One Saturday night at 9 p.m. EST, I found myself curled up in front of the television intently watching a movie that I've easily seen a dozen times. Although my mind was telling me to scan social media for the many events occurring in the city that evening, I just couldn't will my body to move.
In my head I was ready, willing and able to get up and get out. But my body wasn’t havin’ it. I was exhausted and I didn't even realize it. My body was giving me an eye-rolling, finger-waving, neck-twisting tongue lashing that my mind chose to actively ignore. There was a full-on dancehall party going on in my head that the rest of my body apparently wasn't invited to. Being an entrepreneur, I spend my days and nights working, vowing that I will give myself a “break” when I reach certain financial goal.
Because I could in no way will myself to get off of the couch and I couldn't fall asleep, I spent the next few hours reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. The musings of a socially-awkward, introverted and successful black woman is my idea of a good read. In the first few pages of the book, Rhimes made a statement that snatched my edges so violently you would have thought I was at a Beyoncé concert sitting front row center. One chapter into the book, she tells a story about being broke and having to choose between one of her favorite treats and a necessity — wine and toilet paper. In telling this story she made the realest statement I've heard in a while, “sometimes the toilet paper does not win.”
Laying on my sofa, so physically exhausted that my body was in hibernation mode, I realized I passed up many moments when the wine should have won.
In my quest for success, I failed to understand that sometimes your sanity means more than “the grind.”
I should have said yes to happy hour and yes to that movie or yes to dinner instead of constantly burning the midnight oil.
Being a creative, employee, mother, activist, or whatever combination of things you spend your days doing can be stressful. For entrepreneurs and professionals alike, it's important to take a moment, an hour or even a day to do you. Our culture of the constant hustle and the notion that getting no sleep is a catalyst to success causes us to forget about the fragility of our mental health. It’s as if we're in a competition to see who reaches the Jack Torrance-level of insanity first, sacrificing our mind, body and will to move just to be able to say we've achieved something.
Well, all work and no play makes Bukola a dull girl.
Yes, you should always remain focused and you should always be about your business no matter what that business is. But it's always important to remember that, “sometimes the toilet paper does not win.”
Buy the wine, sip and be happy.
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During a time when the cost of living is constantly on the rise, side hustles seem to be more a necessity than a choice. The successful side hustler will have certain traits that definitely translate into dollars. Here are the traits to turn up the volume on when you're trying to make your hustle work for you. People with successful side hustles are:
Ambition is a no-brainer. Hustlers with the most ambition often turn their side thing into their main thing. They put in so much effort and have so much vision around what they're doing that people trust and believe in them to do even more!
How can you take the marketplace by storm if you don't even know where you fit within it? Curiosity will keep you asking the questions to translate your business into a clear solution to a problem in the marketplace. You always want to be filling the hole that no one else saw was there.
Who is your competition? Has anyone tried to do what you're doing in the past, and did they succeed or fail? What avenues are out there to promote your product or service? Do people even want what you're offering? This research is vital to the success of all hustles, and if you choose to skip it, you're kind of wasting your time (and ours).
No one likes a rude hustler. No one likes an overly-aggressive hustler. No one likes a desperate hustler. Be confident, cool and be likable. You want to build a relationship that makes people feel great about your product or service, but also about you as the purveyor of said product or service. School is always in session on the charm tip!
Even though I just said no one likes an overly-aggressive hustler, that doesn't mean that you should be lazy or lack persistence. Taking no for an answer from one person doesn't mean taking no for an answer in general. Stay out there and pound the proverbial (or actual) pavement, because if you have the rest of these traits, someone will eventually say yes.
Side hustles need collaborators. This is the two heads (or two products) are better than one theory. What product or service would complement yours? If you can link up with another hustler, you can both have access to each other's networks and you're doubling the amount of energy that comes from each of you. Don't be afraid to work together with other people in your field of hustle.
You don't need to be everywhere all of the time to get your point across. You'll burn out quickly trying to show up to everything, and you'll likely start seeing the same people anyway. This is where research really comes into play. Instead of going to 10 parties and events per week, what three events can you attend that will maximize your word of mouth? Networking is important, but the most focus should be on ensuring the quality and consistency of your product or service.
There will be times when people will tell you "no," they will insult your product or service, they will take shots at you personally, and whether you're perceived as a success or as a failure, they will talk down the former and talk up the latter. Remember that talk about your product or service leads to curiosity about what you have to offer. Brush the haters off and keep it pushing. Trust in your hustling instincts.
This should go without saying, but you need to be creative about your side hustle. Sometimes, especially if you work in corporate, you can sneak your side hustle into your day gig and get paid for it. Are you a graphic designer, but you work in HR? Make a mock-up of something promotional for your job and see what the creative team thinks! You might find your hustle turning into a consulting position. Never be afraid to put yourself out there.
