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Working Creatively Doesn't Have to Look Like Entrepreneurship

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Working Creatively Doesn't Have to Look Like Entrepreneurship

 Working Creatively Doesn't Have to Look Like Entrepreneurship // jenniferesnyder.com

I've been giving this idea a lot of thought lately. When I first launched Creating Your Own Path as an interview series, I recalled being given a very narrow set of career options in my high school counselor's office. I was a junior at the time and that was when you were supposed to start picking out the path you might want to take in life.

So many of the jobs and career options that exist today simply didn't back then — and it hasn't been that long since high school. Even in college, I felt as though my options were limited, but times are changing and that's a good thing. 

However, I have been stumbling along my path of entrepreneurship for seven years now and, over the last year or so, I've begun realize why certain discussions in this space haven't completely resonated with me.

You see, there's this idea that working creatively means you have to run your own company. Going into business for yourself has become synonymous with success and freedom and all of those values we love to love.

But guess what? You can still work creatively for any number of super rad companies and still be successful and — wait for it — free. Want to know something else? Some of those creative jobs with organizations and companies around the world pay really well and they come with benefits and other perks like never having to use QuickBooks again, allowing the word "hustle" to fall away from your vocabulary, and going to the dentist with some regularity.

What I'm getting at, here, is that I want to urge all of us (myself included) to stop glamorizing the path of the entrepreneur. It's not glamorous. It's really hard work. Being your own boss can be awesome — that's true — but it's not the only way to create your own path.

In fact, I've met dozens and dozens of people over the years whose jobs I didn't even know existed — and the jobs they hold within their companies are SO COOL. I'm betting current high school juniors and college freshmen don't know those jobs exist either. I propose we change that. 

Who's with me?



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Applications Are Now Open for the CYOP Artist Residency Program!

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Applications Are Now Open for the CYOP Artist Residency Program!

 CYOP Artist Residency Program // jenniferesnyder.com

I'm SO excited to announce that the application window is finally open for the first ever CYOP Artist Residency! You can find information about the residency, along with the official application, by clicking the button below.

And please remember, this residency is funded in part by the sale of items in the shop. I wouldn't be able to offer a paid residency without the support of those interested in seeing programs like this succeed! 


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My Word for 2017: Open

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My Word for 2017: Open

 My Word for 2017: Open // jenniferesnyder.com

It feels a bit surreal to be scooting right past middle of January already, but over the holiday break I set some time aside to focus on the year ahead and I'm so glad I did. Just as I've done over the last two years, I'm choosing a word for the year instead of making a bunch of personal and business resolutions. 

My word for 2017 is OPEN.

I have a lot of hopes about how this word will manifest in my life. I hope it will inspire me to continue trying new things and to be open to new adventures. I also hope it will remind me that in order to open the door to something wonderful, oftentimes other doors need to close.

My biggest hope, however, is to simply be more open with how I carry myself, how I communicate, and how I approach the world around me. It may not always be easy, but I know committing to the word "open" this year will be worthwhile.

Tell me friends: have you picked your word for the year?

p.s. Here's a little inspiration from the gal who got this whole "one little word" thing started.



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The (Seemingly) Lost Art of Running a Business Like a Human Being

 The (Seemingly) Lost Art of Running a Business Like a Human Being // jenniferesnyder.com

Can we chat for a few minutes? I've been thinking about how things are going around here and I've come to a few conclusions.

At the end of August, I sent out an issue of my weekly Creative Digest that ended up serving two purposes. You can read the full email here, but let's talk about those purposes.

The first purpose was intentional: I wanted to communicate to my most dedicated readers and listeners that I needed to put things on hold for a bit. My family and I were watching my stepmom's health deteriorate rapidly and I felt the need to press pause on the elements of my work that I knew could survive my leave of absence.

The second purpose was slightly less intentional, but was—dare I say—more important: I was really honest with subscribers. I was emotional while writing, I dropped a curse word (which aligns pretty seamlessly with the real, everyday me), and I didn't censor myself. My stepmom was dying and, to be honest, censoring myself didn't even come to mind. Bottom line? I showed my humanity in that email.

A few things have happened since:

  • Immediately after hitting send, more people unsubscribed from my Creative Digest list than ever before.
  • Within hours, dozens of subscribers checked in with me by replying via email, texting, calling or reaching out on social media.
  • To date, that issue has a higher open rate and click-through rate than any other Creative Digest issue.

Here's the thing: I was initially a little disheartened to see subscribers dropping like flies. It's never fun to have quantitative evidence that shows people opting out of your humanity. However, I got over those vanity metrics pretty quickly because I knew, in my heart, that those who read my words, reached out, and engaged are the people who matter.

You see, I'm not a brand. I'm a human. I'm a person who has feelings. Those feelings are likely to surface on occasion.

Sadly, there seems to be an enhanced (and sometimes aggressive) focus on cutting humanity out of business, altogether. So much of what we see in this strange, amazing, creative world of entrepreneurship has to do with building a perfect brand.

"DON'T share your personal story," they shout.

"You've got to have consistency," they demand.

"Here are the seven things that will guarantee your success," they promise.

If you run a business, freelance full time, or have a side gig, it's important to think about how you present yourself, your products and/or your services to the world—no doubt about it. I am here to tell you, however, that being a human and running a business aren't mutually exclusive.

