cait +tiff

1 Comment

T / Recline? Lean In? (and Ira Glass)

Photo Credit:  Jean Baptiste Mondino for Obsession, June 2012

Photo Credit: Jean Baptiste Mondino for Obsession, June 2012

So four-ish months ago, I made the decision to recline.  Recline from a career in public health and policy, its discontents, the experience of being occasionally being introduced as an intern (though actually being paid very well as a consultant), sitting at a table of mostly older men and being assumed to take notes, the list goes on.  I was bowing out of the game. I have nothing against leaning in.  But I was questioning the impact I was having within my profession and what I was getting out of it (aside from a very nice per diem).  It’s also 2015 and being a thirty year old female sans offspring, I felt I could make this leap.

Despite the supportive words from friends who extolled how brave we were to set out and do something we really loved, the doubt inevitably set in.  You know about that doubt right?  The DOUBT.  I’m a big picture kinda girl who tends to move fast, I work best with deadlines and ask for results to come in faster.  So I was basically asking for a little anxiety attack to happen.  You know the thoughts – “I’m a total fake. Who am I kidding? People will never pay me for this” Alternatively, “well I should just set a deadline for success and I can always go back to my old job,” and “I’ve left a job helping others to promote a yuppie lifestyle.”  I don’t think I was a very pleasant person to work with and I am beyond thankful to Cait for being such a patient friend and business partner.

But then I realized, this must be what so many small business owners experience. And you’d think that with all the interviews that Cait and I have already done, I would have already picked up some lessons (check out this podcast for some great ones!).  Looking back on these conversations, the small business owners and creatives who succeed acknowledge the slow path to growth, make calculated decisions to ensure that this growth occurs and that risks are worth taking. My talk with photographer Roberto Westbrook made this all the more clear.

Taste became a unifying theme across all the wonderful people we’ve met and had conversations with over the past several months is perfectly captured by these two minutes of words from Ira Glass. Because, come on, what isn’t? I’ve maintained his words as my mantra over the past month, and they are especially relevant during those moments of doubt.  They even come as a desktop wallpaper, and as an animated transcriptif you like.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

Four months on, I realized we are not reclining at all.  I’m looking at recommendations for productivity and management apps, which means that the work is coming in.  And I’ve realized that leaning in can mean whatever you want it to mean.  You may think you’re reclining when you’re actually leaning in.  I might also need a standing desk soon to take care of the problems of literally leaning in (working with Photoshop will do that).  But most of all, I think I’ve learned that the leaning in I did do was to figure out what direction I wanted to be in, and to actually embark on a journey towards it. And sure I’m worried.  I think a healthy dose of fear helps everyone.  And these words from Ira Glass, as well as the supportive community that Cait and I both have, will always keep us afloat.  


1 Comment

T / happy monday / on building

Photo Credit: On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, Tiny Atlas

Photo Credit: On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, Tiny Atlas

Wow.  What a weekend.  I hope you all had a great one too. Ours was packed, but in the most awesome way. Now for the serious stuff.

We’re seven months into the blog now.  I’m 3 months into saying no to offers of paid work as a public health and policy consultant, and it feels weird every time I do.  Am I biting the hand that once fed me? Having a good solid income is really tempting, especially when there’s a heck ton of travel coming up.  Also reconciling the creative and formerly professional sides of myself, with most of our friends in the public health and development profession, feels like an oft repeated mental theme.  So I need to repeatedly tell myself: “eyes on the prize.”

So basically, it can get difficult to key one’s eyes on the prize when so much is going on around us.  New projects keep popping up, and we are figuring out how to monetize. We are also learning how to say no, which is a new fun game. Having a support system that includes serial entrepreneurs and management specialists has been super helpful and we are unendingly thankful for that. Then there are my other friends, the podcasts.

I love podcasts.  I have them on at every available opportunity.  Ira Glass’ voice lulls me to sleep, Neil DeGrasse Tyson keeps me company while cooking, and Jess Lively helps to get me started at the beginning of the day. I’ve recently discovered another one that helps me to keep me in check, helps me to get new ideas for the blog, and know that there are plenty of others out there who are also in the process of building something new.

Grace Bonney, of Design*Sponge awesomeness, hosts After the Jump – a podcast dedicated to contemporary makers and the day-to-day challenges they face.  I can’t believe how lucky I was to have found this resource. It helps me stay grounded and remind me that all the challenges, insecurities, and temptations that I face on a regular basis are not mine alone.

So instead of a fun video to help you start your week, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite podcast episodes that help me to get started, get me going and get me excited about this path that Cait and I have chosen to explore.  Maybe they’ll be helpful and

After the Jump – Episode 99 – How to Create Content for the New Online World

As nouveau bloggers wanting to generate new careers, we’re constantly reconciling the difference between what we really want to post and what will get us the most hits.  This podcast teaches us how to reach both of those goals without compromising on this site’s mission.

After the Jump – Episode 91 – The Changing Pay Rates for Creative Talent

We are building a business. This means a crash course in learning how to value our work.  Our work may look “fun” and not like work at all. But we assure you, there’s a lot of elbow grease, negotiation and a our own resources that go into it.  Grace Bonney and a coterie of professionals who have attained success in the forum provide great anecdotes and lessons on monetization and the evolution of pay rates on this podcast.

The Jess Lively Show – Episode 44 – The Art of Relaxation and Creativity with Jen Gotch of Ban.Do

Groupies of Jen Gotch we are.  And we were over the moon when we learned that Jess Lively was going to be interviewing her about non-linear trajectory across careers (law! bartending! Ban.Do!) and building a biz that has made surprising waves.  This totally ranks high among fave podcasts.

The Jess Lively Show – Episode 64 – The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results with Jay Papasan

We both have big long term goals on the horizon.  But how do we get there?  Jay Papasan, author of the NYTimes bestseller, The One Thing, tells Jess Lively about how to break it all down.  What’s that five year goal or objective? What is the one thing you need to do to get there?  Or that quarterly goal? What is the one thing you need to do to achieve that.  We’ve been mapping it all out. This concept has really helped me to not look at this career change as a Sisyphean task, but as a number of attainable short term goals.

America’s Test Kitchen – Episode 402 – The Barefoot Contessa Speaks Out

Otherwise known as Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa has been an inspiration for more than a decade.  She was a nuclear energy policy advisor for the White House!  Then she quit and opened up a speciality food shop! And most of you know what happened afterwards.  She tells her story with ATK’s Christopher Kimball.