In the immortal words of the 80s band Tears For Fears, everybody wants to rule the world.
The question is this:
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH?
JOIN THE BRAVE ENTREPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND ENTER THE RANKS OF THE BRAVE ONES WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU.
You can make it big, baby.
I’m talking big paydays with extra zeroes, big followers who salivate over your services and a big business that works hard for you instead of you having to work so hard for it.
I didn’t always believe this myself. In fact, it was quite a journey (like, across continents and the oceans that nuzzle them) from rule-following cubicle dweller to $10K+ months as the queen of my own Tiny, Happy Empire. It wasn’t magic. Or voodoo. Or witchcraft of any kind.
So what was it? Glad you asked…
Hello. My name is Lauren Vanessa Zink, and I am charmed to digitally meet you. Let me pour you a margarita and tell you a tiny, happy story…
Like you, I never quite fit into the 9-5 bump and grind. But growing up as a small town girl in Wisconsin, I didn’t know there was any other way to live. Where I’m from, everyone is a nurse or a teacher or a restaurant manager or a factory worker. It’s lots of good, hard-working people doing good, hard-working stuff—in other people’s companies. Nobody traveled. Nobody created things. Nobody made much more than they needed to get by.
Working for yourself? Taboo. Leaving the country? Taboo. Talking about money? REALLY taboo. (My parents still cringe whenever I reveal my numbers.)
To me, that was a terrifying future. One where every decision was made for you and the only life you could live was the same one as your neighbor.
Their mold was not my mold. Their grand adventure was not my grand adventure. And their formula for happiness was not my formula for happiness.
So what’s the first thing a born-and-bred, rule-following “good girl” does when she realizes she’s meant to toss everything she’s been raised to believe out the window in favor of the secret power she’s been hiding inside?
She tries to fit in.
Oh, yeah. My heart said one thing, my feet did another. I ignored my impulses, got the English diploma at the state university and took the corporate job that was put in front of my face.
Unsurprisingly, I felt icky. It was life on autopilot: wake up, go to the office, come home, and flip on the TV in the background while I sent resumes to every job opening I thought might have a chance at lighting me up. And then I’d cry in the shower. Lather, rinse, repeat. For the next 6 years, there were two parts of me: the one who did everything she was told, and the one who resented doing everything she was told.
But there were glimpses of fun and freedom on the horizon. I dipped my toes into online marketing. I named a greeting card line that was carried in Hard Rock stores. I visited Europe for the first time. I got a hidden tattoo or two. I put purple, blue and pink streaks in my hair and pierced my nose. I developed internet crushes on people like Chris Guillebeau, Marie Forleo, Gabrielle Bernstein, Ramit Sethi and Gala Darling. I gave out copies of “The Art of Non-Conformity” like parents give their graduating children “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” …but nobody else seemed as fired up about it as I was. What. The. Hell. Why was everyone so fine with being normal?!! And why couldn’t I just be like them?!!!!! Surely, that had to be easier.
Eventually, a series of changes led to a break in the clouds…and you better believe I made a run for it. I packed a suitcase for New York City, “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” as Alicia Keys sings, and took on a bigger, braver identity.
I interned for an entrepreneur, and it introduced me to an entirely new existence—one where you could consciously create reality. One where “no” actually meant “how?” One where when someone shuts a door in your face, you crawl in through their bedroom window. (Not in a literal, get arrested sort of way. In an “I take what I do seriously, and if you were paying attention you would too” sort of way.) I was changed forever.
I mingled with people who started million-dollar companies and traveled the world and wrote best-selling books and recorded albums and got paid amazing amounts of cash to do things that sounded completely made up. I saw A-list celebrities at parties and on street corners and actually said REAL WORDS to them. (Ever spotted a celebrity in Wisconsin? No, because you’ve never been there. And neither has a celebrity.)
I found myself in an empire state of mind, and it never quite wore off! I had unearthed massive quantities of golden courage. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, right? That’s what Frank Sinatra told me.
Everything I wanted felt totally within my grasp. Power and possibility were coursing through my veins. I decided it was time to live out one of my best, scariest fantasies: moving to another country. I left on a jet plane for Korea to teach English to kiddos, but before I fled the U.S., I made myself one unbreakable soul promise: that when I came back, I would never work for anyone else again. (Still intact.)
