Category Archives: Professional Development

Have you changed your narrative lately?


As I wander through cities, one of the things I look for is evidence of fresh construction. Cities are living, breathing, pulsating organisms, and a great indicator of change is the number of cranes you can see dotting the skyline. In San Francisco, new construction emerges when the lack of residential units becomes absurd; in my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, new housing developments are popping up on vacant lots every few months.

Everything is always changing, even if we aren't looking for it.

You have trillions of cells in your body, one of my yoga teachers reminds me. And your cells live, grow, and die and replace themselves every seven years. Every seven years we become an entirely new collection of cells. And in our personal and professional lives, metamorphoses happen even quicker. Your narrative changes every two, three, four years. You were a college student—then you weren't. You were responsible for only yourself—and then you became a parent.

Every seven years our physical bodies completely regenerate. How often do we renew our stories of self?

Your narrative is always changing.

It's easy to cling to a story, even if it doesn't serve us anymore. It's harder to shed the layers of past selves and emerge into a new narrative. The transition can be awkward, abrupt, or bumpy.

As things move and shift, you’re learning, iterating, growing, changing. You’re new to twitter and then, months later … you’re not. No one is listening to your blog, and then, some time later, people are listening. You're embedded in the flush of a new job, thrilled to be working on your project, and then, a few years later, you're tired. Ready for the next project, story, or idea.

Don’t cling too hard to your old narratives. Instead, build new ones. Grow into future ones.

When you're a new employee, the biggest thing you don't know yet is that you’re only in the entry level category for a short time before new faces come along and you've got to hand your bag of tricks over to the new staff. That management you're secretly griping about? That's you, really soon. Trying your best to do better, and learning the reasons why it's so tough to implement your ideals. At the end of my twenties, just a brush away from my thirties, I realized with somewhat of a start that I graduated from college 9 years ago –

What? NINE years ago? 

People were asking me questions that I had answers to — and many that I didn't. I knew a lot, and yet there was so much more I wanted to learn.

You are, until you aren’t.

You aren't, and then you are.

In my work with storytellers, educators, corporate leaders, and innovators, one of the things we do is unearth their current narratives — and watch people rebuild. Michael Margolis reminds me that "as you tell your story, your story moves." When we take pen to paper, when we sit with friends, when we convene and collect and talk about what we're doing — our story changes.

The act of expressing your story helps set your past narratives free. The act of imagining your future narrative helps you grow and transition into your next iteration of who you are.

We grow through story, and we grow into our story. Your narrative is changing.

What stories can you retire?

Who are you becoming next?


Writing exercise: get out a sheet of paper and write down as many stories and scripts that you carry around with you. Your age, what you believe in, how you explain who you are and what you do. Are there any that can be changed? Anything new emerging? Write down stories of your next, wiser, growing self. Who are you becoming? 

PS: For everyone who's interested in working on their writing and storytelling, I've got a surprise coming out in the next few weeks — if you're on my mailing list, I'll send you a note when my big surprise goes live! 

How to Create an Online Home You Love: a one-night live event in NYC with Holstee, my hubby & me.

How’s your internet home treating you? Are you loving it, hating it, indifferent towards it, or … not making it? If you’ve ever wanted to start a blog, write an e-book, or create your own online home powerhouse to showcase your creative ideas, then it’s time to make it happen. I’m thrilled to announce aContinue Reading

Ship. Iterate. Improve. Repeat.

How do you make something great? Start small. Build something that you can do today, this week. Ship a little piece of it. Stop holding on to it. Maybe keep the idea big, but just start with something so small you can’t not do it. Make the smallest version possible. Give it away. Share it. SellContinue Reading

You don’t have to do it alone. [an epic resource + event + spiritual program guide.] All my favorite programs for you, right now.

Many of us want similar things in life. Freedom. Love. Money. Safety. Security. Happiness. Depending on where you are in Maslow’s theoretical hierarchy of needs, your next immediate problem might either be finding a meal to satiate your hunger—or it might be reaching out to new meetup groups to make more friends. It might be heading out onContinue Reading

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough? So I’m at home on a Saturday night, and I’m watching America’s Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it’s that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day). While you can holdContinue Reading

Are you in love with the product? Or the process?

“My job is to do, not to judge.” — Dani Shapiro Sometimes, as writers or as makers, we become obsessed with the outcome. The work itself as object, as product — not as process. We judge, criticize, and refuse to do the work when we see the outcome as one great failure. Push publish anyways, IContinue Reading

Pandering — and 9 other things great writers refuse to do.

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. — Mark Twain I don’t often publish guest posts here on It Starts With, but occasionally I meet a fellow writer with a story and a message that matches our audience. Today, I’m delighted to share the work of Isaiah Hankel. Isaiah isContinue Reading

The Writer’s Workshop is now open for our summer session! Join us for the next class—and kickstart your writing into high gear.

It’s baaaaack! The Writer’s Workshop will open up again this summer for a brand-new six-week session beginning June 30th. The Writer’s Workshop is a live course focused on improving your storytelling, writing, and narrative abilities through eight masterful lectures and exercises — together with a community of co-writers to share the journey. We interview experts across the industry inContinue Reading

Want to be a better storyteller? Two new online workshops, April 24th and 29th.

Humans are born storytellers. The way we tell and share our stories about who we are, what we do, and what we want affects who sees us, hears about us, and whether or not the right people connect with us. If you want to learn how to describe yourself or your business (or both), joinContinue Reading

Creating your own weekly review: Robert Cooper on finding ways to be exceptional.

Living up to your potential sounds pretty fancy. It’s something we all want, right? Live up to your potential. Maximize your potential. Be all that you can be.  But how, exactly, do you do it? How does an intangible life objective become manifest into your daily routine? For Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90%: HowContinue Reading