Marry Your Whys: The 5 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years Of Building A Business.

Marry Your Whys: The 5 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years Of Building A Business.

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The guilt hit me before bed, as most guilty moments do.

Oh my god. I forgot WANT’s four-year anniversary.

My heart sank as I counted back since WANT’s big day had arrived and departed like nothing. One, two, three, four…ten days. TEN. DAYS.

I felt like a parent who had forgotten to put presents under the Christmas tree and it was way past December 25th. How could I have forgotten? Was I a bad business mom? How could I have been so negligent?

These, of course, were just rhetorical questions to fill space and buy time while I digested the gritty truth:

 

I’d been so caught up in what I WASN’T doing “right” over the last few months of running a business that I had completely ignored what I WAS.

I’d been pushing-pushing-pushing so hard, in hot pursuit, that I’d ignored the rock-solid foundation I’d already built.

 

I was telling my friend Angela the other day how I felt like I was struggling, and that nothing was coming to fruition “like it should.” She reminded me that in the span of a year, I’d gotten married, moved neighborhoods, transferred locations at my full-time job, QUIT my full-time job, began my first new job in fitness in eight years…and that was only in a year.

Moving across the country was harder on me than I’d like to admit, and I think moving uptown brought a lot of those unexplored feelings up to the front again. Changing neighborhoods in L.A. was no big deal for me – I did it almost every year! – because it was all so familiar. I knew the basics of Los Angeles by heart, and the newness of a neighborhood was simply thrilling to me.

Here, it’s different. The thrill is there, but there’s also a feeling of starting over I never experienced in Los Angeles. A feeling of starting fresh. New network, new connections, new places to meet up and places to be inspired. I didn’t realize it, but the lack of familiarity had been messing with my ability to move forward.

So, when I sat down to write a post commemorating the four-year WANTiversarry, something felt…off. Something I was doing before just hasn’t been present in the last few months. Something that was there for the first three years.

It’s curiosity.

I created WANT back in 2007. These were my first business cards.

 

I always talk about how I believe curiosity will save the world. But I also believe it will save your business.

The biggest, boldest lesson I’ve learned in the last four years is to stay curious. When things aren’t going your way, in work and life, what do you do? Do you vent to your friends, over and over? Do you look and see what other people are doing, and try to keep up? Do you go over everything you could be doing BETTER in your mind, let it spiral, and just grind harder? I usually don’t, but for the last few months – maybe even the last whole year – I’ve been doing all those things and more.

Staying curious is the secret to anything worth doing, and worth doing well. Because venting won’t solve anything, keeping up with others won’t be true to your vision, and grinding harder will just burn you out. Curiosity is like a real-life Where’s Waldo book: you devise a strategy around what to look for (red and white stripes – got it! glasses – yes!), get in your zone, and zoom in on that mothereffer.


And that feeling of accomplishment and discovery is what makes you want to turn another page.

 

Almost TWELVE years ago, I came up with the idea for WANT based on what I needed most in my own life. And FOUR years ago, I (re-)launched WANT based on what I knew others needed, too. I saw that there needed, NEEDED, to be a space where we could go for tips and tools – along with motivation and inspiration – to shift our self-talk patterns in a real, lasting way. I knew, KNEW, that the business of affirmations and mantras worked for some people, but didn’t work for enough of them in the long run. And I got curious as to why that was.

What I found, through talking to others and scouring every popular self-help site and book I could find, was that people weren’t talking about the darkness as useful. If they were, they’d mention it then skirt the issue. I saw that there was nowhere that not only allowed people to feel their feelings fully, but encouraged them to think their thinks and feel their feels, and UNEARTH feelings they didn’t even know they had, and THINK thinks that they’d been avoiding for so long – and THEN, only THEN, gave them ways to move forward fearlessly through it all. Not around it all or past it all. THROUGH it.

Curiosity was the foundation of WANT. And I know it needs to be the foundation of me, too. Curiosity has led me to realize that I am a writer, speaker, and community builder before anything. I come alive in front of an audience, and I LOVE bringing people together to make shift in tandem. Working solo and working online are amazing, and allow for a lot of freedom…but maybe it’s too much freedom.

That freedom can make you go down a rabbit hole that never was meant to serve you. You’ve got to pay the bills, so you think about monetization and you think about partnerships. You see what’s being done, and how it’s being done, and you decode the game you believe you’ve got to play. And let me clarify: monetization and partnerships are not wrong. I think it’s so cool that we’re able to be in control of who we work with and where our revenue comes from! But it’s worth looking at the kind of work YOU’RE doing and the kind of business YOU aim to build.

