Last week I mentioned that a bunch of super cool stuff was coming sooon. Well, the first bit is here.
This week’s FTW post is very, very special as it not only features my very close friend and co-leader of the Makeness Insiders, it also introduces her as on official member of The Makeness Family.
Yup, I totally feel like I just gave birth to a perky, blond adult mother of two.
Someone get me a cigar.
Miki is joining Makeness as our Chief Story Maker. That means she will be working in various capacities to help our clients and community members connect deeply with – and express – the story that most matters in their business. You can read more about what Miki will be doing for us over here.
But first, a little setup. Miki and I have been professional friends for years now. And I sort of hung back on the sidelines and watched her metamorphosis from confused newbie to confident business voice happen over that time. I had always been a big fan of her expressive writing voice, but she wrote mostly about parenting so, being kidless, I wasn’t super tuned-in. Then, last year, she asked me for some more formal coaching to help her take a look at a project she had been working on in her photography business. And we started chatting more and more from there. Pretty soon I was having her edit every single thing I wrote [so yeah, everything I have written in the past year has had her eyes on it – and every time she did, she made my work SO much better], and we were quickly realizing that our skills complimented each other in a really elegant and unexpected way.
Where my tone can be sharp, Miki finds sweetness.
Where I try to hide the real, gritty truth [with cuss words and crass jokes, generally], Miki digs deeper.
She has an incredible talent for cutting through the crap to the most beautiful story underneath that I never even knew was there.
And I knew that my clients needed this too.
So, I started begging/bugging her to join Makeness formally.
I begged and bugged, and promised that she would and should still maintain her own business at TheLovelyNow.com. [Because in addition to getting to our own personal stories, Miki also happens to be a brilliant visual storyteller too. And her photography captures the very same things in print that she does in her coaching work. She finds the sweetness in your chaos. The perfect, silent moment in the noise. ]
Miki gets to the heart of the matter. She challenges those around her to be better. And she does it with so much love you won’t even feel the swift kick in the ass.
I am positively overjoyed to have her on the team.
[My comments in italics.]
Makeness: So, What is the ONE thing you know that you have nailed in your business? Be specific:
The thing that I’m best at is being real and creating safe spaces for people to be real with me. Because people feel safe being real with me they let me see them for who they truly are. It helps me get to the heart of things quickly. I can see the pieces that really matter to someone.
It helps me see through lines and connections between things that might seem blurry to people that are living in the midst of ALL THE THINGS, which means I’m really good at solving problems and reframing their vision so that they can see for themselves the possibilities that are there once they feel free to be themselves.
In working with me, people feel free to stop trying to measure themselves by an external set of criteria and together we create a path forward that feels meaningful and is based in their own values and desires.
[This is so totally at the core of the work we do here. It’s not about rules or comparisons or shoulds. True, honest, thriving business is about what’s right for YOU.]
Makeness: Tell us about all the things you tried that relate to this that DIDN’T work?
Oh my god. So many things. All the things that crapped out where when I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, when I was trying to fit myself into someone else’s mold.
For my photography work, I spent a lot of time trying to get my images to look like the photographers’ whom I admired. But this left me feeling so stressed out the whole time I was working. I was constantly afraid I’d fail and that all my images would be crap. Once I gave myself permission to do the kind of photography I want to do and shoot the way I want to shoot, my work got so much better.
The same thing holds true for my business model. For the longest time I tried to find the “one thing” that I could be known for. I spent so much time thinking about what I do, and that has paid off in many ways, but the big “aha” was when I realized that my work isn’t about any one product.
[I love this. I went through the same thing. And I think a LOT of others do as well. And it’s different from, but similar to, comparisonitis. Because it’s not about wanting to be LIKE someone else, it’s wishing YOUR big idea would just present itself already. It’s so easy to look at everyone else who seems successful and go, “Oh that’s Ms. NameOfFamousCourse, and that’s Mr.BigEventEveryoneGoesToEveryYear. Everyone seems to have a ‘thing’ and I’m just over her not having a thing yet.”]
It’s about the way I see the world, the type of person I want to be in it, and the relationships I want to have along the way. That opened up so much freedom to be able to bring my heart and vision into a bunch of seemingly random offers, but that are all really powerfully tied together because they’re different facets of my best gifts.
Makeness: What was the catalyst for getting your thing to work really, really well?
Several things. The first being I got really fucking tired of just thinking about stuff all the time so I started to make stuff and to see what stuck, what I liked doing, and what others wanted from me.
[Sometimes, you have to just push the boulder up the fucking hill. Even when you have no idea if you are on the right hill, or if you will like the view when you get there.]
Secondly, I embraced the safety net of my day job, which allowed me to start crafting my creative work in a way that brought me joy rather than having to worry about putting food on the table.
[So wait. What you’re saying is, leaping headfirst off the cliff THEN starting to build the parachute is NOT actually required to be an entrepreneur? Interesting. Tell me more.]
