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When it comes to creative business, let’s leave the woo-woo out of it.

Lets Leave the Woo-Woo Out of our Creative Biz

My bullshit meter has been sitting in the red all day, and I need to bring it back to normal or I’m going to blow up, or something.

I went on a little rant on Twitter this morning, but the character limit didn’t allow me to fully get at my pet peeve.

My pet peeve is this: woo-woo rhetoric in the context of business advice for women.

It seems like everywhere I look, someone is selling an ebook, course or seminar on some or another topic that involves the words goddess, soulfulness, or spirituality. Or some variation or combination of words like that.

(Men, do you encounter this? I know the products I’m talking about here are aimed specifically at women because of the design they’re couched in and the gendered language, like goddess. I don’t think I’ve seen anything remotely flaky like this aimed at solo male creatives, but please school me if I’m wrong.)

Now, I’m unconcerned with anyone’s individual experience. It’s specifically the proliferation of teaching and advice materials that connect this woo-woo bullshit with running a successful business that gets me.

Why? Because business is not church, people. And in case you have this but forming, business is not yoga either.

Know what I’d like to see? Reality. A whole lot more reality. An embracing of reality. That we are a varied and diverse group of people that is motivated by any number of factors to blaze our own trails in making a living. That it can be hard and it can be beautiful, sometimes at the same time. But let’s not assume that because we’re women, we need to get all touchy feely and woo-woo about everything.

I want to see rhetoric that sells materials and services to creative businesspeople without elevating business to the divine. Because business is not divine. Business is business. Life is life. Reality is reality.

As human beings, we will seek and find greater meaning in an infinite variety of ways, and we’ll do that in our businesses regardless of what other people tell us, because our businesses are a huge part of our lives. So enough telling us. Enough subtly hinting that we need to get in touch with some inner whatever in order to thrive and shine and float above… what? real life?

Because seriously. Reality is just great, folks. It’s a good place to be. We all live here. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it’s amazing and all the time it’s what we have, and it’s alright.

I want to feel capable and successful, don’t you? Do we need to be sold the snake oil of achieving goddess status to feel we’re worthy of all our basic desires?

I want to pursue work I find fulfilling and fun and that allows me to connect to other human beings. Why does someone have to imply that that’s somehow related to my soul?

I want to see words like satisfaction and profitable and meaningful.

In short, I’d like not to feel like I’m surrounded by flaky bullshit all the time.

There, I said it.

My usual place in the crafty/creative business landscape is on the fringes. I’m comfortable with that. I get that the sort of thing I’m complaining about here proliferates because it sells. People want it. And that’s fine.

But some of us don’t want it, and there’s very little else out there for us. And I’d like to know why.

So tell me, if you know. Please tell me. I need to let this go and get back to my everyday normal stuff. Which everyday normal, mortal, un-divine stuff forms the substance of my challenging, engaging, and utterly satisfying business life.

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Kate Osborn

Yes.

Sandra

I am SO with you on this! It ignores all the tedious hard work of starting and running a business that goes with the fun. That somehow it’ll be magically be all unicorns and sparkle dust with no customers stiffing you or suppliers missing deadlines.

I wonder if some of this comes from people’s mixed feelings about money and success – that wanting to be financially successful has some shame attached to it.

I think it relates partly to the idea that somewhere out there is the “right” career for you. And that “right” career is defined as one where you love it every single moment and are fulfilled all the time.

So if you are ever overloaded or discouraged or tired or bored, then heavens, you must not be in the right goddess/divine/foofy career. You must not be “enlightened” enough to have found that perfect career. Or what if your paid work is being a cleaner or a manual laborer? Does that mean you’ll live an unfulfilled life?

Just some off the top of my head thoughts….

Lahondaknitter

Oh I’m right there with you. If I’m seeking information on how to improve my business, I want “if you do this, and work at doing this, you should get this kind of result.” I don’t need the airy fairy in business, I get plenty of that in my spirtual practice, where it belongs.

Thanks Kim for saying out loud what a lot of us have been thinking.