When issues come up, don't look at them as problems, view them as opportunities. Being solution-oriented will have you quick on your feet when something unexpected comes up. Having problems with your shipping carrier for a product that was promised on a certain date? Keep money set aside for emergency next-day mailing promised items to keep your customers happy with you. Website crashed? Keep a Mailchimp account to update your customer base about any unforeseen occurrences. If there's an issue, you can solve it.
Hustling is a contact sport. Sometimes, you've gotta call an audible. If you have many hustles, their popularity will ebb and flow and you will need to quickly adjust to which one is the most poppin' and which one needs the most attention. This is a balancing act, as you might want to grow the hustle that's struggling, but you also want to keep the one that's popular. In the case of multiple hustles, a huge dry erase board will help you visualize and adjust how you need to move at any given time.
So what traits do you possess? Which are you working on? Let us know in the comments below!
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“It’s business, so we’ll understand if you decide to leave us. We wouldn’t want to keep you from a better opportunity.”
This is what my coworker relayed to me after her big meeting with a higher-up in the company we worked for. Needless to say, she didn’t get the raise she was expecting to hear about in that meeting.
We often spent a portion of our lunch break talking about the businesses we wanted to start. After the way she’d just been spoken to, it seemed to me she needed to start looking out for herself ASAP — these CEOs ain’t loyal.
But because the job was keeping her so busy — running a department on too small of a salary and all — and because she didn’t know how to get started, she figured the “time wasn’t right” to start building something of her own.
We had this conversation about a month before I left the company—two months before they laid her off.
I spent some time thinking about the reason my former coworker didn’t get started with her business idea as a side hustle when I warned her to (or sooner, for that matter). She would research her ideas (read: Google and daydream), but never take that first step into making a profit. Meanwhile, I actually had a side hustle while we worked at that company. Why did she think it was so hard?
For me, having a side hustle was normal. My family was broke growing up, so I had to find my own lunch money. But, I get it — we didn’t all learn to make money. We were taught to do well in school, get into a good college, and then get 'one of them good jobs.'
Most of us tried really hard to do just that, but some of us actually did it. A few of us actually do have that elusive McDonald’s money we’ve been waiting our whole lives for, but we also have some grown ass bills (McDonald’s at the house doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?). And let’s not forget that Sallie Mae chick calling us everyday like a crazy ex-lover who thought Netflix and chill meant long-term relationship.
But, this is the dream, right?
Making just enough to get by and maybe a little extra for a bottle of wine. Traveling very occasionally. Squeezing family in “when we get a chance." Depending on our day jobs for all of our money.
That last part, for me, is the real nightmare.
Depending on one source of income is terrifying, to me. Your job might seem secure today, but so did my friend’s. This is why I believe everyone should have at least one other stream of income. So, I made a decision.
I decided to use my background in 'Side Hustle Economics' to provide the education we didn’t get — the one I think every full-time worker needs (full-time moms included). This summer, in Side Hustle Summer School, I’m teaching people how to make their own money. My students are going to learn how to turn what they love doing into money in the bank.
And they’re going to learn it for free.
My hope is that a layoff, getting fired, or 9-to-5 burnout won’t be enough to break you financially. It’s also nice to have another skill-set that you can prove you’re good at should you ever want to change careers and not start over as an intern.
I can’t stop you from getting laid off. And no, I’m not promising you that you’ll be able to quit your job and fly off to Bangkok next month (although I’m living proof that you can). What I can promise you is that when you’re done with Side Hustle Summer School, you’ll have options. You’ll be able to create more income. You’ll be more confident in your ability to make your own money.
And you’ll know where to start.
So keep dabbing your way up the career ladder if that’s your desire, but stay woke to the fact that you actually can be your own boss — even if you already have one.
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Like most, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do during my undergrad career. I knew I loved art, music, events and planning stuff – that’s about it. I went from being interested in interior design to human resource recruitment to wedding planning. I worked full-time jobs throughout college in the hospitality industry, and by the time I was a senior, I knew enough to build a restaurant business from scratch.
It wasn’t until I got my first 'office' job that I knew that’s exactly where I DIDN’T want to be for the rest of my life.
I snagged my first job as an event coordinator, which is when I really fell in love with organizing and running events. For me, it opened a lot of doors and I met a lot of amazing, iconic people, but after a bit I definitely felt I needed more. I started looking for my next, and in the back of my mind, I set a goal while at Essence Music Festival that I NEEDED to work with the brand at some point in my life. Four years later, I landed a gig there.
Working in NYC in your early 20s will expose you to a lot. Especially in the entertainment/publishing/fashion industries – you begin meeting a lot of people who are in your age bracket who are doing some amazing things they created from scratch. Although my father owned his own business, I saw the good and bad of working for yourself and it was honestly something that I never consciously wanted for myself. But the deeper I got into the scene and even my own professional career and the more truths I learned about working for “the man,” I started to really see that you’re basically screwed either way.
