems) your dream client is struggling with the moment they decide to look for someone’s business like yours?
  • What does your dream client value most in their life?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What do they daydream about?
  • What kind of goals do they have for their professional life? Their personal life?
  • If their problem from Question #1 isn’t addressed, what do they fear the consequences will be?

Now, it’s time to talk details. Think about how your dream customer’s world looks.

  • What gender are they?
  • How old are they?
  • How do they dress? What kind of haircut do they have?
  • What does their work life look like?
  • Do they have a spouse? Children?
  • What do they drive?
  • Where’s their favorite place to shop?
  • Where do they hang out with their best friends?
  • What’s their favorite vacation destination?
  • How is their home decorated?
  • What’s their favorite movie? Favorite song?
  • What inside jokes do they have with their friends and family?
  • What are their pet peeves?
  • How do they talk? Do they swear? Do they use jargon or colloquialisms?

Next. Give them a name. You’d never read a novel with a well-developed, complex, relatable character with no name, right? Pick one. Write it down. Bonus points if you find a photo. (Jump on Google and find someone who looks the part. I won’t tell anyone. Pinky promise.)

Now you can write the narrative. It can be as long or as short as you want, as long you include two parts. Give yourself the freedom to add anything that feels relevant as you paint the picture.

 First, share the problems your customer is facing—what is frustrating them, standing in their way, not allowing them to succeed at whatever the task at hand may be? How does their life look? How are they feeling? What are their loved ones saying? Set the scene.

 Second, how can your business provide exactly what they need? How do they find you? What questions and concerns do they have when they approach you? What kind of value are they looking for from you? How do they feel when they sit down with you or stumble into your product?

Keep this information close by. When you find yourself stuck on what to say or do, the answer usually lies within the story you just told. Write your website copy, your Instagram posts, and your emails to this customer. Think of their face, their home, their feelings, and speak to them directly. Create products or services that address their specific problems, that fit in their life—design them to fall into place like they were meant to be there.

Use this process to let go of the idea that you can or should serve everyone. It’s not your job and it’s not possible.

Focus your attention on thoughtfully serving your people and leave space for the others to take care of theirs. It’s here that you’ll build a strategic path to the clients you dream about that need you the most. 

declare your expertise

I recently attended a conference and heard a multitude of professionals speak on strategic marketing strategy for startup businesses. The information they shared was interesting, but something yelled louder in my ear than the data and stats they presented.

Each of these presenters was: a younger man, experienced, but still new in his industry, well-dressed, confident, and a self-declared expert in their field. Their Twitter profiles unabashedly listed their accomplishments, publications, and credentials. They navigated conversation with confidence in their knowledge. Modesty wasn’t even invited into the freaking room.

When I think about the female entrepreneurs that fill my life, the way they navigate the business world, and the way I do the same—I can’t help but recognize that more often than not, modesty is the first one to pull out a chair and sit down at the table next to us. We quietly share our opinions, hide behind cute titles like mompreneur and boss babe, and preface our hard work with “just”—I’m just a virtual assistant. I’m just a part-time writer. I’m just a daycare owner.

We all see the greatness in our female peers, brag about them, and shout out their businesses when we see someone who could benefit from the unique gift their bringing into the world—whether it’s a handmade pair of earrings, a life-changing service, or the best damn cupcake you’ve ever tasted. When you ask us for a recommendation we say, “I know just the girl you should talk to. She’s the best.”

But we don’t do it for ourselves. Not even close.

When was the last time you said, “she’s the best at what she does,” about yourself?

Our Instagram profiles don’t say, “badass cupcake making expert.” They say, “…just a girl who loves sprinkles.”

Today I challenge you, if you haven’t already, to declare your expertise. Write it in big letters on the page next to you, hang it on the wall and look at it often.

Add it to your social media profiles, print it on your business card.

Wear your credentials with pride. Share them with the world over and over again so they know just how powerful you are. Remind the world how much you’re adding to it every day. Remind yourself how hard you’ve worked, how far you come, and how valuable you are.

Stop saying “just.” Eliminate the word from your vocabulary.

Hold your head high when you speak about your gifts to the world. Own the information, the talent, the vision, the unique perspective that exists only inside your mind proudly and shamelessly.

