Author Archives: Ebonni Bryant

F.O.M.O. Leaves Money on the table

F.O.M.O. Leaves Money on the table

Here are a few ways to you stop it:

  1. No Mobile Monday: I’ve heard this idea a few times, but most recently from a friend of mine, Robyn. She suggested having a “No Mobile Monday”. Her name was way more catchy, but you get the gist. Stop allowing yourself to be distracted by bright screens. I know it is alluring, but it halts creativity and prevents you from getting projects done. I do this thing sometime where I am in the middle of designing a product for a client. I’m an hour in and boom. The light on my Samsung starts blinking and takes me away from my fun. I love my work, but if not careful I’ll spend the next 30 minutes answering GroupMe messages and reading a Bernie Sanders article on FB.
  2. “Just Say No” Criteria: There are a lot of committees, projects, business ventures that are fun, interesting, include friends who asked you to join. There may be activities that are purposeful to you, but purposeful doesn’t mean plausible [for you to partake in]. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
    1. “Will I enjoy this after the initial sexy wears off?”
    2. “How much time will this actually take me away from other commitments I should have ‘just said no’ to as well?”
    3. “Is this the best use of my time, talent and resources?”
    4. “Am I willing to possibly do a half ass job at something I care about in order to say yes to this?”
    5. What would you say “no” to now that you’ve read those questions?
  1. Dolla Dolla Bills, Y’all: I did a tally of how much I spend on business lunches, dinners and coffee last October. I spent over $500 in one month. I spent over $500 on food and coffee in one month! But why? Urg. It is as simple as, “Can we talk on Skype?” or “Come by the house so we can catch up!” To minimize costs. It isn’t easy because everyone hangs at coffee shops nowadays, but it is pricey. I love our local coffee shops too. Shout out to Warsaw and The Alchemist in Fort Lauderdale, FL! You also have to think what could I have done with $500 bucks. Not every meeting is necessary. Every meeting does not have to have a reason, but consider if it is the best use of your time or dimes. Haha! I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but here we are.
  1. Busy is the Root Word for Business: Being really busy doesn’t mean you’re doing anything. In fact, when you think you’re missing out on something therefore get involved with 101 projects, I have found with clients they are really trying to avoid the thing they really should be doing. It’s like when we were kids and would do everything to avoid bedtime, but actually sleep. What are you avoiding and instead fill up your calendar?
  1. Avoid Boredom: This. Is. Me. I hate being bored. If I’m sitting too long, I get anxious. I have had to learn to chill out. I’m still learning this one so don’t have any tips, but if you do, pass it along.
Work Problems

Work Problems

One of the core problems with every person I work with through the SCORE, mentoring or here at The Idea, Inc. is one that almost always surprises the person when I recommend their next move.

I’ll share this “problem” in a second.

When you talk to professionals about starting or growing a business, it is typically presented from a very black and white perspective. It’s either the best thing you could ever possibly do so go run out and do this simple, easy process and BAM! you have a successful business or it’s the hardest thing in life so stick with what you know.

I’m sorry, but in what adult world do you live in where life is ever that black and white? Not never. It’s almost always shades of grey. (Yes, I get the reference and I’ve read all 4 books twice. SMH!)

I’ve been running The Idea, Inc. successfully for 6 years. I’ve helped many people launch 6 figure businesses and streamline complex projects and what I know for sure is like everything else in life it isn’t that black and white.

…and that’s the fun of it. I’ll share more in the next post, but I had a crazy, hard time during the latter half of 2015.

What I know about doing work that calls to you and you to it, is to never let a finish line be your barometer for success. It is a nice added bonus, but no matter how much you love something, if you see it or yourself as a disappointment based on inconsequential measurements of success, you’ll hang it up quickly. A part of designing a work experience that is satisfying financially, as well as socially is to remember that course correcting is what makes the business a success.