I had done a few events for friends (such as fashion shows and artist showcases) here and there and enjoyed them, but once I realized I was in this world dictated by tenure employees who didn’t want to hear my ideas for fear of losing their own relevance, I knew I would have to take things into my own hands. I learned very quickly how insanely important networking would be on a personal level, as well as a professional being.
Networking will give you opportunities that you didn't even know existed.
Once I realized that just talking, connecting and not being shy to share your abilities was a major key alert, you couldn’t tell me nothing!
My connections got me paid and began shining the light on what a relevant side hustle could bring me. I had always bartended and waited tables on the side, but making your side hustle something that you love — this makes the additional hours after the nine-to-six not really feel like work. I did this for four years until I felt that “I need more” feeling again. This time for my “more,” I took it back to my first loves — art and music. With music, I grew up playing several instruments and found a sanctuary in music for a lot of low and high points in my life.
A guy I was dating at the time put the idea in my head that I should try DJing. He told me my love/music knowledge was above the norm and I should test it out – so I did. I found myself at a Scratch Academy event in summer ’15, and they were teaching anyone interested a quick lesson in DJing. I jumped on the turntables and everything just felt right. I decided I would enroll in a three-month program for that fall.
I felt like this was a great time for me to enter the industry given the sudden rise in the popularity for women DJs. My only regret is I wish I knew earlier so I could have started much earlier, but I don’t let that idea deter me from my current goals. I want to contribute talent and music knowledge to the current pool. I don’t want to be the girl who just shows up with a playlist and can’t set up equipment or doesn’t even put her headphones on. Fellow DJ Tiff McFierce once told me about "respecting the craft" and it has stuck with me during this journey. Music is a very serious thing to me, and I just want to bring humans and dope music together because it saves lives. Because of my background in marketing and events, I do have an advantage of knowing how the industry works, knowing some amazing people, having experience with venues and knowing how people generally like to party.
Ideally, I would love to team up with an artist and tour with them. The connections I made through networking really paid off because I’ve been able to find my first gigs through them. Some of these opportunities have been pretty big for me just starting out.
If I have learned anything in this process it's:
Just try it out. What’s the worst that can happen? That you love it?
Don’t be scared of what you love having the possibility of being great.
If you want to be great, it’s going to take time, work and consistency.
What you put out in the universe will materialize.
How do you do this? Write down your goals and three steps to achieve them. Break up your goals into quarters for the year, and hold yourself accountable to them by checking in frequently.
I’ve honestly been very fortunate to have a lot of people around me who believe in me and are willing to give me a shot.
I take nothing for granted and plan to grasp every opportunity I receive and make the best of them.
I’m not perfect, I’m still learning, and I know I have a long way to go to get to what I envision for myself as a DJ, but I plan to take this week-by-week, appreciating the unknown while walking in faith.
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There comes a time in a person’s life when they’ve paid some dues, worked under the guidance of the experienced and realized their potentials in learning environments. Jay-Z practiced working a large crowd by performing songs between Big Daddy Kane’s concert sets. Shonda Rhimes sharpened her on-set skills interning at Denzel Washington’s production company. President Obama made his first political speech as a student at Occidental College where he called for the Board of Trustees to divest from South Africa during its Apartheid days.
The list goes on, but what all of these successful people have in common is that they eventually took a chance on themselves and their ideas. Once they built enough muscle under practice, they were confident to step out and present quality. Of course, they didn’t become household names overnight, but their boldness led them to where they are today.
Recently, I took my first step toward a greater purpose inside me calling for more and I left my job of three years to travel for four months. During my time as a nomad, I wanted my travels to have some meaning beyond me posting photos of myself at tourist destinations. I wanted to use my gifts of writing and reporting to give back. I am doing this through my multi-media identity series “The Questions 100.”
In my previous job, I spent countless hours writing articles about police brutality and Black Twitter’s lashings on mainstream media outlets’ cultural insensitivity. I also wrote some positive stories about individuals changing the world in their own way. Many of them were millennials who I felt didn’t get the shine they deserved. And I often read articles about millennials and how lazy and unprepared they were for the world because of their instant gratification syndrome and their constant need to be validated on social media. Although I do know people like this, this narrative of all millennials living this highly-entitled carefree life is not real. Many of them are pushing to survive and shifting norms for the better as we speak.
Millennials of color in particular still face a unique set of challenges beyond not being able to pay student loan bills. Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland were black millennials whose lives were interrupted and stolen in racially-charged incidents. Every year there are dozens of black transgender women who are killed and their stories go unreported. Muslim students are facing Islamophobia on their campuses and have to deal with presidential candidates that stir up this prejudice even further. Afro-Latinos are looking to expand the conversation surrounding their identity that is often very limited. Asian millennials are not seeing themselves represented in the mass media although their cultures continue to be appropriated. And Native Americans are given almost no spaces to share their voices whatsoever.
