Episode 155

Keeping Perspective with Alexandra Franzen

December 19, 2017

Alexandra Franzen joins us on Being Boss to talk about staying motivated as a creative when you’re feeling deflated, experimenting with which online platforms work for you and your business, and learning from criticism and disappointment.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"Even if it is 7pm, 10pm, 11:30pm, today is not over yet. It's always possible to end the day on a positive note."
- Alexandra Franzen

Discussed in this Episode

  • Alexandra's motto: "Today is not over yet."
  • How to stay motivated when you're feeling deflated
  • Getting to the point where you feel secure in your own business
  • Deciding to quit social media
  • Sharing the difficult, not-so-positive things with your audience
  • Learning from criticism


More from Alexandra Franzen

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:01
Hello and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:03
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Alexandra Franzen 0:07
And I'm Kathleen Shannon. I'm Alexandra Franzen and I'm being class.

Emily Thompson 0:17
Today we're talking about staying motivated and dealing with disappointment with Alexandra Franzen. As always you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:30
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Emily Thompson 1:23
Alexandra Franzen is a writer based in Portland, Oregon, and Kathleen and I have been a fan of her work for years. She just released her latest book, you're going to survive a collection of true stories about adversity, rejection, and discouragement. And we're excited to talk to her about that her favorite motto, and more.

Kathleen Shannon 1:47
Alright, I'm going to call you Alex. In my mind, I'm always like Alexandra Franzen, you're all one that's your name, right? It's all of it. You get the first and last name are that big of a deal. I mean, we are so excited to have you on the show.

Alexandra Franzen 2:02
I'm so excited to be here. I've I've like kind of peeked at you guys for a long time too. And you've interviewed so many people that I really admire. And I'm just so honored to do this with you. It's so fun.

Kathleen Shannon 2:15
Well, let's be again. So you've got a motto. Tell us what that is. Today is not over yet. Is my mind. Does that mean? Tell us a little bit more about that? Where did it come from? Oh, how can we embrace it? Yeah, okay. So

Alexandra Franzen 2:34
I feel like today is not over yet. is kind of it's my motto. It's my mantra. It's also like the voice in my head. Especially when I'm having like a really discouraging difficult day. I feel like it's been a voice in my head at various points in my life. All the way going back to. I mean, if we want to go way back, like when I was a teenager, you know, dealing with really serious depression and anorexia and obsessive compulsive disorder. I mean, there were times when I felt like, I'm never going to feel better. You know what I really felt like, this is it. This is my life. This is how I feel this is my brain chemistry. And yet, there was this little voice that kind of said, This isn't the end of your story. You know, today is not over yet. There's still time to turn things around. And it's also a voice that comes into my head even today. A lot of the times you know I have a story that I shared on my blog A long time ago, was a day when I was just having kind of just a generic crummy lazy day where I didn't really get anything done. And I was kind of mad at myself and I was just kind of slumping around in my pajamas. Like, you know, having a an entrepreneur work at home, but not really do any work sort of day. And it was the very end of the day. And I remember I was about to like order a pizza and just kind of be like whatever I guess today was pointless. And I heard that voice in my head. Just saying, hold on, you know, today is not over yet. And it was relentless. Like it literally sounded like someone was talking to me. I sound like an insane person, right? And I was like, You know what, that's fucking true. Today is not over yet. So I went to a yoga class and I called my mom and I ended up feeling so inspired. And I went home and I wrote a blog post and I published it and like I the whole day turned around, simply because I decided to listen to that voice and because I really believe you know, even if it is 7pm 10pm 11:30pm at night, today is not over yet. And it's always possible to end the day on a positive note or the end of the day. Feeling like well, if nothing else, at least I achieved this. And it's a it's a great motto because it's applicable literally Every minute of the day,

Unknown Speaker 5:02
even if it's 1159.

Kathleen Shannon 5:04
I know so like something that you're speaking to, as far as I know, being depressed or injured, or whatever it might be, I have found that the problem with being present is like whenever your present moment is feeling super shitty, and you feel like it's going to be this way forever. And I've had some people who are much wiser, are much more Zen than I am say, Well, if you really look at your present moment, like there's really nothing wrong, and I get it, I get it. But it's easy to get so hijacked by a bad mood. But I also love how you speak to just those lazy kind of uninspired days where it's not something debilitating, that is keeping you from getting out of bed, like it's just the schlepping around, you can't find your focus, you can't manage to like, I don't know, open up the blank file to start typing or whatever it is, and just reminding yourself that the day isn't over.

Emily Thompson 6:00
Yeah, well, what I really love about this is that it's it's just like those little baby steps. It's not even, you know, finishing the thing, or, or ending a project or anything. It's just like that one little step that you can take. And I think that's where so many creatives especially get really hung up, or entrepreneurs and this idea of building a business, where, you know, we look at the end goal and think, like, I'm not going to get that done today. But if you just take those little bitty steps every single day you start you know, slowly stepping towards that like end goal that you envision for yourself. So that is a great motto. I think being bossier officially loves it.

