Daybook for a Conscious Creator

As creators, especially conscious creators, it’s important to get out and feed the imagination regularly.  Julia Cameron calls this taking yourself out on an Artist Date.  So tonight, I took myself out and reconnected with my past — those years ago when I was an Interdisciplinary Arts student at Columbia College.

Tonight was the opening of the Retrospective exhibit of paper and book artist, Marilyn Sward at the Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts.  I went down to 11th Street @ Wabash in Chicago to see the opening and reconnect with some old friends, including the brilliant and ever-delightful artist/educator/curator Suzanne Cohan-Lange. Bestselling author Audrey Niffenegger was there, also a former colleague of Marilyn’s.

The late Marilyn Sward was one of my teachers when I was getting my grad degree at Columbia. She was utterly passionate about hand-made paper and the book arts.  Jeff Abell, another of my Columbia teachers, is putting together the catalog, coming out later this summer.

From her early sketchbooks to her late aerial photographs, with paper installations, hand-made books, and everything in between, Marilyn was profoundly engaged as both artist and teacher. It is good to be reminded that creations come in many shapes and sizes, and that artists contribute in many ways.

As I stood on the Roosevelt Road elevated platform in the early evening sunset, to the West, the towers of St. Ignatius reared up, at least a mile away. Closer by, the glass high rises along South Michigan Ave. glittered in the waning sunlight. Away to the East, across Lake Shore Drive, I was looking right in the front door of the Shedd Aquarium. Chicago stood awash in its most gorgeous light.

In a different vein, as I write this, the firecrackers are still popping all around me and horns still blare periodically, as Chicago celebrates the Stanley Cup win for Chicago’s own Blackhawks.

Jeanne Kolenda wrote this evening about the seeming inability of people to notice beauty even when it’s right there in the subway, playing a Stradivarius. So this is a sort of time-out post to acknowledge, appreciate, and be conscious of the complex fabric  of life fully lived all around me — at least today.

There will be time enough for more bridge-building tomorrow.

Embrace Your Marketing Mindset (4Cs)

“I’d really rather just be doing the work that is mine to do, practicing my art or craft or therapy or career or profession. What is all this about marketing?!”

I’ve heard variations on this phrase for years — starting with the authors I worked with at the publishing company that employed me. They saw marketing, at best, as a necessary evil.

Now that I’m a free agent, hiring out to write and market and coach and strategize with and for my clients, I regularly come across writers, artists, healers, coaches, therapists, designers, attorneys, entrepreneurs, and even bankers who deeply dislike (hate?!) marketing. They see it, at best, as a necessary evil.

These are perfectly capable people who seem baffled when it comes to marketing. They tap fearfully into the seemingly endless supply of  variations on “marketing.” There’s corporate marketing, database marketing, SEO marketing, LOA marketing, internet marketing, social media marketing, MBA marketing, marketing trends, marketing research, marketing segmentation, branding, Superbowl marketing, direct response marketing, B-to-B marketing, B-to-C marketing, and we haven’t even touched advertising or PR, which might be included if you talk about integrated marketing or its longer-winded cousin, integrated marketing communications.

Are you intimidated yet? Are your palms sweating? Is fight or flight kicking in? Maybe this is why you hate marketing. Where are you in all this foreign-sounding gibberish? Where is your heart? Where is your gift? Where, even, are your people?

At the most fundamental level, for Conscious Creators, soul-preneurs, world-changers, visionaries, healers, and others in the soft sell marketing community, it really is all about your people. It’s about you and your community and connecting the two. We can talk about marketing without even going past the letter “C.”

Marketing is all about your Community. You can call it your circle, your clients, your customers, or even your audience. You can even go past “C” and call it your tribe. It’s all about your people. Well, what about them?

Marketing is all about Connecting. Connecting is a two-way process. You connect with them, and they connect with you.  How do you connect? From my perspective as The Write Synergies Guru, I’m partial to making the connections via words.

