Recording the Audiobook of You-Nicorn

Today was a hilarious day. I woke up full of things to do: Super important things. And then I got tired and a little dizzy, and I realized maybe I needed a day off, since mayyyybe I was feeling a little overwhelmed with my new book just being submitted, and my next book’s deadline already looming.

Yeah, I am burnt out.

My rule around when I’m feeling burnt out is that I treat myself like I have the flu. I lay down, watch some mindless inspirational movies, and fix myself a cup of tea.

Because I’m a perpetual motion machine, if I even so much as start reading a book, I’ll dive down a hole and find some way to make that a productive action. I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to force myself to take a break.

In the name of “taking a break,” I was wasting time on Facebook.  I saw that my friend, who has just published her own romance novel, was looking for a recording studio resource. My dear friend Buck, who just released his new album (I have the most incredible friends), responded and said that he knows how to do recording and would happily do it.

Ah ha, I thought! Just what I need on this burnt out day: A NEW PROJECT TO START

No, actually, what I really thought was, “Oh crap! Right! I need to make arrangements to record the audio. But I don’t want to actually find a recording studio or travel to one, or sit around in a studio for 12 hours with a stranger. CRAP! Why did I say I’d do this?” and then I remembered that I actually am excited to work on this, but my overwhelm is telling me that I don’t want to.

But hey, if I was working with a friend, it might not be so bad. And maybe Buck could let me know how to set up a studio in my own home, so I could use my fancy Yeti mic and not bother leaving my haven.

I wrote Buck. He sent me to this golden post. It brilliantly describes how microphones work, and explains that the most important thing with these kind of microphones is containing the echo behind the narrator, not in front of the narrator like one might assume. It suggests using a mattress.

home recording studio kind of
Ah, the glorified pillow fort!

We have a guest bedroom, so I started making plans for how I was going to explain to Russ that I needed to dismantle our guest bedroom so I could make a recording studio in his office (which is in the guest bedroom). After babbling at him for about 20 minutes, he said, “Would the memory foam pads work?”

UM YES.

I had totally forgotten that we basically have piles of sound dampening foam hanging out under our bed in storage. I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER.

Operation: Home Recording Studio was within my grasp.

I lept up and started dragging around our old memory foam mattresses to make a pillow fort… um… a “recording studio,” grabbed the unfortunately squeaky ancient chair, upended the chest at the bottom of the guest bed, and wedged the memory foam slabs between chairs to make a little horseshoe booth.

HEY! It worked pretty dang well.

I recorded a couple test tracks, which made me realize exactly how frustratingly terribly I read. Just listen to this clip:

The recording quality is acceptable, though, and so I’ve embarked on this probably-totally-doable project of recording my book for release on Audible on the same week as You-Nicorn comes out. Hooray!

Stay tuned for what will undoubtedly be some hilarious stories of studio time. Our dogs have not yet learned that “OMG WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT UP?” means “stop barking, I am recording something important,” so I anticipate some hard conversations with our fluffy animals soon.

The Manuscript Has Been Submitted! – or – The Long Write Home

Writing: it's what I do.It’s late, and I’m tired. But I committed to writing 500 words per day on a public forum, so here I am.

This has been very much the experience of writing YOU-NICORN, and now my newest book, the to-be-named one about how to find a job you love, that suits your personality and passions. Every day for the past week, I have written 1,500 words on the manuscript per day. The only reason I gave myself today off is because – HUZZAH – I sent the manuscript to my publisher.

1,500 words isn’t a lot to a seasoned writer, and it is becoming not-a-lot to me. I’m amazed at how much quicker I write these days, now that I have committed to assembling these mountains of words in a readable order.

The manuscript is good. It’s in its (very) first draft form. I know many people say just to submit a shitty first draft, but my drafts are always legible, with massive holes. And then I send it to the publisher, Happily Ever After Press, and they read it over and let me know both directionally and structurally what improvements I need to make.

But it’s going to be a good and helpful book. I know that already. And that’s what helps me keep going.

It’s hard to find a job you love.

Our lives are so short, and we spend so much of them stuck in jobs that we don’t love.