Walk into the room with confidence and politely shut that door behind you. Modesty can take a seat in the waiting room.

holiday anxiety

Jess shared the essay below on her experience with holiday anxiety along with a collection of other women from across the world. The project's mission is to create awareness and open up conversation on mental health during the stressful holiday season. Read their stories and share yours at Behold.Her. 


My relationship with the holiday season is complex. I absolutely adore the season for the opportunities to give and celebrate with loved ones, gather around food, and plug into that childlike joy that comes from twinkly lights and the smell of sugar cookies. However, I am paralyzed by anxiety when it comes to the day itself.

My parents separated when I was a teenager and the holidays became the pinnacle of heartbreak. Even before their divorce, we spent the day shuffling from house to house, visiting grandparents, aunts, cousins and then loading up and doing it again. Once our parents also had separate houses, this just added to the chaos. We never sat still and enjoyed the company of anyone because we already had one foot out the door to head to the next location. I remember feeling sick with guilt for being with one parent and not with the other, and as we made our shuffle to the next house, the same guilt would creep up in reverse.

This mess of pain and guilt and anger and sadness has stayed with me from childhood, when I thought surely my life was uniquely broken— to adulthood, where I’m now certain I’m in good, anxious, irritated, stressed out company. 

This year’s holiday season is particularly uncomfortable. I am recently separated from my husband and celebrating the holidays alone for the first time in a long time. The idea of sitting solo at the Thanksgiving table doesn’t worry me, but the inevitable conversation about my alone-ness at these holiday events is and will continue to be absolutely crushing. I already feel myself pulling back, declining invitations, and looking for excuses to fill my calendar to avoid these moments. 

Getting divorced has taught me a lot about other people, and one of those things is that they are so, incredibly, freaking uncomfortable with talking about hard things. They either divert to awkward babbling or douse you in pity and sad eyes. Neither of which cultivates a comfortable conversation space. Neither makes me feel good. Throw in the pressure of having a holly-jolly time and too much mulled-wine and it’s a nightmare.

The proverbial cherry on top is that I do not celebrate the holidays with any religious ties. I float comfortably between the titles of agnostic and atheist, with zero desire to discuss my beliefs or belittle anyone’s opposing beliefs any day of the year. Christmas day is traditionally an occasion spent hiding my tattoos, avoiding conversations about Christ, and now carrying the sinful burden of my divorce around the table with my very conservative family. (Sidenote: I could write a whole new essay on how to awkwardly make it through family prayer/not audibly gag when we 'pray for our president.’)

I don’t have any words of wisdom for surviving the season. I truly believe that everyone suffers through their own unique heartbreak, anxiety, confusion, and frustrations around the holidays, and the best thing we can do is own it—put our stories out there, support and love one another, and take our friends for drinks the minute they make it back from their family’s home. 

To anyone who feels their chest tighten at the thought of the holidays, know you’re not alone, you’re not broken and like any other season, this stressful, hard season, will pass too.

Also, if you’re up for running away to a beach somewhere to avoid it all, let’s freaking do it. 

is networking a dirty word?

One of my first experiences networking as a business owner was horrendous. A woman set her sights on me as a threat to her for some reason still unknown to me, and made it her goal to attack me, my business, and the people associated with me. She left nasty, false reviews, sent mean messages, made false claims against my then husband at his workplace, and spread rumors, while acting sticky-sweet to me at any social gathering. She put a bad taste for networking in my mouth that only grew more sour with time.

When I think about networking the first word that pops into my head is, “uncomfortable.” It feels so damn awkward.

I asked our Facebook group to weigh in and heard similar thoughts.

It feels dirty and not genuine.

It can be exhausting.

Panic.

Networking = pressure. Also stress.

Large mixer? I’m out.

It’s hard to feel authentic.

I can’t think of a single traditional networking event I’ve attended where I left not feeling like a total flop. My typical experience looks a lot like me desperately clinging to my $8 glass of wine from the cash bar, laughing at stupid jokes, and pretending like I’ve set foot on a golf course before, while a bunch of folks disguise their gossip and small talk as networking. Please note: for me small talk is actually the worst thing in the world.

After some well-needed time to heal my jaded heart, some incredible experiences, and the help from my TED Talks app, I’m ready to flip the idea that networking is just a necessary evil on its head.