[caption id="attachment_52049" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Photo: Hearts converse “The mainstream media wants people of color to lead daytime shows, nighttime shows. [But] I think we can go a lot further now.” - Omari, No. 2 in “The Questions 100” series.[/caption]As a black content creator who is well aware of many of these challenges from real life experiences and reporting in my previous job, the real tea is that more desperately needs to be done to amplify the voices of millennials of color. This is why I launched the multimedia identity series “The Questions 100.”
I felt it was time for me to step out and take a chance and here I am at the very beginning. This is a spinoff of a series called “The Questions” I played with back in 2012, under my brand Hearts Converse. I wanted to expand the idea and make it bigger. And so with my love of travel and culture, I have embarked on this journey to interview 100 millennials of color and ask them 100 questions before the end of 2017.
It was important for me to take advantage of doing this work internationally, to show that many of the issues are not exclusive to America. We are diving in on heavy topics such as racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, religion and politics, but we’re also capturing universal emotions such as romance, self-love, grieving, passion and purpose.
So far “The Questions 100” has documented the voices of four millennials. We’ve discussed black excellence, the desire to see more multi-dimensional characters of color on TV, how race intersects with sports and how yoga transforms self-awareness.
Right now I am in Johannesburg, South Africa, interviewing and dropping these videos and photo essays as I move along to Europe next month.
When I return to the states, I want to visit as many cities as possible to expand “The Questions 100” series. Currently, I am raising money to join the Millennial Trains Project in August. Every year 25 millennials travel to five cities on an Amtrak and implement their unique ideas. Joining will allow me to tell the stories of millennials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Anyone backing my journey on the Millennial Train Project will help me ease the financial costs of producing this project. I have until May 21 to reserve my spot on the train.
There are so many brilliant individuals out there and they happen to look like you and me, and I want this project to reflect them.
I hope to get your answers. #HC100Q.
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here. Use code blavityfam.
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Looking back at pictures from college, I've realized that I didn't know who I was a year ago. I wasn't even conscious of my lack of self-awareness. College is strange. It locks you in a bubble where nothing matters outside of getting good grades, turning up and finding free food. You, yourself don't even matter in this weird ecosystem.
As I reflect back on this past year, I can see tremendous growth in myself. Here are 15 things that I've learned while "adulting":
1. It's all about the process.
After I started my first official job, I found myself asking, "Is this it? Is this what being an adult really is?" I spent a lot of time turning that question over in my head. Nothing will ever be IT. Life is about evolving, growing and paying it forward.
2. Consciousness is important in all areas of your life.
From relationships to how you swipe your credit card, be conscious of every decision that you make. I'm not saying to make a list of pros and cons to decide whether or not you should go with Tidal or Apple Music. I've learned that it's important to put good thought and consideration into the big things. And it's also good to keep track of how you move on a daily basis.
3. It's okay to not have it all together.
I can't scream this loud enough. Everything in your life will not be perfect at once. Yes, it'd be nice to be in shape and simultaneously refrain from binge-shopping when Victoria's Secret has their 5/$27.50 sale, but that's not reality. We can't do it all and we can't have it all.
4. Be mindful of the energy that you allow in your life.
I stopped being the girl who 'goes with the flow' and allows everything to run its course. I am now very specific about the people that I allow into my life and my space. There are people who will feed on your positive energy and do everything that they can to destroy you. Don't let them. They don't want you to win, but you need to.
5. Adulting means owning up to your sh*t.
I'll say it again for the people in the back. Adulting means owning up to your sh*t. There are no excuses in this world and nobody will baby you. Take responsibility for your actions, and if you need to change them, do exactly that.
6. Do NOT run away from your talents.
I spent my entire college career running away from my God-given talent of writing, and it has been chasing me every step of the way. My first job out of college presented me with the opportunity to write. It's something that I have always loved, yet ignored. Since I have embraced it, I've been happier and more fulfilled with my life.
7. Everybody isn't for you.
If they disrupt your life, let them flourish... somewhere far away from you.
8. Don't chase a career, chase your purpose.
College brainwashes you into finding a career. A career is cool, but what about your purpose? Purpose is where your passion meets your talents and where financial opportunity meets a need (of the world). If you find yourself at the intersection of these four things, your life will be golden.
9. Be unapologetic.
What are you saying sorry for and why? Be unapologetic in everything that you do. Don't feel sorry because you've achieved your goals and your friend hasn't. Don't feel sorry if you need to call out 'black lives matter' because our children are being slaughtered in the streets. You don't owe explanations for your feelings or success.
