The You Are Free Manifesto Excerpts

As you know, on the website, there is a whole page dedicated to The You Are Free Manifesto. Here are some excerpts to think about this week:

Find your talents.
Use your gifts.
Create work you love. Love your work.

Do what YOU want to do, not what others say you should do.

When they tell you you can’t, do it anyway. Prove them wrong.

Break the rules.
Make it up.

Invest your intellectual property wisely and always get a return on your investment.

Be free.

I invite you to go to the website to see the full version of The You Are Free Manifesto. And, I’d love to know what you think.

A Personal Note From Me

Today, I want to touch base with you, on a more personal note.

I have spent the month of September working from my mountain office in North Carolina, where my husband and I traveled to in order to escape Hurricane Irma. (No damage to our house, but massive flooding in our hometown.) It’s so beautiful up here, it’s hard to leave. I love having a lifestyle business, one that works with my lifestyle because after all, as Chief Freedom Officer of, it’s important to be free to do what works for me. If I am going to model that for you.

Here’s a picture of the view off our deck…this is why it’s so hard to leave…

Mountain View
Working in this beautiful place doesn’t keep me from doing business elsewhere. Last weekend, I flew to Chicago where I gave a very brief presentation on The Changing World of Work – at the Chicago Business Traveler’s Association. Met a lot of great people. Learned some. Thank you, Wayne! If there are any others out there who would like to hear what I have to say about today’s marketplace and your place in it, please let me know. I am looking for speaking opportunities and the chance to spread the You Are Free message.

On Sunday, I saw a coy-wolf, literally a mixed breed of a coyote and a wolf. You can google this for yourself, but this animal looked like a coyote trapped in a wolf’s body. It looked to be as big as my 135 pound mountain dog, Pasha. It’s the second time I’ve seen this creature. Sorry I don’t have a picture to share. I was so stunned to see this amazing animal at 12 noon in the broad daylight that I didn’t have the wherewithal to snap a picture. But, again, you can google it.

We have updated and reformatted the website, in part to make it more mobile-friendly. You might want to take a look. There is some new information there.

Thanks for listening today,


Two friends of ours, Bob and Debbie, have decided to reinvent their life. Currently, they have a thriving landscape design/maintenance business in North Carolina.

A couple of years ago, they started thinking about the “next phase” of their life. They had always dreamed of traveling around the country, but never had time. What if they could find a way? But, how? Could they find a way to make their dream come true? Could they do this and generate an income at the same time?

They had an idea.

What if they could travel to RV parks around the country and provide landscaping services to them, for free board and maybe even a nominal fee to cover their living expenses? Sounds crazy, right? What will they do with their business? What about their home? Will they have to purchase a motorhome? What if they hate it?

Well…they made it happen. In three weeks, they set off for their new adventure!

Their first stop is a Tennessee RV park, where they will spend 6 months providing landscaping services (for pay). They’ll use the park as a basecamp while they explore the region. Six months later, they plan to travel to the West Coast and spend spring and summer in an Oregon RV park, right on the coast. For the next couple of years, they will travel the country in their motorhome, anchoring in an RV park, getting paid for their landscaping services and taking side trips to see things. They hope to see parts of the country that before had just been a dream.

How did they make their reinvention happen? It’s one thing to dream about it. It’s another thing to make a plan. But, the most challenging thing of all is to carry through with the plan to reinvent.

They started by doing research. They traveled to RV parks and interviewed visitors. "What was your biggest regret?" they would ask. "Not doing this earlier," they were told. "Don’t wait until retirement."

With that piece of advice, they resolved to move forward. The first step was to try to sell their successful landscape design and maintenance business. No takers. Then a landscaper expressed interest, but he had no experience in horticulture. So, they postponed their plans for a year while they groomed him to take over their business. He starts solo next spring. (They will stay involved in the business, in the background, for the next three years. That way, if their trainee has questions, or clients have concerns, Bob and Debbie will be available to support. They are committed to making the transition successful.)

They bought a motorhome and experimented with living in it. Could they make it their full-time home, they wondered? What’s it like to live in a traveling home? And, they found they loved it. The motorhome expands and they feel like they have plenty of space. It’s very comfortable.

Bob and Debbie sold their home and moved into their motorhome last March, making sure that it would be a satisfactory place to live…before they set out on their great adventure. It was a six month trial. And, they were very content to live there.

So, all systems are go…

Why am I telling you this story? To inspire you. And, to share their formula for success.

Are you ready for a reinvention in your life or worklife? It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Bob and Debbie. It can be a reinvention in terms of the tasks you do in your job, stripping away those things you don’t like to do, or don’t do well so that you can leverage your talents and focus on your area of brilliance. Or, it can be a total career change. Or whatever.

Bob and Debbie have given you a great template to use in your reinvention process. The first is to dream or to imagine what might be possible. Then research and test the idea. Make a decision to move forward. Create a plan and take baby steps to implement. Commit to execute the plan.

Dream. Imagine. Consider the possibility. Research. Test. Decide. Plan. Execute.

What a great recipe for reinvention – and I recommend it to you, for whatever invention you imagine.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Many of my clients SAY they want to be doing something else, work that is different from what they are currently pursuing.

But they never make the change. Why?