Lets get vulnerable

It turns out, networking—when it’s done right—can be an incredible gift for you and your business’s well-being.

In Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk, Connected, but alone?, she explores why we use technology the way we do. Humans, of all ages and walks of life, avoid in-person conversations for many reasons—because we like to feel in control of our time (a text message is much faster), we are uncomfortable with speaking in real-time without having time to process what we’ll say (we’ve all typed and deleted the same text message 37 times before we hit send, right?), and we are absolutely terrified of intimacy.

We seek comfort in technology—Insta stories, Facebook likes, LinkedIn connections, Tinder matches, Twitter followers—because it fulfills one of our basic human needs: connection. We are lonely and searching and end up spending our time with machines out of a paralyzing fear of being vulnerable and building real-life connections, but those connections are what we desperately crave.

We feel pressured, panicked, uncomfortable, dirty, and not genuine because we are scared.

I attended The Alison Show’s Build and Awesome Brand workshop in November and the timing was about as awful as it could ever be. I signed my divorce papers the morning we hit the road. I’d spent only a week in my new apartment attempting to pick up the pieces from the turmoil in the months before. I did not want to go rub elbows with entrepreneurs and pretend that I wasn’t in the middle of a big, freaking crisis.

But I did and I learned so much, and chatted with some incredible people. I came home feeling relieved that I made it through and posted my thoughts on how tough a day it was for me, and the comments came rolling in. Many of these women who I connected with in-person opened their hearts to me, thanked me, sent support, and gave me permission to be a hot-freaking-mess and a thriving entrepreneur at the same time.

Physically gathering around our similarities, in this case entrepreneurship, and letting things get a little awkward created a space where these women could (and did) make an impact on my life, and I could do the same for theirs.

That is what networking is about.

Give and take

In Adam Grant’s Are you a giver or taker? he breaks down company culture into two major categories: givers, those who place priority on giving support to those around them, and takers, those who focus on taking information and resources to improve their own lives. In the end, the givers within businesses are the folks who breathe positivity and energy in, cultivate growth, and allow employees and leaders to thrive. Read: You want the givers, not the takers.

If we take this philosophy and look at those awkward networking events, now knowing that we all walk into them feeling uncomfortable because we are afraid of making the connections we went to make, the game changes. What if networking wasn’t about taking—gathering business cards, finding partnerships, collecting resources to grow our own businesses—but instead, was about giving?

What if we walked into a room of people with the intent to give whatever we could to those who need support. A resource for tackling a problem (uh, Basecamp…), a lead on a client, maybe just someone who understands, or permission to be human. It’s there, in the space where we get real, that the real work starts and the real results show up.

One of the nuggets of wisdom I picked up at Alison’s workshop that I mentioned earlier is this:

If you want engagement—online or in person, you have to be vulnerable, and you have to be vulnerable first.

She says, “Offer yourself up as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of vulnerability.”

(Also, in case you haven’t figured it out, Alison is hilarious. And totally awesome.)

In the end, networking will always be uncomfortable for most. However, it’s here—in the uncomfortable moments, where we find our people—that growth happens for us and our businesses.

Next time you find yourself lingering in the corner, stumbling over your words, unsure of what the heck you are doing, remember two things:

  • First, your people are out there. They will support you, bring you tears, fill your heart, bring opportunity to your business, change your world. But you will never, ever find them if you don’t first let yourself get vulnerable.
  • Second, it’s not always about you. It’s about doing the next right thing, offering support, and giving all that you have—with the faith that your people will one day do the same for you.

Worst case scenario, we are here to talk it out and laugh it off with you and our forever friends wine + gummy bears. Get out there, sister. 

quick and easy ways to declutter your digital world

Feeling overwhelmed? Your phone's a mess and even on your best day you still can't stay on top of all those little red numbers popping up on your apps, right?

Friend, you are not alone.

Here are some quick and simple ways to work toward eliminating that daily overwhelm, decluttering your digital world, and finding some well-deserved space to unplug.