I think of work very differently than most. Not how we traditionally think of work anyway. I’m talking about the kind you’re uniquely, qualified to do. Yes, the work you went to school for, to the work you fell into, to the kind of work that isn’t just “clocking” in a 9 to 5, but the work you speed home to do after the 9 to 5. It isn’t a bed of roses, but for you there is something in it that calls to you.

Doing work you are called to do isn’t necessarily coming from mount high. It may have fell into your lap or come from a what looked like a necessity. Either way, the work you do is in your bones.

It is the truth and the truth is freedom. Take my friend. For sake of one’s anonymity, I’ll refer to her as Pixie. Pixie is a landscape architect.

Sure, she could quit her job to start her own thing, but she sees herself as tied to someone else paying her bills and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this line of thinking. The woman has to eat, but she is also asking for freedom. By “freedom”, she means the room to stay at home when she wants, be around folks when she wants, perhaps use her skill set to direct the course of the company she works for. The list goes on.

And here is the issue I run into with the Pixies of the world who says to me, “I want to start a business.”

The problem with Pixie is she doesn’t really want to put a stake in the ground and do something different. She doesn’t really have problems… and that is the problem.

In fact, working for someone else means she doesn’t really face where the “real” problems lie. Most people are not going to test the boundaries of their “needs” in order to jump into the possible “real” problems. (ie. water, shelter, health <— although “affordable” health care has been a bit of a joke for your girl, but whatev!)

I know we hear “quit your job; live your dreams”, but think for a moment what it would ACTUALLY take for you to really, legit consider quitting what you do now to pursue a new gig or expand on what you’ve been doing for a while now.

Most people are not up and changing what they know for what they don’t know. Contrary to popular belief, millennials are not carelessly striking out on their own to pursue pipe dreams.

If this is true, are we just going around in circles? What is an example of a legit course of action for our girl, Pixie? What would you do?

Saying NO to Starting a Business.

Saying NO to Starting a Business.

So here’s the story: A few weeks back, Craig calls me. I was busy at the time but eventually got to return his call.

He lost his job and as a solution to ease his stress he wanted to know if he should start a business. If you’ve ever started a business or knows someone who has, you’ll find this comical to say the least. Collect yourself.

Any who, he calls, but I ignore it.

I’m usually busy throughout the day and if I talk to someone at certain times I can easily do that thing where you mentally rush a person off of the phone. Even though it is mostly in my head, it’s rude so I just don’t answer the phone.

It is why taking time off is important. It can be damn hard to “take off” when you do what you love, but it is important.

I mean really important. You can’t just take off a day here and there either. I mean really take the time to not do anything.

So here’s the thing: It has taken me years to get the benefit of it. When you feel called to something, you are driven by it. Some of this is ego, mind you. I don’t necessarily believe it is always a good or bad thing, but it can prevent you from thinking straight.

What I mean by “straight” is when it comes to your work, pick a lane. PICK A LANE. When you drive in too many lanes you may end up doing one or more of the following three things:

  1. Piss off your colleagues, team and powers that be (i.e. clients)
  2. Stop yourself from being good at one or two things, if you’re trying to be good at 5 or 6 things. We gettttt it! You’re impactful. You’re very accomplished. You’re smart and witty. You’re still just the one person who, despite how hard you’ve tried, is really only really good at the one or two things.  
  3. You’re avoiding a hard truth that I learned the hard way: Having your hand in 101 things (on the board of this, volunteer for that, attending 10 networking events in a 7 day span) will not necessarily mean you’ll be able to accomplish it all, see it all, fulfill it all or be it all to everyone. In short, trust that your lane is enough to make the impact it’s meant to make. Doing more than that means you’re really not accomplishing anything.

And when you have your car in different lanes, you take yourself too seriously. You fancy yourself more important than you actually are.

Anywho, Craig called and wanted to know if he should start a business.

I laughed. The answer is hell no. Hell. No. Hells No. Hellllllll NO!

Hell no. I didn’t say it this way, of course. What do you take me for? I’m no ass hole.