Erin Robinson

As a new business just starting out, THANK YOU! I am grateful for the vast amounts of knowledge that others who have had success have left for me to read, study, follow, and apply to my own world. However, the fluff is overwhelming pretty much at every turn. This is the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done and while I am working hard at my business everyday, I have yet to see a rainbow or unicorn other than the ones I’ve made with my hands. It’s great to see you, as someone who I do follow, put it out there in reality – this isn’t all sunshine and daisies and if I don’t reach the devine with my creations, it’s okay – That is not a measurement of my success.

Vanessa

Yes!! And I find that whole “inner goddess” crap to be really weird and so not me. In my own private practice, I do ask God if I’m doing the right thing. Is this path what I should be doing? But I don’t ask God how to better market my products. If I make a sale, that’s because I’m reaching my right customer, not because of divine will.

Marcofia

Being someone who sees things more like Vanessa, I think it’s great that you can support someone’s practice even though it’s not yours, Kim. I completely agree with you on your above comments, though, even though I don’t have my own business.

lisaB

Hilariously, I am at a yoga retreat having similar thoughts…… cant I just do yoga because it is good for my body and effective at quieting my hamster-wheel brain? Everytime an instructor says something like ‘focus on your 3rd charkra’ or maddenigly refers to the right side of the body as the masculine side I get pulled out of my happy place and froth with annoyance. But I accept that this is part of the yoga experience for many, I cant imagine facing it in the context of business where it has no place – would drive me crazy.

Vanessa

I feel the same way about yoga. I think it’s what really keeps me from picking it up. I figured I’ll stick to my own meditation practice and martial arts. I’m afraid my eyes will roll out of my head if I hear about how my “wood chi” is out of whack.

Lisa C.

I am so glad you said that. I thought I was the only one. I actually like the yogic way of looking at the world but in my physical practice I just want to be lightly guided through the motions.

Betsy

Another YES here! OMG so sick of it.

I just want to CONNECT with like-minded people, I don’t give a flip if we’re goddesses or rockstars or gurus! I just want AUTHENTICITY, that’s what I want, what I really really want. (To quote “real” rockstars, the Spice Girls…) ;)

Kari

I feel a bit conflicted about this and would love to have a conversation about it next week. I personally think there is a lot of room for woo-woo in business, but I think you and I have different versions of what woo-woo is. I think there are loads of resources for straight up business advice for the general public and women that doesn’t include this kind of language. So much so that people have created these types of alternatives.
I’m not for the HELL YES! concept (never having had a HELL YES! moment myself, even when I’ve had my biggest and best ideas…) – or the “perfect” anything. Work is work, no matter who your boss is. However, I think there is lots of room to include feeling in ones work and my spirituality practices are what helps get me through my projects and days, and I apply them to my business and daily work. While they are not a part of my business plan, they are a part of my business practices.

my opinion

While I agree on some of your rant, I also want to point to the fact that this type of “biz” you are referring to also includes christian/God based proselytizing in online business. So this is not just a “goddess/spirituality” woo woo issue only. Just wanted to make things even here. The whole “god and christian” and biz gets to my nerve in the same plane as to you the ‘goddess’ thing gets to you.

Lorna's Laces

I desperately need to learn this lesson. I constantly find myself phrasing things differently or downplaying my success because I don’t want people to feel badly if they don’t do as well as I do. I hesitate to mention buying things or traveling. I don’t want to brag or belittle anyone else, but it’s OK for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Donna Druchunas

I’m the opposite. I hesitate to mention when I’m not doing as well as I’d like to be in my business because I’m afraid to scare off customers who won’t think I’m popular enough! Isn’t that so high-school lame-ass?

Lorna's Laces

I also have trouble with the “we’re all girls here” attitude in my corner of the creative world. So often that attitude often seems to go along with things like “so you’ll understand if I don’t pay my invoice on time” or “you can do xyz for me for free”. I’m all for being supportive and lending a hand, but if we want to be treated as serious businesses, we have to behave like serious businesses and treat our colleagues like serious businesses.

dianaburrell

Thank you for this post. You put your finger on all the things that have bothered me about these classes/coaching targeted to women. The irony here is that the women business owners who buy these classes probably have plenty of “goddess” and “soul” in their businesses already. In fact, they should be dialing the feminine down and developing skills many women are loath to tackle like negotiating contracts, setting expectations, marketing, and financial management. It’s the path of least resistance to nurture all the good stuff already inside of you than address the practical deficiencies you lack; these divine goddess coaches latch onto that.