Social Media

  • Turn off app notifications for social media—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, group chats, etc. 
  • Move social media apps into a folder on the last page of your phone.
  • Delete Facebook Messenger from your phone.
  • Mute Instagram Stories on your business accounts. 
  • Unfollow anyone on Snapchat whose story you swipe past regularly. 
  • Weed out who you're following on Instagram a couple times a year. Eliminate anyone whose feed doesn't inspire or bring you joy. 
  • Think about the accounts on social media that make you feel bad about yourself. (That girl with the awesome abs, your friend from high school who seems to have all that and a bag of chips—you know what I am talking about. Stop torturing yourself and unfollow them. Find someone whose account provides you positive thoughts and encouragement instead.)
  • Unfollow friends on Facebook whose posts don't do it for you. (Even if it's family! Remember, this won't remove them as your friend, rather just hide their posts from your feed.)
  • For God's sake, take social-media-free weekends.

Email

  • Write canned responses to email inquiries that you often receive. 
  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails. I am a long-time fan of Unroll.me!
  • Turn off email notifications on your desktop. (On your laptop and tablet too!)
  • Remove your email app from your phone.
  • Forward all your email addresses to one email so you can access everything in one place. 
  • Only touch emails once if possible. Open an email and handle whatever you need to instead of letting it sit in your inbox. 
  • Make labels in your inbox that are categorized by priority and make it a habit to label all messages that aren't deleted or archived. 
  • Archive necessary emails. (Such as emails with login info or details for an upcoming trip.)
  • Delete everything that you don't need and unsubscribe if you haven't already. 
  • When you are playing catchup, taking a break, or just need to unplug, set an automatic reply on your email explaining that you won't be available. You deserve a life outside your inbox and don't have to respond to every email immediately!
  • Create a personal email account for personal matters and delegate tasks within your business account to a staff member. 
  • Create an FAQ page to send people to for answers to quick questions you often receive. For example, if you are accepting resumes for employees or proposals for guest bloggers, create a page with the details they need to know, your requirements, and where to contact you.
  • Check your email once or twice a day, handle what you need to handle and move on to your other work tasks. If you check every email each time a message comes in you'll find yourself down the rabbit hole and miles away from getting your planned tasks accomplished. 
  • Don't send emails before 8 AM or after 6 PM. Don't let your clients and colleagues get in the habit of reaching you after (or before) hours. This is your time to rest. Write the email, if you must, and save it to send in the morning. 

Phone and apps

  • Put your phone on airplane mode at lunch and dinner.
  • Put your phone on 'Do Not Disturb' after 8 PM. (And don't peek until tomorrow, dangit!)
  • Move the apps you no longer use into a folder. If you don't open them after a month, delete them. (Remember they aren't gone forever!) 
  • Mute your personal phone during business hours and your business phone during personal hours. 
  • Categorize your apps into folders to make them easy to access.
  • Use shared lists at home and work for projects, housework, shopping, etc. (Wunderlist is great!)

Computers

  • Make your desktop a file-free zone. Pick one day a week and clean your desktop of everything by filing away necessities and deleting things you know longer need. 
  • Keep everything in one place. I am a Dropbox and iCloud girl, but there are plenty of options. Do some research and find what works for you!
  • Sync your calendar with your phone, tablet, and any other device. No more losing dates!
  • Backup your computer routinely on a cloud-based service like iCloud. 
  • Use a password protection service to keep your passwords in one place and protect your assets. (I use 1Password.)
  • Use shared Google Apps (Sheets, Docs, etc.) for sharing information with clients, collecting surveys, and working on shared projects instead of passing multiple Word documents back and forth via email. 

What are your favorite ways to organize your digital life? Leave me a comment below!

40 business goals for the new year

The new year is nearly here, which means it's time to make some goals. Most of us love a good resolution, but it can be easy to quickly spiral into overwhelm. Here are 40 ideas to get the wheels spinning as you charge into 2018! 

Don't forget: Before you pop that champagne—make a plan and write it down. I have a feeling that you are going to do amazing things this year. 


