Mighty Life List
Mar 31 2014

Go Mighty: Worth It Challenge

There are activities on my Life List I expect will be rewarding — doing something scary, traveling, volunteering for baby-saving activities, that kind of thing.

I did not expect that removing hair from my legs for thirty days would be one of the Rewarding Things. It started as an effort to do more small things that make me happy. And while this project isn’t exactly going on my résumé, it has had a surprising impact on my day-to-day contentment… read the rest of Shaving my Legs for 30 Days? Worth it on Go Mighty.

If you like this post, you might also like:

How Liz used Pinterest to get her reading lists organized. I now want to do this.
Desiree on accomplishing your life’s goal, but not your life’s work.
Katherine is all about Punk Rope, which is apparently a thing?
Paige in praise of getting your butt out of bed.
And Camille thinks you should visit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Go Mighty members have been recommending Life List ideas as part of our Worth It Challenge. Let us know what you’ve done that was worthwhile by tagging one of your stories #worthit.

Mar 29 2014

Mighty Thirst: Blueberry Cheers and Blueberry Cheesecake Boom

You know what they say. When life hands you cake vodka, you make… a perplexed face because what is this shit? My friends and their ironic purchasing habits.

So this post is about using up an entire bottle of cake vodka before the people who brought it leave. This is both to teach them a lesson, and also so the bottle won’t linger in your cabinet and bring shame upon your household.

Our mission? Fruity drinks that taste like cake. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday night, and better ways to spend a Sunday morning. Onward!

I had a bag of blueberries in the freezer (how long have those been in there?), but these would likely work out ok if you subbed in any frozen berry. This is two variations on a blueberry/almond milk drink in an attempt to make a cheesecake thing happen. Both are good, the second is sweeter and more milkshake-y. (more…)

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Mar 24 2014

Sonia and Mark Whitesnow

Sonia and Mark Whitesnow are Russian artists who work as a duo. Gorgeous.

Update: I deleted the two top images from this post, when friends on Facebook pointed out that they thought the women in the photos were in blackface. I didn’t see it at all until they pointed it out, and now of course I see it immediately. I link to them only to provide a reference point for the conversation. Apologies to those of you who saw the images and found them unsettling.

Mar 19 2014

What it Means to be Cool

Image by Juan Ignacio Videla

A while ago, my friend Greg Knauss wrote an essay about what he calls The Empathy Vacuum. An excerpt:

“A few years ago, a photo made the rounds. It was taken from the back, its subject unaware. He was a fat guy wearing a jeans-jacket, and on the back he had stenciled the name of his heavy metal band. It was a sloppy and amateurish job. The photo earned a lot of mocking comments in my circle, including from me. Ha ha, look at the fat guy with the rock-and-roll pretensions. Look at him. Looooook.

And then someone said, ‘I think he’s awesome. He’s found something he loves, and he thinks it’s great enough to share with the world. This guy is a hero.'”

This is a change I’ve been feeling in myself for years. Admiration for people who are deeply enthusiastic, and less interest in the detached nature of “being cool.”

I think there’s a cultural shift happening toward enthusiasm and away from apathy. Our team at Go Mighty even has a term for it that I’ll talk about more next week. For now, I’m curious about whether your notions of cool have shifted too.

This concept was part of my entrepreneurship keynote at Square’s Open for Business. I’ll be fleshing out more points from my talk here over the next couple of weeks.

Mar 17 2014

Your Personal Pitch: 3 Tips for Answering “What do you do?”

Image by Robert Lindstrom

“You sound unemployed.”

A friend said this to me once, in real life. I refrained from shoving him because he was right.

He’d been standing next to me when someone asked what I did for a living, and I couldn’t move my tongue out of the way to answer. I stammered about how I was in a career transition, entering a field that wasn’t well defined, understood, respected. I felt ridiculous calling myself a blogger, insecure saying I was a writer, grandiose claiming I was small business owner. And then I presumably downed half a gin gimlet and cleared my throat.

In short, I knew what I was doing with my career, but I couldn’t navigate a cocktail party. I didn’t know my personal pitch.

Developing a Personal Pitch

We use words to define and alter our realities, especially in how we characterize our work. When you’re in business for yourself, no one hands you a title, so the process needs to be more intentional.

