Cave Creek Regional Park

We escaped for a short weekend, from after Friday's last conference call to check-out time on Sunday. Keli saw a rattlesnake. We both saw a giant owl and a scuffle between three Quail in a mating triangle. We watched an almost-full moon rise over a mountaintop like it was the second sun, welcomed by the hoot and howl of Coyotes across the valley. We wrote, read, drew, and painted. We ate. We slept. We played cards together. We watched Brooklyn nine-nine. It was a great getaway.

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Intention is the Foundation of Your Best Life

Lessons from Matt D'Avella's Ground Up Show

Episode 95 - Reframing Failure

The Ground Up Show is a compelling interview podcast which features creative people (filmmakers, writers, musicians, entrepreneurs) sharing the story of how they are accomplishing their dreams. Created and Hosted by Matt D'Avella (the documentary filmmaker who is best known for Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things), The Ground Up Show is insightful and inspiring. I listen every week and always manage to take three of four practical lessons from each episode. 

In Episode 95 of Matt D'Avella's Ground Up Show, Matt has a conversation with Caroline Zook, author, artist, and co-founder (with husband Jason) of the creative entrepreneur coaching and mentoring program Wandering Aimfully.

Zook starts off the interview by saying she was not always comfortable calling herself an artist. Although she was in a constant state of creative play as a young child, academics took the forefront and pushed creative expression into the background. "I'm a rule-follower by nature," she says. "Growing up, even though I was a creative kid, I was also very good at operating in a school format." A format in which expectations of what she should do with her life were being handed to her by her teachers, parents, and peers. "My academic success was always sort of praised at a level where it was telling me this is the societal standard of success. You should follow this path." Which led to her enrollment in the pre-med program at the University of Florida.

"When I got to college and got a little bit removed from the rat race of this very competitive high school that I went to... suddenly people had all these other interests besides just cut-throat academics. I started getting more in touch with the voice inside of me saying 'Wait a second. You've always been this creative person. This is what makes you happy.' I started pursuing more creative things on the side." One example she gives is that she volunteered to paint the banners her sorority hung outside their house to promote events. "Suddenly, I'm on my hands and knees painting these banners until four o' clock in the morning because I love(d) it so much."

"I can't do something that is not authentic to me for very long. It exhausts me. I get anxious."

Zook says she experimented with artistic expression, but it still took a while to embrace the idea that she could make a career from creativity. "There are so many different parts of my journey along the way that got that art to come out of me," she says. "But I can't do something that is not authentic to me for very long. It exhausts me. I get anxious... Maybe I could have suppressed (a desire to pursue a creative career) for a while and done the pre-med thing, but I think I would have always found my way back to creativity."

The most successful experiment on her creative journey found a significant audience on Instagram. "I wanted to become a painter, to be able to call myself an artist. I thought the only way to do that is to do a lot of work... So I committed to doing a unique painting every day of the year with a different hand-lettered affirmation or phrase. It combined my two loves; my love of painting, but then I also loved to write."

The commitment and consistency of painting and posting daily, coupled with real-world feedback from followers, allowed Zook's art to evolve and empowered her to leave anything other than creativity-as-career behind.

Check in with your intentions every day

Which brings us to the most powerful lessons Zook shared in the podcast, a theme that recurs repeatedly; intention. Intention, she says, defines the work she does, the clients she takes on, and how vulnerable and authentic she allows herself to be. Intention is the compass she guides her life by. She recommends checking in with your intentions frequently to make sure you don't get swept away on a tide of misaimed intention and circumstance.

Achieving success in alignment with your greatest self "is about having an intention to turn against the tide," Zook says. "Imagine you're in a kayak and you're following the current of a river. The daily or weekly checking back in to question your intention, to question your values, is like sticking your paddle in the water... and saying 'I'm gonna fight the current for a second just so that I can question my own intention.' It (the current) is always going to want to pull you, but just by checking in, you're just going to fight it enough to the point where you can rewire your brain into having that sense of satisfaction and not being swept away by it." make it in any pursuit, especially creative careers where the payoff is uncertain, you have to love the process, even the hard parts, to get to success.

The Intention you set for how you want to live your life also provides energy to draw from when you encounter challenges. There are times, as Matt D'Avella points out in the episode, that to make it in any pursuit, especially creative careers where the payoff is uncertain, you have to love the process, even the hard parts, in order to get to success. "It goes back to (the) question of what does it take?" Zook says. You have to want to learn, to relish facing challenges so you can solve them, to enjoy pushing through what feels like limitations. "If you don't want to learn all that knowledge and find the answers yourself, that's a real indicator, I think, to ask yourself 'Maybe I'm not cut out for this path.'"

Another time in the episode that Zook comes back to the theme of Intention is when the conversation shifts to her book, Your Brightest Life Journal: A Creative Guide to Becoming Your Best Self, which she calls an amalgamation of things (the book contains sixty of Zook's Instagram Abstract Affirmations, writing prompts, and creative exercises, organized into seven sections that each start with an essay from Zook's journey). The book "is a way for you to ask questions about who you are and what do you want out of your life," Zook says. "But in this more sort of creative format where some things ask you to draw pictures, some things ask you to fill in prompts or to color things in. (The book is) for anybody who is interested in personal growth, but with a (creative) tilt."

Episode 95 of The Ground Up Show is a great listen; a compact episode that delivers practical advice in every segment. The discussion ranges in subject from reframing failures as lessons, understanding how to develop skills you can make a creative life from, and operating with authenticity, as well as hustle, making money, and how to start and build a creative business. I'd rate it as one of D'Avella's most actionable podcasts and well worth the listen.

Subscribe to The Ground Up Show on YouTube or Apple Podcasts. Matt D'Avella has a Patreon page if you want to support him directly as well.


Fearlessness is not Courage

Lessons from Matt D'Avella's Ground Up Show

Episode 94 - Success Doesn't Equal Happiness

The Ground Up Show is a compelling interview podcast which features creative people (filmmakers, writers, musicians, entrepreneurs) sharing the story of how they are accomplishing their dreams. Created and Hosted by Matt D'Avella (the documentary filmmaker who is best known for Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things), The Ground Up Show is insightful and inspiring. I listen every week and always manage to take three of four practical lessons from each episode. 

In Episode 94 of Matt D'Avella's Ground Up Show, Matt has a conversation with Alex Banayan, author of The Third Door, a book of interviews with successful people on how they launched their careers.

Banayan is somewhat of a prodigy. He began his quest to meet high-profile business leaders at only eighteen-years old and scored sit-downs with people like Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, and dozens more.

The name The Third Door is a reference to what Banayan says he learned is the true path to success, the key to breaking through all barriers to achieving big things in life. He explains the concept this way: "It doesn't matter if it was Maya Angelou for poetry, or Jane Goodall for science, or Quincy Jones. Every single person I interviewed treated life and business and success the exact same way. The analogy that came to me - because I was twenty-one at the time - was that it was sort of like getting into a nightclub."

In a nightclub, Banayan says, "There are always three ways in. There's the first door, the main entrance, where the line curves around the block, where ninety-nine percent of the people wait in line hoping to get in... The second door is the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities go through... School and society have this way of making us feel like those are the only two ways in; you either wait your turn, or you're born into it. But what I've learned is that there's always, always a third door. It's the entrance where you jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open a window, go through the kitchen - there's always a way in... It's a mindset. It's a way of viewing your problems. When you have a third-door mindset, really what it gives you is a sense of possibility that there's always a way."

Success doesn't automatically lead to happiness

The conversation delves into the subject of how we define success. Banayan recalls meeting with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers. "Fifteen minutes before the interview, I get a phone call from one of my best friends... He's like, Woz is great, but he peaked twenty years ago... Try to find out why he wasn't as successful as Steve Jobs.'"

During the interview, his friend's question on his mind, Banayan digs into Wozniak's personal belief about success. Wozniak, he learned, rejected Western society's prescription for success. "He told himself when he was young 'What would I truly want to do that would make me happy?' He decided it was two things. One, to make things with his bare hands that uses engineering that changes the world. And two, to have fun while doing it." And Wozniak did seem happy. "Within ten minutes, it's undeniable that Steve Wozniak is the happiest person I've ever met. it doesn't matter if he's talking about his dog, or his cars, or his wife. Everything he talks about, he has this exuberant joy."

Still, Banayan's friend's question persisted. Did Wozniak compare himself to Jobs in terms of success? Woz explained that his relationship with Steve Jobs was fortuitous and powerful, but Jobs had a material-success focus. Banayan gave the example of when employees at the nascent Apple Computer wanted shares in the company just before the company's IPO. Jobs flatly refused. "Wozniak did the only thing he could think of. He gave some of his personal shares to these early employees. To him, they were like family. And on the day of the IPO, they all became millionaires." When asked what leadership he role he wanted in the ever-growing business (and he was assured he could pick any), Wozniak asked that his role be capped at Engineer.

