Doug Gay: You ready, Jenn? You ready, Jenn? You ready, Jenn?
Jenn Ocken: Maybe.
Doug Gay: Look at me. You’re ready for this. Look at me. Look at me.
Jenn Ocken: I got you. You got me.
Doug Gay: Look at me. You’re confident, you’re beautiful, and you’re great, and we love you.
Jenn Ocken: This is why this man is my accountability partner. He tells me what I want to hear.
Doug Gay: Keep all that, by the way. Today’s episode is taking the shame out of shameless self-promotion. Try saying that five times real fast.
Jenn Ocken: Shameless self-promotion … Nope.
Doug Gay: Nope. No matter how you slice it, creatives and business owners have to sell and promote. Am I right, Jenn?
Jenn Ocken: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. It’s just such a balance. There’s a balance there that we have to figure out. What’s that balance, Doug?
Doug Gay: To me there is no balance. To me there is “I’m selling my product, and go eff yourself if you think I’m a sell-out.” Really, for real.
Jenn Ocken: Then you have me that is like, “Oh, man, I don’t want the ego to come into it, the fear.” I’m totally being honest here. No. Do I feel that now? No. But did I feel it when I was first starting out? Yes. Especially coming out from under my brother’s wings and starting off into a new space, I’m like, “Who am I? Where am I supposed to show up for this craft? Who’s going to book me?” kind of thing. Even though I have defined my target market, I’ve understood where it is that I want to create, there’s that fear. It kind of goes back to me almost hanging it up a week before I released Thriv community.
Doug Gay: Yeah. Hey. Tell us about that real quick.
Jenn Ocken: Oh, man. You know, Doug, more than anything because, that’s probably why you’re asking me, is that you’re the first person that I talked to about this. I literally had spent a year, over a year, I was past a year at that point, of developing Thriv and coming into a community, just evolving into something bigger and the purpose. Everything that I had ever created in my content, I was doing with Thriv. I was going through the motions, and all of a sudden, at the end here where I was about to release everything, my heart stopped. I paralyzed. I didn’t know if I was good enough. Inadequacies were coming up. I was scared. I didn’t know what the other side looked like. I didn’t know if it was going to be received. I was paralyzed. That’s the only way that I can explain.
Doug Gay: Isn’t that crazy that you’ve already developed a successful business, and here you are trying to do the same thing and feeling the same feelings you felt the first time around?
Jenn Ocken: Oh, 10 times over.
Doug Gay: Yeah.
Jenn Ocken: I moved from Chicago to the South, bought a condo, started a brand-new business with maybe eight clients. $700 in my bank, bought a condo.
Doug Gay: Dang.
Jenn Ocken: Did not even blink an eye at it. Knew I needed to do that. Where was that courage? Where was that power that I had?
Doug Gay: Where was it?
Jenn Ocken: I don’t know. It was out the door. It was not even in existence. You can’t even say that there was one foot out the door for me. My whole entire body was out the door. I think the only thing that brought me back was the fact that I had a community.
Doug Gay: You had margaritas with me.
Jenn Ocken: I had margaritas with you. I did, I did, and we sat and we talked about it, and you said, “Jenn, no matter what we do, no matter where we go, no matter what Thriv becomes, it’s already a success because you’ve got everything out there. It’s already doing it.” It was kind of a realization to me because I’m going to tell you right now, creatives, if you want to do an online business, that is where it’s at. The overhead there is not much. It’s all your work and your efforts of putting it into creating content for it, but the monetary value is not much. If I knew that 10 years ago, I would’ve started a online business a long time ago. It’s pretty clutch in the whole grand scheme of financial accountability and going forward. But there’s a lot of “Who am I to do this?”
Doug Gay: Yeah. That’s what I thought when you first approached me about this whole idea. It’s not that I didn’t trust you. It’s that I didn’t want to see you get hurt. I was like, “How the hell are you going to do this?” You know? Then I started receiving emails from your mailing list, and I started receiving these worksheets, and I’m like, “Holy shit. This is going to work.” I got a worksheet from you and I was like, “I’m doing this worksheet.” Because for me, it’s not learning how to be a businessperson. For me, your worksheets are sharpening the saw, to quote what’s his name, Stephen Covey, right? For me, those worksheets are sharpening the saw worksheets. I’ve already thought about this before, but I hadn’t thought about it in a long time, so I’m going to do these worksheets and get my shit together and really kind of get my head back in the game.
