My Top 9 Books for Creative Entrepreneurs

9booksThere are a lot of things that went into building Jane Reaction. I went to school, I got a lot of advice from friends (Google was my best friend) and years worth of trial and error. I also read a few great books along the way that changed the way I looked at things, broke down my fear, or taught me how to make more money. Here are my top 9 favorite books that helped me get to where I am today as a creative entrepreneur. If you want to try something new, if you have a crazy idea but don’t know what to do with it, if you want to be inspired to go out there and get what you want, read these books.

9. The power of starting something stupid by Richie Norton – Stupid is the new smart. (Shameless plug – I designed the cover for this book and some of the art within it’s pages -so yay for me! haha) This book is great for anyone who has ever had a stupid idea that they thought could make them a lot of money. I love this quote the most – “If someone thinks that your ideas, or the changes you want to make, or the dreams bubbling up inside of you, are stupid, welcome to the Club.” We’re all scared, we’re all being told our ideas are silly… but it’s the people who believe in themselves, push forward and don’t look back that make the magic happen.

8. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk- Because if you are going to start anything today you need to know how to compete with all of the noise. Social media has drastically changed the way we consume, socialize, and LIVE. This book will help you understand the way different social platforms function, the psychology behind likes, shares and comments and how to throw a mean right hook.

7. Essentialism by Greg McKeown – Take a deep breath. Read this book, and get ready to let go. Let go of stuff, things, responsibility that doesn’t serve anyone, guilt, things that waste your time, activities that don’t feed your soul… Read this book – it will help you give yourself the permission to let go of things that don’t make you a better you.

6. “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”  by Paul Arden – Need a quicky? Feeling a little ho hum? Read this book while waiting in line somewhere. It will give you a boost. I promise. It’s a feel good quick read. It makes you think, “Heeeey! I really do want to be good at something, therefore I am good at something. The end.”

5. Re-work by Jason Fried – This is another quick read. I loved this book because it points out where creatives fall in to the trap of thinking they need to have more money, or more followers, or better branding, or a nicer car in order to get going on something. You don’t need half the stuff you think you do in order to start a business. You just need to start.

4. 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferriss – Read the book or listen to some of the TED talk. These ideas are worth getting in your brain. Want to work less and live more? Duh, we all do. This book will help you figure out how you can do more of the living stuff and less of the stuff you don’t really like doing.

3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg  – This was a great book for me when I was dealing with guilt over raising kids and pursuing a career at the same time. If you are a woman struggling with being a anything but masculine in the working world read this book. You’re not bitchy, you’re confident. You’re not greedy, you’re just looking out for you’re family’s well being. This book helped me re-think a lot of the negative characteristics our society places on successful women. I’m not a bad mom because I work. I am a better mom for showing my kids that I value hard work, that’s it’s ok to feel good about your accomplishments, and that working hard means you get to play harder!

2. Daring Greatly - by Brené Brown – Brené. You. Are. A. Genius. If you can’t read her book at least listen to her TED talks. They will change your life. I promise. I listened to the TED talks and then I read the book. And then I made my book club read the book so that I could talk about the book even more. If you’re scared, if you’re wrestling with fear, if you have ever felt shame or guilt read this book. It’s not just a good book for creatives, it’s a good book for ANYONE. I think this book specifically helped me with my business by helping me work through some of my own fears and also realizing that a lot of clients I work with have their own fear that they are bringing to the table. It’s now part of my creative process to understand what some of their fears are, what negative thinking might be holding them back from taking big risks and daring greatly – and then helping them overcome that.

1. Breaking the time barrier  by Mike McDerment- ok this isn’t really a book. It’s a PDF that you can find here. It’s a quick read. It’s not over the top inspiring. It’s not going to make you feel like you can conquer the world. BUT this is HANDS DOWN the single most helpful thing I read while learning to operate a creative business. It’s so good and so valuable that I really, truly hesitated sharing it here. But here you go. Read it. After reading this you will value your time and your services twice as much as you do now – which will only make you more successful. More successful = more money. So you’re welcome, I basically just gave you a raise.

Books on my list to read next – Creative Confidence, Nicely Said, Growth Hacker Marketing and Girl Boss. Anyone want to start a book club? We could all read the same book in the same month and then discuss here?

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to everyone! I am excited for this year to begin! 2014 wasn’t a bad year, it wasn’t exactly the best year of my life either – looking back on it I would say it was a year that I learned a lot – a lot about myself, being a mom, being a wife, running a business… There was just a whole lot of learning going on for me. These last few months in particular I have struggled with being a mom and running a business at the same time. Some days I seriously considered just quitting… both! I had a few hard days in 2014 dealing with the whole balancing act. I’ve said it before on this here blog but I will say it again; there just isn’t a beautiful balanced equation where everyone and everything is happy and running smoothly all the time. Some weeks go by with out a hitch but there are weeks where we just try to keep all the balls in the air. This year taught me more patience than I honestly wanted to know. I learned how to focus a little more on the present. I also learned how to say NO to a hell of a lot of things that I can’t handle right now (i.e. toxic friendships, unnecessary responsibility, too many projects, guilt). I am excited to move forward in 2015 with a few of these lessons under my belt.

