Howdy dancers! I hope the week is treating you well. My week certainly is. I took the day off today after getting home yesterday from a weekend workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona. No, it wasn’t a dance workshop (I know, what else could it be??).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m part of Jennifer Kem’s Master Brand program. I don’t want to work a day job forever, so I joined to get guidance on how to build the Girl with the Tree Tattoo brand such that it can support me and my dancing while I endeavor to help other dancers. This past weekend was a live workshop for Master Brand. Saturday through Monday, around 50 people met in a hotel conference room and discussed everything from understanding our brand archetypes and audiences to making our websites look pretty and our messages clear.
I drove to Scottsdale on Friday, with my boys in the back seat and the specific goal of working on The Solo Practice Guide. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a whole slew of ideas come to me about the Guide and how I could expand it into something really awesome. Only, some of the ideas didn’t feel awesome. They made me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I was drawing from what I’d seen other people do online and what seemed popular. Just writing that now makes me shake my head because “popular” should have been the one and only flag I needed to know I was getting off track.
I’ve never gone the “popular” route. Sometimes my route parallels whatever is popular, but I don’t come by it for that reason. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering how I appear on the dance floor at competitions.
When it comes to developing the business side of TGWTTT though, I don’t know what path to take. (For God’s sake, Jim) I’m a dancer and writer, not a marketer or business developer! So I look at the paths that others are taking and try one of those. Seems reasonable, yes?
So I’m at the workshop, meeting a lot of cool people and getting infused with Jen Kem’s wisdom. You may have seen one of those cool people on my Facebook page (a fellow ballroom dancer!) when she and I did two livestreams together. If you missed them, you can watch them here and here.
I spent most of the workshop feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Part of the anxiety was just the normal bit that comes up whenever I’m in a new environment and meeting new people. Another part was the result of watching others stand up in front of the 50 people present and share their thoughts or ask a question. When I had my own question or comment I wanted to share, I’d imagine myself standing up to do so and immediately get that not-so-fun rush of adrenaline that makes my face and ears turn red and my heart rate go sky high. There was no standing after that (shaking starts after the heart rate hike), so I’d keep my hand down and hope someone else would have the same question and the guts to stand up and ask it.
I had planned on writing more of the Guide after the workshop on Saturday, but my brain and body were worn out and a little overwhelmed. So I reviewed my notes from the day and reflected. Even though I was tired, I still looked forward to bringing this idea to life and presenting it to the world. I really felt like it would help other dancers, and that’s all I want. Something was still nagging at me and making me feel anxious though. It was all the “extra stuff” that I thought I should do along with the book. It seemed like good stuff, but more so, it seemed like a lot of extra work. Not productive and rewarding work, but draining work.
Sunday was more workshopping and then a special treat. Along with a small group of other attendees, I would be meeting Jen Kem in the evening for some 1-on-1 time. I had the chance to ask this woman with 20+ years of experience in marketing and brand development (not to mention a scary amount of perception and intuition) about my brand. I decided to ask her advice on pricing the Guide, since that’s one thing I was feeling especially clueless about. She never actually answered my question, but what she did tell me was priceless.
She told me it was ok to just be me.
I can’t remember exactly what she or I said because my ears and face were already matching my red sweater and my chest was pounding from the anxiety that was triggered as soon as I raised my hand to volunteer to be the next one to ask a question. After I gave her a brief summary of what I’ve done (the blog plus two eBooks) and what I wanted to do (the practice guide), I asked her about the pricing. She looked at me for a minute and then told me that I’m a blogger. Well…yeah. Then she said it was ok to just be a blogger and make my money that way.
Say what now?
While I don’t remember the exact words, I do remember feeling that wave of anxiety depart my body like an ocean wave pulling away from the sand. Jen was giving me permission to just be who I wanted to be – a dancer and a writer. She also gave me some ideas on how I could make money being just that (and boy, did those ideas feel more aligned than the ones I had!). I didn’t need to come up with some fancy service or program, like so many others were doing. Because I wasn’t them. I was me.
Now maybe some of you are thinking that of course it’s ok to be me, I shouldn’t need anyone else’s permission. That’s true. I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission to show off my tattoo at competition. I just did it because that’s who I am. On the other hand, when I’m in a realm where I’m not sure what direction I should be going, it’s a relief to get validation from an expert in that realm.
Come to think of it, I did get similar validation in the case of my tattoo. I had told Teacher I wanted a backless competition dress so my tattoo would show, we discussed the potential consequences, and he told me he would support me in whatever decision I made. He’s stuck by that too. I feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about all of the support I’ve received!
On Monday, the last day of the workshop, I signed up for another of Jen Kem‘s programs that will give me more direct access to her and her team of coaches for all of 2018. The road can be lonely for an aspiring writer/ballroom dancer sans partner, and for me, it definitely has been many times. I have Teacher and my awesome friends, family and followers to support me on the dance and writing sides, but I need more support on the biz side. If I have to have a day job, the one I have now is great, but I don’t want to be there until I retire. I want more time to dance and write! How awesome would it be to dance all morning and write all afternoon? Or the other way around? I can’t get there on my own though. So just like I found Teacher for my dance team and the Ballroom Village for my blog team, I’ve found Jen Kem and her peeps to act as my business team.
I drove back to SoCal on Tuesday still feeling a little overwhelmed, but also like I was driving toward my future. I had a clearer path in front of me, and one that I felt good about. One of the phrases of the weekend was “do it scared.” That’s no problem at all for me. That’s pretty much the only way I advance in dancing! After this weekend, I feel like I’ll be able to advance my business as well. Even if I’m “doing it scared,” I won’t be doing it alone.
Before I go do some pre-lesson dance practice (how perfect is it that I get to go to a dance lesson tonight), I want to pay it forward. For anyone out there feeling pressure to do otherwise, I want you to know that it’s ok to just be you. You have permission to just be yourself and that will be enough.
Warm and fuzzy feelings for everyone, and happy dancing!