My friend pointed out that I was doing cool things, but freezing up when someone asked, “What do you do?” It was certainly true then, and over the years I’ve had to rethink my response several times. Today, when people ask about my work there are lots of options. I write a blog. I host a conference. I run a community. So I’ve decided to say, “I own a media company,” and go from there.

The SAP Pitch

If you’re running into the same problem, I’ve developed some guidelines and a terrible pun that can help. When someone asks what you do, your pitch should be SAPpy:

1. Succinct

One phrase or sentence is plenty. If the person is interested in your work, you’ve provided an entry point for questions. If they aren’t, you have a socially acceptable answer ready, one that doesn’t reveal insecurities or force the other person to listen while you reason through your career. The alternative is watching someone’s eyes glaze over as you yammer on about how you’re “not sure whether you can call yourself an artist yet… though you have done paid work… but it’s not at a level where you could support yourself or anything…”

Check, please.

2. Aspirational

Yes, you can call yourself an artist, or a writer, or a business owner, even if you haven’t met your internal standards of what those phrases mean yet. If your intention is to be an artist, just say it. You can offer more detailed information as the conversation moves along.

“What do you do?”
“I’m an artist.”
“Oh! Have you shown in any galleries I might know?”
“Oh no! I’m just starting out, applying to schools and painting between my cash jobs.”

And side note, if you are actually unemployed right now, the answer is “I’m looking for work in accounting,” or “I’m a freelance developer,” or “I’m a DJ.”

3. Positive

Your pitch shouldn’t contain any words that diminish your work. Don’t say you run a “small” salon, or that you’re an “aspiring” singer. Don’t say you’re “just” a mom, or demur when someone tries to express enthusiasm about your work. What’s more, don’t highlight a job you took to pay the bills, and describe your real interest as a hobby. If you say, “I’m a bartender. Sometimes I take photos of all the crazy people at the bar,” then people will ask if you’re available to tend bar at their next party. If you say, “I’m a photographer, I like night-life subjects,” then someone may ask to see your work. Highlight the type of work you’d like to attract, not what you do to make rent.

Take those three guidelines into account and come up with a pitch that puts the best possible spin on your career. With any luck, you’ll need to revise every few months to incorporate all the good stuff that comes your way.

These concepts were part of my entrepreneurship keynote at Square‘s Open for Business. I’ll be fleshing out more points from my talk here this week.

Mar 14 2014

Life List Inspiration from Go Mighty

So much good stuff on Go Mighty.

Susan Hall leaves for Port Au Prince in April.
Katherine Hill is gathering kneepads, elbow pads, a mouth guard, wrist guards, a helmet, a little cash, and an outsized indifference to bruising.
The Irish Countrywomen’s Association taught Jan to knit. Of course they did.
Amy Boyer is revamping her site, starting with one of her favorite things.
Ilysia Van Deren is tackling a bunch of great food goals: her dream birthday cake, and latte art, and sushi rolling.
Bonnie goes back to school this Fall. Huge congratulations, friend.

I don’t say this enough, but if you have a Life List on Go Mighty, thank you so much for helping us build this community of accomplishment and celebration. It’s fulfilling reading everyone’s hopes, and seeing the actions you’re taking to make them real.

If you’re new here, Go Mighty is our Life List community where we plot together and cheer each other on. If you’re the list making type, go make one for yourself. See you there.

Mar 12 2014

You Do You, Resources List for My Talk at Square

Last week, I was heads down preparing the talk I gave at Square Monday. If you were there, hello! This is a resources list, and I’ll be posting here in the coming days to review some of the concepts we covered.

Photo by Etta and Billie, who makes small batch sustainable bath and body products.

SxSW Oral History by Fast Company
My Life List on Go Mighty
Rise of the new geeks: How the outsiders won in the Guardian
New Sincerity
Punk Rock is Bullshit by John Roderick
The Empathy Vacuum by Greg Knauss
Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Mag
Zooey Deschanel’s Hello Giggles
Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice on keeping expenses low

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Phillipa Rice’s Soppy Comic Book series

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And if you’re looking for me elsewhere, I’m on Twitter @maggie, Instagram at Maggie Mason, Facebook, and Pinterest. If you’d like to have me come speak, send a note to camille at gomighty.com.

I love speaking, so thanks for coming to listen.