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Un-Branding Notes

From a year of unpacking, questioning, and thinking about how we sell, talk about, promote and engage with people about our work.

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About a year ago, coming out of the pandemic and dealing with significant health issues, I found myself questioning my work. Hopping on social media, what I experienced was an ONSLAUGHT of “branding” and marketing advice and then seeing more and more people wanting to know their “brand” and all the folks marketing “how-to formulas” it just.. made me feel gross, uninterested, and honestly.. stuck.

Because my business up until then was created to offer branding, marketing, and online business support –  I found myself only being able to talk about my work through that old lens. Unsure of how to move forward, I started a monthly series called UN-Branding.. To explore, inquire and investigate how we got here and how we might do things differently.

It’s been an interesting journey – falling back in love with my work, and then not again. That old world has such a sticky grip. The pull to occur shiny and insta-perfect, to look the part, to speak about business building from these old paradigms.. It is such a force. I see it in myself, and I hear it repeatedly from my clients.

We’ve all been indoctrinated: The idea that you have to craft the perfect brand to find success.

The thing that kept and keeps coming up for me is a desire to create business with more honesty, more integrity, more REALness. I have good things to offer – how can I trust my own knowing (and myself) more and have this knowledge lead to success?

Without putting on a front, a persona, or some made up brand “identity.”

My clients.. this seems to be what you want too. To offer your gifts. To share with freedom. To connect and create and build and blossom. To make the kind of difference that you feel called to offer and share.

Wrapping up a year of this UN-Branding inquiry, there are for sure some things that I have learned, things I want to keep exploring and integrating. The focus of my work is now changing into something that feels more true to who I am.

A lot of the nonsense has gotten untangled for myself. For those of you that have joined these discussions, I hope you have also learned and healed and grown from unpacking and discarding some of the noise. And oof, it is NOISY out there!

To come back into ourselves, to TRUST and honor that nudge within that is guiding us in our service work. How we want to help and contribute. How we want to be, the people we are becoming… that is practice work. We have to practice and be curious and listen more to ourselves than the noisy market place of “experts” who only want to make money by teaching tricks and strategies that look good on paper, but don’t always make sense for the individual ways that we move through the world.

So, here are some of my notes from the past year of UN-Branding calls, compiled all together for you to read, study, practice, inquire into, and apply as it makes sense FOR YOU.  Use these notes as a stepping stone along your own (very personal) journey.

In my experience – engaging with this list of ideas makes a WAY bigger difference in my business growth, joy and success than any formula, strategy, or how to list.

There are a ton more things that could be added, but these are the themes that kept showing up again and again on our calls. Please make use of these notes as they support you with your own work, anything that doesn’t fit – ignore it!

Trust yourself.

Also, It’s a lot. 🙂  Don’t feel like you have read and study and implement all of this.  These are ideas, a place to think from. Again, use and apply and practice what makes sense for YOU and your work.

Here we go….

My UN-Branding Notes
From a year of unpacking, questioning, and thinking about how we sell, talk about, promote and engage with people about our work.

 

At the root of everything, we need clarity.

Clarity about our goals, what our work actually is about, who we want to work with, what we want to do, and how we do it. We have to know the purpose and intention of our work. Not only the outcomes of our work for clients and customers, but what is our work – for us. What do we want from this creative undertaking?

You may not fully be able to articulate, which is okay – that comes with time and practice and is always changing. But having a clear direction of where you’re headed – knowing where you want to go – it’s super important.

Without clarity, you could end up in the cold mountains of Montana instead of the warm beaches of Costa Rica. You could end up working with clients that irritate the crap out of you, but you’ll get stuck with them because they pay the bills. You can end up making a ton of money, but losing your soul along the way.

Clarity of purpose, knowing what you’re about and what you want to build and create – that is a good place to begin. Your values, your commitment, your ethos.  How your dreams will actually manifest and what they become, we can leave that to the great mystery and the unfolding of things. Don’t be afraid to name, to declare, to claim what your ship is all about.

 

 

Let go of the idea that a formula/plan/strategy will give you “all the answers” and guarantee success. 

Building a business takes work and there really aren’t shortcuts. We can’t skip over doing the work. Yes, we can educate ourselves and learn how to be more efficient. We can hire and work with people to get support or have them carry some of the load, but there is still work to do.

A paid for formula/plan/strategy is not going to work for every person and every situation. Systems can help us be more productive, but they are not “the answer.” They are tools and that is all they are.  Marketing “experts” will try to convince you that their thing is THE thing that you have been waiting for. It’s probably not.

Take what works, leave the rest. Don’t stress trying to implement and do all the steps that “you must do” – use your brain and notice when you reach for answers like they are going to just magically make everything work. Again, one person’s strategy may or may not work for YOU.

