Tag Archives: @ladyterror

If MMA Fighters Can Stop a Robbery, So Can You!

Penelope Trunk’s column today describes me to a “T”.

Her overarching argument about careers has always been that we often have talents and skills (though they may need cultivating) that we don’t recognize or use appropriately. You may be  a great writer, but not tech savvy, so you’d argue you’re not meant for blogging. This, in my guess, would frustrate Trunk.

First, always one for putting up rather than shutting up, the readaholic websurfer would argue you can master the tech, maximize the writing.

That’s what we’re after here, too. We all have many skills, but we’ve often become trapped in job descriptions and titles such that “that’s not in my pay grade” becomes more than a snappy comeback in a politically-infused environment where most of us believe we’re underpaid, but rather it becomes a sad attitude we perpetually manifest.

Sure, some people have strengths in areas the rest of us don’t, but recognizing how to tap your own strengths in ANY area is something most of us miss because we’re looking in the wrong ways. The truthful idiom “to do something the same way over and over expecting different results is the definition of stupidity” is the way many of us approach our skills, our resume and our work life. I’ve met many who are trained as, say, a public relations assistant. As a result, they only apply to jobs that have “public relations assistant” in their title.

Yet, in their day to day work, they do project management, make design decisions, process work orders and lead. They’re ready to move beyond assistant. Their skills are more than PR.

Long ago we talked about creative resumes as framing “housewife” instead as “domestic engineer” and that’s not just creative writing.

Envisioning each skill you have needs to happen separate from the space in which you use it.

This weekend, a story about two mixed martial arts fighters subduing a bank robber is a perfect example. Each of these men may say they’ve got a great rear naked choke hold in the ring.

Neither of them may have predicted that such a hold works not only to elevate yourself to the championship round, but also works to retain a bank robber while the cops come to arrest him.

WHAT you do, not WHERE you do it or WHO you do it for, is what you should be selling about yourself.

We can help you to identify skills versus job descriptions and show you how you can creatively position yourself as always viable, always able to work or find satisfying work, as Penelope Trunk advocates.

We can’ t show you a rear naked choke hold…yet.




Go Beyond “Interesting”

I’m addicted to Project Runway on television. I like that each week designers are presented with a set of materials and a conceptual challenge.

It’s like playing with big balls of clay and I love predicting what *I’d* do with the clay, then realizing it’s nothing like what the designers have chosen to do.

It’s an amazing reminder of how many ideas there are out there, how many ways to approach a problem.

We all need that reminder more often because we become trapped in thinking our answer is the best and only conceivable approach.

Having the mind and the confidence to think lycra and silk become part of the same outfit or that a neoprene wetsuit could be formal means you can open up to other people’s ideas and from that space, you can see better, more comprehensive solutions.

Management books teach us all this, often. But it’s rarely done because it…well, because it’s hard to listen, for one.

But there’s also this illusion that listening to these ideas that aren’t yours takes time.

That’s another reason to love the show. Sure, it’s heavily edited to fit neatly in a one-hour time slot, but the designers are given the challenge and a drop dead deadline of one day to complete it.

They still manage to fully (most of the time) dress a person in their creative vision and send them into the lights of the runway. AND THEY HAD TO SEW! 

In a business, you, too, can fully dress a creative idea in the expanse of options a great team can provide.

It doesn’t take tons of process, it just takes listening.

And a tougher vocabulary.

One other thing I noticed about the finale of Project Runway 9 was the over use of the word “interesting.”

All the judges talked about clothing, people, ideas and approaches as “interesting.”

“It’s very interesting, what you’re doing there.”

“It’s an interesting look.”

“What an interesting fabric.”

“What an interesting concept.”

All I thought about was how much growth we all could have shared together with a more descriptive vocabulary.

What if instead of interesting, what the person was doing was “well-executed?”

What if the look was “reminiscent of a Victorian image?”

What if the fabric was “plush?”

What if the concept was “revolutionary?”

Those are all such different spaces in our brain than “interesting”, yet we rely so heavily on “interesting.”

It’s a catch-all; as a descriptor, it’s lazy.

It’s hard for people to learn to listen. Help them out by providing something for them to learn while they listen.

There’s little growth available in a critique or answer that’s “interesting.”

Learn a descriptive and exacting vocabulary and find that team members want to listen more.

