Inspiration versus Imitation

inspiration vs imitation

Inspiration versus Imitation. It’s a blurred line in our world today, where it’s easy to take other people’s stuff, repackage it into a lovely little black and white quote, repost it, and take credit for it as our own.

I’ve seen this even with incredibly high profile and successful individuals - for example, a leading researcher and author recently being credited for inventing an “amazing new term” in 2019, when in fact I learned this term five years ago from a friend in Vancouver who learned it from someone else before that. Neither my friend nor her friend were cited by this renowned researcher and author, of course. Or another best selling author being credited with all sorts of concepts on interviews and podcasts and reposts that were actually taken verbatim from others, but that are being repackaged in a snappy way on Instagram and in books and being marketed to women across the US with wild success.


”There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” - Mark Twain

I believe in Mark Twain’s perspective on ideas. I believe that many ideas are a rebirth of some sort of idea that came before. I believe in the myth of the ah ha and the fact that slow hunches are formed gradually - often by bringing together a number of ideas that came before. I believe that ideas are formed from hundreds and sometimes millions of data points - many of which are not even recognized by our conscious mind.

And, I believe that if we are reposting or sharing or recreating something that was explicitly created by someone else, we need to be transparent about this. That the right thing to do is to cite authors and researchers and sources. That if we are reposting a pretty black and white quote of a concept that was created by someone else, that we need to clearly disclose that we are the messenger versus the creator.


In my courses and retreats and workshops and events, I aim to do this by including sources and references for anything I share that is not uniquely mine. Online, I aim to do this by never reposting a pretty black and white quote of a concept that I did not create. And in conversations, I aim to do this by mentioning the source (or at least what I believe to be the source) of concepts that I mention that come from somewhere else.

Some questions we may consider include:

  • If I am sharing something that explicitly came from someone else, am I crediting this person appropriately?

  • If I am inspired by something that explicitly came from someone else, is my version unique and original in some way?

  • Am I regularly creating time to connect to my own inspiration - the inspiration that only lives within me, versus on other people’s websites or social media feeds?

What about you? How do you find the place of inspiration versus imitation? And what are your thoughts about this blurred line between the two, in our current time?

Image Credit: Ben Weber

Building a Personal Board of Directors

personal board of directors

Do you have a personal board of directors?

Just like a company often turns to a board for input on strategy, key priorities, and big decisions, we have an opportunity to create a board of directors in our own lives. This is a small, highly curated group of people who can provide us with expertise, input, advice, deep listening, support, guidance, and outside perspective.

Here is a list of people you might consider for your board.

A Financial Adviser

I started working with a financial advisor in 2008. My only regret is that I didn’t start working with her several years earlier, when I first started working in the corporate world. I have met with her regularly since 2008, and she has helped me not only make smart decisions with my money, but also hold the vision for the life I most want to create.

When I put in my notice at my job, she was the second phone call I made, after calling my family.

A good financial adviser will help you to uncover your priorities and make smart financial decisions accordingly.

I hear many people complain about the fees that financial advisors charge. My perspective is that I pay professionals for most important things in my life; I pay a dentist to clean my teeth, I pay technicians to service my car; I pay lawyers for their legal expertise, and I pay my financial adviser for her expertise and guidance. That said, for those who are uncomfortable with the traditional financial advising payment structure, there are also fee-only advisors who are paid only for their advice and do not earn commissions.

I also hear people say that they need to first prepare on their own or have more savings to be ready to talk to a financial advisor. I lovingly disagree. A good financial advisor can help with this preparation by recommending small, tangible actions to take now, in service of where you want to be in the future.

Not quite ready to talk to a financial advisor, but want to take a baby step? The So Money podcast is a great place to start.

A Coach and/or Therapist

Do you have someone in your life who is helping you work through the most important challenges, opportunities, and decisions before you? Someone who listens attentively, provides a neutral third party perspective, and who lovingly pushes you in toward your highest purpose in the world?

I believe that almost anyone can benefit greatly from working with a coach and/or therapist. One of my earliest coaches once said to me, “you can do things alone - but it will be much harder and take way longer.” I very much agree with this sentiment.