We all have that one friend or cousin who right after college said, “I should be a teacher!” It was determined right after school when said person did not get into the program they wanted or could not land the job they wanted to land.

I did it and was awful at it, but thought it was a good idea, because “Hey! Ebonni loves the kids.” I also am pretty good at English and how hard is it to teach someone? (I was 22. Give me a break, will you?!)

Anywho, the lesson here is… you guessed it… a good teacher is a great teacher because of the focus they devote to their craft. They learn it. They practice it. They work to improve it. For some, they are called and it is kind of disrespectful to blurt out “Let me try this on forsayingnotobusiness size!” on a whim. If you’re going to pick up a new trade or vocation, respect the industry enough to do something. Ask yourself, “If I knew I would question myself, my skill, my bank account – would I still want to do/be a {insert dream/business/idea}?”

If your answer is no or you’re wavering, you’ll want to ask yourself some more clarifying questions. We’ll get to them later.

Craig’s answer was no and my answer was good. Stay in your lane. It saves people, clients, family, friends and most importantly….you, time, money and sanity.

Company Culture as a Social Entrepreneur

Company Culture as a Social Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, starting a new venture brings means identifying purposeful direction, profit opportunities, and people. People to manage the vision, people to deeply connect with and people who have like minded missions or can benefit from your mission.

Developing a company culture when it is a one woman show seemed necessary when i started idea, but who has time for warm and fuzzy-soft sell stuff when you have services to sell and people to benefit?

It doesn’t seem necessary and it seemed like another distraction which for any entrepreneur can be your kryptonite.

To me, however, company culture meant the spoken and unspoken ways a group of people identify with one another. If when it was just me i didn’t get my insecurities and weaknesses in check i would not have a group of people to call a team, nor would i have a viable – purposeful, profitable, centered around the people – business.

Developing a company culture may not have been the number two focus or even the 32nd item on the old to do list, but taking one hour a week or even monthly to consider my shortcomings and how i envisioned the company moving forward, there would be no roadmap for when the team did come on board.

And man was i excited when the opportunity to hire arose.

Now culture is not always something you can steer, but your personality, fears, crazy habits and strengths, as the company’s founder or leader, does create social cues and politics within teams.

Groceries: How to Shop Small and Make Change

Groceries: How to Shop Small and Make Change

Groceries Photo 1 I don’t know that people always realize the power they have when it comes to…well anything, but in this case I’m referring to the local economy. When your neighbor is doing well, when you are doing well, when businesses are doing well, we all benefit. by “well”, I am referring to something as simple as spending time at your local park, volunteering for a cause that is important to you, and/or buying your kid his new school outfit at the local uniform store. I don’t always realize the benefits of shopping local or playing local until recently. Read More »

Our #ShopSmall Movement: Day 1

Our #ShopSmall Movement: Day 1

Welp…I suck!

Let me start by saying how much I love pens. I have 3 very obvious obsessions if you know me.

  1. Jewelry (the more the merrier)
  2. Pens (the really thin point ones or calligraphy – i was born in the wrong time.)
  3. Magazines (don’t bend my pages!!)

Does this make me uber odd? Fine, I’ll take it.

I woke up this morning excited about going to the library to do some research and realized i didn’t have any of my pens. I can’t doodle or jot down randomness without a pencil or a thin pen!! The problem with this is I can’t just go to CVS or damn Walgreens to get my bloody pens.

It is 7:30am. I am so hungry my ribs are touching. There isn’t anything to eat of interest in my home and there aren’t any stinkin’ pens in my laptop book bag.

I got in the car to look for a diner before I head to the library. I passed 5 Mcdonalds. I don’t eat there often anyway, but on this day I would have stopped to get a mcmuffin. As I passed these perfectly fine breakfast places, I look for a Florida version of a bodega. If you are from the north, you’ll know what I’m referring to. If you aren’t, just think a mom and pop version of CVS. There are no mutha friggin bodegas in Florida! Bodegas always have pens or at the very least a 2 pack of pencils that I could sharpen with my cute little red sharpener.

