Back in January, when I was at Alt Summit, I sat in on a session given by Jasmine Star on personal branding. I've found myself meditating a lot on something that she said regarding being balls-to-the-wall (my words, not hers) about your personality, and how you portray that through your brand.
You either love me or you hate me.
When developing my personal brand, or – better yet – working and living my personal brand, I try to stay pretty full-throttle in my beliefs and opinions, sometimes causing some folks to know right away that I'm not the designer/consultant/friend for them.
And that's exactly what I want. Having people know right away that we're not going to mesh well steers clear of lots of problems right off the bat.
Likewise, those who can tolerate my opinionated, overly-passionate nature tend to become fast friends.
And not even fast friends, but dream customers. My dream customers respect me for being honest, being a bit of a work horse, and aren't offended by my occasional foul language here on the blog. When I'm very clear about my brand and who I really am, they're not surprised when we get chin deep in a project and I'm pushing them to say "no" to the idea adding Papyrus to their webfonts.
The more assertive I become regarding who I am, the more I enjoy my own work. I'm not getting hired by nightmare customers anymore because my brand is so in-your-face about what kind of designer and person I am. I'm attracting the people that I want to work with, and repelling those whom I don't.
Just to give you a clearer idea, here are a couple of things anyone who is ever wanting to talk to me should know:
1. Unabashedly, and unapologetically, honest.
Being painfully honest is one of my very favorite qualities. But it's also one that seems to push people away the most.
On one hand, if I think you're a genius, I'll gush about it. But, if I think your idea sucks, I won't just go along with it to save face. I'll let you know how I feel. I'm not going to be rude about it, I'm just going to be genuinely honest.
This also lends to me having some for-serious relationships. Completely honest relationships are something I wish a saw more of. Sure, you love your mother but you can't tell her that you don't actually want to be a lawyer? You're paying a designer to design something, but don't tell them you want edits because you don't want to hurt their feelings? (That is until you explode in anger when the project is completely finished.) Get real, folks. Own your own truths. Be who you are.
What this means for my brand: I'm pretty assertive when it comes to client requests, whereas I used to be pretty wishy-washy just to make a client "happy." And because using Papyrus makes no one happy, these projects always ended up with me ashamed to put something in my portfolio, and the client returning to me a few months later to make the same changes I had suggested, not "required." Now I don't let clients make bad decisions. My dream customers respect the hell out of me for this.
2. Hardcore potty-mouth.
I read something once, and I have no idea how accurate it actually is, that said that people who curse tend to be more honest. I believe it. And though it's not something I usually grade non-cussers by, it is something that makes me appreciate my own potty mouth more.
If you have problems expressing your feelings with a word, I can only imagine how hard it is for you to express them with a whole sentence.
I'll express my feelings freely, thanks.
And, honestly, I think the idea of a word being bad is just plain silly. Like, how silly would it be if I thought that red was a bad color, because of it's use in bloody horror movies. Silly, indeed. So, I curse openly, when in appropriate company, of course.
What this means for my brand: I'm pretty straight-forward here on the blog. I'll say shit if I want to. Literally and figuratively. But, I'll be the first to admit that I don't curse in client emails; I'm well aware of how unprofessional that is. But, I do have a general rule: if we've shared a cocktail, there are no holes barred. You're getting the full Emily Thompson vocabulary.
3. I call you out on your bullshit.
Part of my being unapologetically honest is that I don't take to bullshit very well. If you're being overdramatic, ridiculous, or are flat out making shit up, I'll call you out. Beware.
What this means for my brand: This follows up closely to #1 above. And this one plays a lot more into my "real" persona than my online/client one. Calling out others' bullshit works a lot more in person. Like when I recently had to put an organization leader in his place when he was up-playing the organization's role in our downtown community. I'm not as sweet/innocent/naïve as I may look, sir, and I will/did call you out on your bullshit. (A dream customer that was present for this event applauded my reaction, and then hired me a few weeks later.)
4. I've got some thick skin.
Sometimes I wonder if David wishes I were daintier. More sentimental. Softer. Maybe even less driven. Then, I realize that, after almost 10 years, if he wanted me to be then he'd have told me so long ago. Or left.
I've got some pretty thick skin. You can call me any name in the book and I'll laugh it off. I work my ass off to get done what needs to be done. I'll barrel through whatever is ahead.
What this means for my brand: I work hard. I will stick to my guns. I can take changes in pace, but will also hold course. I'm a pretty awesome person to have on your side.
Good! We probably wouldn't get along very well. See ya 'round, mate.
Then we're friends. For real.