I bought a Macbook Air and started editing eBooks for pennies after class, exhausted after 10 hours of teaching but 100% committed to doing whatever it took to succeed as an entrepreneur. Or, a freelancer, I guess you would have called me then, as it was the quickest way to get my foot in the door of self-employment. Each time I made a buck, I reinvested it back into my business—books, courses, software. I bought a domain name, had a logo made (which I’ve never used, P.S.), and started actively listening to what my customers were asking me for. And what they were asking me for was to write. Websites. Blogs. Lead magnets. They loved how I was promoting my services, and they wanted me to do it for them.
When I took that leap of faith out of Korea and back to the states, I wasn’t earning top dollar yet. Truthfully, I was barely making ends meet. But failure was not an option. There was no Plan B. I’d spent way too long living from a place of fear. I was choosing to live from a place of trust + hard work instead.
So I turned up my volume. I hired coaches. I put myself out there in big, brave ways. I got clear on who I was as a copywriter and coach myself. I started BraveTV. I found my voice. I experimented, tested, tinkered, recalibrated. I absorbed sales strategies and shifted my mindset and expectations. I set goals that freaked me out, and hit them. I discovered ways to inject massive doses of excitement into it. I loved people up and thanked them frequently and fervently. I created. I expressed myself. I evolved. I continue to evolve, just as you do. (Business is a process. So is being human.)
I still remember what it was like to be the girl with that pesky + wise inner know-it-all that tells her she’s meant for so much more. I remember what it was like to be scared senseless, thinking I’d always be broke and afraid, a star-shaped peg trying to squeeze into a square hole. I remember not knowing where the next dollar would come from or how long I could hold onto it once it got here. I still remember being that person who was just begging for magic or rescue or permission or all three.
I wish I could go back and tell her she’s exactly where she needs to be, that her future can be as bright as she imagines, and that every step forward deserves to be celebrated. I wish I could tell her to stop letting fear make the rules and to be brave instead.
But she’s disappeared into the past, so instead I’ll tell you in the present:
YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU’RE MEANT TO BE.
YOUR FUTURE CAN BE AS BRIGHT AS YOU IMAGINE.
EVERY STEP FORWARD DESERVES TO BE CELEBRATED.
STOP LETTING FEAR MAKE THE RULES.
BE BRAVE INSTEAD.
Every time I ignored my inner party crasher and did the scary thing, my business and life got better. Every. Single. Time. I made more money. I attracted awesome clients. I felt better. Freer. Happier.
To date, I’ve helped more than 500 entrepreneurs build + bravely promote their empires. I regularly make $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 a month (Cover your eyes if you’re uncomfortable, Mom and Dad.) writing and creating with people I genuinely love. But the best part for me? Living my truth and inspiring you to live yours.
These are my tiny, happy truths …
*I believe in the power of a good list and the freedom of a whiteboard.
*The words we put out affect what we get back.
*Being a “good girl” is overrated.
*You can be rich. Like, really rich—whatever that means to you.
*We give our fears WAY too much power.
*Living someone else’s life is a struggle every day.
*Working for yourself is a quick path to being the bravest mofo on the planet.
*Your business can make your soul (and your customers! And your bank account!) do a happy dance.
*Consciously creating your life is 100x better than hoping it will turn out the way you dream it will.
*You are limitless.
*And so is your money-making potential.
*You’ve got a fiery message that deserves to be shared AND heard.
*If you make a commitment to yourself, the rest is inevitable.
bravest moments in history
(Ok, just my history)
The Wee Lauren years
The Adventure-Seeking Years
a tiny, happy idea
but wait, there’s more
Before you go, here is the mega-serious professional shit
Lauren Vanessa Zink has coached, mentored and written for more than 500 entrepreneurs and small business owners, including New York Times bestselling authors, multi-6-figure coaches and start-up dynamos. She is the creator and hostess of BraveTV, a web-based TV show designed to give entrepreneurs the strategies and winspiration they need to build their empires and make more money. She’s been featured on Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, JessicaNazarali.com, and Biz Rocks Magazine. She currently resides in Oregon with her sweet, lazy pup Sphinx and the beloved MacBook Air that makes it all possible.