Last year I blogged about wanting to find peace in 2014. I struggled a lot with my faith in 2013 and 2014 was more of the same. I really wrestled with it. It was brutal and it brought me pretty low. But, I am happy to say that in the end I did find peace – a lot of it. I let go of a lot of things that I used to think were certain truths. My faith doesn’t really look anything like what it used to look like – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t strong or that I don’t have any. I don’t claim to be truly certain of anything anymore. I believe. I hope. I strive to have faith in something greater and bigger than myself – but I finally found peace when I completely accepted that no one really KNOWS anything for sure. We are all just struggling to be good and be happy. I have complete faith in love, in service to others, in forgiving yourself and others and in trying to do better the next day. I found peace in that.

This year is going to be a big year for us. We have a lot of change on the horizon – both for our family and for Jane Reaction. I am excited and scared and can’t wait to get going. Other than setting one concrete goal for our family (the amount we want to put away in to savings every month and the one specific thing we are saving for) I decided to leave this year a little more open. I want to feel happy. I want to feel like a good attentive mother. I want to work smarter and provide quality designs for the people I work with. So I am going to set little goals every month that will help me in those areas. I plan on checking back in on those feelings each month and reevaluating what I can do better . So….. here’s to 2015! To change, to happiness and to LOVE!

(Photo taken by my friend Vanessa over Thanksgiving break – I love this little family of mine looking out into our future!)

Holiday Cheese Board

cheese_board_janereactionMy go to party platter this year has been the cheese board. If you have any holiday parties coming up this week or next I strongly suggest throwing together a cheese board. It is so easy and fast – and your friends will love it and go crazy over it – especially when it is the only savory thing in a sea of cookies and candy.

I make my cheese board differently every single time. It’s just a fun little thing I like to throw together but there are a few things that I do the same every time. When shopping for my cheese board creation I always buy three different types of cheese. I grab my two favorites – white stilton with blueberries, and brie. So far they both have been a big hit and are completely gone by the end of the night. Then I rifle through the cheese at the store looking for an interesting or pretty looking cheese and I try something new. It’s fun for everyone to talk about their cheese preferences and try something new.

I always grab plain crackers or bread. I don’t get anything that will over power the flavors of cheese. I also just like to keep things simple- so plain crackers are the best.

I always try to incorporate something salty and something sweet. For the salty I run through the olive bar and collect a few different olives, cornichons, and maybe some garlic – the big green olives stuffed with blue cheese are always a show stopper! I usually grab some cured meats or different type of nuts. For the sweet I always (and this is an ALWAYS) include fig jam. It’s a must. I also highly recommend just slicing up a sweet red apple.

I arrange all of my goodies on one of my cutting boards. I put some of the small items in little bowls to create some visual interest and then I grab a few different knives for spreading and cutting. I stick them in the cheese or sink them into the fig jam and I’m done. I’ve taken a cheese board to three different parties this year so far and it’s been a hit every time. What’s your go to party platter?

 

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Best December Ever

henry_donaldHEEEYY!! Are you having the BEST DECEMBER EVER? We are!

So sad story first – We were planning on going to San Diego for Christmas – we were so excited! Conor hasn’t spent a Christmas at home in over 6 years! But, right before we were about to buy our plane tickets Conor’s boss told him he would be needed here. (His wife is due with their first child Dec, 26th and their team is very busy right now, so Conor really is needed here.) We were soooo sad at first, but then we remembered we are adults and adults have to do things they don’t want to do sometimes – and we decided to just be thankful that we both have jobs in the first place! We also decided that all of this responsible “thankful” adult stuff shouldn’t stop us from making Christmas as magical as possible for the people we love! Especially our little ones! That really is the best part of Christmas anyway – seeing your little kid’s eyes light up when you tell them that Santa is going to come and bring something special just for them.

So in order to really get in to the holidays we put together a fun little challenge for our family to have the BEST DECEMBER EVER! You can follow along and participate on Instagram. To participate just commit to having the BEST DECEMBER EVER and plan some outragiously fun or unusual activities for your family. The activities can be big or small… they can be totally indulgent or completely selfless and heartfelt. The point is to make some magic! And just in case you need some help we assigned each day in December a little activity that we thought everyone could enjoy and/or participate in (below). It’s ok if you can’t do them all but every time you are able to make some magic happen this December take a picture and post it to Instagram. Use the hashtag #bestdecemberever2014 – We seriously cannot wait to see what everyone does to make the magic happen this year!