"Who's to say Steve Jobs was more successful?"

So should Wozniak be seen as successful in comparison to Jobs? Banayan said his takeaway from the interview was that Wozniak's pattern of decision making, which favored personal satisfaction and happiness over the material-wealth-at-all-costs dream we're spoon fed to desire, gave him a different form of success than his more-famous business partner. "I'm sitting back at this Chinese restaurant with Wozniak. He's sitting back on his chair. He's laughing. He's smiling... And again, the question my friend asks me pops into my head. And the only thing I can think is, who's to say Steve Jobs was more successful?"

The danger of over-persistence

During the podcast, Banayan said when he started out on his mission to interview the world's most successful business people, that Warren Buffet was his dream interview. He attacked the goal of meeting Buffet the way he believed he should; with relentless persistence, writing, emailing and calling Buffet's secretary repeatedly. "Every week, I would send him a new letter. And every Wednesday, I would call his assistant. After three months of being rejected, it really hurts. By month six, you're coughing up blood. I'm twenty years old at the time too, so my sense of identity is completely attached to this project and this mission. By month eight, I'm completely dejected."

In the meantime, he managed to secure an interview with Buffet ally Bill Gates. "The interview with Bill Gates went so well that at the end, Gates' office said 'Let us know how we can help.' I'm like, Well, you know, I could use some help with Warren Buffet." They told him it was an easy ask, that Gates and Buffet were best friends. But, "I get an email a couple of weeks later saying 'Please, no more messages to Warren's office.'"

"You can pound on a door so many times, that instead of knocking it down, they call the police on you."

Banayan says he learned a lesson that is not taught enough. "Every business book talks about the value of persistence. But no business book warns you about the dangers of over-persistence, where you can pound on a door so many times, that instead of knocking it down, they call the police on you. I had dug myself in such a deep hole, even Bill Gates couldn't pull me out."

The difference between courage and fearlessness

The conversation moves on to the subject of hustle culture, the pervasive idea that the winners in life are the ones who have outworked everyone else. Banayan shares a perspective on the root of this belief and challenges it.

"Many times when people try to out-grind or out-hustle, it comes from (our) original fear. Thich Nat Hanh, the really famous Zen monk, talks about original fear... The second you come out of the womb is the first time you ever experience fear, the fear of death... You were in this womb where everything was taken care of for you. You had this umbilical cord, you have the embryonic sack. You were, in many ways, in heaven... All of a sudden you're in a room with bright light. You have to start breathing. There's liquid in your throat, choking you. You come into this world choking and about to die... That's original fear; trying not to die."

"Fearlessness is jumping off a cliff and not thinking about it... Courage... is acknowledging your fears... and then deciding you care so much about it, you're still going to take one thoughtful step forward anyway."

That original fear, Banayan says, manifests itself throughout life; as fear of death in the form of failure, or fear of death in the form of living a life that didn't matter. "When I started working on the book, when I was eighteen, I was completely consumed by fear. So naturally, one of my biggest questions was how did all these other people, who achieved these monumental things, relate to their fear? I just assumed that Bill Gates or Elon Musk had to be fearless, or else how else would they do what they did?"

Banayan says he was surprised about the role of fear in his interview subject's lives. "Not only were these people scared, they were completely terrified... It wasn't fearlessness they achieved. It was courage. And while it sounds similar, the difference is critical... Fearlessness is jumping off a cliff and not thinking about it. That's idiotic. Courage, on the other hand, is acknowledging your fears, analyzing the consequences, and then deciding you care so much about it, you're still going to take one thoughtful step forward anyway."

Subscribe to The Ground Up Show on YouTube or Apple Podcasts. Matt D'Avella has a Patreon page if you want to support him directly as well.


10 Ways to Procrastinate Your Way to Writing Success

The author looking writerly (but streaming a UFC fight on YouTube for inspiration instead)

A day in the life of a real writer

It's one of those mornings. You have an assignment due or you're one chapter away from finishing the draft of a novel you're working on. Your goals for the day are set. You need to focus. You need to get to work. You need to hammer the words out on the forge of your creativity, polish them to a reflective luster, and send them into the world to be received with love and joy possibl some way to make money.

I've looked over the shoulders of hundreds, maybe even thousands of writers and from what I've observed (don't ask me how because I will simply refer you to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution). I watched the sweat fizzle on their brows, the blood tear in their eyes, and the words flow onto pages and screens. I've felt their joy as complicated yet beautiful language wove its way into existence from their amazing creative brains.

After exhausting analysis of people who classify themselves as writers, I am convinced that anyone can be. A. Writer. Do you want to be a writer? It's pretty easy. Just say "I Am A Writer" out loud, and you're on your way. All that's left (based on the common set of behaviors of those of us who call ourselves writers) is to make a plan to write something, then sit down every once in a while with the intention to write and follow these simple daily steps and you'll be as much of a writer as any of us.

Write anything other than your current project - If, when you sit down to write at your appointed time (be that 5 am or the 15-minute sliver of time while you wait at the gate for your flight to Madison, Wisconsin for a one hour meeting that will consume two days of travel time) you have energy, enthusiasm, and creativity available for the immediate Work In Progress (WIP), you're missing the opportunity to get some unrelated writing done. Write in your journal instead. Write a blog post and send it onto the Internet for your reader to praise you over. Write an outline for a new project that is even more inspiring than the one you should be working on, so you can abandon the WIP rather than face the danger of it actually being finished and having to go out into the world for judgment day.

No self-ordained writer worth the bottled ink in their fountain pen writes if there are chores to do.

Clean something. Be sure your house is clean before you write. No self-ordained writer worth the bottled ink they use in their fountain pen writes if there are chores to do, especially chores they would not otherwise get to. Surely you can find a trash can that needs a new liner? Remember that shelf-liner you bought seventeen months ago, the one that's sitting propped in the corner of the garage like a bow staff waiting to be called upon for battle against marauding invaders? As long as it sits there, you shouldn't sit at your desk. As long as anything exists in your home that belongs at Goodwill, no writer would possibly do their work.

Study writing - One way that many writer's use their writing time is to read books about writing. or watch videos about writing. Or get together in groups to give and receive praise or condemnation of other's writing. This is important mental work and can't be understated. Real writers harden themselves for the future they hope will come through the time-tested methodologies of comparison, overconsumption, and projection of your fears onto an unlikely prospective future.

Stephen King at his writing desk (sometime in the 80's)

Organize your writing space - No writer worth the price of their annual Grammarly subscription would ever sit down to work unless their writing space was the perfect and ideal version of itself. Having the perfect environment to write is a must for writers, and there are strict standards you must follow to be a real writer. You need either an elegant roll-top desk in a roomy home office under a southern-facing window, or an L-shaped desk crammed into a disorganized dark nook piled high with papers and books you plan on reading. The only other acceptable writing desk configuration for the real writer is the nomad setup; a plush lounge chair in a bustling and overpriced urban coffee shop, your Apple MacBook Pro open on your lap, a pair of Beats over-ear noise-canceling Headphones draped casually over your head, a Rhodia notebook and LAMY Studio fountain pen tucked into the Timbuk2 Spire Laptop nestled between your feet.

Check your phone - Every social-media account must be checked repeatedly. You might have missed something.

Watch Season Six of Project Runway - Substitute any show on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, CBS All-Access, or the six hundred seventy-nine other video subscription services you stream from for my specific recommendation (although season six of Project Runway is worth the binge). Based on the behavioral observations of writers at work, these shows provide numerous benefits to the creative process. For maximum benefit, they must be absorbed in their entirety, in as few sittings as possible (preferably one sitting). A real writer knows that in order for their work to remain current and relevant, it is impossible to stay relevant without consuming as much popular streaming television as possible.

Take a day trip - Life is short. Experiences are more valuable than things. Travel is the greatest teacher. Before you sit down to write and let life pass you by, there are certain things that you must get out of the way. Writers know not to lock themselves into the horror and drudgery or their work until they have shaken free of their mental lists of things they want to see and do "one day." Didn't someone once tell you that the tacos at that truck in that farming community forty miles up the highway were life changing? Writers know that commitment to the craft means a commitment to living. You can only write what you know. And if you don't really know those tacos are transcendental, then action must be taken before real writing can be done.

Take a nap - From the National Sleep Foundation: "As a nation, the United States appears to be becoming more and more sleep deprived... While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness, and performance. Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap." Who can argue with that? Nap approved!