And, for sure – you don’t need to take every class and implement every strategy and study study study more.  At some point you just need to get out there and do your thing.  One more webinar is not going to make or break you. (I promise)

 

 

Ask yourself often – who is creating these rules? 

With the formula, “10 steps to success” mentality, we get a lot of “shoulds” stuck in our brain about all the things we are supposed to be doing to have our work succeed in the world.

But, who is defining what that success is? When did 6 figures become a thing? – like hitting that number will somehow make all of our problems go away.  Six figures does not equal business success or validity.

While raising my kids, success has meant {for me} how available and present I am for children. Money has not been the driver. I’ve been very okay with making just enough money to pay the bills. Yes, sometimes it has been stressful, but then I look at my kids – one now an actual adult –  I see who they are in the world and I am present to SUCCESS.

You get to define for yourself what success looks like.

You get to decide how hard or how much you want/need to work. You get to decide how much you want to charge for working with you.

Ask yourself often, “says who?”

Are you integrating the standards and ideals of others, or are you creating your own life?

All of the rules were made up – so long as you aren’t breaking the law or hurting anyone – live how you want to live. Create your business so it works FOR YOU.

And don’t even get me started on all the social media “rules” – whatever did business owners do before the internet?

As you catch yourself stuck with a should – ask yourself who created this rule? and is it one that makes sense for your work, your life and your peace of mind.

Self trust really matters. For all the things.

The better we get at listening to our own knowing, understanding our own multifaceted/complex existence, the more able we are to find the support and resources that we actually need. (vs. what looks shiny because someone is good at putting their products/offers together in enticing ways).

One of the most useful things that I have found is that the more I really know myself and believe in myself – the easier it is to show up and share what I’m doing.

Building up our self trust, tending to it, working on our own integrity and truth telling – it matters. We do better when we use our brain, our heart, our commitment, our own passion to guide us.

Pay attention to your own knowing.



Respect and honor your current capacities. 

If you are unwell, injured, crawling out of a hole of depression and burnout and overwhelm – you are not going to be capable of working as hard as someone who is super healthy and functional (or 20 years young).

If you are a single mom, raising kids and managing your home while endlessly performing mom taxi duties – you’re going to be WIPED out at the end of the day – you won’t be able to stay up and “hustle hard” working on your business into the wee hours.

Everyone has different resources and abilities. We have different levels of support and encouragement from the people in our lives.

This is also why one magic formula won’t work for everyone. We are all at a different place on our journey and some folks will have all the fancy gadgets in their backpack plus bigger budgets to purchase more effective high end tools.

Respecting and honoring your current capacities means checking in with what you can and can’t do. Being honest about it. From there you can adjust your expectations and make commitments that are realistic.

Go big or go home is not a great pace for many of us and that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with your current capacities, it is what is.  You can create amazing things with basic resources.  As a photography professor of mine said once, “The best camera to work with is the one you have.”  Work with what you have and create from there.

 

 

Lead with your vision and those brilliant ideas. 

Be passionate about your own thinking and what you see could be possible for life here on planet earth. Your authentic passion is such a good thing!

The more we can not hold back, the better.  The more we can share and open up about what we really and truly care about, that is the good stuff that inspires others.

I am a very passionate, expressed human, but turning up the volume on my joy and commitment is never a bad idea. It makes a difference, people respond and will join you in your quest for beautiful experiences.

Share your vision! As boldly, loudly and freely as you are able.

There is great love and care, joy and possibility that wants to spill from you, try to not dam it up.


Build up your own belief in the value of your work. 

Give time and attention to whatever inner work is required to combat those doubt fueled thoughts that shrink and diminish your wise contributions.

In life, we have all been given messages that we are too much, not smart enough, not one of the cool kids, etc.. and those messages can negatively impact how we show up to talk about our work. Pay attention to what’s happening in your own mind and heal those wounds – so you can more fully love and nurture the things you create, with pride and real conviction.

Doubt is such a buzz kill and yet we all encounter it. Get help sorting through your muck if needed, but make sorting it and healing a priority.

 

 

Connection is really the whole point. 

For the people I work with, YOU – you are here to make the world a better place. You are not just selling shit to make as much money as you can, floating around on an environmentally toxic yacht, ignoring the state of things.

You love people, your communities, the earth. You fucking care.

Open up your heart, let your love be expressed, listen and support people. Start there and you really can’t do any of this business building stuff wrong.

Let connection in. Be a beacon for it.

 

 

Tending is an ongoing commitment. 

It means doing the work, day in and day out.

