You have to get it wrong to get it right

CE_FB7One of my favorite mottos – You have to get it wrong to get it right. Dont get me wrong, I do not think the world is black and white or that there really is a hard right and wrong with anything in terms of rules. But I do believe our gut can tell us when something is wrong (and not working) and when it is right (it just feels good).

And its a beautiful thing when our intuition (or friends/customers/clients) lets us know when something is wrong- we have the opportunity to find that thing we would have never discovered in round one.

I use this thought a lot when it comes to design– I have to find the wrong fonts to find the right one; the wrong layout to discover the perfect one. “Get it wrong” does not mean failure- it’s part of the growing, learning, and discovering process. That “right” thing would not have been discovered if I did not go down that path. Sure, it can be frustrating to have a product label ready for print, only to have the client still have changes to the logo. In the end- the packaging ended up that much more successful because of this hold up and change.

Thomas Edison as he was developing a reliable light bulb, tested 6,000 different filaments before he found the right one to make it work. He knew what he was looking for- he just had to find it by getting a few wrong:)

Say you have an idea, and you spend years trying to get the perfect final product before releasing it to the world. What if there is tons or criticism or no response at all?  Focus on getting something out there to a few you trust and get feedback as soon as possible to keep testing and changing and making it better. One of my favorite modern philosophers and writers, Ryan Holiday says “If I’m going to fail, I want to fail fast and move on.”

Embrace what is not working- its a fabulous clue to get you where you need to go.

My Story, The Conscious Entreprenuer

Conscious:  “Aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.”

Wikepedia defines Conscious businesses as “those seeking awareness of the effects of their actions and implementing practices that benefit both human beings and the environment.”

Conscious Capitalism states “Conscious businesses will help evolve our world so that billions of people can flourish, leading lives infused with passion, purpose, love and creativity; a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity and compassion.”

My definition is simple : Good-for-the world. If what you are creating in the world is good for the environment and its people on all levels- you are a conscious entrepreneur.

Why is this my focus?
Since college, it has been my goal to use graphic design as a tool to make the world a better place. My father, husband, aunts and uncles, friends and every client i have ever had is a Conscious Entrepreneur (CE). To every CE, I am their mirror, their peer, audience, designer, consultant, experience and passions. I have seen every type of business, what works, what does not, where to connect and grow, and how each one of them is fulfilled by what they do. I believe anyone can use what they are good at for good, no matter what your focus is. Because I have been designing and consulting for Conscious Entrepreneurs for close to 15 years, I have much to offer in the future success of my clients now through coaching and consulting. I am conscious entrepreneur. It is who I am, how I make decisions, how I live my everyday.

So i thought i should tell you a little bit about my story- why i do what i do and how i got here…

I was a very artistic kid, always creating and playing in the woods, beaches and rivers so unique to my northern michigan home. In my teens, I spent a few months every summer up in Canada at a outdoors camp, and I paddled with a small group of girls hundreds of miles across the canadian wilderness with everything we needed to survive in our backpacks and canoes. Being in such untouched wilderness I really saw the impact  we made on the land- and it made on us. I do believe this is where i fell in love with the environment, and had a strong conviction to protect it.

As an art student living in cooperative housing at the University of Michigan, that environmentalism really grew, and I was learning so much about social causes like fair trade and human rights.  At one point I realized that I could combine my passion for environmental and social justice with my creativity and love for art and design by being a graphic designer for good. I believe strongly that design had big role in making change in the world through raising awareness, building bridges, and educating the public through visual communication. I could make the companies that were doing good, look good and compete against the very large and well designed starbucks of the world.

I was focused. So what does a conscious kid do after college? Move to San Francisco of course! With one suitcase, a portfolio and a dream to be a green graphic designer, I found a hostel to crash at until i figured out what i was doing.  I found a local green magazine above the golden gate bridge, took the three hours and 5 buses to get there, marched in and told them why their work inspired me and what my mission was and why they needed me- and i was hired!

Within a  year, I realized I had bigger dreams of working with many companies and organizations making a difference in the world. So I put together a website, used green america’s green pages to email anyone doing anything remotely close to what I wanted to do. I got a lot of responses, but ended up partnering with Jerry Stifelman in 2005 from North Carolina who had an amazing talent for writing, creative direction, and passion for good and I had design, photography, illustration and shared that passion to do good through design.

We called ourselves The Change, working virtually with companies all over the world from fair trade, organic, addiction treatment, clean energy, campaigns against slavery… you name it. Many of our clients were fair trade, and I wanted to experience it firsthand and share the stories and photos with the rest of the world.  So my first fair trade delegation was to East Timor in 2006. This was a country who had just gained their freedom in 99 after so many decades of occupation, and was still figuring out what their culture was, how to farm their own trees- Yet they were still so filled with joy and purpose and love- because of family and community. We are all the same- no matter where we are from, all with a desire to work and sleep and love and be loved.  I met a strong woman named Maria on that trip in Dili…  She had survived through years of slavery and war. She knew a little bit of english, and as i sat there drawing maps for the kids to show them where they lived, where i lived, and where my family lived, she turned to me and said “why would you live so far from your family?” In that moment I realized that even though my San Francisco home was one of the most beautiful places in the world with everything there to please me, my heart was back in northern Michigan- a place that brought me great joy.

So I chose Traverse City to put down roots, and invest my heart in this community and my family… And keep doing the good work with the Change and traveling the world. I walked in the woods every morning, and get everywhere by foot or bike.

