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What Solange taught me about creation, recovery & strength

“And I don’t know where to go, No I don’t know where to stay. Where do we go from here? Do you know?” - “Where do we go,” A Seat At The Table, Solange

I love this line so much because it feels like something that we all go through at some time or MANY times over the course of our lifetime.

When I took my break early 2016, I had a moment where everything felt like this.

I had a seemingly perfect plan for my business that crumbled right before my eyes and caused a financial crisis.

I had a relationship that was on the rocks, (the “PC” way of saying it was shitty).

I had “friends” that I thought would always be there for me (as I had been for them) who went completely ghost.

I had new people in my life who were losing faith in my ability to get it together who I seemed to keep letting down.

I was feeling uber desperate and panicky.

There was still a small piece of me that had hope, but it was DAMN small.

Now I totally brought all of this on myself...I 100% own that. There’s absolutely no way I could portray an image of a successful, powerful person that could help others also empower themselves when I was hanging onto my sanity with a thread.

Basically, I’d built up a successful empire and career that I wanted to burn to the ground.

It’s not because I didn’t love my work or love you. To the contrary. My old identity no longer fit.

And since I can’t live inauthentically, I got quiet until I could step powerfully again. Pain has a way of either shutting you up or making you want to holler! I did both.

"Where do we go from here?” I was looking around. I had no idea.  

So when I saw, Solange speak of the fact that she’d been in so much pain, struggling with depression and trying to make sense of the darkest time in her life, I could definitely relate.

When artists suffer, it’s expected...and even applauded when they can turn their pain into the most beautiful art, as she did. For other professions, not so much. Everyone else doesn’t have the luxury or freedom to fall apart and have it be justified or forgiven and it’s killing people. Not to mention society romanticizes that pain for artists and it’s REAL for all of us. So real.

It was then that I started to see other entrepreneurs that I knew who were “keeping it together” on the outside because they felt their “Livelihood” depended on it completely fall apart...behind the veil.

Coaches who were headed for eviction.

Specialists who had to go live back home with their parents.

Big time Marketers who needed references for Bankruptcy Court.

It was brutal. But you know what? They all got through it. Some on their knees. Some standing, but they did and they turned their pain into their art. You can too.

I had to get quiet so I could get feel myself. So I could evolve. So I could share and reflect on  the journey with myself and with you.

Here’s the thing, leaders all have a journey. We all have gone through the burning sands one way or another so we can get to the other side and throw you a rope.

My dear friend and spiritual teacher said to me, “You’re going through all this because you’re going to teach others how to REALLY stand in their power. Fully.”

At the time, I didn’t understand her. I do now. And I know this work is never done.

I have made a shit-ton of mistakes. You will too.

I am still cleaning things up. You will have to as well.

I am still growing and I hope to always be. I hope you do too.

I will fall again and I will get up again. So will you. Stronger. Deeper. Happier.

The most important and most PIVOTAL thing you can do to step back onto your path of power is listening to what the Universe is saying to you. Whether it’s to get still or start moving.

There’s inevitably going to be a time when you need to do one or the other.

Being able to turn your pain into your art requires a deep level of catharsis and to listen fully to what that voice is telling you. Your art is your life and anything that means anything to you.

For Solange, she got really quiet, went into the woods and for 4 years worked on her most poignant music to-date. A Seat at The Table cemented her as one of the most dynamic and powerful performance artists of her generation and our time.

For Oprah, when her network (“OWN”) was failing, she got still. People asked her what was she going to do? How was she going to save her sinking ship? She was depressed and she didn’t know. She got still for a year, listened for the answer, followed her heart and now OWN is thriving.

For me, I knew myself and my work would morph into what was meant as my greatest service to myself and to you. I got still and heard the answer that had been in my heart and muted for a long time. You will see how it all emerges soon. 

However, I will say that crossing over the burning sands was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Yes, I was bloody and in pain, but I want you to remember something:  

It all heals. You get stronger than you ever thought possible. Your life, your family, friends and work take on new meaning. You TRULY fall in love with yourself and know that your heart and commitment are more powerful than anything you go through in this life. You start to TRULY live and love from a place of power in your life, not victimhood.

And on the other side, It’s a much sweeter ride (with sour patches here and there) and you’ll have the tools to handle it all. Trust.

I send you all my love today and always. Check me out on the IGTwitter or Facebook. I am releasing some pretty awesome social media treats soon. Come join so you don’t miss all the fun.

Love you Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

P.S. Here’s a Video Solange recording the album. Just watching others create can be just as healing and inspiring as the finished product. Enjoy.

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Does the "Net" always appear? A message about "leaping" for entrepreneurs.

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Does the "Net" always appear? A message about "leaping" for entrepreneurs.