  1. Know your numbers and charge what you deserve with confidence. 
  2. Share your passion for what you do with the world and attract your dream clients. 
  3. Have a virtual coffee date each month. 
  4. Collaborate with new-to-you like-minded creatives. 
  5. Apply for a speaking gig that scares you.
  6. Travel somewhere new with your biz bestie.
  7. Join a mastermind. 
  8. Budget for a business coach or class.
  9. Create a new, totally rad opt-in for your email list. 
  10. Tell your biz-crushes how you feel. Send an email or leave a comment—just put your heart on your sleeve! 
  11. Go to a conference you've been dreaming of attending.
  12. Hire a virtual assistant.
  13. Block off work-free time/vacations in your calendar and hold yourself accountable.
  14. Delete the email app on your phone.
  15. Turn off your social media notifications. 
  16. Say "no" to something that doesn't fill you up.
  17. Say "yes" to something terrifying!
  18. Find a budget app that works for you and make one for the new year. (I am a lover of Mint for personal finances and Intuit Self-Employed for business.)
  19. Read an inspiring book every month.
  20. Share your next big project idea with your friends or favorite Facebook group. 
  21. Ask for help when you need it. (And don't feel guilty!)
  22. Ask your clients for feedback and testimonials.
  23. Write that blog post that you keep putting off.
  24. Find a dreamy photographer, get dolled up, and get some headshots taken. Now show them off! 
  25. Take at least one mental health day every month. 
  26. Go on vacation and leave your laptop behind.
  27. Meet with a financial planner and discuss the future—expansion, retirement, all the big stuff.
  28. Make an investment in yourself! 
  29. Find a passion project that brings you abundant joy and fulfills you that has nothing to do with money. 
  30. Tell a prospective client that you don't think they are a good fit. And find someone who is!
  31. Meet some of your favorite pals for happy hour and don't talk about business.
  32. Leave your phone out of the bedroom. No more hours of Pinterest browsing.
  33. Make the weekends work-free!
  34. Send your clients handwritten notes to let them know just how much you love them.
  35. Do more of what you love and less of what you don't. 
  36. Make a content schedule for your social media accounts.
  37. Brainstorm 50 blog post ideas and save it in a Google Doc for those days you are feeling uninspired.
  38. Make a work playlist that makes you feel like a total badass. 
  39. Create an automatic withdrawal in your business bank account for rainy-day savings. 
  40. Treat yourself to that pretty, new planner you've been lusting for.

the 10 content-sharing commandments

The world of content creation can be terrifying sometimes, right? We have all felt the pressures of sharing our heart to the world and hearing crickets on the other end. The worst.

Fortunately, with a little help and some basic guidelines, you can be on the road to creating quality content that converts to engagement, sales, website traffic, and credibility. Whether you are posting something new to your social media channels or brainstorming what to share next, use this list of content-sharing commandments and see where you sit.


1. Thou shalt spell check

Simply put—do the work and make sure you are putting your best work forward. Typos and spelling errors happen to all of us, but content littered with errors can become hard to read and leave your audience feeling like you're lacking credibility.

Try writing your posts in Word or a blank email and spell checking before putting it out there.

2. Thou shalt not be spammy

You know the accounts. They post dozens of Instagram photos at a time, tagging hundreds of unrelated pages, and hash-tagging with the intent of finding the most people instead of their people. They send tons of direct messages and leave comments on your posts about how you should check out their page for an extra special, just for you, don't wanna miss it offer.

Please don't do this.

Sometimes it seems like these accounts have the secret sauce, but don't let it fool you. Their numbers are often high because of paid-for likes and robot accounts, which makes them look popular, but guess what—their audience is certainly not going to engage with them or convert to sales. 

Moral of the story: don't be spammy. It doesn't work and it is terribly annoying.

3. Thou shalt speak authentically

People want to engage with other people.

Show your personality to your audience to build your connections. Be real with them. This builds trust and creates an environment where your people fall in love with you, and the people who aren't your people fall away.

Ultimately, you want social accounts that are full of people who like you as a person, trust your word, and enjoy hearing you tell your story. If you don't make it a priority to be authentic from the beginning, they'll never see the real you. 

4. Thou shalt always provide beautiful visuals

It is no secret, we live in a highly visual world. Whether you're drafting an email newsletter or posting to Facebook, provide visuals. Add a fun photo from your office, create a title graphic in Canva or look into purchasing styled stock photography that fits your brand.

Humans make decisions with their eyes before anything else, so don't cut yourself short by using subpar imagery or worse yet—not using any imagery at all. Always take the time to give them something beautiful to draw them into your content.

5. Thou shalt hashtag with purpose

Hashtags can be your very best friend if used correctly. When hashtags first came on the scene everyone went a little crazy tagging their photos with simple, obvious tags like #cat #naps #on #the #couch.