I can rock a creative business because I'm so confident in who I am. I don't do wishy-washy or half-ass. I get shit done. I'm now taking on dream customers for summer projects. If I haven't offended you or made you angry with this post, then give me a shout. We just might be perfect for each other.
So, I have a little problem. An addiction. To green smoothies.
David bought me a juicer two Christmases ago, and we've been pretty avid juicers ever since. They're so yummy and refreshing and kinda super rock my world.
For the past two months we've really gotten into juicing again, juicing daily. We're having a juice every day for breakfast, and sometimes I'll have any leftovers for lunch. So yummy.
Our favorite juice is kale, beet, apple, carrot, just in case you're wondering. No secret formula, just throw it all in there.
Then, about 3 weeks ago, I decided to give the green smoothie thing a try. The problem was that juicing makes me huuuungry. Hungrier than usual. David, too. But, with David's metabolism, he can stand to eat a couple extra snacks a day. Me: not so much.
So, I made a smoothie. I took a couple of different ideas for my first smoothie from around the web, and right off made a smoothie I'm pretty much having an affair with multiple times a week. It's ok; David's fine with it.
Since adding smoothies to my diet I feel like I've become a whole new person. I honestly crave the things. And my body is loving it.
(Weird story: A couple of weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning feeling a bit hungover, and instead of going straight to the phone to order a greasy pizza, which is what my mind and/or body usually craves, all I wanted was a smoothie. A big, fat, green smoothie. Fixed me right up.)
Our skin is looking amazing.
I was one of those bitch-teenagers who had wonderful skin. I know, everyone hated me. BUT, I got payback, because when I turned 25 my skin exploded. The past year and a half have been torture, but, finally, my skin is clearing. I'm sure juicing contributed, but adding smoothies has finalized it. Clear skin, again!
AND, those little wrinklies under my eyes are smoothing out. David's noticing changes, too. Yay, proper nutrients and hydration!
My joints. My happy joints.
When I was 15 I was told I was getting arthritis. When I was 15. I've always had an odd amount of joint pain. Rarely enough to really inhibit me, but almost always enough that I notice it. Not now. My bad knees are happier, my lower back isn't bothering me, and I'm smiling. Big.
Super healthy. Not even allergies.
I have been a really lucky mom in that Cute Kid never gets sick. She's a little over 5 and we've only ever had to take her to the doctor once outside of regular checkups. She was a bitty baby with an ear infection. Not once since. However, she does get allergies when the seasons change. As do I.
But, this spring, even with it's insane amount of pollen, neither of us had even a moment of allergy issues. We're good to go.
So, yea, we're smoothie junkies now. A bunch of freakin' hippies. Hanging out in downward dog and talking about dirt, and stuff. It's fun.
Raw cacao nibs
Ground flax seed
1 T Coconut oil
Handful of blueberries
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Warning: I don't really measure out anything.
Fill your blender with spinach. Don't really pack it, just fill it up. Pour in coconut water until it's at about a 1/3 mark. Blend.
Add a handful of coconut flakes, a bit of cacao nibs, and some ground flax. Add the coconut oil. Blend.
Add the berries. Blend.
Add banana, avocado, and greek yogurt. Blend.
Eat it. I like to put it in a bowl and eat with a spoon. Yum.
Makes 3-ish servings.
I realized the other day that it has been ages since I've shared a project launch. You see, I get so into projects, literally dreaming about them at night sometimes, that once they launch I just separate myself as much as possible from them, except for regular maintenance and warranty stuff. Not to mention, I'm usually moving on to the next project with it's own set of obsessions and nighttime dream appearances.
So, I have several projects to add to my portfolio, and will be doing so over the next few weeks, as I'm really very fond of all the work I've been producing lately. Very fond, indeed.
The first project to be added to my portfolio is Sun Moon and Stars Creations, ran by Jennifer, who contacted me back in October. Jennifer was starting a business to promote her creative friends, which is an endeavor I can more than relate to. I was more than happy to help her along the way. Kindred spirits, we two.
Together, we developed a map for getting her to the launch of Sun Moon and Stars Creations. Her design package looked a little like this:
Within a few weeks we had Jennifer up and running with a shiny new website (one of my new favorites) and the ability to market and sell a curated collection of her creative friends' products.
And, even though this was one of the bigger projects that I had taken on in a while, and that we had to steer through the winter holidays and the launch of Indie Spaces, this was one of the smoothest running projects I think I've ever had the pleasure of working on. Working with Jennifer was wonderful. She's certainly one who understands how to work with creatives, and it made a ton of difference.
