Category: Leadership

Hustle Harder…No.
As someone who is completely done with the recovery time after quarterly burnouts and spirals if despair, I’m through with the Great American Hustle experiment. Seeing this stupid shit plastered on memes and shiny glass windows of co-working spaces, had me working in the exact opposite direction of my greatest strengths. I would venture to bet that a good number of you are doing the same.
Hustle Harder will have you believing that if you work enough hours, all your wildest dreams are garaunteed to come true. But that’s not panning out for most the people on this planet. Were stressed. Fat from overeating all the junk that makes us feel better when were stressed. Overworked. Undersexed and depressed.
We’re all so worried about leveling up, we’re not even dating properly anymore and it’s getting out of hand. The hustle mentality is propaganda that gets us to produce more than what we’re getting.
Physical exertion and brute force is not gettting us nearly as far now as it got our parents and not even close to what it got our grandparents.
That’s not the space and time we’re living in. It’s why you come home exhausted after you’ve been sitting on your ass all day. You’ve spent the whole day fighting battles in the ether. Playing mind games over email. Reading between the lines over calls. Inferring and assuming things. Promoting your work through pixels on a screen. Telepathic, digital mind games.The only way any of us even know what happened with the day is digital record. If something happens to those digital records, one could question whether you did anything with your time at all. It’s all just … Energy.
If we want to get anywhere we’ll have to learn how to manage our energy. Learn how to manage our thoughts, imagination, efforts, and desires. Entrepreneurship is the practice of self discipline. Self Discipline is now the management of your time and energy.
Remove as much resistance in your day to day as possible. Unfriend/follow idiots and sad people. That momentum is too strong and it will suck you in. Or block out times you can’t access your social apps. Cut your commute. Say no to projects that don’t excite you. Don’t tell lies. You’ll have to manage them and the other party will know anyway. Chart your progress by tasks or projects completed, not by hours spent. Sleep when you’re tired. Put off projects that aren’t going anywhere.
I’m not saying that we should all just get lazy and not work at all. What I am saying  is, harder is not the way. Work excited. Work focused. Cut the rest. It’s not helping.
The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock
I don’t invest a lot of my time in political drama. Watching the news, no matter who’s in office makes me a little queasy. And social media feeds are awash with content from questionable sources. That being said, it’s obvious, even to me, that things are changing at an incredible pace. Not only is there breaking news from Congress everyday, but rapid change is happening on the ground too. Many of the long standing organizations and leaders that I’ve grown to know here in Chicago are disappearing by the minute. New power-structures are being formed. Elders are retiring or passing on, many of them without successors to carry on their life’s work. The good news is, there are plenty of new and exciting leaders emerging as well.
That being said, our worlds are changing so fast, there’s no use predicting what will happen. So the only thing left to do is diligently prepare for the best and…less than the best.


Build your infrastructure. Immediately after the election we mashed the gas on building up our foundational structures. It was all about the back office stuff that got the white glove treatment. Accounting, cyber security, payroll, contracts and processes. This is the annoying little stuff that doesn’t have a major affect on your service or product but needs to be fixed. This is about finally taking time to put all your passwords in one secure place so that you can stop guessing them every time you log in. It’s the phone extension you haven’t changed in your email signature. The sticky door in the hallway. Spend time cleaning up little things that slow productivity and communication between members of your staff and clients/customers.


Plan for Major Developments. Do all the members of your staff currently have the skills to handle a project that’s a little above their current job description? If your star player leaves the company, can the rest of your team up to handle their workload? Are they confident enough in themselves to make tough decisions based on your company values? Look across the organization and check on your weakest links. What can you do to support employee growth and immediately begin making good on those promises. Now is also a perfect time for actively pursuing certifications such as MBE/WBE Status, Project Management certifications, etc. Any shortcomings that will keep you or has kept you from getting a grant or a contract in the past is a candidate for activation.


Re-evaluate your eco-system. Are you spending too much time with people who are not adding real support or value? Perhaps there are people you’ve been meaning to reconnect with but haven’t had the time? Now’s the time to tighten those connections. Ask yourself, if shit hits the fan, how can I help this person? How can they help me? Who are the tremendously valuable people my network that are being overlooked? Carve out some time to break out the old Rolodex and re-connect with people that you, 1. actually like (<- Important!) and 2. can build a mutally beneficial relationship with.


Our success as leaders in this country will depend largely on our ability to recognize that we’re all shipmates on the same boat. I’m calling for a compassionate ban on whining and complaining and excuses. As individuals, we have to become the leaders we’ve been asking for so that we can be stronger teammates. This next era will not only test us individually. It will also test our collective integrity, strength, and agility.
What are you trying to become?

About two or three weeks ago, a friend of mine shared a post from a lightworker that highlighted what he said would be a tumultuous Sagittarius season.

