entrepreneurship

a woman's workplace: has anything changed?

Uncomfortably grasping for words across the table from men twice my age with titles far more astute than my own, I’ve become intimate with the dark underbelly of a woman’s workplace. The greats teach us to explore relationships, make connections and take risks in pursuit of betterment.

Yet they forget to mention the part where our bodies become as trivial at the contents of the supply closet, and our worth becomes entangled in unwanted flirtations, imbalances of power and unspoken manipulations suffered at the hands of our trusted advisors within the institutions we’re obligated to trust. There is no coursework on the consuming guilt that fogs your mind with berating questions of, “Why did I let that happen?”, “How did I get here?”, “What did I do to bring this upon myself?”

Nobody prepares you for the discomfort, yet when we speak of our trouble, no one, women especially, is surprised.


In the fall of 2017, the chests of women across the country tightened as they clutched their iPhones, bombarded by the heartaches of our peers, dredging up the pain from our pasts and opening our eyes to the reality of womanhood in our America.

Weinstein and Spacey and Lauer.

Abhorrent stories of harassment, rape, gaslighting, manipulation and misconduct raced down our Twitter feeds in a tragic choir of #MeToo.

We raised our fists and rallied, picket signs bedazzled in pussy puns thrust to the sky. We squeezed our sisters closer and watched the faces of mothers and daughters and colleagues and friends illuminate in red-hot rage. The media roared the names of perpetrators, while the public followed suit.

Batali and Cosby and Kavanaugh.

We stood in solidarity with the victims, on our feet, in our graphic tees, on our Instagram; cloaking our bodies in an armor of feminist fury and hiding the soul-crushing pain. Each victim releasing her story, owning her torment, was met with an uproar of grandiose applause. Her courageous outcry like a squeegee, wiping the grime from our eyes; showing us, clearly, the abusers in our own lives.

Family and clergy and colleagues.

Over a year later, we’ve cheered for progress and mourned the setbacks, gripping tightly to our rage. Despite an overwhelming awareness that we are, undeniably, still together in the ring–thrashing and recovering, one day at a time, I feel compelled to ask:

In an era where women have fought to peel back the eyelids of our male counterparts, has anything changed?


“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Donald Trump said in the 2005 Access Hollywood tape heard round the world. Amid the hate storm in response our president retorted confidently, explaining his behavior away as locker room banter — normal, acceptable conversation had in jest among men.

Boys will be boys, the people chirp.

Eyes roll and heads shake while the crowd collectively looks the other way.

An inconceivable reality of our world has been built on a society consciously turning away from revolting behavior and mechanical manipulations of power and toward a nonsense belief that male genitalia comes as a package deal with the objectification of women and lousy locker room etiquette.

Men of status and wealth, in and outside of Hollywood, have been lifted onto a platform above morality, praised for their professional accolades, and washed entirely of the choices made in their personal lives. Women, made to fear the wrath of men of status, have kept tight-lipped about the secret exchanges that violently threaten their safety, comfort, and peace of mind.

The cultures of Miramax and Weinstein Company, production and distribution companies co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, were curated around his serially heinous behavior. In interviews with Ronan Farrow for the October 2017 New York Times exposé, Weinstein’s staff uncovered secret practices among assistants and associates built to perpetuate his behavior and create false safety for his victims. A female executive explained how assistants were asked to join Weinstein’s meetings with women he was keen on, often held in the evenings in hotel rooms, and later dismissed so he could be alone. Another employee was asked to log these meetings between Weinstein and the women with a standardized filing used among his staff: F.O.H. Or “Friend of Harvey.”

Despite this behavior, known clearly among the halls of his peers, Weinstein’s power triumphed. Known to intimidate and publicly threaten the credibility of women who rejected his advances, Weinstein often used media and professional connections to spread gossip, removing women from projects and jeopardizing, sometimes slaughtering, their careers.

“Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes,” you hear Weinstein warn Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in the taped conversationcollected in a New York Police Department’s 2015 sting operation. Weinstein’s alpha-Hollywood reputation for poignant scripts, award-winning films, and grandiose charitability, also includes a decades-long list of transgressions kept behind tight lips. His victims account forced sex, groping and assault.

Invited to discuss their careers, these women would find Weinstein unclothed, masturbating, demanding oral sex, massage–just five minutes. Sadly, this trap between a woman’s job and her sexuality is a tight, uncomfortable space felt far beyond the walls of Hollywood hotels and deeply ingrained in the undocumented world of the professional female.

