In Spring 2016 as I was starting my public relations and communications business, my cousin Brianna, a fellow creative, suggested for inspiration one of her favorite podcasts: Being Boss. I loved it. It's hosted by two female creatives -- Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson -- for other creatives. It's down to earth, covering issues the duo encounter in their businesses.
Anyhow, flash forward to earlier this year when Kathleen and Emily's book, "Being Boss: Take Care of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms" made its way to me. I asked their publicist for an interview and then devoured the book by the pool. It's basically the best of the best from their podcasts.
Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the book and my chat with Kathleen and Emily.
1. Give yourself permission.
Give yourself permission to pursue your passion, to do the work you love, to have the career you want on your own terms. The self-proclaimed "business besties" hit this idea hard in the beginning of their book. I get why. Before my business launch, I had moments of doubt, asking myself things like "Who am I to say no to the security of a full-time 'real' job? Who am I to crave more satisfying work? It's work, after all." Thank goodness those feelings, which these Bosses call "fraudy," were fleeting and now non-existent. Now I wonder, "Why isn't everyone doing what they love?"
I spoke to Emily about this. "It's something they don't need from us, but what we find people seeking is the permission to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live," she said.
There you go. Permission granted. To be an entrepreneur. To pursue a side hustle. To scale back your hours or ramp them up.
2. Boundaries are important.
Work boundaries are important. If you don't have them, you are sure to burn out just as you would working for the man (or woman). You have to train people to know and respect your boundaries. If you don't want to get emails after hours or on the weekend, don't send emails after hours or on the weekend.
One concept in particular I liked is what the pair call "white space." Both are keen on protecting time on their calendar.
Emily takes no meetings on Thursdays and uses scheduling software to automatically block that day. She uses this day to get a lot done or nothing at all if she chooses. Doesn't that sound amazing?
Meanwhile, Kathleen feels "no shame" in blocking off time every morning to work out. She knows she'll feel better and be more productive for it. "Once you feel and see the difference, you can't go back" to being all booked up all the time, she said when we spoke.
I share Kathleen's workout routine, only mine occurs earlier -- at 5 a.m. However, my favorite yoga teacher is not one to rise at such an hour, so on Tuesdays I attend her 9:30 a.m. class. I guard that spot fiercely on my calendar. And just like these Bosses I give people wanting to meet with me plenty of alternate options.
3. Do the right work.
"Do the work." Emily and Kathleen say it over and over again. In the book. On their podcast. I was curious about this, because sometimes I yearn to just do the work but so many other things -- some of them necessary things -- get in the way. Networking lunches and coffee appointments, meetings with prospects, writing and sending work proposals and contracts, tending to social media.
What to do when you're too busy to just do the work?
Here's what they suggest. Ask yourself "What's working? What's kind of working? What's not working?" Better yet, make a list for each of those categories.
If something is working "high five. You need to keep doing it," Emily said.
If it's kind of working, you need to put in more effort or delegate it.
If it's not working, buh-bye.
What determines if something is working? Money is a clear metric. Does it make you money, bring in business? Happiness and satisfaction and client engagement are other measures.
Lastly, I asked Emily and Kathleen my favorite question: "What's your theme song?"
Emily said the theme song from the 80s show "The Wonder Years." The song "With a Little Help from My Friends" reminds her that while she is "Miss Independent" all day long, life is more enjoyable when you're rocking it with friends.
Kathleen's response -- Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" -- was no surprise as she talks of her love for Queen Bey extensively in the book. "I like partnering with women and working with women," she told me. "There is something special about that fierceness of girl power, especially right now."