I decided to forgo the pen and just get my egg sandwich from tower deli and diner in Fort Lauderdale, fl. I think my lesson is to consider what I’ll need for the next day, but I have another idea I’ll share with you later.

I finally get to the library, get settled and realize my time of the month has just rung the alarm. As you may have guessed based on the morning I’ve had I was not prepared for it. I had to buy tampax from the corner store. I felt a little bit better about it because it was a corner store, but still…I had already found a small company that makes tampons and maxi pads. My best friend reminded me about toxic shock syndrome when I mentioned I was getting tampons from a smaller company and not tampax. I assume she believes that unless you are large manufacturer, you are not as safe. I wonder if a lot of people have this school of thought. I did the research on the syndrome (read here)( http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20021326). Needless to say, it does not occur often and any products that do cause it have been pulled off the shelf.

I did get pens from the corner store, as well.

I have talked nothing of food yet. I’ll share my first experience at the farm.

Questions? Thoughts? Ready to #shopsmall?

Your Fears Will Wallop You

Your Fears Will Wallop You

Only think about how you’ll make a living and/or how you’ll pay the overhead needed to do the work you want to do after you’ve spent time being creative.

You have to keep a roof over your head, keep the lights on and keep food in your belly! You may already have employees or investors to consider. In some ways, money is all you think about when you think about starting a business, running a campaign or developing a community initiative.

With that said, here is my thought for the day: during the period of time that you are brainstorming, creating, and/or flushing out the idea, try not to focus on money while you are working out the details of your business, non-profit, or program.

Yes, eventually you have to add money to the equation, however spend a brainstorming session (or two) just flushing out the idea.

I highly encourage you to focus on the idea for a select period of time for a few reasons:

  1. You may not want to earn money doing the work you are meant to do. I know this may be surprising, but some people want to do what they love without earning a living doing it. I like to question our clients on this on occasion, because some people take on this philosophy, not because they have no interest in making money from their work, but because they don’t see themselves (or their work) as valuable.
  1. If you focus on your idea while you obsess over how you’ll make money, the creative juices will either slow down to a painful drip or stop all together. I can attest to this fact in ways i won’t talk about here. Let’s just say it is better when you create, plan, then consider logistics, in that order.
  1. Money is a result, not a solution. What i mean by this is even if you had all the money in the world, it won’t help you if you haven’t properly planned anything. It doesn’t mean money can’t assist with moving your idea forward. It means seeing it as a solution will keep you chasing after money and not expanding on an idea.

Most people will now think i’ve lost my mind. You want me not to consider earning a living. It will go against everything you’ve ever understood or experienced in your life. You have to eat, right? You will inevitably ask yourself, “well, pray tell, genius, how are you going to eat while being a sculptor?” This question is important and shouldn’t be ignored, however, give yourself a task to add “idea logistics” back into the planning stage once you’ve made headway with the actual idea.

Sustaining your well-being, earning a living, keeping a roof, paying bills, eating, etc. Are necessities, right? Assume for a moment these things are a part of the equation. Consider your idea first, and we will tackle these important details in a bit. I want to ask you a question that you should do before you consider money.

Question: “do i have what it takes?”

Many people don’t even go here, because the thought of restructuring your business, starting a new business, or organizing an annual event never actually happens because they are immediately stopped by, “will i have to change the life i have grown accustomed to in order to make it happen?” In some cases, yes.

There are a lot of things you thought you’d never do in your life or career, yet somehow you did it. The question is, do you think you will be able to do it? The deeper question is, do you think you’re enough to do it? Good enough? Smart enough? Old enough? Young enough? Experienced enough? All good questions that cause fear in some people and stop the others from doing the work all together.

