JBE Travel Update: Heading to Bali & Thailand for the Month of May!

Uluwatu, Bali That's right . . . Jenny Blake Enterprises is going rogue!

One of the big reasons behind wanting to work for myself was the freedom to travel and set my own schedule.

So when I found out that my blogging-got-me-a-best-friend Elisa Doucette landed a job in Bali, one of my big travel goals that I had been tip-toeing around became a must-do.

With a nervous feeling in my belly, I inched closer and closer toward making this trip a reality:

  1. I mentally (and a bit tentatively) confirmed that I'm ready to take another big trip, and that it's worth spending my time and money on. Am I really doing this?? Alone?
  2. I marked dates off on my calendar. Gulp! What will it be like to be away from work for so long? 
  3. I booked the major flights (into Singapore, out of Thailand). There's no turning back now! I'll make it work...
  4. I signed up for a major life-checklist item (click here to create your own checklist)two-week Thai Massage Training in Chaing-Mai, Thailand to help advance my yoga teaching. For those who are unfamiliar with Thai Massage, it's almost like facilitated yoga -- using my body as a practitioner to move the other person's body around in various shapes. They lay on the floor in comfortable clothes (as opposed to a massage table) and I do the work! This is going to be a great way for me to learn how to assist people during yoga classes, and I'll have fun practicing on friends who are nice to me when I get home :)
  5. Squealing ensued over Skype with Elisa as we planned the details of our trip in a Google Doc titled, "Jenny and Elisa Do Thailand and Bali." Hey -- what's the fun of planning a big trip if you can't express your Type-A-ness in a massive Google Doc?!

Logistics

I will be treating this trip largely as vacation, responding only to urgent items. It's nerve-wracking to imagine being mostly unplugged for an entire month, but mostly delightful! That means that things may be quiet around here for the month of May (with a few guest posts sprinkled throughout). I hope you understand :)

I'd love to hear in the comments: Anyone got any recommendations or travel must-sees for these areas? If you live in any of the cities I mentioned above, I'd love to meet up!

You're Invited! Start a Blog that Matters Webinar with Corbett Barr of Think Traffic

Tip-toeing around the idea of starting a blog? Itching to be heard but nervous about how to get started and find your voice? Got something under way but not sure how to sink into the traction you're looking for? Then I've got just the fix for you -- I'm thrilled be hosting Corbett Barr and Caleb Wojcik of Think Traffic, one of my tip-top favorite blogs, for an exclusive Start a Blog that Matters webinar in two short weeks.

If you read no further, save the date and enroll below!

What: Start a Blog that Matters Webinar -- exclusively for the Life After College community Topics: We'll cover 5 incredible case studies of regular people who became big name bloggers, 5 bloggers who earn over $1 million a year and the 9 essential elements of starting a blog that matters. When: Tuesday, May 1 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET Cost: Free! Register: Here

The three most common questions I get about blogging are:

  1. Technical - How did you get started? What platform should I use?
  2. Emotional - Do I have anything to say? I'm nervous...what if people don't like my stuff?
  3. Reach - How do I increase my traffic and connect with the audiences that matter to me?

When Corbett and Caleb asked if I wanted to host a free webinar for all of you based on their latest course, Start a Blog That Matters, I jumped at the opportunity.

This is your chance to get inspired, educated and get all your questions answered from the  experts on the subject. They will be delivering ~45 minutes of insanely useful content about how to start a blog that matters, then will share info and take Q&A about the full course toward the end.

Why bother pushing through those fears to start a blog?

Building an online presence has changed and enriched my life in every single area -- confidence, friendships, business opportunities, cathartic self-expression and creativity -- and I know that it can have the same impact for you.

Deep down, many people know what they want to say -- or that they at least want to experiment with sharing ideas publicly -- but are intimidated about how to begin. A waterfall of inner critics comes rushing in to say you don't know what you're doing, you're not good enough, you're not a writer, etc. Fooey!

Starting a blog that matters is about finding YOUR unique, authentic voice, and having the courage to experiment until you find your online groove. Blogging is an evolutionary, growth-filled process -- no one expects you to be "successful" overnight. In fact, I'm of the strong opinion that you are successful just for trying and putting yourself out there -- no matter how many readers you end up with.

Check out my 4-Year Blogiversary post for the biggest lessons I've learned in 4+ years of blogging.

More about the full course

The Start a Blog that Matters course contains 13 weekly lessons to guide you through starting a blog that matters over 90 days.

You’ll start with choosing a great topic and setting up your blog and end with building your audience and spreading your influence.

Each of the 13 lessons contains a specific action plan for you to follow each week. This isn’t just about learning, it’s about doing.

The lessons are a combination of text, checklists and video. The course contains over 8 hours of video and 30,000 words of blog-building knowledge and advice. Whether your goal is to build a business around your blog or just to have fun with it (or both), this course will build a great foundation for your blog.

Here’s everything you get in the course:

  • 13 weekly lessons
  • 13 weekly step-by-step action plans
  • Over 8 hours of video
  • Direct access to ask Corbett questions anytime
  • Discounted web hosting and recommended tools
  • A 60-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee (we want you to be 110% satisfied)
  • 4 very special bonuses (see course overview for full details)

I hope you'll join us on the webinar in two weeks! 

More about Corbett Barr

About Corbett BarrCorbett Barr is the founder of Insanely Useful Media, and creator of How to Start a Blog that Matters. His blogs including Think Traffic and Expert Enough attract over 100,000 combined monthly visitors.

Corbett has dedicated his career to teaching people how to attract thriving online audiences. Through his courses and one-on-one consulting, he has helped students and clients start over 670 new blogs.

Corbett is also an informal advisor to some of the top bloggers online including Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.

New Template: Plan Your Next Career Move

It's time to welcome Template #21 to the Life After College collection! I developed the Plan Your Next Career Move template after working with several coaching clients to figure out what's next in their career. Many come to me with no clue about what's next -- it's as if a thick fog is covering everything and they can't see the path ahead. Exercises like the ones below have helped many clients lift the fog and inch closer and closer toward clarity.

Side note: I'm featured on Monster.com's Be Known blog this week on a closely related topic -- Bridging the Skills Gap in Today's Economy: Part 1 and Part 2

A note on 1:1 coaching

If you're curious about coaching, I've noticed that since I quit Google people tend to come to me for help with one of three primary things:

  • Career or major life change (quitting, moving, finding a new "soul-stirring" career path)
  • Building momentum around a blog, and
  • Building a successful solopreneur-based business

If you're wanting to make massive progress in any of these areas, check out my coaching page and fill out an application if my program seems like a fit. I only work with a handful of people for a three-month commitment at time, and if price is your primary deciding factor I'm probably not the coach for you (though I'd be thrilled to give you recommendations for other awesome coaches).

Working with a small number of people helps ensure that I can give them my full time, attention, and access to my network. I currently have a waitlist, but will be taking on new clients again in June if it sounds like just what you need!

Enter the Plan Your Next Career Move template!

This template will help you start to lift the fog on your career -- it breaks down various categories within a job or career (location, company size, type of work, etc), and provides space for you to brainstorm a list of must-haves (oxygen), nice-to-haves (chocolate), and can't stands (mine: fish, black licorice) for each area. Think of it like an "ideal mate" exercise, but for a job -- arguably an even bigger commitment given how much time we spend at work!

Note: this template is mostly focused on people looking for employment rather than striking out on their own. To think through starting your own business, you might prefer the Decision-Making Template instead. 

Here's an excerpt of the additional exercises in the template (also a sneak peek at the type of homework I assign to coaching clients):

  • Make a list of “guilty pleasure” or alternative careers that you’d pursue if time and money were not an issue. Once you have your list, write a paragraph for each -- what is enticing about each one? Identify common themes that cut across all -- this will become your “career values” compass.
  • Target impact & audience: Do you have a sweet spot of who you feel called to work with? Who do you want to help? List three companies that support that audience, and even brainstorm types of people who you really think could benefit from your work. For example: Google - the world (organizing info), Kiva - entrepreneurs in the third world, Pandora - music lovers.
  • How do you define creativity? What’s your ideal way to be creative on the job? Outside of work?
  • Review the table above. Look back over the table and see if anything is missing or needs to be explained further. Consider this the sifting tool to use as you consider/look for jobs.
  • Make a list of 25 people doing jobs you admire. What aspects of the jobs seem appealing to you? Choose 10 to reach out to via email; optional to ask about setting up a call or meeting.

Bonus resource: You might also really enjoy Sarah Peck's handy One Page Career Cheat Sheet, particularly if you are debating whether your current job is a fit or not.

Business Aside: I recently checked my template stats and was BLOWN AWAY.

Check out the following usage stats!

For access to all 20 templates and the full Organized Like a Ninja Toolkit, sign-up for my monthly(ish) Inside Scoop Newsletter. If you hate it, you can unsubscribe -- but most people seem to find the peek behind the curtain interesting :). You can also review the archives to see if it's for you -- I know how precious inbox real estate is these days!

ThinQAction TV Video Interview: How do you move past fear to find your passion?

