I had no idea what to expect when I launched my business six months into the pandemic.
How It Started
I had no idea what to expect when I launched Switch Strategies in August.
I mean, starting something six months into the pandemic seemed...iffy.
But I really wanted to help those who were struggling this year. After all, I had
spent over 20 years in various roles helping people plan and implement change.
So, I created Switch Strategies as a new umbrella for a more focused form of that work.
My goal was simple: to be of service during a tough year, and learn as much as I could about the challenges faced by creative women on a budget.
I cast a wide net. I wanted to be as accessible as possible.
I offered to partner one on one via email with any self-identified ¨creative woman¨ anywhere who donated at least US$25 to a nonprofit in her community that provided food to those in need.
Would anyone sign up?
Would too many sign up?
There was no way to know unless I tried. So, I tossed my offer into the (internet) wind, and waited.
How It´s Going: My End-of-year Numbers for 2020
Here are the numbers for the first 4 months of Switch Strategies:
51 creative women enrolled in the Kickstart Change series
12 home countries of change artists (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Yemen, Estonia, France, Nigeria, Ghana)
40 change artists who completed their initial strategy steps (self-reported)
13 businesses re-branded or pivoted
7 new businesses launched
6 new community projects started
5 new artistic projects envisioned & launched
3 downsizing/creative retirements started
3 moves abroad completed
2 books outlined & started
$1700+ donated to local nonprofits providing food to people in need
I am in tears reading this list! It has been an enormous privilege to be a part of so many exciting changes.
Don´t let anyone tell you that everyone was hunkering down in 2020. This list is proof that creative women are using this time to rethink everything and make bold moves to create positive and powerful change.
3 Big Lessons Learned
This has been a grand experiment. I have learned so much!
Here are my 3 biggest takeaways:
1) having a clear, simple strategy really helps creative women step forward with confidence and create momentum on a project
2) not everyone is ready to create a strategy or move forward...and that´s okay!
3) it´s time to create a sustainable model for Switch Strategies
Transparency: some women were not yet able to move ahead with their idea, even though they really wanted to. I mean, it´s 2020. There are so many things that are out of our control, including business/work closures, funding options, travel bans, and school schedules.
But even those who were unable to launch their projects are far ahead of where they were before they had a strategy! They have clarity, purpose, and a plan...and they are on fire!
So, huge kudos to those who made progress despite the challenges, and big hugs to those who are still waiting until they can take their next steps.
Changes for Switch in 2021
Listen, I am all about making things simple, doable, and fun. And I take my own advice. 😊
So, beginning in 2021, I will be ENDING the original Kickstart Change series and offering a NEW package. This new option gives me time to work on team projects, while going deeper into each individual´s process.
At just $48, the new Clear & Present Strategy series is available for both individuals and teams.
THANK YOU to all the change artists who invited me to join them in making big changes in this wild year of big changes. I am so grateful for your trust in me, and for your willingness to think creatively, answer probing questions, and make bold decisions. Your generous donations to your local food banks are feeding those in need and filling my heart.
Want to study abroad, but your parents aren´t into it?
Since my book, THE NEW GLOBAL STUDENT, was published in 2009 (Crown/Random House), I have received hundreds of emails from parents and students looking for affordable, accessible, and thrilling ways to get a great international education without going into debt.
Most of the emails I get are from high school students. You see, they read my book, get all excited about doing things differently, and then get shut down when they talk to their parents about the idea. So many students write to me saying, ¨I am so depressed. I KNOW this is what I want to do. But my parents are absolutely opposed to me doing anything besides sticking to the standard good grades->high SAT-> elite college path."
Now, there are times when following that path is absolutely the best option. But more often, the path of least resistance yields the greatest rewards if you have a clear strategy and strong motivation.
But what about parents? Don´t they have to be on board? After all, they are most likely paying the bills.
Yes, parents need to be supportive for any study abroad program or alternative high school path to work. However, most parents, despite initial strong resistance to the idea of doing things differently, can be convinced to consider other options.
The key: don´t be dramatic. Don´t get emotional. Have a calm, honest conversation with your parents and find out exactly why they aren´t thrilled about the ideas you present.
Do they just not want you to be so far away?
Are they worried that you won´t get a ¨real¨ degree that will get you a job?