Lisa C.

Yes! I really do find the woo-woo crap off-putting. When I come across it, I head in the other direction. The thing is that I love all that woo-woo stuff in other aspects of my life but business is business and the implication that a man’s success is a sign of power but a woman’s is “cute” drives me up the crazy tree.

Teresa Sullivan

Right on, Kim. A lot of the woo-woo stuff sells because people don’t even have a bullshit detector, much less use one. It’s more difficult to sell a how-to book that tells the truth (that you actually have to do the work, not just think positive thoughts). If many professional advice-givers had to rely on their own advice, instead of relying on income from selling advice, they’d either be out of business (if their advice is crap) or (if their advice is worth a dang) they wouldn’t even need to try to sell you an advice book/DVD/counseling session. Caveat vendor…

Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

Hey Kim! I just found you again after working with you yeaaaaars ago on crochet me when I was in college. :)
Anyway, I TOTALLY agree with you about the woo woo floofy “business coach” pulling “value” out of her ass and selling snake oil.
There ARE valid business courses out there, but I don’t think they’re usually targeted to women. They’re targeted to entrepreneurs, you know? Male or female, whatever. I’m taking one now and it’s fantastic… absolutely loving it and learning so much. Also listening to tons of business podcasts which are really helpful and informative, too… nothing floofywoowoo.

I think if you’re looking for actual substance, getting away from the “craft business courses” or “women-run business courses” will help. Just straight-up business, and apply it to what you’re doing. (But, you know, it looks like you’re doing pretty well so i’m not “concerned” for you. haha)

Anyway, just followed you on twitter (@JoyfulAbode) and instagram (@SoDamnDomestic) … excited to reconnect!

Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

PS You probably don’t remember me but in case, i’m throwing it out there. haha. I was Hook Me Up! Crochet.

Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

Sorry I didn’t reply right away. I listen to TONS of podcasts.

Seanwes (and he’s an artist)
Internet Business Mastery is one of my favorites
The Smart Passive Income Podcast
The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast
Connect, Engage, Inspire
The Eventual Millionaire

And I’m sure I’m missing some other ones

olivegreen

Preach!

Hestra

But he doesn’t want to be in the church in the first place. Lol

meg

How do you feel about mommy bloggers? I personally detest them. I’m not a mom. Never want to be. I’m a businesswoman. Just wondered about your thoughts.

Evie B

I’m not one to comment on blog posts, but I came across this one and felt the need to share. There is definitely a fine line and a delicate balance of when to use what skill. As someone who blends Spirit and business- I too cringe and rant about the magical thinking that is being bandied about as “spiritual thought”. It’s getting to be ridiculous. In terms of Spirit and business- I find it necessary in how I approach my work and how I am able to empower women leaders & entrepreneurs to create success and alignment in their business. I am an intuitive and empath but also (amongst other things) a business counselor and coach (trained) that works in a business center dedicated to women entrepreneurs- w/startups (many creative) to multi-million government contractors. I also come from the government/nonprofit space. Talk about the oddball combination, but my integrated approach works. People need to learn the basics of operationalizing their business. In my experience, the things that prevent people from doing the actual hard work of running a business- in addition to the lack of know how is a “spiritual/energy/mental” block. Leaning on my intuition, I am able to hone in what the block is- help the person become aware and transmute it and then help them create a plan or find the resource to work on that aspect of their business operations. What I find 10 out of 10 times is that I don’t work with them to address the block (a fear, a limiting belief, a false story etc) first, they will be in the same stuck place when they see me again at their next session. I find this most in marketing, technical negotiations and money. There are a lot of stories that we women tell ourselves… Read more »

Crysti

Thank you for saying this!!

Jane

I don’t really know from what you are saying, what it is exactly you don’t like? The piece you have written seems to be uncentred and unclear. A bit woo woo in fact. It buzzes all around the exteriors of saying something but then flies off before it does. A bit flaky in fact. Puzzling.
Also not everyone in business wants to fit into the stereo-type. We don’t all want to be seen around with around brief cases, straight skirts and intelligent glasses and short hair in order to be taken seriously. It will be padded shoulders again next. Is that any less of a construct and an image than the whole woo woo thing? Is it any more useful and tangible? People shouldn’t have to conform, it shouldn’t be about image at all, but rather about the quality of your work. It could actually be like that too.