Stock up on supplies - The worst thing that can happen to a writer, based on my observations of their behavior, is to run out of supplies half way through a writing session. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to start the flow of words onto a screen or page. Bringing the process to a halt mid-session could cause a writer valuable lost production. It could be days, weeks, even months before they tap the vein of inspiration again. When the rare urge to write overwhelms these delicate artists, be sure, make absolutely sure, there is nothing that can them off Mother Creativity's teat. I don't just mean make sure there are empty pages ready to fill and ink for the pen, but be sure the charger for the laptop is plugged in, coffee beans await the grinder, the phone is fully charged, and enough snacks to satisfy Justin Bieber's green-room contract rider are in arms reach. Oh, and while we're at it, do you need to replace any worn socks? Are you out of shampoo? Did you remember to put candles under the sink in case there's a power outage? Don't think too much about it. When you get the urge to write, just go to the store, you'll find something you need.

Real writers know that the best time to start new, life-changing health and wellness programs is right before you need to get cracking on a writing project.

Finally, start a work-out program - You know how you're always saying you really want to adopt a regular exercise routine? Do you need to lose a few pounds? Do you want to tighten up for a class reunion, or flatten the belly for a wedding you may or may not be going to in a couple of months? Real writers know that the best time to start new, life-changing health and wellness programs is right before you need to get cracking on a writing project you've had floating around for a while.

Bonus, 11th suggestion - Do none of the first ten things - In all my observations of writers at work, there is the occasional anomaly; the writer who actually sits down and gets the work done every day. You can spot them easily. They are the writers who parade their finished work -- their published books, their successful screenplays, their bylines in magazines and newspapers -- gleefully, like the parents of a needy third grader displays their participation trophies in the living room like their kid won the Nobel peace prize. Honestly, you have nothing to learn from these people. They are boring. They routinely show up at their desks and write as if they are punching a clock at a book-making factory. They keep regular hours. They accomplish specific word-count goals. They complete projects on time. They don't even wait for inspiration (some even claim that inspiration is something you turn on inside yourself by writing, not by waiting to smell it like the perfume left in a room after someone wearing it has left).

I hope you found this writing self-help post useful. If I missed any insight into how real writer's work that those of us who aspire to write full time can learn from, please share it in the comments section below. And get back to work (if, of course, there's not something else you'd rather do first).

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Lessons from Matt D’Avella’s Ground Up Show

Episode 92 - Slow Fashion, with Dani Nagel

The Ground Up Show is a compelling interview podcast which features creative people (filmmakers, writers, musicians, entrepreneurs) sharing the story of how they are accomplishing their dreams. Created and Hosted by Matt D'Avella (the documentary filmmaker who is best known for Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things), The Ground Up Show is insightful and inspiring. I listen every week and always manage to take three of four practical lessons from each episode

In episode 92 of The Ground Up Show podcast, host and creator Matt D'Avella interviews Dani Nagel, founder of fashion brand Dazey L.A. Dazey is what Nagel calls slow fashion; the counterpoint to the high-volume, low-quality, disposable-clothing approach of the fast-fashion industry.
Nagel makes clothing only on demand, once it's ordered, with minimal inventory. She uses locally-sourced materials and manufacturing. And her designs speak to theme's she's passionate about (her current collection contains messaging around sisterhood and unity and the roles those themes play within feminism, for example).

Nagel came to the slow-fashion movement from within the fast-fashion industry. As a tee-shirt designer at Macy's, she says "I just remember walking out to the warehouse and seeing like 5,000 units of this tee shirt design I did. (It) was just a dumb design. And I was like, where is all this all gonna go?" She says she realized that these shirts were never meant to last, that she was contributing to what she says is the second-most polluting industry in the world (behind fossil-duels). She then discovered the documentary True Cost, which highlights the toxic downside to fast fashion.

Nagel's fascinating Ground Up story starts with a fashion degree, then takes off when she's fired from a job for working freelance gigs off the clock against company policy. Here are my main takeaways from the episode:

Sometimes we leap, sometimes we're pushed

Nagel told Matt that after she earned her fashion degree, rather than pursuing her own apparel business right away, she took jobs in the fast-fashion industry. "Every young fashion designer wants to have their own clothing line," she says. "It's not realistic though. So I put that dream in the back of my mind and got an internship with a tee-shirt company. It had never dawned on me that I could do art and design and fashion fused into one thing. After that internship, I decided I was going to be a tee-shirt designer."

The internship led to a job, based in San Diego. The job led to others. "I got a job with Macy's in L.A. Then I got a job at Urban Outfitters. I was a job hopper." But a job hopper with a solid work ethic. "I put my head down and worked. I was a design machine. I would sit there, all day, and pop out designs."