Right now, all i am suggesting is for you to think about the idea only. Here are a few ways to focus your mind on what is important right now:

  1. Who will want what i am offering? (market research)
  2. What location will i use to do my work? (operations)
  3. What problem am i attempting to solve by doing this work? (marketing)
  4. If i were successful, what would the people i work with have as a result?

So what now?

Use the example from the original email i sent you to help you flush out the idea. If you don’t get those emails, sign up at the bottom of this page.

Flush out your idea and answer the above questions by using google keep (where you can put down all of your brainstormed ideas without anyone seeing it…yet!): >>>your ideas

As you begin to think about logistics, the thought of money will come up. What helped me to make my work financially possible, was a simple key that changed the direction of my business. I’ll tell you about that next time.

 

Your Parent’s House Is Your New Home

Your Parent’s House Is Your New Home

First, you will share your idea with the list. Tim has his list, but he also took the time to build a larger list. I’ll discuss soon how to build a larger list, but in the meantime let’s focus on your list of friends, family, co-workers, exes, etc.

You’ll need your list for a lot of reasons, but as you build your business plan, you may choose to call on your family, friends and colleagues to support you financially. We will talk about how to enroll your closest peeps into your new ideas. Hint: advisory board

First, read this article that talks about the “ins and outs of raising money”: here’s the article.

Will you call them? Suggest a lunch date through text? Send them a handwritten note? Print an advertisement? Send them an email? At a later time, I’ll share with you my suggestion on which (and how many of the above) you could do. Bottom line? Having a conversation with someone is the greatest way to convey your ideas. Simple, right? Yeah, but a lot of people don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable.

Whichever method you choose, before you communicate, know the following:

  • What is your idea?
  • How will you and the person you speak with be impacted by your idea?
  • Why do you have this idea?

Go here to type up your answers.

Later we will focus on where and how to best convey this information given your personality type. Not everyone wants to do video or write an email, and for some, the idea of networking events makes you want to hurl. For now, just answer the three questions.

It isn’t enough to think you know the answers. Putting pen to paper (or thumbs to cell phone buttons) and reading your own words about your work will begin to confirm in your mind, “this is something I am doing now. “

Once you have the answers, you can turn them into to talking points, or if you’re like me, just simple reminders when i speak to someone on my list. Whether at happy hour, on a group chat, or sending an email (make it personal—ask me how later), have some idea of what to say. The easy part is being yourself. It could be shy and funny, introverted and personable, or quirky and awkward.

One last point before i get back to Noelani. Don’t think so much when you answer the questions above. I am guilty of this myself, but learn to use other tools, like talking out your idea with a confidant or journaling about what you envision or trying a new hobby that has nothing to do with the idea. Overthinking doesn’t solve problems; it creates new ones.

The trick to writing these answers is to allow yourself to say what you’ve only let be a passing thought, and then start typing/writing what comes up. If you get nothing, let it be. Then come back to it once a day or once a week until you begin to type.

So Noelani went to live with her parents. This was before the awful government job, but after the dream design job that laid her off. It really upset her, as she loved the people she worked with. I think she would stab me in the eye for saying this, but if not for being laid off, she would never have thought to open a business. Neither option (“real job” or “fake job”) is better, in my opinion, but one incident led to another, which led to her work. She could have made any number of decisions, but she got her business. I mentioned in the last note that she did what most people dread: returned home. It’s not so much living with the parents that sucks people; it’s what it means: failing. “is this all I have to show for my life and my work so far?”

I’m not suggesting this option for you, but we need to be honest and realistic about what it takes to strike out and do the work. One or more of the decisions listed below must be made, with a plan to soon follow. Even if you’ve had a successful idea, business, initiative or project, as you raise the bar on your goals, you’ll have to decide and plan with one or more of the following again and again.

