Posts tagged develop
A year of risk, reward & discovery
The #cbus studio for Joy Venture

The #cbus studio for Joy Venture

One year ago Jeremy and I took a risk to do something new (following a whole bunch of conversation and hand-wringing to get it right). But when we whittled it down to its components, it's hard to believe this was really a risk at all. Here's what we did:   

  • Developed a vision and roadmap for what Joy Venture should or could be
  • Bought some recording equipment
  • Made a list of people whose stories fit our vision
  • Built a website
  • Launched a podcast
  • Wrote a handful of blog posts with the intent to encourage

Our intent all along has been a simple one: to share stories of dreamers and doers who are actively discovering, developing and spreading their joy with the world.

Why this vision

We knew from experience -- and saw it in others -- that we all get stuck: stuck in jobs we don't love. Stuck doing work that doesn't motivate or fulfill us. Just plain stuck in a myriad of ways. What we wanted to do was give a platform for those who found ways to become unstuck -- to take risk and pursue their joy, to pursue that thing that, at some point, might not have been part of "the plan." In doing so, we believed listeners would resonate with the challenges and be inspired by the perseverance of our guests to pursue that thing they felt an itching to do. 

We've said this often: you get one shot on this merry-go-round of life. Make it count. 

What we discovered

The stories being shared are resonating and making a difference. We're finding a loyal and interested audience, even if it doesn't always show up in the almighty marketing metrics. How do you measure the impact on the heart or to quantify success when someone takes life-changing action? You listen. And you've told us that sharing a different kind of story that peels back the veneer of the marketing story and the so-called overnight success story is something worth fostering.

Something else we've discovered: It doesn’t particularly matter if you know the podcast guest. If it is someone who is well known, it's because we seek to uncover a story you haven't heard yet. But we're also big on introducing new voices with great insights and compelling stories to share. Discovery is always the key ingredient regardless of who the storyteller is. 

We've wanted the stories told on Joy Venture to be unvarnished, vulnerable, enlightening and encouraging. We'll keep asking: does this inspire or jolt you to think differently about your work or what you feel called to do? Can you see hints of yourself in stories of others? 

This was and still is our hope.

For all of you who have validated that vision for us – thank you. 

What's next

Our growing community of dreamers and doers will multiply this year and spread beyond our home base in Columbus, Ohio. We'll be taking our gear on the road in the months ahead to meet up with extraordinary folks in other states. We'll be dialing in disrupters and community-makers from Indianapolis, Minneapolis and perhaps more cities ending in -apolis; “the other Columbus” down in Georgia; Nashville and even the coasts.

We believe every story we share is unique and valuable. As our episode list continues to grow we'll also help you find the specific types of stories you're looking for by categorizing them by vocation and purpose on our website. Look for that soon.

And we have more up our sleeve – ways in which we'll invite you into to our joy in the months ahead.

Until then, take this as encouragement and a call to action: we discovered and befriended some amazing people with extraordinary stories on this journey. Because we we're willing to take that leap, we're now developing Joy Venture in ways we couldn't have envisioned a year ago. That's exciting for us, and hopefully it will prove valuable to you.

And so it begs these questions:What's that thing you need to do this year? What leap will you take?

If you feel compelled, share what's up your sleeve with us on Facebook or Twitter and be an encouragement to others who have similar ideas or simply need a nudge.  

Joy Venture is a rewarding labor of love meant for all of us – to help us push through the artificial boundaries that we've constructed. Thanks for joining us on this ride. We've got a lot more ground to cover together...

Failure is trendy. Don't buy the hype.
 
Beckett's #epicfail                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo credit: deshi yin

Beckett's #epicfail                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo credit: deshi yin

There was a time when I embraced Beckett’s quote. The rejection slips I received during my college days – and long thereafter – were stark reminders of the difficult road ahead of me as a young writer, one that demanded I put in the hard work if I hoped to get better.

