It’s Better Together: finding a tribe

Whether making a dance or a business or a dancing business, it’s often lonely.  In fact, some of my happiest times-when my brain is exploding with good ideas- have also been the loneliest.  After all, the ideas are incubating.  And, I’m awful at articulating incubating ideas.  Because I kept talking to other folks who work for themselves and seem to experience the same feeling, I thought we should start a group.  You know, a small business group.  And, not the kind that discusses marketing slogans and communication styles, because that just makes me want to punch myself in the face.

That’s how I found myself drinking wine with Emma, Jesse, Ben, and Eli last Saturday on a teal couch in Emma’s adorable studio.

shadow play in Emma's studio-- adorableness of studio not properly shown

Despite just plain liking one another, and wanting to focus in on that, we tried to get to the heart of why we were there.  It seemed pretty similar across the board: we wanted to find new ways to collaborate with local artists and businesses, even if we were working in different fields.  We wanted to find new ways to do what we’re doing.  And…this:

We wanted to figure out how to find new audiences and clients.  Emma smartly acknowledged it: we don’t find clients and audiences from taking out a large print ad in a magazine (usually); we find them because of the relationships we build.  People want to work with you because they like you.  It’s true.  People want to see your work or talk about your work or book you as a photographer because they jive with you.  Something about who you are fits with them.  They like your weirdness.

Which fit a lot with what I was reading this week.  Kathleen and many others have recommended Seth Godin‘s We Are All Weird to me.  Naturally, I’ve loved it.  In a nutshell, Godin’s theory is that the mass (the easily reached majority market) is dying.  Now that we all have more choices than ever before as to what we eat, what we buy, and what we like, everyone is getting really specialized.  We are all getting weirder.  Godin says that, rather than pushing the mass, we should cater to the weird.

apparently this guy is a World Beard and Moustache competitor

And, this is really good news for people who make art and have businesses (or make art as a business!).  It means that we all have an audience– we just have to find them.  And, they have to be able to find us.  And, for them to be able to find us, we have to know what makes us weird.  We have to know how to amplify, talk about, and commit to the things that make our art or businesses different from the person down the street (who’s probably just weird in a different way).

Seth says, “What I care a great deal about is each human’s ability to express her art, to develop into the person she is able to become.  I care about the connections between people and our ability to challenge and support each other as we create our own versions of art.”  Me, too.  Because there’s room for all of us.

So, the question is: how do we find our people?  And how do we figure out our weirdness?  Because, we all have it.

Well, that’s a topic for later this week…

[You should check out this review of We Are All Weird that Braid Creative did!]



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