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2015: A Year of Puking Rainbows, what a year. Where do I even begin?

After starting out slow, and questioning my decision to fly solo every single day for the first two months of the year, things really have ended with a bang!  Below is an infographic showing some of the rad highlights of the year. But, as far as putting words to them - there isn't much else to say except, "Thank you for growing with me." 

I made a lot of mistakes my first year in business. And for the first time, this perfectionist is happy about that. I learned that delegating is the ultimate compliment you can give someone, and that you can actually hurt a project by taking on too much. I learned that stress can be disguised in the form of LOVE of what you do, and manifests in adrenaline....tricking your body into thinking it never needs to sleep. Nope, wrong - sleeping is what keeps your brain functional, out of the doctor's office (yeah, about that "acute exhaustion" diagnosis in July...oops, lesson learned). 

But the biggest takeaway from 2015? Trust. Trust the people around you who tell you to try something completely new, crazy, fun, and different. I've always wanted to push the envelope with creativity and video, and now - applying that philosophy to life, has been freakin' priceless. A few times being pushed past fear paid off this year: 
1. Acting as Production Director for Lizz Winstead's Comedy special (I cried in fear when I said "yes"...not lying)
2. Signing my first retainer contract with Emmy Winners Tonic Sol-Fa (working side by side with friends can be daunting, but so worth it)
3. Signing my second retainer contract with Steven C. Anderson, and helping him fill 2,500 seats at the Cathedral (yup, was terrified I would fail)
4. Saying "yes" to helping an old friend rescue a video project that another agency had dropped the ball on, and turning around a new product in just a few weeks
5. Helping the U of M Rochester Promote their new Health Sciences Programs in collaboration with Mayo Clinic (I honestly thought I'd never learn the terminology and I'd offend all the doctors).
6. Working with a NASA astronaut to deliver some fun social content for the Science Museum

All of these things....SOOOOOO SCARY at first. But, ended up being some of the biggest highlights of my career so far. Proving once again, that fear - sometimes doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and needs to quiet down. 

 So, thank you for holding my hand through the mistakes. For helping me put on my big girl pants, and grow up in the process. Because of those "failures"  and "fears" I feel more equipped than ever to handle anything life/work throws at me in 2016.
Happy New Year, rainbow pukers! 

Don't judge know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

Don't judge know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

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The Value of a Working Vacation

"Working vacation? You have to be kidding!" That was the reaction from most people when I used the term. I had planned a two night getaway to Duluth. Craving the sight of water, zen and a need to "buckle down" when it came to planning my future. I've heard from quite a few business owners who struggle with this: hammering so hard on the day-to-day operations/making rent, that thinking about the future seems like something always just barely out of reach. 


I had big plans for what I was going to accomplish. Tactical solutions for a hurdle I've been encountering, planning and process to make sure I don't drop the ball on projects, planning my 1-year Puke Rainbows Party (you're invited!), and a list of approximately 7-8 other things. 

It was ambitious.
It was aggressive. 
It was...not at all what I needed. 

You see, my job has been this HUGE source of joy for me this year. It's more than a job, actually - it's inspiration, daily - both from the clients I work with (yup, kissing ass here), and the other production folks I learn from (yup, another round of ass kissing). But, that joy has been laced with some anxiety. Always this little feeling in my stomach that I'm not doing "enough." That I could be refining a process. That I could be quicker with an invoice. That I could just be...better. 

But, as I sat down to write my business plan for year two, I thought about goals. "Just TYPE, Erica..." I told myself. Because writing is always something that simply flows. So, I did. And this, is what came out:

Then, I chuckled and stretched my hands above my head. Cheering to myself a bit. Laughing, knowing it wasn't that simple. But, nonetheless - it just felt....good, to see that statement in writing. 

Just a few moments after I posted the above photo, there was my buddy Blois Olson - on the phone. Offering great advice. What followed was a quick 15 minute conversation about where I'm at, what I enjoy, and where I want things to be. Really valuable stuff (Thanks, Blois). 

And as I hung up the phone, I felt a sense of calm and reassurance. I already KNEW what I wanted. But, hearing the words come out of my mouth - and tossing around ideas/thoughts with a colleague, was what I NEEDED. Not some fancy 10 step plan. Not a complex strategy. Just...articulation. 

I closed my laptop. 
And looked outside. 


The water was blue. Choppy. The perfect metaphor, honestly. Just like being a business owner.

Because when you're in the middle of things, there are times you quickly go from swimming and playing in the water, to a feeling of drowning. But really, all you need - is to step out of the water for a minute (or perhaps a day or two) to remind yourself you've really been swimming hard, and that it was worth it - because you made it to the other side of the shore. 

This is probably the part of the story where you expect me to say I kept my laptop closed for the remainder of the trip. 

I didn't. 

But, focus DID change. Instead, I spent a little bit more time looking back, than I had expected. Re-hashing the highlights of the year, crunching numbers, mapping out rough goals to keep in mind - and possible ways to accomplish them, instead of a rigid plan full of tools I don't understand quite yet. More focus on balance. 

One other thing also change. I turned on my TV.   Because, I never do that. Ever. In fact, I don't have a TV anymore - because, well...the internet. Tuning out - brought a sense of escape and balance to the process. Commercials would come, and I'd continue to hammer away at things in between before/afters on HGTV (don't you dare judge me!). Also, indulging in the guilty pleasure of an hour of reality TV (couldn't stomach more than that) brought perspective - because damn, I am SO GLAD I don't have the same life as a "Real Housewife" in New Jersey. ha! 

So, as I pack up my things and gear up to head home - I've learned a few valuable lessons: 

1. Sometimes you already know what you want to do, you just need to jump out of the water to see it. 
2. Don't let the lack of a 20 part plan stop you in your tracks. There is more than one RIGHT way to do something. If you know the goal, keep moving toward it - be agile, eyes open,  and allow things to have breathing room/flexibility. 
3. Talk it out. Bouncing ideas around with someone is a great way to get out of your head. 
4. Never underestimate the stress relieving power of driving for 2 hours with the radio on full blast.
5. A little reality TV never hurt anyone. And, it can make you feel way better about your life. ;-)

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