Some say it’s because the time isn’t right – they have other commitments, other obligations, other priorities. They’ll do it “some day.”
Some say that they don’t believe it’s possible so why even try?
Some tell me that they don’t know what to do next and they get worn out trying to figure it out.
And, some talk themselves into believing that “the devil they know is better than the devil they don’t.”

Whatever the reason, these folks never make it past the wishing stage.

Others make it happen. They take steps to find work that is truly meaningful to them, work that is fulfilling and pays well.

What is the difference between these two groups?

Desire. Truly wanting something different. Knowing in the heart that there is something better and being willing to work for it.

Doing the work is critical. If you are thinking about and deeply desiring to do something different in your work world, you must be willing to do the work. What work, you say? The mental work it takes to gain clarity.

Getting clear on your talents.
Getting clear on your skills and experience.
Getting clear on how you can weave these together to make a contribution to a division, a company, the world.
Getting clear on who needs what you have to offer.
Getting clear on how to communicate the value of what you have to offer.

It’s all about getting clear. And that takes work…

If you are willing to work, I can help. I’ve got a proven process – The You Are Free System™ which is designed to clarify your thinking and chart your path. It’s worked for hundreds of clients. You can have it, too. If you need it.

So, do you want to change badly enough? Your choice.

Happy Labor Day

We got back home from Africa just in time to wish you a…


Lions of Africa

You ARE Creative

If you are alive, you are creative.

Most people don’t think of themselves as creative because they can’t draw or paint or write novels. “I am not an artist,” they say, “I don’t know how to create.”

Not true.

When you were little, you did know how to create.
You drew stick figures in the dust.
Or you made up songs.
Or you served tea to imaginary creatures that adults couldn’t see.
Or you played games with your stuffed animals, all of whom had names.
Or you played war with your soldiers.
Or you built a fort out of your parents’ sofa cushions.

But somewhere along the line, you were told you were wrong.
Or, that you needed to be quiet, or still, or stop playing silly games.
Or, that you needed to understand in the real world, people didn’t do that.

And, you listened to them.

Who says you can’t make sugar cookies with sprinkles on top by emptying out the entire container of sprinkles and dipping each cookie into the mound?

Who says that when you are told to draw a stick figure with a line under it that your line can be perpendicular, up and down, not horizontal, side to side?

Back then, you didn’t worry about being wrong.
Or whether or not you were creative.
Or whether or not your game would work.
Or whether you were good enough.
Or whether people would laugh at you.

You just used your imagination to amuse yourself. 
Engage yourself. 
Entertain yourself. 
Express yourself.

It’s how you made sense of the world. It’s how you formed a connection to the world around you, linking your perspective to what you saw around you. It’s how you experimented with being “you.”

You weren’t afraid to be wrong.
You weren’t afraid to fail.
You weren’t afraid to look silly.
…as long as it was fun and made sense to you. That’s all that mattered.

Who told you that you were wrong to do it that way? 
You didn’t want to be scolded or made to feel bad because you did it “wrong” so you worked to do things like everyone else.

You wanted to be normal.
You wanted to be “right.”
You wanted to be praised for doing something correctly.
You wanted to fit in.
You wanted to feel like you belonged.
You wanted the approbation.

So, you started doing things the way everyone else did them.
You stopped experimenting.
You stopped listening to your inner voice.
You stopped trusting yourself.

And, that’s how you “lost” your creativity.

But, I am here to tell you that your creativity is still within you. It may have gone down deep inside and you may have forgotten how to access it, but “it” is still there.

Your creativity lies within you. It’s just waiting to be activated.
Waiting to be listened to.
Waiting to be acknowledged.
Waiting to be encouraged.
Waiting to be trusted.

What can you do, today, to tap into your creativity?

It’s waiting for you…

Talent Meets Opportunity

Where your talent meets a need in the marketplace, there is opportunity.

Most people start with looking for the opportunity.
They look for a job.
They seek a career.
They search for work.

In other words, they search outside themselves.
They look to the market, to a company, an industry or a sector in order to find their place. They look for a job, or a place on the corporate ladder, or the org chart, wanting to find their spot.

Once they identify what they think they want to do or where they think they might fit, then they go into the marketplace to compete with others for these predefined boxes.

Is this what you are doing? That’s the old way of doing things. There is a better way.

Start with you and what you have to bring to the marketplace.

Your search begins by looking within yourself and determining what you have of value to offer the marketplace. Instead of looking at the market and trying to fit yourself into a sector, an industry, a profession, a career or a job – and this is what we were taught to do – look instead at what you have to offer the market.

What need can you fill?
What problem do you solve?
Who can you help?
What can you create?
With whom can you partner?

Look within yourself.
What do you like to do, love to do?
What brings you joy?
Where do you get in the zone? Doing what? (Answering these questions can give you clues to finding your talent and your brilliance.)

Here are some questions to get you started with figuring out what you have to offer the marketplace:

What do you do really well?
What do you love to do?
What do you do that enables you to get results?
What results do you get?
What are your talents?
What are your skills?
What has your experience been?

When you can answer these questions, you’ll be closer to understanding what you have to offer the marketplace. And, when you know what you have to offer the marketplace – your talent, skills, and proven experience – then you can go out and make things happen. You’ll be able to create work around what you have to offer. You will be able to “make opportunity.” At the intersection of talent and market need, there is opportunity.