Yet a strange phenomenon has appeared across the books, blogs and posts we read in the last few years. Failure, something that nobody wanted to be associated with, recently has become a badge of honor of sorts. People are more comfortable wearing failure on their sleeve and talking about it as part of their incredible catapult to success.

This new romanticism around failure is cloaked in a faux sense of vulnerability. Talking about past failures is much different than staring adversity smack in the face, and few are the people who stand up and embrace or even entertain the idea of failure as it unfolds.

Failure has become a popular plot line for storytelling.

It also has become a disingenuous narrative.

It seems as though 'failure is the new success' has become an acceptable way in which to masquerade our self-righteous and narcissistic ways, and proclaim our greatness as pure grit...so long as a little light is cast upon the missteps. 

That's not to say failure isn't real. Things do fail. And people sometimes do fail us. However, failure is being thrown around in ways that seem all too trivial and misguided, giving any misstep #EpicFail clout and providing us with an out or permission to quit. Worse, it’s becoming part of a narrative that ends with a predictable conclusion of success. At Joy Venture, we're of the mind that we should abandon the failure narrative and instead write a more honest one.

For example, perhaps you've seen the inspirational quote, post or infographic with Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and how his secret recipe was rejected a whopping 1,009 times. We don't buy this as a failure narrative despite its current packaging. If anything it is a story of perseverance, of finding the right people who believed in his idea, and of relentless hard work. We should acknowledge the effort for what it is.

 

Failure is not part of the joy narrative

After a few years assisting startups in two different business incubators, I became wise to a disheartening trend. Months after mentoring passionate entrepreneurs, I learned many had abandoned their "big idea" and were off doing something completely different. There are a variety of reasons for abandoning an business venture , and Gallup confirms many of the trails of startups. Perhaps they weren’t making money, or securing venture capital, or scaling fast enough, or destined to be bought out. Perhaps it was the lure of being the boss (or running from other bosses). Or maybe they simply underestimated the difficulty, determination and patience needed to grow a business the old fashion way: year after year after long and toilsome year, without of the euphoria of instant success.

In contrast, there are joy ventures.   

Again and again through podcast interviews on Joy Venture, we’re finding that people don’t fail at what they truly love. That’s not to say they don’t experience setbacks or grow in new and surprising directions. Rather they gravitate toward and lean into those things they love and what they believe they were created to do, regardless of the challenges. They refuse to let obstacles become mile markers on some imminent road of failure. Instead, they persevere.

There’s a stark difference in pursuing an opportunity and pursuing your joy. When things get awkward and sideways, we tend to go looking for new opportunities. It’s the opposite with joy: here we don’t find ourselves cutting bait and running the other way.

While opportunities and ideas emerge within the context of pursuing your joy, they don't define your joy venture. 

So what are you pursuing: opportunities or joy? The end result or the act of doing something meaningful?

 

Persistence pays off

My early and ongoing lack of success as a writer didn’t plummet me into despair or encourage me to quit, it focused my resolve: Write more. Write better. Find my voice. Learn the rules. Break the rules. Discern who would be responsive to my quirky style of prose. Stay engaged and don’t give up.

By doing this, the literary and academic journals that I admired were starting to publish my work. It didn't happen in 12 weeks or even 12 months. Instead, it took 12 long years. To characterize those dozen years as failure is to discard everything learned and the discoveries that emerged during that time. It was and still is a joy venture. I just didn’t know to call it that at the time.

Romanticizing failed opportunities is easy – anyone can do it. Take a different path.

Joy, on the other hand, is about discovery and development. In essence, it’s always a work in progress. Pursue it and you’ll have a treasure trove of stories about the journey and the progress – the kind we all yearn for and desire to share with others.

Converting inspiration into action
INSPIRATION: a screen, an internet connection and some reference books. ACTION: requires none of the above. 

INSPIRATION: a screen, an internet connection and some reference books. ACTION: requires none of the above. 

Inspiration, it seems, is everywhere.