Laura

I’m reading this article a few months late, but have to agree with you. I feel goddessy, but want my business to be kick ass. Thanks for saying what I often feel…
http://xo-lp.com

Lucy Parsons

I’m totally with you. I’m no goddess. I work VERY hard on a daily basis, combined with bringing up a young family. It’s not spiritual, soulful or glamourous. I don’t have my own studio filled with bright white light. I’m common sense, pragmatic, analytical. I’m not your typical artsy type. If there us such a thing. Give me hard, proven business advice and I’ll follow it!

Anna pontikis

I have to say I find your post highly judgemental. A lot of highly successful entrenpreneurs male and female have “divine” practices like meditating daily, journaling, yoga, running etc which are all spiritual and divine. I don’t actually think you can separate the two. If you have these practices daily they will filter into your business just by the way you conduct yourself and how authentic you are. Also being spriritual in business is different for everyone. Women are more open to doing business in a more spiritual way that doesn’t make it flaky. Totally disagree with this post. As an example of a couple of highly successful women who both teach business skills to women very differently and one is more spiritual than the other but both are effective in their own way with kick arse business advice. Marie Forleo and Leonie Dawson.

Donna Druchunas

I love this post Kim and I agree with you completely. BUT I think there is a different way to do business than is the commonly accepted norm in a male-dominated society (aka patriarchy). Focusing on making the most money possible, not attending to self care, not valuing people more than profit, having to constantly grow your business, etc. etc.

I don’t think this has anything to do with “spirituality” or “woo woo,” as you call it, but I definitely think it’s something to consider. I have been reading two books about artisans in the 1970s period, one is a man and the other is a woman, and both were successful. But comparing their approaches to their art and to business is very enlightening to me. I hope to blog about it once I have the thoughts digested a bit more.

I think there is a movement among women entrepreneurs to have a business where “I can make a living and a life that I love” (my saying) going on now and it’s very important. It may be partly leading back to the days where small mom-and-pop businesses flourished and where not every business was started with the idea of having an IPO and selling it off to the highest bidder. Many of us want to have a business that can sustain us both financially and “spiritually” (I put that in quotes because I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I do think there’s something to the idea of spirituality being part of what makes us human, perhaps it’s just our mental and emotional processes, but whatever…. that’s one of the essays/themes of Stories In Stitches 4, by the way.)

Alex

I think “woo-woo” is a brand, and one that sells exceptionally well, particularly to women (see, for example: astrology- countless scientific studies say its bunk yet it’s still extremely popular, and women are almost twice as likely to believe in it.) I guess I can’t really blame people for selling what sells, but personally it’s a brand strategy I find distasteful- particularly when people are charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for ecourses that are mostly about feelings and affirmations and fluff. Personally I need concrete, when it comes to business.

But maybe I’m just jealous because I’m no good at producing it ;-P It’s entirely possible that the folks who shell out for woo-woo business advice go on to have very successful woo-woo businesses themselves… or learn to pair the woo-woo with enough concrete advice that it works out just fine.

Alex

(In before someone angrily claiming that astrology is real!)

Lisa Press

Thank you for this. I have noticed the same thing and have wondered about the peddling of this divine connection. I prefer the blogs that offer nuts and bolts tips.

Ani

Just found this blog and I’m really glad somebody out there is putting in writing the things I’m thinking about. Even in my spirituality I really want a lot less woo-woo!

Andy

The thing about creativity and reality is, if you are creative, you are helping create reality. Why not embrace the “magical” side of that? Maybe connecting with your inner Goddess will prove “profitable” for you. But please be careful, you might enjoy it! As a man, who celebrates creativity in general, if someone wants to create themselves as a “Goddess,” I celebrate that, whether or not their course a fit for me.

Hestra

Well, it’s always a balance, isn’t it? “Meaningful”-ness is also woo woo. Lol.

I guess that’s a part of this world that if you don’t like it, then ignore it. Some can find some parts of themselves in those aspects, and some gotta need to balance it too knowing that profit is woo woo too and they don’t have to run away from it

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