Kathleen Shannon 6:42
I know this is something I've admired about you for so long, Emily and I were just saying before we got on the call that we've probably been forwarding each other your emails for the past decade like you embody what it means to do the work to show up. I think that you have been so inspiring to me personally, because I can see you being a working creative. There's no like magic silver bullet, there's no grandiose promises, I think that the message behind everything that you write and do is like just one step at a time. So beyond your motto, I'm really curious if you have any other tactics that you can share for staying motivated whenever you're either feeling blocked, or even whenever really difficult things happen. Like I know, for example, because I've been following you for so long, that one year you broke your ankle, was it your ankle, your leg, my leg, broke something, and it was like a bummer. And you were really honest and vulnerable about that bummer of breaking your leg. But I know that so many of our listeners are going through other transitions or life phases, or injuries or chronic illnesses, or having babies or quitting their jobs, like just these big things that happen that can sometimes take a notch out of your motivation or your energy for getting stuff done. So do you have any, like ideas or tactics around that stuff?

Alexandra Franzen 8:08
Yeah, so something that I do whenever I'm beginning a new project, particularly a personal project, where you know, like a book that I want to write, or a novel, or some, you know, an art project, essentially, that I want to create. I always start by writing down three reasons why I really want to finish this. And they can be any kinds of reasons. You know, they can be emotional reasons. They can be spiritual reasons. They can be financial reasons. But I write down three reasons that are like honest for me, and I literally physically write them down or type them down. Sometimes I print it out. And when I start to lose momentum, or when I start to feel stuck, or feel like what's the point or this is too hard, or taking too long? No, no, no, no, no, I will literally read back my three reasons why. And it usually kind of it like throws a little gasoline back on the fire to get me through the rest of that work day. And it's something I have my clients do when they're working on projects, especially big projects, like a book or you know, launching a whole new website or something like that, because everyone gets deflated and everyone has crummy days. And if you can return back to three reasons or five reasons. It's very powerful, because we forget those reasons when we're like knee deep in it. I would also say though, like sometimes when we're going through really really unusually hard stuff, like when I broke my leg, I mean, granted, all things considered, it was it was something that I healed from and it was fine and it wasn't you know, life threatening by any means. But, you know, I had to get surgery I was off my leg for two or three months, I had to do physical therapy. I was on painkillers. For a while, which like, totally wrecked my mental health for a moment. And I knew in that time, I needed to just totally strip everything off my calendar, and like, bring things back to basics, and not put such intense demands on myself creatively. And in terms of my business, like I literally emailed all my clients, and I was like, I've had an awful injury. I don't know how long it's going to take before I feel back to normal, please be patient with me, I'm probably going to not check my email for at least a week, and I just kind of like, you know, manage people's expectations and my own. Because when we're going through something really hard, we're not performing at peak capacity, you know, so we have to be gentle with ourselves. That was a very roundabout answer. No, I

Kathleen Shannon 10:50
love it. I think that the thing though, whenever you had broken your ankle, I think around the same time I twisted my ankle, and there is something about I think I remember at the time, I hate being so stalkery about all of your content. And maybe you had just started running or rock climbing or like some sort of new endeavor that you're super stoked about. Yeah, I related to it, because then you were immediately setback. And I think a lot of other creative entrepreneurs can relate to this. Because we get so excited about the idea. We get so excited about starting the new thing. And then the first time there's like a hitch, or a disappointment or a failure, we kind of just want to give up. Yeah. So I'm curious to hear what your mindset like how you dealt with just even the disappointment of it. Or if you've dealt with any disappointments like that, even in your own business where things don't go like they should or you're so excited about something and nobody else's.

Alexandra Franzen 11:49
Yes. So my mom is a huge source of inspiration to me. She's an extremely, go get it kind of woman and she gets things done. She was an opera singer, then she transitioned into being a fundraiser and a theatre director, she raised millions of dollars with no previous fundraising experience, to build a new theater in Los Angeles. And throughout that experience, there were so many moments that were so hard, you know, issues with the architectural design neighbors complaining about the construction noise, I mean, just you name it, like all kinds of challenges. And I asked her once, like, how like, how did you how did you do this 17 year project, and keep marching towards your vision, and not get discouraged and not give up when there was just innumerable opportunities to give up. And what she told me was, every time there was a setback, she viewed it as an opportunity to check in with herself and go, how much do I really care about this project? Like it was sort of an opportunity to take stock and go, does this really matter? Do I believe in this? Do I believe that Los Angeles needs a new Performing Arts space? And each time she checked in? And each time the answer was yes. And that was her way of just kind of forging ahead through the drama. And I think that's a really valuable exercise for any project, you know, because sometimes we begin a project and we're all excited. And then later, we realize I don't want to be doing this. And that's okay. You know, if that's truly the answer, but sometimes it's not sometimes the answer is no, I do believe in this. I do want to do it. This is just a moment of distress, and I need to get through this. So yeah, checking in the viewing setbacks as a chance to go How much do I really care? What are my reasons? Why do those reasons still apply? At this stage?

Emily Thompson 13:49
I love this. I love this process of bringing yourself out of whatever muck you're currently in back to almost that like better state of mind that you were in when you started something. Yeah, reasons and how, how bringing yourself out of that changes every perspective you have in that moment, which is something like I had one of these days yesterday for short guys. And I don't have these very often, but it was just like, perfect storm of scenarios. And I had a day where I did not say that today is not over. I said today is over and I went to bed because I'm the kind of person where I need to go to sleep. Like if I'm having one of those days, I need a nap or I'm going to bed at like 730 or whatever it may be. But before I went to bed, so I usually get out a journal I love that you make your clients write down their three reasons why I didn't just like blindly go at journaling about things but I like to pull out my journal and I always sort of write about, write about wanting to do projects or why I do them and what I hope for them and I do find that going back in my journals and I know there are some people who never go back to their journals. I think that's fascinating and amazing, I'm not one of those people, going back and reading those also really helps me and I never identified it and till just now as a tactic for pulling yourself out of your current muck, and going back to that state of mind that you ran whenever you were excited about something, and whenever something was meaningful and had purpose, and whenever, you know, the weather and an email, and whatever crazy thing is happening, isn't bringing you down. I mean, that's such a powerful, and super applicable and easy tactic for continuing forward. Even if you're having a bad day or a bad week, or a bad month, or quarter, or whatever it may be. It's these little things like that is what keeps us going forward, when we're doing big, powerful things, which I think we all are here doing.