Are they concerned that you will be lonely and depressed?
Do they doubt the legitimacy of the program you have in mind?
Are they thinking that going abroad will be more expensive (with flights, etc.) and
not eligible for financial aid or scholarships?
Really drill down and make a list of every single concern. Your goal is to be methodical, show that it´s important to you to understand what they´re worried about, and proceed in a way that will showcase your maturity and sense of responsibility.
Because frankly, that is really what most parents worry about. They think you´ll get into some kind of trouble while abroad, and they won´t be able to help you.
Listen, there are definitely issues that can arise. Your job is to look at each possibility, recognize that it may arise if you don´t prepare yourself, and find a way to convince your parents that you have a plan that will address each one should it present itself.
I have helped hundreds(!) of students prepare to go abroad through mentoring and sometimes even talking with their parents. I know it can seem impossible to get past a definitive ¨no,¨ but if you approach it with a plan, you can find some common ground and figure out a way to get at least some of what you´re longing for.
Still not convinced you can convince them?
Contact me. Tell me what the biggest obstacles are. Let´s see if we can make this happen in a way that ensures that everyone feels comfortable, confident, and excited!
Want free publicity? It´s not as hard as you think.
It starts with a pitching strategy.
One of my favorite parts of being a change strategist is helping creative women get publicity for the good work they´re doing. Over the years, I have been featured in
nearly 200 print and web media outlets around the world for a range of business and personal projects, from my playful mindfulness training technique and my
how-to handbook about global education to my current role as
chief change artist here at Switch Strategies.
And while things have changed since my first feature interview as a high school student back in the late 70s, the basic premise is the same: have a
unique and compelling story and tell it in an engaging way.
Pitching hasn´t changed much since those does, but the process has become more automated. In some ways, it´s a lot easier now. There´s email! And websites where you can find contacts and email addresses! So, really, it´s just a matter of deciding what you want to share, and where you want to share it.
There are some tricks, however. And there are definitely some trade secrets. But the main thing is having a simple, clear strategy that will guarantee you free publicity every single month. (And I´m not talking about your own social media or blog!)
Don´t believe me? Well, I started Switch Strategies in August. That´s just four months ago. I spent August and September setting things up and focusing on helping my clients. So, I really began my publicity strategy from late September. In that time, I have had full feature articles (interviews of me only) in Thrive Global and Authority Magazine, and have been quoted in InStyle, U.S. News & World Report, TotalWellness, Outwit Trade, My Corp blog, and The Daily Meditation. Not only that, but I was just interviewed for a major publication that will be printed in ten languages on three continents!
So, I know that it´s possible, even for brand new businesses, to get noticed.
But print and web media is not the only option. I have guest appearances scheduled for numerous podcasts beginning in January. (I was putting it off until after the holidays) I look forward to exploring new ways to share my thoughts and experience about facing, managing, and designing change!
Would getting free publicity in local, national, or international publications benefit you and the work you´re doing? Let´s be publicity partners! I´d love to help you create a strategy to help you get the attention that will lead to more clients, customers, and community building.
Contact me today and let´s get you in the news! :-)
This is my sixth blog in 20 years.
I haven´t decided yet whether I will want to really grow it, or whether it will remain a quiet little corner of my website.
Maybe it will be a place to share thoughts that I don´t have space for in my weekly
Or maybe I will use it to showcase some of the challenges and successes faced by the creative women change artists who have been through my
Kickstart Change series.
And since I´m still teaching and writing about mindfulness, I may use this space to incorporate some of the playful, eyes-wide-open techniques that are helping people of all ages around the world manage the stress and change(!) that 2020 served up.
Also, even though it´s been over ten years (!) since the publication of
THE NEW GLOBAL STUDENT (my go-to guide for students and families considering thrilling and affordable alternatives to the traditional high-school-to-college path), I still get emails every week from readers asking me how to study abroad, ¨smart out¨ of high school, or graduate from college at 20 with no debt. So, I may end up writing a little about that here.
Or hey, who knows? Maybe I will end up posting some of my recent
mixed-media art or even poetry. Because we change artists love staying creative and learning new things!
This is all to be decided. And that´s what´s fun about starting something new!
Let´s just see where this goes, shall we?
Thanks for being here. xo