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!