Alexandra Franzen 15:51
So I have a client who has a dream of starting a podcast, and she feels really intimidated. She's never done anything like it before her background is working in finance, you know, she's never attempted a major creative project. And we had a conversation. And I asked her, why do you want to do this? You know, you you've done many things in your career, you already have a career, you know, why? Why a podcast and why this podcast because she had a very particular subject matter in mind. And she got so excited. And she told me, you know, well, I want to do it because of this. And I, you know, this is really important to me. And I think people need to think about this. And I really want to share my perspective on this. And she went on and on and on and on and on. She didn't know this, but I was like typing notes while she was talking. And about a couple weeks later, I emailed her because she had kind of gotten a little stuck in the process. And I literally just emailed her back exactly what she had told me, I want to do this podcast, because Reason number 12345. And she read it and she literally said, Did I say that? Like she didn't remember her excitement from a few weeks ago, because she was in a different place now. So all of this is to say an interesting exercise for everyone listening might be when you're feeling that incredible enthusiasm about a project and you write down all the reasons why you want to do it, write it down, keep a copy for yourself, maybe email a copy to your best friend, and tell them, hey, email this back to me in like three weeks, because I'll probably have forgotten and I'll really need to remember and that would be great.

Unknown Speaker 17:26
You can have them do that for you.

Kathleen Shannon 17:28
I like an entrepreneurial time capsule.

Alexandra Franzen 17:31
Yeah, there's that amazing website, there's a website called future me where you can go future me.org I think it's called you can type in an email, any kind of message you want, you can schedule when it will be sent back to you. So you could literally put your reasons why you're excited about your project and future me schedule it to come back to you in a month when no doubt, you'll be feeling much more depressed. And it will come into your inbox. And you'll be like, Oh my gosh, I totally forgot that I even scheduled this and what a delight to see that. Yeah, I

Kathleen Shannon 18:03
think just normalizing the fact that not all of us feel motivated or that we all have these hiccups is totally standard. And it's kind of par for the course. And it should be expected. And one of the things that Emily and I talk about a lot is that you don't have to necessarily be motivated to show up. And so I love the tactic of finding motivation by keeping a record or sending yourself a future email, or even just writing down those reasons why, like you suggested, but Alex, I'm curious specifically, what kinds of habits and routines you rely on when you're not feeling motivated? Are there any sort of? I don't know. Yeah, routines that you can just go into autopilot on to get the work done.

Alexandra Franzen 18:50
So the way that my my work looks right now is that I have I work with clients. So clients hire me to do writing and editing projects, and sometimes consulting and sometimes coaching but mostly writing. So that's deadline oriented, right? Like they pay me money to deliver a service, which is essentially a piece of written content. So for me, the motivation is like, I got to pay my bills, right. So that for in terms of working with clients, and in terms of doing that type of writing, the motivation is always there, right? Because it's this is my livelihood. This is how I live, it's my job. When it comes to like personal projects, when it comes to my newsletter when it comes to poetry when it comes to writing a novel when it comes to things that really don't have an immediate gratification of money. It's much trickier, for sure. And I think some things that helped me to stay motivated are for sure having, you know, a clear set of reasons why I'm even bothering to do it. But also, I mean, this sounds so kind of corny and cliche, but just Like the love of it, you know, I love doing my newsletter. To me that feels like a vacation, it feels like a treat. I love working on a novel like also that feels like a vacation because it's so different from, you know, the other types of writing that I'm hired to do. So the love of it. And also, I try very hard, at least a few times a year to schedule like a working vacation for myself, where I'm getting away from my home office, and I'm going to a hotel, even if it's in my own city, or I'm going to an Airbnb and I have at least just a couple days to press pause on everything else that's going on in my brain, and it's on my plate and just like spend some tender precious time with a project that's just for me. And I've done that now I did a couple I did one of those earlier this year, I did one just a few months ago, those little dates with myself are absolutely crucial. And it really like fills my my well and makes me feel really excited to work on all the things that I want to work on. Cool workstation does wonders.

Emily Thompson 21:10
Love that. And I want to point out that these are just small little shifts that you've made and how it is that you do work that are filled with intention that always brings you back to enjoying the work that you do. So that it's never about finding motivation or lacking motivation. It's about doing work that you love doing. And I think that's, I think that's really important to note.

Alexandra Franzen 21:34
Yeah, yeah, I would say to, you know, with the way that my business is structured, there are certain services that I offer that, you know, I've been doing this now eight years, like, I know, I will have enough clients I built up to that point where it's not a struggle to find clients anymore the way it was in the first, you know, four years of running my business. So it's, it's nice to get to a point as a working creative, where you've kind of got certain things that are I mean, nothing's ever a sure thing. But you've got certain types of income that you can rely on, which then allows you to almost like bankroll your passion projects, and have a sense of balance between the two. Does that make sense?

Kathleen Shannon 22:19
Yes, I think it's so cool. Whenever you're working for yourself starts to feel almost like that day job security feeling. Yeah. Like and even start thinking of your writing projects, your clients as your day job. And then you've got your own little side hustles, or passion projects that you can work on. On the side. Well, I also Oh, go ahead. Yeah,

Alexandra Franzen 22:42
I was just gonna say I think it takes the like, the stress and the anxiety down. Because if you've got, you know, a couple of clients that have you on retainer, and you're working with them every month, and the income is relatively steady, and it, it sort of feels like a wonderful day job that you love. Then if you decide to write a book, or you decide to create a class or you decide to host an event or whatever, you can do it with a sense of joy. And you're not like depending on that to be a smash success, or else you won't be able to pay your rent. So you can you can approach that creative project with a sense of like, This is so fun. Let's see what happens rather than like, Oh, my God does the work. So it's it makes the creative process that much more fun and pleasurable because you're not gripping so tightly, you know, you're not so attached to a specific outcome.

Kathleen Shannon 23:34
And have you found that whenever you're not gripping so tight that those are the most successful projects? Always. Of course, it's so annoying, but that's how it works. Why does it work that way? Right? And

Emily Thompson 23:44
about how long would you say it took for you in your, in your business or work to find that place? Because I think we're all there. And I'm curious for anyone listening who's like, when is this going to happen for me about when did it start happening for you?

Alexandra Franzen 24:01
It's a good question. Um, I remember the very first year that I was self employed. It was I think I quit my day, my my job job, which was in public radio, April 1 2010, so almost eight years ago, and seven and a half ish, eight. And that first year of being self employed, I had no idea what I was doing. Like, I literally was like, I want to be a freelance writer. I want to be self employed. I know for sure I don't want to work in a cubicle. That's all I know. Like, maybe I'll do journalism. Again. Maybe I'll do write for magazines. Maybe y'all edit people's resumes, like I was open to doing whatever I just didn't want to work in a cubicle. That's that literally was my business plan, like just no cubicle. So I just kind of threw myself out there and it was a lot of trial and error and it was really hard and there was total Financial panic at at times, because I had made the great decision of buying a house a few months before I quit my job real smart. So there was a lot of stress and strain. But I also I remember telling myself when I quit my job, I'm going to give myself one year, and I had a tiny bit of money saved up. And I just said, Look, I'm going to really, really, really try to make this work as a self employed writer, I'm going to give it one year, I'm going to give it my best shot. And at the end of one year, if I'm miserable, if I'm bankrupt, if everything's falling apart, I can always get another job, I can always go back and work in radio, I can become a bartender, like, I can always get another job, I believe that. So knowing that I sort of had a year, it felt good in a way, it almost felt like a security blanket, because I was like, I gave myself a container, I guess, to really try, but also with a timeframe attached so that it was like okay, well, in a year, I'm going to evaluate and see where I'm at. By the end of that first year, even though it had been incredibly hard. And a lot of hustle, I remember I actually earned as much or maybe even a little bit more as my previous salary, being full time employed, which granted in public radio was very, very small. But I remember being like, wow, like, I made the same amount that I did in my previous job. And I did it my own way. And that was a big chip of confidence for me, that allowed me to march forward into the year 234. And feel like, you know, I think I can really do this. I would say it took about three, four years before I was at a point where I was like, you know, clients were coming to me, rather than me having to search search search, try to line up my next gig. So it took a while. But it didn't take forever. You know, and I think sometimes we we do give up way too quickly. Oftentimes, I think when it comes to certain types of endeavors, including starting a business,

Emily Thompson 27:12
agreed and agree that I was thinking back on mine too. And Kathleen, I'd love to hear yours as well. I think for me three to four years into my business is also where I found that place where I wasn't I don't want to say coasting because they don't want it to sound flippant by any means. But I was coasting enough that I could detach myself from the the singular tasks that were getting me getting me paid and focus on some other things. While those things were still paying the bills. So Kathleen, do you remember the

Kathleen Shannon 27:43
same three to four years, and that's probably around the time that I felt secure enough to start side projects like this. Again, without a tight grip on it, and it's done really well for us. And now we're kind of in that same trajectory. With this project of now going into, we're about to start our third year. Wow, boss. And so really just seeing that happen again, we're gonna start our

Emily Thompson 28:09
fourth year.

Kathleen Shannon 28:12
Wow, fourth, and time starts to go by faster as you go. I've learned. So I'm curious to hear though, you know, maybe, especially from you, Alex, since you're our guest of honor today. I'm curious to hear after that hustle of like, okay, getting the clients getting paid, paying the bills, what has been your biggest challenge, maybe in the past four years. So once you get to that point where clients are coming to you, what has been challenging about business after that?

Alexandra Franzen 28:44
Hmm, well, I would say, I'm not I can't really pinpoint exactly on the calendar when it happened. But there was a tipping point as there is for many people who are self employed, where I went from, you know, as I mentioned, worrying and hustling and trying to line up my next paying gig, to suddenly having clients come to me to then having a waitlist of three months, six months, nine months, a year. And then eventually getting to a point where I was like, I am spending all my time working on client related projects. Because there's so many of them, and they're fun, and they're great. And the money is instant. And it's it's delightful. But is this my calling, you know, is this why I was born? was I born to write copy for companies for their websites? Like? I don't think so. I think that's part of my body of work. But that's not the totality of it. So then the challenge became, how do I kind of carve out it's kind of like we were talking about earlier? How do I go Carve out space for me as an artist. And that sounds like very grandiose, but like, when do I get to write my novel? When do I get to write poetry? When do I get to take a dance class? You know, there? It's so easy, I think, especially after going through a few years of anxiety, it's so easy to just be like, yes, yes, yes. And just load your plate with so much client related work or so much, you know, that type of work, and then realize there's nothing left, there's nothing left for you. So really, the challenge for me, which is ongoing, to this day, has been planning my month, my quarter my year, as mindfully as possible, and making sure that I'm scheduling time for my body, from my mental health, from my personal art projects, for my boyfriend, for my friends, for all of the things that are not client related writing projects, and really like literally scheduling them, like scheduling them on my calendar, just as I might schedule a Skype call, you know, with a client and making a space for it. And finding balance, again, has been the challenge.

Emily Thompson 31:09
Yeah, when you find yourself in that place, where you are making yourself as important as you do the people you work for, you find some good time and to really enjoy yourself and realize that you're working to live and not living to work.

Alexandra Franzen 31:23
Yeah, I'm excited. I'm not quite there yet. I'm still working on it. But I every year, it gets a little better.

Kathleen Shannon 31:31
I do feel though, like you have a little bit of a badass edge where you're like, Okay, I'm gonna get on Instagram, nevermind peace. Like, I feel like you kind of have this do what you want, vibe going on. And maybe, maybe, you know, Instagram is the thing that goes because you're so busy doing the work. So I'd love to just hear a little bit more, maybe even specifically about that experience and how you quote unquote, protect your energy, whenever it comes to things that are demanding of your time or demanding of your energy or demanding of your resources that you decide aren't quite yours. Or, you know, these systems that even as creative entrepreneurs, I mean, we talk about this a lot going from the day job to working for yourself, or, you know, working for someone else to working for yourself that you might be still following these old rules. But I think even as creative entrepreneurs, we're following each other's rules that we're just making up as we go. And we're like, oh, well, she did it this way. So I guess I need to do it that way too. But you I feel like you're like kind of have this like really cool autonomy, where you're making your choices. So I would just love to hear a little bit more about your experience with some of the rules, or things that you've tried and what you've rejected and figuring out what works and what doesn't for you.

Alexandra Franzen 32:53
Yeah, well, let's talk about social media, because that's a big, all right, but let's get into it. So I remember, just before I quit my job, my cubicle job, I hired my very, very first career coach, which was hands down one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn't even know being a career coach was a job. And I think I googled, like help I hate my job. And somehow I found myself on your coaching website. Long story short, my coach was amazing, and really helped me to like, kind of sort of find the courage to make this big leap. One thing that she highly recommended though, was she was like, you got to get a website together. And you got to get on social media, you know, you got to promote yourself as a as a freelance writer. And I was like, Okay, I didn't have any social media accounts at that time. This was about eight years ago or so. But I was like, Alright, I'll give it a shot. So I got on Twitter, and I got on Pinterest, and I got on whatever, whatever. You know, I started creating bunch of profiles, Twitter, primarily, I think, and off I went, and I discovered that I was really good at twitter. I was, I was pretty good at it. It was it was fun. You know, it's a writing project, essentially. And I enjoyed it. And, you know, within not too much time, I remember my Twitter audience grew from, you know, zero to like, 12,000 or something like that in not too much time, maybe a couple years. But then something started happening, which was that I just started to notice what a compulsion it felt like, I noticed that every time I grabbed my phone, I would scroll to see, you know, who had retweeted who would like to add, you know, who was engaging with me on Twitter, how many likes how many retweets You know, it was very addictive that little dopamine drip of like, Oh, they like me? Ooh, validation. Oh, that was witty. Oh, that was funny. I'm so great. And I also started to think about, like, how much time am I spending on this like, because it's a kind Have blurred into my day. And I, I sat down once and I really thought about it. And I was like, well, it probably takes me like, you know, a couple minutes to come up with the tweet in my head, maybe a minute or two to like, type it, edit it, post it, maybe another five, six minutes of sort of like scrolling and checking and who engaged and who liked it, you know, all together, like one tweet, probably represents like 1012 minutes of my life that is just kind of going into that tweet. And then I looked back on the previous couple years, and I saw how many tweets I had tweeted, which was 1000s, and 1000s, and 1000s, of tweets. And I multiplied that by 10, or 12 minutes per tweet. And then I multiplied that by the next, you know, 3040 years of my life. And then I looked at the big number. And I realized, if I continue in this way, I will spend, I think it was something like six years of my life, on Twitter, some just grotesque number. It was really intense and scary, really, to confront that number, and go, Whoa, you know, no offense to Twitter, no offense to social media, social media is amazing. undeniably amazing. It has changed our world. And I end, it's not a bad thing by any means. But for me personally, spending six years of my life on Twitter was unacceptable. You know, that's just not. That's not why I was born. That's not my calling. It's not really, it doesn't feel like a meaningful part of my body of work. And I knew something had to change. And that was the beginning for me of really evaluating every single thing that I include in my day and asking, Is this really important? In 20 years? Will I be happy? I did this on my deathbed, will I be like, yes. 10,000 tweets, I'm so glad I did you know, or will I be like, Oh, shit, you know, I wish I had gone to Patagonia,

or whatever. So, again, all of this is to say, you know, I'm a really big believer that everyone is different. everyone's life, everyone's ideal. Life looks totally different. If you genuinely love social media, and it brings you joy, and it brings you clients, and it feels like an art project, and you love to express yourself in that way. That is dope, and you should keep doing it for sure. For me, that was not the case, which is why I ultimately decided to just ditch social media and just focus on my website and my newsletter and my other projects that I share there.

Kathleen Shannon 37:56
I've never I mean, I usually justify like 15 minutes a day, or even up to an hour on social like gets engagement. But then I've never thought about adding up that time, backwards or forwards.

Emily Thompson 38:12
I've never thought about adding that forwards, I've definitely added up. So I stopped using Facebook for a very similar reason where I was just like it was muscle memory, I would pick up my phone and go straight to that Facebook, I even tried hiding the icon from myself. And at that point, I realized something is wrong, and deleted it. And I remember I remember doing similar math where I was like, Alright, I've been on Facebook for however many years if I'm spending X amount of days, or minutes a day, whatever how much it was backwards. But forwards is even more frightening. I know for sure. I mean, in six years, you could write six novels, or like all kinds of amazing things that you could be doing with your life that does not involve staring at a screen, which is something I loads and loads more and more these days. So high five, and thank you for sharing that. I hope we've like moved some people with that one.

Kathleen Shannon 39:07
Well, and I mean, I'm still a little conflicted, because I think that part of our job as marketers like there is this social media component. So I do love that idea of if it's working for you, whether that's to get clients or it brings you joy, or whatever it is. Because for some people writing a newsletter, they might be adding up that time and being like, oh my god hit my head against the wall, thinking about spending 18 years of my life writing newsletters, whereas for us here, we might be like no, that was awesome. That led to books that led to connection that led to all the things. So speaking of newsletters, I have my first question is have you ever taken a break from your newsletter? Because I feel like I've subscribed for a long time and maybe there's been long pauses. So have you ever taken breaks from it?

Alexandra Franzen 39:55
Yeah, I have for sure. One thing is that I try to send out a newsletter two to three, maybe four times a month, it varies, you know, I think the way that I frame it on my website is like, sign up for my newsletter, and you'll hear from me a couple of times a month ish or something like that. So I, I'm not one of those people who's like every Sunday 9pm. Here it comes. Like, I think that's great. If that's how you roll. I mean, that kind of consistency is incredible. But for me, it's always been a little bit more organic. I have taken breaks, I think that sometimes I take a break, and I don't realize I've taken a break. And I log back into my newsletter software. And I'm like, Oh, it's been five weeks since I sent a newsletter. But usually I'm fairly consistent. And I actually remember there was one time I don't remember when it was, but I guess I didn't send anything out for six or seven weeks. And I actually had people emailing me being like, Are you okay, where we're at? Which I thought was incredibly sweet and lovely. But But also, you know, probably a reflection of the fact that I am usually pretty consistent. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 41:07
so your newsletters are some of my favorites to get into my inbox. Through all the unroll me's, you have never been tossed. And I'm all for like unsubscribing, even to people I love, like I might eventually unsubscribe from their newsletter just because I either I'm talking to them enough in real life, or it's just no longer serving me for whatever reason, it's just something I don't take personal unsubscribing or being unsubscribed to, there are lots of reasons why but your newsletter is one that I always love getting in my inbox. And I reached out to you, most recently to even get you on this podcast in response to one of your newsletters that you sent out. And it's one that I forwarded to Emily, and you just shared some really tough stuff, which was a one star Amazon review, or a really super shitty mean email, like you shared negative responses to your work. And you just put it out there. And so I think that you're not only giving people a peek behind the curtain of even in today's newsletter, like how to structure a talk, or how to structure a story. It's also, this is some stuff that I've gotten, and here's how I'm dealing with it. So tell us a little bit about sharing some of that negative stuff and why you're sharing it.

Alexandra Franzen 42:31
Yeah, um, well, I would say for the past year or two, I'm just kind of a subject matter that I've been really interested in is how do we deal with criticism, with rejection, and discouragement as artists and as entrepreneurs? How do we deal with it. And this is really born out of a very personal place for me, because I don't deal with it that well. And this is something that I've learned about myself, that's been a little startling, actually. Because I like to think of myself as like, you know, pretty confident, pretty laid back. Like, it takes a lot, it takes a lot to make me angry. And yet, you know, a one star review, about a book that I've written or a or a one star review about the restaurant, I helped start with my boyfriend, it really hurts, you know, it feels like a personal attack, even though intellectually I know it's not. And so about a year or two ago, I kind of started almost as like a personal mission, to really try to work on myself on this issue. And also to talk to people to talk to other artists and musicians and creators and business owners and ask them, like my friends, my colleagues and say, you know, can you tell me about a really rough moment in your career? A terrible review? Or, you know, a client? Yeah, demanded a refund or a project that didn't work out or whatever? Tell me what happened? How did it feel? How did you get through it? How did you survive it? What did you learn from the experience, and I just started having these conversations with different people. And very quickly, I was struck by the fact that everyone has a story like that, you know, most people have many, many, many stories like that. And everyone feels the pain. You know, it's never fun. Even if you're highly successful and well regarded to your field. It's never fun to get a negative review or to have a discouraging thing happen. And none of us are alone. You know, everyone is struggling with something. Whether they share it publicly or not is another matter but everyone goes through difficult times. The people that you admire who seem like they have it all together, you know, they're struggling to we all Lower. So this became, you know, something I was really interested in, I wanted to write more about it. I ultimately wrote a whole book about it, which is coming out soon. And, and I knew that I just wanted to start sharing even more you know about my experiences with the stuff with the people who subscribe to my newsletter to show them like, this is the real deal. You know, this has happened to me, it sucks, it hurts, it will happen to you, for sure it's unavoidable. And guess what we're all going to survive, we're going to make it it's not fatal.

Emily Thompson 45:34
That isn't good, powerful stuff. Because we absolutely know that the people who are listening to this you know, as creatives and as entrepreneurs, so many of them deal with not only the fear of failure button, a lot of ways the like, quote unquote proof of failure, because a bad review does not equate to failure by any means. But they see it as such, were like, I have failed, and it's so hard to get back up and do the thing when you have that proof sitting there staring at you. But how true is that where literally every single person has had some sort of instance, where they received a bad review. And if none of us got back up, nothing would be happening in the world. So yay, perspective. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 46:18
totally. And, you know, even circling back around to those reasons why I mean, for me, the the reasons why might not keep me entirely motivated in the moment, sometimes it is like just that deadline, or kind of these external obligations to uphold. But for me, whenever it comes to either online bullying, or unfair criticism, or trolls, or even just perceived criticism, like my own inner critic that I'm dealing with, it is coming back to those why's that keep me going? In the face of those things in particular? So is there anything that you know, even just beyond feeling less alone by talking to other creatives about it? Like, is there anything like, whenever you're telling someone in the throes of this, you're going to survive? What do you tell them? Is it time that heals, like, what makes it feel better in the moment?

Alexandra Franzen 47:15
So something that definitely helps me is this perspective, so I remember specifically, there was a, there was a moment, a day, a few years ago, where I sent out one of my newsletters, and my newsletter goes out to you know, 13,000 people, something like that at this point. And I remember I included a link to a song that I really like, I usually do that at the bottom of my newsletter. So I send it out. And almost instantly, I got two emails back from subscribers right away. And the first person said, I love that song. That's all it said, I love that song. And I was like, Oh, cool. And I went to the next email, I swear to God, the next email said, I hate that song. That's all they said in their whole email, they just wanted to tell me how much and it was. So it was like, almost comical to look at these two emails side by side and realize, like in such stark relief, the same newsletter, two people had literally polar opposite reactions to just a song, right, just a song that I wanted to share. And I kind of laughed at myself. And I was like, Well, you know, there you have it. That's that's what it means to be an entrepreneur. That's what it means to be an artist, you put your heart into your work, you try your very best, you set your intention to help to serve to uplift to inspire. And at the end of the day, Person A is gonna say I love it, and Person B is gonna say I hate it. And it's out of your control, you know, you don't have control. Hopefully, more people will say I love it and hate it. But I think it's we just have to accept that reality. You know, that is, that's how it works. You know, we don't have ultimate control over how people react to our work. All we can do is try our best and that's, it's it's hard to remember that. But it's so important to accept it. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 49:13
I think that control is the key word there probably a lot of us creatives, probably a lot of our listeners are very type A and like to imagine that they have control over all of the things but there are some things that are just out of our control, including people's responses to our work, whether or not someone is purchasing you or buying your product or hiring you or leaving you positive reviews or negative reviews. It's just sometimes not ours to hold.

Emily Thompson 49:42
Yeah, well, and I even want to like almost like butt up against that because I almost even see it whenever you are reacting to positive or negative. It's not even so much that you don't have control over their response. But you're literally giving the control you have over yourself to those people.

Kathleen Shannon 50:00
Right, like you don't even have control over your own response, right? If you're getting hijacked by

Emily Thompson 50:05
it, that's just like another level of don't do that. Because Nothing good will come from it.

Alexandra Franzen 50:10
Yeah, I would also say in terms of negative feedback, not always, but sometimes when you get a piece of negative feedback, there can be such valuable information in it, that you can use, you know, to become better. And probably the most dramatic example I can remember from my own life is, it was after my boyfriend and I started a brunch restaurant here in Portland. And we started with like, zero customers, and then little by little things grew, that's a whole other story. But we got to a point where we had like a waitlist. And we had, you know, people waiting an hour, an hour and a half to get brunch. It was crazy. And people were like, hungry and hangry and bored. And you know, coming up to me, and like, when do we get a table? It's been an hour, how long? How long. And there was this one day where our waiting area was like swarming with people. I was the only server that day it was totally exhausting and overwhelming. And this woman came up to me there had been this miscommunication and won't go into the whole story. But her name had accidentally been crossed off the waitlist. I thought she had left. But she had not left. She'd been waiting, like two hours and she was starving. And she came up to me and literally started yelling at me like full volume. This is ridiculous. I've been waiting for two I can't believe this. Like how she was so mad that her name had accidentally been crossed off the list. It was one of those moments like everyone in the waiting area, like put down their phone and was like staring like, Oh my god, like what is happening right now. It was bananas. And in the end, you know, I apologize profusely. We comped her meal, yada, yada yada, you know, she left relatively happy. But after that experience, I was like, if a customer is so enraged that they are screaming at me, something is not right. You know, we we need to do something to change our policies, our waiting area, the system, like something needs to change because this is not okay. So my boyfriend and I basically decided that we would create, like the world's most fun brunch waiting area. And we added a TV with Nintendo and tarot card decks and coloring books and cards and twister. And we started serving coffee and drinks. And we started bringing people little mini snacks to eat while they waited. And we like transformed the waiting area. And we have never been screamed at again. And now people when people are waiting for their table, they're having fun, and they're chilling out and they're fine. And they're happy to wait an hour. It's actually it's like fun to wait an hour. So the moral of the story is, you know, sometimes a really negative piece of feedback. whether it's true or not true, it almost doesn't matter. Because the the lesson you can take from it is okay, something is not right. If this customer is so upset, what is the creative solution? How could we prevent this from happening again? What could we transform what new system needs to be put in place? And I can honestly say like, looking back, I'm grateful that that woman flipped out because that was kind of a wake up call for us that we needed to upgrade that aspect of our restaurant dramatically. And it's paid off in so many great ways.

Kathleen Shannon 53:32
I think operative word there is customer. So it wasn't just like some random negative hater online, you know, and I think that for me, that's kind of where I draw the line as well as far as is this going to be a learning experience and something that I give consideration to? Or am I just that's not mine. But there's a difference for sure. The difference is, you know, whether you're a customer you've been engaged in my community for a long time, but I don't know that's where I draw the line at least Yeah, okay, Alex, we are coming up on time so I would love to hear what makes you feel most boss. What makes me feel most boss. Oh my gosh, probably not getting yelled at that angry woman was

Alexandra Franzen 54:21
horrible. Like I went after she screamed at me. I was like stunned. I am you know, I kind of conducted myself I went to the back of the kitchen I started sobbing like I have I am not used to being screamed at in my everyday life. It was really not cool. But like I said, you know, we made lemon lemonade.

Kathleen Shannon 54:42
So I also feel like this is why everyone needs to wait tables at some point in their life dude, it will strengthen you. Seriously just make you much so much more compassionate.

Alexandra Franzen 54:55
I mean, it will absolutely make you more compassionate. It will make you so empathetic when you are when you You are a customer at a restaurant for sure. But it's it's definitely a great crash course in dealing with people's emotions, customers emotions, because customers when they are hungry and bored, that is when they are at their worst I have discovered so it's a good it's good toddlers to toddlers. Yes,

Kathleen Shannon 55:19
absolutely. whenever they're hungry and bored or kind of a terror also, okay, but what makes you feel most boss? Right? Okay? Do you feel like you're on top of it, and you're owning your shit. And just like you got this,

Alexandra Franzen 55:33
I would say, for me, I feel most boss, when I complete a project, like when I complete any kind of project, especially a significant, you know, large project, and I'm like, I did it. That is an amazing feeling. And it's like a permanent feeling of pride, you know, once you finish a book, or you finished developing a class or whatever it's like, that's, that's yours forever. You know, it's like winning an Olympic medal. It's part of your body of work forever and ever. So for me, that makes me feel incredible. Similarly, when I see a client or a student or someone else in my community finish something that feels amazing. And to know that I was a part of that process, even just a little bit is so satisfying. And also, like when my nails are on point, and I get a blowout, and I have my new glasses, and I like actually, like put nice clothes on. And I'm like working at the local coffee shop. Like who I met hipster Portland entrepreneur, look at me, I feel pretty great.

Kathleen Shannon 56:37
Like, whenever I look like I'm living the part of the dream I've created for myself, like I feel boss totally. So Alex, you've got a book you're going to survive that is out now. tell our listeners a little bit more about that and where they can find it. But also where they can find more of you and all the things that you're doing, including your offline retreats in places like Hawaii. Yeah. Next one.

Alexandra Franzen 57:04
Oh, my gosh, I know why he look into that. Everything's bad. In Hawaii. Emily,

Kathleen Shannon 57:10
you too. Let's go to Hawaii. Can we

Emily Thompson 57:12
do about this like hanging open at the moment? Any day, you just you just tell me when and where?

Alexandra Franzen 57:21
folks can find me at my website, which is Alexandra franzen.com. Not very creative website name, but there it is. And that's pretty much it. You can find info about my book there. You can also find my book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble indiebound books, a million in your local bookstore, hopefully probably. It's called you're going to survive. It has an orange cover. It looks cool, just like you do.

Emily Thompson 57:55
Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much for coming to hang out with us. I'm so glad to finally met you. And you're just as fantastic as I always dreamed you would be. And we'll have to do this again soon. Oh my gosh, this was so much fun. Thank you so much, you guys. We have gotten so much amazing feedback over the years from listeners about how our podcast has helped them start to grow and uplevel their businesses. So we want to celebrate you. Here's the boss we're celebrating this week.

Kathleen Shannon 58:27
Hi, my name is Meghan Lockhart and I am being boss. I O And hello life Academy at WWW dot Hello life

Emily Thompson 58:36
academy.com and this week I'm celebrating

Kathleen Shannon 58:38
a huge huge win by giving my team more hours because we've been kicking some serious butt. Thanks so much. If you're feeling boss and want to submit your own boss moment or win go to WWW dot being boss club slash I am being boss. This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brains, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And our bean counter David Austin, with support from braid creative and indicia biography,

Emily Thompson 59:27
do the work, the boss and we'll see you next week.