There are several career advice cliches that really get under my skin (see my Open Letter to Love for a rant on relationship-related cliches):

  • Find a mentor!
  • Follow your passion!
  • Do what you love and the money will follow!

The follow-up that these missives are missing is HOW.

How do you find a mentor? I believe in one-off mentorship -- short 15- to 30-minute calls that add up over time and that form relationships naturally and gradually.

How do you follow your passion and/or find it in the first place? I believe in big, broad, expansive and unrestricted creative thinking THEN narrowing down only after extensive work to uncover the many layers of a person's brain and heart.

Do what you love and the money will follow? Only if you're smart about it! Earning money is not a given -- it requires skills you may not yet have such as sales and marketing.

ThinQAction TV - Video Interview with Antonio Neves

I'm excited to share with you an 8-minute video interview that my awesome friend Antonio Neves of ThinQAction filmed with me in January at Grind Spaces in New York City (where I'm also currently piloting Geek Yoga!). Antonio's energy is contagious and it was my honor to help him kick off this ThinQActionTV series by answering some of the key questions many of us face during a big life change.

In the video we cover:

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Invitation to Moxie Camp NYC - June 29-July 1

I’m very excited to be a part of Alexia Vernon’s inaugural Moxie Camp 2012 in New York City this June 29-July 1, 2012. I'll be teaching a Geek Yoga class for the whole group on Friday night, then delivering my Make Sh*t Happen workshop the next day. And guess what? You're invited!

What is Moxie Camp?

Moxie Camp is designed for women who work in social enterprise or the nonprofit sector, want to grow a socially conscious business, or who simply want to scale their positive impact in the world. Over the course of the 2.5 days together at the beautiful New York Insight Meditation Center, Moxie Campers will have the playspace to generate ideas, compiles strategies, develop skills, grow relationships, and make *moxie* a way of being.

Here are a handful of the takeaways from the weekend dedicated to participants’ professional, personal, social and spiritual growth:

  • Dive deep into your professional purpose. Discover how to build and sustain a career or business that lets your live your values, create the lifestyle you seek, and pay you what you’re worth.
  • Illuminate your innate charisma, and learn to speak up and shine. Be confident and competent every time your open your mouth and share your vision and voice.
  • Demystify the key behaviors to build a movement around your ideas and mobilize social change.
  • Become a true influencer by stepping up to crucial conversations. Practice the arts of negotiation, giving and receiving feedback, and coaching through conflict. End risk aversion – once and for all.
  • Fall in love with your financial future. By diving deep into your financial habits, hopes, and fears, you will learn how to develop financial behaviors that serve your professional and personal goals.
  • Discover how to create harmony and integration in each of your life spheres. Make self-care and spirituality your launching pad for busting bigger moves in the world.

A portion of every ticket sold will benefit the nonprofit, She’s the First, a NYC-based nonprofit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world. To grab your ticket, visit the Moxie Camp website. I hope to see some of you fabulous lady readers there!

 

How Can I Love My Fear? Handwritten Notes on Acceptance, Love and Growth

Here we go with another spontaneous, top-of-mind, unplanned post -- thanks for being such an awesome community that I feel supported putting this stuff out there. Best readers on the planet, I tell you! Side note: I'm currently en route to Syracuse to speak at the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship conference -- apologies in advance if I'm slow to reply to comments. For those who are curious, my topic is Great Leaps: How to move through fear, find your courage, and tackle your most meaningful goals. Will share pictures and/or video if there are any! 

Handwritten Notes on Acceptance, Love and Growth

I wrote these journal entries a few days ago and considered typing them up -- but the very nature of fear and insecurity is that it is DEEPLY personal, often hiding in the shadows of our subconscious. Typing it out would place a shiny coating on a topic (and set of reflections) that are meant to be unfiltered and real.

I'm sure this is terrible for SEO and accessibility and retweeting, but too bad! These thoughts are going straight from brain to page to blog, delivered to you with love.

BTW -- *right* as I was going to take a photo, I spilled coffee all over the page! A few F-bombs followed. But hey -- maybe it gives the whole thing some character?!

Journal Entry 1: How Can I Love My Fear?

Journal entry on fear (click display images to view)

Journal Entry 2: Thoughts on Relationships and Fear of Loss

Journal entry on fear + relationships (click display images to view)

Additional Thoughts

I've have a few more additions to the lists above since writing those two entries: 

  • Even though things DO end (in life, love and work) and we are wise to find joy independently, there is also tremendous beauty in growing WITH people -- be it friends, family, or a romantic partner.
  • As one of my favorite yoga teachers at Katonah, Phillip, often says when he's giving the world's best assists, "There's so much we can do alone...but there is so much MORE that we can do together."
  • Everyone on our path is a teacher, and there is great learning in whatever form relationships may take.
  • Relationships are fluid and the best ones (in my opinion) are not boxed in by rules and regulations.
  • We all worry about whether we are good enough. We worry about whether our flaws -- large and small -- are acceptable to others. The best thing we can do is be open, loving, kind, forgiving, accepting -- first of ourselves, then of the people we are with.
  • Growth is in FALLING and then GETTING BACK UP, not in the unattainable plight for perfection. Let yourself fall, be kind as you pick yourself back up.
  • Acknowledge this same dance of growth in those around you.
  • No matter what you're working on, find and return to gratitude as often as possible.
  • Acknowledge and honor the COURAGE it takes to try something new, be vulnerable, and move closer toward what you want in life.
  • And as John Steinbeck said to his son in his letter On Falling in Love, "Don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."

Related Posts

If these thoughts resonated with you, you might also enjoy these posts: 

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I'd love to hear from you in the comments:

In what ways to you resist, fight or deny your fear? What would happen if you were to embrace and converse with it instead? What am I missing from the lists above? 

March Miscellaneum

On the topic of content hoarding, man have I been saving up quite the list of links for you! I save many of them in my Google +1s page, but these are the best of the best. In yoga news, I am honored to be teaching a super-special Geek Yoga class at a studio I greatly respect, Katonah, next Thursday April 5 at 8:00pm (add yourself to the Facebook event here). If you're in NYC, don't miss it! We are rallying geeks far and wide -- should be the best one yet :)

Articles I'm featured in:

On Business:

Big thanks to my brother Tom (aka T-Bones) who sends me these almost every morning!

On Productivity:

Other Content I've Loved Recently:

Steal of a Deal on Coaching Services!

I'm beaming with pride for two of my coaching clients who have both recently launched their own coaching ventures: Melissa Anzman of Loosen Your White Collar, and Eric Lunsford of Coffee and Warm Showers.

Oftentimes when new coaches are starting to build their client list, they offer coaching at a deeply discounted rate just to build momentum (I definitely did this). The good news for you is that it's a great way to get highly discounted coaching! I've also taken new coaches up on offers like this, and am amazed at how much I can accomplish with them in just a few sessions.

Here's more information on each of their offers:

  • Loosen Your White Collar- Melissa is a former corporate human resources leader who finally turned her own dream job into a reality. She spent over ten years working in various corporate careers, trying to find the perfect “tie” for herself, when she realized that what she really needed was to put on a new one! Since then, she has been helping working professionals reconnect or shape their own career path. An HR insider and certified coach, she will help guide you to the career you’ve always dreamed of having. She is offering her coaching services at a deeply discounted rate of $250 for four sessions of coaching, 45 minutes each, good through April 30, 2012. (Value: $1,000)! If you’re interested, please complete this formIf you’re not quite sure if you’re ready to take the leap, or even just want to find out more about what coaching is, leave your email address here, and Melissa will send you additional information, details and tools about coaching, and how to loosen your white collar.   
  • Coffee and Warm Showers $1 Mentoring - Eric's goal is "to help your true self wake up from its slumber, question the status quo, and transform your being." He wants to make coaching accessible to the masses, hence his $1/minute program (you select the amount of time in advance, starting with as little as 30 minutes up to an hour). To learn more, visit his website!

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: Any awesome links or resources you've stumbled-upon lately? 

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Must-Watch Viral Video: Japan's Wrecking Crew Orchestra:

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Guest Post: Why You Should be a Quitter....and Wear the Title Proudly

I'm a quitter - by Ali Martell (AliMartell.com) Today's guest contributor is writer, coach, violinist, filmmaker, law school graduate, and web designer, Emilie Wapnick, who works with multipotentialites to help them build lives and businesses around ALL their interests. She's the author of Renaissance Business and the troublemaker behind Puttylike.com

I'm so glad Emilie chose this topic -- it's the same feeling I had when I quit journalism. I had been a journalist my whole life, but by the time I was a news reporter for the Daily Bruin at UCLA my freshman year I surprisingly found myself feeling miserable by what I thought was my life path. Quitting the newspaper was one of the hardest decisions I had made at that point in my life -- I didn't know who I was if not a journalist. Here's a video of me talking about this decision (2 years ago!), on why I agree that we should celebrate quitting.

Guest Post by Emilie Wapnick: Why You Should be a Quitter....and Wear the Title Proudly

When I was sixteen years old, I quit the violin. I'd been playing since I was four (twelve years of classical training), but the last few years had felt forced.