  If you’re “playing it safe, you’re playing small” If you don’t jump you don’t have faith Leap and the net will appear Don’t have a plan B because it distracts from plan A I use to be a devout follower of the “Jump the Cliff” Crew. I happily followed all the entrepreneur rhetoric about leaping and not worrying about falling on my ass or to my death and while I do still have that kind of faith in myself and what I am doing, something was missing for me. When I didn’t leap, I felt like I was being judged (by other entrepreneurs, myself or those pesky books written by the experts!). When I heard that inner knowing telling me to go slower, smell the roses and maybe jump at a later date, I promptly said to that knowing, “Shut the hell up. I have some diving to do!” If I didn’t jump...I didn’t want to face the judging of myself that would come with it soooo yep I jumped and jumped and jumped to the chagrin of my coach who was a BIG fan of jumping. I didn’t care whether there was a net. I didn’t care whether I leaped to my death because I figured, “Hey it’s better to get in ring and risk death than to sit on the sidelines.” In many cases I think that’s true. In most cases. Ok, all cases. However, sometimes, you shouldn’t jump so fast. Sometimes it’s sexy to have a parachute on your back instead of leaping and blindly hoping a net will appear. These days, I am more of a fan of the strategic leap. When you listen to that inner guide saying, “Patience grasshopper. All things in due timing.” This leap feels even more exciting because it’s a leap with positive expectation, not hope. It’s a leap of planning and action, not flying by the seat of your pants. It’s a quality leap. A leap where you test, you ask, you refine, you set yourself up for success. Entrepreneurs don’t talk about this leap...but many of them do it. Behind the scenes. Yes it’s what I teach. And it’s what I live now. And you know what? There’s space in my life. There’s pleasure. There’s joy. There’s the excitement of launching something big but KNOWING I will be ok no matter the outcome. There’s a release of attachment. There’s expansiveness. It’s what we all strive for...but did anyone tell you that you don’t have to strive? When you take the strategic leap yes it’s scary. However, it’s less painful. The strategic leap may not give you the adrenaline rush of Cortisol… But you will get a hefty dose of endorphins. One of my clients recently launched her debut music single. We created the plan for the release, I supported her during it and the entire time I kept whispering (and sometimes yelling at her) “Do what feels good. Celebrate along the way. Acknowledge your small wins instead of racing to the finish line. I know that “so and so” suggested this but do you actually WANT do that?” So she took a leap. A big one. She was strategic and planned for pleasure. She had fun while putting the project together and took care of herself along the way. Result? - 15,000 views in 24 hours. No she didn’t have a huge list, thousands of followers or a big affiliate marketing push. In fact, she never asked anyone to share it at that time. But they did….over 250 times in that 24 hour period. That’s THOUSANDS of new people that listened to her music, through friend recommendations. The best kind. Oh and that huge release party everyone said she should have (but me)…She had a cookout at her house instead that to the turn of 75 people. No expensive venue or large marketing push to get people to come. No door minimums to contend with or nasty club owners. Just love, fun, pleasure and a ton of support. Even MORE than she would’ve had at a club. She has been all over the radio now and she’s getting some international press, managers and industry folk are paying attention. All because of the strategic leap. Yes she took the jump...a quality one, in divine timing. And now all else will be left to the Universe to figure out AND that’s how it should be. Whether you’re thinking of a big move, leaving your job, releasing a product or just going to the next evolution of who you are, I would suggest you take a minute and commit to the leap...but do it strategically. Plan out the steps, course correct and most importantly...follow what feels good. It’s the path that will lead you to what you want and the true connection you’re looking for. I do it. She did it. You can too. Now don’t get me wrong, If blind faith is your jam, I say go for it. However for me right now, cliffs are way more fun to jump when you know you have a string to pull and let out a parachute. ;-) The net will appear whether you strap on a parachute or go flying without one. Just remember, you can’t control the WHEN or the HOW of either. Either way you choose, just JUMP. You will only regret it if you don’t when you know you should. If you know someone who’s thinking of taking a leap or could use this, please share it with them. Also, connect with me on social media (IG or Facebook) or comment below and let me know if you’re thinking of taking a leap I’d love to hear about it. Love you Fiercely, Jo-Ná  

 

If you’re “playing it safe, you’re playing small”

If you don’t jump you don’t have faith

Leap and the net will appear

Don’t have a plan B because it distracts from plan A

I use to be a devout follower of the “Jump the Cliff” Crew. I happily followed all the entrepreneur rhetoric about leaping and not worrying about falling on my ass or to my death and while I do still have that kind of faith in myself and what I am doing, something was missing for me.

When I didn’t leap, I felt like I was being judged (by other entrepreneurs, myself or those pesky books written by the experts!).

When I heard that inner knowing telling me to go slower, smell the roses and maybe jump at a later date, I promptly said to that knowing, “Shut the hell up. I have some diving to do!”

If I didn’t jump...I didn’t want to face the judging of myself that would come with it soooo yep I jumped and jumped and jumped to the chagrin of my coach who was a BIG fan of jumping.

I didn’t care whether there was a net. I didn’t care whether I leaped to my death because I figured, “Hey it’s better to get in ring and risk death than to sit on the sidelines.”

In many cases I think that’s true. In most cases. Ok, all cases.

However, sometimes, you shouldn’t jump so fast. Sometimes it’s sexy to have a parachute on your back instead of leaping and blindly hoping a net will appear.

These days, I am more of a fan of the strategic leap.

When you listen to that inner guide saying, “Patience grasshopper. All things in due timing.”

This leap feels even more exciting because it’s a leap with positive expectation, not hope.

It’s a leap of planning and action, not flying by the seat of your pants.

It’s a quality leap.

A leap where you test, you ask, you refine, you set yourself up for success.

Entrepreneurs don’t talk about this leap...but many of them do it. Behind the scenes.

Yes it’s what I teach.

And it’s what I live now.

And you know what? There’s space in my life. There’s pleasure. There’s joy. There’s the excitement of launching something big but KNOWING I will be ok no matter the outcome. There’s a release of attachment. There’s expansiveness.

It’s what we all strive for...but did anyone tell you that you don’t have to strive?

When you take the strategic leap yes it’s scary. However, it’s less painful.

The strategic leap may not give you the adrenaline rush of Cortisol…

But you will get a hefty dose of endorphins.

One of my clients recently launched her debut music single. We created the plan for the release, I supported her during it and the entire time I kept whispering (and sometimes yelling at her) “Do what feels good. Celebrate along the way. Acknowledge your small wins instead of racing to the finish line. I know that “so and so” suggested this but do you actually WANT do that?”

