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Ep 27: Building stability and sustainability with Danny Simmons

Today we're talking to one of my absolute favorite artists and good friend, Danny Simmons! He shares how he went from a being a social worker to owning a full-on art empire and how you can too. So many gems in this episode!     Daniel “Danny” Simmons, Jr. is an abstract-expressionist painter. Older brother of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons (“Rev. Run” of Run DMC), he is the founder and Vice Chairman of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Rush Arts Gallery. In addition, Simmons converted part of his loft in Brooklyn into the Corridor Gallery. Along with his brother Russell, Simmons established Def Poetry Jam, which has enjoyed long-running success on HBO. In 2004, Simmons published Three Days As The Crow Flies, a fictional account of the 1980’s New York art scene. He has also written a book of artwork and poetry called I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home.    Simmons is the son of Daniel Simmons, Sr., a truant officer and black history professor who also wrote poetry, and Evelyn Simmons, a teacher who painted as a hobby. He earned a degree in social work from New York University and a master’s in public finance from Long Island University. He began painting after he realized how much he hated his job with the Bureau of Child Support.    Simmons, an abstract-expressionist painter, has had his work shown nationally. Chase Manhattan Bank, the United Nations, and the Schomburg Center for Black Culture all show his work as part of their collections. He is also an avid collector of African art and comic books.    IF you want to connect with Danny check him out on  Facebook.      

Today we're talking to one of my absolute favorite artists and good friend, Danny Simmons! He shares how he went from a being a social worker to owning a full-on art empire and how you can too. So many gems in this episode! 

Daniel “Danny” Simmons, Jr. is an abstract-expressionist painter. Older brother of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons (“Rev. Run” of Run DMC), he is the founder and Vice Chairman of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Rush Arts Gallery. In addition, Simmons converted part of his loft in Brooklyn into the Corridor Gallery. Along with his brother Russell, Simmons established Def Poetry Jam, which has enjoyed long-running success on HBO. In 2004, Simmons published Three Days As The Crow Flies, a fictional account of the 1980’s New York art scene. He has also written a book of artwork and poetry called I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home.

Simmons is the son of Daniel Simmons, Sr., a truant officer and black history professor who also wrote poetry, and Evelyn Simmons, a teacher who painted as a hobby. He earned a degree in social work from New York University and a master’s in public finance from Long Island University. He began painting after he realized how much he hated his job with the Bureau of Child Support.

Simmons, an abstract-expressionist painter, has had his work shown nationally. Chase Manhattan Bank, the United Nations, and the Schomburg Center for Black Culture all show his work as part of their collections. He is also an avid collector of African art and comic books.

IF you want to connect with Danny check him out on Facebook. 

 

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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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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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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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