I remember feeling profoundly ashamed about losing interest in the violin. I didn't want other people to think I was a quitter. The label sounded so vile. On a deeper level, I was afraid of letting go of this really integral part of my identity. I was "the violinist." I couldn't remember a time when I hadn't been "the violinist."

I finally did quit, and felt tremendous relief. And yet, I feared that in the process, I had traded the label "violinist," for "quitter."

Was Something Wrong with Me?

As I got older, the haunting feeling that I was simply incapable of committing to one field, only intensified. Was there something wrong with me?

A pattern was emerging. Five years later, I lost interest in the guitar, which I had become incredibly serious about. I had also taught myself web design, but had no interest in becoming a full-fledged web designer.

In college, I studied film production, and then changed gears entirely and went to law school. Once the end of law school was approaching, I chose not to take the bar exam or apply for law jobs, and nobody understood. "You've already put so much time and effort into it," they pleaded. But my heart was already wrapped up in a new pursuit.

The Stigma Against Quitters

The world puts a huge emphasis on finishing what you start. We're encouraged from a young age to seek out our "one true calling," and commit our lives to it. (It's even seen as a romantic notion-- Ahh destiny!)

Finding your life's purpose is the focus of nearly every personal development book. It's ingrained in our culture, reinforced by teachers, parents, and career counselors. And yet, few of us stop to question it.

Are there downsides to being so end-focused? Is it possible that NOT quitting is limiting our potential?

Maybe when you get that icky, antsy feeling inside, it's not a sign of self-sabotage or "fear of commitment." Maybe when you feel bored, it's your body's way of telling you that it's time to move on, that you got what you came for.

Letting go of an interest allows you to free up room for new projects. It allows you to embrace new passions and keep growing and developing as a full, well-rounded human being.

Would I have learned to write songs, build websites, craft a story, produce a film, understand a contract, or grow a company, had I not quit a couple dozen times? I may not have "mastered" any of these paths to their full extent, but I sure as hell picked up a lot of useful skills along the way!

Are You a Multipotentialite?

If you've read this far, and have found yourself nodding along, then there's a good chance that you're a multipotentialite.

Multipotentialites are not specialists.

While specialists thrive by diving deep into one subject, multipotentialites have many different interests and creative pursuits throughout their lives. As a multipod, you aren't meant to head down one path, but to jump laterally between them, synthesize your knowledge, and draw from your diverse background.

In other words, you're meant to be a quitter. It's what allows you to be brilliant.

Society hasn't Always been So Specialist-Oriented

When did we become obsessed with this “one true calling” idea?

Well, it turns out that it’s a fairly modern concept. Back in Renaissance times for example, being a multipotentailite (or polymath as it’s also known) was considered the ideal. People were encouraged to become well-versed in many different disciplines: the sciences, athletics, literature, the arts, and so on.

It just goes to show, that there is nothing inherent or biological about committing to one field. The idea that changing directions is some sort of deficiency, is a completely socially-based, 20th century notion. It's a very modern idea.

So be a quitter, and wear the title proudly. And when you're off designing some innovative architectural structure by drawing inspiration from your past life as a dancer, be thankful that you’ve got the quitting bug in you. 

We'd love to hear in the comments: How has being a quitter at an important juncture actually enhanced your life?

Book Giveaway Bonanza + LAC on Some Very Exciting Shelves...

Calling all book worms! If you love books as much as I do, then get your commenting hats on and get ready to enter to win one of six awesome books!

Before we go there, I have some *super* exciting news to share...

Life After College Lands at Target!!

Some of you may have already heard on Facebook or my Inside Scoop newsletter...

Target purchased 15,000 copies of my book!!! They are currently placed in a home decor display for new grads across 1,700 stores in America. We don't have a nearby Target in NYC, so please send pictures if you spot it out in the wild! The first sighting came from Ryan Knapp (at right).

I'm still pinching myself -- I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined this would be happening when the book came out last March. I was nervous about selling 100 copies!  My big dream is for it to be THE must-have book that people buy for recent grads. Added bonus -- give them a copy of the roadmap poster too! Thank you everyone for the continued love and support -- it means the world to me.

Book Giveaway Bonanza!

Long ago, I set a policy for Life After College that I would not review a book unless the author sent two copies -- one for me, and one to give away to one of you! I've been collecting a bunch of awesome books and it's time to send them out to some lucky winners! Read further for instructions on how to enter.

Book #1: The Coolest Start-ups In America by Doreen Bloch

Doreen is a rock-star who I had the good fortune of having a coffee date with during the midst of her book development. Since that time, she's been covered by more publications than she probably knows what to do with! Homegirl hit a home run, and the best part of all is that she self-published.

Here's a description of her book:

The Coolest Startups in America is the first mainstream book on entrepreneurship. Be introduced to 72+ of the best, new companies you must to know about, and hear directly from founders, entrepreneur thought-leaders, government officials and more all about the world of startups! www.CoolestStartups.In

And here's some of Doreen's awesome coverage if you want to help spread the good word!  

HuffPost Click to Tweet | The NY Times Click to Tweet | Producteev Blog Click to Tweet | Girls in Tech Click to Tweet | Feministing Click to Tweet | Women 2.0 Click to Tweet | Business Unconventional Click to Tweet | FamZoo Blog Click to Tweet | Finovate News Click to Tweet | EXAME Click to Tweet

Book #2: The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

Ben was one of my earliest "one-off" mentors in my own book journey, back when I was still contemplating whether to self-publish or find an agent in 2009. His advice was incredibly insightful (he did start his own successful company at age 14, after all) and set me on the path of finding a publisher.

Ben's first book is called My Start-Up Life, and I couldn't agree more with the premise of this one -- that each person should treat their career as their very own company...which now, more than ever, it is!

Book Description: 

The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.

Here, LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today's competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.

 You're also invited to join Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha for a Live Chat:

You will learn the best practices of some of the most successful start-ups on the planet (like PayPal and LinkedIn), and how these strategies can be applied to your career -- no matter your industry or job function. You will learn how to launch career plans amid uncertainty; how to change jobs based on what you learn; how to generate breakout opportunities; how to take intelligent risks; how to develop real relationships and build an effective professional network. Most of all, you will learn how to *think* like an entrepreneur when steering the start-up that is your career.

Book #3: Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus are two of the most down-to-earth, inspiring people I've met in the last year. Their blog, TheMinimalists.com is a smash success, and their message is one of quiet strength in streamlining down to what really matters in life.

Book Description:

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life is our finest, most important creation to date. It’s also the best thing we’ve ever written about Minimalism and will likely serve as the cornerstone to our work for years to come. It took us a year to write this book—a year of creating the best material possible and finding ways to relate it back to our lives so you would have practical ways to relate the subject matter to your life.

Do you jump out of bed every morning excited about the day in front of you? Do you live a life defined by deep meaning, endless passion, excellent health, empowering relationships, and constant growth? You can.

Ultimately, the eight chapters and ninety-eight sections inside this book are meant to help you take small actions each day that will radically improve your life over a short period of time.

The chapters move on the the five dimensions that comprise a meaningful life: Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth and Contribution.

Book #4: Getting from College to Career - Updated by Lindsey Pollak

Lindsey is another one of my long-time mentors, someone whose career was the exact model of what I only hoped to one day achieve when I started blogging. Rather than seeing me as a competitor, Lindsey has always been gracious, wise, friendly and helpful. Her book is THE manual on finding a job in today's economy, and it's a must-have for any of you job-seeking at the moment!

Book description: 

How do you get a job without experience and get experience without a job? It’s the question virtually every college student or recent graduate faces. Now newly revised and updated, Lindsey Pollak’s Getting from College to Career is the definitive guide to building the experience, skills, and confidence you need to succeed in the job search, offering action-oriented tips and strategies ranging from the simple to the expert. Learn how to:

  • Get the best tools for career prep and job hunting
  • E-mail like a professional
  • Go global
  • Practice the eight essentials of internship achievement
  • Perform five minutes of stand-up
  • Overprepare for interviews
  • Persist without being a pest

Getting from College to Career gives you the essential information and guidance you need to get your foot in the door of the real world. Don’t start your first job search without it!

Book #5: The Zen of Social Media Marketing (2012 Edition) by Shama Hyder Kabani

Shama is a published and social media powerhouse -- her work has been a huge success among small business owners and entrepreneurs, and I'm excited to include the lastest edition of her book in this givewaway!

Book Description:

Social media is a crucial tool for success in business today. People are already talking about your business using social media, whether you’re using it or not. By becoming part of the conversation, you can start connecting directly to your customers, as well as finding new ones, easily and inexpensively spreading the word about your products or services.

But social media marketing isn’t like traditional marketing—and treating it that way only leads to frustration. Let Shama Hyder Kabani, social media expert and president of web marketing firm The Marketing Zen Group, teach you the “zen” of social media marketing: how to access all the benefits of social media marketing without the stress!

Book #6: Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur by Ryan Blair

I don't know this guy, but I'd like to! His story sounds amazing and his book has caught my eye many times while browsing my local bookstore. Whoever wins this one can be in a book club with me, as I haven't read it yet!