I remember several years ago, when Russ (my husband) and I were first dating, I thought, “How is it possible I stayed with so many other people for so long, just so I wouldn’t be alone? And all the while, I was pushing off the relationship I was meant to be in, because I was fussing around with these people who were fundamentally just not suited for me.”

By staying in an ill-fitting relationship, I was blocking the relationship of my dreams.

Now, it turns out that Russ was also doing some similar work on his own stuff, so it wouldn’t have been the right time for us anyways, but the point still stands, and I think it really applies very strongly here too:

As long as you’re sitting in a job you don’t like “because you have to,” you’re keeping the door closed for a job of your dreams.

The other day, when I was writing the chapter about cover letters (because they’re so important and also they’re fricken’ difficult to write), I happened to overhear the conversation of the woman next to me. She was offering someone a job, talking with them about the details of compensation, and giving them a deadline on an offer. Could this be a coincidence? I think not!

After her call, I leaned over and asked if she was a recruiter. She affirmed she was. I asked if I could chat with her about cover letters and jobs, since I happened to be writing a book.

She gladly engaged me in some delightful conversation, and in return, I asked her if she had any positions she really needed filling. She gave me the title of VP of Customer Acquisition… and it just so happens that I know of someone who might enjoy this exact job. It’s remote, so they don’t have to go into an office. It’s for a quickly growing company, so it will be fun.

I passed the position on to a couple friends who I thought might be interested, and hey, maybe something will happen, or maybe nothing will happen, but it’s my duty to pursue every opportunity that the universe shoves in my path, and certainly it’s hard to deny that reeked of Universal influence.

If you’re unhappy in your job, take heart. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

For now, just stop complaining about your job. Experience gratitude and express gratitude. I don’t care if you’re the sidewalk gum-cleaner, just express gratitude for the job you do currently have, and open yourself up to the possibility that another job is on the horizon. They’re out there waiting for you.

When things have gone wrong, they have actually gone right: Coaching Group Edition

Photo by Jen MooreIt all was so perfectly planned. I was going to launch the coaching group for the Kickstarter backers. They’d all have their books in hand, and would be super amped to work on the exercises.

I really figured it all out.

But then the printer took an extra week with the books, they took a little longer to send than we expected, and, though almost everyone got their books, several people didn’t. It was very frustrating and more than a little disappointing, since I really wanted everyone to be able to get their books by the new year.

Instead, they went out the week before Christmas and receipt for Christmas was kind of hit and miss. Bummer. Lessons were learned, and our next kickstarter is going to be tight as a drum.

As part of the Kickstarter, I decided to offer the month-long coaching group to start the year off right. People could get their exercises done, meet cool people, watch some videos, and we could really have some fun with it. And because the kickstarter backers had taken a little risk on me and the book, and some had even endured some frustrating delays in the delivery of their books, I’d throw them a coupon code for the coaching group so they could come in and get it for free.

Great, right?

So I posted the coupon code a few times, always only to the backers. And then someone (I don’t know who, and it doesn’t matter) shared the coupon code that was meant only for the backers. I know this, because someone used the code and asked where their book was, and I didn’t see their name on the roster. Eerk.

At this point, I started to panic. I didn’t want everyone in the world accessing all the courses that I had on the site. Usually, I charge for these things, and just giving away my content that, while not terribly profitable, at least supports the site it’s hosted on… well, it was not going to work.

Plus, we couldn’t just give away the books after everyone had paid for the books, right? No. Nope. No.

I cut off the coupon code and sent what was probably a pretty terse email saying that the coaching group was closed and that people can’t share exclusive coupon codes with everyone, PLEASE.

But then I started thinking: What is the opportunity here?

I know that the universe is trying to help me get my books on the bestseller lists, so when these things happen, there must be an opportunity here that will help us get our book into the bestseller list.

And then it hit me: Offer the coaching group free for people who bought the book.

Danielle Vincent signing books
Photo by Jen Moore

Twice a year, I can run the coaching group for absolutely free. I personally believe that you have to do the exercises to get a benefit from them (hey, I wrote the book, so of course I’d think that…), and numerous studies have shown that you’ll be held accountable if you do the exercises in a group setting, so why not help people do the exercises in the book and connect with other like-minded awesome people? For free?