Across the country, women sit silently in boardrooms, listening to the buzz of the boys, strategically choosing each word for fear of deep-voiced declarations of over-emotional, cute, or worse yet, nothing at all. We waffle over the depth of our neckline and the rise of our hemline, searching for the balance of beautiful enough to be invited to the table and too feminine to be heard. We smile at our abusers as they tell the jokes, creep their hands up our thigh, back us into a corner because it’s what we’ve been taught to do.

Photo by Rene Böhmer on Unsplash

“We try to make sense of nonsense, and we swallow the furious feelings. We try to put them into some hidden place in our minds, but they don’t go away, “ Tracee Ellis Ross said in her 2018 TED talk.

Throughout history, our bodies have worn the burden of a secret pain. Abused women bonding to abused women, exchanging knowing stares and an empathetic helplessness in the face of our shared pain. Our hearts skipping the same beat, our chests twinging the same pain, our shoulders sinking from the same superfluous shame. Questions of why and how and what’s next push us into darkness, convoluting our vision until we believe the mistake was ours.

Ross continued, “That fury sits deep inside as we practice our smiles…because apparently, women aren’t supposed to get angry.”

But now we are.


A man leaned on his elbow on the bar and watched me pull my sweatshirt over my head. I felt his eyes burning into me, my shoulders turned away from his uncomfortable stares and toward the safety of my friend in the stool beside me. Weeks before I sat next to a man, at the very same bar, engaging in a professional conversation about work and goals and the town we both wished to make a lasting impression on. I felt his eyes burning into me too, as he leaned closer and closer, reaching to touch my shoulders between stories.

I rushed away from the first man, grabbing my jacket and drink, bulging eyes communicating clearly to my friend without words.

What a fucking creep.

The other I sat with, frozen to my seat, paralyzed by an uncertain fear. What choice does a young woman make, tucked into a bar, trapped between the unwanted, sexual pursuit of a peer and the potential for undeniable career gains?


According to a Pew Research Center study, American women hold only about 10% of top executive positions (defined as chief executive officers, chief financial officers and the next three highest paid executives). The 2016–17 data was collected from federal securities filings by all companies in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500. This research, while highlighting corporate facts, comes with little shock value to women working in a man’s world in any job sector. The data shows that 5.1% of chief executives of S&P 1500 companies were women, while experience has shown us all that the desks of businesses, small and large, are predominantly occupied by white men.

The problem is clear: we need more empowered, educated, inspired women to claim the roles now filled by men. The solution is simple: empower, educate and inspire women with mentorships, resources and tools to launch their careers on a trajectory leading toward claiming executive level positions, cultivating prosperous businesses and achieving professional success at an equal pace to our male counterparts. However, as claims of witch hunts buzz through our office halls and men, opting to remain spooked versus empathetic, throw their hands in the air a la Vice President Pence, the reality is grim.

Bloomberg calls it The Pence Effect. Men, in response to #MeToo fires, systematically backing away from all workplace interactions with women as a means to remain untouched by the flames.

Perhaps Pence’s personal rule to not attend meals alone with any woman other than his wife has inspired the practice of the corporate masses. Bloomberg gathered stories from 30 senior executives, many whose stories carried a common thread: fear of perception.

Anonymous interviews exposed the walking-on-eggshells fears of these executives, uneasy about the gossip and liabilities that come with occupying the same space as females, particularly the youthful and attractive. Men have entirely removed professional dinners, closed-door meetings, travel and even elevator conversation from their work culture, creating a subculture that holds their thumbs over women with their minds not much different from how their peers have done similarly with their bodies.

Despite the battle cries of women scorned, the boys club lives on–possibly stronger than before. Manipulated by the power-imbalances of the workplace, held hostage by our fear, undulating between the unwanted gazes and cowardly stonewalling made worse by our youth, perceived beauty and worse yet, our voices.


We live in a world where women are keenly aware of their objectification and where men consciously chose retreat over reform. Our positions perpetuate the gross imbalance of our wages, opportunities and the safe pursuit of professional progress.

Across the country, the lips of rightfully pissed-off women collectively scream for revolution, yet our voices grow weaker with each pained bellow to our male allies. Each hidden sob, heaved into the shoulders of the trusted ones, crushing our spirit, leaving us questioning our will to fight on. The abusers, the pigs and the monsters, siphoning our ferocity — disregarding our rage.

“Grab ’em by the pussy,” President Trump told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush.

“You can do anything.”




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! 

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.

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.

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.