Book Description:

Ryan Blair knows about building a business from the ground up. Like many entrepreneurs he had no formal business education. But he had great survival instincts, tenacity, and above all, a "nothing to lose" mindset.

Blair's middle-class childhood came to an abrupt end when his abusive father succumbed to drug addiction and abandoned the family. Blair and his mother moved to a dangerous neighborhood, and soon he was in and out of juvenile detention, joining a gang just to survive.

Then his mother fell in love with a successful entrepreneur who took Ryan under his wing. With his mentor's help, Blair turned himself into a wildly successful businessman. He started his first company, 24/7 Tech, at the age of 21, and since then has started and sold several companies for hundreds of millions of dollars.

How to Enter

  1. Answer the following question in the comments: which of these books resonates most with you, and why?
  2. If you win: What is your second choice book? (I figure the answer to question 1 will be your first choice) Also, do you prefer a paper copy or Kindle? (Gotta ask these days!)
  3. Enter by Friday, March 30 -- I will choose the winners via Random.org.

B*tches in Bookshops

Finally...(could this blog post BE any longer?!) I leave you with a hilarious video about books, sent by the one and only Sarah Peck:

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On Writing Bottlenecks, Part Two -- Wise Words from Dad

After I posted last week's On Writing Bottlenecks...and an Apology, my dad responded via email with wisdom so juicy I felt compelled to share it publicly with all of you. I've pasted his email below (with his permission) -- bold emphasis is my own:

Your LAC post covers some important ground re: perfectionism.

In a nutshell:  We live in the age of the polished turd (excuse my vulgarity) where big Industry, big Pharma, big food, big entertainment all try to sell their half-baked crap by polishing it to excess and delivering it in shiny packages, often with little lasting value. This makes many Americans feel that they must polish whatever they create:  food, words, videos, songs, just to compete with the high gloss of the barrage, the polished inundation from corporate America.

One big reason LAC rose to popularity is that you delivered honest, heartfelt ideas not because you delivered perfect ideas. Give your readers the credit for being able to see through shine, the "perfection" as 99% of them can.  

So - just let your ideas fly!  remember the stealth aircraft that can't fly at all until it takes off and begins to crash - its computers correct its errors 100,000/second and voila!  it flies.  Don't let your inner critic that has seen too much "polished" stuff hold you back.

It is important for people to remember that honesty is perfection even if it has grammar errors, idea errors, composition errors - all this "non-polish" pales in significance to the beauty of an honest thought.

Polish is such a 16-19th century set of ideas. Cezanne and Picasso lived and painted so people could think about something other than the surface.

A compelling case for shipping and focusing on honesty, not perfection! You can read more of my dad's thoughts on life, creativity and happiness in his Bliss Engine book and essays (free to download).

I always like to focus on ACTION, whether for myself or my coaching clients, so here's what I am going to do moving forward:

  1. Keep a list of all potential blog topics in one place
  2. Commit to writing about those topics regularly (perhaps back to the write-two-posts-every-Sunday schedule I followed while working full time), regardless of when I decide to actually post them.
  3. Sometimes goals require baby steps, and sometimes they require an outlandish target to pop you into an entirely different, more creative approach. For example, as a fun experiment this past weekend I sat down with the intention to write 10 posts all in one session -- aiming for as much content as though I was putting in a day of work on my book. It took the high expectations off of any one post, and helped me shift into a higher productivity gear altogether. I ended up with 8 -- short of the goal, but more than I've written in the last two months combined!
  4. Find help for many of the other projects I'm working on to free up more time for writing (in progress!)
  5. Be open to posting shorter and/or more frequent posts, while still honoring my value of quality

This post is a perfect example -- my concerns at first were, Am I saying enough? Is this topic worthy of a follow-up? Should I cram more in there? My conclusions: yes, based on the comments -- heck yes, and no! It was a bit of a mental argument, but I decided to walk my own talk and hit publish no matter what :)

***

I'd love to hear in the comments: what specific actions do you take to combat procrastination via perfectionism? 

On Writing Bottlenecks...and an Apology

Before we jump in -- I'm Monster.com's featured career expert for tonight's #MWChat on Twitter from 6-7ET. The topic is Bridging the Skills Gap in Today's Economy. Join us and thousands (!!) of others for tonight's chat if you can.  Perfectionism can be a crippling quality for a blogger.

I have so much to share with you that my brain is bursting! And yet, the posts all dance around in my head in incomplete form, never quite making it to the page because of a perfectionist bottleneck that I'm having trouble removing.

Our greatest strengths turn into weaknesses when over-used, and our perceived weaknesses often hint at underlying superpowers.

Perfectionist tendencies have helped me build a successful blog -- they ensure that only the very best content makes it to the virtual page, and hopefully my readers (you!) trust that when you visit or subscribe, you receive the absolute highest quality I'm capable of producing.

But perfectionism at its extreme is simply procrastination.

It's robbing the world of your voice and your ideas.

A friend and I were just talking about this -- it's funny how perfectionism rears its head particularly when contemplating a creative task.

As I said to him, "Writing is a reflection of the beauty of a person's soul. It's not the grammar that counts -- its the vulnerability, exploration, and courage it takes to express the inner workings of your mind/body/spirit."

His mission is to help others "see the perfection in imperfection" -- which is exactly what it takes to put your whole self out there in spite of any fears or misgivings.

When I asked for his permission to share some of these email gems with all of you, he replied with the following brilliant insight: "It's human nature to explore, experiment, fail and succeed. And it's our nature to understand and learn from these experiences. Courage is in expressing it. Showing it off." Amen.

Finally, as my brilliant friend Derek Shanahan once said to me, "People respect perfection, but they fall in love with imperfection."

A Peek Inside JBE HQ

Take a look at my to-do list, written on the flight home from a life-changing week in Austin for SXSW (click to enlarge):

JBE To Do List - March 16

As you can see, I have LOTS of ideas and ambitions for JBE. Email catch-up alone takes up one line, and that includes 100+ micro-tasks within it!

What I'm really trying to say is that I owe you an apology.

No matter how great my ideas and products are, if I don't share them clearly on the blog then the person that ends up getting the short end of the stick is you. You probably just think I'm monkeying around back here on all my various trips...which is only a little bit true :)

Jenny Blake - SXSW 2012 - First year at SXSW as JBE!!

I am going to do better for you.

My trip to Austin marked my one year anniversary of starting my sabbatical last year, after which I never did return to cube life.

After turning this enterprise into a business, I found that blogging took a back seat to other income-generating efforts. Similar to my to-do list above, I have a list of 20+ blog posts that I want to write but haven't created the time for. Bad Jenny!

Time to find my balance, bring on more help, get the right systems in place (must-read business book: E-Myth Revisited) turn the heat up and really take things to the next level!

Stay tuned on all of the above, and subscribe to my Inside Scoop newsletter if you want all the juicy details regarding what I'm thinking about behind-the-scenes.

In three words, what does a good writer do best?

Speaking of writing, Matt Gartland of Winning Edits put together an awesome graphic on writing advice -- I'm honored to be listed among some of my favorite authors!

Winning Edits - In three words, what does a good writer do best?

Video: The Number One Tip for SXSW Newbies

Happy Monday from the road! I'm driving back to NYC from Pittsburgh today after spending the weekend at TEDxCMU, the same conference I spoke at last year (on Career in the Age of the App). I can't believe how much has changed in a year. When I gave that speech I was still working at Google, living in Mountain View, and my book release was 3 weeks out. It's insane how much can change when we start to follow the little whispers in our gut. It's like unraveling a loose thread -- following, following, twisting, turning -- until you end up with a whole new life at the end. For as uncomfortable as it can be at times, the unpredictability of life is a beautiful thing.

Video: The Most Important Piece of Advice I Have for SXSW Newbies (or for any conference)

No rest for the weary! In a few days I leave on another epic cross-country road-trip from NYC to Austin for South-by-Southwest Interactive with my good friends Sean, Willie and Mike.

It's tradition -- last year I cancelled my flight home to take a 19-hour road-trip to Vegas after meeting Sean and his friends three days prior. That's what I love about SXSW -- it always brings out my spontaneous side. I don't make any plans until five minutes beforehand, and I love it.

On that note, my friend Mike "Ambassador" Bruny is putting together a series for SXSW newbies, so Monique and I shared a few thoughts via video -- we got a kick-out of sharing the exact same most important tip at the end...check it out!

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Have a wonderful week everyone! Apologies if I'm a bit MIA these next two weeks...here's an awesome video to check-out in the meantime:

Where Good Ideas Come From (by Stephen Johnson)

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Guest Post: Get Unstuck and Unlock Your Potential by Ishita Gupta

Ishita GuptaIf you don't know Ishita Gupta of Fear.less Magazine, you must. She's a warm, sharp, intuitive, wise, well-traveled soul who I had the great pleasure of finally catching up with over coffee last week at an adorable place called The Bean in NYC. She used to work with Seth Godin and The Domino Project as “Head of Hoopla and Media,” and now runs her own coaching biz and fear.less magazine full time. We got really excited this weekend talking about all the inspiring projects we're working on -- specifically how exhilarating it feels to channel big dreams AND how we deal with the massive fears that come right along with them.

