Grow Your Business

When the Road Turns {On Creative Resilience}

on creative resilience

It happens.  You are excited for one journey.  You are ALL in.  Invested.  The wind in your face as you move forward.  Filled with hope and expectation and all that burns bright against the dark of the unknown ahead.  Then there comes a turn in the road you could have never seen coming.  In an instant everything changes and suddenly you are on a journey you would have never chosen.  But you weren't given that choice.  Now the only choice that remains is how you respond to this new road ahead.  What do you do?

January 27th I was returning from a speaking engagement out of state.  On the way home from the airport, I was in a major car crash that left me with a broken wrist, severely injured hand (and of course it was my dominant lettering/painting/writing everything hand/wrist), and a traumatic brain injury.  In the weeks that followed, everything I had built my business on came apart at the seams.  Piece by piece screaming as it was peeled away and I lay in dimly lit silent room unable to do anything to stop it. 

When you have a 100% service based business and you are not able to serve your clients, the business meets a rapid demise.  These last months have been some of the hardest in my life.  And the hard is far from over.  Many medical challenges lie ahead for the foreseeable future.

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↑ Think this might encourage someone you know?  Share it on Pinterest with your tribe.

Success is not measured by how we handle the expected turns in the road, but by how we pivot to embrace the unexpected ones.   

The ability to pivot and embrace change is a core part of developing creative resilience.   The ability to look at a crisis and see opportunity rather than defeat. If we cannot change the situation we are in, perhaps it is time to change the way we see that situation.

My business got stripped back down to foundation level.  It doesn't get more open than that friends. (Remember that openness is my word for 2018?)  Would I fight to rebuild what I had before or would I fight to build something I love even more? 

I'm going for more. And it has changed my entire business model.  I have had much time in a dim room to ponder and reflect on my options.  Some days I still do.  Who'd've thought bad brain day would become part of my working vocabulary?  Not me, that's for sure.

But out of this season of struggle are coming some beautiful things. 

I've shifted my business model from being primarily service-based (branding/web design/coaching) to focusing on creating educational, inspirational and practical resources for some of my favorite people in the whole wide world: YOU.  Creatives & entrepreneurs.  (I still will be doing limited stationery at as my injured wrist allows + other design work here on a limited case by case basis). 

Product-based businesses are scalable & sustainable in ways service-based business are not.  And that is really exciting. (I learned this one the really hard way.)


I'm in the middle of creating and launching a new brand called Designed to Thrive™... And everything I'm pouring my heart, soul, time and strength into is designed to help you live wholeheartedly, thrive extravagantly and build a brand that matters.  We are talking digital tools, online courses, a totally unique and new way to embrace business planning and strategy designed especially for creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs... complete with supportive community and so much more.

Let me leave you with a few questions to think through.  Now one likes to entertain worst case scenarios, but sometimes they happen.  Prepared is better than perplexed.

If you were taken out of your current business model overnight and could not work or be present at all to meet existing deadlines or client needs:

  • How long would your business last without you? A week, a month, 4 months?
  • Are there some simple tweaks you can put in place now that would give you more buffer time?
  • If you are a service business (as I was), can you translate aspects of your services into products that can be monetized in a way to create a passive income flow?
  • Do you have a contingency plan on what you would do if your were taken out of commission unexpectedly?  (I didn't and it cost me dearly.)
  • Have you looked into forms of insurance that could help mitigate these type of losses?

Shiny Object Syndrome

We have ALL been there friend.

You go into the store for one thing and come back with 5.  Please tell me I'm not the only one this happens to.

Shiny object syndrome is a reality in business as well.  Any other opt-in hoarders, um collectors, out there?  I have a folder.  And they all land there in the digital abyss never to be seen again for the most part.  And then there are the gems I sign up for twice for.

From Facebook campaigns to email lists to graphic bundling sites, every one is in a mad clamor for your attention, your time and eventually your money.  By the end of 2017, I had over 200 emails a day coming in from things I had opted in for.  I only read two of them. 

Starting last week, I've been on a mission to declutter my world.  Getting 200 emails a day all telling me I needed to buy this or listen to that or implement these 15.7 steps to 7 figure success was stressful and exhausting.  I unsubscribed from everything.  And resigned up for the 2 emails I actually read.

Shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a real thing in business.  Especially for entrepreneurs.  It goes after how we are wired.  We are the early adopters, the ones excited about change, the innovators always looking for the better way to get things done.  But SOS commandeers those strengths and turns them into distractions that confuse team members, make it difficult to finish projects, lead to planning lapses and that burn holes in our bottom lines.

I get it.  At one point while I was living in Africa, I had 10 websites.  Yep 10 websites.  Every new idea I flirted with wound up with a brand, a business plan and its own shiny new spot on the world wide web.  There was my personal blog, my art site, my organizational platform, an idea for a fundraising strategy, a blog for social enterprise, well you get the idea.  Eventually everyone, including me, was confused at what I was doing.  #designerproblems

More is not always merrier.  New is not always necessary.