So she took a leap. A big one.

She was strategic and planned for pleasure.

She had fun while putting the project together and took care of herself along the way.

Result? - 15,000 views in 24 hours.

No she didn’t have a huge list, thousands of followers or a big affiliate marketing push.

In fact, she never asked anyone to share it at that time.

But they did….over 250 times in that 24 hour period. That’s THOUSANDS of new people that listened to her music, through friend recommendations. The best kind.

Oh and that huge release party everyone said she should have (but me)…She had a cookout at her house instead that to the turn of 75 people.

No expensive venue or large marketing push to get people to come.

No door minimums to contend with or nasty club owners.

Just love, fun, pleasure and a ton of support. Even MORE than she would’ve had at a club. She has been all over the radio now and she’s getting some international press, managers and industry folk are paying attention.

All because of the strategic leap. Yes she took the jump...a quality one, in divine timing.

And now all else will be left to the Universe to figure out AND that’s how it should be.

Whether you’re thinking of a big move, leaving your job, releasing a product or just going to the next evolution of who you are, I would suggest you take a minute and commit to the leap...but do it strategically. Plan out the steps, course correct and most importantly...follow what feels good.

It’s the path that will lead you to what you want and the true connection you’re looking for. I do it. She did it. You can too.

Now don’t get me wrong, If blind faith is your jam, I say go for it. However for me right now, cliffs are way more fun to jump when you know you have a string to pull and let out a parachute. ;-)

The net will appear whether you strap on a parachute or go flying without one. Just remember, you can’t control the WHEN or the HOW of either.

Either way you choose, just JUMP.

You will only regret it if you don’t when you know you should.

If you know someone who’s thinking of taking a leap or could use this, please share it with them.

Also, connect with me on social media (IG or Facebook) or comment below and let me know if you’re thinking of taking a leap I’d love to hear about it.

Love you Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

 

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What Dave Chappelle can teach us all about success.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a major comedy fan. I started watching stand up comedy when I was 6 year old and while I didn’t understand everything Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor were talking about I was completely enthralled in the experience of watching them on stage. I would watch their stand up specials over and over.

As an adult, comedy is a part of my life weekly. It’s pretty common to catch me at a comedy show on a Friday night in New York City or hear me playing a stand up special on Netflix in the background as I do my work. Laughter is joy and comedy is such an incredible art.

So when I heard that one of my absolute favorite comedians and creative business owner, Dave Chappelle is releasing 3 comedy specials on Netflix I almost broke my nails doing Google searches to find out the date and the backstory.

To my surprise and delight, I found out that two of the specials were ones that he’d filmed while on tour (from his vault and Netflix purchased them) and he will also record one specifically for them this year. The contract was for 60 million dollars. I was DANCING (literally) when I saw this and I’m so incredibly happy for him. What this did for him and what it is teaching the world is such a powerful example of TRUE success. 

 

IF you don’t know, he walked away from a $50 million dollar multi-season contract in 2005 for his VERY popular, Comedy Central show, “Chappelle Show.”  Many people called him crazy and said he was a fool or on drugs. People were disappointed; they judged him and Dave disappeared from the limelight for a few years.  

I had the same initial reaction as most people, “WTF?” However, having seen contracts that were less than favorable to artists and spent most of my life around famous people, I knew there was more to the story than meets the eye, so I applauded his decision.

To hear him speak of it now, he says that the price was “too high” for him and he felt like his audience couldn’t “SEE” him anymore and he was losing the connection and love for what he truly adored, comedy itself. The sacrifice was too great and he wasn’t willing to compromise his integrity for the money. I honor that.

As an entrepreneur you’re often faced with your spouse, parents, employers or children having no idea why you are making a certain choice because they feel differently. “What you have is so “Right” or “You’re on Top of the World or secure. Why would you give that up?”

Every level of your journey you’re going to be faced with high-stake choices that illuminate who you are and what’s in your life. Your audience and loved ones won’t know the backstory, so they are left to their own ideas and assertions.

As I thought of my own decisions in my business, I realized that they led me to an even true version of everything. I learned who my true friends were. I learned who my true supporters were. I learned of my talent, my love, my desires, my worth. I learned of the deep shame that I cared and the limiting beliefs that had plagued my existence and how to eradicate some of them. I learned of the pressure I put on myself to be what everyone wanted and how I had to live my life for me first. I learned of my personal creative power. I learned vulnerability takes an unbelievable amount of strength and courage, but it’s so freeing and beautiful.

I learned of my pure joy and awesomeness that comes from me just being who I am.

I also learned the greatest lesson of them all, I’m human and that does not strip away my divinity, my ability or identity, but adds to it.

I imagine Dave may have learned some of those same lessons.

Here’s a brief list of some of the lessons I think all creative business owners can learn from Dave Chappelle’s amazing example:

  1. Courage - We are all going to be faced with difficult situations. We are going to be faced with challenges that leave us flat on the ground. However, courage is the thing that will allow us to practice everything else in our lives successfully. Without it we can’t go on.
  2. Trust yourself above all else  - Your intuition is the wisest and best guide. While it may not make sense to anyone else or you may get a slew of other opinions (even from your own head) your inner guide will always lead you to the truth that will bring you the most peace.
  3. Honor your virtues & be true to yourself first - You have to wake up with you. You have to go to bed with you. Your character is your greatest asset so no matter what, if you honor yourself first, all else will come in the right timing and people will respect and understand that.
  4. If the price is too high it’s ok to walk away - If you’re not feeling it, whatever it is, even though it may SEEM good, even if everything is at risk, if it doesn’t feel right, you always have the choice to walk away and you should.
  5. Everything you lost will be returned to you 10-fold through pleasure - Dave may have lost 50 million dollars but what he DID was returned to what he loved, became more grounded in his sense of self and came back stronger than ever with even MORE than he bargained for AND with less work. I mean you can’t beat making 60 million for something that’s so easy for you that you did anyway because you loved it.