Below is a post Ishita recently sent to her Fear.less list — I knew instantly that I had to share it with all of you. Enjoy :)

Get Unstuck and Unlock Your Potential -- by Ishita Gupta

Some things in life you can let pass you by: the movie, the birthday, the business deal.

But other things if gone unchecked, may kill you. You'll end up in a life you didn't ask for, a career you don't enjoy, with a restlessness that keeps you up at night.

I know. That used to be me.

I was trying to chart my own path and "figure out" life, all while living someone else's vision of it. I hung on to the well-intentioned, but wrong advice of family and friends, and expectations hung over my head. Yecch. I was too scared to choose wrong and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. More importantly, I didn't know how to choose. So I sat for months in what felt like uncertainty wrapped in barbed wire. Prickly. Painful.

And the reason I had such a heavy heart was because since I was a kid, I'd known I was here for a reason. I knew I had a purpose bigger than just myself and I felt it I beyond a shadow of a doubt. But on my way to find that purpose, I got lost.

Still, I knew that my impact on the world could not end with me, eating Cheerios in my pajamas, in the middle of an existential crisis. So I made a decision right there to start living MY life. My vision of what could be. I stopped listening to other people and started finally listening to my intuition. At that moment, the instant I recognized my potential coursing through my veins, I unleashed what had been brewing inside. It brought resources to me so personal they felt wrong, and my life changed at such warp speed I didn't know if it was real.

It almost felt like...magic.

I got into a coveted MBA program with one of the top business leaders in the world on an honest application, a prayer, and zero business experience. I landed a job with my idol photographer. I launched the magazine I'd dreamt about for years. I built relationships with people who've enriched my personal and business life. I'm building a business where I feel strengthened, fulfilled and that helps others. My friends are people I respect and who do breathtaking, important work. I've given up explaining it because it all sounds ridiculous. And it is. It is unbelievable, exhilarating, delightful, and ridiculous.

More than anything, it's terrifying. Hold-on-tight scary. I've cried, battled, quit, started, quit again, failed, been mortified, cringed and wanted to drop into a hole in the ground more times in the last four years than in my entire life. There's been an enormous amount of fear that has forced me out of my comfort zone and many moments where I've called people to say, "I can't do this anymore. Not for one more second." And then I did it for three more years and counting. I still have moments like this all the time.

I'm not telling this to scare you, but so you'll look up, see what's possible and run to the things that call out to you. And if you are scared, you should run faster.

Because when you're moving toward your soul's calling, expect MONSTER-sized challenges on the road ahead. That when you fall flat on your face once, twice, sixteen times, it's a sign you're on the right path. Since my obstacles doubled as I got closer to my dreams, since I couldn't run even if I wanted to, I had to harness my fear to take advantage of the opportunities that came my way. I studied it, befriended it, decoded it, most of all, I used it to create a new life instead of letting it overwhelm me.

Your potential is your essence, the deepest part of you. It is the magic of potential that helped me change my life and it will do the same for you. You cannot let it slip away. You cannot leave here with the music still inside you. Because it's possible for you to start creating your most exhilarating life right now - right this moment with the same magic I used - it's just waiting for you to unlock it. You CAN build your best life - the one where you grow beyond what feels possible, where you face your fears, where you share with us your gifts and the stuff still inside of you. Will you share it with us already?

I hope so. Because it's no coincidence that potential starts with the word POTENT.

It WILL change your life, but it doesn't unleash itself.

Ishita and I would love to hear in the comments:  Where do you have room to unleash some untapped potential in your life?

***

Update on Al's Survey

If you recall from the last post, I asked if the LAC community would be wiling to help out a long-time reader who reached out to me recently.

Bottom line: You are all ROCK STARS!! We helped Al add 173 responses last week. To recap -- he's writing a book on career advancement (his big, scary, hairy goal) and wants 1,000 survey responses to have a viable study. He was at 486, and now with our help he is at 659.

AND...I know we can help him do even better!! Click here to take the 5-minute survey if you haven't already. I'd love to make Al's week...if not month :D

Sports-Related Social Media Internship

Speaking of helping readers out, my friend David Geier is looking for an intern to help grow his sports medicine media company. If you're not interested but you know someone who might be, please pass this along!

A short description of what he's looking for (full post here):

Are you a sports fan with an interest in marketing or public relations? Or do you want to help build a growing media and social media enterprise? I am looking for an intern to help me grow the blog, my sports medicine columnThe Dr. David Geier Show, and other media opportunities. For those of you who like sports, social media, and marketing, it will be fun and rewarding! If you are interested, read the full the job description for more details! Click here to submit an application.

Video: Celebrate What You Want to See More Of

You all know how much I love when the LAC community can help people out with their big goals. The other day Al Smith, a long-time reader and all-around awesome guy, reached out to me about HIS big scary goal -- a book on career advancement, the origins of which started after he was passed over for a seemingly shoe-in promotion himself. Al was devastated, and determined to unlock what went wrong and how to move forward. Al currently has 486 survey respondents, but he's looking for 1,001. The survey only takes 5 minutes -- will you help him close the gap? I'd take all 515 if I could! I will report back in my next post on how we did :) Here's the link: http://bit.ly/y8QTxJ

Now I bring you my first video update in AGES -- huge thanks to Monique Johnson for filming!

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Your assignment: make a list of 25 things you're proud of (right now!) -- either from the last week, the last month, the last year, or your whole life! It will honor how far you've come, and give you an extra boost of motivation when you're getting ready to tackle your next big goal.

Looking for the inner confidence it takes to go after a big goal? My good friend Molly launched her Fierce Love Course this morning. If you do nothing else, watch her super moving video at the top of the page. 

Creating your own video handshake

I have to say a little bit more about Monique -- she's another super long-time LAC reader (and now good friend) who helps clients "create a virtual handshake that will make your business (or blog) stronger, sexier and have clients lined up at your door."

I cannot recommend her services highly enough! Monique is fun, creative and incredibly passionate about telling stories through video. If you sign-up for her newsletter, you can also get instant access to her new video course.

Two upcoming speaking gigs: you're invited!

The first is tonight (Wednesday) -- a live video Q&A call with me at 8:30pm ET, hosted by The Young Entrepreneur Council. Grab a glass of wine and join from your living room!

The second is a day-long event in Syracuse on April 3 called the WISE Symposium (Women in Support of Entrepreneurship). We were asked to submit a picture of ourselves with a word that describes us. It seemed so odd to say something like, "I am...fabulous! brilliant! a rockstar!" so instead I turned the focus back on all of you -- feels much more true to what I'm all about anyway. I'd love to see you in Syracuse if you live in the area!

Jenny Blake - WISE Symposium: "I am...rooting for you!"

***

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Everyone

P.S. Speaking of video, another reader -- Jeremy Wisuthseriwong -- sent me this awesome video of how he celebrated Valentines' Day last week. I absolutely love seeing how his gesture of "one love" just lit everybody up!

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On Freedom: a Counterintuitive Way to Fly

Fierce Love Course - BadgeThere must be something in the air...I was asked to post on the topic of Freedom for two blog round-ups today -- very fitting given a recent dream of mine (more below). It's fun to get such a meaty topic to pontificate on! Today's post is part of Mike Routen's Personal Freedom Round Robin and Molly Mahar's ABC’s of Self Love Blog Crawl + Treasure Hunt. Molly's series is part of a broader program called The Fierce Love Course, an awesome offering to help you "activate your amazing." 

On Freedom: The Counterintuitive Way to Fly

Bright blue butterfly

I'm a dream junkie.

There's nothing I love more than remembering a crazy dream and analyzing it the next day with my trusty Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams, discussing all the possible meanings with friends.

The other night after returning from Mexico during a series of otherwise scattered dreams, I remembered seeing an extremely vivid, three-dimensional Avatar-style cobalt blue butterfly flying straight toward my face. It was crystal clear and extremely memorable.

According to my dream book:

"To see a butterfly in your dream denotes creativity, romance, joy and spirituality. You may be undergoing a transformation or rebirth in your way of thinking. To see a beautiful colorful butterfly in your dream denotes the positive impression you hope to make at a future social gathering or in some aspect of your life. It may also indicate your love of freedom and a refusal to be tied down. For Jung, the butterfly was a symbol of the whole psyche -- as it was for the Greeks, to whom the word "psyche" meant both butterfly and soul."

What does freedom mean to you?

Freedom is defined as "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint."

It is no small coincidence that my words of 2011 were Freedom and Fly. Hello dream! Freedom is one of my core values, and is a driving force behind almost every decision I make.