  1.  Living with parents.
  2. Talking with your mate about finances, emotions, fears, possibilities.
  3. Three-to-six months of savings (the amount depends on your comfort zone, but don’t make the bar so high you won’t do it).
  4. A side job to save for it.
  5. A side job while you’re doing it.
  6. “buy in” from the people that need to be on board.
  7. An honest, no-holds-barred list of your fears and what needs to be true in order to move forward (here’s a linkto read more about fears and how they can stop you from even thinking about your work).
  1. Create the list (not optional).
  2. Write down any and all questions that come to mind.
  3. Ask a friend/mate to keep you accountable. (they are more likely to stick to this if you communicate what you are doing and why they should care.)

There are more items, but this is a good beginning. Over the years of having clients who don’t consider what it means to do the work or do consider it and fear paralyzes them, I have found that ultimately, anyone can do it, but spending time on the logistics is key.

Ah, logistics. My absolute favorite pastime. It is the meat and potatoes behind The Idea, Inc.: what are the desired outcomes and the steps for each? What do you need emotionally, financially, and physically to get there? Who is going to do it with you?

Noelani finally left the parental units’ abode for the awful government job. She needed to work. She was off to d.c. I think she knew right away she would loathe the position, but she met her current husband within two weeks of moving and also made a few lifelong friends. I am an advocate for the “fake job,” but don’t knock the benefits of what you learn and who you meet while on the “real job.”

After a few months, Noelani hadn’t done much with the design business. The allure of consistent paychecks stopped her from pursuing the business she started a year before. The allure is real, folks, but at some point, you have to “stop eating the cookies.”

For the cultural reference i just made, click the link below. Don’t judge me, i thought it was a cute movie: cult classic?

Sincerely,
Ebonni

P.s. My experience with our “creative clients” is they tend to be extremely hard on themselves. So much so that to move forward frightens them. The idea of showing someone their work debilitates them. Even in success they find creative ways to stop the momentum. But the problems creatives see are real, legitimate problems to which they can’t figure a solution. When we worked with Laureen, the photographer and teacher, she did the harmful thing to herself that could have ended her opportunity to have the business she really wanted.

 

Keep Banging on the Door

Keep Banging on the Door

…you become an idealistic, determined, wanton, creative, annoyed person.

I’m tired of people asking me, “how’s business?” You really want to know about business? I feel totally inept some days. Other days I feel like a superhero. The day after that, I wonder if I’ve lost my mind, because for the 10th time in 3 hours my mom asks me, “are you okay, honey?” No, no I’m not ok, mommy. I just told you, I’m an idealistic, determined, wanton, creative, annoyed person. You become so much of the “determined, wanton, creative, annoyed” part that you don’t even see yourself as idealistic. Who has time for that when i have real issues in my life? But yeah, I get it. You’re still a little idealistic underneath what life covers up.

Then it gets worse. You can’t go back. Well, you could and you’ve thought about it, and who would blame you if you did? But you don’t. I’m supposed to be the poster child for living out dreams. I’m supposed to put memes on Instagram that inspire you, when really what I want to do is jolt you—make you think differently about your idea than ever before, expand your vision and scope of the idea or business or whatever the hell you are meant to do.

Doing the work of an idealistic annoyed is a pain and I don’t recommend it. The funny thing is, we (The Idea, Inc. Folks) happen to work with people who couldn’t care less if anyone recommends it, because they’re doing it anyway.

The truth is, you’ve gone too far now. You have to keep moving forward—to dig deeper for more (fill in the word I can’t seem to think of) in order to move forward. The word isn’t inspiration, because if you are who I think you are, you’ve been inspired to death. Motivation doesn’t work. I’m trying to expand people’s view of business ’round here. I couldn’t be more motivated if I tried.

There is a word, and Idon’t know what it is for you, that pushes you to keep going past the place on the path where you should have taken that job offer, should have gone back to school, should have taken the sabbatical or done the guest professor gig, but there’s that thing, that word again.

Some choose to stop on the path. The marathon turned into 191.3 miles, so no one blamed you when you jumped on another path. My hat goes off to you, sir. Others will still walk down the unbeaten path because it’s really all they could do anyway.