When I realized that what you were doing, not just coming in my office and practicing with podcasts with your video camera and all that, my gear, we were thinking about it. It was when you started receiving your emails. I was like, “Oh, wow. She’s got something serious.” Because if you look at your worksheets compared to any other worksheets from any other person, Stephen Covey, I just mentioned him, right, or any other, I took some small business courses and things, you’re right on par with that. But you put it in a way that is fun and colorful, but it’s the same work. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is going to work.” It’s not that I never believed in you. It’s just that I needed a little bit more to see so I didn’t worry about you. Then I saw it, and I’m like, “This is going to happen, man.”
Jenn Ocken: That’s why you’re my accountability partner, because I’ll say it again and again and again, you’ll show up where I am and you’ll never leave me behind. It’s clutch right there. But with all of those emails and everything that I’ve been creating, I have hours, hours of material in the Thriv community, 15 lessons more. Then I have ideas of creating more downloads and more tools and concepts that I’m not going to stop creating. That is what it is. I wanted to walk away because I didn’t know if I had what it took, but the only thing that kept me where I was at was the team that I had in place. You, the people creating, the podcast guys.
Doug Gay: The crew that’s sitting around us that no one is going to see.
Jenn Ocken: The people behind the scenes. They showed up for me, was enough for me to say, “Get help. Seek something so that you can go forward. Figure it out. Figure it out.” I didn’t figure it out. You, Doug, figured it out for me. I actually got professional help. I did meditation, I did journaling. All this stuff that I invite people, affirmations, all that stuff that I am telling people to do, I was tested in the space to do it myself.
Doug Gay: Yeah, like last week.
Jenn Ocken: Yeah, exactly.
Doug Gay: Not in the beginning, through the growth. Last week, because that’s continued growth, right?
Jenn Ocken: Continuing.
Doug Gay: We’re continuing to grow. We might take five steps backwards for a second because we’re freaked out, and then we take two steps forward or seven steps forward because …
Jenn Ocken: That’s one thing that I get really frustrated at is when people are like, “Sometimes I feel like I take one step forward, but it’s really two steps back.” No. No, it’s not. It’s all your perception.
Doug Gay: It’s all your perception.
Jenn Ocken: I cannot wait for that podcast. We are going to rock that podcast.
Doug Gay: I love perception. I’m all about it.
Jenn Ocken: Because it is all about that. Getting back to the shame in shameless self-promotion.
Doug Gay: Shameless promotion, here we go.
Jenn Ocken: I know. I’m about to do it. I got to give the shameless self-promotion.
Doug Gay: Sorry, guys, I have to give a shameless promotion.
Jenn Ocken: You know what, forget it, y’all.
Doug Gay: It ain’t shameless, bro, it’s a promotion.
Jenn Ocken: No. No. The first thing about anything of you being creative, number one, it’s your business. It’s your space
where you are accountable.
Doug Gay: Yeah.
Jenn Ocken: Nobody else is going to show up for it but you, so do it.
Doug Gay: Yeah.
Jenn Ocken: It’s your business. It’s where you’re at, it’s who you are, and it’s why you do what you do. The second thing is is that your fans want to hear your story. They want more than anything to get to know you and who you are. That is why we’re doing this podcast. This is content that’s going to show up for our fans and say, “Here we are. This is who we are. We’re nothing but who we are, and this is why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Doug Gay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenn Ocken: The other thing about it is that you have a value in your space that allows you to create more, so why don’t you want to cultivate that?
Doug Gay: Right.
Jenn Ocken: Just cultivate it. Just show up for it and cultivate it, because people are going to get behind your back. The naysayers, they’re not your target market. They’re not the people that are going to push you forward obviously, because they made it clear, right? If you can find it in your space, and that’s where I needed to, when I was about to release the whole Thriv community, release all of the website, I had fortunately created a space where I had founding members, and they were showing up for me and they were encouraging me. But I needed to be there for them. They were also my accountability people. You create that community of like-minded individuals that will show up for you, then you’re going to have a space where you can’t fail.
Doug Gay: Right.
Jenn Ocken: You can make mistakes, but you’re setting yourself up where you can’t fail.
Doug Gay: Oh, God. Yeah. I’ve been in business 12 years. I’m 42 years old. Just recently did I realize that I can’t fail.
Jenn Ocken: Oh, I love that story. Tell that story, Doug, tell that story.
