This morning, I woke up early and drank a cup of tea in front of my Christmas tree while flipping through a book I'd received many years ago. In the Company Of Woman by Grace Bonney showcases advice and insights from 100+ women creatives and entrepreneurs, and this morning, it brought me some much needed inspiration. Buy yourself a copy here.
I then wrote out all the questions each of these great women in the book answered. It was a great reflective exercise to think through these questions and then be able to articulate my own answers, which you can see below. I encourage you to take these questions and create your own answers.
Writer, Educator, Entrepreneur
1. What did you want to be when you were a child?
I was once shown my pre-school yearbook where, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded that I wanted to be “a stranger”. I still don’t know what that means. I also remember wanting to be a veterinarian and help people in some way.
2. Best piece of business advice?
Be patient and focus on the task at hand. You will have a lot of distractions trying to pull you off course, but you are responsible for reminding yourself of where you’re going.
3. Favorite thing about your workspace?
All my books, my giant drafting table desk, and my dog on the floor.
4. Fear/professional challenge that keeps you up at night?
Being behind. I tend to be an anxious person, so my big fear is that everybody else has it all figured out somehow and I’m still struggling.
5. Has learning from a mistake ever led to success?
I guess the “mistake” I learned from was staying at a job I hated for too long because I thought it brought security. The realization that I physically cannot subject myself to meaningless, soul-crushing work led me to my dream job and the resolution that I will only do work I’m proud to do.
6. Biggest overall lesson in running your business?
If your body is failing because you are not taking care of yourself, you will not be able to run your business. Take care of yourself first and set boundaries.
7. Quotation/saying that inspires/motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
I love the power of words and find many different quotes inspiring. To pick one from my favorite book: "...many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow." - Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
8. Greatest success/something you’re most proud of in business?
I am probably most proud of starting my first business as a sophomore in college. It was my first step well beyond my comfort zone to attempt to bring together the things I cared about in order to help others. It also resulted in a Raymond Von Dran IDEA Award and a Kauffman Entrepreneurship Engagement Fellowship which, at the time, was needed validation that I was on the right track.
9. What does the world need more of? Less of?
More intention, less indifference.
10. Woman or women past or present that you admire or look up to?
Melinda Gates for her generosity, J.K. Rowling for her imagination, and Maya Angelou for her insights.
11. Personal/professional motto?
Watch with glittering eyes… – Roald Dahl I always hope to be curious, in awe of this wonderful world around us, and maintain a sense of innocence.
12. What does success mean to you?
I’ve boiled down success to ultimately mean peace of mind. I simply want to be proud of the work I’m doing, get paid enough doing what I love, take care of myself, enjoy the wonderful people and hobbies I’ve surrounded myself with, and know my life is moving perfectly forward.
13. In moments of self-doubt/adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Therapy, tea, tears, and books. I, unfortunately, take a little bit of time to rebound but have gotten more patient with myself when I need some self-care.
14. What would you tell yourself 10-20 years ago that you wish you knew then?
Don’t take everything so seriously. Fun does not equal failure.
15. Given $100M, would you run your business differently?
Yes, I would say no to small tasks and focus solely on a big passion project. Take some time to travel, write, and self-publish a novel.
16. Top 3 things someone should consider before starting a business?
17. No-fail, go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
Nature, exercise, and books.
18. At what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?
In 2010, I was a sophomore in college when the Haiti Earthquake happened. I was a music major who did not like performing and did not want to teach music, but was fascinated with how the arts could achieve community outcomes. I then organized my creative friends to put on an event and raise money to donate to relief efforts. This was my first introduction to entrepreneurship.
19. The first thing you do every morning to start your day off on the right foot?
I try to meditate for 5 minutes and do some writing. It could be creative writing or writing some notes of gratitude. I tend to be inconsistent, but I notice my days start off better when I make the time.
20. What would you do with 3 more hours a day?
Read, write, and/or go to the gym.
21. Which of your traits are you most proud of?
I’ve grown to love my intensity. I love hard, laugh harder, protect fearlessly, and feel deeply. I used to think it was all too much, but as I got older I realized how much effort I made to water myself down to a version I thought was more digestible to others. I’m proud of the effort I make to better understand myself and the world around me and be more authentic.
22. What tool/object/ritual could you not live without in your workday?
My notebook/planner. I’ve had many over the years and feel lost without it. Recently made the switch from Moleskine to Leuchtturm1917 brand.
23. Biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting/running a business?
Starting a business and putting yourself “out there” means you sacrifice the safety of blending in; the anonymity of mediocrity; the lack of ownership or responsibility.
24. What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
I very much admire those men and women who resist the temptation to overthink and are resilient to any and all factors that might prevent them from creating.
25. Favorite thing to come home to after a long day of work?
My family, a stocked pantry and clean dishes so I can cook something delicious, a good book I’m particularly enjoying, and maybe a craft beer.
26. Where were you when you came up with the idea for your business or discovered what you wanted to do?
At Syracuse University.
27. What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries.
28. How important is it to share your time with people who do what you do or share your background?
I tend to value solitude, but I do see the value in sharing ideas. I don’t think people need to do what I do or share my background because I love learning from people with a wide variety of experiences that are different than my own.