Inspiring videos and posts fill our social media feeds as do the inspirational quotes, which also anchor our email signatures (sometimes incorrectly, as you will see). It's all too easy to be inspired by and enamored with those who did the impossible, seem to have figured it out, or found their life's calling as we continue to toil away in our everyday, mundane lives.

But finding real inspiration – entering into that discover phase we talk about that sends us reeling and in pursuit of something we were made to do – is really not that difficult. It just requires being intentional and making room in our hyper-connected, over-scheduled and immediate-gratification world.

We’ll use a couple of inspirational quotes and stories to illustrate how you might go about turning inspiration into action. 

 

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Mary Schirch, Chicago Tribune columnist (improperly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt)

 

This is about getting out of your comfort zone and actually “doing” something, not just thinking about it or passively absorbing the idea as something you'll consider. Notice, she calls us to “do.”

Jeremy, my Joy Venture co-founder, has recently stepped out of his comfort zone to take pictures of strangers. This requires some dialogue with a complete stranger on the street and getting their permission. Awkward? Sometimes. Intimidating? For sure.

 

But here’s the cool thing about what Jeremy is doing: he has a tiny Bluetooth printer on his hip so he can print a Polaroid-style picture for the person he just photographed. While he waits for it to print, stories and conversations happen. A connection is made. Seeds and new ideas get planted. It will be interesting to see what takes root and what this experience leads Jeremy to do next. That’s the power of discovery, but it requires us to be active.

 

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act. Action will delineate and define you.” 

Witold Gombrowicz, Polish novelist (improperly accredited to Thomas Jefferson)

 

For years we can ask all the right the questions and still fail to follow up with any meaningful action. Jeremy and I have a friend, Stacy, who has a background in tutoring/test preparation, a desire to help kids succeed, and a passion for bicycling. Yet her professional life was a patchwork of jobs and positions that left her unfulfilled. Long before Joy Venture was a thing, our friend took a keen interest in what we were doing in Cambodia, including our efforts to raise funds to provide bicycles to orphaned children so they could get to and from school safely.

Bikes and kids. That spoke to her. If the idea and inspiration that came over her was going to amount to anything, it would require her to "do" something.

So she got involved in EduGo, a nonprofit that provides bicycles to orphaned children, and led the organization's first-ever (and then second) Road to Success Ride. She began to discover -- or better yet, rekindle -- what she felt she was made to do. She took a chance on herself and her love for empowering young minds to help them see their potential by launching her own coaching and tutoring company -- appropriately named Next Gear.  And, for the second time in a calendar year, she'll find herself in a small Cambodian village, building relationships with orphaned kids who not only will receive new bicycles her organized rides have funded, but also be assured of a meaningful education with a future filled with hope.    

And here's Stacy's cool thing:  she's combining her passion for bicycles with her calling to serve young students, both of which are making an impact on kids on opposite ends of the world. It started with a whisper, then a nudge, followed by small step, and then...

We don't have to figure it all out in order to get started. 

(That's not a quote. It's just something we know from experience.) 

 

Now about those quotes and attributions

We have a tendency to believe that only great people say and do profound things. We have a tendency to want to look up in admiration to people we all know instead of looking at who is standing next to us and getting to know their story.

A little digging on those quotes unearthed a not-so-surprising truth: some rather ordinary, hard-working and largely unknown people are behind these words – words that are embedded in their original and inspired experiences. You can find the backstory to each inaccurate quote here and here and here.  

Social media affords people to write a history of their own liking. And when we read it, we tend to believe it. But if you want to discover what truly inspires you, that thing you were meant to do, then shut down the digital feeds. Go outside. Meet new people. Listen carefully. And do something. You just might be surprised where you’ll find yourself.     

Consider taking this last quote to heart, pin it on a wall, and remember that more often than not, extraordinary things are written and achieved by ordinary people. Just. Like. You. 

 

"For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early,

to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit.

Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same.

There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.

I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you.

I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before.

I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.

I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not,

I hope you have the courage to start all over again."

Eric Roth, screenwriter (inaccurately attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald)