I had a specific mission on my mind when I first came to New York City to pursue my passion for writing and performance. I wanted to ultimately work with the best of the best, hone my craft, develop my own persona and technique and honor the gifts I was given that gave me the ability to thrive in the arts. I also wanted to live happily, in the style I could call my own, supported with a beautiful place to call home, a healthy lifestyle and all the necessities I needed to look, feel and perform at my best, at all times. And then, ultimately, I wanted to give back, as much as I possibly could.
Does this sound familiar to you? Did you have similar desires for your own life, and felt it was not too much expect?
I didn’t know how exactly I was going to get there at that time, but I knew I was going to get there. Period. Because even though many people I loved and admired expressed concern for me moving to New York to work in the arts, afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it financially, I simply didn’t see a big difference between what I set out to do and what a doctor, lawyer, or business owner set out to do. (My mother always thought I’d make an excellent litigator, and my uncle thought I would make a great doctor, so these two fields were always in the back of my mind). I was strong, willing and capable, and quite frankly knew that I knew how to succeed in whatever I put my mind to.
So I looked at the one thing all the successful artists, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs I personally admired had in common. The people I wanted to emanate most in each of these fields for the way in which they lead their lives, for the ways they helped others and for the ways they gave back, were the ones who ran their own businesses, well. They weren’t the ones who ran businesses that were struggling, or the ones who devoted their lives to working for others (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with working for others, as long as you feel truly fulfilled doing so). They were the ones who took it upon themselves to acquire the skills they needed to map out a plan for their lives that not only worked like gangbusters, but also gave them the freedom and independence to practice their craft in the exact ways they wanted.
The reason they were able to achieve that level of independence was because they crafted their businesses with the same devotion, care and commitment as they did for the work they loved. The result was they never had to worry about whether they were going to have enough, ever again.
The moment I started to do what they did, I went from bringing in less than $45,000 to six figures in less than 10 months, and my life began to evolve in ways that I had always imagined it would.
Now, at the age of 26, I always had a deeper mission in mind for the work I was creating. It wasn’t enough for me to create the work alone, without extending it into the areas of life that meant the most to me. I partnered with charities that I felt passionately about supporting, including RAINN: Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network and V-Day. I lead campaigns, put on shows and lead youth programs to extend my skills to those who I wanted to help support. I even went so far as to create my first business, Love And Water Designs, for artists to be able to give back to the charities of their choice.
But things really hit home one day after I completed my campaign for RAINN, raising the most out of their Rainnmakers program by sharing my own sexual assault story with hundreds of people online. I got a letter in the mail from a college student saying that she had been sexually assaulted on her campus, but wasn’t sure how to talk about it or who to tell because she was so embarrassed. She said that reading my story online gave her the courage to confront her offender and she was now supported by the right people and felt stronger, and empowered.
I knew in that moment that I had chosen the right path, and that helping others would always be my driving factor behind all my work, no matter what I found myself doing.
I knew this was the ONE KEY factor that would keep my art and my business alive for as long as I was, because I would NEVER grow tired of running a business for my art that had a bigger mission in mind.
I’m sharing this with you today- and repeating my story- to reiterate that if I can do this you can do it too, by acquiring a few simple, essential tools to use to build your business, your way. But I also want to use it to help illustrate that when you are able to identify your WHY- the DEEP WHY under all of what you are creating, you will never cease to stay MOTIVATED to build your business for yourself and the work you love.
I could tell more of my own story here, but I’d like to let Michael Jr. Comedy share his. He calls it his Punchline, and it’s one of the best punchlines I’ve ever heard.
Watch this video to see living proof of how creating your own thriving business with your art can help you do the most important kind of work you could ever imagine. I promise, it’s worth every second of your time!
I now invite you to share your personal PUNCHLINE, and the most moving moment you’ve had when giving back in the comments below. Share so we can all continue to inspire each other to build our lives through our businesses and art, together! You can do it! I can do it! We can do this, and make HUGE differences, together.