To me, this is true success. You have what you desire without compromising who you are. 

I’d love to know what lessons you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey or what you've learned that I didn't mention. Hit me up on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter and leave a comment. Let’s keep the conversation going.

And if you know someone who could benefit from this, please share it with them. Helping others is the greatest gift.

Love you Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

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Is it necessary to give up stability for success? A message for creative people & artists in 2017.

valerie june.jpg

There’s a myth in artist world that it in order to be successful and see your dreams come true as you have to let go of your stability.

It’s more like a hero’s story or a rite of passage that has become readily acceptable.

In order to truly prove that you’re worthy of the success you receive that you must have gone through the trials, tribulations, eat beans and sleep on floors all in the interest of “making it.”

You’ve heard the story. Even the new mega folk star, Valerie June was recently in a Rolling Stone article talking about being a struggling artist in Memphis most of her career and leaving to chase her dreams in the Big Apple playing her music in dive bars at night and doing odd jobs during the day to have money to eat.

Now, at 35 she’s a “Star.” She’s made it and she “earned her stripes.” I think this story is amazing. However, I think it’s equally amazing a story like Lin-Manuel Miranda (Creator and Director of the Smash hit Musical, “Hamilton”) who had a pretty stable life as a playwright with a wife and children who’s stability allowed him to take time off and create this play that now has a successful run on Broadway and has won every award under the sun.

What if you not only want to be a successful creative but you also want to go on vacations a few times a year, have stable income and a great relationship?

What happens when you’re willing to “Wait” for the right opportunity, say “No” to the shitty paying club, build a business that is outside the realm of your artistry or stay at your job a few more years WHILE you pursue your artistic endeavors at night?

In this world, you’re labeled a sell-out or entitled.

What in the world makes you think that you don’t have to be a starving artist?

Why do you think that YOU deserve to see success when others have tried and failed or given up their dreams altogether BECAUSE they wanted those things too?

I ask you, why does it have to be one way or the other?

In our world we’re told that you have two paths as a creative: Stability at the expense of your dreams or dreams at the expense of your stability.

In both of these scenarios, everyone loses.

Listen, there’s no need to feel shame because you want to slay like Beyonce AND have a 401(k). It doesn’t mean you’re less hungry than the next artist (Unless you mean literally. Then yes you are less hungry).

And it IS only impossible to have both if you say it is.

Entrepreneurship is the path to having both. Quite honestly, I believe it’s the best way.

Since I’ve been coaching creative people, this is what I’ve worked with them to create or expand. Their businesses and in turn their lives. This is what we work on in the Mastermind.

The business provides the stability that opens up your creativity and allows you to not only live your dreams but also be happy, stable, define and achieve your own level of success.

Yes it may take some figuring out. Yes you MAY move a little slower, but the joy on the other side is so worth it.

All the artists that you admire (the happier ones) are business owners.

In our history, yep, Mozart, Frida Kahlo, Michaelangelo….all entrepreneurs.

Beyonce has businesses. There’s a machine running underneath her. She’s not just making money on album sales and concerts (those are add ons).

Yes ok maybe they do 2 films a year instead of 4.

Maybe these artists go on tour every other year instead of every year.

Maybe they release books and films a couple years at a time and then take time off.

But is that really a sacrifice if they can also have a life they enjoy and be present ? I don’t think so.

Listen, you need to ask yourself what you’re really chasing here. A good life? All that money and fame will not be fulfilling when you’re tired, drained and creatively feeling bankrupt and emotionally spent.

And if you think that suffering for success is the only path, I suggest you get on my newsletter list because I have a thing or two to talk to you about.

You CAN have a life.

You CAN have stability.

And yes you CAN live your dreams too.

It’s up to you to make that decision and move accordingly and hey, if suffering is your jam, I don’t judge you. I’m just here to tell you...there’s another way.

All I ask is that whatever you choose, that you commit.

Make a decision of the type of life you want and decide to yourself the path you want to take to it.

Then, get yourself some support. The right mentor and right community to support you through it because one thing’s for sure...you can’t do it alone either way.

My prayer is that no matter which way you choose...I hope you achieve your level of success.

Send you ALL my love.

Jo-Na

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Legally protecting your name. A cautionary tale, "by Chloe."

One of the most popular restaurants in New York City is "by Chloe." It’s a fast growing vegan food chain spearhead by the incredible vegan chef, Chloe Coscarelli. She’s was the only vegan chef to ever win on the Food Network’s show, Cupcake Wars and has built an incredible brand as a result. She also has a host of vegan cookbooks and her own "sweet treat" line that I personally love (Sweets by Chloe)!

 

by Chloe opened its first restaurant in 2015 in New York’s, West Village neighborhood and has very quickly opened up restaurants all over the New York, Rhode Island, Los Angeles and Boston.

Every time I walked through the city I saw another sign saying “Coming Soon” with the by Chloe cheeky black & white brand of vegan burgers and fries. As a vegan, I was thrilled to see vegan food being embraced by the mainstream. However, as a lawyer, I was suspicious.

 

I kept thinking, “I know she probably has investors, but they are growing way too fast, something must be up.” 11 Locations in 2 years for a creative business owner is a lot. So I just kept watching.

Turns out, her Investors/business partners recently decided to open up restaurants that contain animal products. Yes with the name and brand of a VEGAN chef.

Chef Chloe protested and filed a lawsuit. She didn’t want her name associated with serving animal products and felt it would damage her brand.