Here are some things I am committed to with my business to keep it on track growing toward sustainable profitability:

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  • Not every idea needs to be acted on.  And almost never immediately.  Write it down and literally put in on a shelf to let it simmer.  Research it.  Write down pros/cons and costs/benefits.  Then let it simmer some more.
  • If you have a team you work with, get together and bat ideas around.  Inspect them from every angle.  Play critic as well as cheerleader.  If you don't have a team, grab some friends and fix that.
  • Go through your subscriptions and cancel all of them you don't read.  And cancel all the apps you don't actively use.
  • If you have marketing emails {graphic bundle sites I'm looking at you} that lead to leakage from your budget, unsubscribe.  Set boundaries that govern your buying of company assets.  No deal is a good deal if you don't actually need it.
  • Stay in your lane focused on what you have been given to do.  Not on what the latest algorithm-busting-short-cut is to get more followers.

How do you stay focused in an online world that competes for your attention?  Any tips you've found really helpful?  Share away in the comments so we can all grow together.

Branding Is More Than Your Logo


What's the first thing that comes to mind when you heard the word "branding"?  A logo?  A color scheme?  If you said yes, you are not alone.  That's why so many people outsource their brand design to a graphic designer only to wind up frustrated with the results. Most graphic designers are not also brand and business strategists.

And we don't have time for you to be frustrated or for you to not get a great return on your investment, right?

 So here is a little post explaining the differences between branding, marketing and design and how they all play a winning game together.  {Yup, I'm using a sports analogy.  I promise it has nothing to do with watching my hometown Jacksonville Jaguars crush their NFL playoffs in the background.}

Let's break it down.

Branding is about who you are.  Marketing is about creating awareness & attracting attention based on and highlighting who you are & what you offer. Graphic design is the process, skills and tools used to create the visual elements of your brand identity and marketing campaigns.  

Branding is about identity. Marketing is about information. Branding is about big picture strategy. Marketing is about metrics and tactical goals to implement that strategy.

Branding shapes marketing, not the other way around.  You have to know who you are before you can boldly introduce who you are to the world.

Another way to look at it is that marketing is the vehicle used to deliver your brand message to your target audience. Marketing is ever changing and evolving as the channels for your message change over time.  Your brand however remains constant, clear, recognizable.

Branding is central and primary to every other marketing tactic.  It actually defines which tools and tactics your company should use.  Branding creates and cultivates customer experience and expectations. It is the base upon which customer loyalty is built and anchored.

For marketing to be truly successful it must be rooted in a strong brand identity.  {No matter how well you are pitched, please do not invest in expensive marketing tactics until you have a solid brand strategy to guide their use.}

While brand strategists and consultants can play invaluable roles helping you define and develop your brand, your brand itself cannot be outsourced. 

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You can't outsource your brand because can’t outsource who you are.  Branding infuses everything you and your team members say and do. Every interaction, every decision is either strengthening or weakening your brand. 

Marketing, however, can and often should be outsourced to firms who specialize in handling practical tactics and detailed implementation, after a strategy congruent to your brand identity has been chosen.

Graphic designers that may not understand brand strategy can still design you beautiful visual elements.  But without the strategy to inform those designs, you might not be communicating the right message to the right people.


  • Identity
  • Big picture strategy
  • Shapes marketing
  • Central & primary
  • Cannot be fully outsourced, you can't outsource who you are
  • Driver of organizational culture


  • Information
  • Metrics & tactics to implement strategy & measure impact
  • Vehicle used to deliver brand message to target audience
  • Can and often should be outsourced


  • Image creation & design implementation
  • Determined by brand strategy & marketing goals
  • Can and often should be outsourced

The truth is: you ARE a brand.  Whether you want one or not, you are a brand that is added to or detracted from with every decision, choice and action you take

Your graphics are not your brand, but they are an incredibly important part of your brand.  Your graphics are a visual execution of your brand identity that let's you communicate with you customer base.

The problem is in the mad rush to attract customers, do our thing and beat the bottom line, sometimes we rush right past what may be the most important part of all: clearly defining who we are.

Great branding is about authentic story-telling and clear, creative communication that reflects accurately your identity to your audience.  Great branding invites your customers to become an integral part of your story line. Because they are.  Integral.  To everything.  Your customer is always the hero of your story.

Branding is the soul of your company, your organization and your work.  It affects every area of your business.  From marketing to organizational culture, your brand story will drive both customer and employee experience.

That’s why you should never trust your brand development to a straight-up marketing firm unless they have a dedicated branding division with proven track record of helping their clients discover who they are at deeper levels and building congruent visual identities and brand strategies.

Many marketing firms say they have branding divisions.  But they don’t.  They have graphic design divisions.  If your “branding expert” isn’t asking you soul searching questions that unlock more of who you are, there is a good chance you might not be dealing with a true branding expert. 

Marketing pushes may bring new customers to come in your door but they will do little to keep customers coming back.  Your brand identity is what causes new customers to become loyal consumer advocates of who you are.

If your brand is not authentically defined and artfully designed, marketing efforts will become a cost center instead of an income generator. While some may debate the finer differences, branding is strategic while marketing is tactical and metric.  

Strategy defines tactics, not the other way around.  Who you are shapes what you do and everything else.