I scanned the article, ultimately rebuking it as just another horoscope. Fast forward a few days later and chaos ensued. Lost debit cards, bounced checks, broken dishes. All experiences I looked at as part of life, but the undercurrent was just so energetically full of frustration. I felt like physically, I couldn’t force myself to sit down and focus on my work. I would sit down at my computer to hash out a project. Hours later, I would look up and nothing would be accomplished. I felt like I was running underwater in a time warp and I was angry.
beckwithJust now, I stumbled upon a to-do list I’d made a couple weeks ago. My main goal? Self-care and planning for next year. Two things that I’d been resisting the last weeks because I thought “getting shit done” was more important. This whole time I’d been working against my own goals.
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Meanwhile, I’m listening to Micheal Beckwith’s Questions to Ask the Universe. He touched on a question that made me realize that I had, in fact, been given what I asked for: What must I become?
In order for me to be the teacher and the business leader that I want to become, nearly every way I’ve been conducting my life needs to fall away so that I can create a new order myself and the business. To create that new order, I need time for self-care and planning. This whole time I’ve been trying to do, and it’s not the time to do. It’s time to prepare.
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In the last few hours, I’ve stopped the busy-ness and surrendered to where my heart was leading.  I stopped trying to force things to go the way that I want them to, and magic has been happening the last few hours. My thoughts are free-flowing and I’m writing more than I’ve written all year. I’m creating and drawing connections to solve problems I’ve been racking my brain about for months.
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What are you resisting in order to accomplish what you think you want to accomplish? What is life trying to tell you?
“What is trying to emerge in my life?”
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“Behind every problem is a question trying to ask itself.
Behind every question is an answer trying to be revealed.
Behind every answer is an action trying to take place.
And behind every action is a way of life trying to be born.”
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If you’re experiencing a severe sense of frustration in your life. Stop and ask yourself these questions:
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“What gift am I to give to the world?”
“What is trying to emerge in my life?”
“What is my next step?”
And by doing so, we begin to nurture our ability to truly listen to what the Universe is trying to “birth” through you.
Belief & Imagination

imagination-themoonroseagency-com-ava-st-claire-1Some days you can’t tell if bad surprises are part of being in business or if God is singling you out. I’ve met people from all stages of business growth and success. Learning from them and my own experiences have taught me that the task of leadership is challenging for all of us. But the one thing that has given me perspective has having a growth mindset. Knowing that I am fully capable of learning what I need to learn to become the kind of CEO I would like to become.

The foundation of having a growth mindset is self-awareness and self-understanding. In order to grow, you have to know your own strength and what you’re capable of. We don’t know ourselves intimately so we don’t believe in our capacity to overcome the challenges that come with new information.
Instead, we’ve stitched our identities together with a bubble gum concoction of old news and bad habits.

New information tests our fragile identities so we push back. But there is no imagination without information. And we will never reach our greatest capacity without imagining new things.

 

Hello, World!

ava-st-claire-designer-moonroseagency-comI’ve been on the longest journey to find my voice. Growing up in my household, fighting a sibling, lying and tattling were cardinal sins. Vanity did not fall far behind. Further, upon breaking from my private school education and entering the public school system in the late 90’s, I learned that getting your face cut by a group of angry girls was a reality. It was best then to keep a low profile.

In a day and age when face time is currency and confidence is confused with competence, keeping a low profile isn’t necessarily the best way to handle life. Meanwhile, society has created its own thought police that will not hesitate cut your face, digitally. One wrong word, one misstep could result in a digital execution that could cost you your career. So I decided, like many others to play it safe and remain an obscurity behind my company’s brand. I thought that if I continued to work hard, I would find the kind of success I was looking to achieve.

My hypothesis was wrong. Instead, my inability to speak up for myself has caused grave misunderstandings, assumptions, and all manner of political games at my to ensue in front of the curtain because I insisted on staying behind it.

And yet…

Many, many wonderful things have happened. I have been re-acquainted with my soul. I know who I am and what I am. For so long, I held onto the dream of labeling myself a great designer. I panicked when design was commodified three or four years ago. I was afraid for a little while that everybody seemed to be selling graphic design. I realized I’m much more than that. I understand now that I’m also a builder, a teacher, an advisor. Design is just the language I use to help people find their way back to who they really are. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I came to do. I’m in love with my mission and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Business Leadership is a Love Story

nostalgic-rb-themoonroseagency-com-2ndshift

 

There are days when you win. Days when you lose. Nights when you dream of beautiful things and nights you fight in your sleep. All for the sake of making your dreams come true. For fighting what you know is right. For discovering the world by building that which you think it needs most. Here’s to those who sing love songs on their mission to bring light to this dimension. Keep burning that midnight oil. Here’s a gift I hope you enjoy.

Till we meet again,

Ava

Enclosure: Play Music

Not Believing is not a Philsophy

“People have been experts on what they do not believe and novices on what you do. Expertise on what you do not believe is not a functional theology. As a result people have no beliefs at all, as a result of that it has given people license to not have a conscience. People live without any direction on their inner choice.”
~ Caroline Myss