But connections come in every sensory variety. Music connects. Visuals connect. Paintings. Sculpture. Movies. Architecture. Movement connects. The healing touch of massage therapy connects. Even the tantalizing smells from your local cafe-bakery make a connection.

Marketing = Connecting + Communicating. So you make this connection, and from this connection you communicate. As with connecting, above, all your senses have their ways of communicating. But unless you’re right in front of the bakery or the painting or on the massage chair, the actual connection is tough to maintain. Distance isn’t a friend for these ways of communicating.

That’s why words as a medium (though imperfect) can paint the sensory details in a way that makes the communications possible over long distances and across time and space. Words can connect. Words can bring alive the connections across the world.

Words may be stories (Jeanne Kolenda is a master at stories with a purpose.) or metaphors. Words may be how-to or checklists. Words make up the books, the info products, the blog posts, web sites, brochures, business cards, press releases and even the 140 character tweets that are the currency of our communications.

Words weave the background texts of our lives. Words, both spoken and written, are how we communicate!

You mean marketing is just about talking to people? In the broadest sense, yes. That’s exactly what marketing is.

Connect with your Community by Communicating your Content. We prefer, all things being equal, to do business with people we know, like, and trust. How, in this digital marketplace, do we learn to know, like, and trust strangers?

The bakery cannot communicate its smell across the city to connect with bread-lovers in another neighborhood. But our words, imbued with meaning, with the content of our expertise, shared appropriately and clearly, focused on helping our people address whatever issue they face, packaged in a way to be useful, our words can communicate valuable content.

Marketing is that remarkable bridge, weaving together you, your heart, your creation. It weaves these “Cs” of Community, Connection, Communication, and Content into your message and beams it to your people in a way that they can hear it, can take it in, can process it. Suddenly the two-way span back and forth across your bridge is open.

They walk across the bridge to you. You meet them on this bridge constructed out of words that communicate your content and connect with your community.

Blown Away Blog Challenge 30 of 30 The Peeps Edition

Blown Away 1: Todd
I didn’t even think about winning a contest when I used (some of) the social media tools I’ve gotten more comfortable with over the past month to spread the word about Todd Temaat‘s “Win Your Local Market” contest. He was looking to generate interest in his work and his upcoming training/membership program.

I was speechless when I heard I’d won his incredibly valuable grand prize of two months of his coaching for communicating all things local online. I literally couldn’t even process the news. Thank you Todd. I look forward to participating in your magical process. And, I think it’s sometimes tough for local market-focused people to “get” all that they can actually do with social media. Many are in the beginning stages, and the steps of your contest might have seemed daunting for someone not already somewhere in the stream already.

Blown Away 2 – ??

Can’t even count all the pleasures and friendships that have grown up over the past month from #blog30 community that grew up around the 30 Day blogging challenge. Of course, to start, there’s the incomparable Connie Ragan Green herself, the woman who convened, gathered, and offered the #blog30 group a “home base” throughout. She’s an inspiring, self-made empire builder who wants to help others build lots of other empires!

Then I connected with writing maven Debra Marrs who started the #blog30 challenge. It worked so well that she got so busy with clients that she didn’t finish. Her encouragement out of the starting gate really fueled me in those early days when I didn’t “know” anyone else. (We’d met through Christina Hills’ Web Site Creation Workshop.)

Can’t even say where to begin to thank all the remarkable people I’ve shared the past month with. Some I’ve gotten to know better than others, but each of you is remarkable, as a person, entrepreneur, and a creator. Thank you. I look forward to staying connected and deepening the conversations as we proceed onward. Hope to see some of you on the June #blog30 under the guidance of Dr. Jeannette Cates.

When in Southern California, I know I have a second home with Melanie Kissell and all the love from the Solo Mompreneur crew. Her heart is bigger than the state of California.

When headed to the East coast, to South Carolina, there’s storyteller and businesswoman extraordinaire, Jeanne Kolenda. Jeanne’s stories are alchemical transformations of everyday life to something  more. She’s partnered in biz with Sue White (on Twitter as @WhiteSue )

Greetings to Terrie Wurzbacher in San Antonio, a warm-hearted doc sharing the wisdom from universal laws at getunstuckllc.com.

