Hi Angela! You’re a sizzling wonder of energy, excitement, and wonder — not just because you’ve done a spontaneous cartwheel amidst your TED Talk presentation, but also because you provide guidance to others in living their lives in an inspired way.
What do you feel are the most important things to know about you, in introducing yourself?
First, I should mention I never used to think of myself as a creative person! I always thought of myself as a weird person who people called “creative” because it sounded nicer. It took me a while to realize that just being myself in my business would be my biggest asset. I am a business coach. At the heart of my work, I motivate people to try things they think they can’t do, start before they are ready, and see life as a big experiment, not a series of successes and failures. I am the author of three books: The Anti-Résumé Revolution which was published in 2009 and teaches you how to find or create work you love, Who’s With Us? From Wondering to Knowing if You Should Start a Business in 21 Days (2015), and Now, Do+Make: The Handbook for Starting A Business that is Unmistakably Yours (2015). I also started an online community + school for entrepreneurs escaping the 9-5 in October of 2014 called the Do+Make Business District. Here, members make friends, learn from one another, and learn from me in my monthly classes and challenges. I am happiest when I’m creating things for others. I love to cook for friends, make gifts no one is expecting to receive, and give my writing to the world. When I’m not creating, I am thinking about what I will make next.
What have been some of the awesomest ways you’ve been helping people?
I think the awesomeest thing I do for people is show them that the time to do something they’re afraid of is right now. I think that fear is an indicator you are about to do something important. The more resistance you feel, the bigger it will be for your life. I also believe that doing this in your own way, with your own flair, and with your own vision, is the only way to go. Even though I spend some time on the nuts and bolts of business, my biggest asset is showing people the way down the fun path of doing work they’re passionate about.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of it comes from daydreaming. I give myself a solid amount of time to look up at the sky, watch birds, stare out the window, and doodle. My inspiration comes from following strings of ideas that often lead to exciting possibilities. One of my new creations is a new product I’m going to start selling this summer called the Golden Idea Egg. The egg is hollow and opens up so you can put your current dream on a small piece of paper inside. The idea is to incubate and honor that idea inside of your egg until it comes to fruition. I’ve been painting wooden eggs an amazing golden color and creating fun instruction sheets. I’m all about making the process of doing things you care about feel fun and exciting, not like “work.”
What mindsets/habits do you recommend?
This has been a tough one, but it’s one that has made a big difference for me: I stopped caring so much about what others thought about me. I stopped waiting for validation from others to know that my work was good. Whenever I do what I think I’m “supposed” to be doing, I end up building things I don’t particularly like. My mindset is to create from the heart and let my work be an inspiration to others. My goal is to get others to do the same.
Who are your personal heroes, and why? What mindsets/habits do you recommend from your heroes?
I’ll name four here and tell you why:
1. Howard Stern: He has had an incredibly clear artistic vision for his career since the early 80s and continually fought with management and even lost his job several times because his vision was compromised. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to stay true to what they care about even when they’re told they’re wrong/going to fail. Howard has extreme fans and extreme haters. I think that’s the sign of a real artist.
2. Dr. Laura Schlessinger: Another person who is highly controversial, if you really listen to her show, you see that she never takes the easy way out. Whenever I am feeling defeated, I listen to her show and I’m reminded that big results require major discipline and focus. If you want to slack off, that will show in the results. She seems like a hard ass, but she always comes from a place of love for each of her callers. I am this way with the people I work with and believe being honest and truthful (even when you’re saying something the other person doesn’t want to hear) is the only way to be in service to others.
3. Jimmy Fallon: He always has a smile on his face, truly loves his work, and always takes artistic risks. Watching his show reminds me that creating a passion-based business doesn’t have to be hard unless you let it.
4. Seth Godin: One of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered, Seth was the first person to give me permission to share my creativity at work. His book, Purple Cow, changed everything for me.
What is a useful approach for overcoming difficulty, blocks, and speed bumps in life?
I feel that the only way to grow is to continue working through difficulty, rather than see it as a reason to stop. When we quit, we miss the lesson and we don’t evolve. Some of the most difficult times in my life have brought me to higher levels of confidence, clarity, and consciousness.
I also realize that life is always in some level of transition if you are trying to build something. Getting comfortable with discomfort is a great way to embrace change (rather than fear it) and stay focused on playing a bigger game.
What are some of your favorite tools for awesome living?
Different color pens, giant sheets of paper, my backyard, my white board, Post-Its, my camera, keeping things simple, creating beautiful work spaces, and meditation. I also think it’s really important to have a comfy resting spot for the times when you are not creating. I have a giant canopy bed my dad and I built a few years ago and it’s like my cocoon. I go there when I need a break and it’s a great place to feel totally at peace.
What lifestyle perspective do you feel promotes blissful living?
Keep moving. Waiting for the right moment to start something, analyzing possibilities forever, or wishing for something to happen is not how to live blissfully. When I get an idea, I write it down and create a plan to get started. And then, I start. It doesn’t need to be complicated, you don’t have to know everything, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Life is about making things up and figuring things out, not having every second of your life figured out in advance. Just start and keep moving. Bliss follows.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
When Seth Godin recommended my book, The Anti-Resume Revolution, in 2010, I was stunned. I’m still stunned. I am very proud of that.
I’m also proud of my public speaking journey. I used to be terrified of talking in front of others and decided I needed to change that. I’ve spent a lot of time overcoming this fear. Now, 10 years later, I’m a paid speaker who travels the country inspiring others. I am very proud of myself for sticking with that, even though no part of it was ever easy.
I’m also proud of my creative journey and getting to a point where I trust my creative vision. I used to doubt myself a lot and rely on others for feedback. Now, I know what I like. If you like it, awesome! If you don’t, that’s okay too.
What current projects are you most excited about?
I’m very excited about launching my new books this summer! I know a lot of people struggle with the question of whether or not to start a business (I’ve coached hundreds of people in this position and I know it well!), so creating a book that addresses that one question felt like an important mission. I hope to shave years, maybe even decades off the mulling over of that decision and get people doing what they love even faster.
I’m also excited about growing my online community. I think there is a lot of growth potential for solopreneurs who want to be part of a group of like-minded business owners. I’m excited about spreading that message and welcoming more members.
How can someone try out your lifestyle perspective? (Action items, mental exercise, frame of mind, etc)
My philosophy is stop waiting, start creating. They can try it out by making a list of three things they really want to do, picking the most exciting one, and building a step-by-step list of getting it done. Then, start right away. Once they are done with that, immediately go onto the next thing. There is no reason to keep waiting for our dreams to come true, we need to create opportunities that will make our lives what we want them to be. That means stop making excuses, stop complaining about what you don’t have, and find your motivation. The most blissful people I know have figured out how to keep moving and learning every step of the way.
One question we’re especially curious about is: what’s your secret to appearing in so many great publications/organizations? That’s awesome!
I do a lot of outreach. I subscribe to HARO (helpareporter.com), I speak a lot and I network. I don’t wait for people to recognize me, I reach out to them first. If I want something, I find a way to get it. Few people are willing to do that, so it puts me in a smaller group where it’s easier to get noticed.
We’re really excited about you, Angela! You’re a personal hero, and it’s a thrill. :-)
Curtiss is a lover of delicious atmosphere, experiments in location independence (and digital nomadism), and that magical place where wifi and paradise overlap.