In the beginning, this probably worked well for folks. The tags weren't completely saturated with billions of photos of cats and couches. However, today it requires a bit more research to find the tags that will work for you.

I encourage you to find your favorite influencers on social media and see what tags they're using. Dig around and see what you find and keep a running list of your favorites that you think you can apply to your content. The best tags won't be the ones with millions of photos. These are too active to allow you to stand out in the crowd. Find tags that are active, but not bonkers, so the audience has an opportunity to see your photos when they go to browse the tag.

Hashtags are also wonderful for curating your own collections of photos and engaging with your audience. You can:

  • Create a unique tag to collect photos and posts about your work. For example, if you're a wedding photographer you could use #yourbiznameweddings. Now anytime anyone sees this tag in your feed, they can be directed to a whole library of your work.
  • Create a unique tag to see through your audience's eyes. For example, if you're an interior designer and want to see what interiors really fire your audience up, you could create the tag: #interiorcrushing. Encourage your audience to use it, check in, engage with participants, and share their content.

6. Thou shalt engage with thine audience

This is another simple practice that often gets overlooked because of time constraints. That said, I encourage you to set aside time each day to make it a priority.

Conversations with your audience are how they get to know you. Just like telling your authentic story is important, responding to questions, showing gratitude, and connecting is vital to creating an atmosphere of trust. 

Here are a few ideas for engaging with your audience:

  • Ask questions in your posts.
  • Ask for their opinions or have them vote on something.
  • Respond to comments.
  • Use your audience questions to create blog content.
  • Share their photos—especially if they are tagging your product or using your hashtag.

7. Thou shalt be consistent

I am a firm believer in the idea, “Consistency breeds legitimacy.” Whether in your visuals or your social media content, remaining consistent creates an image of your business or organization that is professional. Your audience will be quick to understand that you know what you are talking about. This keeps you on the forefront of their mind when the time comes that they need or want something that you offer.

Ways to stay consistent include keeping your logo the same across all social platforms, creating a content schedule that provides value to your audience on a routine basis, and knowing your mission and sticking to it in your voice and visual messaging. With time, your audience will come to know what to expect from you, solidifying your position as an expert and valuable resource in their mind.

8. Thou shalt not look at thine neighbor's paper

Don't get me wrong, there is value in researching what others in your field are doing in their businesses. I 100% encourage you to explore and find inspiration for your own platform, but then take your eyes off their paper and make it your own.

It is incredibly easy to get bogged down by the pressures to fit in online. We become overwhelmed by the content of others and allow the negative self-talk to move its way into our heads. We begin to doubt our abilities; thinking someone else is always doing it better, creating more beautiful imagery, speaking more eloquently. This is where you need to stop looking.

You are offering something unique to the world: you. No one else has your story, your voice, your personality, your quirks, and your way of leaving a mark on the world.

Spending too much time looking at what others are doing is hurting you. Stop looking and start creating. Period.

9. Thou shalt share value

Please, pretty, pretty please don't share junk.

Don't share content just to have something out there. Don't create blog posts that provide zero value to your audience just because you feel like you have to get something out there. If it means sharing less in order to share quality, that's fine.

Valuable content will continue to work for you for years to come. It will create legitimacy, enhance your brand, show your audience your personality and create material that can be tweaked and shared for months ahead.

Remember that you are doing wonderful, unique things. Share content that supports that.

10. Thou shalt recycle

Never underestimate the power of recycling your content when you feel stuck. Assuming you've followed all ten commandments in the past, you have valuable, beautiful, personal, powerful content that is good enough that you should share it more than once.

  • If a question comes up in your feed that you've answered in a blog post before, share it again.
  • If you have content that is seasonally relevant, share it again.
  • If you have a post that performs incredibly well, share it again.
  • If you have a post that you'd like to see more traffic on—yeah, you got it—share it again.

5 ways to have fun with your brand

In this big scary world of small business, branding—how you present yourself and your business, how you dress, walk and talk, how you do you—is what steers the freaking boat. Your brand is attracting and repelling clients and partners every day.

You may think it's just that logo on your super on-trend, gold-foiled business card, or that carefully curated Insta profile—but girl, it’s so much more than that.