Being devoted, taking care of your business, loving on it, pulling the weeds, watering, giving yourself good nutrients and support. Lather rinse repeat.

Tending is an act of love. “One and done” is not the answer. Showing up, showing up again, meeting your business where it’s at and finding ways to stay IN THE WORK, sustainably, consistently, reliably.

If you forget to change the oil in your car, eventually it will cause problems. Do regular business check ups/check ins. Adjust and tend to what your business needs – right now, not way off in the future.

Brush your teeth. Respond to emails. Lather rinse repeat. (even when you don’t feel like it.)

 

If you want to build something, you have to show up and talk about it. Period.

Marketing is actually not as complicated as we are led to believe. Yes, you might benefit from some seasoned strategic thinking and a rock solid plan, but the name of the game is to show up and share your ideas over and over and over.

Again and again again.

Strategy, practice, courage building, communication skills – keep working on those things and you will naturally get more effective in your marketing efforts. But it’s really about showing up and talking about your work, try to not over complicate this process.

I see many many people getting stuck in the formula mentality, the “branding” mindset, trying to get it right. Perfect.. And THEN, only then will you feel confident enough to show up to share. But, it will never be perfect.

You are leading a conversation, sharing ideas, letting people know how you can help. Show up wherever you want to promote yourself and share.  That is really all there is to do.

The polished version will come with practice and time. Don’t wait to start showing up until you have it all prepared and ready and planned out.

Start talking about it now and let the conversation unfold. Your body of work will grow the more you add to it, so add. And add some more, keep creating, keep sharing, keep talking about what you do.

You may never really feel ready and may only start to feel confident after you’ve been doing it for awhile.  Slick branding won’t remedy that for you.

 

 

Be thoughtful about your relationships and partnerships. 

Set clear boundaries, be clear about your responsibilities, have up on the table what you can count on from each other.

Respect the autonomy of others. We all have unique needs, perspectives, wants and frustrations. We all go at our own pace. We all have different levels of integrity and willingness to take responsibility.

People can say yes or no, they can be unsure. Let them be where they are. Share where you are and create partnerships from there.

It is so easy for us to forget that whoever we are creating with, working with – they see the world different than we do. All we can do is be honest about what we are bringing into the mix and work from a space of honesty.

Stop trying to read people’s minds! Let’s practice listening more and assuming less. Healthy relationships take work, but I find that the more time and attention I put into them, the more wonderful my relationship become.

Integrity. 

What I mean by integrity is being true to who you say you are, doing what you say, creating an environment of workability.

If you say you are about peace, then BE peaceful. If you say you will be at an appointment at a particular time, don’t waste the time of another by being late.

Integrity is not about being perfect. This goes back to TENDING that I talk about above. Sometimes, we are late getting the oil changed, but we get it done and acknowledge that it might have an impact. If you bite off way more than you can chew, don’t just power through and hope no one notices – be in communication with all the impacted parties. When you catch yourself being a whiny brat who just wants to be right about everything, course correct.

Be someone that people can count on – not only to DO what you say, which is foundational as someone who tends to their integrity – but also… BE who you say you are.

In my relationship with my partner, I’m not always the most loving, supportive human, but my commitment to be that always gets shored up. When I say or do things or be in a way that makes my partner feel ick, I take responsibility for that – by talking to him about how I’ve impacted him. I listen, and I acknowledge my part in things. And then, I work hard to not keep doing that. Apologies without corrective action is just making excuses.

This is one of the most fundamentally important things we can do to be good humans – clean up our side of the fence and don’t dump our garbage on others. Having a solid relationship with integrity will forward anything that you are committed to.

Remember that this is something we tend to, not something that is fixed and stays that way forever.  We have to work our integrity.

 

 

Set up actually supportive support systems. 

Staying true to your vision and voice takes something. Mostly we are just going through the motions, surviving the day to day.

Keeping your vision and passion, the joy and enthusiasm for your work ALIVE – well, good support can be really helpful.

When we have safe spaces to share, ask questions, noodle ideas, be encouraged, guided and celebrated, it helps us to stay focused.

I highly recommend that you be thoughtful about who you engage and get “support” from. If your mom is always naysaying your ideas and making you feel dumb, stop sharing your business ideas with her!

Good creative counsel understands you, your work, your needs, your vision, your voice. Having folks that can see beyond what YOU can see, who can remind you of your commitments, and can help you get back on track when you wander – it is so SO valuable!

Who is on your team, what can you trust them with, what needs to be kept close, what could use a wider net? Thinking about the support that ACTUALLY supports us is really important.

Your spouse might be a great financial support while you build up your business, but they might not the person you should be talking to about your creative ideas – especially if their practicality seems to always put a damper on things. There is nothing wrong with this.