Curiosity has helped me realize that lately, I’m not doing a lot of the things that fill me up. Things I used to do super-frequently because I knew they were the right things to do. Think live events/panels, creating and executing on an editorial calendar, partnering with smaller brand with the biggest souls, and feeling the joy I’ve felt the last few years instead of searching for it.

And why haven’t I been doing these things? Simple. Imposter syndrome. The more you don’t do things – and the longer the amount of time that passes in between – the more you start to doubt your ability to do them.

Sure, I have some good excuses. A wedding. Multiple job changes. Moving. All the other regular life stuff that’s par for the course when you’re a Highly Sensitive Person and internalize everything. It would be ridiculously easy to place blame and offload onto those excuses. But I know the only thing that’d been getting in my way…is ME.

The more you don't do things - and the longer the amount of time that passes in between - the more you start to doubt your ability to do them. Click To Tweet

So going into Year Five (omg), I hereby promise you – and myself – the following.

I, Katie Horwitch….

…Will create workshops and panels for you that help you live fearlessly in your own life – and in turn, help me live fearlessly in mine too. We’re in this together. When I’m fearless – when my fear is less than my faith in myself – it empowers you to be fearless, too. And oh-so-vice-versa.

…Will structure my editorial calendar based on what I KNOW is needed, not what I THINK is popular. Not that I’ve been doing this, but it’s a trap I want to avoid at all costs. When you write about subjective things like emotions – vs objective things, like face masks – the formula is harder to decode. SEO is only going to go so far. You’ve got to trust your gut, big-time, and keep your eyes wide open for the solutions people are craving in their lives.  And trust me, I love a good face mask write-up.

…Will – THAT BEING SAID – get back to writing some more content that has stuff in it like face masks. Round-ups are fun to read and fun to write! And I know it’s a strength of mine that I’m able to do them well, and from the heart. I love turning this kind of product-heavy content upside down onto its head and crafting a piece that speaks to how you want to feel, not how you think you should look. Or what you should do. Or ANY should, really.

…Will still pursue what’s not yet materialized, but will shift my focus to encompass the pursuit of enhancing what already HAS materialized. Always reaching for the next-best thing is no way to live. Once you get the thing, once you achieve the stuff, where do you go from there? Pursuit can be an addiction, and goal achievement can be a hit. It’s not a *bad* hit to go after…but make sure your livelihood isn’t attached to whether you achieve the goal or not.

first speaking gig. it was sxsw, in a conversation moderated by amanda decadenet, who just a year earlier I’d told a friend was my biggest career inspo in the moment. can you spy the imposter syndrome??

 

You wanna start a business? Get ready for the wildest ride of your life. Starting, and then building a business that’s purpose and passion based is tough work, but it’s the rightest work you’ll do. Curiosity must be your foundation. Here’s what else I’ve learned.

1 – START SMALL, AND START OFTEN. Marie Forleo likes to say that clarity comes from engagement, not thought. I’d like to add that clarity also comes from starting with what you have, not scrounging for what you don’t. Want to start a podcast but overwhelmed by all the equipment you “need”? Guess what: you don’t need it. I began the WANTcast with a Blue Yeti microphone and GarageBand. I knew how to use GarageBand, but if you don’t, you can attend a 101 course at ANY Apple store, for free. You can also use websites like Zencastr that make production super intuitive. I started WANT by building a website off of what I knew how to do and what kind of content supported my greater vision. I did Marie’s B-School because I knew I needed some extra support – and opted for the payment plan because I wasn’t about to go broke for my idea. I sent the site to my entire list of family and friends, and then focused on doing the best writing I could, week after week. It was a schedule I could keep up and it was quality over quantity. Work with what’s available to you, and with what WON’T overwhelm you. Again and again and again.


2 – IT’S OKAY TO HAVE A PASSION. IT’S OKAY TO HAVE A BUSINESS. KNOW WHAT SEPARATES THE TWO (AND WHERE THEY INTERSECT).
 Someone once told me that if you don’t care about making money, it’s not a business. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but it’s 100% true. Just because you don’t intend to have any sort of financial transaction, though, doesn’t mean you can’t still create impact from it. What separates my passions from my business: the things that don’t fall into the “business” category are things I identify with that I am ALL IN on…except when it comes to the strategy and the industry. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop pursuing my passions. It just means I’m not going to use up all my “strategy energy” for things I don’t want to scale. In the same vein, I don’t believe in the terms Day Job and Side Hustle if you really want to make your passion project into your purpose project. Also read: Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job,


3 – SUCCESS IS MORE THAN A NUMBERS GAME (AKA: NUMBERS ARE DUMB).
 We all crave guarantees, clarity, and definition (a reason why extremes are so alluring). Staring at newsletter subscribers, Google Analytics, and Instagram insights can be a welcome validation or a panic-button push, depending on the stats of the day.