Don’t look for opportunity. Make it happen. It starts with you…

Make Your Dream a Reality

Leslie pets the cheetah in Namibia
Today, I am writing to you from Namibia. Here is a picture of me petting a cheetah (only because she was eating. LOL!).

(What do you think? Let me know...I will be posting a picture a day from this trip on my Facebook page, starting today. Are you following me there? If not, click here to join:

Visiting Africa is a dream come true. My father and I used to talk about taking such a trip years ago...but we never did.

Now that dream has become a reality...with my husband.

How many dreams do you talk about, think about, fantasize about? But never do anything about.

Even baby steps can lead to making your dream a reality.

You can start with a bucket list. Have you made a list of all those things you would like to do while you are here on this earth?
Bungee jump?
Learn to fly?
(Can you tell I am writing this from a small plane?!)
Go to the moon?
Hold your first grandbaby?
Watch a pig being born? (don't know where I got that one)
Travel to Africa?

Things on your bucket list don't have to cost any money. Or they can cost a lot of money.

Please start by making a list of things you would like to do or experience. That is your bucket list. It doesn't have to look like anyone else's.

Then ask yourself: What can I do THIS YEAR to make just one of them come true?

Maybe it is something easy to do that you have put off. For me, that was swing dancing at the Winter Garden at the World Trade Center before 9/11. After that horrible attack, I asked myself what was I waiting for? And I vowed to start outdoor swing dancing in New York, which I did and enjoyed for many years. But it shouldn't have to take a tragedy to impel one into action.

So do that thing you've always wanted to do, but never made the time for it.

Or, if you want to do something that costs a lot of money and you don't have the means to do it right now, start small. Pick something you really want to do and make your mind up to set aside $10 a week towards that goal or $10 a month or $10 a day. Open a new account and call it your "Adventure Fund" and watch your money compound there.

The point CAN do something today to make your dreams come true. You just have to decide...and then take those small steps to make them a reality! 

 *See* you over on Facebook!

Deep Inside…You Know

Deep within the recesses of your mind lies a place of absolute knowing.

- Knowing what you were born to do
- Knowing what makes you happy
- Knowing what lights you up
- Knowing what feels meaningful
- Knowing what makes you come alive
- Knowing what makes you feel significant, like you matter

It is the place of knowing your gift, your talent, your true potential. That place is your gut. And, it is the tiny little voice within that speaks to you, but only when you are able to drop out the world’s noise to tune in.

You know.
And, you can trust that knowing.
And, if you get really quiet, you can hear the little voice and what it has to say to you.

But, we are taught to distrust this voice and to leave this place.

We are told to forget what we feel we were born to do, long to do, yearn to do.

“It’s impractical,” they say.
“You’re just a dreamer,” they say.
“Who do you think you are? You can’t do that!” they say.

And, we listen. We listen to the “wisdom” of our elders, whether they be parents, grandparents, teachers, TV personalities, experts, whoever. So we put the dream on the shelf, rarely, if ever coming back to visit it.

Those who don’t listen the first time around find the voices becoming louder.

“I’m sorry dear, but it’s just impractical. How are you going to make money?”

“What you want to do is unrealistic.”

“It’s just a dream of youth, a dream that vanishes when you grow up.”

“As an adult, you need to live in the real world, the world of responsibilities, the world of full-time jobs, careers, salaries and paychecks.”

So you feel that you need to put those childish dreams away so that you can be part of the real world.

But inside, your tiny voice persists. It wants to be heard.

“Shut your mouth!” you exclaim. “I’m an adult now and I can’t afford to listen to you. I have responsibilities. I have bills. I am part of the real world.”

The voice will not be silent. It will continue to try to be heard. You are either tuning into your little tiny voice within or you are drowning it out. The more you tune it out, the harder it is to hear and the easier it is to forget that you have any voice at all.

This voice will try to get your attention. It speaks to you in the middle of the night when you are alone with your thoughts. Or on a run. Or when you are relaxing alone in the house. When the world around you is silent.

Some people try to drown it out with drugs and alcohol. It’s too hard to feel the pain of the divide between the life you are living and the life you want, between the job you have and the work you want to do. It’s too difficult to feel the pain of not reaching out towards fulfilling your potential. That hurts. You’d rather be numb.

Others try to distract themselves with excuses. “I have to do this work. I have bills to pay.” Or, “my life is so busy I don’t have time to figure things out now. I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more time.” But, you never have the time and one day you wake up and realize that 30 years have gone by and you haven’t done what you wanted to do. And, now you don’t even know how to find it.

Dreams languish, but they never disappear. They just lie in wait, waiting for you to bring them to life.

And, the voice within you that will lead you to your dreams never dies. It is always within you, speaking to you.

You just need to trust that you have the right answer for you, no matter what any other expert, advisor or family member has to say about it.

Will you trust that voice and follow it? It’s speaking to you right now.

Shhhhhh…listen…there it is…

Video Letters: 10 Ways to Rock the Video Letter

Did you know that some hiring companies only want to see…video letters?

What is a video letter? It’s a video of you, talking to the company about why you are applying to them for the job.

If you approach the video like a traditional cover letter, you will not be successful. Can you imagine reading your typical cover letter on a video? That would be hilarious. It would sound so formal. (You might want to try it just to see how funny it is. Plus, you get the added benefit of seeing yourself on video.)