Today I wanted to share a few quick and simple ways to have fun with your personal brand and attract your people.


1. Add some flare

I recently spent a few hours adding funny GIFs to all of my 17Hats email templates so every quote, questionnaire, and invoice is delivered with a little something extra. I took the generic messages, tweaked the text to sound more like me, and threw in something to make my clients smile. (Let’s be real—if they don’t find immense joy in cute animals, dancing Drake, and Leslie Knope—we don’t need to be working together. 💁🏼)

You want your message to stand out from the crowd, so make it sound like YOU; add your favorite emoji and embed that video of the dancing pig that you just can't stop watching.

2. Speak like yourself

When it comes to business it's easy to clam up and start to speak how you think a legit-boss would speak. You know the drill; using words you'd never use, sounding stuffy, and trying to keep your potty mouth under wraps.

While I don't think you should kickoff every conversation with an f-bomb, I do think you need to be real. You are unique—your business is what it is because of this and you shouldn't have to fake it. People will be attracted to your business because of the personality, so let that quirky side shine.

If your speech offends someone, guess what, they simply aren't your people and very likely won't be a good fit for your business. 

3. Rock your personal style

Just like your style of speaking, how you present yourself is incredibly valuable.

Here's the deal. I have tattoos, I don't own a pantsuit, and I treat nearly every day like casual Friday. That is who I am and the people I work with know this up front. There will never be a moment when a client asks me to cover my arms because they're offended by my tattoos because they'll know that's what I bring to the table before we ever enter that relationship with one another.

Freely show your personality in your style and use it to attract your tribe.

4. Share your story

This one is simple. You are so much more than the services you offer.

Some customers want a quick and easy solution to a problem, but most want something special. You can give them that something special and unique by being real. (You're a human, not a robot, right?!)

Share a little about your life on Instagram, include some facts about what you do outside of work in your bio, show your goofy side on Snapchat. Don't be afraid to make space for something other than business in your brand.

5. Show your clients how much they mean to you

This may seem more like customer service than branding, but if you're doing it right it's one in the same.

Chances are, you went into business to help people with something—to provide them a service or product that brings them joy, solves a problem, helps them along the way, right? And chances are, you have had clients that made you feel like a million bucks. They used your service or expressed gratitude for your product in a way that made you get a little misty-eyed and feel like you were on top of the world.

Take that emotion and let your people know how much they mean to you. Send a simple handwritten note, respond to a kind Facebook comment, curate a rad gift basket for your clients and send it just because.


We all get caught up in the process of building a business brand—the logo, website, business card, flyers, the vinyl sticker for the front door. It is easy to forget the role that personality plays in it all, but fortunately—it is easy to throw that unique charm into everything with a few simple strategies.

How are showing your personality in your brand? Share below!

7 things i wish i knew before becoming an entrepreneur

I often find myself decompressing at the end of a stressful day snuggled in with a glass of wine thinking, "Some days I really wish I never knew what it is like to work for myself."

Have you ever been there?

The days that money is tight, your schedule is chaos, and your mind is exhausted you find yourself daydreaming about quitting the entrepreneur life and getting a real, big-girl job.

It's not a simple life to live, that's for sure. Today I am taking a stroll back in time, to those days before I knew what it felt like to be responsible for a living, breathing business-baby.

Here are the things I wish I would have known before I jumped head first into this wild world


1. It's 95% work and 5% glamour

This shit is hard. Seriously.

I know you can do hard things. You are smart and capable, but you're going to cry. Not the cute kind either—full, ugly face, drooling on yourself crying.

Those pictures you see of the #girlboss hanging out poolside with her friends, sipping champagne and enjoying the good life aren't showing the whole picture. Like, for example, their phones are buzzing with hundreds of notifications they can't keep up with and even though they appear to be blissfully soaking up the sun, their mind is racing because they caught a glimpse of the newest email in their inbox.

2. The hours are long and the pay sucks

The world makes it seem like it's so easy to be self-employed and free of all responsibility, but it requires at least double the energy you ever used working for someone else. Say hello to 12+-hour days, answering emails from bed, and using the weekends to "just catch up."

Spoiler: You don't ever really catch up.

