So about four years ago I started flipping out about my eggs. I was thirty. Everywhere in the media people talk about how as you age your fertility becomes non-existent. Suddenly I was aware of this ticking time bomb in my gut and I wondered if it mattered if I ever did anything about it. I had heard all those stories about Martha Stewart’s daughter trying to get knocked up and her foreboding warnings that women should not forget about their waning fertility. It was one of those worries that was at the back of my mind. Something I consider now recreational stress, but I used to partake in that kind of stuff a lot.
One of the things that held me back from the pursuit of my joy and my true purpose in life is that the things I wanted didn’t come with a defined path. I spent so much of my teens and twenties looking for things with an “If you do x, y, z then you will achieve your desired result.” This made the decision to get my JD at 20 years old really seductive. I was licensed to practice in two states by 24 years old and stayed in my 9-6 (or 8 or 9 somedays) job for five years because I liked the security and couldn’t figure out how to achieve my other dreams.
That security was a myth. Just like being engaged to someone I thought was my forever didn’t actually mean forever, staying with a job for five years didn’t protect me from the first round of layoffs when the real estate market crashed. Turns out, both of those were the best things to happen to me in years.
My career goal is to have a talk show. Of course, there’s more than that, I would love to create a Femmepire: have a magazine, an animated series and books and all manner of media related to the topic of learning to love yourself and living your joy. It is incredibly frustrating at times because it’s not like there is a curriculum in higher ed to become the Queer Oprah.
Damien Luxe spent two years working on an MFA in DIY. At first I thought she was actually in a program that let her use DIY as a specialty, but in fact she just created a curriculum for an MFA and self-studied. Sure she doesn’t have a “degree” per se but she finished her one-woman show, almost a whole book and learned a lot! She presented the curriculum at Heather’s Artist’s Salon and it was incredibly well-rounded.
Nearly two years on this path of diversifying my income and careers to enable me to get to my talk show and live the mission of my life, I started thinking that an MBA would be far more useful to me than my JD. What would it look like to create my own MBA curriculum? How would it benefit the work and art that I am creating to know how to market, strategize and create success?
The thought of reading business books makes me yawn, but it just so happens that I have been presented with an advanced reading copy of one of the most lively and interesting books about an entrepreneur that I have ever read.
Written by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.Com, Delivering Happiness is part memoir part retrospective road map to creating the kind of corporate culture and success that encourages staff to create coffee machine robots for the lobby. He specifically establishes the purpose of the book to be how he found happiness in business and in life.
I am a slow reader* but finished the book in the time of a cross-country flight. In the introduction Tony sets the tone for the book and lays out the expectation that he’s not a writer and purposefully wrote the book in his own voice and without always the best uses of grammar. As a grammar appreciator, I cringed when I read that but actually it was a fantastically chatty read, like a blog but with better editing. I found the whole book incredibly inspirational and practical. Sometimes what you need is someone you can relate to telling you how they got to where they are.
I related to Tony quite a bit–a smart kid who didn’t like to do any extra work when he didn’t have to, he got into a lot of mischief and schemes (to no externally hurtful end) growing up. He also explained how he walked away from 20 million dollars during his dot com “vest in peace” period because he realized he wasn’t happy. That is the kind of chutzpah I know, love and admire.
Making decisions about your own pleasure or happiness over security is something that is shamed in our culture and, if you can master being in touch with yourself enough to know what will make you happy I think you owe it to yourself to risk the happiness. For me, learning to love the uncertainty (and brokeness) that comes with being in the relentless pursuit of my joy and my mission in life has been infinitely spiritually rewarding.
Tony’s discussion of the Zappos Core Values is also relevant not just in business, but in real life. I have highlighted a lot of lines in that section to go back and reflect on, but this was my favorite:
Under the core value “Embrace and Drive Change” Tony says “Ask yourself: How do you plan and prepare for change? Do you view new challenges optimistically? Do you encourage and drive change? How do you encourage more change to be driven from the bottom up? Are you empowering your direct reports to drive change?”
And this, too, from the core value Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded:
“We want everyone to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid to make mistakes, because if people aren’t making mistakes then that means they’re not taking enough risks.”
As a bonus to all of the good life and business coaching in the book, I also got to learn about one of the sexiest corporations I can think of. An entire website full of shoe porn, including amazingly multi-faceted shots of Fluevogs. I mean, really.
After reading this book I am definitely ready to continue my MBA in DIY curriculum and keep developing my Femmepire creation strategy.
If you want to get a copy of Delivering Happiness, using this link gives my site a tiny referral credit and with my referral fees I’m going to slowly amass my business book entourage. Next up is Suze Orman’s Young Broke and Fabulous (I’m reading Women and Money right now).
Further, I have a giveaway! Tony sent me an extra copy of the book as a giveaway on my blog. If you comment by midnight Eastern time on June 15 about your dream job (whether it is in a corporation or your own enterprise), you will be entered to win. I’ll pick the winner at random. Good luck!
*Slow readers represent!