Henry’s birthday is December 1st so we decided to have a little birthday party for him with cousins while we were home for Thanksgiving. After deciding we were going to have the BEST DECEMBER EVER we talked about maybe going to Sea World or Lego Land for his birthday on the 1st… but then we thought, why not just go all the way to Aneheim and go the happiest place on earth?! It is the BEST DECEMBER EVER after all! Henry is really obsessed with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck so we knew he would have a great time! A friend that works at the park was able to get us in to both Disneyland and California Adventures for free so we really just had to do it! My favorite part of the whole day was lining Henry and Wayne up along the parade path in their strollers. They had their Mickey Ears on, huge corn dogs in their hands, lollipops as big as their heads, flashing Mickey light Sabers and prizes that Conor won for each of them at a fishing game. They clapped and cheered as each character went by and bopped to the music. Sitting in between the two of them my eyes welled up with tears. This would be a moment that I would remember forever. Giving them a magical experience with fun and laughter is what Christmas is all about for me. So if you are ready to have a magical December with us follow along below and start making magic for the ones you love!

*Note – this post is going up a few days late because… well… we were too busy having the BEST DECEMBER EVER! So just start today and commit to having the most magical time with your family possible no matter what!

1 – Kick Off! Go somewhere special, tell everyone with you that you love them and want to have the BEST DECEMBER EVER with them!

2 – Hot Chocolate – Make some special hot chocolate or go somewhere new and get a hot cup of the good stuff. And if you’re me, it will probably be frozen hot chocolate because I LOVE that stuff!

3 – Favorite Christmas Movie – One of my favorite way’s to get into the holiday season is to watch one of my favorite Christmas Movies, watching an old favorite brings back memories from years past. We love watching The Holiday, Love Actually, The Family Man, Home Alone and so many others!

4 – Serve Others – find a random act of kindness that you can do for someone else. There is no greater way to create holiday cheer!

5 – Decorate – even if you already have all of the decorations up there is always something more you can add! Or maybe you don’t really get into decorations? Maybe this is a good year to simply hang some Mistel Toe! ;)

6 – Secret Santa – go to the mall and participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange, or find someone close to you that might need a little extra help this year with Christmas shopping. If you are that family that has a really tight budget this year think of something simple and inexpensive you can help your kids make for their friends so they have something to give.

7 – Classic Christmas Movie – It’s always fun to watch one of the classics – A Christmas Story is always our go to Christmas classic!

8 – Ginger Bread Houses – My mom used to get a bunch of candy from the bins and we would put together little candy houses using graham crackers and icing – somehow it got turned into a competition and we would vote on the best house. Everyone always won! haha. With our little family the last couple of years it has just been a lot easier to buy a kit and assemble it with the kids.

9 – Send Mail – Get those gifts in the mail! Address your christmas cards! Sit down and get it done!

10 – Drop Off a Meal – take a meal to your neighbor, or to that friend that needs some extra help this year. Take something that is easy to freeze and eat later in case they aren’t expecting you tonight.

11 – Shop! – Maybe you need to get some last minute gifts or maybe you need to get started on your Christmas shopping. OR MAYBE you need to find something for that one person that is really hard to shop for! Whatever the case, find the perfect gift today.

12 – Date – Set up a date! Maybe it’s a date with your girlfriends, or maybe it’s a hot night out with your special someone. Get dressed up, make some reservations and go out on a date!

13 – Decorate Cookies – make some Christmas cookies and decorate them. If you have little ones let them do as much of it as they possibly can. Encourage them to be creative and make a mess!

14 – Build a Fort – every year we love to build a fort in our living room, string some lights through it and watch a movie or eat a treat in it. It’s even better if you can sleep in it all night!

15 – Play List – make a christmas play list. Turn up the volume. Put it on repeat. You’re doing great!

16 – Visit Santa – take your kids to sit on Santa’s lap. Or just write Santa a letter.

17 – Go See Lights! – I love looking at lights. It’s always been a favorite holiday tradition for me. When I lived in Hawaii I used to ride my bike around my neighborhood in the evening with salty hair and sandy feet and look at all of the lights and marvel at the fact that it was December and I was in a swim suit. Recently Conor and I have been putting the kid(s) in the backseat of the car and driving to the nicest neighborhoods in Dallas to see the their over the top light displays. Take a horse and carriage ride, ride your bike, drive your car, go for a walk, just go enjoy the festive decorations.

18 – Share a Meal – Who doesn’t love a good meal with close friends or family? Plan a small gathering at your home or a special restaurant and share an intamate meal with your loved ones.