While there are some similarities and also a number of differences between coaching and therapy, here are a few:

What’s Similar:

  • Both a good coach and a good therapist will listen deeply and will be able to hear not only what you say - but also what you don’t say.

  • A good coach and a good therapist will ask you powerful questions that will lead to greater awareness, insight, and often personal transformation.

  • A good coach and a good therapist will hold you, the client, at the center of the process and will honor your goals throughout.

  • Many coaches and therapists have specializations - for example, types of people they specialize in working with, or topics of deep expertise. If either a potential coach or a potential therapist says they work with everyone/anyone, I would personally consider this to be a red flag.

What’s Different:

  • Generally speaking, coaching is more forward-focused (where do you want to go, and how can we work together to get there?) while therapy is oftentimes more past-focused (looking at patterns that have developed over time, family of origin, and events in our past).

  • Therapy may involve a diagnosis or referral from a medical provider. Coaching does not involve any sort of diagnosis or medical treatment plan.

  • Coaching is often a bit more active - with homework, reflection exercises, and/or concrete take-aways and things to try or implement between sessions.

  • Many coaches I know (I’m in this category as well) offer to share their notes with clients after sessions; this is not a practice I’ve seen in the world of therapy.

  • Many companies will cover coaching as part of professional development. Several of my clients use their professional development funds to cover all or part of their 1:1 coaching investment.

  • Some therapy is covered by some insurance providers. Coaching is not.

Of course, these are generalizations, and the specifics will depend on the individual coach or the individual therapist. The important thing is to do your research and find someone you connect with, that you respect, and that feels like a good fit. Referrals from trusted friends or colleagues can be incredibly helpful, because there are lots of coaches and lots of therapists out there - and not all of them are good.

A Mastermind-Type Group

This might be an official mastermind, or it might look like a group of colleagues getting together regularly for a cup of coffee or to discuss a book. The difference between a mastermind-type group and simply meeting up for coffee is that there’s often a specific goal, intention, or topic for the meeting beyond just “getting together” or “catching up.”

I’ve found that some of my favorite mastermind-type groups have a shared purpose and intention, but have some diversity in the backgrounds and perspectives of the members (versus masterminds that, for example, are made up of all people from within my own industry).

Friends and Family

Of course, these people get to play a role on our personal board of directors if we want them to! Our friends and family can provide support, encouragement, and input. While our friends and family members often play an incredibly important role in our board of directors, it can be helpful to remember that their perspective is often not necessarily neutral, since we know each other well!

This is why, in addition to these dear ones in our lives, it can be helpful to round out our board with some of the above individuals.

Questions to Ask

As you consider who to include on your board, you might ask yourself the following questions.

  • who are the people who inspire me?

  • who are the people who help me be my best self?

  • who are the people who help me to feel big and expansive?

  • who are the best listeners I know?

  • who are my role models?

  • who are people I'd like to see more of in my life?

  • who are the people who help me think bigger/see what's possible?

  • who are the people who have my back?

You want people on your board who help you to be your best. This doesn’t meant that they can’t push you or challenge you - but this criticism and pushing needs to be rooted in a place of having your best interest in mind.

In Conclusion

A personal board of directors can be a powerful source of support, advice, encouragement, and expertise and can help us move toward our most important goals.

Do you have a personal board of directors in your life? If not, what’s one small step you could take to begin to create one?

How to Create a Functional Resume

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Back in the day, most of us were taught to create resumes in a very specific way: list out all of our accomplishments, education, and work history in reverse chronological order.

While this format works great for recent college grads and those with very linear and/or traditional work history, it is not the best format for everyone. For many people, a functional or combination resume might be better. With this format, the skills/qualities/traits are summarized first, with the specific experiences and roles listed toward the end of the resume.

Across my clients and colleagues, I find that a functional or combination resume often works best for those who:

  • Have varied and/or non-linear experience.

  • Spent a period of time working from the home.

  • Want to highlight skills and qualities versus specific roles.