It’s a great pit stop on the way to building the confidence to listen back and hear what they’re doing with their [insert great descriptor here] ball of clay.


More on Why You Need Us

Liberal Arts education is taking a back seat to skilled trades jobs and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training. (More on that in a future post).

We can fill that gap.
Imagine business consulting and team training that pulls out the creative problem solving skills that are lacking in workers so narrowly focused on tech or trade subjects?

Suddenly, your work training seminar pulls together all the principles of a general studies education!

This story from Forbes helps to point out the workplace conundrum we’ll soon be facing.




Yes…and? (Thought Leadership as an Improv Game)

Sometimes you “learn” something you’ve always known and that’s really a blessing.

You have been operating under a premise or a practice, but later in life, at the right time and in the right setting, someone gives a name to that practice and you get to see it anew. You are given the chance to use your own tools in new ways.

That’s what we’ll help you do.

My mother was the best at it and to this day, I’m eternally grateful I wasn’t abandoned on a corner somewhere because when I look back on my antics as a curious if not precocious child, I would have left me behind, that’s for sure.

My mom was the best at an improv practice loosely referred to as “yes, and?” She loved to play and she never shut things down. I heard my fair share of “because I say so” of course, but typically, when my curiosity or declamations got the best of me, she’d roll with it and that’s how I learned.

I once took all my stuffed animals and socks (apparently the two most important things in my world) and bagged them in food storage bags (an entire box full) and laid them neatly on the kitchen table. I was a latch-key kid, home only 30 minutes before her. That day was fire safety day at school and after exploring my home for known dangers (we clearly had far too many extension cords in use), I determined I needed a fire plan.

When she came in the door, beleaguered from a very long day, she didn’t ask me to clean up the table full of plastic-suffocating teddy bears.

Instead, she asked “What’s this?”

I replied, “My fire plan. When the house burns, see, we can each grab a few bags of my things, then all the animals will be saved. And my socks.”

I was so proud, I really had thought it through.

Now, here’s my mom’s “yes, and…” She didn’ t say no. She said instead, “What about my things? What about our socks, your dad’s and mine?” She jumped right into the plan. As a result, I suddenly had to strategize further than the immediate moment.


Lip bite.


And right back to her: “I ran out of bags.”

My mom then suggested we would find a better way to save my things and frankly, the house wouldn’t burn (and as long as I lived there, it never did) and we went on with dinner.

This concept–of opening up the possibility–is one we could use more of in our workspaces. Often, great ideas are shut down with “we don’t/can’t/won’t do it that way” or the age-old (ha) notion of tradition.

If instead, we opened ourselves to a sense of “yes, and?” maybe brainstorms and work meetings, project reports and problem solving would work better.

The next time someone says “I was thinking we could consolidate this process by putting these two teams together,” resist the temptation to say “That’s a lot of work; where will they work, who will manage them, we don’t have the time and that’s out of my pay grade.”

Instead, try answering “Yes! And we could move Susie Q. into that area to help staff the project. What else?”

 Life is an improv event… and it always goes better when you open up to your fellow actors.

You’ve been doing it all along; your personal life often allows you to explore possibilities and “bite” when baited. Now, deploy this strategy in your work life.

Try “yes, and?” today each time you’re tempted to say “we can’t.”

We bet you can.


Building Our Space

We’re doing this virtually so far.

And I love that.

So, here we are in the blog…incubating in cyberspace and now we can incubate in real time with our Twitter account.

Follow us at @createbrave and let the world know that you’re watching three women parlay their skills into a consulting business that truly serves business, management, leaders and inspires people to make their work work!

Follow us at @createbrave and tell the world that you respect training and coaching that brings the arts, humanities and personal connection to the business world and acknowledges that the best leaders don’t just have highly effective habits, but have highly cultivated artistic minds.

Follow us at @createbrave and see just where we take this art-meets-business-meets-consulting-meets-the-world project!

Back to School

One thing I’m pretty confident about is that I don’t know much about the bridge from idea to action.
Every personality test I’ve ever taken leaves me lofty and idealistic, never on the side of the task masters.

I like being that kind of leader, though, in my career. I do *do*, of course. It’s a bit cheap to say you’re an idea person NOT an action person… we’re all action people, we have to be. I just have more big ideas than I do big motivation to reorganize my cd collection or my spice rack.

But for this project, the public spectacle of trying to get it right is a nice motivator, for sure.
(Which brings me to another post I’ll have to generate about how often I’m only externally motivated.)

So, we’re studying. A lot. My latest subject was trademarks and copyrights. Creative Bravado may be a placeholder, I don’t know, but I like it and if we stick with this framework and name, I don’t want anyone else using it. The same is true for this blog. What if the wisdom and lessons learned we share here look so good to someone else, they quote them as their own? So, my recent homework has been to apply my own journalism and mass media knowledge on the subject to this new endeavor.

Tricia tweeted about this the other day (Follow her @LadyTerror) and called this blog an incubator.

I love that term as it relates to research and think tanks, of course. But my first thought was something akin to a comic book or sci fi movie.
We will incubate here and all emerge as giant human flies. Or we’ll incubate here and somehow pop out with wings.

I think we three already have wings. We’re already more than human. Maybe a challenge for us all would be to write what we do in a given week: the arguments, the efforts, the housework, the work work, the ideas, the projects, the meetings, the dates… One week from each of us and you’d believe superhuman for sure.

What we’re incubating is YOU.
We’re cooking up this project to best serve a set of clients who are lacking what we have. I may be externally motivated, but I am personally inspired.
I inspire myself all the time. So does Tricia, so does A-E. We want to teach you how to do that.
And how to make it pay off in all the things you do, every week.

Keep watching us. Use our idea but don’t take it–I’ve got it copyrighted. 🙂


And so it begins…

I don’ t just enjoy the movie and story of Julie and Julia because it’s my name. I like the idea of someone embarking on a journey and sharing the travels. Too often, successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, writers, actors, leaders and others are asked to speak retrospectively about how they got where they’ve landed. I think the better story is the tale of how you’re getting where you’re going.

And we are going places.

I know Ann-Elizabeth from my first foray into environmental theater and an attempt to bring my fantasy, sci-fi, gaming life full circle by performing as a cast member at a Renaissance Faire. A-E was my coach, mentor and inspiration for engaging audience members (regular people) with wit, interest, listening and passion. It’s a contagious way to view the world and my behavior, my goals and my path have changed significantly after a summer in heavy, tight clothing simply talking to people in a moderately understandable accent.

She’s well versed in life, in general. She’s infectious and more full of knowledge on all topics than the Library of Congress. She, too, is a writer.

Tricia and I met Ann-Elizabeth without knowing we’d met her. Tricia, a friend who has survived the test of time and stayed with me well past our Eastern Illinois University roots, met me in her Chicago hometown for a day’s snooping around at Re-Enactorfest in the suburbs. Characters and costumes of multiple eras and genres interplayed and Tricia asked the most important question of all–where’s race? How is it these historians and actors are all white? History involves characters of all walks of life, ways of being and races…why is only one subset represented? Her mission was to find out if her theater skills, her leadership and teaching experience might lead to answer this very important question. While we analyzed the situation one Jane the Phoole meandered through the crowd. I didn’t know her then, but Ann-Elizabeth in her alter ego impressed both Tricia and I for her performance, costuming, character and liveliness. Our paths crossed… it was only the first time.

Tricia is an entrepreneur as well. Innovative in how she marries teaching, learning and poetry, she’s branching out creatively every day. A master of the micro-blog, Tricia’s Twitter (@ladyterror) is the standard for how to joke and engage, critique and persuade. She calls out her famous critical questions to a crowd of cyber conversants and keeps topics afloat.

These two women and I are tethered by a few threads… more appropriately–ropes (enough to hang ourselves with? I hope not.)

We’re all writers and have been, always.

We’re all creative and have boundless interests and energy.

We’re all hustlers–full of part-time jobs, side jobs and careers we try to reshape to meet our needs.

Speaking is easy for us. Performing is natural.

What is monumental here is that we three women together are all so adept at finding the minutiae of people that make them irresistible. We listen. We laugh. We want to know more.

That skill is something we hope to share. Business and customer service has shifted. Creative opportunities and liberal arts education are changing.

But they’re all essential and we’re bringing them back (and to you) in ways that haven’t been seen before.

Follow our journey in this blog–with entries from all of us–as we write about what it’s like to wake up with an idea, share it…and keep going.

Welcome to our ride. Be brave.