With the dream of her own line still buried in the back of her mind, she landed at Hot Topic, "Which had an awesome company environment. They treated their employees like family." That comfort led to complacency though. And the dream started to surface. "It was so cushy and nice (at Hot Topic) that I got bored. I started listening to podcasts about entrepreneurship. I started doing some secret freelance work on the clock. I started posting my work online."

The challenge she was about to encounter was that as a corporate designer, her employer owned the rights to all her work output. "They saw me posting stuff on Instagram and that was it. I was fired."

With a head full of entrepreneurship content, Nagel launched into freelancing. She had to admit failure just a few months later and went back to designing for someone else.

Prepare for what you can, accept what you can't

Nagel said she failed at her first attempt to build a freelance business because "I had no game plan. I just thought I was going to make it work. I was listening to these podcasts, to these entrepreneurs doing amazing things, and I ran out of the gate believing I was going to do this, that I'm awesome." Besides no game plan, Nagel says she also suffered because "I was so used to that corporate paycheck that I couldn't handle the stress in between freelance gigs."

She went to work for a startup, a move she credits as vital to her development. "I was able to do things I was not able to at the corporate company." She gained experience in marketing, social media, photography. "Working with a startup is an awesome way to dip your toe in and get that experience that you don't get with your (limited corporate) job."

As well as gaining valuable work experience to apply to her own business, Nagel used the time at the startup to ready herself for the challenges she knew she'd encounter when she next took the entrepreneurial leap. Risk-averse and conservative financially by nature, she had been saving money for some time. "I was able to save up money and have a freelance plan," she says. "Saving up gave me the freedom to start my own business. And building up a freelance base kept me afloat for the first six months of my brand. That was huge."

She also had a much better perspective of what could happen if she tried again, and still fell short of her goal. "People get so in their head imaging the worst-case scenario. Sometimes you have to sit down and be like, really, what is that worst-case scenario? And is it really that bad?" For Nagel, she knew she would have to go back to designing for a bigger company. "Is getting a job again that bad? I had a decent resume. It was a little embarrassing when I got fired, failed at freelancing, and had to get a job again. But I was fine."

Build the team that expands your possibilities

Nagel left the startup to launch Dazey L.A. in 2016. From there, her Ground Up lessons are about the journey of building and growing a sustainable creative business. The first was to invest more than just money into her business.

Nagel said at first, her business was the combination of all her passions in one. She was the designer, sourced the materials, took the photographs, built the marketing, and posted all social media. It was a grind at times, but she was doing all the things she loved. "I wanted to do it all. And I had the energy to do it all. I was just so excited." But, she says, she had set an unsustainable pace. "I was just working too damn hard." She needed help.

"It took me a while to hire my first employee," she admits. "Once I finally crossed that threshold and did it, I realized it opened up so much more time for me to make more money and spend time on marketing the brand."

Hiring allowed Nagel to focus on the things she was best at, the things that could grow her company and today, her small team handles the day-to-day operations. "I know what I'm good at. I'm good at creativity. I'm good at branding and marketing. I'm bad at logistics. I'm bad at software. So I found people who are good at that stuff, people who are way more organized and almost keep me on top of things. They give me the freedom to focus on being creative and focusing on social media and Instagram."

Let go of anything not moving you closer to your goals

As well as investing in building a team, Nagel's Ground Up journey led her to understand that to be successful, you have to be thoughtful about how you direct your company's energy and resources. Nagel now regularly takes stock of everything the company is doing and make smart decisions about what to let go of.

One example: "We were focusing on wholesale," she says. "We realized that wholesale was a fraction of the money we were making compared to direct-to-consumer sales and (sales from) our ambassador program, yet we were putting the same amount of effort into it. So we decided to put (wholesale) on the backburner and focus on the things that made us more money."

Another example was the company blog. "As much as I loved to blog about things, and share images and thoughts, it just wasn't getting the views that were worth the effort that I was putting into it. My time was becoming increasingly valuable." So instead of continuing to invest her time and energy into creating blog content, she found someone to take that task on.

Dazey L.A. is currently hard at work on their next collection (around themes of authenticity and vulnerability). Nagel also recently co-founded the female co-working space Biz Babez in downtown L.A.

Subscribe to The Ground Up Show on YouTube or Apple Podcasts. Matt also has a Patreon page if you want to support him directly as well.