Is this what you really want to do? Finding out the “this” is the least of your worries. You and I both know, you know what it is. The question to ask yourself is, “do I—me, the person I have to look at every day—really feel that thing I can’t find the word to, the push to do the this?”

I believe people know what their purpose/passion/”real work”/vocation/”fake job,” whatever you choose to call it, is already. I just think people choose to ignore it. It may be too close to see, but you know it.

Either way, keep banging on the door.

Sincerely,
An idealistic annoyed

P.s. You might bang softer than the next idealistic annoyed. Noelani did. She doesn’t like to be the center of attention, so she wouldn’t dare bang on the door too loud, but somehow she gets in anyway. One day before even the awful government job, she had to do the thing that most of us would die before doing.

 

Your Career Could Change at a Moment’s Notice

Your Career Could Change at a Moment’s Notice

Make “the list.”

Tim calls himself a change agent, as he should. He travels around the world making it a better place. So we manage his everyday affairs. The truth is, as your “fake job” becomes the real work you want to do, you will begin to realize some of the desired outcomes you seek (i.e. An office space, x amount of dollars per month, people you love are impacted, work with people and organizations that feel like you’ve met your tribe). When this happens, key roles and responsibilities may fall between the cracks—anything from calling back a potential client to sending current clients an invoice.

It happened to Tim. So he wrote the list and asked those on it who they knew that could give him more time to focus on what he wanted to focus on, and not always what he needed to focus on.

The list is not a “to-do list.” It is who you know and how being in connection with them can support your work. Make a list of everyone you’ve ever known—people from childhood, high school, college, your first job, your last job, the ex, the friend, the roommate. If you can name them, they should be on the list. Even if you think someone would never help you, they should go on the list. It will come in handy throughout the process of building your idea.

Wanna know why? Because whether someone hates the ground you walk on or loves you to pieces, depending on how you communicate a desire, if they can help you and it costs them nothing to do so, they will. In some cases, even if it does cost them, they will be of service in some way.

The list is key to every aspect of your idea. Once you have the list, you’ll need to know what to say, how to say, and in which format to say it—in other words, how to talk with the different people on the list in a way that is authentic, chill, and to the point. Don’t sweat the technique. I’ll get to it.

The excitement for me, every single time, is driving through the one roadblock each person shoots my way when i ask them to make the list: “I’m too scared to reach out to them.” But the wonderful thing about the list is you don’t always have to call anyone. You do, however, have to be your own spokesperson.

For now, don’t worry; no one is making you call a soul. However, creating the list means you can decide what you’d like to ask or tell people on the list—not multiple things but one thing. Maybe a person can recommend others to be on the planning committee for a 5k run, or for a market research group for an idea to expand your business.

In Noelani’s case, the one thing was having small, start-up clients. If, and it was still a big if, she quit the awful government job, she needed way more than pipe dreams to pay the bills.

I’m not suggesting you jump without a net. When I suggested the list to Noelani over six years ago, I also had a contingency plan in my back pocket. Some of our clients need more than one, but I’ll talk about my story another time. In the end, you’ll have what you need to quit, if you choose to do so.

[at some point, I’ll send a survey that will help you decide if you’re ready to be a sucka.]

On your list, don’t just “think” of the people you know, write them down. You do this already when you are in need of something—who to call for it trouble, parenting advice, revamping a wardrobe, or editing a bio. Formalize the list so you can see who you know, how you can support them, and vice versa. We’ll get back to your next step soon, but just know that Tim using his list is how he found us.

On the other hand, Noelani didn’t want to even think about the list. She just wanted to know what the hell to do next. It turns out the contract would not be extended. Friday was her last day. Monday came around and she called me with the sound of tears in her voice . . .

Until next time,
Ebonni

P.s. I started to work with Tim to organize his day-to-day business responsibilities. One important tool to remember is no matter where your real work is on your list of priorities (and our goal is to move it up to at least number 4), take time every week to do the next thing you need to do. It won’t happen unless you schedule it. Period.