There were three recurring topics at last week's Makers Mixer: the challenge of keeping perspective as a solo business owner, the struggle of costing your products and valuing your work, and thank-god-for-community.
I am still blown away that our first speaker, Shinah from Crooked Calligraphy, received a perfect score on her SAT’s, not because she was an overachiever, necessarily, but because she did only what was expected from her parents and her culture. That incredible focus and singular dedication saw her go to Harvard and eventually become a lawyer. She never asked herself what she enjoyed; she just went from one planned step to the next expected result. Then, after a life-threatening incident, she couldn’t escape the truth that her perspective on everything had shifted. She could no longer show up in her corporate world and ignore the lingering question, “is this what I want to be doing?” So, a little over a year ago, she left negotiating mergers and acquisitions and became a calligraphy artist. When I congratulated her on being so successful, she wasn’t sure what that meant. Instagram followers? I saw someone who had built their own brand and was following their passion, yet Shinah had no perspective on how far she’s come because she no longer had an external rubric for calculating success.
Our next speaker was musician and financial wiz Paco de Leon of the Hell Yeah Group. Paco is an incredible public speaker, complete with doing role-play of the various bosses she’s had throughout her career and jumping into the character of her inner voice (who sounds cool and super supportive!). Paco talked about learning to understand the simplicity of knowing what your skills are and using them to be in service to others around you. There is no better combination! And the fact that her skills are in finance is just mind-blowing and thankfully of benefit to us all! Also being a musician, Paco understands the unique challenges that creatives face, navigating the financial realities of running your own business, and not freaking out about letters from the IRS.
Our final speaker was Rosanna Kvernmo of Iron Curtain Press. I know this sounds like I’m writing a country song, but Seattle must have gotten even cloudier when she left, because she is a ray of sunshine. Rosanna is like a beacon of perspective, which is easy to lose when you are alone working in your bubble. With 9 years under her belt, she told us stories of methodically timing some of her various functions, until she finally developed a strategy for correctly valuing and therefore pricing her time. Which eventually led to the glorious day when she was able to hire her first employee without incurring any debt, while fully understanding what she should reasonably expect from them. She also shared her theory that a happy employee means a happy client and a happy client means more business. Basically she is in the business of making everyone happy, including us!
As I spoke to our guests throughout the evening, I saw a clear theme emerge – we were all on the unmarked paths of our own creative endeavor because we stopped and listened to ourselves.
Sounds like success to me.
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