10. Never forget to take time for yourself.
Earlier this year, I challenged myself a 7-day self-care challenge. I've allowed myself to be consumed by my work and be intoxicated by the grind one too many times. Self-care is very important, and when you're churning out papers like a factory, it's hard to recognize the importance of loving yourself by resting.
11. Stay on top of your game — no excuses.
If this means calling out of work sick because you're going through a break-up, fine. You need time to heal. If this means working late to meet a deadline, fine. You need to do well. No matter what, do not show up to your job unprepared to deliver. We already know that we have to be 2x better than our counterparts to get where we need to be. Don't allow your emotions or the plight of working hard distract you from your goals.
12. Your 9-5 is not your end all be all.
As long as you're working toward where you want to be, your 9-5 doesn't matter. I'm not saying to walk into the office tomorrow and raise hell. I'm saying that a side-hustle (or three) can only help you. If your 9-5 isn't perfect, get your side-hustle on. Financial stability is key.
13. Say 'no' and mean it.
When saying 'yes' to something means saying 'no' to yourself or your personal convictions, you need to say 'no' and mean it. Even if this means saying 'no' to a job that's offering you less than you're worth, do it. Do not settle.
14. Love the life that you are living.
Depression might sneak up on you. Death might take someone out of your life. That job you really wanted might not work out. Despite every obstacle you face, you still have a life to live and love. Appreciate pain, for pain gives way to growth and strength. Always find a way to make the grass green on your side of the fence.
15. You are yours before anyone else's.
Love yourself. Care for yourself. Do what you want to do. Live your life without apologies. Nothing on this earth is more important than doing YOU. Live your BEST life and don't be ashamed of it.
What lessons have you learned in post-grad life? Share with us below!
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here. Use code blavityfam.
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A passion project is a side venture that one can complete without necessarily quitting their 9-to-5. It combines your interests and skills to form something remarkable: A much-needed outlet for your deepest desires, wants and dreams. Passion projects are important on so many levels, because it’s the artist’s and the entrepreneur’s way of saying, "I see that there’s a status quo, but I also believe there’s more than one way to live this life." Although passion projects don’t always turn into business ventures, many of them do because of the spark and raw materials at play, such as passion, drive, dedication and the thirst to create and construct the spaces we want to see in the world. My passion project is Las Morenas de España, and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with founder, and my friend Sienna Brown. I joined the team a year and a half ago, but I was so unprepared for just how strong my passion for the brand would become. But oh, what a beautiful ride it has been, and it shows no signs of slowing down! Here’s what I wish I knew then, but most certainly know now.
You don’t need to be rich to begin
There are so many free online resources available to the hustlers and dreamers looking to turn their passion projects into full-time jobs. It’s assumed that without the backing of some anonymous billionaire, projects can’t take off. That couldn’t be further from the truth. An entrepreneur who makes a way out of no way—who turns rotten lemons into a delicious lemon meringue pie—that’s someone to respect. Use websites such as Skillshare and Canvas to boost your proficiency, and push yourself to the next level. At this point, one can basically do a free PhD from home, pajamas and all, so there’s no excuse. More often than not, your team will be small. As a result, you won’t have the luxury of saying: “I only do graphic design” or “I’m not familiar with editing, so I’ll leave that to you.” One of the most beautiful, and challenging parts of working in a startup is that the whole comfort zone thing is a non-factor: You can, you will and you definitely should get experience in every aspect of the business. You’ll have time to specialize later on in the game; however, now is the moment to simply get it done.
Resources for Entrepreneurs:
60 Great Tools and Resources for Entrepreneurs and Startups
15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit
+300 AWESOME FREE THINGS FOR ENTREPRENEURS & STARTUPS
There’s no perfect time to start
“I’ll just wait until there’s more of a market.” “Maybe after I finish school.” “It’s not a good time.” Sorry to break it to you, but there’s never a good time to risk it all and pursue a new venture. The time you spend waiting and pacing the room doubting your project’s potential, someone else is diving in headfirst. Don’t sleep on your ideas and expect others to seek you out. If you won’t take a chance on yourself, how can you expect others to acknowledge your art? Be your own cheerleader. Be your own fan. You’ll see, as long as the product matches the hype, others will happily follow suit.
People will try to undermine your work
Many will try and minimize the effort and work you put into your passion project by calling it a 'hobby' or a 'phase.' You and I both know that passion + hard work with a dash of luck is how some of the greatest companies on the planet were created. They’ll try to downplay your efforts and the time you dedicate to your craft because at your current stage, you’re not what they deem 'successful.' Those same people will be the ones proudly relaying the story of how they met you to strangers. They’ll also be the ones asking for advice later on. Passion projects and startups are much more intense than hobbies, or even 9-to-5 jobs. Why? People who trade safety and security for spontaneity and possibility are not in it for the money; they’re in it because their heart and their mind are pulling them toward a goal. Passion projects become careers. Startups aren’t startups forever. You don’t need their approval to be great. Nor do you need their permission to carry on. Let them call it what they may: What matters most is that you continually manifest success and positivity. Have tunnel vision, because at the end of the day, semantics are just that.