I mean, what’s the real goal here? The real goal is to make an impact. And selling the books isn’t the thing that will make the impact, the thing that makes the impact is doing the exercises and connecting with other people.

It’s a new idea. I don’t think any other books come with a free coaching group. But I’m going to give it a try.

You can pre-order the book and sign up for the May 2018 coaching group here.

The Goals Workshop: We’re in this together

I’ve been hearing from people about how much they’re loving the 2017 Goal Workshop. Have you taken a look at it yet? What do you think?

I also heard that a couple people didn’t get the announcement email that the course was even open, so in case you missed it: 2017 Goals Workshop

I’m so excited to hear how the course is working for people! It’s wonderful to see people getting started with some bold choices in their lives. My friend Cindy wrote this in our Facebook group (which you should totally join):

“I’m watching some of the classes and Danielle says this thing – that if you can think of a goal – you can achieve that goal – no matter how out of reach it seems. and my whole self rebels – thinks, ‘No way man, I have all of these goals, and I don’t know they’re so crazy, how could that even be?’ – and so on. Here it is 30 minutes later and I’m still chewing on it. And then – in a moment of serendipity – on my Pandora station comes a [singer name removed] song. Back in 2007, I bought this album from Amoeba. I fell in love with [her] voice, bought all of her records, got my bandmate also obsessed with her music, and basically spent a few years with her being my favorite musician. My dream goal was to play with her just once someday. Well – one night at band practice we’d been drinking – and I decided to send her a myspace message about playing a show in the Bay Area next time she’s on tour down here. Long story short – she’s now one of my best friends, we’ve gone on tour together whoa maybe almost 10 times?, I stay at her house, she stays at mine, and that goal that seemed bonkers insane is now just the commonplace news of the day around here. So I guess it all is possible. Even if the steps / road isn’t clear yet – maybe it really is possible.” (edited lightly, emphasis mine)

And if you’ve watched the first video, you know that I also have a really huge goal of how many people I impact positively in 2017: 152,000 people! So if you feel compelled to share the course with friends, I’d really appreciate it.

Why is my goal to positively impact 152,000 people in 2017? Because times are complicated. It’s a rough time for optimists these days. It’s easy to be optimistic when things are going well, but 2016 has been a pretty rough year for a lot of people. It seems like every day, we hear something new and awful – whether it’s a tweet from the president-elect, or the death of an inspirational icon, it has been a very rough year.

It feels like people are more discouraged than ever about the future of our country and our culture.

And how many of your friends are discouraged, struggling, frustrated, and maybe even hopeless?

But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think we can collect ourselves and be mighty. I think if we become our best possible versions of ourselves, we can make a real difference.

I feel like it’s our responsibility and our duty to stand up and be our best selves right now.

Because the world needs us to be as mighty as we can be.

So that’s why I want you to share the goals workshop. It’s important. It’s helpful. It’s a way you can make a difference in someone’s life.

And I’m always open to hearing suggestions about how to improve and increase my impact, since 152k is a heck of a goal (right?). If you have any ideas on how to spread the message further and create measurable positive impact, please do share them with me. We’re all in this together.

The bizarre and and somewhat sideways launch of the 2017 Goal Workshop – or – the rocky road to goal mountain

It was so simple. It was so simple: I teach a free workshop on a thing I have done twenty some-odd times, just before the new year, when everyone’s ready to set some goals, and people will be able to use this awesome goal-setting technique and HECK YEAH! LET’S ALL BE FRICKEN’ AWESOME!

And I went through this time-honored practice, noting down each step so I could capture my own way of doing it… but then I thought, “You know, I should research what other experts teach about goal-setting…” and “You know, I should also build something that calculates priorities, kind of like my project prioritizer, but for goals…” and then my mom reminded me of this great exercise we used to do to calculate the pros and cons, weighted by values, and I thought “oh my gosh! I should include that!”

My notes grew and grew.

I got more and more worried about the class.

And the timing that seemed so perfect turned into a massive nightmare as our Outlaw Soaps Ships were smashed against holiday atoll after holiday atoll.

Side note: typing “holiday atoll” led me to wonder what a holiday atoll would really look like. And I found these amazing photos. I want to go there.