But freedom does not have to mean that you are self-employed, single, or a stuff-eschewing minimalist; freedom can mean many things:

  • Freedom from shackles of the mind: self-doubt, fear, limiting beliefs
  • Freedom from financial worry
  • Freedom from shoulds and social-self constructions
  • Freedom to think, speak and act with truth, integrity and authenticity
  • Freedom to make decisions that serve your highest good, and that of those around you

In commitment we find freedom

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating -- in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life." —Anne Morriss

A fallacy of freedom is that we must not allow ourselves to be tied-down, lest we lock the cage on our ability to fly. However, as the quote states, oftentimes it is in those very commitments that we truly find freedom:

  • Commitment to a giant goal gives us the freedom to pursue it even on our worst days
  • Commitment to our friends and romantic partners allows us the space to speak hard truths in service of strengthening the bond
  • Commitment to our values grounds us and roots our decisions in what really matters
  • Commitment to living in the moment, gratitude and forgiveness gives us freedom from mental suffocation, as we learn to let go of worry, stress and regret and focus on the gifts in front of us instead
  • Commitment to ourselves allows us to play big in the world, to create and serve others in our highest form

Freedom is the exhilaration that comes from our ability to fly, made possible by the commitments we make to what really matters in our lives.

What does freedom mean to you? What commitments allow you to find that freedom? 

***

Reminder: I'll be doing a live video Q&A call hosted by The Young Entrepreneur Council at 8:30pm ET on February 22 -- would love for you to join us!

Everybody Starts Somewhere: My spontaneous speech in which I drop an f-bomb

Jenny Blake - Bow Pose (Danurasana) - Photo by Sean Ogle There's an important announcement that I left out of my last post. Beyond being unplugged, one of the biggest highlights of my recent Mexico trip was finishing my yoga certification!!!

I taught my 25th class in a Mayan cave for a group of 10 incredible entrepreneurs . . . Geek Yoga at it's absolute finest. After 75-minutes of sweating while staring at stalactites, we closed our practice with three rounds of Ohm, resonating beautifully from our seated position literally within the walls of the earth.

As I bowed forward to express my gratitude, I saw a flash of all my previous teachers and felt, in seconds, that they were passing a baton to me. I felt deeply supported, as though they were all welcoming me in to their community, giving me their blessing to step into my new shoes as a teacher so I could serve and help students transform just as they had done for me.

I haven't always felt this way. I completed my yoga teacher training at White Lotus in October 2010. It wasn't until January 2012 that I finally believed I was worthy and capable of teaching yoga.

Big goals are like that sometimes -- they are so big that even if we are outwardly taking steps, our inner belief system hasn't quite caught up. And yet, I find the longest goals to be most rewarding, particularly because they require such an internal transformation.

Everybody Starts Somewhere: Video + Article

The video below is from a recent speaking workshop called Platinum Presence (led by Cheryl Dolan) which I was fortunate to attend with highly inspiring friends like Pam Slim, Jonathan Fields, Willie Jackson, Nick Reese, Lewis Howes, Mike "Ambassador" Bruny, Charlie Gilkey, Derek Halpern and other incredible creatives. We were asked to speak extemporaneously for seven minutes about a topic we are passionate about.

The funny thing about this speech is that I delivered it the day before leaving for Mexico; all those fears were completely washed away by the time I returned home.

This speech is ruff and not rehearsed -- but I'm sharing with you anyway, because the emotion behind it is real -- and very relevant to any of you attempting something new. There's also a mini two-minute seated yoga sequence at the beginning -- I encourage you to follow along! 

[youtube id="lmi1dlIdeT4"]

Yoga Journal Article Submission

Jenny Blake and Mike Hrostoski: Acro Yoga, Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Below are my same thoughts in written form -- this is from an article I recently pitched to Yoga Journal. 

Within the first ten minutes of teaching my own yoga class I became overwhelmed with a visceral appreciation for just how much skill all of my past and present teachers possessed. The dance of verbalizing every movement, breath and body position while delicately balancing demonstrating, adjusting, assisting, and holding the space. For the first time in six years of practicing yoga, I finally understood that teaching was much more than a hobby; it was a doorway to a lifetime of learning.

Much like children only start truly appreciating their parents after they've flown the nest, I gained an entirely new appreciation for my teachers once I found myself at the front of the room. For so long I had been a student, lost in my own world, hearing the teacher just enough to follow the class -- certainly not "hearing" the multitude of considerations they were seamlessly weaving together.

It is from that place of deep admiration and gratitude that I make a humble request to all of the veteran teachers out there: let us newbies in. Even if you're a little nervous about our lack of experience, give us a chance to find our way.

With articles like the recent (and controversial) New York Times piece by William Broad on how yoga can "wreck the body, " it's easy for new teachers to feel like they shouldn't bother, lest they ruin their students for life.

Broad says, "Many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury." While this may true, consider also that newer teachers are just as equipped at asking their students to listen to their bodies and to stop if something is causing pain or bodily harm.

Teaching yoga is a tradition that dates back thousands of years. Without new teachers to carry on the practice, we would have far fewer yogis benefiting from the wonderful marriage of mind, body and spirit. And yet, it can be incredibly intimidating to emerge as a new teacher among tens of thousands of gifted veterans worldwide.

But every one of those teachers started somewhere. Every teacher taught their first class, even if they are now teaching their five-hundredth. While not every teacher may have had nervous butterflies, sweaty palms and a fumbled-flow during their first few attempts, many did experience those growing pains.

In my past life on the Training & Development team at Google, I discovered a very handy learning model that I frequently refer back to when attempting a big goal or learning a new skill:

  • Unconscious incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know (ignorance is bliss)
  • Conscious incompetence – The dip! You suddenly become aware of how much you have to learn. You might feel dumb, incompetent, frustrated or discouraged as you realize you need more skills, time or practice in order to move forward.
  • Conscious competence – You’ve started to master the new skill, but you still have to actively think about whether you are doing it right.
  • Unconscious competence – You don’t even have to think about it any more – the new skill comes naturally and/or finishing the goal becomes completely do-able. This is really the fun part, where you are flowing and “in the zone.”

Whenever one is learning something new, they will almost certainly hit a "dip" -- the phase of conscious incompetence where they are fully aware of how much they don't know, fumbling awkwardly through the task at hand, feeling like all they want to do is quit and give-up. The key is to keep going -- to remember that, as cliche as it sounds, the only way out is through.

I completed my teacher training at White Lotus in Santa Barbara in 2010, under the tutelage of Ganga White and Tracey Rich. It wasn't until January 2012 that I finally mustered up the courage to start teaching my own classes in New York City.

For months prior I would psych myself out of it, particularly after taking classes from the many brilliant teachers in New York. Why would anyone ever take class from me, when there is an abundance of more experienced teachers right outside their doorstep? And why should these more experienced teachers let me in to their community when they have so much more insight and experience?

But eventually, class by class, Sun A by Sun B, I started developing my "teacher legs," feeling increasingly more confident in my ability to facilitate a great experience for my students, even if I was still new. And the teachers I encountered were gracious and helpful.

To the new teachers out there: give yourself a chance to succeed. Remember that everybody starts somewhere.

To the experienced teachers: know how much we admire and respect your knowledge and experience. If you cross paths with a newbie, let them in. Ask them how teaching is going, and maybe even if we have any questions. You have no idea how much we'll appreciate it.

I am finally emerging from The Dip and finding a new home in the "conscious competence" phase. I have a feeling I'm going to be here for a while…if not a lifetime. That's the beauty of life and big goals -- we get to practice "beginner's mind" every day, as a teacher and as a student, on and off the mat.

***

I'd love to hear in the comments: In what area/s do you want to give yourself permission to be a beginner?

P.S. I'll be doing a live video Q&A call hosted by The Young Entrepreneur Council at 8:30pm ET on February 22 -- would love for you to join us!

ALIVE: 12 Ways to Wake Up, Light Up, and Find Your Bliss (with template)

Taninah Bungalow - View of one of our palapas

"We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go."

--Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

Jenny Blake Yoga - Reverse Warrior at Taninah (Photo by Sean Ogle)

I just got back from the most incredible week of my life...totally unplugged with 11 other entrepreneurs in a Mayan villa called Taninah, situated in the middle of a jungle near Playa del Carmen in Mexico. We slept in palapas at night under the stars, then woke up to the sound of birds chirping and ducks splashing in the pond. We ate three meals a day together cooked by an incredible staff, and laughed, played and had great conversations all day every day like we were kids again.

It's funny that just before I left I wrote the post, What's Your Happy Place? I found it. I found it in physical form (the resort had ziplines, a mini golf course, a game room, a treehouse, hammocks, and a waterslide in a cave) and in my spirit -- I've never felt such a pure sense of joy, bliss and love for such a sustained amount of time.

This post won't be a recap of my vacation - there are no words that would do the experience justice. I feel transformed beyond measure, and this is my attempt at maintaining it moving forward, and helping you find that same sense of aliveness in your own life.

My book is centered loosely upon the Wheel of Life (template here), an exercise where you can rate every area of your life on a scale of 1-10 (work, money, friends, family, home, organization, health, personal growth, relationships, fun & relaxation). While that exercise can help you design your life in every area, it doesn't quite hit on the qualities that bring us alive within that life.

The areas (and accompanying Wheel of Aliveness template) below are based on my trip and are influenced heavily by Martha Beck's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New WorldI believe they can be applied to any person at any time, because they hit upon fundamental aspects of being fully human. If there are any areas that don't resonate with you, feel free to replace them with ones that do.