The video letter is different. Why? Because in addition to talking about what you can do, the value you will provide, you need to showcase WHO YOU ARE. Showcase your personality. They want to see YOU, not just hear about what you can do for them professionally. Make it entertaining, while appropriate.

Here are some guidelines to use when shooting your video letter:
(HINT: it’s easier if you script out what you want to say)

  1. Introduction: Start by sharing your name and the job/role for which you are applying. Make it easy for the viewer. Be pleasant and make it fun to watch.
  2. Get personal: The whole purpose of a video letter is to get an idea of what kind of person you are. Who are you? The hiring company – and team – wants to know who you are and whether you are the kind of person they want to spend 8 – 10 hours a day with. So include some details outside your professional world. Think about your Twitter profile. It isn’t just about business. Be real and authentic. And, cool to be around.
  3. SMILE: Look into the camera and SMILE. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’ll want to look your best, but really the key is to relax and SMILE. It’s just awkward if you don’t. And, easier for you if you do. Have fun!
  4. Make the case for what you can do for the viewer and offer proof of where you have done it before. Talk about the results you have brought. Tell stories. Stories will enable people to connect emotionally with you, and they will either resonate with you…or not. Create connection by offering specific details. Tell the story about where you used your talent successfully…where you saved the day, fixed the problem, landed the client.
  5. Be specific: Don’t just describe what you can do. Give details. When you are telling your showcase story, make sure you include a lot of details. As a viewer, I want to be able to imagine being there with you, right in the middle of the story.
  6. Make the case for why the viewer should care about what you do, why it matters to them, and why they would want you to be a part of their team.
  7. Tell them what you love about the company. Make sure you know about the company and be real when it comes to why you want to work there.
  8. Explain why you are excited by this job/role/project opportunity, and specifically state what they will get if they hire you.
  9. Attach your resume. Let them know they can find more details about your background in your resume. Make sure it includes proof of your professed “value add,” what you have to add based on what you have done before.
  10. Your call to action: Make sure you close with something like: “Oh and don’t forget to pick up the phone to call. I would love to have the chance to meet you and talk about how I can contribute. Bye, bye.”
Pick up your iPhone, Android and start filming! You can do a fine job with just that. A tripod or selfie stick can make it easier to film. PRACTICE. The more you practice now, the better you will be when it counts. And, have fun with this!

No Time? Start NOW to Think and Dream

You are always free to create meaningful work.

But, sometimes, it’s just not the right time. Maybe you are the main breadwinner and you can’t afford to make a move right now.

Other times you have things going on in your life that require your FULL focus.

- You are caring for an elderly parent
- Your kids are young
- Your spouse is only working half-time

Or whatever.

I’m not suggesting that you can’t create meaningful work during these times. Some people do. It’s just that these things can make it more difficult for you to put your quest of creating meaningful work first. You have other priorities.

So, maybe it’s not the right time to create meaningful work. Maybe you feel you just can’t risk it, focus on it, do it.

But, even during those times, you can still do something to move you forward.

You can create the time and space in your thinking to dream. To ponder. To wonder. To reach. To start thinking seriously about what meaningful work means to you and what it could look like in your world. Clarity is key to success.

The first step to create meaningful work is to get clear in your own thinking about what meaningful work is, what it means to you and what it is for you.

So, give yourself the time and space to dream about what this work could be. Even if you can’t take action now to bring it to fruition.

At night before you go to sleep.
When you are driving in the car.
Instead of watching TV.
When you are working out, walking, swimming…

Do this for you.

I hear from clients all the time who tell me that they just don’t have the bandwidth to create meaningful work. Or that they want to begin but it’s not the right time. Make it the right time by doing the thinking now. You’ll be much closer to figuring it all out when the time is right. Take steps now. It will feel good because you know that you are making progress towards your goal of fulfilling, satisfying work. Those steps begin by clearing space in your mind to think about meaningful work.

Keep this question in the back of your mind:

“What does meaningful work mean to me and what kind of work would I want to do that has meaning?”

You’ll want to write down your thoughts.
Keep a journal, pen and paper, your phone, tablet, whatever. I like to carry around a stack of post-it notes and write down ideas that come to me. Because ideas come to me in the weirdest places (in the swimming pool, in the shower (what is it about water?), in the car, when I’m walking and running. I actually carry these tools with me sometimes when I’m out walking so that I can capture my ideas. Or use your phone recorder. Just keep track of the flow of ideas. Write them down. Capture them.

Here are some more questions to help you get clear:
  • What are you really good at? (lots of dangling participles in this list!)
  • What do you love doing? What types of things do you do where you get “in the zone” and lose track of time?
  • What have you done in the past that you are proud of? What are your accomplishments? Who could you do these things for and why would it matter to them?
  • What matters to you?
  • What do you believe in?
  • Where have you made a difference?
  • What kinds of things excite you?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • What would you like to work on?
  • What would you like to create? What ideas do you have?
  • Do you have a way of seeing the world that you would like to share with others?
  • How would you like to work? On your own? With others? On a team? A combination of these?
  • Who would you like to work with?
  • Who would you like to become?
  • What would you like to be known for?
Just thinking deeply about these and writing down your thoughts will start you on your journey to create meaningful work…start today. (And, I’d love to hear from you…)

What Are You Waiting For?