19 – Build a Snowman – build a snowman, or a snow fort… or if you live somewhere where there is no snow improvise! Get creative!

20 – Go Caroling – Personally, I hate caroling! I always feel awkward singing at someone else while they stare at me and try to wrap their mind around how they suddenly got themselves in to this terrible predicament. We prefer to just leave treats, ring the doorbell and run. But whatever your caroling style is – own it. There’s nothing scarier than seeing crazy fear in the eyes a stranger singing at you.

21 – Wrap Gifts – Some of us like to hand stamp our own paper and felt our own yarn.. and some of us just like to throw it in a bag with some tissue paper over it… either way is fine. Just wrap your gifts and make them look special!

22 – Go Ice Skating – if you live somewhere warm you might have to improvise, I know here in Dallas they have a faux ice rink in Klyde Warren park where you can rent special skates and go for a twirl.

23 – Give an Ornament – give a small ornament to someone you love. Every year my mom would buy me and my sister an ornament. Something that reflected what we were interested in that year. One year I got a blender, one year I got a basketball, one year I got a sparkly pickle (don’t ask)… It’s always fun to go back through all 29 ornaments and remember what it meant to me that year.

24 – Cookies for Santa – Leave some cookies for the big guy. Leave some carrots for his raindeer.

25 – Celebrate Love – Whether you are Christian or not try to do something with your family to help you remember why you are celebrating this holiday. For us it is all about love, family and gratitude.

26 – PLAY – the day after Christmas is usually a family play day for us. We play with our new toys, we go to the park, we eat left overs and we just enjoy spending more time as a family.

27 – Experience Winter – Get COLD! Go find some snow somewhere, visit an ice castle or organize a polar bear swim (AKA jump in a freezing body of water for no good reason!)

28 – Service – don’t let the good deeds end just because Christmas has come and gone. Lend a hand, help someone in need. Do something anonomously for someone else.

29 – Cross it off! – You know that thing you’ve been meaning to do all year? You have 3 more days to do it, including today… so go do it! Right now!

30 – Make a Goal – write down one goal for the new year!

31 – Kiss at Midnight – Conor and I try to go out every year on New Years Eve. With small kids and no family around it is incredibly hard to find a baby sitter that is willing to watch our kids that night. Not sure how we are going to do it this year but I wouldn’t be suprised if we got all dressed up just to eat dinner in our bed while trying to be extremely quiet so as to not wake the babies. We will probably kiss at midnight just before we drift off to sleep – but that all sounds pretty perfect to me.

Creative Friends – Forming A Tribe

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This weekend I drove down to Austin to spend the night with some graphic design girlfriends. I met Chelsea and Becky at Designer Vaca a few years ago and have been friends with them ever since we connected in Palm Springs. Lately, I have been feeling really restless… I want to move and shake and go crazy. I want to start new projects and add elements to my business and just build something with my hands. But it is hard to do all of that when you work from home and don’t see a lot of other people on the daily. It’s also nice to get away from the kids every once in a while and have adult time.

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I asked Chelsea and Becky a few weeks ago if they would want to get together and talk about all of their ideas, bounce hard situations with clients off of each other and get advice about how to move forward, come up with ideas to collaborate… etc. They were totally excited so I drove down just as soon as I could manage some time away from my kids. The weekend was exactly what I was hoping for!

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We kept our agenda really really simple. Chelsea has a beautiful house (see her full house tour over on TheEveryGirl) and is an excellent host. We ate a small lunch at her house, went shopping at Spartan, and just hung out. That afternoon we went into her office with our computers and sketch books and talked over some of our ideas and current projects. We gave each other book recommendations and online resources to check out and shared advice about managing clients.

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That night we drove around Austin being silly, twerking in parking lots and climbing abandon warehouse walls. It felt good to just get out and be a little immature for a change. We continued the conversation about work but also got more personal and talked about our real life challenges and celebrations. We went to a few different restaurants but Easy Tiger was my favorite! If you are in Austin, or going there soon, you have to try it. They make pretzels and sausages and lots of other interesting yummy things. The atmosphere is casual and there is a large outside dining area by the water that has a big ping pong table for people to play and have a good time. I really liked it!

IMG_7674 As I drove back to Dallas I felt so good about the time I spent with these amazing girls. I look up to both of them for their creative bold personalities. I can’t wait to spend more time with them! I am toying with the idea of putting together some kind of casual creative get together for women in Texas. Just throwing that idea out there in case there are a lot of people out there that might be interested? Let me know! I think it would be really fun to just get together for a day and share ideas and resources and network with other creative professionals – designers, photographers, stylists… Nothing too formal – not a workshop and not a conference – just women getting together to make friends and share insight into their creative process and running a business. Who’s in?

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