In my past life as an editor, part of my job was to be increasingly aware of site and social analytics: how many people showed up to read what you had to say, what kind of “following” competitors had, how much engagement a post got when it went live…stuff like that. It taught me how to look and what to look for. It also taught me to look beyond the numbers: where people were coming from, where they were going to, how they were interacting with one another.

When I launched WANT, it became uber-tempting to define its “success” numerically, because I knew what that game looked like. In order to do X, you must have Y amount of subscribers. If your post/podcast/email gets Z amount of views, that means that A-B-C.

But I started to realize that WANT’s success didn’t work like that. WANT was resonating on a deep level because of the two-way street that was happening: the WANT community was opening their hearts and engaging with not just me, but each other on a personal and vulnerable level. Because of this, podcast guests felt comfortable shining a light into their darkest corners, weekly “posts” morphed into nuanced essays, and together we turned this platform into a movement on a roll.

Some days there are thousands of readers and listeners. Sometimes there are 30. But I’ve realized that while it might matter to people like sponsors or advertisers, those numbers don’t matter to US. They don’t matter to ME. Success is not about calculations, it’s about connection. Also read: Success You Can’t See.

Flirt with your WHATS, get married to your WHYS. Click To Tweet

4 – FLIRT WITH YOUR WHATS, GET MARRIED TO YOUR WHYS. There will always be a way to be better at something. But the quest for “better” can eat us alive if that “better”-ness is empty. As an HSP, I get overwhelmed easily – everything from piled-up emails to angry crowds. I also need to watch where and to whom/what I give my energy, because I’m like an empath on ‘roids: I’ll give and give and give until my well is dry, and even then I’ll find some way to empathize and give even when I’m not asked to do so. And the combo of the two? It leaves me with lots of things I tell myself I can be better at.

What’s helped me in these last four years has been committing to a purpose rather than just an action. For example: I receive lots of emails from readers and listeners, sometimes just saying hi, and sometimes asking me very specific questions. The hyper-empath in me wants to answer them all. But not just answer them, give the most groundbreaking answer ever! in my response. What ends up happening? The emails pile up, I get overwhelmed, and inherently feel horrible for what I interpret as letting everyone down. I now know that if I answered everyone’s questions personally and specifically, I would never get anything else done. So I use these questions to inform my writing, my podcast episodes, and the guests I ask to be on. WANT thrives off of your questions – so keep asking. What I’ve learned is that you are far from the only one searching for answers.

In Year Two, I flirted with videos. I ended up producing one and never touching video again. Because it wasn’t something that lit me up. And moreover – it didn’t have a strong WHY attached. Everyone told me how great I am on camera, and how good it would be for WANT’s growth. But it didn’t feel right, and because it didn’t feel right, I couldn’t keep it up. Maybe I will in the future – who knows! If there is a specific service I can offer…if there is a specific problem I can help solve…and video turns out to be a useful way to do it (and it begins to bring me joy), great. Yes, I quoted earlier that “clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” But that engagement has to have at least an inkling of a WHY behind it.

 

 

the first version of the site in this iteration of WANT. launched january 26th, 2015.

So, WANT, my darling, thank you so much for your patience while I work out some of my own stuff that’s tied to your growth and brilliance. It’s not you, it’s me. I know that sounds like such a line, but it’s true. I’m here for you.

Thank you for being here for me. I vow to reinvest in the JOY of the work, right here, right now.

To curiosity. To whys. To fearlessness. To being the you you know you’re meant to be.

Let’s crush the year ahead.

 



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Flailures: When Failing Feels Like Flailing.

Flailures: When Failing Feels Like Flailing.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

“Fail,” in all its incarnations, wasn’t a word used often in my house growing up. I’d love to attribute 100% of this to my parents and their excellent leadership skills, but I think a big reason we didn’t use the word because we didn’t use it in school. While kids on tv shows would stress about Straight As and moan if they “flunked” a class, my elementary school worked with an entirely different system:

E = Excellent
G = Good
S  = Satisfactory
N = Not Satisfactory

My first real introduction to Failure was in middle school, in seventh grade I remember thinking of how mean that was, to use such a harsh word to describe someone’s work and worth.

But this is usually our first exposure to the concept of failure, right? Not doing well in a class, with a final hard-stop grade at the end telling you so. No second chances, no helpful notes...just a big, red F.