Relationships may suffer
The funny thing about passion and love is that sometimes it’s all-consuming. With matters of the heart, things can get tricky. Activists, writers, creatives, entrepreneurs; the one thing they all have in common is that they treat their projects like a baby. They nurture, care for, and spend time growing their craft. As a result, other relationships might fall further into the background. It can, at times, seem like a juggling act; however, those who know and respect your cause will understand. Fortunately for me, I happen to be working with one of my best friends, so I’m not a complete work-a-holic hermit. On the other hand, this might not be an option for everyone, especially those setting out on solo ventures. There’s going to be jealousy, envy, misunderstandings and even people feeling left out. Try to be empathetic and handle the situation with as much care as possible. We don’t work 'normal' hours.
We don’t take days off (most likely because we don’t want to) and yes, we’re in love! But at the end of the day, a passion project is only great if, in the end, you can share it and celebrate with the ones you love.
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid, Spain. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle. Reach her on Facebook, Twitter: @MorenasdeEspana, or Instagram: @lasmorenasdeespana
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here.
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I coach brilliant people with world-changing ideas. Here are some things I have learned from them.
1. Your idea is a representation of you
When you’re really passionate about something, it’s not just a goal or an accomplishment — it’s a form of self-expression. Can you see the project you’re working on as a way to grow, explore and express the best parts of you? If so, working on your project will take on a whole new meaning.
Authenticity is power. Stay true to you. Take advice and be open-minded, but make all of it work for you and your project. Trust your highest and best instincts.
Make a specific commitment. Know exactly what you want to produce, and attach a deadline to it. It’s scary to do and can take a while to refine, but this is how you’ll know if you’re making progress.
Also, commitment is incredibly powerful – it's a way to identify and call forth the resources you need. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”
3. You’re going to encounter resistance
The bigger the idea, the bigger the resistance. Expect to face huge doubt, fear, and hear “no” over and over.
4. You’ll have some feelings
Expect to feel overwhelmed. Afraid. Overjoyed. Frustrated. Confused. Elated. When a project matters a lot to you, you might have bigger emotional reactions than you’re used to. Some people try to minimize the emotions, especially if they believe it will take away from their productivity, but doing that is a little like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. You’ll be wrestling with it constantly, and it’s going to come up eventually. Try noticing the feelings as they come up. You can also try asking yourself if these feelings have to really mean anything about you or your process. Spoiler alert: They don’t!
5. It’s all about the mindset
Because you’ll hit so many roadblocks, you’ll need to keep reminding yourself of why this is all worth it – that’s why getting clear on #1 is so important. When you notice your attitude turning negative, try asking yourself a few questions: How will I be different if I accomplish this? How will the world be different? What is real about these negative circumstances, and what is just my feeling and emotions?
6. Have a sounding board from a different industry
Taking on a huge challenge alone is a mistake. Have someone who you can bounce ideas off of. And it doesn’t have to be someone who's in the same field — you might find that really creative solutions result from conversations with people who are working on totally different projects in different domains.
7. It doesn’t work if you don’t take care of yourself
It’s common to think that working hard means working crazy hours and sacrificing sleep, food, social time and everything else. But notice that you can’t perform at a high level while denying your basic needs. You are the talent. You are likely your own greatest asset in this project. Treat yourself as such. Get the food, sleep, and connection you need to outperform your expectations.
8. Have a plan
Whether it’s in a journal, using an app, on post-its, or whatever else works for you – have a plan. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, but making one is a great way to be thoughtful and strategic about what you are working on.
For creatives, planning can feel like a waste of time or might feel like it slows down your creativity. Unstructured creativity supported by a thoughtful roadmap can be the difference between “something you were working on” and a vision realized. Try approaching the planning process in a way that’s congruent with your creativity. Use storyboarding or a mind map, for example. Make it work for you.
9. Be committed to the outcome, but not attached to the path
There’s a tricky balance between being deeply committed to an outcome but flexible about the path to get there. When something doesn’t go as planned, ask yourself how you can create the same results from these new circumstances. Who could you ask for help? What’s an ideal way stay on track toward your goal and how can you make that happen?
10. Have a team and people are more willing to help you more than you think
Networking and collaboration are force multipliers when it comes to making a big idea happen. Build connections based on where you can add value as well as where you can capture it. When you are authentically aligned with your purpose, people get excited to support you. Ask for and accept the help you need.
Have an accountability person. Take stock of how you’re doing relative to your plan each week. Have someone who’s willing to listen to you think through this, and who will expect you to be consistent with check-ins. There doesn’t need to be a punishment if you don’t hit your targets, but you do want to recognize where your gaps are and give yourself the chance to strategize how to fill them.