If you’re thinking of a resume refresh and considering a functional or combination format, here are a few tips for getting started.

  • Think about the top 3-5 skills/qualities that you’d like to highlight. Write them down. Once you finalize your list, these will become your themes for your functional resume.

  • Then, for each, think about the experiences you’ve had that demonstrate these skills and qualities. When thinking about these experiences, focus on the specific impact you had - what positive change did you create? How did your specific skills and qualities help to move the needle?

  • After you’ve worked on the specifics above, write out a brief summary that captures who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’re unique. This can be used as a header on your resume (and can also become part of your LinkedIn profile). Note: I strongly believe that we, as humans, are much more than a list of skills or a list of experiences. The header is a way to add a bit more humanity to our resumes; it can serve as an introduction and a way of saying - hello, this is who I am as a whole person, and below you can find more information about who I am as a professional.

  • Plan to include a chronological summary at the bottom of your resume, in which you list your work history, experience, and dates.

  • Solicit input from trusted colleagues/mentors. What would they identify as your top skills and qualities? Are their lists aligned with yours? Note: solicit feedback from only trusted colleagues and/or mentors who have actually worked with you, and/or trusted colleagues in the HR/recruiting/coaching/career transition space, in order to avoid getting unhelpful suggestions from the peanut gallery.

  • Consider enlisting a professional. Often, in an hour-long session with my clients, we can bust out a solid draft of a complete resume refresh, along with a set of next steps and action items for LinkedIn. Writing our own resume in isolation is one of the hardest things we can do, I find, and often bringing in a bit of outside help can be a game changer. Warning: there are many resume experts and companies out there who charge $8,000-$10,000 to re-do your resume, guaranteeing that this investment will lead to the resume being picked up in all of the keyword searches that you desire. Do not pay this much. Even for the highest level executive or CXO level roles, I have not found these services to demonstrate the amount of ROI that they promise for my clients and colleagues.

I hope that these tips are helpful as you work on your own functional resume. Need a bit of help, or want to book a power hour to bust out these updates together? Feel free to reach out.

Expanding Our Definition of Self-Care

self-care

The best definition of self-care I've heard goes something like "creating a life that you don't need to escape from."


So yes. Buy yourself flowers. Book a spa day if you can. Sink deeply into the bath tub (you'll find me there most nights during the winter) and light all of the candles. Eat the chocolate. Jump on the bandwagon for Treat Yourself Tuesday.


And also - be courageous enough to look at the things that you might be trying to escape from.

Get quiet.

Tune in.

Go for a walk in the woods, alone with your thoughts - free of podcasts and music and photo sessions for Instagram.

Bust out your journal (any old notebook will do) and a favorite pen.

Write down whatever comes up.

Hire a coach (I know some people).

Find a good therapist (it can be hard but they exist).

Have the tough conversation with your co-founder or mom or sister or friend.

Dare to take a good, hard look at the big stuff, the messy stuff, the things that it can feel easier to try to escape from.

This - doing the hard work, having the tough conversation, looking deep within, and being willing to face what we uncover - is perhaps the most loving and impactful act of self care that we can do.

What Part of This is Also True For Me?

“What part of this is also true for me?”

communication, truth, alignment

I appreciated this question, posed in a workshop that I recently attended.

Rather than jump to ‘do I agree or disagree?’ Or ‘is this right or wrong?,’ an invitation to ponder instead what part - even if a tiny one - in what’s being said, shared, or expressed, might also be true for me?

We can use this in work contexts, in relationships, in meetings, and in heated (or not so heated) conversations to step out of a place of judgment and into a place of curiosity and exploration. It fascinates me to imagine what might be possible if some of our current leaders tried this question on for size, as well.

 

A few questions you might experiment with include:

  • What part of this is also true for me?

  • Even if I disagree, what is the truth that I might be able to see in this?

  • What is the small part of this that resonantes for me?

  • How can I step out of my own perspective in order to really see and hear what’s being said?

  • If I step out of my own position, where are the areas where we’re actually aligned?