Holidays at atolls aside, we had a magnificent great Outlaw Soaps holiday season – certainly nothing to complain about at all, except that I had foolishly scheduled this goal workshop, which was turning into something that was more suited to 5 months than 5 days.

Just look at all those individually wrapped items going to Amazon to be fulfilled! Tremendous!!!

And the date of the course kept sneaking closer, and I kept wondering exactly how I was going to pull this off, since now I was venturing into territories where I’d have to study how to make printables, and maybe not everyone would have Excel, and people would complain on Twitter… wait, did I remember to queue my Tweets and Instagram and Facebook posts? Did I literally launch a social media course and get so swamped I couldn’t spend the hour it takes to stack my Tweets? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, DANIELLE.

It was about that time when I had a come-to-Jesus with my friend and recorded that video about being overwhelmed.

His advice was to regroup and figure out what could be cut, but in my mind, nothing could be cut. Mozilla was important. Outlaw was critical. The courses are already scheduled, and plus, how often do you get to actually fulfill your life purpose? Don’t ever cut those projects. Ever.

I went back to meditating daily, a practice which had fallen off since I got swept up in the season.

And somewhere in there, probably shortly after I realized I couldn’t do anything about Amazon or Christmas orders anymore, I realized people weren’t signed up for the goal course to get some other person’s goal-setting methods, people signed up for my goal class.

MY GOAL CLASS USING MY METHODS

I regrouped. I went back to basics.

It was surprisingly easy, almost like going back to muscle memory.

I started putting together the modules and making the handouts on Friday and recorded all the videos on Saturday.

The course came together, and when I called it a day on Christmas Eve, I felt proud of what I had done: I had created a system for the method that had worked for me for most of my life. I had somehow summarized years of experience into this tiny little goal course.

After I called it a wrap, I kept thinking of things to add. I kept thinking of things that I could have recorded better, or said more clearly, or defined in a different way.

At the end of the day (that day being yesterday, Christmas), I decided to just re-record the intro and affirmation #2, which were giving me the most trouble, and leave the rest.

People have liked it.

There have been some notes, but for the most part, response has been positive.

Most importantly, one of my long distance friends, Belinda HellYeah!, booked a flight to come all the way from Australia to (among other things) meet me in person! And if that’s all that comes out of the whole course, that will have been enough.

I really have no idea what else will come out of the workshop, but my sincere hope is that people are inspired to take steps toward their own goals, to define them, and to put them to use. Even just for a little while, because progress is always progress.

When it comes down to it, I really am just doing this because I believe in people. I believe in my friends. I believe that they — more than most other people in the world — are capable and worthy of MASSIVE GOOD, both for themselves, and for anything or anyone one they touch.

If I can do anything at all to facilitate that, it doesn’t matter how scared I am or how weird I feel, I have to stand up and do it.

So, anyways, that’s the goal course.

If you have signed up for it, I hope you use it to take over the world. If you haven’t, hey, give it a try. It’s free and kind of a big deal to me.

 

My Secret to Continued Productivity? The Checklist of DOOM! (by popular demand)

Some things are quick, one-time things: you fill an order or you respond to a customer query.

But some things can’t be achieved in a few days or weeks: organizing all your finances for taxes, working with press, and writing a book.

These require tireless persistence, focus, and dedication. I have none of these things. Not. A. Single. One.

When I was on Adderall (prescribed for my ADD, not recreational), my lack of focus wasn’t so bad. But that made me irritable, and in the interest of keeping peace in the household, I had to give up the Adderall.

Enter: THE CHECKLIST OF DOOM

I’ve developed a weirdly non-technical way of managing these tasks over long periods of time, but it works, so now I am on something like version 8 of The Checklist of Doom. Every time, I refine it a little to account for my changing priorities and lessons I learned from the previous checklist.

Sometimes the checklist includes personal things, sometimes it includes only business, sometimes it includes fitness. It’s so personal both to the individual, and to the individual in that time. I have created a worksheet to create your own, since I love how fancy that is.

Here’s the philosophy behind the The Checklist of Doom:

We all have long to-do lists that we carry around with us, either physically or digitally. These are good for managing short-term tasks that can be achieved and crossed off.