I’m obsessed with words, so I did us the favor of looking up “fail” in the dictionary. What I found was not one, not two, but THIRTEEN definitions of the word. I was going to be all clever in this post and string together some prose turning the definition on its head, but honestly…thirteen????????????

When I switched from the E-N system to an A-F one in seventh grade, I was beyond frustrated. As a star student obsessed with learning, this was just WRONG. A bad grade just means there are things I need to work on! A bad grade just means my work isn’t satisfactory YET!

But that’s not the system I was in anymore. I made up words to coincide with the letters, since that’s what I’d been used to, and it made the transition easier. But the only ones I could think of for D and F were “Dunce” (remember the cone cap kids would wear in Saturday morning cartoons when they acted up in class?) and “Fail.” They became dirty words meant to shame and scare me.

Fear of failure is what stops most of us in our tracks while we’re on our personal quest towards self-actualization. We get hung up on the idea of failure and what we’ve been taught it represents: being less-than, being “the loser,” being robbed of something and left empty-handed. Failure, we’re taught, is a hard stop. And those outdated definitions are what get us stuck, what keep us from being fulfilled, and what make us put limits our own possibilities and potential.

But if I’m reading them right, almost HALF of those thirteen definitions involve something other than a locked door or closed chapter. Definitions like “losing strength,” “falling short,” and, my favorite, “to disappoint the expectations or trust of someone or something.” These aren’t hard stops – these are all fixable. These aren’t red lights – they’re yellow.

Failing can feel like flailing, and flailing means you’re being blown by the wind into your next adventure. #flailures Click To Tweet

Think about the last time you “failed” at something. How did it feel? Try to take out the shame or anger…what are you left with?

A lot of times, failing can feel like flailing. I’ve talked about this before: how being an adult is a graceful flail of grasping for certainty and being at peace with not knowing all the answers.

And so I’d like to propose that most of the things you call FAILURES aren’t really FAILURES at all: They’re FLAILURES.

Because failing can feel like flailing, and flailing means you’re being blown by the wind into your next adventure.

Are there still things that are failures? Of course. But the blanket term “failure,” with all its thirteen-plus definitions, doesn’t apply to every single thing that doesn’t work out. A meme of Jackass-proportions (remember that show??) paired with a big bold Sans Serif EPIC FAIL is not the same as being rejected by a book agent (hello and welcome to my home, so glad you could make it). Red light, yellow light. A fail is a hard stop. A flail keeps going.

Sure, I still get scared of failing – or, rather, the Ghost Worry that I’ll do something to feel ashamed of later. But in the thick of that fear, I remind myself that I’ve got this. I remind myself that I’ve never felt right about something that’s wrong, or wrong about something that’s right. I listen to my gut and I act. I might be too much for some, but I am always just right for me…whatever that looks and feels like, whether I’m aware of it or not. I’m on a very specific path that’s all my own, and those little sparks of fear are signals that I’m about to hit another benchmark.

I just need to let the wind take me there.

failure flailures


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Baby One More Time: Abiola Abrams on Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone + Getting Your Voice Heard

Baby One More Time: Abiola Abrams on Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone + Getting Your Voice Heard

the WANTcast

BABY ONE MORE TIME is the WANTcast’s take on “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” episodes: conversations that were so awesome the first time around, we needed to bring them back!

Missed it the first time around? We’re back with a remastered version. Loved it back in the day? Re-listen and re-love it (and maybe pick up on some gems you didn’t hear when we first aired).

Don't use the fact that someone else has your idea as a reason to hold yourself back from going for it - @abiolaTV Click To Tweet

Abiola Abrams is an award-winning author, advice columnist, motivational speaker, and certified life coach who has given her life-changing advice on networks from MTV and BET to the Discovery Channel and the BBC, as well as being a popular advice columnist for Essence and on sites like Match.com. Her book, The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love, won Best Self-Help Book at the African American Literary Awards. As what she calls the “Midwife for Your Inspired Life,” her online empowerment programs help women to answer and rock their callings, by turning self-love to self-launch. She is the founder of the women’s empowerment blog and web series on SacredBombshell.com and the podcast Spiritpreneur School, aka – yes – The Goddess Factory. (and yes, I know. She’s a master at naming things. Just you wait ’till you listen to the episode)


I LOVE each twist and turn of this conversation, talking everything from what to do when you feel like other people just don’t quite GET what you’re about yet and sticking to your guns when it seems like everyone else is getting ahead, to braking out of your comfort zone, to getting your voice heard even when other people are trying to manipulate it to their liking along the way.
 We also talk about being an extroverted introvert and getting swept up in the bigness of whatever’s going on around you, and whether you’re super extroverted or incredibly introverted, how to stay grounded AND enthusiastic even when life is demanding a lot of you (especially when things are really good and borderline overwhelming, which are the times that can sometimes throw us off the most if you’re anything like me).