Take me, for example. I'm in the business of sharing stories. Some of the stories are my own and some are the stories of others. Sometimes I share via my podcast, sometimes I share on behalf of clients, and sometimes I share through various print and online publications. Depending on the medium through which I share a story, the presence of my voice tends to vary.

However, if you've opted into a medium I own and produce—like the Creative Digest, the podcast, or this space—you will likely notice that my voice has a strong presence. You have a front row seat to my humanity, my thought processes, my emotional state, my vulnerability, and my flaws. Take it or leave it.

I am not running this side of my work—my business—like a brand. I'm running it like a human. In a world full of deeply edited, perfectly staged brands, I hope many of you will find that refreshing.

Those only interested in a one-dimensional experience, free from any and all human traits, can opt out at any time. It's completely okay—encouraged, even. I realize that my brand (ahem) of humanity isn't for everyone. My life is real, my work is real, and sometimes the two collide in sad, wonderful, frightening, and exciting ways. 

My hope is to recapture and revive the (seemingly) lost art of running a business like a human being and, thanks to the kind souls who make up the last two bullet points in my list above, I know many of you are with me.

I'm so incredibly honored to have you along for the ride. 


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27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip

 27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip // creatingyourownpath.com

A year ago this week, I was officially committing to driving across the country for my longest CYOP road trip to date. What an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, difficult, wondrous, magical, fulfilling 52 weeks it's been, my friends.

Since deciding to make that road trip dream a reality, I've said yes to things that scare the daylights out of me. I've found peace in my own company. I've done my best to show up for those who needed me to show up. I've cried and cried and cried. I've smiled and smiled and smiled. I've met dozens of incredible artists, makers, writers, builders, creators, designers and collaborators who have altered the way I look at the world.

I know. It sounds dramatic, but taking big steps toward the unknown taught me things. Big things. Little things. Things I cannot (will not, should not) unlearn.

In no particular order:

  1. I've learned that it's okay to put work first and that it's equally okay to put work second (or third or fourth).
  2. I've learned that things will not always be as they are right now and that's something to be celebrated.
  3. I've learned that if you genuinely approach people with curiosity and mutual interest, they will almost always be willing to lend a hand. 
  4. I've (re)learned that we all come from different backgrounds and that, even though we might see things differently, we're all working with the same handful of emotions and we often strive for many of the same things in life.
  5. I've (re)learned how to be gracious and forgiving and kind.
  6. I've learned that not everyone is going to give me the same level of graciousness, forgiveness and kindness, but that's their path to walk — not mine.
  7. I've learned that science cannot cure all things (I'm looking at you, cancer), but that love can be given without restraint. It may not heal all things, but it's worth giving nonetheless.
  8. I've learned that mindset is EVERYTHING and that doing hard, scary, big things in life requires a level of fortitude I didn't even realize I possessed.
  9. I've learned that it's okay to push through resistance.
  10. I've also learned that it's okay to press pause, take a break and reassess.
  11. I've learned that it's okay to ask for help.
  12. I've (re)learned that life can change in an instant and that anything worth doing is worth doing now, if possible.
  13. I've learned that we tend to put people on pedestals in this world and that those people are just like you and me. They're no better, no worse — just human.
  14. I've learned to share some things publicly and deal with other things privately.
  15. I've learned that some people will pass judgement when they don't understand or have access to the full story — and that sometimes the full story is none of their business, anyway.
  16. I've (re)learned that everyone is fighting a battle I may not fully understand and I need to be better at reserving my own judgement.
  17. I've learned that if I tell jokes while speaking in front of a crowd it calms my nerves a bit.
  18. I've also learned that I will never NOT be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd.
  19. I've learned that I'm pretty okay with my social awkwardness. Turns out, some people will find it charming (who knew?) while others will be embarrassed on my behalf. As long as I'm cool with it, all is well. 
  20. I've learned that it feels awesome to be the connector in a situation, rather than always being the person doing the thing. We don't always have to be the person doing the thing.
  21. I've learned that, while I live in a great big country, nothing is all that far away if I've got the time and means to get to where I'm going.
  22. I've learned that prioritizing my time and my means is the best way to pursue my dreams.
  23. I've learned that others will question those priorities because they don't understand why my priorities are different from their priorities. I've also learned that those discussions are less about offering justification for my choices and more about offering a different point of view.
  24. I've learned that those who I've met along the way are some of the most resilient and wise people I know.
  25. I've learned that I have preferences in how I work, but that, if I must, I can accomplish big things from anywhere in the world. 
  26. I've learned how much doing the big scary thing can change a person and that it's what I do with all of that new self-knowledge that really matters.
  27. I've learned that I am (and, by extension, you are) not alone.

I've learned a lot over the last year and I have that beast of a road trip to thank for most of it. Obviously, I think it's important to reflect on what we've learned, but I also think it's important to stop thinking and start doing. It's in the doing of the thing where all of the difficult, wondrous, terrifying, amazing magic happens. We just get to hang on, enjoy the wild ride and keep learning the lessons over and over again.

Onward, my friends. I hope you're pondering, doing, thinking and then jumping in and doing some more. When's the last time you did something that felt HUGE and learned something from it? Tell me what you're up to in the comment section! 


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