You say…
  • you want to do work you love.
  • you want work that is meaningful, to you.
  • you deeply desire to leverage and develop your potential.
  • you know you are capable of doing so much more.
  • you feel like your song is stuck inside of you – and you long to share your voice because you have a lot to share.
  • you believe work can be fun.
  • you want to make a contribution based on what you have to give.
  • you want to be paid fairly for what you bring to the world.
  • you want to make your mark, make a difference, make an impact
What are you waiting for?

Action is required. If you want to make your dream a reality, you need to take footsteps. Deep inside you know this. But, you find yourself saying to yourself, “I can’t make a move right now, it’s not the right time because I need to generate income…people are depending on me and my ability to work.” Some people use these words as excuses. They would rather be unhappily comfortable. Or, wretchedly secure. For most people, however, these words reflect their current reality. They simply cannot change their situation right now. It’s not the right time. Does this describe you?

If so, the danger is that you end up shelving your dreams for your responsibilities and just fanaticize about what could be…and yearn…and spin, caught between what you feel stuck with and what you deeply desire to attain.

Or, you stay put because you don’t know exactly what you want, what it looks like, and you have no idea how to figure it all out. It’s too overwhelming.

So you just stay and spin and say to yourself, “I’ll figure it out someday.”

But, that someday never comes. And, you find yourself stuck for years, wasting time, and not coming close to reaching your potential, your dream.

What if I were to tell you that there is something you can do to move forward RIGHT NOW?

RIGHT NOW…you don’t have to leave your job.
RIGHT NOW…you don’t have to change your career.
RIGHT NOW…you don’t have to give up your financial security.

You can simply DECIDE that you are going to change things. And, you can make that decision RIGHT NOW. You don’t have to wait. You can DECIDE that you are going to find – and even create – work you love, work that allows you to make the impact of which you are capable, even if you don’t know exactly how right at this moment.

Just decide. Once you decide, there is no going back. You are going to COMMIT to that decision to create meaningful work, work you love, even if it doesn’t happen right away.

This simple act of making a commitment to yourself will change everything. It’s powerful. And, whether it takes you 3 months or 3 years to make a change, you have taken the first critical step. You have made a decision and committed to it.

Sounds simple. It is. But, it is also profound because making this decision will give you the confidence that you are on your way, the journey has begun.

As you’ve heard, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step…

Start your journey today.

3 Steps to Create Meaningful Work

It’s easy to talk ABOUT meaningful work.

But how do you actually create/find/do it?

STEP 1. Define it

The first step is to be able to define what meaningful work is, what it means to you and the role you would like it to play in your life.

It’s hard to search for something if you can’t identify or articulate what you are looking for.

How do you define “meaningful?”
What gives work meaning…to you?
What does it look like?
How do you measure it?
How will this work make you feel?
What do you hope to receive in return for this work? (Financially, emotionally, spiritually?)
What are you willing to do to find/create/get it?

STEP 2. Discover your talents (gifts and abilities)

This next step is to figure out your talents, gifts and abilities so that you can use them in the performance of this meaningful work. You want to find the things that come so easily to you that when you do them, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s these things – your gifts, talents and abilities – that make work fun and fulfilling.

Using your talents, gifts and abilities also makes work easier. It is easier to work when you are simply exercising your gifts and doing something you love. Under these conditions, work feels effortless, like play.

Finding your talents requires you to take a “deep dive” into your past to search for things you’ve done where you’ve made an impact, however small. Talents are linked to things you are proud of in your experience. This process involves excavating your past to unearth treasures you have inside of you. (The You Are Free System™ walks you through a detailed process to help you find those unique gifts, talents and abilities.)

Where have you made a difference in the past?
What enabled you to do it?

STEP 3. Figure out what you have to give

The third and final step is where the rubber meets the road.

This is where you determine exactly what you have to offer the marketplace based on your talents, gifts, abilities, skills, experience, and desire. You need to weave all these together to create a value proposition for the marketplace.

Then you need to go out and sell your value proposition in the marketplace. And, for those of you who are terrified by the idea of selling yourself, think of it this way. Enroll others in your vision of how you want to contribute. Advocate for your value. Educate others about what you do and how it might help them. Offer proof from your past.

If you find someone with a need for what you have to offer, it’s a win. For both of you. And, that’s your job. To find who needs what you have. It’s as simple as that!

Remember…You Are Free!

It’s the July 4th weekend…

That means it’s time to celebrate the birth of this nation, and the principles of freedom, liberty and independence.

While we celebrate together as a country, let’s also celebrate the following principles in the world of work.


You are free to create work you love.

You are free to define what meaningful work means to you and create it.

You are free to determine how to use your talents in the world to make a difference.

You are free to be paid fairly for your contribution, the value you provide.

You are free to discover your “why” and figure out what matters to you.

You are free to decide where and with whom to invest your talents…and for what return.

You are free to make your mark in the world (that is uniquely yours to make).

You are free to perform work that is personally fulfilling. On your terms.

You are free to express yourself through your work – and get paid for it.

You are free to do work that is aligned with your sense of purpose.

You are free to work in a way that allows you to develop and fulfill your true potential.

