Creating Your Own Path

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Hi! It’s me, Anne! Remember me? I know it’s been awhile. A lot of things have changed for me in 2017, but as I gear up for 2018, it’s time to get my writing back on track. So, the time to start is now.

I launched my business in 2012 as a way to stay in France, and realizing I enjoyed and thrived on the structure of the life of a grad student. Starting a business came with its own challenges from having the right to work in France, but not as a “salaried” person (that’d mean taking a job from a French person) to learning how to be an entrepreneur (and en Français! no less, which means I still don’t know what certain accounting terms are in English!). But it turns out the constraints I had working in France made me carve out an incredibly rewarding professional life. The way I work and the work I do may forever be difficult for me to articulate (because it’s not always the norm), but I’m proud to say I’ve carved out a way to work that I love, and it has only gotten more rewarding with time.

Over the summer I sat down for a call with Jennifer Synder for her wonderfully inspiring podcast, Creating Your Own Path (CYOP) to talk about that very subject. I first got to know Jennifer through my Skillshare map making class where she was a really engaged student and our friendship grew from there, despite the fact that we still have never crossed paths IRL. We could have talked for hours, but here’s our conversation broken down into three parts:

CYOP #118: How to Create Cohesively Across Multiple Platforms

CYOP #119: Handling the Freelance Ebb

CYOP #120: Using the Internet to Create Offline Connections

If reading is more your cup of tea, here’s the 2013 interview I did with Jennifer! It even shares a rare glimpse into my life as a costumed character. 😂

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Another reason for my silence online was that in September I lost my mom to ovarian cancer rather suddenly. As anyone who knows me, they know that my mom was my biggest champion (and also silent Twitter awesome link curator 😉). My mom was thankfully able to listen to these episodes, and in what ended up being her last week one of the things she told me was, “Anne, you have so much confidence now.” It meant so much to hear that, as I know myself all too well as “the quiet one” growing up. These words also gave me the confidence to speak at her funeral (my words are in the link above) – something I never would have considered not that long ago. Jennifer and my mom had also “met” in that magical Skillshare classroom, so I’m so thankful that I got to tell her what a gift these three episodes were to my mom.

I’ve realized in recent years, I’ve fallen off the internet radar a bit. Some of it has been focusing on business and making a living, a reaction to the state of the internet, and also rethinking my priorities. My plan in 2018 is to share my voice more, whether it’s talking about my mom, dealing with death and loss, the joys of travel, sharing my latest projects and endeavors, or reflecting on life as an entrepreneur.

I’ve learned that we all have the ability to touch others, whether we know it or not. Despite what society tends to indicate, it’s not all about numbers and metrics. One of the things I’ve set out to do is to slow down, reach out, and let people know they’ve made an impact or inspired me. I never expect a response in return, but I’ve worked to become more intentional in how I say thanks, because I know how valuable those words and conversations have been to me in my own work.

p.s. The artwork in this post is by the talented Melanie Biehle as part of Jennifer’s CYOP Artist in Residency program (she is so amazing at giving back to the creative community!!). I love the quotes they selected, and it’s a good reminder that sometimes we need to listen to our own advice. In addition to using it as artwork to promote the podcast episodes, Jennifer also sells notebooks and prints with quotes from her podcast guests in her online shop!

 

Entrepreneur is a French Word

Based on so many headlines I’ve read lately, you’d never know that entrepreneur is a French word. Case in point: “France and the Euro: the Time Bomb at the Heart of Europe” in The Economist, and “Young and Educated Find Employment Elusive in France” in The NYTimes, and the large capital gains tax on entrepreneurs (thankfully removed due to pressure from the Geonpi “pigeon” movement) as covered – in English – by The Rude Baguette. Sometimes I worry the best and most innovative talent – those willing to think differently – are all going to leave France where the processes often complicate things on top of a less than ideal economic situation. Then I read articles such as “A Freelance Economy Can Be Good for Workers: Let’s Make it Better” in The Atlantic that give me hope again that freelancers and entrepreneurs are the wave of the future – anywhere. (Especially given the upcoming complete launch of Studio/Practice, a curated library of tips and tools for creative freelancers + small businesses that I’ve been creating with Lauren O’Neill). If anything, times are changing.

Recently Aussie Katia Grimmer-Laversanne interviewed me for The France Project, a weekly podcast where she explores a different topic and perspectives relating to life in France. Although my episode (No.7) – shared with bag designer Kasia Dietz – was about inspiration, I realized given my own situation in France that inspiration can’t exist for me without a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit (it’s how I’m able to stay here legally after all). As soon as Katia got me talking, she had me making connections about my life in France that I had never considered before. Half way through I got real feisty, and you can start to understand many of my frustrations with France and my relationship with bureaucracy. I’ve been blessed by many French friends who continually inspire me and who also have opted for the freelance road-less traveled here, and I know that they – as true French women – share many of the same frustrations. However, through these challenges I face, I also think it’s helped shape who I am and what I’m doing in life, and in France.

It was an incredible opportunity to get to chat with Katia about this topic, and I hope you can find some time for a listen (even if you’re multi-tasking, put it on in the background – I’ve recently fallen in love with podcasts for this reason). You can listen to the episode I’m featured in here (I’m in part 2, around 36 minutes), and past episodes here.

 
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