Knowing what support someone DOES provide is the key and then making sure you nurture and honor that connection or partnership.

Again, tend to these relationships and seek out people that provide the kind of support that helps you be your best.

Practice being with the discomfort of risk. 

Risk is scary. Going for it, working to build something without any certainty that it will turn out, opening up and sharing our thoughts and ideas, our passions and creations. We have to strengthen our ability to be in the unknown.

To grow and become means letting go of old ways and familiar understandings. Sharing honestly is super vulnerable.

Risk. It’s all about risk – creating things is risky.

What if no one likes the thing you’ve poured your heart and soul into? What if some ass hat on the internet wants to bully you into whatever carrot they are chewing on? What if you fail?  What if you share how you really feel and someone gets upset?

Sometimes we are so paralyzed from the fear of making a mistake – even a tiny, simple, honest mistake – that we stay in idea land, quietly keeping our thoughts to ourself.

But to make something happen in the world? That requires a risk.

Can you practice being with the discomfort? It doesn’t ever really go away – ugh… right?

To create means to risk, so let’s get better at standing up on the stage. Be willing to make an ass of yourself, to trip, to forget the lines.

Great art and ideas coming to life takes being with that unknown space that comes before we know how it will all turn out.

 

 


Practicing practices works way better than sticking to hard ass rules. 

But, you have to know what your practices are.

Saying I’m going to share on social media every single day is a rule. One that is so easy to break and then feel like a failure when you miss a day.

But, if you have, as a practice, to share about your work openly and passionately – and you practice that. You do it, then you don’t, you come back to it, you learn and pay attention to what works, you build connections. There is no failing there.

You are either practicing – on a regular basis – or you aren’t. A practice means showing up for it.

You can be a little (or a lot) rigorous – if it helps to have some structure, do it. Like how every Sunday some people go to church – to practice connecting to god. When I meet every week with a coaching client, that is a practice for them to show up and engage with their work in a very committed way.

I regularly get out in nature for a walk – to practice connecting to nature. But I go when it works, when the weather is nice, when the tide is low. I don’t need a lot of rigor because the practice is alive and well in me.

We can practice making healthy eating choices or we can suffer trying to stick to a strict diet. Practices are ongoing and we have to set up ways to interact with them that is empowering and supportive.

Practices will ebb and flow, but if we keep coming back to them – something starts to build. The underlying commitment – what is this practice FOR – leads the way and will start to become a reality.

 

—-

This whole list of things – they are meant to be things we can practice. Ideas we can deepen and nurture within ourselves.

Pick and choose one or two and work on them. We usually can’t focus on a whole bunch of new ideas as once… So if any of this resonates, pick one thing and dwell in it for awhile, see what happens, what grows.

See if you can integrate some of these practices into your work. You might focus on just one of these ideas for years, going deeper, learning and exploring.

Like practicing yoga – we get stretchier, more mindful, stronger, the more we engage with our practice. And if we forget or lose the habit, we can come back and the practice will meet us again.  We won’t be where we left off, but practice doesn’t care. It will meet you wherever you are.

Practices don’t become permanence. I used to be very good at the clarinet, I practiced all the time. But now, ha! Sorry neighbors! You don’t want to listen to me try to play, I’m soooo out of practice.

If there is one big takeaway from exploring UN-Branding this year it is this idea of practice vs following a set of rules

What we give our attention and time toward, we strengthen, it grows.

A beautiful garden doesn’t happen overnight. Neglect the garden and it stops being a garden. We start where we are and nurture our vision, our ideas, however we do. We share as much or as little as we can. The bigger your garden, the more weeds there are to pull, the more time you have to spend on tending. (or hire a helper!). Same thing with our work – our business, our art.

I mentioned above that my work here is changing – I am shifting from traditional marketing and business support to helping people with their work practices – whatever that is – FOR YOU. Your art, your magic, your relationships, and yes your business, if that is your thing.

I’ll be sharing more in the coming months about these changes and shifts. I’m creating a new website and retiring the Be Bright space – a new container for my work is emerging!

Don’t worry, I’ll still be coaching and creating with people in similar ways. Yes, yes.  I am still going to be doing groups and programs and learning spaces. I’m still me and I still care about the things that have held my attention. Just the home is changing, the context, the container… More about that soon. 🙂

For now – if you are interested in working with me, working on your practices, being nurtured and support from the spaces that I think from – please reach out. Let’s chat and see what a partnership between us might look like.  (hello@runabird.com or just hit reply and we can discuss further)

I wish you such goodness as you progress in your week. Keep taking care – of your passion, yourself, your communities, your heart.

Keep creating your beautiful work.

xo, Runa

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