Doug Gay: It’s just a bunch of different situations that made me realize it. But they all kind of had to add up before I actually internalized it and accepted it. When Hurricane Katrina hit, we had a really, really bad time. I didn’t even have really a staff. I had teachers, but I didn’t have a full staff of people. I had a 16-year-old girl who was working for me, working out of the band room of the Dunham School, while three other schools were all sharing that school, from New Orleans, and trying to figure out how to tell 80 people we’re still in business. It was really very scary, and we got through it, right? Then I decided to move on to another location, a bigger place, and we had another series, it’s just one thing after the other. Even just as recently as the 2016 flood, I thought I was going out of business. I know that’s nothing to laugh at, but I did because people didn’t show up for a month or two.
Then I realized, after all of these trials and tribulations, I’ve never missed a payroll, I’ve never missed a mortgage payment, I’ve never missed a rent payment for my business. I’ve always made it work. I was wasting a lot of energy on worrying when history was telling me you’re going to be fine. I just had to pay attention to that. But it takes a while to pay attention to that, if you’re like me, and I think a lot of creatives are like me. Artists are not only worried a lot about how their art comes across, but also just about life in general, just worries. I say creatives; it could be anyone. But when I came to terms with the fact that I’m going to be okay, it changed everything about my business. It really did. We moved forward.
You think about, I’m making a bold decision to move forward in a way of marketing and spending this amount of money on this particular thing that people might not understand why I’m doing it, but I do and my staff does. I may have never made that decision if I didn’t realize, “Wow, we got through all these other really terrible situations, and I’m fine, so why not just take a bunch of money and dump it into something I think is going to be good? I’m going to be find anyway, so let’s experiment with that.”
Jenn Ocken: Yeah, and what came out of all that? Your confidence, right?
Doug Gay: Confidence, that’s right. Not only confidence, but as I speak now, which will be in the future, as people listen to this, we’ve gotten 25 leads in 48 hours because of this one thing that I decided to do that I would’ve never had the guts to do had I not come to the realization that I’m going to be fine all the time. I’m just going to be fine.
Jenn Ocken: That’s what I really love about us being here, showing up for this podcast, is that we’re laying down this idea that you can move forward. You can move forward. Thriv community, being a part of that is going to show you all the different steps and spaces too. For instance, showing your confidence, showing up for your confidence in a space where you as a creative understand that how you speak, what you say, where you’re at, how you feel about your own self is going to give somebody else confidence in whether they’re going to book you or not or they’re going to show up for your craft or they’re going to hire you for your creative services, right?
Doug Gay: Absolutely, absolutely. Just to kind of piggyback off of what you’re saying and tie it back into the same shameless self-promotion, which we’re never going to call it that again, it’s just called promotion.
Jenn Ocken: Self-promotion, content, marketing, it’s all kinds of things.
Doug Gay: If you’re doing that in a sheepish way, where you’re saying, “I don’t want to bother you all, but this is what I do, this is my product. I hope you buy it.” What is that? No. “This is what I do. I’m selling it. Come and get it.”
Jenn Ocken: Own it.
Doug Gay: Right? Yeah, own that promotion.
Jenn Ocken: I’ve talked a lot in the past with creatives that have just been like, “But other people are doing the same thing that I’m doing.” They have this space where, “I don’t know if I have something different. What do I need to do?” Right.
Doug Gay: That’s my first sound effect of the … Yeah.
Jenn Ocken: Of the whole podcast.
Doug Gay: Yeah.
Jenn Ocken: Here’s my thought about that is that, and this is what I tell everybody and this is what I say time and time again, in everything I do you’ll hear me say it, you are your uniqueness. You are your space that you hold. Nobody can do what you can do. Just the same as nobody can do what Jacob does. Nobody does what Doug does. Whatever you bring to your craft or your creative service, nobody else has that. That’s what you write about. That’s where your self-confidence comes from. That’s where your self-promotion is, telling your story. I love this, there’s this one person that I’ve been following here lately on Instagram. It’s this graphic designer. He lives in the South. We just had a bunch of snow days. He put not even him, he just found a picture of somebody commuting down the road on a snowmobile, and in South Louisiana, that’s the most absurd thing in the world, but he’s like, “My morning commute to work.”
That was self-promotion because it was “my morning commute,” but it wasn’t him, it was just a stock image that he found that he put on Instagram. It can be as simple as that. It doesn’t have to be so ego driven, because as creatives, we want to take that ego out of it or it’s all in. It’s a balance.