Also, have someone who just knows how great you are and why you are so well suited to do what you’re doing. When you’re doubting yourself, this person will be a big help.
Need a plan? Check out the Little Bright Notebook on Kickstarter – only 2 more weeks to preorder! Also see my work here, and check out the VC fund where I invest, 645 Ventures.
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Lenore Champagne Beirne will be there, will you be joining us? Tickets here.
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Many new photographers get lost in the sauce of getting their first camera. Whether you shoot with a Nikon, a Canon or a Sony and intend to shoot for fun or profit, the following are essential to making the most out of your equipment!
1. Several high-performance SD Cards
This is literally the key to success when it comes to writing photos quickly. When I first started out I had no idea why it would take so long for my camera to catch up with my shooting. I thought it was because I had a cheaper body kit and let other photographers convince me it was time to upgrade my the lenses that came with my kit. The truth is it was my SD card that was holding me back. I started with a relatively cheap one that resulted in a ton of lost shots because it would take forever to load. My advice is to invest in several Pro Master Professional SD cards. Go for the SD HC "secure digital" version. A 32 GB will run you about $90. It's always better to have several just in case you fill up or break one.
2. Dropbox Pro
The pro version of Dropbox is necessary. Make sure that you are budgeting the $99 a year or $10 a month into your success plan. It helps with data safety. The minute I get home from a shoot I back everything up to Dropbox. When you've been in the game long enough you learn that anything that can happen will happen. I've had SD cards split, equipment stolen, external hard drives fail... you name it.
Dropbox Pro is also good for accountability. No matter what happens, most of my clients can rest assured that if they lose a disc or a flash drive, there's a good chance I can still recover their photos. Some of my greatest referrals have come from the systems I've
set into play.
It also helps the flow of your business. Dropbox Pro is key for me because I am able to drop an entire set of photos into a folder, share it with the appropriate parties and allow them make comments on photos they want edited. It saves you from editing a bunch of photos that they might not want.
3. An online payment/credit card system
This might sound silly but there are several steps that make a difference in this, so start sooner than later. PayPal is a good service that works for me. if you're going to use PayPal, make sure that you make it work for you by ordering the debit card. It makes a big difference when you don't have to wait for your funds to transfer to your bank account. I can use my PayPal debit card anywhere and take cash out at the ATM.
Another service is Square Appointments. Once you graduate into booking several shoots a month, Square Appointments is the way to go. Not only can I keep up with my schedule, clients get notifications about their upcoming appointments and I keep up with sales and booking information. I also love the system because it shows my pricing to "window shoppers" so I'm not going back and forth gauging interest levels.
Not only is Pinterest full of great shooting advice and tips, there are a ton of great creative resources as well. I've gotten some of my favorite shoot ideas from boards created by other photographers. I tell people I shoot all the time, it's not about taking pictures — it's about making them. What can you do to take the same concept and make it your own? That's how you find your voice as a photographer.
5. Editing software outside of mobile devices
Once you start contributing to websites, blogs and paying clients, you have to be able to produce high resolution work. Unfortunately, most mobile applications, including VSCO cam, distort and compress your images. They're great for Instagram and sometimes blogging but if you haven't made the investment to learn how to utilize Photoshop or Lightroom, you should do so. They are crucial to your success. I worked with a great photographer who did some awesome headshots for me but when I went to print my marketing materials, over $250 worth of fliers featured grainy imagery.
Most of my clients eventually send their family photos and wedding pictures over to Shutterfly or Walgreens to be wrapped in canvas, so for those projects, VSCO just doesn't work. The great thing about Photoshop and Lightroom is that you can now utilize the Adobe Creative Cloud and pay monthly for the software rather than paying for it all at once. Back in the day, Lightroom was over $1,000 and once you paid for the system you were stuck with whatever version you purchased. Now you can stay updated and have access to tons of creative tutorials for under $50 a month. It's a steal and will certainly help set you apart as your grow in your creative career.
The importance of these resources
The most essential thing to remember as you grow through photography is that you have to constantly challenge yourself and be willing to learn. Some of my greatest lessons in shooting came from asking mentors to just take a day to shoot with me. Be willing to pay their hourly fee and come ready to learn. Photography is about self expression but it's critical to know the basic principles of design and how to operate your equipment. The goal is not only to see the image through a trained eye but also have the technical skill to capture it.
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Raise your hand if you want to quit your 9-5 and start your own business. Raise your hand if you are ready to quit your 9-5 and start your own business.
Is your hand still up? I know that mine isn’t.
While I fantasize about quitting my 9-5 nearly everyday to work for myself, I know that my business is not ready. I still need the income from my full-time job to invest in building a strong and sustainable foundation for my coaching and consulting empire.