My new go-to techXpert: @MyWebGal, Deb Augur, in Washington state.

Heather Bestel in Scotland shows us all how to move from mad dash to organised simplicity with great warmth and charm.

New friends, resources, experts, supporters — Many thanks to all who commented, retweeted, posted, and generally spread the great energy as part of the #blog30  including

Martha Giffen, online maven extraordinaire.

Marcia Hoeck, for all things breakthrough for your  business.

Geoff Hoff, writer’s writer w/ a theatrical flair.

Piotr Krzyzek on marketing and social media.

With gratitude to Annette Nack for her part in the 30 Day blog challenge.

Get fit with 50 and Fit founder, Kazi

Meet Vernon Harleston on The High Road

Find all things health with the All-health expert Robert Britt

Get happy with Happiness Guru Evelyn Roberts Brooks

Where to go for innovation ideas? Innovation Expert Steve Sponseller

Thanks to Gwen Tanner who is inspiring me to reshape my offerings in her role as  @ecoursemaster.

Kudos to Helen Raptoplous an energetic proponent of Moving your Business Forward: Action Habits that Matter Most.

Acknowledging Janet Eisenbise from Coach4LifeChange, sharing insights with grace and wisdom.

Oh, my.  Loving apologies for omissions and those I haven’t caught up with this time. Let’s connect in the follow-on #blog30–coming in June and hosted by Dr. Jeannette Cates! And it will use the same twitter #blog30 hashtag! Thanks to everyone for your support!!

Writing Your Way to Lifelong Learning — Blog Challenge Post 28

For a year now, I’ve saved a blog post title idea: drinking from the fire hose. It’s a physical and metaphorical image of the overwhelm engendered by the information overload that overtakes me when I consider all the information in every form: books, reports, teleseminars, courses, blogs, web sites, FB. Don’t even mention twitter, google, wiki, squidoo, amazon, ezine articles, or clickbank. It is a gushing river of — you guessed it — words.

Master storyteller Jeanne Kolenda, one of our #blog30 colleagues, recently posted about lifestyle of learning.  Jeanne concludes, “never, ever give up a lifestyle of learning.  It will keep you young, AND make you successful.” Wow. Let’s bottle some of that! I prefer to think of it as lifelong learning, but sometimes I wonder: Am I just being a perpetual student? That definitely has a nasty pejorative ring to it.

Still, the reality is you won’t get far along an entrepreneurial path without constantly refreshing, updating, refining, and expanding your knowledge and skills. You may think you need to go broad or maybe deep. It works differently for different people. But whether you do a deep dive or a cross-section, the next task for the lifelong learner is putting it all into practice, turning knowledge into embodied wisdom. That is the goal I think. To somehow metabolize what you need to know so that you can do what you need to do swiftly and easily.

Yet to understand our constantly evolving selves, we must become in some sense perpetual students to our inner selves, curiously exploring our own patterns of light and shadow. For plumbing those depths, writing is the tool of choice, at least for me. Some can get there with movement, with paints or clay, or with musical notes. Once again — for many —  writing’s eminent adaptability comes through, as the companion on an inner journey, even as it makes up the flow of all the outer forms of information as well. That is the magic and mystery of the Write Synergies Path.

Wise metaphysicians would point out, in addition to all the busy-ness of the doing,  the learning, the delving — both internally and externally — at the root of it all there’s the being. And that’s what actually needs to come first. First being, then doing.

Writing, although it may be the currency and language of the vast majority of the information universe out there, it is also a way to connect with the most profound center and heart of our being.  Although it’s gushing like a firehose to put out the fires of our ignorance, it can also become the river of our own words that carry us to the pulsing heart of our passion and contribution, then safely carries us back out.

Take a deep deep breath. Keep writing. Keep being. And sometimes, the doing will keep.

approaching the end at #blog30