Doug Gay: It feels icky. It feels icky to do. I’ve to come to peace, I don’t feel icky. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way, but I do understand why people feel that way. But it’s our mission to be a part of their community and say, “Don’t feel that way. Promote your shit. It’s good.”
Jenn Ocken: Another part of being part of the creative is you can be like, “Hey, this is what I want to do. Should I feel right about it? How can I alter it?”
Doug Gay: Absolutely.
Jenn Ocken: You can show up with some really great feedback.
Doug Gay: Right?
Jenn Ocken: Oh. I cannot wait to do that podcast, the imposter podcast.
Doug Gay: Don’t steal your stuff.
Jenn Ocken: Don’t be an imposter. Be authentic.
Doug Gay: But also put it out there a lot, a lot, frequently. We do that all the time. Facebook every day. Like I just said. By the way, if anyone wants to know about what I’ve done to do this promotion that’s driven so many potential clients into my inbox within the last 48 hours, please feel free to email me. You can find me through Jenn’s website or you can email me. This is very important to me.
Jenn Ocken: It’s a great lesson.
Doug Gay: How can you move forward if you’re afraid to promote yourself?
Jenn Ocken: Right.
Doug Gay: You’re afraid of the sell-out portion of it. Right? What? What does that mean? I don’t get it. I’m selling my product.
Jenn Ocken: But that’s what we were taught as … That’s a starving artist myth.
Doug Gay: It is.
Jenn Ocken: It’s absolutely a starving artist myth. If you read my article about being a starving artist, you’ll understand all these different pain points, and that sell-out is a pain point where you need to show up in a space where you have to be obscure, you have to be found, to be really an authentic artist. It’s just under the radar.
Doug Gay: If you can pay your rent and do that, cool.
Jenn Ocken: That’s the thing is that’s the starving artist. You can’t pay the rent doing that. You have to. You have to. There’s no other way. I’m sorry. I know it makes us feel icky as creatives. I know it makes us feel like we’re in a space of inauthenticity, but that is our own creative block, as a creative. I’ve been there.
Doug Gay: I’ve been there. It’s been a long time though.
Jenn Ocken: Yeah.
Doug Gay: I promote the shit out of myself.
Jenn Ocken: That’s why we’re here now, being able to talk about it, because we’ve been through those spaces. We’ve been through the trenches of being a starving artist and being at the crossroads and making that decision and holding your power. There’s a balance, and we can talk about that balance, and we can understand that balance, and that’s where us as creative accountability and hanging out with like-minded people, that’s where you can really, really, really exceed in your space of creativity.
Doug Gay: Absolutely.
Jenn Ocken: It’s that camaraderie. It’s that joy of being in a community.
Doug Gay: That’s right.
Jenn Ocken: Takes a village.
Doug Gay: It takes a village, which is Thriv, and that’s the perfect time to say it is time for your call of action, Miss
Jenn Ocken: Oh, man, y’all, come on. I would love to see you guys show up for me in the Thriv community, show up for yourselves in the Thriv community, and show up for others. We’re here waiting for you. If there is ever a space where you really just want to be around like-minded individuals, not even in the same industry as you, but just understanding that there’s a bunch of us out there just trying to figure it out. We’re here for you, and I hope that you can show up, you can check it out at thestarvingartistmyth.com. If you want to sign up for the Thriv community, we have a private Facebook group that you get as a benefit. You have more access to myself, you have more access to Doug on a more intimate level when you sign up to be a member for the Thriv community, so check us out. We do have a free Facebook group too, Thrivsters group. It’s a great little space to just kind of start interacting and get the idea of what the Thriv community is all about, but to really get down to the nitty-gritty and just to really have availability to other like-minded individuals going through the same thing and pursuing a creative career path.
Doug Gay: That’s right, and if you’re not just looking for listening to Jenn and I’s pains and how we get through what we do and you’re not just looking for those partners in pain, you’re actually looking for specific goals, specific workshops and worksheets to get yourself organized and to put yourself on a path to success, in regard to your operations and systems in your business, this is the place to be. Thank you guys for listening. I’m Doug Gay, and I love you, and I love you, Jenn.
Jenn Ocken: I love you too. I’m Jenn Ocken. Thanks y’all for being here.
Doug Gay: We’ll see you next time.
Jenn Ocken: Peace.