The Investors won and fired her. Yep you heard it, from her OWN BRAND!

I can’t imagine the heartache and pain that Chloe must be feeling right now. To have worked so hard to build a name, a business, a movement around yourself doing what you love and have it stolen from underneath you, is a nightmare. Unfortunately it can be a harsh legal reality if you’re not set up right.

This was WHY I became a lawyer working on Intellectual property and business while coaching creative business owners. To be an advocate for people like Chloe...and you.

My work is centered around helping you create a business that has a solid foundation, profitable and aligned with your creative soul. A hugely important part of that foundation is legal...as Chloe has just learned in the most horrible way.

That being said, here’s an article that I wrote for Entrepreneur Magazine on the ways that you can protect your name and brand that go beyond trademarking. I hope that it helps you know what you need to do.

I will continue to write about this. I will continue to consult, advocate and create tools and courses to help you navigate these tumultuous entrepreneurial waters, but my only request is that you PLEASE TAKE the legal part of your business SERIOUSLY. It could be the difference between a wildly successful, lucrative empire or a disaster that leaves you wondering why.

Hit me up after you read the article and let me know what you learned. I can be reached at @jwilliamsesq on Facebook, IG and everywhere on social media AND PLEASE share Chloe’s story. I am boycotting this chain and I hope that you do too.

Love you Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

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The #1 Mistake That Can Shatter Your Business Success.

I’ve had a coach since the moment I opened the doors of my law practice.

It was 2011 when I started and I had a good friend whom I respected a lot invite me to come to an event that her coach was hosting.

I was new, excited, ready to tackle the entrepreneurial world and petrified (which in all honesty motivates me). My friend said to me, “Girl this is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m on track to make six figures, my clients are happy, I feel fulfilled. YASSSS! That’s all I can say.”

I’m was intrigued like, “What! That comes from working with this one lady? I needed to know what she did. How did it all work? What was the secret?”

At the time, I think I had about $600 bucks in the bank. I gave $500 to her and signed up for her coaching program. It was a huge leap of faith. However, I trusted my friend and I was motivated enough to do the work.

Now, my coach was tough. She didn’t take any excuses, she was highly motivated and her workaholism was like MUSIC to my ears (recovering addict right here!). However, she wasn’t in back pocket all the time.

However you know what was? The community of other women she was supporting. My community.  Those entrepreneurs became my lifeline.

The women I asked for advice from.

The women who GOT me.

The women I partnered with in business.

The women who were in the same boat in many ways but also brilliant in their fields.

The women who gave me so much support, promoted me, gave me wild ideas (that became programs & products) and held space for me to grow in a safely.  

It was a Godsend and I will never forget that time. We became a sisterhood bound together in the battle against broke and broken-ness.

Since then, I’ve never been without one.

Quite often as a business owner; someone who’s putting your voice out in the world, you’re working alone.

And if you’re an introvert (like most creative people tend to be) that isolation can be even worse.

Now, I know that you may be thinking, “Oh Jo-Na I hear you but, I can do this by myself. I’ve got this. I’m good. Blah blah.” Let me tell you something, you can’t and if you try you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You may be able to create your art alone but you can’t run your business alone, have an enriching life or grow as a human without community.

You need people, a network, and a place to work through the perils of your life and running a business as a creative person.

Entrepreneurship ain’t for the faint of heart and neither is your life. Athletes are on teams with a coach for a reason. They can’t win the game alone.

It’s the #1 mistake you will encounter over and over again about why businesses fail...not having enough support.

All the people you admire for their skill, their excellence and their impact have all had the support of their communities.

Yep, Serena Williams

Mmmhmm Oprah Too.

Tony Robbins? Yep.

Janelle Monae? She’s got it.

Sir Richard Branson? He’s in it.

It’s how we thrive as humans. However when you get one, make sure it’s the RIGHT community.

One that inspires you.

One that empowers you.

One that is filled with people who support your ascension and see it as a reflection of their own.

This can be in the form of a mastermind, a support group or whatever works for you.

Now, if you’re interested in joining my Mastermind applications close next Tuesday, May 30th.

This is a group of powerful, high-level creative women READY to make big changes in the world (starting with themselves).

Yes we will work your business.

Yes we will address what’s happening in your life.

Yes we will have a lot of fun along the way and

Yes you will get the momentum you desperately desire.

If you’re ready, I encourage you to apply and if you’re the right fit, you will hear from me on the next steps. I put my heart and soul into working with them so if you’re ready for high-level 1:1 support and a community who’s ready to cheer, support and REALLY help you live the life you want and deserve, fill out the application here.

We’re going there. Hope you join us.

See you next week AND I’ll see you in Mastermind.

Love you Fiercely,


Jo-Na

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"Radical Approval" and how it can transform you.

I had a friend over the other day and she was so irritated with the fact that she was so disorganized. She felt like her life was overwhelmed and chaotic and she was beating herself up about it.

She told me, “I love love love when my apartment is clean. I love when my schedule is organized, but I can’t seem to get it together or keep it together.”

I just looked at her and said, “What if you just embraced the fact that you’re messy and that’s not going to change, it’s a part of your nature? What if you practiced radical acceptance of the fact and said, “Yep. I’m messy AF” and just made some extra money to have a cleaning person come in every two weeks?”

She looked at me like I was an alien and then her eyes lit up! “It’s that simple huh?” Of course it is. Instead of pushing against who you are and disapproving of it, accepting it would bring you peace, but then take some action steps to work with that part of who you are instead of condemning it.”

Now, I’m sure that maybe you’ve felt this way about SOMETHING in your life. Like there’s an aspect of your personality that you just don’t like that you feel is the source of your life not being how you want it to be. We’ve all been there.