And thirdly, I called Illana. [Oh. THERE it is.] She helped me see that this realness and truth thing I do is really valuable. [FUCK YEAH I DID.] You know that old business line about doing the thing that comes so naturally to you/doing the thing that people keep asking you to do? I’d heard it a million times, but couldn’t see the value in it until Illana held up the mirror for me. I’m really good at seeing it in other people but just couldn’t see it in myself. (We teach what we most need to learn, and all.) And I will be forever grateful to Illana for her confidence and trust in me.
[Also, I swear I didn’t pay her to say that. I’m paying her to say other things, but not THAT. THAT was all her.]
Makeness: How do you know it’s working?
I know it’s working because people keep asking me for more of it. And it’s something that comes really effortlessly to me. I don’t say this to brag, but simply to point out that it’s something that’s really strongly in my wheelhouse. It doesn’t require jumping through hoops or the letting of blood. It’s something I almost literally do in my sleep (Seriously, some of my most creative time is the half hour before I fall asleep. Which makes heading to bed an adventure. I always need pen and paper next to me.)
[Yeah. I made her stop calling me at 11:30 with life-altering ideas – it was freaking out my cat. No lie. We are trying to figure out how to monetize the half hour before Miki falls asleep.]
At first I was afraid that now that I know this is a thing I could do that really helped people, that all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to do it any more. But now that I am conscious of what I do, I’m getting clearer and clearer on how I do it, and that’s actually making my work stronger. So the fact that it didn’t disappear is another way I know it’s working.
[Apparently the rumors about an angry band of True Gift thieves roaming Phoenix were overblown.]
And it’s working because it makes me feel so damn good to do it. My brain lights up and I get so excited every time something that was foggy becomes clear. Everyone longs to be seen for who they truly are, to have their best self honored and reflected back to them and if I get to play even a small part in that, it’s a good, good day for me.
[Seriously. It’s like magic. If you have never had someone do this for you, put it on your life-list. Being really seen is one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive, and Miki’s ability to not only do that, but synthesize it into applicable, relevant business ideas is truly amazing.]
Makeness: What influenced the direction you took ‘the thing’?
I realized that the big question I help people answer is, “What matters most to me?” and that pretty much all the aspects of my life come into play when helping people answer it for themselves. So I use my theater training to be able to see the moment when something clicks, when a family deepens into connection, or when a business owner is in flow. And then I help people use all this information to tell their story, mining for the most important bits and making intangible things (like “love”, or “your business dream”) tangible – actionable.
I think it’s really cool how two things as seemingly different as photography and business strategy actually make use of the same sets of skills.
[I think that’s exceedingly cool too. And is something we will be talking about A LOT going forward. Because beyond being someone with interests in different areas, the most successful people out there today are the ones who can apply lessons they have gathered from every aspect of their lives to approach problem-solving holistically. It truly is worst-kept secret out there today: You don’t have to pick a lane. You don’t have to pick a niche. You have to pick who you want to be in the world, who you want to surround yourself with, and then take everything you have ever learned to go forth and BE THAT.]
Makeness: What advice would you give to others who feel like their ‘thing’ isn’t working?
Holy shit this stuff takes time.
Be ever so gentle and patient with yourself. I got my LLC and hung out my shingle eight years ago, and I am just now starting to see how all the pieces fit together and how I can best be of service.
Another thing is to try the stuff that you want to try. For a long time I limited myself to doing things the way the “industry” did it. And for a long time I spent a lot of time just in my head thinking about stuff. As soon as I decided to just follow the direction my interests and skills led me, the more things started to actually happen.
Definitely surround yourself with good people, people who can see your gifts even if you can’t see them clearly yourself. Having a cheering section helps keep you going when you just want to barf and throw in the towel.
And find the thing that you care so deeply and strongly about that you can’t not do it. Find the thing that keeps you up at night and keeps pulling you forward. From what I’ve seen, every strong business is built on the relentless care of the people who make it.
Anything else you’d like people to know?
Every single business is always a shifting, changing entity, every single one. Even those people you admire because they look like they have it all together are doing the work one day at a time. They have fears, and doubts, and backslides, and inner critics just like you. And they can survive because every day they tend their garden (even if that day’s tending looks like letting the field lay fallow), just like you can.
Celebrate how far you’ve come, and keep on going.
[FUCK YEAH. AmIright?!?]
What are you currently promoting in your business?
[I’m gonna take this one. Miki is working actively with clients currently on board with Makeness around storytelling and collaborative copywriting. And as of right now, all new coaching clients will also have Miki available to them, should their needs require her special talents. We have already beta tested co-coaching clients, and the results were delicious. So basically, if you have been interested in working with ME, I just made it twice as awesome. You can read more about Partnership Coaching here.]
How would you like readers to reach out to you?
Or tweet me:@MikiDeVivo
Or instagram me: www.instagram.com/mikidevivo
Or, if you want to read more of my writing or view more of my photography, you can check out my other site: TheLovelyNow.com
or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
[P.S. Miki isn’t the only new arrival. More introductions will be coming soooooooon…..]
Are you TOTALLY WINNING at something, or know someone who is? Tell us all about it and see your very own story here.
Please note: I have turned off comments on the blog because I have found that we have far more lively conversation inside the Makeness Insider Community on Facebook. If you would like to join us there, consider this your cordial invitation.