Working full-time while building your side hustle is definitely a juggling act, but it can be done. Your time is limited, so you have to use it wisely. Since building your brand on the side takes more time, you will need even more patience, hope, and motivation when the realities of little sleep, incremental progress, and the desire to give up hit you.
Here are some ways to stay productive and motivated on this journey toward self-employment.
Calculate How Much Time You Can Actually Commit To the Business
From Monday-Friday, I have committed to dedicating two hours per day to working on my business. On Saturdays, I have committed to five hours. On Sundays, I have committed to six hours. With a total of 21 hours per week, I can think more strategically about how to prioritize my tasks.
Go To a Coffee Shop, Library, or Diner To Work On Your Business Before You Go Home
I don’t know about you, but it proved difficult, if not near impossible, for me to seriously work on my business once I got home from work because of all of distractions—cable, Facebook, Twitter, and my bed. But I had to come to a point where what I wanted for myself in the future became more important than giving in to my laziness in the present.
Have A Short “To-Do” List
When I am at the coffee shop, I have a list of 2-3 things to get done in that sitting. On the weekends, the list may include 4-5 items. I do not start the second task until the first task is complete. I also treat myself to a nice mocha or gluten-free chocolate chip cookie (they are the truth) after I have completed what is on my to-do list.
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Moving abroad can be exciting, scary, and liberating all at the same time. One of the most stressful parts is figuring out how to get enough coins together to transplant yourself. Here are a few tips to help you save enough money to move to another country.
Figure out how much you need
You will thank yourself immensely if you set a target number for how much you need to save. It'll save you from guesstimating and potentially overwhelming yourself.
Of course, you need to plan for your plane ticket, but also think about things like how much your visa will cost, where you will be staying, and when you will get your first paycheck. For me, I knew I need to have enough money to pay for a deposit and first month's rent, then wait another month before I got a paycheck. I also added in some money for food for a month and came up with a general goal.
Evaluate your "Latte Factor"
Financial guru David Bach created the term "The Latte Factor" to explain that frivolous spending adds up over time and ends up eating a big chunk of our yearly income. His theory is instead of making those little purchases (i.e. lattes and eating out) every day, we can save that money and generate wealth.
I canceled my cable and tried to make more meals at home using local (read: cheaper) ingredients from farmers markets. I can't say these practices immediately added $2,000 to my bank account, but being more aware of my spending habits definitely helped me save a couple hundred dollars each month. Calculate your Latte Factor to see how much you can earn with small savings.
Perfect your side hustle
The best way to save money is simply to have more money to save. If you're an artist, work on selling more of your pieces. If you're a web designer, look for ways to get more clients. Doing this will also help you continue to make money when you move. If you haven't quite found a side-hustle yet, the internet offers a plethora of odd jobs, like online juries, surveys, and other side gigs. I worked at the football stadium and basketball arena in my city to bring in a little extra cash flow, which added up quicker than I thought.
Use your time wisely
You will definitely need time to save your money. Don't start figuring out your financial situation a month before you hop on the plane. It took me about a year of two jobs and limited spending before I had enough savings to leave the country without a job. Some people can do it in less time; it all depends on your income and spending habits.
Let technology help
There are some great apps to help get your money right. Mint and Digit are popular free apps that pull together all your bills, cards, and savings goals. Just having your bank's app on your phone will help if you check your balance every day and make sure you are staying on target.
What money saving tips do you have? Share in the comments...
The art world's largest barrier to entry for many is funds. Many of us are creatives bursting with ideas and possible projects, but most of us also don't have the money to leisurely invest in our own creative work. Blavity's Creative Society has curated a list of artist initiatives that provide funding for creatives like you. Prioritize your art hustle and apply!
1. The VSCO Cam artist initiative is a $1,000,000 grant given to creatives of any medium. The VSCO Cam initiative is a self-described "movement of solidarity" to support artists and their creative endeavors. Apply here!
The VSCO Artist Initiative from VSCO on Vimeo.
2. The National Endowment for the Arts provides funding for both individuals and organizations who are making a difference in their communities through art. The endowment offers funds ranging from $10,000 — $100,000. Apply here!
3. If you're a young creative between the ages of 15 and 18, apply to YoungArts, a national foundation supporting the next generation of artists. YoungArts accepts applications in cinematic arts, dance, design, jazz, classical music, photography, theatre, visual arts, and voice and writing. Cash awards can reach up to $10,000. Apply here!
4. Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is funded by the Pittsburgh foundation. It uses funds to support black artists and their careers and to sustain the impact of existing organizations that promote black arts. Apply here!
5. The Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship offers grants to spoken word poets of color and indigenous spoken word poets. Four winners will receive a grant of $7,500 to fund a community engagement project that influences both their art and their respective communities. Apply here!
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