12 Ways to Wake up, Come Alive and Find Your Bliss

As you read the list below, consider how each one is showing up in your own life (or not). On a scale of 1-10, how present and full is that element? How do you feel when you maximize each one? What would be possible in your life if you were to increase the areas that are lacking? Feel free to also use the shiny new template for this exercise.

  • Movement/play - many of us sit at computers all day and continue staring at screens into the night. How can you incorporate more athletics and movement, even outside of the gym? Yoga in the rain, tossing a football and baseball around, and zip-lining (among many other activities) completely brought me back to my body this week. The owner, Marino, even set-up an obstacle course for us on the last day, and I almost peed my pants watching everyone else go through it! It feels great to sweat and release energy through play. See also: Sean Ogle's The Importance of Play (about our trip)
  • Dance & Music - you may not like dancing, but I believe that there is something incredibly powerful about connecting with music, feeling it in your bones, and letting yourself dance and be free. Sweating in a club, connecting with people around you, or just dancing by yourself when no one's watching. See also: Where the Hell is Matt? (One of my all-time favorite YouTube videos -- you can't watch it and NOT smile)
  • Nature - It was an incredible experience getting to immerse ourselves totally in a Mayan jungle, especially after coming from THE concrete jungle of New York City. A reminder about how powerful it is to be outside, play outside and rest outside. Go for walks, lay in the grass, sit on a bench and people watch. See also: Martha Beck's Logging Off: The Power of Disconnection
  • Water - I thought about combining this with nature, but it's different. Water has a powerful effect on our bodies -- whether it's a pool, hot tub, bath tub, slip and slide, or even staring at a natural body of water like the ocean or a river. See also: Bon Iver's incredible Holocene bonus video from his self-titled album, 20 Life Lessons I Learned on the Rogue River
  • Community & Connection - there is something magical about sharing meals (3 a day), and finding people who inspire you to be the best, most authentic version of yourself. Consider the communities in your life: are they serving your most authentic self? Are they making your life better? During the trip we would come together for a few rounds of "Ohm" after every sporting event, even in the middle of a restaurant one day. Ohm is said to be the universal sound, and the beautiful harmony reminded all of us that we are connected and we are loved. See also: The Holstee Manifesto: This is Your Life.
  • Laughter - laughter is one of the purest forms of joy. Find people who make you laugh, don't take life too seriously, and let yourself be silly. See also: Top 10 Funniest YouTube Videos
  • Learning & Creativity - this entails reading books, engaging in conversation, asking questions, giving yourself space to explore your creative side. Engage your mind, and just as you let your body play and be outdoors, allow your inner creativity to shine through freedom and flexibility. By creating such an incredible place, Marino taught us all to dream big, bigger and bigger still. Never give up on bringing your wildest dreams to fruition.  See also: Live for the Dip
  • Challenge - get outside of your comfort zone, tackle big goals and big ideas, undertake projects that bring you alive. See also: Joseph Campbell on The Hero's Journey
  • Commitment - what matters to you? Commit to living authentically, commit to living in accordance with your core values, and commit to projects and people that carry significant meaning. See also: Big Difference by Willie Jackson, about the powerful conversation we had with Marino about the plight of the Mayans (much like Avatar) and his commitment to serving them.
  • Gratitude & Positivity - it was amazing to be around a group of people who let all negativity roll right off their backs at any given moment. No sooner did someone state a fear or self-doubt than it was washed away by caring, positive encouragement. This is about maintaining a player mentality (as opposed to a victim role) in your own life, about reframing negative thoughts into positive incarnations, and about constantly reminding yourself of everything in life that you are grateful for, therefore giving it a chance to expand even further. See also: Be Thankful  and Zen and the Art of Happiness Book Notes
  • Letting go - resting, relaxing, dropping any thoughts or worries that aren't serving you, let small infractions in life roll of your back. My friend Mike from the trip uses the motto, "Zero F*cks" -- as in, "I have zero f*cks to give" when something irritating happens, or even when going into a situation (like a night out with friends to focus on being carefree). He quickly got us to all adopt the phrase -- making sure to clarify that Zero F*cks only applies to stuff that doesn't matter, so that you can focus your attention on everything else that does. See also: Dancing with Demons and Finding the Light
  • Light and love - sending love to yourself first and foremost, then to all others around you. One love. See also: Light, Love and Yoga Money and Expanding Happiness: on Bliss and Fear (with notes from my dad)
My deepest gratitude to Marino of Taninah for creating such a magical place, to Nick Reese for organizing the trip, and to the ten incredible people that I am fortunate to call family now. For those who love travel as much as I do, be sure to also check out Jonah Lehrer's Why We Travel.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments: What brings you alive? What do you have room for more of in your life?

Jenny Blake - Yoga at Taninah at Sunset (photo by Sean Ogle)

What's Your Happy Place?

"It's always darkest before the dawn...And it's hard to dance With a Devil on your back So shake it out..." —Lyrics to Shake it Out by Florence & the Machine 

Yesterday, as I was transferred for the seventh time during a 15-minute phone call that can only be described as a customer service black hole, my blood started boiling. RAGE.

I've had a cold this week, so my normal be a friendly decent human being defenses were down. I hadn't gone running or to yoga in days. I had a devil on my back (as the brilliant lyric above goes) and I had lost my happy place.

Origins of the Happy Place

island pictureAfter my sophomore year of college, I did a two-month travel study program in Europe. My roommate and I devised a method for dealing with frustration, long lines, angry people and other mood-zappers: go to the happy place.

Mine happened to be on an island with Vin Diesel, and she taught me how to say it in sign-language.

When something would go wrong, instead of reverting to RAGE or complete bitch-mode, she and I would look at each other and sign our happy places. "I'm on an island with Vin Diesel!" I'd mouth while giggling. It might be a complete fabrication, but it worked.

(Consider also Adam Sandler's happy place from Happy Gilmore for a good chuckle/example...thanks Alex Dea!)

Shake it out. . .

These days, my happy place is my yoga mat. While it helps to have a place that actually exists, it's certainly not required.

When I feel my patience grow thin or my good-mood resources deplete, I know it's time to get out of the house and get moving. Fresh air, a walk or a run, and definitely a yoga class. My dad has a theory that unused adrenaline (which we start out with every morning) quickly turns toxic in our bodies if we don't put it to use within 24 hours.

When you're in a funk, you don't always realize that it's because you've neglected your happy place...but it's never too late to go back. Or to imagine yourself there in vivid detail.

Just as negotiators suggest "going to the balcony" instead of reacting on the spot, the same applies for going to your happy place. The next time you find yourself sad, mad, frustrated or otherwise on a rapid downhill slide into toxic energy, conjur up a place that makes you smile.

What does it look like? Who is there with you? What are you doing? What imagined scenario (or real activity) is guaranteed to lift your spirits? It might even help to make a list or do a free-write so that you have something to come back to when you're feeling less creative.

I'd love to hear in the comments: what is your happy place? What person or place (or puppy!) makes you smile just thinking about it?

***

P.S. Two fun features elsewhere on the web today: My "Act as If" story is up on Positively Positive, and the most in-depth interview I've done in a while is posted at Idea Mensch. Head on over and check them out -- both are great websites that I am honored to be on and look forward to exploring more!

P.P.S. Thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and kind words about the Mint infographic -- it's been a blast seeing it spread around the Internet!

SQUEE!!! Life After College goes infographic...and gets poster-ized!

Roadmap to Life After College - Infographic Preview Today is a VERY exciting day . . . I'm proud to introduce the newest member of the Life After College family!*

*Oh my . . .now I'm referring to projects as children. You know you're hopelessly addicted to blogging when . . . 

In collaboration with Mint and Quicken, we've released an infographic today called "Your Roadmap to Life After College" -- an eye-candy CliffsNotes version of my book!

Our aim was to create something fun, interesting and useful, in a style that harkens back to the Choose Your Own Adventure books many of us loved as kids. The Roadmap to Life After College covers six major life areas: Home, Money, Career, Health, Social Life and Fun, with tips and statistics sprinkled throughout. A little virtual easter egg: If you look closely, you'll notice that my dog Patches (may she rest in peace) is in the picture frame at the top :)

If you're looking to take the roadmap even further, I encourage you to sign-up for my latest greatest Design Your Life course (inspired by the infographic) -- six weeks to help you "stop spinning and start LIVING" in all the areas above. The best part? If you enroll, you get a friend in free. Accountability is sexy, baby! 

Whether you are nearing graduation, a few years out, or know someone approaching this major transition, we hope you enjoy the digital adventure on the Mint Blog!

That's not it...

You can also purchase this infographic (reconfigured slightly) as a 18x24 poster, which I'm really stoked about. First official JBE merchandise outside of the book! I may be biased, but I think it would make a great gift for any soon-to-be-grads you know :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments here or on the Mint blog, and please share this with anyone and everyone who you think could benefit!

***

Make Sh*t Happen Doors are Open!