You are free to create work that is fun.

You are free to find joy in your work.

You are free to control your intellectual property and how to invest your creative capital and for what kind of return.

You are free to walk away from a job that is abusive, dysfunctional or super stressful for a more balanced worklife.

You are free to leave your dead-end, soul-sucking job for something more rewarding.

You are free to do the work of your dreams.

You are free to do the work you were born to do.

So, on this July 4th, let’s celebrate by thinking about how to bring these principles more in line with our experience at work.

You are free. Period. Happy celebrating!!!

What Work to Create?

Create work.

What does that mean? Doesn’t sound very appealing. “I have enough work,” you say. “Besides, you don’t create work. You DO work.”

Here’s what I mean when I say “create work.”

You do not have to fit yourself into somebody else’s box.
You don’t have to “find” a job. (Stick with me. I’ll explain more later.)
You don’t have to look for work that someone else has pre-defined for you in terms of tasks and responsibilities.
That’s all reactive. The key in today’s world of work is to be proactive.

You CAN create work.
It starts with you – knowing who you are, what you do well, what comes naturally to you, what you love to do, what matters to you, and where you want to make a contribution.

It starts with knowing yourself and what you have to offer, not with what’s available in the marketplace and how to fit or stuff yourself into it. (Boxes rarely fit, particularly job boxes. They are usually proscriptive, not descriptive. And, job boxes are almost always focused on skill performance, not talent expression. You want a place that will allow you, encourage you, and reward you for using your talents.)

When you create work, it can take numerous forms.

You can work in a job. (In fact, 50% of clients go on to work in a job. On their own terms. Sculpted and formed around what they have to contribute.)
You can create a role for yourself in a company.
You can work with a team.
You can work on a project, or a collection or projects.
You can start something yourself.
You can build a practice.
You can start a business or new venture.
You can create and market a product, digital or physical, here or abroad, by yourself or with others.
You can freelance, work part-time, full-time, in a partnership…whatever you choose.

The form the work takes is up to you. It’s a decision.

What matters is that the work allows you to use and develop your talents – your unique special abilities – so that you can make a contribution, on your terms, in your own way to benefit a company, team, project or entity, and be well-paid.

You decide what to do, how you will contribute, why it matters, what it’s worth, and educate others about the impact you’ll make.

That’s your job.

Not Your Father's Work

Your work is not the work of your father, your mother, your grandparents or your great-grandparents.

Your work is your work. Your choice.

You get to decide what work means to you and the role you want it to play in your life.

Is it simply the means by which you can generate a paycheck to pay the bills until you die? Or can it be something else? Something more?

We are told that work is necessary. Work is what you do if you want to be a successful, responsible adult. We are advised to work hard in school, in college, in our jobs, in our careers. Hard work is a virtue, but does work have to be hard?

If you look up work in the dictionary, you’ll see that the first couple of definitions are “labor,” “drudgery,” and “toil.” Gee…not very inspiring.

Why can’t work be fun? Why can’t it be inspiring? Why can’t you expect it to be fulfilling? You can.

You get to decide what you want your work to mean to you. Will it simply be the means by which you make a living? Or do you want more?

Here are some thoughts:

Work is the means by which you get to contribute your talents to the world.
Work is a creative act.
Work is a way to learn, grow and develop as an individual.
Work allows you to hone your skills.
Work offers you a significant way to engage with the world, to be a part of it.
Work enables you to receive value in exchange for the value you provide.
Work is fun!
Work is inspirational.
Work is how you find meaning, or contribute something meaningful.
Work is the way you fulfill your purpose and your potential.
Work is a form of self-fulfillment.
Work is how you serve God (Spirit, the universe, or whatever you worship).
Work is a spiritual act.
“Work is an excuse adults made to play with one another.” – Silver Rose

What does work mean to you and what role does it play in your life? Your answer will define your career choices and your work journey. You are not defined by your past. You get to decide.

What Do I Do Now?

It sucks when you don’t know what you want to do.

You’re talented.
You’re gifted.
You know you have a lot to give. And, you want to make a difference. You just can’t figure out how. And, now you find yourself spinning your wheels, wasting time.

You’ve made your mark in the past. Maybe you’ve been a successful marketing executive, leading product marketing campaigns that have made your company a lot of money, but you’ve been there, done that and want to use your abilities to make a bigger impact.

Or maybe you have been an award-winning copywriter who has created advertising campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands, but the work doesn’t feel meaningful and you long to use your writing abilities to make a difference.

Or maybe you are known for your ability to lead teams to achieve results, except that you’ve been doing it within a company and now you long to do this work for yourself, on your terms, instead of reporting to corporate.

Or maybe you had a pretty high-powered career, but you took some time off to raise your children and now you want to get back into the job market...but on your terms and in line with who you’ve become.

Or, whatever. Whatever your individual situation might be.

The point is that you are ready to do work on your terms, to make a bigger impact and to do something that feels meaningful, except you haven’t a clue how to go about it.

This is where I can help.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE: What do you enjoy doing? What kinds of things come so easily to you that when you do them, it doesn’t feel like work? What are you really good at? (Sorry English majors for the dangling participle!) What is fun for you? What are your talents? What are you known for? What sets you apart from other people who do what you do? How can you weave your skills and experiences together with these talents to make a bold proposition for the marketplace?