WANT Abiola:

Listen on iTunes | Play in new window

Show Notes:
Sacredbombshell.com
Gift for WANTcast listeners!
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
The Goddess Factory
Spiritpreneur School
Say Word! Voices From Hip Hop Theater


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunesshare it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. The more you share, the more Abiola’s message can be heard. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!


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WANTcast 060: On Boosting Your Confidence, Releasing Control, Loneliness, “Finding Your People,” and more! (Q+A Episode, Season Three Finale)

WANTcast 060: On Boosting Your Confidence, Releasing Control, Loneliness, “Finding Your People,” and more! (Q+A Episode, Season Three Finale)

the WANTcast

For the final episode of Season Three, it’s all about you and YOUR questions. After a quick recap of 2018 and Season Three, we dive into five questions from YOU, the WANT community, having to do with boosting your confidence (especially when you’re simultaneously trying/needing to uplift others) achieving your goals while staying charged up and energized, “trusting the timing of life” and releasing control when it’s the most frustrating to do so, how to deal with hurtful/toxic social media interactions, and – the big one – why so many of us are SO damn lonely and how to find those friends and communities we crave as adults.

Stay tuned until the end – there’s a special announcement about the future of the WANTcast and what 2019 has in store for WANT (hint, it involves you)!

WANT Yourself:


*Thank you so much for everything you give to WANT, and to me, and to each other, on a daily basis. I appreciate you and adore you more than I could ever even begin to express. So happy we’re in this together. ONWARD!*

 

Show Notes:
On Insta-Bullies and “The High Road”

Making Friends As An Adult Pt 1
Making Friends As An Adult Pt 2
Reframing Regret
Mindful Social Media
Woke + Wired Podcast
Aaptiv signup (use code KATIE30 for a free month and 30% off!)

Instagram
Facebook
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WANTcast 059: On Being Fully Yourself (No Matter WHAT) with Author, Speaker + Photographer Karen Walrond

WANTcast 059: On Being Fully Yourself (No Matter WHAT) with Author, Speaker + Photographer Karen Walrond

the WANTcast

Author, speaker, photographer and blogger Karen Walrond is the kind of person you just want to know. You just want to soak in some of her light and magic, because maybe, JUST MAYBE, you can use it to help make your own. As someone who has worked extensively with Dove Real Beauty and as a leader in Brené Brown’s Daring Way training, Karen is in the business of helping you shine your unique light, no matter WHAT the world throws at you or tells you you need to be.

When I take a new step, I ask: how can I take all of the people I've been in the past WITH me? - @chookooloonks Click To Tweet

In this episode we talk…

  • Losing everything (yep, her entire house and all her belongings) in Hurricane Harvey and how she got through
  • Having multiple career titles (she was an attorney!) and weaving them all together
  • Fighting against beauty standards and a beauty industry that is highly unrealistic (and predominantly white, thin, and privileged)
  • Adoption as a first choice, not a “backup plan,” and creating a family based on your OWN values

…and so much more.

(Fun fact, Karen and I spoke on a panel together back in 2015 – my very first speaking gig with WANT. I could not have asked for a more loving, empathetic person to sit right next to me. I have been in awe of her work and in love with her spirit ever since!)

WANT Karen:

Even in the worst moments, gratitude came through...because I was used to going, 'What was good about today?' - @chookooloonks Click To Tweet

Show notes:
Website
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
The Beauty Of Different
The Female Quotient
The Girls Lounge (recap on WANT)
Brené Brown
Daring Way

This is the FINAL interview of Season Three. Our finale will be a solo episode!
Email me at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com or find me on instagram @katiehorwitch to let me know your questions and topic suggestions to end this season STRONG.

WANTcast 055: Making (And Keeping) Goals That Are Actually Right For You (Vs. What Looks Or Sounds Good)

WANTcast 055: Making (And Keeping) Goals That Are Actually Right For You (Vs. What Looks Or Sounds Good)

the WANTcast

In this episode of the WANTcast, one of our listeners asked to hear about how to make (and keep!) life goals that are realistic and are actually right for you, not just what looks or sounds good or “right.”

What’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another – and what’s unrealistic to one person might be more attainable for you than you think.

Some questions to ask yourself, some red flags to look out for, how to figure out goals that work for you, and yes – how to actually go about ACHIEVING them (no bs here, folks).


Listen on iTunes | Listen on Stitcher | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon



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