Thanks to the awesomeness that is AnyMeeting (h/t Sean Ogle), I was able to record today's free Make Sh*t Happen Crash CourseView the recording* and set your biggest goals on fire for 2012! In a good way, of course :)

*If you can't see the video and PPT, here's the work-around from AnyMeeting: "Start playing the recordings in question and right click the area where the content is supposed to be playing. Press "Settings" on the small menu that appears and now a Adobe Flash Player Settings prompt window should pop up. Uncheck the "Enable hardware acceleration" box and close the prompt window. Refresh your browser a couple times and that should resolve the issue." Sorry for the hassle! 

The full course is now open for enrollment, and I'm already in love with the early enrollees. It sold out in less than 24 hours last time, so make sure you get a jump on it if you know you're interested.

Here's what one of the participants, rockstar David Geier, had to say about his experience:

“I really knew very little about this course before I signed up. Someone I know tweeted Jenny’s blog post about leaving Google to pursue her dreams, and that post struck a chord with me. I realized that I have had dreams of new pursuits that were just that – dreams. But something about that post made me want to give the MSH course a shot. And I was shocked how great this course was for me, because everything about it is not at all like me (or my past me).

I remember very specifically how nervous I was typing my big goal into the response section, knowing that the other members of the course would soon read it. I had to open a bottle of really expensive wine I had been saving for a special occasion as I typed it. I hit enter with some fear, honestly. But then I read the other responses and I couldn’t get over how amazing everyone’s dreams and projects were. I felt like we were all starting an amazing journey.

Every step along the way – creating our support network, writing our vision statements, creating accountability, discussing our progress with other course members – made the journey more and more tangible. While I still have a long way to go to complete my goals, I am so much more confident that I can do it and that it will happen that it almost feels inevitable.

I can’t say enough how much Jenny and her course have helped me!”

—David G.

Cheers — to geeking out on infographics and to big goal swagger in 2012!

Light, Love and Yoga Money

Streetlight at nightI've been in a great mood this week, feeling very optimistic about the present and future; radiant, cheerful, and impossibly gregarious. But a wave of anxiety swept over me this afternoon. I felt knots in my stomach, tension in my jaw, and had a sad expression on my face. I was grateful to be headed to yoga class because I knew it would force me to breathe, and to let go of this unnecessary weight.

Traveling lightly, I left my purse at home and tucked my credit card, metro card and $10 cash into my vest pocket.

Side note that will be relevant shortly: I taught my first official Geek Yoga class in NYC last night (yay!), and one person paid in cash. A lightly worn $10 bill.

Mood a little low, I headed down into the subway with the thick, warm air that I fell in love with as a kid, and I was immediately taken by two women singing their hearts out into a portable mic and speaker system, in what sounded like a cross between Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin.

They were smiling, dancing, and singing with soul. So I started smiling back at them.

Bigger, bigger, bigger still. They literally turned my frown upside down.

They snapped me out of my sadness and brought me pure joy. What could be more worth $10 than that? My $10 came from teaching a yoga class, and it felt right to use that same money to spread a little more love and happiness in the world, as these women had just done for me.

Into their hat it went before I stepped onto the subway car.

My word of the year is Light.

I am pouring my focus into being a shining beacon of light in the world, to bring joy and positive energy to others, uplifting them in the process. To practice, I've been smiling at people, complimenting strangers and generally going out of my way to be friendly and strike up conversations.

Though I am succeeding at uplifting others, the more surprising realization has been that it is working on me.

For the next ten minutes after giving the two women my cash, I felt filled with love. Joy. Bliss.

"Yoga Money," I laughed to myself while walking to class. Of course it should stay in circulation!

And then I proceeded to have an entirely transformative yoga practice.

During class I focused my gaze on the lights outside. I smiled as I pictured them being put there just for me.

By the end of class, I found myself in a yoga pose that I had never done before; one that I thought I would never be able to do in my lifetime. I didn't even know the name of it until I researched it for this post (a near miracle that I could even figure it out!).

Being in that yoga pose was the most open I've ever been . . . and they say that open hips are the way to an open heart.

As I left class, I started typing a reminder to myself on my phone:

Every light is for . . . but before I could type "you," the word "for" auto-corrected to God. I'm not religious, but that certainly got my attention.

Every light is God. Every light is for you. Every light -- streetlight, sunlight, night light, invisible light -- is a reminder to shine our lights more brightly in the world.

Namaste.

Sunlight on the water

What ONE THING will you regret not doing this year? My story as told through my diary*

*Yes, I still address my journal as "Dear Diary." Stop laughing!!! I've been writing almost daily since I was ten years old and the name stuck. Before we jump in, I want to extend my deep gratitude to Jade Craven for including me on ProBlogger's list of 20 Bloggers to Watch in 2012 -- I'm beyond honored, and in great company if you're looking for awesome new blogs to follow.  I've been burrowed away in my apartment these last few days consuming coffee at a pace as close to an IV drip as I can get it, writing, course-creating, working on a super-fun project with Mint (stay tuned!) and wracking my brain for what to say to all of you that isn't horribly, obnoxiously cliché as we ring in the new year.

Resolutions Schmezoloutions

I don't make resolutions, I make mind maps of what I'd like to do or be in every major area of life and business, and I've made one every year for the last four years. Last year I shared my Passions Mind Map from 2008, along with instructions for creating your own. But I'm not here to preach about whether you should make resolutions or set goals, or even tell you how to keep them or not.

Instead, I just want one thing for all of you this year: to dig deep, find your courage, and pursue with gusto that thing in your heart that you know you must do. That one thing that, upon reflection 12 months from now, you would surely regret not attempting. I don't care if you're "successful" or not. I just want you to TRY. And to come alive in the process.

Show not tell: in which I crack open my journal for all to see

My English teachers always said to show not tell when writing. Somehow I don't think they meant I should bare my innermost thoughts for all to see, but I'm doing it anyway. Last year, the one thing I would have regretted most was not giving myself a chance at running my own business full-time.

This month marks my six-month anniversary of solopreneurship, and I'm breaking even and paying bills with far more ease than I had envisioned. It all happened as a result of someone asking me, "How would you feel if a year from now nothing has changed?" (see the video of me telling this story in my 20SB Keynote)

Rather than just sit on top of a mountain of "yay, I did it!" and tell you about how I got here, I'd like to show you.

With a few caveats:

  • Jenny's TripIt Stats for 2011Most of my most thoughtful entries happen during flights -- you'll notice that's where many of these came from. As you can see from my TripIt stats, I had lots of opportunities for deep reflection this year!
  • As I mentioned above, I still start every entry with "Dear Diary." Dear Journal just doesn't have the same ring to it.
  • I never write with the intention to share, and if anyone ever read my journals without my consent I might not speak to them again. Sharing these entries is new for me! Shared without edits, even though there are several places I would have liked to omit a few things :)

Journal Entry 1: May 15, 2011 - Suspended between two worlds

In this entry I'm scared about the future, but having experienced the joy of being on my own, I start to entertain the possibility that I won't be as massive a failure as my inner critic would like me to believe.

JB Journal entry from May 15, 2011

Journal Entry 2: June 1, 2011 - When it all finally clicks

This is the day I actually committed to moving forward with my great leap. I knew the conversation with Google would be incredibly hard (I haven't been that nervous in a long-time) but that it was time for my to fly (my theme for 2011). I loved working at Google and cherish my time there, but this is when I realized that I was ready to give myself a chance, and that I would greatly regret not taking that risk.

JB's Journal Entry from June 1, 2011

Journal Entry 5: June 15, 2011 - Pardon my french!

Two weeks later, I made the call. I was sad to leave my co-workers and hated disappointing my manager, director and teammates by not returning, but I couldn't help but squeal with glee at FINALLY making a decision and betting on myself.

JB Journal from June 15, 2011

Haha -- that's what pure JB handwritten all-caps excitement looks like :D

Journal Entry 4: November 30, 2011 - Mantras Moving Forward

Most of these mantras came to me as a result of challenges and emotional pain I was experiencing. They are an attempt at documenting how I want to be and what I want to focus on moving forward instead of fears, doubts and self-criticism.

JB Mantra's for 2011/2012

A Toast: to 2012 with no regrets

I hope that in some way these snapshots have been helpful or interesting (if not just plain voyeuristic!). I hope they help you see that behind every courageous leap lie many fears and insecurities, but that they CAN be overcome.

Whether you write resolutions or not, ask yourself these two questions (and if you're feeling gutsy, answer in the comments):

What is the ONE THING that you know in your gut you want to do this year? How would you feel if one year from now if nothing had changed? 

***

Make Sh*t Happen Enrollment + Free Crash Course

If you are looking for extra support as you go after your own "no regrets" year, stick around: the doors re-open for Make Sh*t Happen on January 11 at 3pm ET.  I'm so excited I can barely stand it! Wondering if the course is right for you? Check out what the inaugural group had to say.

I'm also super excited to host a free Make Sh*t Happen Crash Course webinar on January 11 at 1:30pm PT as a fun way to kick-off the new year and provide a CliffsNotes version of what we cover in case you can’t afford the full course at the moment.

I'll share my 8-step process for going after a massive goal: everything from big-picture visioning to building a strong support network, surviving the dip, and celebrating. At the very end I will answer any questions potential course enrollees may have. Register here, and please note that the webinar will not be recorded.

Cheers -- to dreaming, doing and big-goal-swagger in 2012!