Set Yourself Up for Success with Double Vision

I’ve been teaching women how to set ambitious and creative goals. On my latest webinar, I talked about my own story of doing too many things (which included a freelance design company, a research collaborative, a startup, an empowerment bootcamp for women, a speaker series-a pop-up dinner club…. Oh yeah and I was teaching myself hand lettering at the time.)


In truth, it was really exhausting.

I was working all the time, but I never seemed to be moving forward. I felt like I was constantly spiraling.

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What To Say When You Do When You Do More than One Thing

I saw it the moment she changed her mind.

I was sitting across from a potential client I was pursuing for my design consultancy, and I saw the moment I changed in her eyes—and I got refiled from an equity-focused design consultant to a womens’ empowerment coach.

In that moment, I wished I could just rewind the tape and never get on that conversational fork in the road that lead me to describe the other hat I wear—the one you all know me best for—teaching career advancement programs for ambitious creative women.

But it was so hard not to! My brain naturally wanted to go down that road—I think about women’s career advancement all the time, and absolutely believe it’s connected to designing more equitable places!

But when all is said and done, in that moment, a new contact—one who represented a big client and a potential big contract down the road—saw me differently, and I became someone who could help her think about how to advance her career, rather than a potential hire for their next big project.

We like things that fit in boxes. We like to know where to ‘file people.’ And we only have so much mental space allocated for people who aren’t, you know, us…… So when it’s hard to slap a twitter-length explanation of who someone is and what they do on them, we struggle to know what to do with them.

And there’s a cost to this. Because when we don’t have that ‘shorthand,’ we don’t think of them when opportunities come along that might fit them—when we launch that new project with room for their skills, or need a speaker for the event, or a person to lead the division.

Now this can be a big issue if you wear more than one hat. Because not only is it hard for someone to “file you away as a filmmaker/engineer/circus acrobat, but it’s also hard to sometimes know which hat you should wear in any given situation. And it’s tiring. Sometimes it feels like you have to move from one context to another, again and again.

I don’t think I’ll ever wear just one hat. Even if I were to run just one business, I can’t imagine a world in which I’m not painting, learning ceramics or taking an improv class in my free time. But after that client meeting went off the tracks, I decided I needed to be more intentional about my overlap and my approach. Here are the rules of thumb I developed.

1. Define what you’re looking for with each hat you wear. It’s hard to advocate for yourself if you don’t know what you want. Come up with one or two things you want most in each area—to be in a solo or group show for your painting? To be known for your expertise in a certain area in order to line up a promotion? Introductions to potential writing collaborators?

2. Decide which hat to wear with people beforehand. Before you meet a potential connection, or go to a networking event, decide which hat will be your primary hat for the day. Don’t overthink this. What do you think this person or group can help you with most? Resist the urge to feel like people need to ‘get’ the whole you. You are the whole you.

3. Always keep your other hats subservient to your ‘main dish’ at the time. If any the ‘hats’ you’re not currently wearing come up in conversation, make a game time decision—is this contact or context a better fit to get you closer to your goals for another hat? If so, switch. If not, make the other hat look like a subservient point to your main hat. “My improvisational dance? It’s useful to my writing practice, because it helps me write more convincing scenes from physical and spatial perspectives.” Or something you do on the side. “When I have a little time on the weekends, I love to forage for wild herbs.”

A multipassionate once told me that being one of those people who do only one thing “would be like cutting off an arm.” This isn’t that.

This is recognizing that you are multifaceted—and just like a jewel in a ring—only a few of those facets face us at any given time.

This is about you being intentional about what that facet is going to be, so that you can be present in any given social situation, without that distracting ‘who am I?’ mind chatter, and so you can set yourself up for the opportunities you want.

Confidence Hack #3: Make the Investment

When I first started my business, I found myself staring down an empty work calendar. I was totally unbooked–except for one tiny little workshop gig. I didn’t know how to get work, I didn’t know what I what I was selling. I had no clue what to say at cocktail parties.

I felt like an impostor.

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Are You a People Pleaser and What’s it Costing You?

Does it ever take you the better part of an hour to send off an email that should have taken you five minutes, as you agonize over every layer of meaning?

Do you ever find yourself dwelling on a conversation you had with someone earlier in the day, going over every nuance of the interaction?

Do you ever defend a boundary of yours at work and then immediately feel bad about it–and worry that your boss is disappointed in you and doesn’t see you as a team player?

This week in Build Yourself+ Live Online we looked what I like to call ‘saying no to say yes’ learning to implement boundaries to all the unfiltered priorities of others (because all the priorities means no priorities) in order to direct our careers in the way we want them to go. We, as women, struggle to say no because we’ve been trained to be accommodating and put others needs ahead of our own. We also get more pushback when we say it–I get women really comfortable learning to say ‘not yet’ as a starter step which is both easier and sometimes can deflect negative perceptions of us. It’s hard to say no but it’s one of the key skills that will move you into the next leadership level.

Saying no is about time management, yes, but it’s also about unearthing a deeper skill–that of checking in with our inner wisdom.

When we practice saying no, we also remember to ask ourselves, what do I really want to be saying yes to?

When we spend our time and energy engaged in people pleasing, we fall out of touch with actively curating what we want, what we really, really want. When I first started this workshop, I thought each participant would, with the help of my strategies, hit the ground running on pursuing what she wanted for her professional life. I’ve learned, over time, that part of my job is to unlock the ballsy (and yes I used that word) girl within you and let her out again.

So when’s the last time you did something, or overdid something just to please someone? Was it today? Was it this morning? Was it five minutes ago?

Do me a favor, say no once today. It’s one of the best ways I know to tap into your “yes”.