In 2011 I broke off on my own to open C.bay design with a similar mission- “good-for-the-world creative services” but working much closer and one on one with my clients- inviting them to be part of the creative team so we could partner in making their vision a reality. I loved the connections I made with every one of these conscious entrepreneurs, and how I could see our creative partnership fulfilling and inspiring them.

I use my experiences here at “The Conscious Entrepreneur”- coaching and consulting for entrepreneurs with a passion for good-for-the-world ideas and businesses aligned with their values, strengths… I want to see people come alive and make a difference in the world. Over the years of this design work, i recognize that all environmental and social justice is about people, and about living life more fully.

Ill leave you with a few quotes that continue to inspire me every day ….

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Be the change you want to see in the world.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” – Alice Walker 


dadscuba2Mike Wills is a long term resident of Traverse City, MI. He has started Scuba North, Sail North, Sail Plan, The Harbor Boat Shop, Black Mountain Yacht Club, Traverse Area Community Sailing, The Discovery Center, and helped create in town developments : Uptown, River’s Edge, Fairway Hills, etc and more

Chelsea: All right, this is my first attempt at an audio blog for The Conscious Entrepreneur.

One person who has driven me to be an entrepreneur, to find my own path by example has been my own father who I see as “the water entrepreneur.” I’m with him here today in my studio and would love to hear his story.

Mike, from what I know, you went to school UofM with an architecture degree, and when you left, you opened up a scuba diving shop in Northern Michigan. What drove you to do that?

Mike: Actually it started long before that. It started with as a child doing the usual things to make money. I cut grass, shoveled snow, delivered newspapers, all those usual things but then when I was at scout camp, I was interested camping equipment so I found out that you can buy wholesale if you had a sales tax license. I got a sales tax license and bought camping equipment at wholesale and sold some to my friends.

Chelsea: At what age was that?

mike:coleMike: 16. Then I went but I was involved in water all my life. I was in the swim team as a kid, life guard, swimming instructor at camp, scuba diving, snorkeling during the summer. When I went to UofM, I had the opportunity to take a diving class at college and did that. We ended up buying our diving equipment from the local supplier who sold out of his home and he, when I went there to buy a mask and fins, said that he was going to be leaving town and I said, “Would you sell you business? And he said, ‘Yes.” And so I bought it and I was selling diving equipment from my apartment in Ann Harbor for at least 2 years, maybe 3 before I decided to move to Traverse City. Of course water has been my passion and I already had a dive shop, this just made it official.

Chelsea: How did you know that this was the leap you were going to take? What drove you to love water so much and give up everything you studied and go for it?

Mike: My love of the water and love of diving. I had already been selling equipment, the most exciting things was to be able to teach other people as an instructor and into get a boat and go ship wreck hunting and ultimately a [inaudible 00:03:16] and sonar and a dive shop and chasing your passion.

Chelsea: About how many people would you say looking back did you pass on that love for water to through sailing, through scuba diving, through jumping on a bus down to Florida to get in the water? Is it pretty huge?

Mike: Probably. I operated Scuba North from 71 to 1980. I’ll bet we taught in the neighborhood of 100 people a year and then took dozens of diving, sailing trips to the Bahamas. But when I sold that, we became Sail North, we’d already been in the sailing business for several years. As a division of Scuba North, it kind of continued teaching sailing lessons. We had a sailing rental fleet in the beach, small boats as well as a charter fleet, big boats up to 36 feet.  Then I found the Traverse Area Community Sailing, which is a non-profit organization that teaches youth and adults to sail and we teach on the average 350 students per summer and have for 20 years; last year was our 20th anniversary.

Chelsea: Now it sounds to me like you are definitely just built to be an entrepreneur that you don’t even think about it, it just happened.  You have influenced a lot of people because of it, including myself.  What would you tell other people who have that dream or love of something, but might put too many fears in front of them or think that it can’t happen?

Mike: Well if you start young you are naïve. That’s my first advice. You are not scared when you are young, you are invincible. With no fear you leap. As you get older, you develop more fears I suppose.  If you are passionate and you are willing to dive in with everything you’ve got, you’ll learn what it takes to be the best at whatever it is you are doing.

Chelsea:  What does water mean to you now?

Mike: Water still runs through my veins and just about everything I’ve done in my life has something to do with water. My current project is a river front town home development on the Boardman River downtown. All of my business dealings really have had something to do with water and all of my passions have to do with water. Fly fishing, canoeing, scuba diving, sailing… And my daughters. Water was so much a part of my life that my 3 daughters each inherited middle names having to do with water. Lindsey Sea, Chelsea Bay, Alison Brook. I guess that says something right there.

Chelsea: Thanks for giving me your time and I love, love, love hearing your story. I learn a little bit more about you everyday.

Let your mind be still….

bteerflyLet you mind be still,
for the wisdom you seek is like that butterfly over yonder.
If you try to catch it with your intellect, it will simply fly away.
On the other hand, if you can still your mind,
someday, when you least expect it, it will land in the palm of your hand.
Sydney Banks

I truly believe that the biggest decisions you have to make in life- you will not have to decide.

Be patient, listen to your inner wisdom and deeper feeling and just be. The answer will reveal itself quietly one day- as if it’s no big deal. You will just know.

If you rush it- and are anxious and need to decide RIGHT NOW- you will end up in the shoulds and the whatever-everyone-else-thinks mode and decide something that is not true to yourself- and that can lead to even more anxiety and questioning of one’s self.

Just wait- you will know:)