The truly Great Things, however, require months of dedication.

Like eating an apple, if you try to shove the whole thing in your mouth at once, you’ll choke. The only way to eat the apple is bite by bite.

You have stuff to do!

Accounting is the perfect example of this. How many of you scramble around for the week before taxes, frantically itemizing everything before you can send it to your accountant? (Probably more applicable to small business owners than W-2 employees.)

Not me. I exported my Profit and Loss (P&L) and sent it to my accountant in about 5 minutes. BOOM.

I also manage my press and retail contacts as items on the checklist, because there is no immediate reward for writing press (it takes literally weeks of follow-ups to even get a response, if you get one at all). Without the checklist, this activity feels endless and futile.

But they aren’t endless and futile. Press seems to be a numbers game, and to get one hit, you have to send about a hundred queries. But you still have to send that hundred queries. The checklist keeps you on task even when you feel most adrift.

You have to do some stuff more often than other stuff.

Depending on your priorities, you might have to update Facebook and Twitter several times per week, whereas you only have to send out your newsletter every two weeks.

The checklist is cool with that.

I’ve created a couple worksheets to help you create your own Checklist of Doom. Sign up for my newsletter to get them:*

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* Look, I know people use handouts like this as a lure to sign up for their mailing list, and this is absolutely no different. However, you don’t really have to download the worksheets to get the benefit, and the newsletter is really great, so… please sign up.

For complete instructions on how to create your Checklist of Doom, I created an instructional video:

How to survive panic attacks

Fear is a ridiculously insidious thing.

“But it’s all in your head,” as the saying goes … well, that may be true, but inside our heads is the absolute worst place for it, because we can’t escape!

It’s like that moment in the movie when you realize the killer is inside the house.

Grant Cardone (and maybe others, but he’s the one who I first heard it from) says FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real. Basically, your mind creates scenarios that feel like you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, but in actuality, there’s only the slimmest of possibilities that you’ll really be eaten by a tiger (or face any other mortal danger).

This time of year – and I’m not exaggerating here – I feel like I am constantly having a heart attack. Like, a real, honest-to-God heart attack.

The first few times it happened, I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I was pretty sure I was actually dying. I wrote a couple of my entrepreneur friends on the third day asking, “Um, is this normal? because… it can’t be normal.” But now I know it’s just end-of-November,-beginning-of-December panic attacks.

And despite feeling like I’m going to die, I have somehow failed to die for the past four years.

Panic attacks are not fatal.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s OK to have panic attacks. It’s OK to be scared.

It’s OK to feel paralyzed…

… as long as you remember that you are not literally paralyzed. You can still move. You can still walk. You can still write. You can still make calls.

“But I’ll be so much better at it when I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Yes, that’s probably true. You may absolutely suck at it because you’re freaking the fuck out. But the only way that you’ll get better at it while you feel like you’re dying is by actually doing the thing while you feel like you’re dying.

But you’re not dying. You’re living.

Because life is sometimes scary. And to people like me (us?), our body sometimes has inappropriate physiological responses to fear… specifically, panic attacks.

But we have to remember that this truly is just an inappropriate physiological response. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the effect of not doing the thing (which is likely something like not getting the sale, not making the product, not writing the blog post, or whatever).

And that’s something to be afraid of.

I’m not telling you that panic attacks or depression or anxiety doesn’t exist — I’m absolutely never going to tell you that, since I know how real they are — but I am telling you that sometimes you have to force yourself anyways, because retreating from that scary thing has more real-world bad effects than the False Events Appearing Real.

Have you successfully overcome FEAR? Share how you did it, so that we can all get better at it!

Free Worksheet: Time Management Starts With Priorities Management

In this Sunday’s video, I talk about my three foundations for an awesome life:

  1. Excellent time management
  2. Prioritizing your tasks for impact
  3. Building great relationships with amazing people

The first step in managing your time is deciding what projects are most important to you (so you can decide where to spend your time).

I’ve created a handy way of prioritizing your projects so you can see mathematically where your time is best spent. Because numbers don’t lie.

Download the Excel file here

Want to go a little further? Sign up for my (free) Goal Setting Workshop.

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