Here's what Jennifer had to say about the project:
I can't express how happy I am with my new website. Everything looks so happy and classic at the same time. Sometimes I thought you were reading my mind, because I couldn't always articulate what I wanted, but what you showed me was amazing every time. I really enjoyed working with you, since you were always so positive and upbeat, even when I started to feel overwhelmed by details.
I know I'm going to be using the monthly support I signed up for, because I want to have a dynamic site and be able to tweak and grow as I go along.
Happy customers make my job so honkin' worth it. And, with Jennifer already emailing me ecstatic updates on sales and growth, I can happily know that this was a job well done with a client who will rock it.
So. Honkin'. Worth it.
If you're interested in working with me on the development of your creative business online, then shoot me a request. I'm currently booking my summer slots.
Yesterday I recapped my long weekend trip to Austin with my pal Mikey. I could go on and on about how great of a trip it was, again, but it wasn't just about good food and big laughs. For me, it was also a bit of a wake up call.
You see, sometimes, as a creative entrepreneur, people think that I just kinda get to do what I want. And, as that's partially true, as I am doing what I want, that doesn't mean that I just get to throw in the towel and jet set to wherever I want, whenever I want. At least not if I want to eat, pay rent, and keep shoes on Cute Kid's feet.
What being a creative entrepreneur does is give me the flexibility to do what I want, not just taking willy-nilly opportunities. But, it's not without consequence. We independents have to work our asses off. Like whoa.
I still have deadlines, an inbox of requests, and bills in the mailbox everyday. Being a creative hardly means that I can be any less responsible than anyone else. In fact, I usually have to work harder.
Running your own business (let alone two) means I'm often pulling 12-14 hour days, not always having a weekend off, and constantly obsessing over the right ways to social-media-ize. These are just a few of the prices that I pay to jet set wherever I want, "whenever" I want. My 9-5 friends don't usually have to be that involved (though I know that some of you are, so don't think I'm undervaluing you).
Mikey is one of those work-your-ass-off-like-whoa 9-5-ers (often 7-6ers). He brings home work much too often, but he freaking loves his job.
And so, while enjoying cocktails over brunch one morning in Austin, we talked about how much we work, but also how hard we play. And, how working that hard makes us never feel guilty for playing as hard as we do. (Honestly, for a moment, we pondered on whether or not we should be feeling bad about having cocktails so early on a Monday. We decided definitely not.) But also, how being able to play hard makes working so hard totally worth it.
And then we toasted our mimosas and adopted our new mantra:
work hard, play hard
You see, I've felt really bogged down lately: not into generating blog content, feeling weary about taking on new clients, and way overwhelmed with Indie Spaces. I've had several moments of wondering what it's all for. Why am I so into helping other businesses when I'm not feeling very excited about my own? What can I do to spice up my work life? And, ultimately, why do I work so hard?
So I can play hard, dammit.
Whether play hard is taking a long weekend with my pals in Austin, or taking an entire day to watch Disney movies in bed with Cute Kid, or spending a weekend night partying at an event at Indie Spaces, I'm doing this to enjoy life. As much as possible.
I don't think that I could free myself as much during my off-hours if I didn't love what I do so much. And therein lies the lesson. I love what I do so I can love what I do, in a never-ending cycle of hot-damn-I'm-lucky.
This past weekend my bestie Mikey and I (M+E) took a little trip to Austin.
Before I get too deep into our adventure, there are a couple of things I feel that I should lay out about Mikey and myself:
So, after years of planning trips that never happened, we finally just bought plane tickets to go see our friends Laura and Josh in Austin. It would be our big adventure. You know, the one that determines just how tolerable we are of each other. And which one would be the champion and come home still alive.
Come to find out, we're still awesome and alive, and the trip to Austin was one of the best trips I've had maybe ever.
On our little adventure to Austin we did lots of fun stuff, like a trek around the Mansfield Dam area of Lake Travis, a couple of nights partying on 4th and 6th street, shopping and eating on South Congress Ave, and some yummy dinners and laughs courtesy of the magnificent cooking abilities of our friend La.
The trip was actually pretty nuts, with a concentration of moose knuckles, a couple of weird encounters and propositions, an exotic hamburger shirt, and a horse head. We listened to Work by Iggy Azalea too many times, and maybe had a few too many Cape Cods and Gin and Tonics. Maybe not, though.
And with that we're planning trip #2. We're going to test the bounds of this friendship to the extreme. I think our goal is to find a city that will actually kick us and our shenanigans out.
If you want to see our photo fest from this trip, checkout my Instagram and all the #meaustin images.
Photos above are a mixture of iPhone and DSLR images, taken by Mikey, Laura, and myself.