In collaboration with Creatives Meet Business, we’re highlighting four guides who will be leading workshops during the upcoming CMBXP conference. Designed for creatives, artists, small business owners, and solopreneurs, the conference will cover four tracks–Storytelling, Business, Marketing, and Skills Development–as well as feature mentorship sessions and happy hours.
Next up in our series is Maggie Gentry, who will be leading a workshop for the Business track. Below, she shares how she developed her Own Your Why® philosophy, what her morning routine consists of, and her best advice for creative entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your background. What experiences led you to start your own business?
The years leading up to me starting my business were spent searching for the kind of work relationship that made my soul stir with the knowing that this is what I wanted to commit to as my life’s work. I had three different full-time jobs within the span of seven years, all within the realm of marketing, but in three completely different industries. Through those experiences I found that I either really loved the work, but didn’t feel supported in the work environment, or the opposite was true. I finally reached a breaking point with a knowing that there had to be a way to do work that I loved, with people I admired and with whom we could have a mutually respectful working relationship.
What has been the most unexpected part about owning a business?
In my experience, the most unexpected part of owning a business has been two-fold:
- Even though somewhere subconsciously I knew I would need inner fortification as I started my business, the amount of personal and spiritual development work that has coincided with my own professional development has been surprising, and
- I think that is largely due to the nature of uncertainty that is inescapable in owning your own business.
What I have noticed over the past few years is that you can make a solid plan for how you think things will go, and they will inevitably transpire in a completely different way. I see a lot of parallels between running a business and life in general in that the only constant is change.
Being a business owner requires you to stay agile and flexible as things you never could have imagined will happen. For me, it often feels like a daily battle of choosing to do this work, and to consistently release myself from expectations of how I thought my day should go. Living in that constant state of uncertainty is unsettling for the ego, so if you choose to walk this path of entrepreneur, then it requires you to connect to your soul, your truth, and cultivate mindset shifts from a place of deep inner knowing. It’s from that place of resiliency and truth, I call it Your Why, that you may then face the unavoidable fluctuations without being completely thrown off kilter.
Take us through a typical day in the life. Do you have any routines in place?
Every day is different, and perhaps it’s my Gemini nature, but I like it that way. That said, I do have a solid morning routine that acts as my cornerstone habit. It has evolved over time, but for now it’s this:
- Alarm goes off at 5:30am.
- Scrape tongue, brush teeth, and drink 8 oz. of room-temperature water. (Curious about tongue scraping, check out more here.)
- Meditate for at least 11 minutes.
- Soul journal for 20-30 minutes. (I’ve been hooked ever since reading Janet Conner’s Writing Down Your Soul.)
- Make butter coffee.
- Write for 30 more minutes. This is typically more “work-focused” thinking about possible social captions, new ways to talk about what I do, workshop development (like my upcoming CMBXP workshop!), etc.
- Movement. Typically yoga at home or a walk on Shoal Creek Trail.
- Get ready for my day.
From there, I’ve structured my week so that Mondays I’m generally at home, and use these as a day to work on my business and get stuff done like bookkeeping, social media writing, website updates, client proposals, and other admin tasks. Tuesday/Thursday are client call days, and Wednesday/Friday are client work days. I also teach a couple of yoga classes in there and make time to see friends in between it all.
As a business coach, where do you go for inspiration? What does your creative process look like?
I enjoy reading, so often I get inspiration from whatever I currently have checked out from the library. I don’t listen to many podcasts, but the one that I do listen to religiously is On Being, and those conversations always inspire questions in me for further inquiry. I also get a lot of inspiration from simply being with other people, so I really enjoy having conversations. That was a big reason why I started hosting Virtual Office Hours very early on in my business, and love keeping that time blocked on my calendar to connect with other humans.
But ultimately, I get my deepest inspiration from sitting in stillness. That’s why my morning routine is so invaluable to me. It might feel excessive to others, but I need that much time to slowly greet the day. Learning how to be with myself as a neutral observer has been the biggest lesson as a coach, as it allows me to slice through any illusion of disconnect or “otherness” that I might feel when speaking to someone else. When I can connect human to human, soul to soul, that’s where the magic happens!
And if I don’t have the time of silent observation, I find myself all too often operating from my head space instead of my heart space. That’s when fear or insecurity or anxiety might arise, and I cannot be of service to others when I’m too wrapped up in my own mental chatter.
Tell us about your CMBXP workshop. What do you hope attendees take away from the experience?
I’ve been refining the Own Your Why® philosophy for three years now, and I’m excited to present the latest iteration in the CMBXP workshop. Ultimately, this workshop is about finding that core element of truth for you and your business that acts like a tap root, anchoring you in place, even as the storm winds of circumstance will continue to blow. I find it crucial to have a clear understanding of Your Why and use that as a guiding force from which you make all other decisions.
My hope is that attendees will not only walk away with a sense of their Why, but also with a non-judgmental understanding of some of the ways in which their impulsive reactions are sabotaging their business, and an action plan for how to face uncertainty from a calm, clear-headed space.
Can you share a little more about Own Your Why® and how you developed this strategy?
I was inspired after reading Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, yet I wanted to take it a step further. It is so important to spend the time discovering your purpose, Your Why, and while that is an element of what the process includes, I felt more drawn to explore the next phase of it—to help folks bring that truth forth in a palpable way through a heart-centered marketing strategy.
I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all formulas, so each client engagement is unique based on that specific client’s needs. However, the Own Your Why® strategy is, and has always been, all about deep inquiry, examining your current marketing efforts and each touchpoint with potential and current clients to see where we can invite in even more intentionality. Trust is built through consistently showing up and doing what you say you’re going to do, and I help creatives find sincere, relatable, poignant ways to share their story using a system that will work for their particular working style.
Is there anything you’ve read or listened to that’s made an impact on you or your business?
I’ve shared quite a few resources in the responses above, but a few other books that have been immensely powerful:
- Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
- Radical Candor by Kim Scott
- Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
- Emotional Success by David DeSteno
You can keep up with my latest reads here.
What is your best advice for fellow creative entrepreneurs?
Trust yourself. You are wiser than you give yourself credit for, and all it takes is a moment of stillness to quiet the ego and the fears that may be arising to tune into the deep whisper of your soul to know what next step to take. You don’t need to concern yourself with steps 2-10. In any given moment, ask for guidance on the right next step, and when you listen to your truth, you’ll never be led astray.
Bonus advice: All experiences are information. It’s hard to do because we’re human, but something I would encourage you to work towards is to not place value judgments on circumstances. They are not either good or bad, they are simply information. When you observe and act from that objective place, you are able to see the larger context much more clearly.
Creatives Meet Business Experience is taking place September 19-21 at Springdale General. The conference will include more than 50 hands-on workshops in business, marketing, skills development, and storytelling, and will also feature mentorship sessions and happy hours. To take a look at the full schedule and grab your badge, head to cmbxp.com. Find Maggie’s workshop details and contact info below!
Images by Creating Light Studio