FIND WHAT MATTERS TO YOU: Work won’t be meaningful unless you can link what you love with what you believe in. You must define for yourself what matters to you. In what do you believe deeply? Here’s an example: one of my clients believes very deeply that everyone has the right to eat healthy food, regardless of socio-economic background. And, so he made a decision to contribute his talents to a company that specializes in distributing healthy foods. I believe that everyone has been given a unique set of gifts, talents and abilities and that our “job” is to discover that set of gifts so that we can make our unique contribution to the world and be well-paid. Everything I do is aligned with that philosophy. So, what is yours?

When you are able contribute your gifts and talents to support what matters to you, work becomes fulfilling and you will be unstoppable.

Demotions are good

Demotions are good.

Yes, you read that right. Demotions are good. Or, can be.

I know, you think of a demotion as a terrible thing. Your company has decided to drop you back instead of promoting you. It’s worse than being held back a grade at school. This is your career, your paycheck, your life, your identity.

Getting a demotion is humiliating.
Getting a demotion is demoralizing.
Getting a demotion is painful. How could the company not recognize your talent?
Getting a demotion is…a gift. Say what?

Yes, that’s right. Getting a demotion can be a gift. Hear me out…

A couple of months ago, a woman contacted me through my website. This is what she wrote:

"I need your help… More specifically, I currently have a great job (aka it pays well) but I’m not truly happy. I work for Mercedes-Benz ** and the company is currently downsizing. I’ll know soon if I still have a job. I feel it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate my situation, strengths, dreams and really get excited about what’s ahead whether it’s Mercedes-Benz (in a different role) or something else."

** I changed the name of the company to protect her identity.

She and I discussed how the company’s uncertainty provided her with the impetus to think differently about her work. She had been at the company for a long time, in a very senior position, collecting fabulous benefits, and while she wasn’t happy, how could she leave? She was trapped by her “golden handcuffs.”

Then, when the company started downsizing and she realized that she might be vulnerable, she began to think about doing something different. It took the possibility of losing her job to get her to take action. I encouraged her to use this opportunity as a chance to figure out what she really wanted to do long-term, no matter what the decision of the company.

A couple of weeks later, she wrote this:

"I was offered a demotion. I’m disappointed but I’m grateful to have options. I’ve accepted the demotion but I plan to look and see what else is available on the outside. Since we have been going through significant downsizing three years in a row, I feel I need to find someplace where my career is more in my control. Right now, I am going to concentrate on getting a different job. Later, I’ll think about making a more significant career change."

(Oh no, she chose an option but didn’t see the gift. She’ll use the demotion as a jumping off point to get another “job” without using this opportunity to figure out what she really wants to do long-term. I’ll tell you what I would have done later…)

Think this through for yourself. Pretend that the woman in this story is you. You haven’t been happy and dream about doing something different, something that will make you happy and engage your talents and gifts. Your company is repeatedly downsizing, leaving you feeling uncertain about your future. You receive word that the company wants to retain you (Yea! You still have a paycheck!) but has offered you a demotion, a step down in responsibilities and pay (which feels really bad internally). What would you do?

Would you see it as a slap in the face? An affront? A humiliation? Something demoralizing and embarrassing? Or would you see it as a gift?

How would you respond? What would you do? You could turn the offer down. You could ask for a termination package. You could quit on the spot. You could do what this woman decided to do; accept the demotion gracefully, and use your time to look for another job. You could accept the demotion and stay with the company indefinitely. Or, you could use the demotion as a way to fund your efforts to find the job of your dreams. In that way…

A demotion is a gift.

Of course, if you were planning to have a life-time career with your company, and you are given a demotion, then it would be a devastating experience. But, if you truly desired to find work that excites you, work that engages your strengths, talents and moves you in the direction of your dreams, getting demoted would be a gift. Your demotion could buy you time to find the work of your dreams.

A demotion lets you take control.

Remember…you may not be in control of your work, but you are ALWAYS in control of how you choose to engage with your work. You can choose to give 110% of yourself to your job, working long hours, weekends, pouring your heart and soul into your work, looking for ways to improve things, make your mark, make a difference, and professionally giving your all. Or, you can simply show up, do your work, use your skills, perform your tasks, and go home. It’s up to you.

A demotion gives you implicit permission to emotionally disengage from your job.

When you have been demoted, it becomes much easier to come to work, do your job, and go home at a reasonable hour. Leave your work at the door. Forget trying to give it your all. Forget going over and above. Don’t try to make things better. Withdraw your emotional and creative energy from the company and instead use it to create the work of your dreams. Invest that energy in your future. Figure out who you are, -- your strengths, talents and abilities and how to use those to make the contribution of which you are capable. Discover what you have to offer the marketplace and who would appreciate what you have to give.

I’m not suggesting trying to screw your company or do a bad job. No. Do your job. Do it well. Use the skills for which you are getting paid to do your work. Perform your tasks and meet your responsibilities. But, that’s all. Don’t give anything more. Stop going over and above. You’re not getting paid for that. And, the company has signaled to you that they don’t really value your contribution. So, why do it?

A demotion buys you time.

It supports you financially. It pays the bills while you figure out the next step. Think of your demotion as having a paid “gig” while you look for a real job. The company has done you a favor. A demotion keeps you from having to create financial anchors while you are in a transition.

A demotion can be the best thing that happens to you…if you choose to see it that way.

(PS. Here’s what I would have done in that situation described earlier. I would have used the demotion as an opportunity to find what I really wanted to do long-term. Her strategy – to look for another job and “later” think about her ideal work – will delay her in pursuing the work of her dreams. She will invest all of her energy in finding a new job, which in turn will require a lot of energy to get situated or successfully “on-boarded.” It takes time to learn how to navigate a new company, -- how things are done, the spheres of influence, the interpersonal relationships, the processes, the people, the product. Everything is new. And, in three years, she’ll still be no closer to finding what she really wants to do. Why not use the demotion as an opportunity to figure out her dream job…right now? What an opportunity! What a gift!)

The Three Questions

You have the right to create work you love, -- work that is fun, work that is meaningful, work that allows you to develop your talents, and work that is rewarding (and I mean financially).

That is your right.
That is your responsibility.
That is your privilege.

But how? How do you “create work?” What does that really mean?

If you are like most of us, you were taught to search for the perfect job or project by going out into the marketplace and looking for what is available. You seek out the “box.” And, then you try to find ways to fit yourself into that predefined box.

This is a reactive process. Reactive in the sense that you are responding or reacting to work that is out there and that has been predefined by someone else. It’s hard to create meaningful, fun, fulfilling work that way when it’s someone else’s box of things to do.

Creating work is a proactive process. You don’t start by seeing how you can fit yourself into a box. (Ha ha… If you are anything like me, you don’t fit in a box!)

Don’t start by looking into the job market to see what role you can fill. Begin by looking within yourself. Start with you and figure out what you have to offer.

In order to create work effectively, you must be able to answer these three questions:

1. Who am I and what do I have to offer the marketplace?

Think of your talents, your gifts, and your abilities, all those things you do well and that come naturally to you. You can add in your skills and experience and weave together what I call a "value proposition." Specifically and literally, how are you proposing to add value to a company, a team, an organization? What do you really have to offer and what makes you unique and different from everyone else?

2. What results do I bring and why does this matter?

What happens when you bring your "value proposition" to a company? What kind of impact do you have? How is it relevant? Think of your past. What contributions have you made? Where have you made a difference? What proof do you have that your value proposition is actually valuable? Make a case for where you have added value in the past and quantify it.

3. Who needs what I have? Who can I help?

Once you have determined what you can do and where you can really make an impact, you’ll want to think about who you can help. Who needs what you’ve got? What kind of company, team, or industry will benefit from what you have to give? When you have this figured out, reach out to them.

How did you do with these questions? Great! Now you are ready to go out into the marketplace and make a case for who you are and what you have to offer. You are going to become an advocate for your "value proposition." You are going to seek out those who need what you have. And that, my friend, is how you create work!

If you have had some trouble answering these questions…and some of them are hard…reach out to me here.

(PS. I am going to begin working with small groups…and may start a small coaching group at the end of June. Will keep you posted. Let me know if you are interested. In the meantime, have fun creating! And, let me know how you are doing…)

What I Believe About You

You were born with a unique set of gifts,
talents and abilities and your “job”
is to figure out them out so that you
can make your unique contribution to
the world and be richly rewarded for it.

You are free to do work you love.
Forget what you learned about work having to be “labor, drudgery and toil” and insist on your right to be happy at work. Yes, most of us have to work in order to be responsible adults, but no one said that you have to suffer for it. Work can be fun. Work can be fulfilling. Work can be meaningful. Don’t settle for less.

RECOMMENDATION: If you are in a soul-sucking job, make plans to move. You don’t have to leave right away. You just need to make a plan and take steps towards your goal. And, it’s never too soon to start. BOTTOMLINE: Be proactive, get out there and create work that works for you.

You are free to choose how to use your talents in the world.
If you were like me, you were told to develop skills so that you would be employable. But, if you want to be truly irreplaceable at work, you will learn how to discover and use your talents. Skills can be taught; talents are innate, inborn and cannot be easily replicated. Talents are what you do well, what comes so naturally to you that it doesn’t feel like work. Find opportunities where you can refine your talents, express your talents, and appreciate your talents.

RECOMMENDATION: Don’t stay in a job that won’t allow you to use your gifts for they will wither if unused. Find a company, a partner, a client that will appreciate your gifts. Please try to do more than use your skills. If you weave your skills and experience together with your talents, not only will you be unstoppable, you will be memorable and make that contribution which you seek. You will also be better paid.

You are free to ask to be paid fairly for the value you provide.
It’s only right that you are paid fairly for your contribution. There is (almost) nothing worse than going “over and above” and giving your company your all, while they are paying you dirt. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth. And, if they won’t pay, move on.

RECOMMENDATION: If you are underpaid, you have several choices. You can quit (not always the best option, but sometimes necessary). Stay in place until you find something else. Or, stay at your job, but stop giving 110%. Do what they ask. Perform your skill. Work within traditional office hours. Leave your job at the office when you go home. They are not paying you enough to improve things, to invest your intellectual capital, or think about the office on your own time. Do a good job, but no more than is expected of you. Give them what they are paying for. That’s it. Use your free time to do what you love. That time is for you.