However, we’ve been so hell-bent on CHANGING ourselves, that we’ve failed to see the magic and the solutions that come when we simply embrace who we are.

Radical self-approval can change how you feel inside which then changes the outcomes in your life. It’s quite magical when you start to flow with the water verses against the tide.

For example, I work a lot. I love it, it feeds me and I enjoy it. For a few years when I first started my business, I shamed this about myself because heard people say, If I am always working, then I am not truly living.

This was ALSO peppered with the shift in the entrepreneur world from one of “Grind. Make it happen!” to one that was “Work is bad. You should be living. What’s wrong with you if you always want to work? You’re unhealthy.” It was judgment either way. You’re working TOO hard or you’re not working enough. Catch 22.

Not to mention all those “Check out my office” pics people posted on social media of sitting on the beach with their laptops while I was on the phone, working on the computer or taking client meetings at hotels in the city. Judgement. “You’re not on the beach, drinking margaritas. You’re working too much.”

Now, because I felt this way about myself, this shame of LIKING to work, I attracted partners and friendships who also disaffirmed my work style. Which fueled my desire to change. So I tried to force NOT working. Liking being off and lounging around on the beach.

What I realized is...Yes I love to relax, have fun, play and all that. However, I also like to work. When I “Radically Approved” of that, I found a beautiful balance between work and play that suits me.

It allows for downtime and creativity...and it allows for productivity and strategy. I flow between the masculine and feminine parts of myself. That would not have occurred if I just kept shaming that part of myself.

The approval opened up creativity possibilities, joy and now in my downtime I have a lot more fun because I know that there is also a time when I will be working. This has created more Joy in work AND joy in play. Go figure.

So now I want you to try it...this whole radical self-approval thing.

Here’s a technique that I use with my clients to help them be radical in their wholeness and it’s actually a lot of fun:

What’s one thing that you wish was different about yourself? Something you’ve been grappling with for a long time and shaming yourself about?

Once you have it. I want you to do a dance break to a song that makes you feel REALLY good and shout at the top of your lungs, “I am ______(insert character trait here)!” Celebrate that trait in your body. This will remove the resistance.

Dance with it.

Be childlike in your celebration of it.

Dance until you feel REALLY happy. It will release endorphins and open brain space and send you away from the resistance. Then literally say out loud, “I open up to creative possibilities and ideas for working with this _______” Keep dancing.

Then, just go on about your day. If you start feeling shame about the thing again, do the steps above a few more times.  I guarantee you some ideas and possibilities for working WITH that character trait verses against it will show up.

Once you discover it, send me a shout out. I’d love to hear what are you radically approving of for yourself? Let’s celebrate our quirks together!

And if you know someone who really needs a shot of Self-approval, send this to them. Sometimes we all need it.

Love You Fiercely & I’ll talk to you next week,

Jo-Na

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The REAL reason you don't have what you want.

What do you want? Think about it. What do you REALLLLLY want?

Whether it’s a new job, to increase your following, make more money, find the right partner, get in shape, publish a book or whatever, have a chart-topping album, we all want something from this life.

Desire is one of the most powerful tools on the planet for accessing the energy to bring what you want into fruition. However, do you really WANT what you say you want?

I remember hearing one of my clients say to me that she wanted more clients. This is great right? She’s a purposeful, driven woman who could definitely get more clients if she wanted to. However, it wasn’t happening.

She would try and try - create Facebook ads, set up sales calls, work on her energy to receive more clients, she would push and push andddd...nothing. The clients just weren’t coming.

“What am I doing wrong?” She’d ask me.

“Nothing” I answered.

On the surface, it seemed like she was doing everything right. She had the desire, she worked hard, she got coaching, and she was willing...everything.

However, energetically she really didn’t want more clients no matter what she said.

I asked her, “Why don’t you want clients?”

“I do! I do! What are you talking about?”

“Nah...no you don’t. Why don’t you want them?”

When we dug deeper she’d put up blocks to receiving more clients because she was tired. She didn’t like how her business was set up, she felt like having more clients would stress her out and she wasn’t charging what she wanted and it made her feel bad every time she accepted a client at a lower rate.

Energetically she was sabotaging her efforts while on the outside she was taking all the right steps. Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing, when you are desiring to achieve, create or be something in your life there are two things at play in the scenario: 1) Your actions towards what you desire and 2) Your energy in relation to what you desire.

Energy is the strongest. It’s what all these woo-woo people (myself included) talk about. It’s the law of attraction. It’s all the spiritual texts telling you to have faith. It’s all the forces in the Universe (God, Goddess, Nature, Elements, Higher Power, Source, Stars and all that) working on your behalf to bring you that desired thing. It’s not luck. It’s energy.

However, it can’t bring the thing to you if you block it.

Most people don’t even realize that they are blocked. Yes, you too.

The Universe works with speed and if there are no blocks, what you want will come rushing towards you. It will come looking for you. It’s undeniable.

The reason you don’t have what you want, is because you don’t really want it. If you did, you wouldn’t put up blocks to it.

Now I know you may be thinking, “But Jo-Na, that’s not true. I am doing EVERYTHING that I can to see _______ happen. It’s just not working for me! I don’t know why but it’s not me. I am doing the steps.”

Yep. I hear you. But it’s not just the steps you need for this process.

If you don’t have something, you need to ask yourself, why you’re blocking it. You’d be surprised as to what comes up when really commit to this process and open to your wisdom around this.

In the Diamond Mastermind, I have the women do something called an “Emotional Dump.” They just spit out everything that they are feeling about a particular situation without judgment from themselves or the group. When you do this, without your mind psyching you out or trying to convince you to think something else because what you’re thinking is “Not nice” then so much gets illuminated. You will see your blocks and then you can course correct. You can’t WILL what you want into existence but with the right energy and actions, you can have it.

I recommend that you think about the thing that you want. Sit quietly and just imagine yourself, having the thing you want. Does it bring forth anxiety? Fear? Shame? Stress? Pressure? Even on a low level under the surface, do you feel anything other than PURE JOY and BLISS at receiving what you want?

Once you feel into it. Then I want you to write out an Emotional Dump asking yourself, “Why am I blocking it?” See what comes up for you. Once you know WHAT the block is  you can take action steps on eradicating this belief. As Abraham Hicks says, “A belief is just a thought we keep thinking over and over again.” Ok if that’s all there is, you’ve created a set of beliefs around what you want and you CAN change those beliefs so you receive it. Very simple. Don’t make it hard on yourself. You’re not a victim and the Universe isn’t conspiring against you. You can have what you want, be your own healer and remove that block boo!

My client did this exercise and received 3 new clients a week later. It’s not magic. It’s just recalibration.

Try it and let me know what happens for you. Also, today is the LAST DAY for you to apply to Mastermind. If you’ve been thinking about it, If you’ve been wanting it, don’t block yourself. Say yes to it and see how the magic unfolds in your life and business as you open the door for yourself.

No more blocking. Let’s remove them so you REALLY receive what you desire.

Love you Fiercely,


Jo-Ná

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Maybe it's time to "Edit" your dream instead of chucking it.

“We live in a Universe of refinement” - Shaman Durek

I remember when I first heard my teacher, Shaman Durek say this and it really made me ponder our culture of trying to “Get it right.” I’d always saw myself as a “Don’t waste any more time, if it’s not working move on” type of woman and in fact, in the entrepreneur world, this is often the rhetoric.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard sayings like, “Fail often, fail quickly.” Or “Hire slow, fire fast” and other sayings that simply mean, “Don’t waste time refining. Dump and move on”

Fact of the matter is we live in a world and a society that is always working towards, making it happen, grinding, pushing and stressing and if it’s not working we’re told to just give up and try something else.

But what if you’re a passionate soul and you’re not in business just to find the next innovative thing? What about the creative people who’ve maybe had a dream in their spirit that just hasn’t worked out yet but could if they just took one different pivot or looked at it from a different angle?

There’s very little talk of this and quite frankly, I think that you have to do the thing that’s REALLY resonating with your soul….whether that is refining or abandoning altogether.

When I first opened my practice, I definitely had a vision of what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to look, who I wanted to work with and so on.

Some of those visions came true.

Some are still brewing.

Some I let go of because they no longer fit. 

However, one thing that I had to remain open to was shifting and changing my business, my life and my dreams as I changed as a person.

For example, It was never my plan to be a coach. In fact I was SOOO resistant to it, but my business coach at the time saw something in me that changed the entire direction of my life in the best way. I’ll never forget that day. We were in a private session mapping out my next moves in my business when she said this.

“You have a gift for this. You really need to try coaching.”

My response: “Um no. Just...no”

However, I was intrigued by the fact that she’d started out as a health coach and how everything change in the best way as she shifted to money and business coaching instead.

The more she drilled it into my head over the next few weeks, I started to think about it more seriously. It was the Summer of 2012 when I finally surrendered to what she was saying and decided to just give it a try. “What did I have to lose right?”

Come to find out, I loved it. Still do. In fact, it opened my world to a whole other way of being.

My dream got more expansive.

I got a flood of new ideas.

My vision for my business definitely shifted

and overall how I wanted to serve the world.

Had I never listened to her, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

That part of my business has added so much to my life and as this round of my Mastermind wraps up, I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for this experience and REALLY excited about what we have in store for the next round starting in June.

Again, even the decision to create a mastermind wasn’t initially on my desire list and soon became one of the greatest things I’ve ever done or created in my business ever.

However, I’ll keep it real with you, over 2015 I wanted to quit everything. I wanted to stop being a coach, close my legal practice and just sit on an island somewhere. I couldn’t “Do” anymore but as I just allowed myself to “Be” for a bit, I realized my dreams were still in my soul.

I realized that I loved being a lawyer

I love being a coach and helping people see the power within themselves and execute that.

I love consulting with companies on expansion and strategy.  

It was never about reaching some unattainable standard of perfection or trying to “hack” my life so I could work more with less self-care. I believe our journey is really about being and having love and joy in our lives while we are here.

Maybe you’ve had a dream you’ve been holding onto for a really long time.

Maybe you’ve had bouts with wanting to give it up or throw in the towel.

If you are, I say to you: maybe your dream doesn’t need to be thrown away, perhaps it just needs a little editing.  

The Universe may be trying to steer you in a new direction because something wonderful is waiting for you.

If you’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel here’s some questions you may want to ask yourself before you do

  1. Does this dream still bring you joy when you think of it becoming a reality?
  2. Are you just burnt-out and need to take a break? Note: If you’re super-emotional this is NOT the best time to make big business or life decisions.
  3. Are there new opportunities or ideas you’ve been closed to simply because they didn’t fit into the narrow framework of the vision you’ve held?
  4. If you walk away right now...would you feel relief or dread? This is that inner part of yourself as you REALLY sit with your dream.
  5. Do you think you have a shot if you tried just one more time? If the answer is yes, that means that you still feel determination and dedication to the dream.

That being said, the longer you have a dream, the more you have to be open to allowing it to shift and grow. That’s perfect. Editing doesn’t mean you’re giving up, it means you’re opening.

Maybe it’s about a simple: refine & align verses a trash & dash! LOL Find yourself right for where you are, essentially it's the perfect place for transformation.

Now, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been thinking about throwing out your dream or simply letting it go. Check me out on Instagram, Facebook at @jwilliamsesq or feel free to leave a comment and tell me your story. I’d love to hear!

And if you think someone needs to see this, please share it with them. We help ourselves by helping each other.

Love you Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

P.S. If you are interested in the Mastermind simply add your name click here--> VIP list and I will be sure to let you know when we re-open in June. All my love.

 

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Brand Expansion gone wrong. What we all can learn from "Shea Moisture"

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Brand Expansion gone wrong. What we all can learn from "Shea Moisture"

I’ve had my hair natural since I was 22 years old and I’ve had locs since 2003. Back then, I had to drive several hours to Detroit and purchase some of Miss Jessie’s curl pudding from my newly chopped tresses from a guy who sold it in his trunk after going to New York to stock up and sale to his dry-haired mid-western black women customers.

I remember when "Carol’s Daughter" was an obscure natural hair care brand made in the kitchen of the Brooklyn brownstone and only mentioned in Erykah Badu songs.

So needless to say, seeing the amazing expansion of natural hair care products over the past decade has been MORE than a relief to my psyche and my hair. Scouring natural hair blogs is now a thing of the past and most women with natural hair have an array of ways to experiment with their hair and figure out what works for them.

One of the most popular brands, Shea Moisture ("Shea"), started as a black-owned family company that grew in popularity with its base being women like me; Curly, Kinky-haired or loc’ed black women looking for the best and most natural products for their hair.

Founded in 1991, Shea Moisture has built up a reputation among its consumers as the “go-to” brand over other popular staples like "Carol’s Daughter" or "Dark and Lovely."

That being said, many women in their fan base were concerned over their recent decision to acquire investment dollars for their expansion by corporate investors, fearing that the quality of the products would go down (like they tend to do when larger companies acquire or invest in smaller businesses). However, what they didn’t expect was something even more alarming.

In an effort to expand their customer base, Shea’s recent campaign ad featured 4 women. One racially-ambiguous, softly-coiled haired woman and 3 white women. The customer base that made Shea Moisture a house-hold name amongst the natural hair community (i.e. women who look like me or have hair like mine) were absent completely.

As a result, they have been in a public relations nightmare for several days with bloggers doing bad reviews of the campaign, thousands of messages on their Facebook page, a twitter fire-storm and now national media like CNN and AdWeek are getting involved (just Google it).

Honestly, from the perspective of black woman who has faithfully supported their products over the years, I definitely wasn’t happy to see my fellow constituents absent from their ads and I felt the collective “ouch” from that community.

As an objective businesswoman who has worked with companies and individuals on their brand expansion, I understand WHAT they were trying to do, albeit executed poorly. Essentially it appears they wanted more market share, increased profits and to expand their audience.

There are many reasons for this. Perhaps they now have huge loans to pay off given the recent investments in their company, a desire to assure their corporate investors so they won’t pull dollars. Maybe they desire to expand their product line to expose even more people to Shea butter and other natural ingredients and increase knowledge that there are healthy alternatives for hair and skincare that don’t involve harsh chemicals that damage our bodies. Who knows?

I don’t think that any of their objectives are wrong from a business standpoint. BUUUTTTT...the execution is where they screwed up.

Here are 3 Mistakes that Shea Moisture made that you can learn from and use as you expand your own brand:

Mistake #1Abandoning your core market – Listen, we all want to grow and expand, make more profits, reach wider audiences and expand our visions. However, they didn’t INCLUDE their core market into the expansion. This could have easily been fixed if they would have simply added their core demographic to the commercial along with the market they wanted to expand to. They may have had a few grumbles from some people but they wouldn’t have pissed off the entire consumer base that made them famous while simultaneously increasing the sales of their competition. (Hello United Airlines!) Now they appear disloyal to their customers. Bad move.

Mistake #2: Bad Surprise - Generally, many people don’t like change or surprises. Don’t believe the hype. Expansion also causes major contraction and that backlash they didn’t prepare for. Now, when you expand your brand, it’s incredibly important to warn your core audience BEFORE you move in a different direction. This was a surprise to their market and a BAD one. You’re not Beyoncé. The element of surprise doesn’t work if you’re doing a complete 180 shift or you're outside of your market in a way that your core isn’t prepared for. Give people the time to adjust to the new changes you’re making by letting them know before you make them. That way they know you’re taking them with you verses leaving them behind.

 Mistake #3: Core audience missing from the decision room - You can’t make such a huge shift without having your core audience as a part of the decisions. This could have prevented the marketing disaster if they simply had a kinky or curly - haired, black woman in the room. She could've easily scanned the ad for herself and gave them a few tips about the campaign. Naturally, as humans we look for reliability and familiarity. I can guarantee their core consumers didn’t sign off on that ad. Trust.

Now, I don’t want you to think that pivots aren’t a part of business or that you won’t be able to expand out of fear of losing your profits. You just have to be strategic and bring your people with you. Don’t drop them like a hot potato because you want a bigger audience.

Remember: Loyalty, Alert, and Input. These 3 things will keep you on the right side of your audience as you grow and expand beyond your core.

Now tell me, what did you learn from the Shea Moisture debacle? Are you planning a brand expansion? Leave a comment or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook and let me know.

Also, if you know anyone who’s thinking of moving in a different direction in their business, send this to them. We learn and grow through sharing with each other.

Love You Fiercely,

Jo-Ná

P.S. If you are interested in knowing more my Business & Life Mastermind when we reopen in June, be sure to hop on the VIP list and I’ll send you all the deets. Much love boo.

 

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