I know you want to do that thing where you roll around in piles of cash and buy yourself that new, totally boss outfit you've been admiring (which you won't ever wear, because, sweatpants...), but it doesn't work like that. At first, at least, money is tight, and it feels really scary.

3. Your relationships aren't immune

I don't know the easiest way to say this.

You will lose friends along the way who don't understand why you can't make it to happy hour as often. Your partner may get frustrated when you have to turn down their invitation to restart Parks and Recreation and eat popcorn for dinner on the couch. Your dog will look at you with that look that makes your heart sink into your gut because all he wants to do is go for a walk, and you just keep looking at the damn computer. 

4. Your skin isn't thick enough yet

You may say you are prepared for criticism and negativity, but you aren't.

It stings. And you'll probably cry some more.

5. You're going to want to give up

There will be days when you think, "I can't do it anymore."

You'll stroll into your office, ready to take on the day—and then realize your taxes are due, your Instagram engagement is down, and you just spent how much on a Facebook ad that returned zilch for you.

You will browse for jobs and your eyes will light up as you see benefits packages and salaries far sturdier than what you can pay yourself. You'll fantasize about wearing nicely pressed slacks and putting your makeup on every day, thinking maybe you belong there instead.

And then you'll pour Baileys in your coffee, blast some Beyoncé, and maybe do a little of that ugly crying againbecause you work for yourself, and that's allowed. After you get that out of your system you'll remember this: 

6. Everyone feels the same—even if they aren't saying it out loud

This life you chose is not easy, glamorous or well-compensated, but it makes your heart feel full. Those messages from the people you’ve helped, the ones that made you get misty-eyed, that's why you do this.

I know you see that girl on Instagram who seems to be rocking it so much better than you, but even she has a friend that doesn't understand her passion or a dog that really needs a walk.

Nothing worth having comes easy, girl. You know this.

Remember the day you decided to start this endeavor? Remember how full of life you felt that day? Keep thinking like that. What you are doing is valuable. The amazing days you have to do the work love are worth the bad days every now and then.

It will get easier every day. Just keep going.

7. You are so much stronger than you think

You're capable of doing so much more than you ever imagined.

The world needs people just like you to keep doing what you're doing.

you are amazing

The world is a complicated place to be right now.

I've made it a priority to keep politics out of the game (as much as possible) when it comes to my work, and I've never intended to create a place to air my personal agenda. However, I'm a firm believer that rules are made to be broken, and today I am tiptoeing around my own rules.

Nobody needs an update on what's happening around us. All that you need to know from me is this: I am struggling.

And I know you may be too.

I've found myself disconnected from the online world, uncomfortable in places that I once enjoyed, and deep in the throes of what feels like a full-blown life crisis.

Am I doing enough?
Does my work serve enough of a purpose?
Will I make an impact in this world?

I sit down in my office and prepare to dive into work—something that once brought me so much joy—and I can't do it.

I don't want to shake hands and network and go for coffee and chat over cocktails. I don't want to tell you how cute your shoes are on Instagram. I don't want to mindlessly browse Pinterest. I don't want to tell you how great I am and how you should hire me to help you out.

However.

I want to go for coffee or cocktails and talk about how we can change the freaking world. I want to tell you how amazing you are for doing what you do—no matter how small you may think it is. I want to be inspired. I want to be a part of something extraordinary in this place that feels so ugly right now.

I recently attended a conference and heard some incredible entrepreneurs speak about their businesses and their humble beginnings. I was transported back to the days when I owned my bakery. I thought about the feeling I'd get when I delivered a box of surprise cupcakes to someone from a close friend—that look in their eyes when they were shocked by an unexpected act of gratitude. That child-like smile that I remain convinced rainbow sprinkles were put on this planet to create.
You guys.

I just want to do something that brings people joy right now.

I don't know what is next—for our country, for our future, for my future. Everything feels so uneasy and vulnerable, and man I wish I could change that, but I can't.

Just know that while I may be quiet right here, my mind is just the opposite. I'm here and I'm managing every day, one day at a time, just like you.

I want to tell you that you are amazing. No matter what it is you do, no matter what your bank account looks like, no matter what you may feel like in this moment—you are amazing. What you are doing is amazing.

You can change the world. We can change the world together.

We can find joy—in each other, in our gifts, in our stories.

I promise it'll all be okay as long as we hold onto each other.